Winning Prizes, Cafe Studying, and Trying Homemade 고추장 {10/24/18} NSLI-Y AY

10/24/18 Wednesday

The day started out a bit better than yesterday as I managed to not forget my wallet at home. Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen again anytime soon {HAH get this… you’ll read about it in the next blog post!} Katie and I got to school and hung out near the water fountain until it was time to shuffle over to our homerooms. I expressed to her all my worries for the day since I would be having my first Economics class since midterms and I would have to deal with AP Statistics once again. {And she did the same with me.} I feel so blessed that Katie is with me at 하나고! I don’t know what I would do without her!

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For the first period, I was incredibly happy to see that 세림 saved a seat next to her for me. I don’t know where I would be without her either. Although I worried about all the work I would have to do in that class, it ended up being okay since we watched a movie instead! Our teacher described it as being about Inflation and 세림 agreed that it was about Economics. I was prepared to watch some made-for-school educational show, but it turns out that we got to watch an American film instead: In Time. I recognized it right away; I’ve seen it a couple of times. Our teacher also passed out gummy bears which was super nice as well~

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세림 asked me how installing the coding program on my computer went so I explained to her that Chromebooks SUCK and aren’t compatible with the software they are using. This is pretty bad for me because I am expected to do the homework… I’m going to try to come during lunch on Friday and do my assignment then. If I don’t finish it, I will see if I can stay a bit longer after school on Friday to complete it. {Not ideal but… whatever works}

I followed 세림 to the printers so she could make a copy during break time. 서린 saw me and ran up behind me to scare me. She then did the same thing to 세림 thinking it was Katie. It was very funny watching her embarrassed reaction. I couldn’t help but laugh. 세림 and I then tried finding the Stats teacher to tell him my situation but he was nowhere to be found… so we went back to class to finish watching the rest of the movie.

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My next class was 한국사 (Korean History) which was honestly a mess! I understood nothing from the class. I think there was only one part I understood and that was about some Woman’s husband dying and her having nothing because he was the one that worked. My teacher is nice though and often comes over to talk to me during break times. He complimented me on my handwriting once again. I then tried to casually and quietly tell him that his handwriting is hard to read… but the rest of the class seemed to be paying attention to me as a lot of the boys screamed: “OOOOOHHHHH” {in the same manner as American high school boys before they say “roasted” or “savage”} as I critiqued the teacher’s handwriting. I definitely didn’t say it in a rude way. I was just telling him because I literally couldn’t take notes otherwise. When he started writing on the board again, he wrote mostly like he had before I told him anything until suddenly he remembered our conversation. He goes, “Oh, right. Emma!” And he erased what he had written and from then on, wrote extra slow, tracing parts of the words extra times, and fixing every little part of the words that didn’t look right. Everyone was laughing and I was too but more because I was embarrassed. Did he really think I needed it that slow? I know he was trying to accommodate for me but it was way too much. Everyone kept giggling and looking at me when he would be extra while writing something. Also, at the end of class, he started writing some Korean letters but in different styles and would point to them and tell me what each letter was. For example, he wrote a ㅁ {M} four times, slightly altered and told me that they were all ㅁ. I kept nodding and shaking my head while everyone else laughed. It was a nice gesture but I knew that already! This class is going to be so difficult because I’m not going to understand anything for quite a while…

Lunch was afterward and I ate with 도윤, 지연, 윤세, and Katie of course. Today at lunch was special because if you finished all your food, you would win a prize. For the lunch, we had 돈까스 (fried pork cutlet) with 고구마소스 (sweet potato sauce) as well as salad, 김치 (Kimchi), 밥 (rice), some type of soup, and this spicy tuna on a slice of tofu? We all failed at eating everything so 윤세 took one for the team {Bless the war hero that she is!} and let us put all our leftover food on her tray. She literally had 5 slabs of tofu and tuna on her tray. It was hilarious!

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The prize for finishing all your food was a clipboard! There were two designs: Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story and Kermit the Frog. We were all happy to have gotten our prizes~

After lunch, I had Statistics which was pretty awkward and lonely because 세림 was not there! She had a competition for music {not exactly sure what it was exactly for} and had to miss the rest of the school day… that meant there was no one to talk to me during class or help me when my coding went wrong. Luckily, I am an independent woman and I was able to code quite a few problems and get them right {and find new formulas online}. If I’m being honest, I was pretty proud of myself for that accomplishment! But our teacher came to talk to me a couple times and it was a bit awkward. I survived, though.

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The school day ends early on Wednesdays because 하나고 students have their club activities. Katie and I joined the cooking club, but there was a problem with us attending this Wednesday because we missed the lesson portion the students had the night before. So, Katie and I decided to head to the Twosome Place cafe right across the street from the school to chill, rant, talk and work on some homework. I drank this really delicious green tea bubble tea while working on my presentation that I would be giving the next day in Korean class. (The topic is an American folktale/fairy tale.) We had a very productive time at the Cafe~

While walking back to the bus station to go home, we found the cooking club outside eating some veggies and seafood (?) covered in 고추장. One of the students a part of the club was the class president of Katie’s homeroom, so he invited us to come in and enjoy a plate. All the teachers came to us and warned us that it would be super spicy so we should leave it if we could not eat it; however, it was really good–and not too spicy. Katie and I can handle our spice now. Korea truly does train you! We talked to the teachers for a bit and we got to talk to the Cooking Club teacher as well. Maybe now that we have met her, it will be easier for us to join their club meetings~ It was fun even though I knew no one that was there. More people to get close to right?

At home, I ate dinner with my entire host family. We had ramen and during dinner, I talked to my host mom about the coding fiasco I was experiencing, my plans for the weekend (cultural activity, 인천 trip) as well as the possible homeroom meeting I would be attending this Friday. I talked to her for a bit too long so I had less time to work on my project/do homework than usual. (Luckily, I did my workbook earlier than normal so that was out of the way and being graded by the teacher already.) The rest of the night was spent writing my presentation script, making my powerpoint, and attempting memorize the story I chose.

And that is that~ Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed.

  • Emma 엠마

Eating Waffles to Deal With My Emotions (10/23/18) NSLI-Y Korea AY


I had to run back to my host family’s apartment in the morning because I was having a left-my-wallet-in-my-room-and-literally-realized-I-forgot-it-when-I-was-right-outside-of-the-subway-exit-3-minutes-until-my-train-arrives kind of day. I met up with Katie at the subway station about 14 minutes later than I usually do, which freaked both her and me out. Fortunately, we arrived with 5 minutes to get to our homerooms before the bell (or music melody technically…) started.

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My first period was the English mentoring program with these three second-year students. We had some really fun conversations. I first showed them pictures of some famous American and Cuban foods because we talked about Korean food last time; however, I had no pictures prepared or WiFi to look things up for them with. They seemed to get the most excited when I showed them Chicago deep dish pizza and the Philly Cheese Steaks. After that, they wanted to do this game where they would play a  Korean song and I would need to say the lyrics that I heard. This immediately scared me because my listening comprehension is… nonexistent. (Especially because I can never understand songs anyways.) We tried Twice’s TT song at first… but no, it was too fast. We then did the three little bears song, which I did just fine on thank you very much, but it was deemed too easy for me so we tried this song about Mothers. I could understand parts but I did not want to be wrong, so I simply said I did not understand. We quickly threw away that idea and just talked about random topics– mostly comparing American high school with Korean high school but also everyday life. I talked about suburbs for a bit and told them that yes, a good majority of Americans actually live in houses; they are not just in movies. Korea actually does not really have suburbs. 호영 compared suburbs to apartment complexes– just that houses are replaced with large apartments. We also talked about general school rules. I explained that in America (unlike Korea) only private or religious schools wear uniforms. Most public schools allow students to wear whatever they want (while following a dress code of course). We also talked about 하나고 rules like no relationships, no eating ramen, etc. The conversation was very interesting and I enjoyed speaking with the guys.

