School President Assembly, Korean Politics Project, and Cafe Study Date {03/13/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

03/13/19 Wednesday

My first class of the day was 국어 and I was able to get a seat next to the two first year girls I met during the last class. If I remember correctly, their names are 이언 and 민지. Today the teacher said some things that I was somewhat able to understand but then there were other times that I literally was able to follow along with absolutely nothing. At the end of class, he asked me if I knew the definition of one of the words but I was so lost. I watched him explain what it was but the whole time I had thought he was talking about that certain type of rope exercise equipment at the gym that seems to be only used by famous people or literal personal trainers. I later found out that the thing turned out to be some old tool used for laundry (called Dadeumi — 다듬이). Wow, was I wrong! This whole time! 

After 국어, I had my English mentor ship period which just ended up being a free period because the kids have not been chosen yet. I spent the whole time finishing up a blog post and being unproductive on Instagram. {This was kind of justified by me because I would be having 세계사 (world history) for the next two hours and I was pretty sure I could just do work during that class which is basically what I did! At the beginning of class when the teacher passed out the notes sheets, he also passed one to me and said, ”Please receive this.” At that gesture, I felt kind of compelled to try in the first half of class but after about 20 minutes, I gave up on that endeavor and just took out my workbook and did that during class {with the occasional break every so often to try to see if I could understand anything on the board}.

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Me feeling dead during my free period…

Katie and I ended up eating early today with 혜지 because she was having a counseling session with her homeroom teacher at 12:30 and if she didn’t early, she would have had no time to eat lunch. She was feeling really guilty about eating that early since it is time reserved for third year students only but since we came to eat with her, she felt better about it. Lunch today was nice, the line was short and the lunch room wasn’t as loud as usual—we were able to hear everyone talking. Plus, the food was pretty good! There was a nice pasta dish and these fried potatoes that were basically hash browns. 

After eating lunch, we had 40 minutes to kill before class which was such a nice feeling to have~ Katie and I got to do something that we have been meaning to do for awhile—explore the 하나고 campus. We walked around the several courtyards and even went up this back path behind the track to find some exercise equipment {the ones that are famous for being used only really by 아줌마s–older Korean women. We goofed around on those machines for a bit and walked around the track several times before making it back to have our last class of the day. 

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My last class was Politics and Law which we spent half the class reading from the book {I was really not able to follow along… though during break, 다은 explained one thing on the note sheet to me which was about people being submissive to their bosses even though they have different opinions. I think it might have been an example of political efficacy. I also asked her about the student election and she explained that to me. I also know now that 기호—which was written on all of the posters—means number and that 후보 means candidate.} and the other half was spent in our political party groups. We spent the hour finalizing our party’s platform and our pledge/slogan. I was literally barely any help as I didn’t even have the vocab to understand much of what they were discussing. We also have a debate next class about refusal to complete the mandatory military service and an alternate system that could be created. I feel like I should maybe prepare something? Or at least a comparison with America in case I am expected to participate… Anyways, I felt pretty useless in that class today. 

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Here is one of the posters from one of the potential candidates! He created his poster to the likeness of the hit Korean drama Sky Castle! Soo cool!

Although Katie and I would usually go to a cafe after school on Wednesdays to study {if there were no club meetings}, today was playing out a little different. We ended up making our way to the art center to watch speeches from the students running for school president. We had to split up and sit with our homerooms which was a headache in itself cause I have no friends yet…

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The speeches were all done by first year students except the last two which were groups of 2 second year students {boy and girl}. A lot of them had really good ideas for ways to improve the school for the students that included a space for eating outside {surprised they don’t have this yet…}, a stationary store with more options than the convenience store, better speakers for the school announcements, door stoppers, and even healing events. Although it was hard for me to stay awake during all of the speeches, it was still really entertaining at times {Especially the high quality edited videos! These kids have talent!}. After the event at the art center, Katie and I left to spend some time at the Twosome across the street to study. I went out of my comfort zone today and got a strawberry and peach frappe which was more like a smoothie than anything but it was nonetheless delicious. The color of the drink reminded me of a tomato smoothie {not my favorite thing in the world…} so every time I saw the color, my brain would quickly think of tomatoes before I would remember that it was not. 

We planned to also get 떡볶이 at one of the street food stalls on the way home but it ended up being closed that day so we had the next best thing: 호떡. 

When I got home, I ate dinner with my younger host sister and my host mom as my other sister was hanging out with her American friend Ellen {She did NSLI-Y too—AY & Summer} since it was her birthday. We had a 진수성찬 as my host sister put it seeing that we had so much 반찬 and big dishes of 잡채, 해물파전, and some seafood that we eat so often (and yet I can remember the name!_ I think that this meal made me realize that I must change my favorite Korean food. It is no longer 잡채. Rather, it is actually now 해물파전! So delicious !! 

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For the rest of the night I researched and wrote my proposal for my individual research project which is going to focus on mental disabilities in Korea, specifically Autism as it is heavily stigmatized here. I think it’s going to be an interesting topic to learn about~~ I just hope I can find some good information on it! 

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With my host dog Andy~~~

Well that’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed~ Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마 

 

Korean Classmate’s Birthday and 편의점 아주씨 Makes My Day! {03/12/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

03/12/19 Tuesday

Tuesday was 윤세’s birthday so Katie and I had to casually bring her giant gift into the school without looking too suspicious. While we were trying to accomplish this, we saw Jason쌤 arrive at the front gate of school right before us. We attempted to sneak past him and even walked up the stairs slower than usual so that he would get to his floor on the elevator before us. We saw him walking to his office and thought we made it but then while we were speed-walking to our lockers, we heard a loud voice say, “Hey, you two!” We stopped in our tracks. We turned around slowly to see Jason쌤 walking towards us. We told him that we were not purposely trying to avoid him but that we had some “illegal contraband” in our possession (aka ramen the most sought after outside food at 하나고). It was our little secret that he was now aware of our situation. We were trying to avoid any adult figures…Okay, spy game over. Jason쌤 was cool and laughed at us for trying to be so sneaky about it (“Like they would punish the American students” he said) but in the end, we WERE successful in getting the gift to our lockers without many head turns.

My first class of the day was my English mentorship class but students have still not been chosen yet so I spent the morning just writing a birthday card to 윤세. Second class of the day was music with Katie which ended up being a lot of fun liked I had hoped. During the part of class when the teacher gives instructions, I was completely lost since I cannot read music at all and could not relate the new Korean vocabulary to my existing knowledge of music since I literally have none. I guess the funny thing is now I will only be able to read music and describe it with Korean terms. When the teacher passed out a worksheet for us to fill out, I looked at Katie with such a pouty face because it felt terrible having to participate but not know what to do. Katie, being the doll that she is, helped teach me music intervals and the order of the notes with the letters of the alphabet. I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I was able to get questions right without Katie’s direct assistance. Look mom, not only am I learning Korean on this program, I will come back a music prodigy as well!! (This is major sarcasm for those that cannot tell I am joking).

한국사 was my third period and rather than pull out my Korean homework, I decided to try by best at understanding what was being taught in class. I have this class with third years and was inspired to actually give listening a shot. I really could not understand much but there were words here and there that I was able to pick up which helped me feel like I was somewhat following along. There was one part about education during the Joseon Dynasty that I understood which made me feel proud for the rest of the class–yup, just by understanding one sentence! Fourth period was another English mentorship class which was spent with me sitting on the ground on my knees (There were no free chairs in the discussion room and the librarian had trouble acquiring a chair for me for the longest time…)trying to finish my workbook as fast as humanly possible. I also went a bit crazy adding the words I did not know from the workbook into my Quizlets and ended up with two 100 word Quizlets to memorize for that class period since we were having a quiz in class that very same day! That fact totally slipped my mind until I started completing my workbook so I somehow {somewhat successfully} studied 200 words from lunch till arriving to 홍대. (Though I will say that I had studied both sets {back when they had like 70 words} earlier that week so it wasn’t like all 200 were new words to me.)

