Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Gifts: What would you give?


So often, our focus on Christmas or the holiday season is about what gifts we hope to receive from others; however, if you could give one gift to someone, to whom would you give and what would the gift be? Personally, I'd like to give my family more time together. You really can't buy that, but it is more valuable than other things you can buy. Now, share you feelings on this topic.

Randall

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day in the US

Thanksgiving Day in the US is the day when many people give thanks for the many things they have. It's historical origin dates back to when some of first settlers came to Massachusetts and survived the first difficult winter with the help of the Native Americans in the area. In my particular family, we usually get together and each the usual, traditional meal of turkey, potatoes, beans, pumpkin pie, salad, and whatever people bring over.

So, do you have a day of thanks in your country? If so, share information about this day with us.

Randall

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ultimate XC Moab 50K Trail Race


Last weekend, I ran in a 50 km (31 mile) desert trail race in southern Utah, and it was a great experience. I'm not very fast, and I am always at the back of the runners, but it was a physical challenge to go up and down steep mountains and through sand. (You can see more pictures of this race at: http://www.hikinginutah.com/moab50k/album/index.html.) What I enjoy about it most is that it can help people psychologically---that might sound strange, but when I am running, it feel less stress in life and I can think about how to solve other problems. So, what about you? What do you do to get rid of stress? Share your ideas.

Randall

This is a picture of me at about 30 kilometers into the race along the Colorado River in Utah.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cell Phones: A luxury (want) item or a necessity?

Recently, one of my kids wanted to get a cell phone, and I told "Mary" (names changed to protect their privacy :D), "Okay, go ahead and buy a cell phone, but I'm not paying for it." Mary said that she needed one to stay in contact with us, but fortunately, she was willing to pay for most of the cost and monthly fees because she realized I wasn't going to pay for it.

Personally, I see a cell phone as more of a convenience than anything, because I lived 40 years without one, and in most cases, I'd rather not carry one because everyone is always expecting an immediate response in an immediate age. Gone are the days when I lived in a foreign country 25 years ago, and went I sent a real letter to family, it sometimes took six weeks to receive a response. That was good in some ways because I wasn't distracted by the fact that someone didn't reply to me (like email) in less that 2 minutes.

So, what do you think about cell phones? Do you see them as a necessity or just a want? Share your ideas.

Randall

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Apartment Living: Alone or with a Roommate?

Imagine that you are studying English in a foreign country. Would you prefer to live by yourself in an apartment or with a roommate? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? What have been your experiences in living with roommate? Share your ideas.

Randall

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What is a successful language learner?

Although many international students come to the US to learn English and pursue university degrees, the reality is, from my experience, that not all have the academic skills to succeed in the timeline that they choose. In other words, some students think that they can come to the US at a beginning level, and within 6 months, be ready to enter AND succeed in college. Now, there is a big difference between everyday language skills (meeting people, ordering at a restaurant, talking about hobbies, etc.) and participating in debate and classroom discussions on academic topics (politics, economics, social issues, etc.).

So, what do you think are the keys to preparing for a university degree in another country? Are there born learners who naturally can learn languages while others might struggle? Share your ideas.

Randall

US Elections: Obama wins

The US elections concluded last night, with Barak Obama winning. So, do you think a new US president will have a positive impact on the world economies and peace? Why or why not?

Randall

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