I had 국어 next and boy… it was interesting? I did not really understand anything that happened in the class except for this one story: a story about a goat. (Or at least I think I understood? I might be wrong?) The teacher literally said that when he was young, he heard that if you poured water in a goat’s ear, they would die. His mom confirmed this thought and said that she heard it from her grandfather. He later tries to pour water in a goat’s ear with his friends and they are surprised when it does not die. That was it. Or at least I think that was the end of that…there seemed to be no moral to the story. It was funny, nonetheless. Also in that class, I sat next to 윤세 (We went to 스포츠 몬스터 together!) and we got to talk a bit. I am glad that I now have a friend in that class!

My last class of the day was World History–I prepared myself to not understand anything that would be said in class. I sat next to my friend 지은 and we talked a bit about her tests. She was mad because she spelled something wrong on the World History test. Our notes today were in Korean so it was harder for me to follow along. I also was very tired, and so I kept nodding off at some points. (I was grateful for the fact that we screamed that independence song during this period of the class because that helped me stay awake!) I ended up running off to meet Katie during the break time because I needed someone to talk to.

Lunchtime eventually rolled around and I never know what we eat, to be honest… I should probably start paying attention to the menu that they always have up near the start of the lunch line. Today we had some beef in spicy sauce, rice, mushrooms, kimchi, and these noodles that looked similar to ramen but after eating them, you could tell they definitely were not. We were leaving school early today, so we arrived at 홍대 a bit earlier than usual. I hung out at the Youth Center for a bit to talk with the other NSLI-Yians. I lost track of time and had to run a little bit to get to the Better World Office on time.

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I’m going to be honest, class was really rough today. We started off the class reading this Korean story that Josh found online. I don’t know where he found it but it said level 3 on the top left corner and I have since come to the conclusion that I am not deserving to be at level three. I had no clue what was going on. Want to know the story plot? Sorry, but I can’t tell you. I got literally nothing from that story. The teacher explained the difficult and new vocabulary but I still didn’t know what was going on. I annotated the first couple of pages but then after a while, I gave up. I wasn’t understanding it whatsoever. The grammar, the vocab, all of it. We spent almost an hour and a half on this story which directly correlates to me spending almost an hour and a half in Korean class comprehending nothing. The words were also not very widely used so writing them down almost served no purpose as I would rarely see them used in real conversations. After reading the story, our teacher asked how we felt about it and both Josh and Jacquelyn thought it was a fun read though Jacquelyn had a bit of trouble staying awake. I just sat in silence feeling completely and utterly incompetent.

Afterward, I figured we would learn some new grammar points {we have one chapter left of our text book} but that did not happen… our teacher closed the book and we just talked about a variety of things. Nothing of too much use, though. The conversation was fun but I felt that I had wasted this class because I didn’t feel that I got much out of it. I was disappointed with the class as well as my performance in it. At the end of class, our teacher talked to us about switching the books we use in class. Possibly ditching the 이화 books and using the grammar book. This made me pretty upset. The grammar book was great and I had been using it to support my studying but I wanted to stay on the path that everyone else was on too. However, Josh and Jacquelyn seemed pretty fond of the idea??? This just made me feel like more of a burden in the class. I don’t want to keep them from learning and I do agree that I should be struggling a bit to grow, but I don’t want to spend most of the class being confused and not knowing anything. Additionally, my comfort with using some of the “beginner” or “basic” grammar points is kind of shaky because I was put into the “intermediate” class at 숙대 and I had to teach myself some concepts and I had to do the same thing this time around because I was placed in the advanced class… I don’t know these are my thoughts and I know they are pretty negative but I needed to get them out there. I’m really struggling in Korean class with this placement. It just seems that with every stride in the right direction, something pulls me back—making me feel inadequate. I know everyone struggles with their language journey… but sometimes it’s hard to focus on the improvement instead of the distance left to go.

After class, I stayed behind to talk to 민정쌤 but she didn’t seem to have gotten the fact that I wanted to let off some steam so I shortly left for the subway by myself. While I was walking back, I ran into Katie who stayed to talk to me—see if I was alright. What did I do to deserve such a good best friend?!? We walked down the nature path near exit three of the subway station and let each other complain and rant. It was nice to be able to put everything in words and hear some encouragement from Katie. We are not in the same situation but knowing that someone else is struggling too, makes the whole thing feel a bit more comforting. After that, we decided to split a waffle. We went to this one place called 와플 대학 (Waffle University) that had self-order machines. Luckily, we were able to deal with that just fine! We ordered a cheesecake Nutella waffle which consisted of what it sounds like: Nutella, cheesecake bites, and vanilla gelato. So good!

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After the waffle break, we both headed home for the night. I ate dinner with my host family before playing a board game with one of my host sisters. The rest of the night was spent writing a blog post and creating Quizlet sets. I planned to go to bed early… but instead, I stayed up watching Youtube videos. I fell asleep a bit before 11:30 pm. That was my day… there was a lot to it– both good and bad. Right now life is a bit tough; however, I know I can get through it and persevere! Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more (hopefully less negative/emotional in comparison to this one! But who knows what this year will bring. I can still say this because it is the beginning of my exchange… I do not even know how it will feel when I am already halfway done… Ew let us not think that far in the future!)

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Authors Note: That is the end of this blog post! I just wanted to say (mostly so I do not get an abundance of worried texts from my family and close friends) that I do not feel so negative towards Korean class anymore! This was not even a month into the program, so me struggling was pretty inevitable. I still have my bad days (which will be evident in future blog posts) but I also have many good days! Okay, that is all. Thanks for reading!~

  • Emma 엠마

Learning to Code at Korean High School? {10/21-10/22/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/21/18 Sunday

I really have no pictures from this day… besides the random screenshots of my home screen that my phones seems to keep taking as of late. {I really should get my phone fixed…} But today was still a good day, so I want to remember it! I will just quickly describe today’s happenings and simply combine it with another day.

Most of my morning was spent chilling around the house. I woke up and wrote a blog post out in the living room while my host sister watched an episode of Victorious. After we all had breakfast together, I got ready for the day and quietly studied grammar in my room {I used our extra grammar book and took notes on all the points from the last two chapters}.

Later in the day, I went biking around the neighborhood with my youngest host sister. We talked about school and her favorite things. {including slime which is just as big of an obsession here as it is for kids in America—maybe even more? But I might think that because I’m surrounded by it all while in America I wasn’t around many kids.} We also walked to Olive Young together and I had to show her where to go because she began to walk in the opposite direction of the subway station. At Olive Young, my host sister needed to by shaving cream and 리뉴 which is a cleaner of sorts I think? For contacts maybe? However, my host sister couldn’t find them so we kept wandering around the store. Eventually, I asked her if she wanted me to ask one of the employees and she shook her head to say yes, so I ended up asking the employees where to find both of the products. I’m such a good big sister! Hah

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Views! I took this while riding my bike!

The rest of the night was characterized by more studying. It really wasn’t that eventful… I just needed to get the tricky new grammar points down. Next week we have our huge test over the whole book. I’m extremely nervous because our quizzes as of late don’t seem to be too hard. Usually, they are just filling in blanks with vocab words and then filling in blanks with grammar points. In the beginning, she gave no word banks which made everything quite difficult but as of the last two tests, she’s been giving them to us which has made them easier. So I wonder if our test is going to be all like that? I doubt it… there will probably be some writing involved… and reading sections? I would expect that.

But that was my day~ I went to bed early to make getting up the next day for school a bit easier. After being spoiled with a week off, I’m not sure how I am going to survive this entire week!


Once again, I don’t really have any pictures of this day in my camera roll. It was just a day that followed a basic routine that will most definitely become more apparent in my blogs very soon {on school days at least}.