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Our 한국사 teacher also always gives each of his students a piece of hard candy halfway through the class period to boost motivation (and keep students from falling asleep…) Such a kind and sweet gesture!

When lunchtime rolled around, we found 윤세 and 혜지 and gave 윤세 her gift but we decided to skeet out of lunch then because the line was unbelievably long. Rather than eat at the cafeteria, we went to the convenience store in the 한옥마을 and ate some kimbap there {We also ate some 호떡 to add some more healthy food to our already nutritious meal…}. We HAD to stop by our favorite 호떡 stand and get some of that goodness! {Dude I’m not kidding… when winter ends and 호떡 is no more… what are Katie and I going to do???} 

Class today wasn’t the most productive… usually on these days, we would have studied three grammar points but last class we did not finish the book work so that bled onto this class. We also spent a lot of time talking about lots of different topics unrelated to what we are currently learning. Although I really enjoy these discussions, I do not participate as much as I should {which I know is my own fault} and so I end up just siting there quiet, shaking my head the whole time and taking notes. It’s not the most helpful to me. 

Our teacher came in late today so we had to start our quiz without her. She actually gave me a folder yesterday with the quizzes inside and told me to bring it to class. I guess this was why, she knew she would be late to class. Although my tactic of cramming 200 words the hour or two before class is definitely not a long term strategy of mine, I did do just fine on the vocab section! I only got .5 points off for not using past tense in one of my answers for a grammar point. Yes!!! I haven’t had a quiz grade this high in awhile… 

We also had a discussion on food combinations that we talked to our friends at school about. There were the expected popular ones like 치맥 {chicken and beer} and seaweed and rice but then there were rather interesting ones like pickles with pizza, jam on grilled cheese, and the worst one: 김치 and ice cream/cake. 

During one of the Korean class breaks, I went to the 편의점 with Shada to buy some snacks. The usual 아주씨 that works there greeted us when we came inside. For the first time since coming to Korea, he told me the price of my items in Korean rather than English! This may seem like the smallest thing ever but I was so happy. Also, after Shada bought her stuff, he gave us a free snack— vitamin (candy) gummies. He was so sweet! 

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Shada and our free gummies!

After class we had our OPIC orientation. The OPIC is basically an OPI but over the computer so there is no real person speaking with you {but it only measures speaking language abilities}. On Saturday, we will be taking it as a way to familiarize ourselves with the post program OPI and to see where we stand according to that measurement right now. 1반’s teacher held the orientation cause she is well informed about the program and explained how to do everything during the test as well as what we should answer for our answers. {Since it is a computer test, there is no person to gauge what things they should talk about with you from your previous answers so there is a survey with topics you choose and those become what you will get asked about during the test.} At one point we were practicing and on the second example question, Shada just throws the mic to me basically and says that Emma will answer. I was so nervous and mad that she did that to me because there was no part of me that wanted to speak Korean in front of everyone. The question was easy—it was was about your experience traveling and what you packed in your bag. I didn’t answer it badly… but I did use the wrong tense. (I answered in future tense when I should of conjugated it in the past tense.) 

Once the orientation was done, I was still figuring out whether or not to return to 하나고 to do a 면접 with my economics club from last year because 지현 had asked me to. However it was after 6 when we finished the orientation and I wouldn’t have been able to get to the school till 7:30 and the thought of having to make two 40 minute commutes overwhelmed me so I ended up going straight home {and having a convenience store dinner cause I told my host mom I would be eating at school.} 

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My new favorite drink! It is an apple and cherry blossom juice from Minute Maid ❤ It is everything!

Well, that’s all for this blog post! I did some work and then I definitely did NOT stay up till midnight (for no reason) to just watch the movie the Last Song on Netflix… yup… Till next time! 

  • Emma 엠마

 

자기 소개 Gone Right?? And Birthday Present Shopping! {03/11/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/11/19 Monday

It was the start of a new week–my first full week at 하나고 {seeing that last week, we didn’t go to classes on Monday and I did not go to school in its entirety on Thursday}. Katie and I were as nervous as ever about the new day but we tried to keep those negative emotions out and focus on overcoming our worries. 

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My first class of the day was 정치와 법 {Politics & Law} which is the class I have with 서린, 혜지, and 윤세 so I was not worried about the seating situation for that class at all. I mean, I had three chances to sit next to a friend! I had this class on Wednesday as well but the class is taught by two teachers {One teacher for two hours on Mondays and the other one teaches for two hours on Wednesdays}. So today would be my first time being taught by this particular teacher. 

When she walked into the room, you could see the worry across her face once she caught a look at me. She walked over to 혜지 and 서린 next to me and asked them “Is she an Exchange Student? Does she speak Korean?” and other questions such as those. I was sitting there feeling like I might as well have been invisible since she wasn’t directing any of the questions about me TO ME even though I was able to understand everything. I know she was probably doing that so that I wouldn’t feel bad if I couldn’t understand her but it didn’t make me feel any more acknowledged… 

Once it was established that I could speak Korean, we moved on to the teacher explaining the class structure to all of us. She had certain students stand in front of the class and do some type of low-key {but very stressful!} interview like 자기 소개 (self-introduction) in front of the whole class. She started picking students randomly and they would just have to go up to the front of the class, stand behind the podium, and answer questions about why they chose to take this class, their interests in politics, etc. 

By the time break time rolled around, we still had not finished. I began to worry that she might actually call on me to do one! And my worries became reality as I was the first one to be called on at the start of the second period. She didn’t know my name so she just said from the back of the room “How about our exchange student now.” In my mind I was like “yeah, let’s hear from them” before I realized that that person was in fact… me. 

I was shaking when I went up to the podium. This class had a lot more students than most of my other classes and having them all stare at me was so nerve wracking. Maybe if I was 서린 and easy going enough to feel comfortable in front of people I would not have been so on edge, but I wanted to prove something to myself too—that I can actually speak Korean. 

I went up there and did my usual opening line that ended up resulting in literally everyone in the class clapping for me. To which the teacher exclaimed “Oh you must be popular.” This made me quietly laugh as I couldn’t possibly be any farther from popular at this school. I ended up explaining my future career goals and the fact that I took a politics class in high school in America. While I was explaining this, I was able to smoothly speak without many hesitations—besides natural pauses—and I even used some good new grammar {things that I definitely didn’t know last semester}. While I was speaking and said a particular part of one of my sentences, practically everyone gasped. At first this startled me but then it actually gave me the much needed confidence to keep on going. She asked me questions about how I got interested in Korean, how long I’ve been here, and if I’ve studied before coming.

After I told her my best friend in middle school was Korean, she asked me if we were close and everyone including me laughed because I literally said my best friend {in Korean it literally translates to close friend}. This was a nice moment because I was actually laughing along with my classmates for once. What a new development! 

 At one point, she asked me (more or less with this directly translated): Since coming here, how has it been? For a moment I froze, she used a grammar point I learned but she said it in the shortened more casual way which threw me for a loop for a second. However, I quickly calmed myself down and thought of the question again. I realized I did know what she asked so I just went with it. 

I told her that life in Korea is not only fun but also rewarding which led her to ask what about it was rewarding. This stopped me in my tracks cause I needed to think quickly on my feet to be able to answer. I started speaking, without really thinking too seriously about it, and talked about the fact that in America, as long as I studied hard, I would be able to understand everything but in Korea because I can’t speak Korean (well yet) there are a lot of difficulties. However, when I am able to overcome those things and get good results, I feel like everything is worth it. After I said this sentence, everyone clapped for me but I knew it was genuine. It was not the in-genuine way people act impressed or shocked when you say a simple sentence like “Hello my name is…” or something of that nature.

