Sep 19

Are You a UCF International Student?

Then a special welcome goes out to you!  Being that I work at UCF, I would like to especially recognize you, and hope we may be able to meet. My Korean husband, Ben, and I regularly meet with international students in the UCF area, so let us know if you want to join us.  We are interested in helping to make your adjustment to life, especially academic life, here in Orlando to be an experience where you don’t just survive, but thrive!

So, how’s life for you in the UCF community being that you have come from so far away?  Any funny stories to share?  Is there something surprising about American culture you have encountered?  Are you finding your English is improving, or are you a member of an American sub-culture of your home culture where your first language is dominant?  Are you still glad to be here? What are you telling family and friends back home?

These are some questions to get you started. We would love to hear from you!  If you are an international student, but not at UCF, your stories are still welcome, but please let us know where you are. 🙂  Here it is all about supporting one another in this amazing journey we are on in American academic life!

May 24

I Wish Someone Had Told Me…

Here’s your chance to reveal your secret… What is one thing you wished someone had told you before you came to study in the United States?  Please put your answer below.  We look forward to learning how to serve you better!

May 11

Tip #1: Know yourself, better navigate a new culture

More posts are to come regarding things important to know about living abroad and American culture, but let me offer the best tip first.  Perhaps you’ve heard the quote, “No matter where you go, there you are.”  I think most of us focus on the words “where” and “there.”  I would offer that instead the pronoun “you” be emphasized.  I would rewrite it this way: “No matter where YOU go, there YOU are.”

So who are you?  Do you really know?  Certainly you have some ideas, but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone else confirm and clarify that for you?  If you are a computer technician and a computer has a problem, you likely know how to fix it because you know a great deal about computers (The rest of us stand in awe of your expediency!).

However, if your personal “system” breaks down, (and I can assure you that somewhere along your international journey it will have weaknesses found) do you know what strategies to put into place?  Personal reflection is important in this process, including thinking through what can drive you crazy and what you can do to help make a bad day better.  A well-known American adage is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Do you know your prevention strategy?

One tool I recommend is taking the Personality Profile.  Most American businesses and many other cultures use tools like this to help with teamwork and success in the workplace.  Students will often take personality assessments to help narrow career choices.

The Personality Profile I offer is through Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love system.  This Personality Profile offers details unlike any other I have seen or taken.  It is designed with a Christian world view, and at first I thought about removing it.  Then it occurred to me that if I were moving to a Buddhist culture, like Thailand for example, it would be very interesting to see what heroes and VIPs I might be like from that culture’s world (point of) view.  If the Christian aspects are not of interest, you can just skip over that analysis.  The major component is the DISC, which at its core is secular-based and discusses personality traits.

If desired, you may request a consultation to review your Personality Profile after taking it.  While the profile only takes about 20-30 minutes to take, you will get around 30 pages of feedback.  While much of the Personality Profile results will likely be easy to follow, you are welcome to contact me to schedule a professional consultation.

Interested?  Contact me below for more information or email me at  Get to know your personal culture, better navigate a new culture.

May 11

Let’s Get Packing!

It is great to have you here.  I look forward to helping you pack your cultural suitcase.  Below is a summary of why I believe I can offer some assistance.

After teaching for many years, having lived abroad for seven years, and being married to a fine Korean gentleman for well over a decade, I am completely convinced that what I learned long ago in my TESOL classes is true — language and culture are inseparable.   In other words, you can’t learn a language without learning the culture, and you probably know already how tough it is to not have the language, even if the new culture isn’t very different from your own.

Another issue is that neither culture nor language is easy to grasp when they are new to you.  Culture shock is certain to hit at your emotional door sometime along the way in your journey to becoming more comfortable here.  But, we’ll talk more about that later.

Cultural Glimpses is intended to offer you some glimpses, or small insights, about American and/or Western culture.  This will not be exhaustive in any way, but it is intended to help you think and process your experience of learning English and its culture more effectively.

I want to start with a basic: Individualism.  Americans and most Westerners have this long-standing idea of the importance of the individual over the group.  Many of you may come from cultures that are more like Collectivism — in other words, the group is more important than the individual.

So, what does Individualism mean in everyday life here in the United States?  Many things!  For starters, when one turns 18, or at the latest 21 years of age, you are considered an adult.  Most parents expect their children to “leave the nest” and “forge ahead” to get started on her/his career or complete his/her education.  Certainly many parents continue to assist their grown children until they graduate from college, but others do not or cannot.

The expectation is that the young adult is now responsible for his/her choices in life now.  If the young person takes that responsibility on and relieves the parents of their financial burden, we strongly approve of that in American culture.  We believe this is showing that the young person is ready to embark on his/her journey to reach toward the American Dream.  That dream, of course, may also be quite individualized.

There is much more to discuss, but we’ll stop here for now.  Ask your yourself and those around you how they see Individualism. You’re likely to get some varied individualistic answers!  In future posts, we will look at other facets of culture.


Nov 21

Hello and Welcome to Cultural Glimpses!

Glad you are here!  Please look around, and don’t miss the bookshelf on the right to check out some of my favorite books, selected just for you!