I went to homeroom class in the morning and tried to make conversation but everyone is so tired in the morning (and I’m still being too shy…) It’s something I’m working on, don’t worry. Afterward, I had 영미문학 (American and British Literature) which is quickly becoming my favorite class—mostly because I can understand what is going on in that class and participate. I’m not bored or confused like during my other classes. Currently, they are reading Exit West but I haven’t gotten a copy of the book yet so I just spark noted the chapter they were supposed to read up to so I could follow along in class. In class, we read some sections of the book and answered discussion questions. It was actually a lot of fun! Especially because our teacher makes jokes! There was one point where he scurried around the front of the room sniffing like a dog to illustrate something and another time when he blatantly made fun of his lack of math skills. He really makes the class more enjoyable because of that. He also knows how to add to things to make them funny. For example, 예성, the student next to me, read a line from the book that said “whiskey from Ireland” and our teacher just casually retorts with “As all whiskey should.” All the students couldn’t help but laugh {Maybe this is a more you-had-to-be-there-moment.}

During class, we had this group activity that involved discussing ideas from chapter 3. Our teacher tells everyone to pair up in groups of 2-3. I purposely sat down next to these three girls when I first walked into the classroom and I see them creating a circle with their desks as he says this. My heart immediately drops. I look around worried that I won’t have anyone to partner with—feeling quite lonely. Luckily for me, 예성 decides to take one for the team and asks me if I want to be his partner: I was so grateful! I could have joined the group with his buddies and left me in the dust but instead, he chose to not make me deal with awkwardly asking another group if I could be their third member. Our discussion was really fun. We analyzed the book while also just chatting with each other about other topics {Shhh don’t tell Andrew}.

While talking, this giant bug crawled onto my desk. I looked at it but didn’t shriek as I didn’t want to cause a commotion in the class. 예성 saw it and tried swatting it off the table but it just dodged his hand and crawled closer to me. Andrew noticed us, after the girl next to me shrieked, and grabbed me some tissues to kill it with. With one swoop, I crushed the bug and just handed it to the teacher. I assumed he’d throw it away but he just placed it on top of his podium for the time being. I couldn’t help but laugh. That definitely woke me up if I wasn’t already. (Looking back, I realize it was because Korean classrooms (at least at 하나고) do not have trash bins!)

My second {and last} class of the day was Statistics which was honestly very depressing. I was so lost and confused the whole time. My friend 세림 sat next to me and helped me with the problems we were working on and tried to explain everything the teacher said more slowly {and sometimes in English}. I feel like I am such a burden to her… she could be focusing on her own work but instead, she has to help me. I couldn’t be more grateful for her though. In Statistics, we are using this computer program called R studio to CODE! I’ve taken AP Statistics in America but I’ve never coded in my life! No formal or informal training here! I have to figure out what I’m doing, catch up with the class, and learn how to code listening to Korean instructions. This is cool in theory but it literally took me 75 minutes to do two problems… I got assigned about 10-12 for homework. I’m stressing really badly.

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What is coding!?!?

Once Statistics was over, I was so happy to hop on over to lunch and then go to Korean class—leaving 하나고 behind me for the day. Katie and I ate by ourselves which was kind of awkward; however, we are each other’s best friends so I didn’t really mind. We left lunch earlier than usual so that we could stop at the market in front of the subway station and pick up some 호떡 from a vendor. I think the lady we went to changes it up as this time, she was selling 녹차 호떡 which were delicious!

Korean class today was pretty difficult. I didn’t understand a lot of the textbook unrelated conversations and the vocabulary words in my notebook were nearly all left undefined. It is so hard being at a different level than the rest of your classmates because you feel so stupid when you cannot understand concepts that seem to be familiar to them. After class, I walked over to CYC with the rest of my classmates to have our bi-weekly meeting. 민정쌤 is using these meetings as a way to check up on everyone and inform us of any important information. This time, we talked about applying for our alien registration cards (done for me~) as well as our cultural activity on Saturday to 서대문형무소역사관. After the meeting, I stayed behind to have 민정 choose my vocab words for the night and she took one look at them before saying that this class must have been hard. All I could say was yes, yes it was.

I went with Katie, June, and Jenna to a bakery so that Jenna could buy her host family some cake; however, we all could not enter a bakery without buying anything… so Katie and I shared a bag of soft chocolate cookies while June bought this HUGE bagel. It actually looked so good! I could definitely come back and study there with some nice bread to snack on. Before heading home, I picked up some goldfish because I wanted to make myself feel better by stuffing myself with a snack that feels like home–AKA comfort food. (Who would have thought goldfish could be considered a comfort food?)

At night, I ate dinner with just my host sister as everyone else had already eaten. I did an entire chapter of my workbook and made a quizlet set (but did not end up studying it). I was too exhausted to do much else after that, so I laid in bed and watched Youtube till I fell asleep. So that was my day! I am still feeling very stressed about school and Korean class… hopefully, these negative emotions can start turning to at least neutral ones? That would be appreciated… Thanks for reading~ Do not forget to subscribe!

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  • Emma 엠마

Rose Ice Cream, Myeongdong 맛집, and Dongdaemun Night Market {10/20/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/20/18 Saturday

Since coming to Korea, I’ve done a really good job at budgeting money {unlike my time here in the summer… we will leave it at that.} I have been able to make all the stipend handouts last two weeks, and I haven’t used any of the money I saved up from working a part-time job all summer yet. So I decided to treat myself this lovely Saturday afternoon by going shopping with Kaitlyn. In specific, I wanted to go to this shop called 6ixty 8eight because I knew their stuff was cute and affordable from watching YouTube videos on it. And so we did~ They were having a sale on summer clothing so Kaitlyn went crazy with that while I was really set on buying a sweater or cardigan. I ended up buying this really pretty mustard yellow/gold sweater and a striped summer dress since it was more than 50% off. It was a good day of shopping I would say. I spent under $35 so don’t come for me !!! We also went to H&M to see if I could find a fall coat that I like {My winter coat is too heavy and large for the current weather.} but alas I wasn’t mentally prepared to be able to spend all that money… yikes. (It got cold pretty quickly though so high key happy I did not buy another coat!)

After Kaitlyn and I shopped around for a bit, we planned to meet Josh at this famous traditional Korean restaurant called 명동교자. We wound up stumbling upon two of their locations while shopping and let Josh know which one had the shorter line. The line went out the door but the wait actually went by pretty quickly as the staff working there were really good at serving food and cleaning up tables before you’ve even gotten up from your seat!!

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We ended up ordering the traditional noodle dish they served (갈국수–Wheat Noodle Soup) as well as 비빔국수(Spicy Noodles) and an order of 만두 (Dumplings). I definitely have to come back and eat there again; the food was just too good not to come back! Kaitlyn, Josh, and I stuffed our faces and had great conversation. We talked about so many things and I truly really enjoy spending time with the two of them. We never run out of things to say {or eat apparently…} The moment that Josh put his chopsticks down and swallowed his last mouthful of the spicy noodles, one of the ladies working swoops in and starts clearing our table before we’ve had a chance to eat our mint/gum things. {You swallow it as if it was a mint but you chew it while it’s in your mouth…like gum.}

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Our lunch spread!~

We should have been done eating for the next few hours {or maybe days!!!} but we decided to check some cool ice cream off of our bucket list: rose shaped ice cream & honeycomb ice cream. I was being cheap and bought the discounted cone which was strawberry and yogurt ice cream. Though they also have versions with chocolate and green tea ice cream and some have three flavors rather than two. Josh and Kaitlyn, on the other hand, got honey comb ice cream which was just vanilla soft serve in a cup drizzled with honey and a physical honey comb piece. Both were okay but definitely made more for the aesthetic than the taste. Many convenience store ice creams taste better in my opinion. We walked over to the famous cathedral and enjoyed our ice cream in front of the beautiful architecture and autumn foliage. This Korean man walked right up to Josh and just stood there for a good 10 seconds. Then, he said “pretty.” He said it one more time before turning to me and saying it once again: “pretty” {in Korean of course.} I mumbled out a thank you and he replied with “Your Korean is so good.” At that time we all bowed to him and ran off in a laughing fit. That was a really weird encounter.