After that class, I had some advanced English writing class with Andrew쌤 which I was worried I would know no one in. It was a third year class but I only know a select group of second years (last year) since my homeroom and most of my classes were with first years. When I walked in, I double checked my room with one of the girls (because my schedule loves to be wrong as of late…) and she asked me if I knew anyone in the class to which I responded no, of course. She then, with some hesitation, told me I could sit next to her then. But right as I was sitting down, 서연 {from 영미문학} came in  and I was so happy to see such a familiar face. The girl saw that we knew each inter after we shrieked about missing each other which then caused the girl I had just met to tell 서연 to sit next to me instead. Actually, I often did not sit next to her in my English class last year because her desk was often in the back with no empty seat nearby so I would sit next to 지원 and her friends or with 예성. I was excited to be able to get closer with her now. 

Class was typical. We did some free write in the beginning about what core class should not be mandatory {I talked about my experience in high school so I went with physics}. We also went through steps of the writing process which was honestly a nice refresher since I haven’t written an essay in such a long time! 

Katie had a presentation in Korean class today and had yet to memorize the whole thing so we ended up skipping lunch at 하나고 and going to the 편의점 instead right by Better World for some delicious 김밥. 

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In Korean class today, we really didn’t get much stuff done… we finished the one grammar point we had started the previous class but besides that, we spent most of the the time talking. Today’s topics included age of consent, abortion, chastity, and age differences in relationships in Korea. It was an interesting discussion to listen to but since I didn’t really participate, it was kind of hard for me to feel like it was helping me improve in anyway… I do not know why I am like this… I can understand everything and yet I do not contribute my own thoughts or ideas.

After class, we had our first bi-weekly meeting since December at which we talked about the OPIC coming up and lots of due dates for our individual project. So many things are coming up! It’s quite overwhelming! Not only did I have the meeting, but I also had my monthly goal meeting with 주연쎔 afterward so I ended up staying with her and talking till almost 7 pm! Literally! We started our meeting at 5:30 but we didn’t end the meeting until 6:50-ish. 

This is not me complaining! I enjoyed our conversation so much! She asked me about basic things like host family life and school life and how I am feeling about Korean class. We also went over my OPI and she talked about the comments regarding me being really nervous about the fact that it was over the phone. I also told her about the fact that I was asked the most basic question about describing the area around my apartment complex but because I skipped around with textbooks (especially since I wasn’t taught with 이화 books) I didn’t know how to do it. Besides that, she said that I was good at sharing my opinion even when I don’t know the topic too well and that I didn’t make many simple mistakes… the latter one threw me for a loop because I felt like my teacher said the opposite? 

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Regardless, we talked a lot about language learning—plateau, setbacks, losing English, confidence, and those rewarding moments. 주연쌤 is such a nice person to talk to and she gives the best hugs! After our meeting ended, it was too late to go home for dinner with my host family, so I just spent the rest of the night with Katie figuring out a birthday gift for our friend 윤세! We got a text from 서린 while we were at the cafe letting us know that it was her birthday the following day, so we had to put something together really quick. We ended up buying her a cute little beige and pink hippo stuffed animal (So that she could have something tangible to remember us by~ She can put it on her bed in her dorm!) as well as some ramen (since they cannot buy it at school) and a real slice of cake! We figured that a birthday (at least to us) is not complete without some cake and we were not quite sure how birthdays work here… we wanted to be certain that she was getting something sweet to celebrate the day!

I took the giant present back home and literally came home and sprawled out on my bed wanting to do no work for the rest of the night. Somehow I found motivation, pushed through my urges to spend hours mindlessly scrolling on social media, and studied some vocab and worked on my workbook for a bit. I ended up being successful at getting to bed at 11 too! 6.5 hours of sleep! What a concept! Well anyways, that is all for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading. 

  • Emma 엠마

 

Visiting 숙명여대, Cute Cafe Find, and Curbing my 떡볶이 Craving {03/09-10/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/09/19 Saturday 

Katie and I talked a lot at the cafe last night trying to make plans to spend our weekends doing new things—spending the time we have left wisely! We were against going to any area we have been to on multiple occasions **cough cough basically 홍대** cough cough. 

I threw out the idea of having Katie visit the university I took NSLI-Y summer class at: 숙대여자대학교, which she was down for! I figured we could go there and walk around (I could show her all my 단골집s) and the school itself. After a short tour, we would study at a cute cafe before going to a cute restaurant that was the first place I ate out at in Korea—with my host mom. 

To get to 숙대, I ended up using the same route I used during the summer program {before Tucker showed me the ways of Seoul buses} which mustered up some nostalgic memories. I even took photos of the ugly station because I wanted to remember it… walking out into the actual station, I immediately remembered the exit I would take. Last time I was here, with Addie, we went out a different exit but this time I was taking Katie the way that was so familiar to me.

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We walked up the large hill to the university and I pointed out everything that was of importance to me during that summer: 오빠’s 계란빵 (older brother’s egg bread) shop with the inflatable egg on the roof, my go to place for bubble tea, the random pink Waffle House that popped up our last week, the frequently visited 김밥천국 (kimbap heaven), the cafe where I would eat waffles instead of real food, the hello kitty restaurant, the school book store, and even the pharmacy I bought slippers at when my socks got soaked from the monsoon. So much has changed, but so much was the same as well. 

We went to the top of the hill to see the school but because of the construction they did during the fall, the front looked completely different. Before there was a huge staircase leading up to an open courtyard of sorts that led to one of the buildings {these stairs were a real pain to climb…}; however, now there was a huge glass building acting as a lobby perhaps at the front of the school. That part was completely different so I instead had Katie take photos in front of the big sign of the school to commemorate my return. 

After that we kept walking along the street to find a cafe to go to and study at. A part of me would have taken her to one I’d been to before but instead, I wanted to find someplace new and cute! While we were walking, we passed by this small little sign advertising a cake cafe with the cutest decorations on the drinks. We decided to try it out even though the fact that it was on the third floor of some building really intimidated me at first. We went up and soon realized that it was a cafe that works a lot like 놀숲 in the fact that you take your shoes off and get to enjoy your drinks and private little spaces or cubbies. The sign actually said that children under 13 where not allowed inside. I guess they are really trying to upkeep a chill atmosphere. 

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We came in and immediately started freaking out over the cuteness of the entire place. The grass carpet, the cute stuffed animals, the swinging stairs, the colorful pillows, and the sparkly (tinsel?) curtains were too adorable. Unlike 놀숲, this place just required you order a drink and you do not have to pay by how long you spend there. I ordered a toffee nut latte as I really wanted to switch things up since this cafe was a new experience! 

At the cafe, we took advantage of the really good lighting and took lots of pics before getting back on that study grind. I was able to review two grammar points as well as edit a blog post so it was pretty productive. After our two-three hours at the cafe, we left to have a late lunch at this restaurant called Best Friends with the best set lunches {with 떡볶이, 라면, 만두, etc} and very cute Hello Kitty decor. Unfortunately, we went there and realized that was some bad news written on the door: Saturdays are off days. I was upset at the fact that I couldn’t take her to this place but because we loved the cafe so much, I knew we would we back at least once more time and would then get the opportunity to try out the restaurant together! 

Instead of that, we went to a cafeteria style restaurant that was actually my last meal out in Korea during the summer program! I ate there after our graduation ceremony with some other NSLI-Yians and supporters because my host family had to work and couldn’t spend the rest of the day with me. They had really good food and it was cheap too so I knew it would be a good place for us. 

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Katie had some meat and rice dish while I ordered a bowl of 떡볶이 because I’ve been craving the spice!! And it did not disappoint! There was so much food for only $5 so I didn’t even end up finishing it! 

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We went our separate ways after having lunch together (and after getting in trouble at a drug store… money is a bit lacking now…) and at home… I just did more studying and writing of blog posts… nothing exciting at all for my Saturday night! 

03/10/19 Sunday

Also Sunday… it was not an eventful day whatsoever. Originally, I planned to visit Katie at her station and study at a cafe together but I didn’t have money to spend on that and I needed to do a writing assignment which is always best done alone. I hung out in bed with Andy and even watched a movie on Netflix~ It was a really nice chill Sunday at home, not much to document. 

Well that’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! 