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I came home a bit before 4 pm and chilled in my room—studying— until all my host family came home. We planned to go to a night market in 동대문 along that the 청계천stream.

The night market was more modern than I imagined. For some reason, I thought we were going to a traditional market sort of place like 남대문시장 or 연시내시장. Along the stream were little stalls selling mostly crafty things: handmade jewelry, bags, dog accessories, caricatures, stationery, trinkets, etc. on the other side of the road we’re street vendors but not like the ones you see selling street food around 홍대 or 명동. These were full on food trucks with security and line attendees to take the orders and relay them back to the cooks.

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Massive Food Trucks

For dinner, we had some spicy chicken on a stick and beef sushi {what it sounds like, steak pieces laid upon rice}. It was all very delicious. We ate on some steps while enjoying a street performance. Later, my host sister made some really pretty clip-on earrings at this stall. As service, the woman running it allowed my host mom to also make a bracelet. She decided that she would give it to me~ I ended up receiving a black rubber bracelet with a black and gold charm with a letter E on it. It was such a nice gesture and I will definitely wear it often.

We also stopped by a book store for around an hour. We all picked up some books and read them in this seating area. I looked at this poetry book that my host mother showed me, and I have decided that I really want to be able to read this book! I was able to understand some sentences here and there (and looking back at the screenshots I took, I understand more now than I did back then!) which made me feel more confident. I will definitely buy this book soon!

We got home pretty late and because I was so exhausted from a busy day, I basically went right to sleep.

That’s all for this blog post! Did you enjoy it? Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

Goyangsi Sports Monster and Dinner with Korean High School Friends (10/19/18) NSLI-Y AY

10/19/18 Friday

Katie and I found this really cute little cafe on the second floor of one of the buildings near 화정역. Katie decided to come up to 고양시 to meet me in the morning because she would have to come up anyways to hang out with our 하나고 friends in the afternoon. We got to the cafe a bit before 11 am and we stayed there well until 2 pm. The cafe had lots of seating and was not too busy in the morning (though it did pick up after lunch time). There was also really good wifi and there was a wide range of drinks: lattes, smoothies, tea, etc. But definitely the best part about the cafe were the prices! My green tea latte was only 3,000 won and normally something like that would be 5,000 to 6,000 won in fancy coffee shops or famous chains. I am really happy about all these cheap 고양시 cafes! Hopefully, I can find more. And, I want to make this one a regular for me~ Maybe for when I need to leave my host family for a bit to study on the weekends or if I need some time after school before coming home for dinner. The lady working the morning shift was also very kind~ She gave Katie and I these thin breadstick snacks as service for coming to the cafe!

At the cafe, Katie and I were mostly very productive. I filled out my planner and memorized my textbook vocabulary from my Thursday class while Katie worked on college applications. While we were at the cafe, we also skyped Ava and Teresa (NSLI-Y Korea Summer 2016 & NSLI-Y Korea AY 17-18 alumni) to talk to them about how AY was going and to get some tea about 하나고 because they were the two to attend the school last year. It was a fun cafe excursion.

Afterward, we quickly ate lunch so that we would have enough time to drop off our things in my room and then take the subway to Starfield (고양시). We decided to just eat at the convenience store to save money. We each got a (삼각김밥) triangular kimbap and a drink. We also split this package of 호떡 filled with honey. They were really good but I bet they would be better warmed up. Katie and I were too nervous to use the microwave in the store (in case it was just for ramen).


After lunch, Katie and I dropped our stuff (backpacks) off in my room and we bumped into my host dad and sister while walking to the apartment and then while walking to the station, we ran into my host sister again. It was quite a coincidence. When Katie and I arrived at the subway, we were worried that we would have trouble finding the mall because Kakao Maps said that it would be a 15-minute walk; however, finding the place was not difficult at all. We only had to walk straight for what seemed like 5 minutes and then we saw the giant Starfield sign. We waited out front for a bit, trying to figure out what our friend 서린 was saying on the phone (which was hard), until finally it was decided that we would go inside and find the place as they had made it already and were waiting for us inside.

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Hanging out with our 하나고 friends was so much fun! I figured the language barrier would cause a lot of problems (and though it made things awkward at times) we were able to get over them and have a great time! I laughed so much and our joking around was nonstop. We also did a lot of really great activities that were offered. My favorite activity was playing volleyball with a giant inflatable ball. A close second was the shouting room in which Katie and I released all our stress from the past few weeks by screaming into this silver horn and watching cartoon wine glasses and houses combust at our high-pitched voices.

(There was also a climbing course (with a harness) which was pretty scary at times– walking across the swinging boards and drums were the scariest. Especially the boards… because there were no ropes to hold onto. We also went on a trampoline, played a game of archery (I won! 24 points!)

After running out of time (we paid for two hours), 서린 said goodbye so that she could eat dinner with her family. The rest of us (혜지, 윤세, 도윤, Katie, and I) went to the food court (called Eatopia) and got us some really delicious 냉면. It was a bit pricey in comparison to other places, but it was to be expected since we were eating at a mall. While walking through Starfield, I realized that Korean malls are basically the same as American malls– just different stores (though there were plenty of stores that are global).

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After dinner, we had to get some dessert. We decided to be all bougie (since we were at the mall) and get 쿠크봉 아이스크림 (Couquebon Ice cream) which was some pretty fancy ice cream. The cone was made from a cookie! I believe that it tastes pretty similar to the cookies in Milano Cookies which taste AMAZING with ice cream. While eating, Katie and I tried teaching the girls some American teenager slang such as rip and savage. We also discussed some differences between our schools and cultures. I am going to be honest, I felt so proud of Katie and myself during this exchange. There was one point, while we were enjoying the ice cream, that I stopped and took in all that had happened today. I was so nervous before meeting everyone because I knew that there would be times that I would not be able to understand our friends, but it turned out to be alright. Katie and I got to practice our Korean so much and utilize lots of our knowledge. While we’re talking about 빙수, I began to explain that sometimes Katie and I would have 빙수 instead of lunch. While explaining that, I used the substitution grammar point (대신에). I was really proud of this sentence in particular because this week in class, my teacher corrected a sentence I was trying to say by inputting this grammar point. I was really proud of myself (can I say that?) for being able to use it naturally in conversation.

We finished up our hang out with some pictures from one of those photo sticker booths in the mall. We tried our best to have cute poses but the booth was quite small and we struggled to fit everyone in. But the pictures still turned out well~ I will always remember this day! One of the best days in Korea thus far~ ❤ Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

  • Emma 엠마

Passport {Forgetting}, Pancakes, and Pizza in Korea {10/18/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/18/18 Thursday

Today was a very interesting day. The plan was to head over to 고양시’s Immigration Office (which happens to be very close to 화정역) with 민정쌤 in order to process the application for my Alien Registration Card; however, that plan was sorta delayed at first because my lovely RD left my passport at the Better World Office!!!

We had gotten to the Immigration Office just fine and on time (early even). I used the photo booth to take a cover picture for my application and 민정쌤 helped me get all the documents together. A couple days before today, my homeroom teacher gave me my (and Katie’s) 재학 증명서 (Certificate of Student Registration/enrollment) and I was supposed to bring it to Better World on Tuesday but I forgot. 민정쌤 scolded me during break time and warned me to make sure I bring it. The night before our scheduled meetup, she assaulted me with texts about not forgetting it and asking me if I had put it in my bag yet. But she goes and forgets my passport! Though, to be honest, I did not really mind. I understood that it was just a mistake. But when the employee at the window asked for my passport and I could visibly see the change of emotions on 민정쌤’s face, I could not help but laugh. I tried to cover my mouth to muffle the sounds of laughter but I couldn’t help it.

I ended up waiting for her on the first floor while she went back to Better World for the passport. There was this cafe on the first floor with some seating (that I think was a part of the cafe) and free wifi! This cafe was honestly the best because there were so many drink options on the menu and the drinks were so cheap! I ended up ordering a green tea latte and it was only 2,000 won (about two dollars). Most big-name chain stores sell lattes for around 5-6,000 won (about 5 to 6 dollars). Additionally, they had fruit smoothies and milkshakes for cheap, too. I wonder if it is open to the public? Or if it is just for the workers in the building (as the immigration office took up one of the floors of the building–it was not its own building).

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View from my seat at the cafe. Like I said, it is definitely not a traditional cafe. There are not even any walls!

By the time 민정쌤 came back (about 1 hour later), I had practiced my presentation more and studied some vocab that would be on my test later. We rushed back up to the office, waited a bit more, and were able to finish getting everything in order. At one point, the employee that was helping me asked if I could speak Korean and I responded with “Not really” and 민정쌤 playfully slapped me on the arm and said “Liessss.”

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Working on my powerpoint and looking over my workbook (이화 2-2 워크북)

After we successfully filed everything and paid for it to be delivered to my host family’s home, we left to go back to 홍대. We decided to get some American food for lunch because we figured we would get something usually expensive/something I’ve been missing. We ended up going to this place called Travel maker that serves up American style breakfasts {for reasonable prices too like pricy diners/brunch places back home would have cost a bit more.} It’s also the place that all the NSLI-Y kids went to get brunch at when they were off of school on Friday {while Katie and I were at 하나고}.

I ordered strawberry and banana pancakes and the pancakes themselves were so delicious~ but the strawberries were not very fresh and they drenched the stacks with this sugary strawberry sauce that I was not a fan of. I still enjoyed them though~ 민정쌤 got blueberry waffles which were very good, too!! Over lunch, we talked about so many things. 민정쌤’s past work experience, how I’m doing in Korean class, our favorite seasons, and my dog Biscotti back home. It was really nice to sit and chat with her and I’m so thankful to have such a great RD like her~ Although she forgot my passport, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about that morning/afternoon with her.

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우리 사랑하는 RD

After our brunch {I guess it was Brunch!}, we walked along the park pathway to school which was super nice because some trees were already changing colors so the scenery was just beautiful!

During Korean class, I struggled a lot as per usual. This one grammar point wasn’t coming easily to me and I was really confused on how to correctly utilize it. There were also parts of the class where I was having trouble following along but it wasn’t just not understanding vocabulary but the fact that I keep my attention and focus on the teacher. I have to concentrate more on listening in Korean than English {as I would assume is the same way for many people learning another language} and for some reason, that day, I was having trouble concentrating. Additionally, I just got frustrated so many times. My teacher asked me to explain a one-way trip and while I was looking at the image and creating a sentence in my head, she then asks Jacquelyn to define it—which she did perfectly fine. I was just a bit discouraged because I knew I could have done it but I needed some time to just create the sentence in my mind. But I understand with the pace of this class… I need to keep up…

Our presentations went really well—all of my classmates included {if that wasn’t clear by the usage of the word “our”}. I think my actual presentation wasn’t too bad though I wish I practiced it more. I was proud of all that I wrote, though. I wrote 4 minutes of content rather than 3 minutes and I think I did a good job at comparing my home town to 고양시 using interesting aspects and things we learned in class {like public transportation}.

After class, I waited for 민정쌤 to help me complete my new daily goal for this month. While we were riding the subway and at breakfast, we discussed my goals for this month; I ended up making two goals. My first one was to have a conversation with my host siblings {just one or all three it didn’t matter} every night. I could ask them questions about themselves or simply talk about their day—anything to get a conversation flowing.

My second goal was about language learning and more specifically retention of vocabulary studied. I told her that after a day of class, I could have up to 80 words that we talked about in class that aren’t in our textbook in my notes. (AN: this number has DEFINITELY decreased as the class has gone on– and as I have improved.)

I explained that it’s honestly impossible for me to study 30+ textbook vocabulary and 80 other words after every class. I could not retain it all. Especially, when certain words we use are very unusual in normal conversation and I probably won’t use them for a while like to cremate or carbon dioxide. {Don’t ask what we talk about in class! XD} So from now, I will be going to 민정쌤 after class for her to choose the words she thinks I should focus on learning. We agreed to do 10 on the goal sheet… but after this class, she marked 22! While this was going on, my teacher was waiting by the door. I assumed it was to talk to 민정쌤 but it turned out she was waiting for me; therefore, I made the 15 min walk from Better World to the subway station with my Korean teacher—and we spoke all in Korean. It was difficult and extremely awkward but rewarding nonetheless. I got to practice speaking to a person who would be patient with me and not resort to English when I didn’t understand. I also got to ask her a question about the new grammar point which cleared up much of my confusion. I enjoyed our conversation thoroughly~ One funny part about the convo was that she asked me what I was doing after class and I told her I was eating dinner and going to a 노래방 with a friend. I felt like I might have been judged for not going home right away so I explained that my host sister has piano lessons on Thursdays and since it’s loud, I like to stay out later than normal. And then she asked me with what friend and before I was able to finish saying Kaitlyn, she assumed I was about to say Katie and goes “Katie, of course.” We laughed for a bit before I explained that I do indeed have other friends! And that Katie is probably sick of me after spending an entire week together literally (Thursday was the first day of the week where I did not see her.)

After parting ways with my Korean teacher, I found Kaitlyn, Alix, Liam, and Jacquelyn in front of a cafe and we all went to Morning Glory together and walked around for a bit. I ended up buying a daily planner there so I could keep track of our activities, Korean class homework, tests, etc. We always have so many meeting locations and meeting times to keep in our head so I think my planner will help me keep track of those.

Alix, Kaitlyn, and I originally planned to find this one place selling grilled cheese; however, the place was quite small with no indoor seating (or bathroom which was a necessity for me at the time…) so we kept walking to find something else. We came across this one restaurant that was advertising pizza in the window which looked like normal pizza you would find in America (not sweet or with corn or potatoes as toppings). And that was what we ordered: pizza! And it was so delicious! It was a thin pizza with mostly cheese and no tomato sauce but it felt familiar and the pizza taste I have been searching for! Also, we were served pickles and honey with the pizza (do not knock it till you try it…the pickles were great and the pizza dipped in the honey was weirdly delicious.). My host dad, earlier during the month, asked me if Americans eat pickles with pizza and we really do not (or at least in my area). Though I think Koreans got this part of pizza right. Pickles should be a side dish with pizza!

We were originally planned to go to a 노래방 but it was pretty late so we all decided to just go home and get some rest. Though, while walking to our respective platforms, Kaitlyn and I tried these mini pastries called 서울파이 (Seoul Pie) that we have been eyeing for a while but never bought any to try. We did tonight though! A bougie dessert!

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I came home and hung out with my host sisters for a bit asking them questions and just talking about their day at school. I made my quizlet for the class, adding the words 민정쌤 marked for me. Looking at the words again, I remembered when 민정쌤 circled the verb for to eat a lot/overeat and she looked at the word to drink too much and said, “You do not need to know that.”

That is all for this really long blog post! This has probably been one of the longest blog posts in a while. It was such a busy, hectic day but nonetheless one of the most fun! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

Biking Along Han River, Waffle Cafe, and Studying {10/17/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/17/18 Wednesday

Though this is probably very shocking to most of you—including me—I am proud to say that I was on time to meet Katie today. In fact, I was early!! We met up at 공독 because that is her closest train station and I had it as my transfer station, so I waited for her there in order to travel to our destination together: Han River.

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We first stopped at the I Seoul U sign in front of the water. Apparently it has been there for 2 years? They must have built it after I was there during the summer of 2016. Katie and I went and rented our bikes: 3,000 Won {about $3} for an hour. We took our bikes down both paths that forked in front of the main area. We rode each direction for a bit and then came back to the center. Once we finished riding our bikes, we walked to a convenience store alongside the biking/walking path to get some lunch. This convenience store was really interesting because it had a lesser assortment of drinks but more variety when it came to beer. There was also a ton of more options for ramen and instant foods like that. Outside of the convenience store, there were hot water boilers and microwaves to cook the instant food outside. I assumed it was like this because the only people that go there are eating food along the water/having picnics. And it also seems that it’s a popular place for office workers and college students to come during breaks.