  • Emma 엠마

Presentations in Public Speaking, Falling in Love with 콩나물국밥, and Free Snacks at our Favorite Cafe?!? {03/08/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/09/19 Friday

I had somewhat gone to bed early on Thursday night seeing that I had no Korean assignments due the following day so I was in a good mood when I woke up this Friday. It was also our first day back to school wearing 생활복 which always means an extra ten minutes of sleep! (Do not underestimate the amount of time a full uniform takes to put on…)

While I was making my normal commute, I looked out the window of the 대곡역 platform and got to watch a really beautiful sunrise. I realized that even though I am annoyed by this commute at times, I’m going to miss it dearly when it is not a part of my daily routine. 

For first period, I had music class with Katie but we soon found out that we were not with the same class we met on Tuesday—but that we were in a different section. This meant that the kids were not the same bubbly group that knew we spoke Korean after interacting with us on the first day. Katie and I sat in between this group of girls and basically kept to ourselves. 

During the second half of class, we began singing this famous Korean song called 아름다운 나라 which is honestly such a bop {but seriously it is a really beautiful song}. I can’t read sheet music so I had no idea how to sing the song, so I just followed what I thought everyone else was doing. I listened to the way they sang and followed closely behind. I got confused every time there was a repeat of a line but soon I realized how to read that symbol {music people must hate me for not knowing any of the names…} Katie and I both had a really fun time singing the song! {So much so that I purchased the song on iTunes so I can listen to it during my morning commute!} I feel like music class is going to be such a fun class—mostly because I’m able to take it with Katie~ 

After music class, I had public speaking with 서린 which would be my first English class of the week and my first class taught by Jason! I walked into class and I sat down next to these two random girls because I couldn’t tell if 서린 had already dropped her bag off or not yet. When she came in to see me sitting by them, she was offended at first. It was pretty funny. 

The girls I sat next to were named 수빈 and 민지. When I first sat down, 민지 told me that she hadn’t gotten the chance to take a class with me yet so she was super excited that she finally was able to. 수빈 also asked me what my age was and mumbled under her breath that “Isn’t Korean age different?” In which I replied “Yes.” She was spooked for a quick bit—forgetting that I did speak Korean in front of her just before then. 

Jason came in and began class with this annoying Metronome ticking and making fun of these two guys in the class. He pointed at them and said that they were allowed to sit wherever they want but if they choose to, they may not see their English skills improve. After he said this, one of the boys turned to the other {in Korean} and asked “Did you understand that?” And the other replied with, “No.” which made the entire class laugh. 

It also may have just been the first day of class, but we were starting off right away with presentations. The topic was “Something that is important to you.” I decided to do mine on memories. 서린, being the lovely person that she is (note the sarcasm), tells Jason that I did speech team in high school?? Thanks for raising his expectations 서린아!!! 

Everyone presented for around 2 minutes about something that was important to them. I realized that a really common term for the presentations was anything revolving time at 하나고, which makes sense… this is their life. But it made me wonder if I would have answered similarly if I had done this topic in my communications class {basically my school’s version of public speaking} during sophomore year. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I would even have mentioned my school’s name. There were quite a few kids that were really good at English which always impressed me beyond no end. 서린, for one, had a really great speech about having confidence to go out of her comfort zone when learning English. She hadn’t lived abroad, traveled intensely in an English speaking country, or gone to an English kindergarten/academy when young, but she was never afraid to speak to foreigners and that is how she improved. Honestly, she’s inspiring.

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One of the kids in the class (기준 is his name if I am correct; he was also in Bisera–economics club–with me last semester) gave a speech on roommates and talked about his last semester roommate who was on the wrestling team and would use him as a punching bag every single day. At this, 서린 turned to me and said that his roommate really did look like a thumb. I was shook because I feel like I would have noticed a walking thumb around the school hallways? But maybe the school uniforms can hide a person’s thumbness? 기준’s speech was exceptionally funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Jason pointed out at the end that he definitely would have gotten first place and me second but I was not offended! I was never a good speech-giver anyways. 

Eventually, it was finally lunch time and I was ready to eat! The spread today was good as it included chicken and strawberries! Real, raw fruit at lunch? Wow, what a concept! Lunch was fun as we discussed where we wanted to go for the school trip {we decided to vote for 제주도} and then we talked more about the differences between our school systems—like AP classes! I tried to bring up the disparity among different schools in America explaining that private schools usually only have higher class people and are often religiously affiliated. I also brought up Chicago public schools and how the poor students who attend them often don’t have the same resources as other schools. This conversation was brought up when the girls asked Katie and me what AP classes we took and I explained that every school has different classes. 

After lunch, Katie and I hung around the halls to find our lockers because we actually have some this year! And, they actually had our names on them too {On  sticky note paper rather than fancy printed name tags like the other students but I’ll take what I can get!} We had our free period in the library at this time so we just chilled in the study room and did work. I’m pretty sure I spent the whole time editing a blog post and saving photos onto my computer to use for said blog post. 

The last period of the week for me was 미시경제학 (Microeconomics) with 서린 and the same teacher that I had last semester. When she walked in and saw me, she greeted me and welcomed me back. She also asked 서린 if she would be able to help me during class which made me feel bad… like a burden to 서린. I hope she doesn’t start regretting having so many classes with me… 

Our teacher started the class off with talk about what we were going to do for the semester before handing out a sheet of paper to all of us that included a brain map and questions to fill in.

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At the end of the class period, we started playing this economics game that showcased how supply and demand and luck plays an influence in farming. This was a game I would expect in an American class too except the food we grew emphasized the fact that we were in Korea. The vegetables chosen were 배추 (lettuce), 무 (radish), and 고구마 (sweet potato). In American classrooms, we definitely would have used corn. At least, in my class back in the Midwest. 

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View from the school!!~

After school, Katie and I yeeted out of the school after speaking with some of our friends for a bit because we were planning to go back to our favorite cafe to study. Shada was coming too so that Katie could help her with SAT math problems. It had probably been almost half a month since the last time we were there, so it was nice having the owner remember and acknowledge us and how long it’s been. 

I was feeling some sort of random wave of confidence when I went up to order so I told her that I wanted to try out a new drink as she knows I always just get a hot green tea latte. I asked her what was good on the menu and she helped me narrow it down to a fruit smoothie of some kind, I went with strawberry. Also, while we were hard at work, she brought us a little tray of free nuts which was really nice of her~ Free snacks!! I wish I could only come here more often… now that I don’t live at this station, there’s really no reason for Katie and me to meet there when we can just go to each other’s stations. 

I left the cafe after an hour and a half or so and went back home to have dinner with my host family. We ended up going out to eat at a well-known place called 남도복국 out in 파주시 right near where June used to live! It was a place that was open 24 hours and my host sisters told me that it got really popular because taxi drivers would eat there and the food they served was built for the taste palettes of 아주씨s (Older Korean men) if you will. However, the food they served here was also just good in general {to the general public} so it became known as a 맛집 (highly delicious restaurant!)

We ended up eating 콩나물국밥 (Bean Sprout Rice Porridge) with a side order of 생선과 감자 튀김 (fish and fried potato) which was all very very delicious. While we were there, they asked me if there were any 24 hour places in America besides fast food chains. This led me to describe diners and the cozy, homey feel they have. I also tried my best to explain comfort food… This talk made me really miss the local diner by me that served the best chocolate chip pancakes. The first thing I get home {when I’m still getting over being jet lagged} is go to that dinner at 2 am and order the biggest stack of these pancakes! 

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I spent the rest of the night just chilling in my room watching this Korean Web Series. You could kind of call that productive? Well that’s all for this blog post! Till next time~ 

  • Emma 엠마

 

NSLI-Y Academic Year Packing List (South Korea Edition) // 9 Months in South Korea

안녕하세요 여러분!~

I posted a blog about my packing list for my NSLI-Y summer program (You can read that post here) because I figured it may help a few people. I know that when I was first traveling for NSLI-Y (and even now to be honest…), I watched countless Youtube videos and read numerous blog posts on the topic of how to pack for about a month-long trip. When I was an alumni leader at last year’s NSLI-Y Seoul Summer PDO, I had a quite a few students tell me that they read my blog– and that they appreciated being able to look at my packing list. So I figured I would make another one! A list that was a bit more daunting to make because of the length and characteristics of this trip. (For example, seasons! I won’t just be packing for summer weather, but every possible season.)