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My love Katie ❤

Katie and I enjoyed our Kimbap and fruit-flavored drinks. {She may tell you that I force fed her 단무지 (yellow radish) but that’s a complete and utter lie!} We couldn’t find the trash can and were silently freaking out about not knowing where to throw away our trash. We planned to watch where this one group of girls threw away theirs but we were too busy talking to notice when they were done eating. Because we are complete and utter failures, we packed up our garbage in a Ziploc bag and threw it away in a subway garage can… Not the move? Maybe…

After biking, we headed over to 이대 to go to Waffle it Up {the place we went to on Saturday after 경복궁} to study for a couple hours— and eat delicious waffles and gelato while at it. We were there for about 4 hours! I finished my script for my presentation and the actual PowerPoint slide while sprinkling in some YouTube video breaks and Quizlet vocab studying for good measure.

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I came home early to be able to eat dinner with my host family. I sat with my host sisters in front of the tv eating spaghetti with all different shapes of pasta. After dinner, I worked with my eldest host sister to complete some pages in her English speaking and writing book. It was actually fun because I got to joke around with her and it seemed as if we bonded doing this activity. At one point, she had to write a short paragraph about her family and she chose to say that she had 6 family members. I looked at her and asked “What do you mean 6 people?” thinking she simply miscounted. She pointed at me and said, “You!” At that moment, I couldn’t help but smile at her. I don’t know if she knew what she did was very sweet, but it made my night. It was already past 8:30 pm when we finished working together so I quickly took a shower and finished doing my Korean homework: workbook pages, studying Quizlet vocab sets, and studying the 10 grammar points that would be on the test the following day.

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By the time 11:30 pm rolled around, I was still not done. I hadn’t memorized my chapter 13 vocab words and I still wasn’t done with my last two workbook pages {which included writing… something that could take a while.} However, I decided that I really needed to sleep. I have to truly cherish and take in these nights that I have the opportunity to get 8 hours a night because when I have school, I can really only shoot for 6 hours. So I went to bed. Besides, there was always time before class tomorrow because of the fact that there was NO SCHOOL!

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  • Emma 엠마

Chicken Bus and Karaoke: Tuesday Night Out {10/16/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/16/18 Tuesday

Today’s plan was to meet Katie at 10:30 in 홍대 in order to do some hardcore studying at a cafe. This was the intended plan; however, I was late—as usual. The reason being me underestimating how long my laundry would take. After my host family left in the morning, I did a load of laundry consisting of my pants and school uniform because I wanted to have that ready for next week {and I high key desperately needed some more pants to wear!} I also might have put wet clothes in my suitcase… YIKES. How fast does mold grow…

I got to 홍대 around 11:20 and met up with Katie at Angel In Us Coffee. Their vanilla latte was good, but the WiFi was terrible. I connected my phone and laptop to it but none of my pages would ever load. I think I was able to send one Snapchat on the WiFi. I couldn’t do my Quizlets and my teacher had my notebook, so I spent the hour just writing some lines for my presentation offline on Google Docs.

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One funny thing that happened at the cafe was that I ordered a hot vanilla cafe latte which was priced at 5,300 Won. I gave the barista 6,000 Won. {That is about $5.30 and $6.00 respectively.} Though this was the case, and you’d expect me to get only 700 Won back in charge… I ended up getting 4,000 Won in charge. When he handed me the bills, I was so confused. Confused as to why I was getting any change in bills seeing that I didn’t give him any large bills. I walked up to the second floor where Katie was sitting and told her about my 90+% discounted drink. I thought about going back down to say something but my Korean was and is not good enough for that so… I was glad that my stipend could stretch a bit further!~

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After the cafe, we rushed to meet Kaitlyn and Alix at one of the station exits to grab lunch which we were also late to too. We feared we would not have enough time to eat but it turned out fine~ We had time to spare too! Kaitlyn recommended this place because the food was so cheap! I got this huge delicious 치즈돈까스 for 6,500 Won and the normal one is only 5,500 Won!

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After lunch, we all stopped by the convenience store and picked up ice cream. I got carp bread ice cream which is filled with red bean (not fish flavored!!!)~ Something I’ve been wanting to have again since coming back to Korea. It was so good! Definitely my favorite ice cream here (not too sweet all!)

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I hung out with the other NSLI-Y students at the youth center for a bit before leaving with Josh and Jacquelyn to walk to Better World. 민정쌤 was there to hand out stipends to the 1반 2반 students so we figured she’d meet us at Better World later. But right as we were opening the door for the building, she showed up out of nowhere. We actually technically showed up to class a little less than 10 minutes late but it was alright because 민정쌤 let us know earlier on in the day that our Korean teacher was going to be 10 minutes late, so we took our sweet time showing up to class.

Class today was a bit of struggle I’m going to be honest… the end of this book just happens to have these grammar points that are so abstract to me. And though I can read the English explanation over and over, I can’t seem to understand how exactly to form the sentence.

There was one point in our conversation dialogue practice that my teacher was trying to get me to come to the conclusion that I should use 는데 rather than 어서 and I was not getting what she was trying to beat around the bush to say. I sat there uncomfortably trying to see my mistake until I finally looked at the example and copied it. And then, she asked me to explain how I feel when I notice a lot of similarities between 하나고 and my American high school experience. I wanted to describe that when I see similar things at 하나고 that I am reminded of my time in high school and I think about the memories— basically reminiscing. I didn’t want to say it in English so I tried my best to describe it but I was struggling so hard that I was near tears. But looking back at it now, I’m just so emotional. I can’t expect myself to be able to coherently and accurately express all my thoughts right now. I just have to get to the point that I can deal with the times where I feel like I’m stuck unable to say anything. It will take some time but I have 8 more months left for that~ GROWTH MINDSET!!!!

After class, 9 out of 16 of us met up to eat fried chicken at this place Liam wanted to go to. We thought the name of the place was exceptionally strange: Chicken Bus. Mostly we were going for the meme. We fit the loud foreigner stereotype to a T during that dinner— we were laughing and yelling… wow was it a night. But honestly, I didn’t mind, it was a Tuesday night and beside us, the place was empty. We ended up ordering 4 different types of chicken and I believe we only left one piece after the night was over. We ordered a black pepper garlic kind, a cheesy original kind, a spicy kind, and a sweet spicy kind. They were all very delicious but I felt that one of my garlic pieces was undercooked? So I only had one of that type. During dinner, I got to talk to June and Shada more which was so nice because I never seem to be able to hang out with them.

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After chicken, everyone was still set on doing another activity so we went to a coin 노래방 and it was my first time going to one~ In the past, I’ve only gone to ones where you pay to have the room for an hour for a certain price. These rooms allow you to use coins to pay which is extremely convenient because everyone always has lots of coins but usually never ends up using them. I believe at this place {Owned by June’s host uncle actually} cost 300 Won {about 30 cents USD} for one song and 500 Won {about 50 cents USD} for two songs. We sang our little hearts out to a variety of artists: Seventeen, SHINee, Nicki Minaj, Twice, Apink, Ailee, Kwill, BTS, Gfriend, Taeyang, etc

Our throats were sore and dry afterward but it was so very worth it. I totally 100% acknowledge the fact that I am probably the worst singer to live on this planet but that won’t stop me from belting out those high notes. When Karaoke was over, most of us separated to go home but I still wasn’t ready to leave. I walked with Jacquelyn and Liam over to a park area and bought ice cream at the convenience store. We ate our ice cream bars while watching this busker and he was very talented. A voice like honey~ He was playing the encore song when we were watching him but then he ended up playing two more. He also sang some song in English but before he did that, he apologized for not being able to speak English well. Nevertheless, he did amazing! He was worrying for no reason.