Well, I hope someone finds this helpful! I will be bringing a personal item (backpack/purse), a carry-on, and two large-sized pieces of luggage (which will be checked bags).

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What I Will Wear on the Plane:

  • Sweatshirt
  • T-shirt
  • Leggings
  • Sneakers

Carry On

(No weight restriction but the bag must fit in the overhead compartment of the airplane.)

Note: In the interest of ease, I am packing all my heavy winter clothes in my checked bags while my lighter summer/spring items will be in my carry on. I will be wearing these clothes at PDO, the hostel, and during the first couple of weeks in Korea, so it is more convenient to have everything in a smaller bag then buried in my checked bag.

  • 5 T-shirts
  • 7 Blouses (more like nice/dressy summer tops)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 skirts
  • 2 summer/spring dresses
  • 2 pajama shirts
  • 2 pajama bottoms (one thin, long pant bottom and one pair of shorts)
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 workout/comfy T-shirts
  • One pair of nice winter boots
  • One week’s worth of undergarments
  • Laundry Bag
  • Tote Bag
  • Travel Scale

Toiletries Bag

  • Travel Size Conditioner (x2)
  • Travel Size Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Travel Size Body Spray
  • Mascara
  • Concealer
  •  Travel Size Face Wash
  • Tooth Brush
  • Toothpaste
  • One Razor
  • One Bar of Soap
  • Travel Size Shaving Cream
  • 4 Sheet Masks

First Checked Bag

(International Weight Limit: 50 pounds)

Note: I will be bringing two checked bags. Most of the stuff I am bringing in my second bag will be taken out/used up by the end of the program: toiletries, snacks, host family gifts, etc. My first checked bag will mostly just have my fall/winter clothes and essentials.

  • 1 Sweat Shirt
  • 1 Jean Jacket
  • 1 Zip-Up Jacket
  • 4 Sweaters
  • 1 Dressy Collared Blouse
  • 4 long-sleeved shirts
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • 1 pair of yoga pants
  • 5 pairs of leggings
  • 4 pairs of thick wool stockings (black)
  • 2 pairs of sheer black tights
  • 3 pairs of sheer nude tights
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 1 winter dress
  • 3 camisoles/undershirts
  • More undergarments
  • 2 knee braces*
  • Winter Scarf
  • Winter Gloves
  • Winter Hat
  • One pair of nice sneakers
  • One pair of Dressy Flats
  • Deodorant (x8)**
  • Shower Cap

(I packed a lot of tights, leggings, stockings, etc because assumed that was what I would be wearing under my uniform skirt during the cold winter months. The sheer tights came in handy and I did wear those on a daily basis but I never wore stockings/leggings (except for finals week) because none of the other girls did. Mock me if you will but I suffered through the winter with my bare legs exposed for the sake of fitting in–I did have a long padding jacket, though. Another thing I bought because it was trendy…)

Miscellaneous

  • 3 notebooks
  • 3 packs of highlighters
  • Laundry bag for delicates (x3)
  • Pencil Case (with highlighters, pens, pencils)
  • Brownie Mix
  • Retractable Bag
  • Candy Goodie Bags (for host siblings)

Second Checked Bag

Toiletries Bag

  • 1 Bottle of Shampoo
  • 2 Bottles of Conditioner***
  • Face Wash
  • Bar of Soap
  • One Package of Razors
  • Feminine Products (x6)****
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Cold Medicine (Day & Night)
  • A&D Ointment
  • Nasal Spray (for a stuffy nose)
  • Toothpaste (x2)
  • Ibruprofen (x2)
  • Travel Stain Remover
  • Acne Treatment

Miscellaneous

  • Heavy Winter Coat
  • Large-sized Towel
  • 2 washcloths
  • School Backpack
  • One Jar of Peanut Butter
  • Bag of Breakfast Bars
  • Tuna Packages
  • Stuffed Animal
  • Host Family Gifts*****

Personal Item

(Backpack/Purse)

Note: I would have used my school backpack as a personal item but I will be flying JetBlue to NY before flying Delta to Korea. JetBlue, being a budget airline, has stricter baggage restrictions. I used this backpack for three travels this summer (to NY, Florida, and Seattle), but it does not abide by JetBlue’s restrictions. So I am opting to use a backpack purse instead.

  • Important Documents
  • Passport
  • Headphones
  • Travel Snacks
  • Wallet
  • Water Bottle
  • (new) charging cable and cube
  • Portable Charger
  • (new) headphones

*I have knee issues (They just love to pop out of their sockets during the worst times…); therefore, I have to bring braces in case I do any strenuous physical activities like hiking, taekwondo, etc.

**If you listen to one thing from my list, let it be my tip on deodorant: PACK PLENTY. Pack enough for your whole time in Korea if you can. Korean deodorant formula is not the same as American brands and so it tends to not be strong enough–Plus, if you do find the American stuff, it is really really expensive. Just bring it!

***I have curly hair (a hair type that isn’t too represented in the Korean population (besides the 아줌마s and their perms), so I am bringing plenty of my favorite hair conditioner. I know I will run out while I am over there… so I will just survive off Korean brands.

****Period products in Korea are quite different than what is used widely in America. Tampons are quite difficult to find and so if you use those, bring plenty. Pads are available but a lot of them are on the lighter side so feel free to bring them if you need pads for a heavier flow. I brought enough pads to cover my entire time in Korea just because it was easier for me and they are cheaper in the states.

*****I am bringing host family gifts for my first host family and my host family from my summer NSLI-Y program. I think that a blog post about host family gifts would be a really great idea, so I plan on writing that in the future (probably after I get back– it can be an inspiration for the next batch of NSLI-Y summer and AY students). When I finish that, I will link it here.

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Thank you for reading this post! I hope this helps future NSLI-Y AY students while they are figuring out what to bring and how much.

Update: Both my checked bags were around 42-43 pounds… so I did it! 😉

  • Emma 엠마

No School!! Pancake Brunch at Travel Maker in 홍대 (Hongdae) & Dinner with my Korean Teacher {03/07/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/07/19 Thursday

Today I got to sleep in till 8!! I honestly took for granted all the sleep I was able to get during winter break… mornings that usually started anywhere from 8 to 9:30 in the morning. Now, I have to wake up before the sun is up; 5:45 am is too early to be awake! 

Why did I get to sleep in? Well, today was some national mock exam of some sort that I did not have to take since clearly I am not a student here {full-time student at least} so I, along with all other NSLI-Y students, did not have to come to school! In order to use our morning well, Katie and I went out for Brunch! We wanted to try something new {besides Flapjack Pantry mostly…} so we walked down these random alleys trying to see if we could find this brunch place that Katie very vaguely remembers seeing during one of our walks last week. After walking around for almost and hour, we did end up finding a brunch place but their idea of brunch seemed to focus on sandwiches? And not even good sandwiches either… it looked just like average homemade sandwiches on white bread with the crust cut off… not my thing. So we gave up and decided to go to Travel Maker! We had both been there previously but not with each other which made it feel kinda new? Plus, they recently moved locations since the last time I was there so it was like I was there for the first time ever. I ordered strawberry and banana pancakes and Katie got the same thing but in a French toast version. 

We enjoyed our time to chat together before Korean class {While we also did some last minute cramming— Katie memorizing words and me rehearsing my presentation for that day}. 

Class today was actually really good! I felt that I participated more than usual especially during the part of class when we discussed what we talked about with our host families. {Every week from now on, we will have a discussion in class about a conversation we have had with our host family and or school friends about a topic that was given to us beforehand.} Today’s discussion was on 미세 먼지 (Yellow Dust–air pollution) which I talked to my host sisters about last night at dinner and boy, did they have some strong opinions. 