I went home after that— getting home at 9:15 which is pretty late for me. Our curfew is 9:30 so I was on time but usually, I come home only a little after 8 pm. I told my host mom where I was and so it was alright plus, I really enjoyed spending that time with my NSLI-Y cohort~ Where would I be without them? I don’t know!

The rest of the night was spent me worrying over my laundry and adding more things to my presentation. I didn’t do much, to be honest, as I was exhausted. Tomorrow is going to be a cafe day so I’ll get it done then~

That’s all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Subscribe for more by just adding your email~ Thank you! 다음에 봐요~

  • Emma 엠마

Exploring, Studying, and Exploring While Studying {10/14-10/15/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/14/18 Sunday

This Sunday was such a nice morning; I got to sleep in, eat a nice breakfast, and scream at the sight of live fish squirming around in the kitchen sink. In reality, this was my morning but I didn’t scream— my two host sisters took care of that. I just watched the fish in amazement because my host dad and host brother caught those fish. As a girl who has never really been fishing, I was shocked that they could actually catch fish that big and that many too!


Said Fish

This morning was really chill. We stayed in our PJs well until lunch time and I just sat around with my host sister as we watching American Nickelodeon shows. Eventually, I returned to my room to actually be productive. I wrote some blog posts and then I finished my Korean homework. I had done the workbook pages at school on Friday, but I had to also write a short paragraph comparing two different popular types of public transportation {in two different countries}.

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떡국과 만두 (Rice cake soup with dumplings)

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I skyped some friends from home this morning too! ❤

Then during the late afternoon, I went to this fair for children they were having near the subway station with my host sisters. I believe that the fair was sponsored by the local libraries? Around the square, there were tents set up with different activities like a Halloween storytelling, decorating bookmarks, drawing WEBTOON style stories, etc. You could tell that my youngest sister felt a bit uncomfortable having only me there so she went home to get her mom. My eldest host sister stayed with me and we made our own bookmarks together. We used stamps to decorate them and I wrote a cheesy wish on mine: to be able to read books in Korean. {We can start with children books.}

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We kept walking around and got this free rice shack that popped out of this machine. There wasn’t much taste but I enjoyed the snack. We also took a photo with 고양시’s mascot which is a 고양이 {cat}. After that, we continued to walk down the main street near the subway station and I realized that it had so many things: cheap restaurants, chain stores, makeup, clothes etc. I will have to go back to explore. While we there, we went into a store that I had never been to before but it reminded me of Olive Young {Korean store} and Walgreens. My host mom bought some beauty products while my host sisters bought a bag of jelly candy.

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The rest of the night was pretty ordinary. I continued to study well into the night. I came out for dinner with my host family—we had Koreanized spaghetti—and then returned to my room. I was preparing for a quiz the following day so I broke out my textbook, grammar book, and workbook to read through example sentences and practice the grammar points. I went to bed a bit before midnight which isn’t exactly unusual for me but I was studying up until I decided to go to bed. Usually, I study till 10 and stay up to watch YouTube videos, chat with friends, relax, etc so it was a different feeling— I was mentally exhausted that day.


10/15/18 Monday

This morning I slept in till 8 am, allowing myself to get 8 hours of sleep. I woke up and got ready in my room for a bit. I could hear my sisters leaving for school and my host brother eating breakfast while I was packing my bag and organizing my room. Eventually, I came out, and joined the world, to eat breakfast and such. I sat down and my host mom left with my host brother for their daily routine. I ate breakfast alone but enjoyed the peace and quiet— I also got to talk to some friends while eating which was nice.

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Fried Kimchi Rice! The best breakfast!

I met up with Katie in 홍대 in order to go to a cafe and study for a bit. We chose to go to the cheesecake cafe I had bought my host dad’s birthday present at because it was so pretty! Plus there were lots of seats and good WiFi albeit a bit pricey. When we got there, we realized that it wouldn’t open for another hour so I went to Daiso to pass the time. I bought a folder for school {which I’ve been meaning to do} and two notebooks for school. I bought these really cute ones that had phrases about studying across the front.

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Eventually, it was 11 am and we made our way to C27 Cheesecake Cafe which is such an adorable cafe. There’s this giant roller coaster that goes through the entire cafe and it lights up. There’s a huge Ferris wheel and gears that move and silver and gold balloons hanging from the ceiling. There are so many good places to take pictures but because Katie and I were high key grinding for our assessments, we only took photos at our seats. We will have to come back {not right when it opens so the cheesecakes won’t be frozen} in order to get photos. I spent the two hours memorizing vocab words on Quizlet and practicing grammar points while Katie studied linear algebra and vocabulary.

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Around 1 pm, we left the cafe and headed over to the youth center and hung out with the other students in the lobby. I left a bit early to walk to class and I ran into Josh on the way there. We talked about his day of school and the struggle of being good enough at Korean to continue a conversation but not good enough to do much else {also talked about his struggles with Korean girls fawning over him. Oh, what a struggle! haha just kidding}.

In Korean class, we got distracted many times from our lessons to have random conversations. We talked about Korean couple culture for a bit and how that differs from years past as well as American culture. This class was a bit difficult for me because I had some trouble coming up with example sentences for many of the grammar points. I would sit there believing I knew how to use the point but when asked to make a hypothetical situation to use the grammar, I was speechless. Class ended and we were saved by the “bell” really because we were going to do this conversation activity that I hate but we ran out of time. *happy dance*


This is a lovely drawing of Josh’s brain which includes candy corn as the biggest category, Korean, dragons, coffee and saying “ah yes.”

After Korean class, I went home right away— arrived just a bit past 6 pm and the train wasn’t that crowded. When I got home, I ate dinner with my host sister and host mom before my sisters had their Chinese classes in the living room. I went to my room, closed the door, and studied. I finished the workbook pages I could do and made some Quizlet sets. I even got to talk to my mom via video call for 40 minutes which was really nice. When I was texting her good morning, I started getting teary-eyed for no reason; I was so confused. When I asked her if she was busy and she replied with cleaning the bathrooms, tears started falling from my eyes onto my desk. She then told me to call her if I wanted to talk so I did. And the minute the camera turned on and I saw her face, I started crying. I tried my best to muffle the cries so hopefully, my host family didn’t hear them but my sniffles were pretty hard to mask. Eventually, my mom started updating me about what had been going on back home which made me feel better and I soon stopped crying.

I don’t know it was like all of a sudden I was so emotional and missing everyone and everything. It was my dog’s birthday the day before and my mom sent me a video of my dog Biscotti eating bacon and her singing happy birthday to him in a silly, high-pitched voice and seeing that video made me sad. It made me miss my mom and my dog because I missed his first birthday. And the other day I video called almost all of my big group of friends back home and talking and laughing with them made me miss them so much. Additionally, my mom has been kind of bad at texting me lately so I think that messed with my head, too. Basically, all these things added up to feeling so very homesick although I’m having a blast in Korea. And it’s strange to think back too because I was not homesick really at all during the summer program. I mean sure there were times when I missed my mom and wanted to see her but I never had an emotional breakdown over it. I know this year will be different but it hasn’t even been 6 weeks! Or 5 for that matter…

But I know have such great, supportive people surrounding me like my resident director, my host family, and all my NSLIY friends {especially Katie ❤ I couldn’t survive without her!!} and I know this unexplainable {but pretty reasonable} crying will continue throughout the duration of this program, but I just need to dry my eyes and remember that this will be a year to remember forever and always. I must make the most of it!

That’s all for this blog post~ Thanks for reading and I’m sorry for getting a bit emotional at the end but that’s a real exchange for you!!! Emotions!!