Then this morning, I wrote down sentences that summarized all that they had said so when it was time for the discussion, I was able to use those sentences as an outline to talk about all that I did. I made mistakes here and there but because it was prepared, I felt confident in what I was saying!

We also went over the TOPIK tests that we took over the weekend… Luckily, my reading and listening scores went up {barely like I’m talking a couple points if that but hey… it is something}. 

The rest of the class periods were spent going over the reading passages in the chapter and we did start the grammar for today but only were able to get through 2 rather than the usual 3. Today was also presentation day but we only got through mine … I felt sorry for the others but I’m glad I got mine out of the way! 

After Korean class, I was supposed to have a little 상담 or (counseling) meeting of sorts with my teacher and so I figured we would just go to a cafe and chat but we both forgot that Thursday classes end at 6 pm meaning that we were both quite hungry. {I also wouldn’t make it home in time for dinner if I did the meeting with her}. Because of that, we decided to get dinner together instead!

I am not exactly sure where we ate but she drove me in her car and it didn’t seem to be too far of a drive from around 홍익역. At first, I thought the restaurant was a place serving Japanese food but they also had pasta and other western style foods there too–a little on the pricier side, though. My Korean teacher ended up ordering some type of Hamburg steak while I got 돈까스 (fried pork cutlet–One of my true love’s here in Korea!) But before we got our main meal, we got served soup and bread rolls! I was so surprised to see bread served like that.

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Dinner with my Korean teacher went really well. Before I warmed up, got over my nerves, and became comfortable, I felt really awkward speaking with her. Because class had just ended, I needed to try very hard to get out of the academic mindset. While eating with her, I had no reason to worry and mull over using advanced vocabulary and or grammar points. I just needed to speak and express the words that I wanted to say. 

She asked me how I was feeling in class and overall with my Korean abilities. I talked to her about the last TOPIK practice test that I took and how I kept putting it off until the last possible moment (particularly the reading and listening test). I explained that the huge amount of unknown vocab words and grammar in these sections makes me lose confidence and dislike the test taking project. However since the writing section depends only on what I know, I really enjoy completing that section. My Korean teacher reassured me that I should not be disappointed with not knowing what comes out on the TOPIK test seeing that we do not cater our current Korean class to the TOPIK exam. She said that I just need to continue studying vocabulary (like I have been doing since the beginning) to continue to raise my score.

We also talked about my bombed OPI… I told her that I was not like that when I took the OPI before starting this program. I was really nervous but there were no extreme silences or as much stuttering as there was when I did do the OPI with her over the phone. I also opened up and mentioned that when I do it in front of her, I have to stay strong because I am being watched but when I was in the break room alone, I almost started crying when I got overwhelmed with the questions being asked. 

In addition to that, I explained my issue with speaking to some students at 하나고. My issue being the fact that I will have things to say or I will feel the urge to say something but then I am too much of a chicken to act on the desire. However, during other moments, I have no problem just speaking my mind when I am surrounded with friends or in emergency situations. But also just random confidence boosts! My teacher gave me some advice after assessing that I think too much when I try to speak Korean (and she literally could not have been more right). Lastly, she suggested that I try to persuade the other students to talk to me by offering them candy. (I will be using that one…)

My teacher also talked to me about my personality and the type of a person I am. She said that out of everyone in the class, she sees herself–the most–in me. She also exposed Josh by telling me that he confessed to her that seeing me studying so hard motivates him to also put in more effort to study Korean. Whether it be because of my organized notes or my countless Quizlet sets, he honestly believes I am the hardest worker among the class. Josh is such a great friend and I am so lucky to have him in my life! She told me that she too is impressed with all that I do with my pretty notes (She asked me where I learned how to make them so nice! And why I do it. Apparently she wants to bullet journal which she thinks I would also enjoy.)

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My Lovely teacher!

We talked a lot and stuffed our faces with really good food~ She also paid for my meal which was really kind of her! I definitely could have paid for it. When we finished eating, she got up right away and booked it to the counter while I was putting on my coat. I could see what she was doing then! Overall, it was a really nice evening spent speaking with my teacher. I honestly could not ask for a better Korean language instructor. What would I do without her? I am a pretty difficult student to teach (I have some extreme lows and not so frequent highs…) but she somehow finds a way to help me through everything. I am grateful.

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Andy is such a mood

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

First Full Day of Korean High School, Voting for Homeroom Class President, and After School Street Food {03/06/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/06/19 Wednesday

Although I’ve been a whole bundle of nerves this entire week, today I woke up more nervous than I had been for the previous two days. I would have to blame it on the fact that I knew it would be a full day—all 6 periods and eating lunch at school. There was no excuse of Korean class to whisk us away to a temporary haven with the other NSLI-Y students. If this day was going to be a long one, it was was going to be a long one. But even though I was so nervous, I was also super excited to visit my new classes especially because I knew I had some friends in them. 

The morning was exceptionally cold and it would not have been bad if Katie and I had worn coats, but we were set on just wearing our school blazers as our only form of outerwear protection. On the bus, we panicked over our days and what we might find ourselves doing in each class. We also ran into Andrew taking the bus. Apparently, Katie is in a first-year class with him and I am in some advanced writing and reading class with third years. {I know this might be extremely wishful thinking but… if I had the class with 세림, I would most definitely freak!} 

The first period today was 국어 (Korean language) and I have the same teacher as I did last semester! He’s a really funny guy that can sometimes make total sense to me and other times I struggle to understand whatever he’s saying. However, I really appreciate the effort he puts in to include me in his lectures. He likes to translate {or have other students translate} random words to English to me while he’s lecturing as if that one single word will help me understand everything. {The effort is really sweet and I do love when he does it!} And he also asks me questions too! Sometimes it’s embarrassing since it is almost always in front of the whole class but I would rather be embarrassed than ignored. 

At the beginning of the class, I sat down next to these two girls {this is a first-grade class} and they seemed so excited to talk to me as they instantly asked me my name and I did the same for theirs. Though, I feel bad… I already forgot their names… I will have to pay attention next time the teacher runs through attendance so I can talk to them during break again! 

When the teacher walked into class, he saw me and greeted me and had me do a quick introduction in front of the class which is when I pulled out my 자기 소개. After I finished my one second long, very basic introduction, everyone gasped and clapped for me—surprised I could speak Korean. My teacher then told everyone that I took his class last semester and know everything really well—especially the goat story. He told them that he would tell it later during the semester. I honestly really hope he does, it would make me happy to see how much of it I can now understand and to see what I got wrong the first time. It also cracks me up that he still remembers that I ACTUALLY understood the goat story. (I will link that blog post here!)

During class today, he just talked about himself so that we could get to know him more. He told us his three favorite Korean words {자유, 여유, and some other word that had some 한자 written in it so you know I didn’t understand it.} He also explained to us the three best times to drink coffee {and if you can get these to all overlap, it will be the best cup of coffee you’ll have ever had to drink}. Before he explained, he also asked me {and a couple others in the class} if they like coffee. 

What were the three situations when coffee tastes the best? 

  1. When it is raining— the pitter-patter of the rain and the mood a gloomy day puts you in just matches well with a cup of coffee 
  2. Drinking with a loved one {He used the word lover actually which has a stronger connotation.} He painted the picture of sitting in a cozy living room with your loved one on a rainy day. 
  3. When the following day is a 쉬는 날 {rest day/off day}. He said that this one is what makes the coffee taste the best as it too knows that you have time to relax the following day. 

I like to believe that this can be applied to something that I actually like… like perhaps cake? I feel like it could also fit these criteria! But anyway, I really enjoyed this class because I was able to understand probably 70% of it? I felt some sense of accomplishment then. 

After 국어, I would normally have an exchange student lecture class but they haven’t chosen the kids yet {Though 혜지 said during lunch that she applied! It would be really cool if she got chosen! They must be picking the groups now.} so I just hung out in the meeting room with Katie as we both wrote diaries/blog posts during the class period. 

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Next on my schedule was 세계사 {world history} which was a second-year class but I literally knew no one in the class. I sat down next to these two girls and one of them offered to share her textbook with me which was really sweet; however, I gave up trying to follow along during the second period of class. I had the teacher for this class for the first time ever and he didn’t even acknowledge me when he walked in the room. He could obviously tell that there was a new student and that she was a foreign one at that… but nothing, not even a greeting. I’m not expecting him to make time for me to introduce myself to the class but… if I was a new Korean student, there is no way he would have ignored them like he did for me. 

Could I have been the bigger person and gone up to introduce myself during the break? Yes… but I did not do that. He put on a soccer game during the break which he and the other male students seemed pretty engrossed in. 

Because of this off-putting atmosphere, I really didn’t put much effort into paying attention to his class {plus I was having trouble staying awake} so for the second hour of class, I took out my workbook and did that instead: I almost finished a full chapter and a half which was good work since I had been falling behind with my workbook. 

Eventually, it was lunchtime and I knew I could count on Katie and my other friends to cheer me up! Today’s lunch on the other hand, kind of made me more depressed because we were given this weird, strange meat patty. The other students seem to enjoy it but Katie and I really do not like these type of lunches…reminds us too much of weird school lunches back in America (and Salisbury steak which I hate!) Lunch was a lot of fun~ We talked about our first impressions of our class so far (and gossiped a lot about the English teachers). Luckily, Katie and I both have a friend in our public speaking classes (혜지 and 서린 respectively). We both talked about how excited we were to have a class taught by Jason–and more excited to have more time to speak with our friends! Though I will admit… I am not looking forward to having to give speeches. I may have been a captain on speech team in high school, but I still have major stage fright or presentation anxiety if you will.

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After lunch, I had my politics and law class which I am taking with 윤세, 혜지, and 서린! I cannot believe I got lucky enough to have a class with that many built-in friends! No awkward small talk for me! The teacher of the class seemed nice but also kind of strict (He very much reminded me of my AP Gov teacher from senior year; they had the same vibe.) When he did roll call, he, of course, did not say my name (which is usual) but asked the class to let him know if their name was not called. My friends started whispering to me and told me to let him know that he did not call on me. I waved it off and told them it was okay. It kind of bothered me but it is what it is… Though it is not that hard to include my name on the class list… but that is beyond the point.

The teacher went through the syllabus and surprisingly, I understood basically everything he explained! But then he got onto the topic of our first-class assignment which was to get into groups of 5-8 to make our own political parties! (I needed a lot of explaining from 혜지 to know what we were doing because I do not know any political vocab words!) I formed a group with 혜지, 윤세, 서린 as well as these two other girls whose names I have yet to learn. We talked about our party’s name, its pledge, code of commands, and who would be voted as the president and speech giver (Is there a fancier word for that?) 

The party’s name is a play on words and means a party that will bring others up but is also the same name as a chemical polymer called Oligosaccharide in English. Our party name is 올리고당! We decided to focus our party’s goals on the environment and education–as well as one more aspect that has yet to be decided. 서린 told the other girls that I would be attending Columbia University majoring in Political Science which made them all want to vote me in as the president of the group but luckily 서린 reminded them that I would be leaving in May which might be troublesome if this project continues till past then. She also told the teacher about my future academic plans… I hope this doesn’t mean he is going to ask me political questions and ask about America’s political climate because I am not in the loop at all…because I am here…

But anyways, at the end of the period, the teacher had every single political party send up one representative to read what they had prepared for their platform and also answer impromptu questions thrown at them from the teacher. I did not understand too much if I am being honest, but it was interesting! 서린 did a really great job presenting about our party. Actually, we were the last ones to go and the bell rang in the middle of her speech. Right as the bell went off, 서린 sped up her pacing which made me laugh. Overall, I am really excited for this class and for what is to come! I hope it will be fun!

Since school was supposedly over (or so Katie and I thought), we made our way to Twosome Place to study for a bit before going home for dinner. We saw the usual male employee and chatted to him about the start of the new semester. He looked visibly sad for us when we told him that we in fact did not return to our countries during the winter break–we were here the whole time. We ordered our drinks and went upstairs to our usual table but we were not there for long…because 하나고 민정쌤 texted Katie and asked where she was because the homerooms were having class elections as we were across the street at the cafe. 서린 and 혜지 told me that they were hoping to get elected for class president but even with them telling me that, I totally did not put two and two together. 

We decided to leave all our stuff at the cafe and we ran back to school as quickly as possible to try to be a part of our homeroom elections. When I came inside the classroom, my teacher immediately gasped and apologized to me since the students had all already voted. They were just counting all the ballots as I walked in the door. Even though that was the case, I was still happy to have joined them at that point–last minute or not. Also, while I was there hanging out for that hour, I got to talk to some of the other students in the class. One girl, 혜선, helped add me to the class group chat and complemented my shampoo, saying I smell good. It was funny and also cute. In addition, at the meeting, they passed out 2019 calendars as well as their version of a yearbook that included letters written by all the third years. It may seem like something very trivial… but I felt included because of those two things. As I stood at the back of the class (at a standing desk) flipping through the booklets like everyone else, I felt like a part of the class! As for the results of the election, a kid named 우선 was voted as the president and another student–예진–got the second most votes so she became the vice president.

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(Also, the calendar included an art piece by one of the male students from one of my English mentorship classes last semester! I messaged our group chat afterward to congratulate him on the feature.)

Katie and I returned to Twosome Place feeling happy and giggling about what had gone down in our classes. We cherished that moment (and the break from studying) well before getting back on the study grind! 

On the way back home, we stopped at this vendor near the market and bought some 분식 (cheap street food) to share (떡볶이–spicy rice cakes and 오뎅–fish cakes) and enjoyed that. It was my second time eating this type of food sitting down in front of a stall so I was very happy to have the experience. Plus, I had been really craving 떡볶이 as of late. I do not know what has come over me but now all of a sudden, I really crave spicy food! I had a full dinner with my host sister after coming home and spent the rest of the night writing my presentation and preparing that. One thing kept bothering me, however. This thing was keeping me from focusing entirely on my work. And it was all because I was so genuinely happy.

I was so happy due to the fact that I knew we had no school the following day! A free Thursday before class! All the students at our host schools would be taking a national required mock test of some sort, so we were not obligated to attend school. I was so excited to sleep in and enjoy a nice carefree morning that it was hard to finish my work this night. 

That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! I know the application for the 2020-2021 NSLI-Y programs came out a couple days ago and so I have noticed an influx of readers of this blog–many of them being prospective applicants. I want to welcome everyone to my blog and I really hope you enjoy the blogs that I have left! I moved into my college dorm yesterday and will be beginning my freshman year at Columbia University next week! Even though life is becoming more hectic as summer break is over, I hope to keep uploading blog posts quite regularly. Till next time~ Thanks for reading!!

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Music Class, First 급식 Meal of the Semester and Knowing Nothing! (03/05/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/05/19 Tuesday

Today was technically the second day back at 하나고 for the new semester but it felt more like the first day as yesterday just consisted of the 입학식 (the entrance ceremony for first years) and getting things settled within our homerooms. Today was the first day that we would be following our schedules AKA going to new classes and having to make friends! 

Today was also the first day of my new waking-up-at-five-thirty-in-the-morning-school-life. I woke up this morning and the entire house was dark; I had to pour my cereal using the light from the fridge to guide me because I was afraid of turning on a light and accidentally turning on all of the lights for the house as well (irrational fear? maybe…) I left my house before 6:30 am and jogged my way over to the subway station for my 50-minute commute. It was so early! However, a positive of waking up so early was that the train is not as crowded. I also have planned my train schedule to give me about ten minutes at my transfer station (one with good wifi and benches) so I have time halfway through my commute to communicate with Katie or any other friends. Also, already I am feeling grateful for this long commute in a weird not predicted way and that is because, with this extra time I am forced to commute, I have extra time to study vocabulary on Quizlet or write blog posts. I have only been doing this for three days (while writing this at least) and I have gotten a lot done! We love using our time wisely!