  • Emma 엠마

Wearing Hanbok at Gyeongbokgung, Tongin Market, and Playing Board Games {10/13/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/13/18 Saturday

The first cultural activity/excursion of the NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year 2018-2019 Program! I had been looking forward to this day for so long because it was rescheduled about three times. Originally, we were supposed to have this excursion back in September; however, I am happier that it was put off till now because the weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold. It was a perfect day to be walking around the palace grounds wearing hanbok.

We all met at 경복궁역 early in the morning around 9 am. I did not have time to eat breakfast because my host family was still sleeping by the time I left the house and I decided to prioritize sleep over giving myself time to buy some breakfast on the way to the palace. When I got to the meeting place, 민정쌤 said I had 3 minutes to go by something. I ran down the stairs with Josh and Jack (as they wanted to buy coffee) but I decided to give up as I saw nothing in the direction they were running towards. As I was about to return to the group, I saw this small bakery around the corner and I went to scout out what I could buy for breakfast there. At first, all I saw were cupcakes but then I saw a 치즈크림번 (Cream Cheese Bun) and I ended up ordering that. I was technically one minute late when I returned with breakfast in hand, but the 인천 girls still had not arrived yet so it was not a big deal. Jack and Josh returned with no coffee and I told them I found a place selling coffee so they left to get some.

All 16 of us piled into the 한복 rental place and basically filled up the entire room. We put all our belongings into lockers and then got to pick out the skirts and tops we wanted to wear. We were picking from the traditional 한복 rather than the premium (more modern) dresses. Though, I definitely want to return to 경복궁 and the 인사동 area to take photos wearing those types of 한복. (Maybe during the spring? I would wear a brighter color like pink or blue~)

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At the Hanbok Rental Place

I really wanted to wear a red 한복 to match the architectural aesthetic of the palace and so I picked out this red skirt with some flowers lining the bottom. At first, I imagined a white/gold top to match with it but the lady that was assisting me picked out a dark emerald green top instead. I loved these two colors paired together. I was worried it would remind me too much of Christmas… but I thought that it was too pretty and very traditional. Later, Kaitlyn told me that I looked like a “cute little tomato” which I took offense at first. But honestly, I rocked that tomato look!

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Happy Laughing Tomato

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We took so many photos! I would not be surprised if our resident director 민정쌤 took several hundred photos. We took several group photos with and without our NSLI-Y banner. Not only would our RD have tons of photos just because of the sheer of amount of locations we posed at, but because she would also take photos by holding down on the button so that she took photos in bursts. We could hear the insane amount of shutter sounds and could not help but laugh.


NSLI-Y AY 2018-2019

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One thing that I still find so weird when visiting such touristy places is how some of the other tourists react to seeing other foreigners– specifically some of the Chinese tourists. While we were posing for group photos or individual shots, many of them would come up behind our RD or whoever was snapping the picture to take photos of us. I was so confused as to why they were taking our photos– especially without asking. At one point, while I was walking around the palace with a group of NSLI-Yians, this one Chinese man came up to us and tried to take a selfie with us girls without even asking! He just came up to us and put his arm and phone in front of our faces. I quickly ducked and ran under his arm away from the group with Liam and Josh. I turned around to see him walking towards another student and getting her to take a photo with him. I do not know exactly why but this makes me feel so uncomfortable. Maybe I am over the honeymoon phase where pictures and stares are not a big deal– the attention might be liked; however, I do not think like that. I find this treatment utterly comfortable.

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3반 – Jacquelyn & Josh & Me! (My Korean Class)

Walking around the palace in 한복 was such a fun experience~ I got to hang out more with NSLI-Y students I do not see as often due to our different locations, host schools, and language classes and talk about how we have been. But also, just walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the architecture and feeling like I was transported back in time was amazing. I did not get a chance to do this during the summer program, so I was happy to have the experience today~

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Follow me around the Palace Grounds!~ ❤

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After we finished up our two-hour rental with the 한복s, we walked over to 통인시장 (Tongin Market) for lunch. I visited 통인시장 with my Korean class during my participation in the NSLI-Y summer program in 2016 and loved every moment of it: ordering food using traditional money, eating the delicious food, and being able to walk around and see everything the stalls have to offer. We were given 10 엽전 (Korean brass coins — an old form of currency) pronounced yeop-jeon which is the equivalent of 5,000 won or about $5. We were set loose to get whatever food we wanted and boy, did I get so much food. I tried to get a good variety that was different than what I ate last time. I think I succeeded!

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엽전 (Korean brass coins — an old form of currency)

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Left to Right: Alix, Josh, Jack, & Kaitlyn

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Spicy Chicken, 잡채 (Sweet Potato Noodles), 만두 (Korean dumplings), some kind of 전 (Korean style fried savory pancake)

Our cultural activity officially finished after lunch, so we were let loose to do whatever we wanted (while abiding by program rules of course!) I texted my host mom asking her if they had any plans for today because I did want to stay out a little bit longer. She let me know that there was nothing planned and that I could come home whenever was comfortable for me. I ended up going to 이대 (the area around 이화여자대학교– Ewha Woman’s University). We went to this cafe that doubles as a study cafe (there is another room on second floor that is completely quiet for studying purposes) called Waffle It Up. We ended up staying there for about two hours talking and playing card games. We played Go Fish and Flip (A new card game I never knew about previously: Jacquelyn taught it to us.) while enjoying our cafe orders. Katie and I shared some waffles and a scoop of gelato which was not badly priced at all! (It was about $7!)

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We walked from that Cafe in 이대 to 신촌 just to walk around for a bit as we had some energy left. While we were there, there happened to be this battle game championship in the streets, a market festival type thing, and live music. It was very interesting. We then walked from 신촌 to 홍대 where we split up. Jacquelyn, Liam, Josh, and Jack decided to keep walking around while Katie and I decided to go home. I was tired and thought I had been out long enough while Katie wanted to do college applications and study math. Before we separated to go on our respective train lines, I found a phone in the bathroom. I brought it to the station info center and asked this worker where the lost and found center was. At that moment, someone called the phone, so I gave him the phone to deal with it. I felt bad for leaving him with this problem but I was not about to answer that phone and possibly talk to the owner. I already had trouble explaining the original situation to the worker. I hope that person found their phone alright!

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I got home a bit before 5 pm and spent the rest of the evening catching up on blog posts (I finally caught up! I am back on track~) and bonding with my host family. For dinner, we ate fish that my host dad and host brother caught that morning! I guess it was their attempt to redeem themselves from catching nothing when we all went to 강화도. We also ate 회 or raw fish which was tasty when I wrapped it with lettuce and put some sauce and garlic on top. Later that evening, I played a board game with my host sisters and host dad that very strongly resembles Monopoly. It was called the Blue Marble Game (부루마불게임) which is called Blue Marble (even though blue marbles are never used in the actual game) because the Earth is kind of like a Blue Marble? To be honest, I have never heard of the Earth being referred to as that but you live and you learn I guess~ Basically, the board game had many famous cities from all over the world and you have to buy them for their property value in order to earn lots of money to by building hotels and such. The game was fun but confusing at the same time because I kept landing on spaces that required me to draw cards but most of the time I could not read the card. Additionally, Korean money over 5만원 (~$50) confuses me so much so this game helped me feel more comfortable saying and figuring out larger amounts of money in Korean currency. My host sister ended up winning while my host dad had to sell all his cities and became bankrupt. I guess that meant I got second place? It was a very fun game and I would love to see how it would be different to play once my Korean improves more.

That is all for this blog post!~ It is a long one because of how much I wrote (we did a lot okay!!) and because of all the photos I have added to it. Nonetheless, if you got through it all, thanks~ I hope you enjoyed~

And Happy New Year! I am posting this on Jan 1st in both Korean and America on purpose– just so I could say Happy New Year and genuinely mean it!~ I hope 2019 is filled with plenty of happiness and good people for both you and me! I have some goals that I want to accomplish regarding my time here and my language progress, so hopefully, those resolutions (if you will) will actually be completed!

  • Emma 엠마