Arriving at school brought an expected wave of nerves as I realized that it was, in fact, our second day of school. Unlike my high school (that had block scheduling) and would only have 2 days with the “first day of school” feeling… our schedule was different for every single day of the week meaning we would be having 5 first days practically!

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My first class today was my English Mentorship (or as it is called in Korean– 교환학생 함께하는 공간–free period with an exchange student); however, I ended up sitting in the discussion room in the library for the entire period by myself. The library teacher explained to me that since it is the beginning of the school year, the kids for the class have not been decided yet. So I believe that Katie and I can accept 자습 (self-study) time during all of our scheduled mentorship periods this week (We have more this semester! I believe three instead of two?)

My second class of the day was music with Katie!! One good thing and one bad thing in that sentence, can you guess which is which? I was so happy that 민정쌤 succeeded in getting us a class together even if it’s for a subject I know nothing about! Never took a music class in high school {well I guess… now I can say I have}. 

When we first got to the music room, all the first-year students were waiting outside. When they saw us walking towards them, they started getting loud and obnoxious probably excited and or nervous to interact with us? When we got there they were all saying hi to us in English and then Katie pulled out the “Actually we can speak Korean.” card which caused almost everyone to visibly show surprise on their face and the boys got all loud and rowdy again. They asked us some questions like where we were from {When we said Chicago they kept screaming Simon. Turns out, that’s the English name of the vice-principal who attending graduate school at UChicago.} and our age {When I told them we were 21 Korean age, they all screamed again. I immediately followed up with the fact that they can use 반말 with us and call us 언니 and 누나 if they so please. 

Once we piled in the classroom, Katie and I sat next to each other in the very back. Our music teacher seems really nice and was very enthusiastic about having us introduce our names {though she probably mispronounced Katie’s several times.} There was also this boy in the back that asked his friend to tell Katie that he wanted to be friends with her! It was the cutest and most freshman type thing I’ve ever seen. 

During class, we filled out this music pretest of sorts which I literally failed! I was able to guess some notes correctly but I knew none of the symbols for rests in music. She also played two pieces of music that we had to try and identify. There was nothing filled in for that section! Overall music class was chill. She explained the rules of the classroom, using the instruments, and practice room etiquette. At one point she warned the boys from doing any roughhousing near the ceiling speakers because they would break. She called them out; it was pretty funny. 

After that class, I had 한국사 which was supposed to be with first-year students and on the fourth floor but when I arrived at the classroom, I was greeted by no one. I will say that I am pretty happy with how I handled the situation! Rather than freaking out, I went to the next class over and asked what class it was (in hopes that maybe the one written on my schedule was wrong). Unfortunately, they were still a first-year class and not the one I was looking for (영미문학 instead) and since this was only their second day of school, they had no good advice to give me. Actually, before answering my question, they exclaimed that my Korean was good and then asked if I was an exchange student. One of the girls just told me to wait in the room until someone showed up… I did for like 5 seconds and then I walked outside to find a teacher. One teacher passed by me and greeted me and I immediately ran up to him to explain my situation. It turned out that he was actually my teacher! And I was actually taking the class with third years instead so our classroom was on the 5th floor. I followed him up there and got to walk in after the teacher which was only a little bit embarrassing… 

These two girls recognized me and called me over to sit with them which was relieving. I avoided having to panic over where I should sit for this class period at least. This teacher seemed really nice and actually acknowledged my existence which isn’t always the case for my teachers… He had me introduce myself to the class even though most of them probably know of me by now since I was with them last year. In class, we just went over the syllabus, teacher expectations, and then got started with a little bit of the class. I was able to follow along just slightly by being able to connect the dots with the random vocab words that I did understand. I think this class will be okay!

Finally, it was lunchtime and we were going to be able to eat with our friends for the first time in a while! We all met up at 12:20 pm {the time 2nd graders are allowed to start eating} but there was already such a huge line! The food we had today was so good! There was 자짱밥 (black bean rice), 해물만둣국 (seafood dumpling soup), and 탕수육 (sweet and sour pork). Unfortunately, Katie and I had to rush out of there to get to Korean class on time but nonetheless, catching up with our friends was fun. On our way out, we all ran into 규원, 주연, and 지은 {the girls from my mentorship class last year} and we talked to them on the hallway a bit! We promised to definitely have lunch together sometime next week! I miss them so much!! 

(Since the freshman students are still new to eating in the cafeteria, there are still signs up explaining how to dispose of bones and clean up your tray at the end of the period because the lines are still super long due to the first years not exactly knowing what to do.)

Korean class was… average. Nothing too exciting. I didn’t feel very good about my speaking or participation this day but I also didn’t want to cry during the breaks so that’s a plus? Actually, I did forget the word for river… I looked to Josh and tried to explain the word with “a thing bigger than a lake…” Yeah… so maybe yesterday was not my day? 

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After Korean class, I went straight home so I had an hour to kill before dinner. This precious hour was spent lying on the floor in my room so my priorities are quite clear if you ask me. My host mom went all out for dinner with a lovely assortment of 반찬 (side dishes), fish, 된장찌개 (soybean paste stew) as well as my favorite Korean dish ever: 잡채 (sweet potato glass noodles)! It was all very tasty. 

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I told them about me coming out in the school’s newspaper! {Did I mention that in yesterday’s blog post? We did an interview a while ago and we just got the paper!} Here’s a pic: 

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After dinner, I went hard at work and studied the new grammar point from today and I made a new Quizlet. I have a lot of work cut out for me tomorrow since I let myself go to bed at 11:30… but you know, you win some you lose some. 

That’s all for this blog post! I know it’s another long one~~ I just feel the need to explain every last detail right now!! Besides probably not being able to finish this monster of a post… I hope you enjoyed anyways. Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마

 

First Day Back to Korean High School, 입학식 (Entrance Ceremony), and Picnic at the Park {03/04/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/04/19 Monday

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming sense of dread. The part of me that was excited for school to start yesterday must have stayed in bed because when I finally rolled out of it, all I wanted to do was stay home. I was tired and completely and utterly nervous about what the day might bring. There was no room for excitement in my stomach; there were too many giant butterflies and moths even, fluttering around in there. 

Luckily, the school day was starting an entire hour and 40 minutes later today which meant that I got to sleep an extra hour than what I will be getting for the rest of the spring semester… oh, joy. I pulled on my uniform and tried making myself presentable before scarfing down a small bowl of cereal in under 5 minutes—is there a record for how fast you can inhale cereal? 

When I got to the subway platform, the original train I was planning on taking zoomed right past me. It was at that moment that I realized it was a 서울행 train which is shorter than the other out-bound trains from my home station. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself by running to the first car so, I waited for the next train. Luckily, even though it was a later train as long as I yeeted my transfer, I could still make it on time. 

Katie and I planned to meet up at 연신내역 at 8:45 so that we could chill at the Paris Baguette nearby before heading off to school. We both did some last-minute homework while enjoying some expensive fruit drinks. 

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The bus ride to 하나고 was exactly what I expected: anxiety-filled, stressful, and too short.

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Around the front of the school, there were a lot of banners and signs for the 입학식 or entrance ceremony for the first years coming into the school. Katie and I knew that we were supposed to attend… but we were not sure where to go first thing in the morning. As we walked up the stairs to the art center, we ran into my friend 선민 {We took 통합사회 (Sociology) together last year!} who told us that there were no more seats on the second floor {where all the second years seemed to be sitting} but that we could probably just sit on the stairs. Katie and I went down to the front desk outside of the auditorium and I mustered enough courage to ask the students heading it where we should sit. Again, they said 2nd floor— I should have expected that reply. 

By this time, we had texted our group of friends to ask them what to do and through these texts, we were able to find out where they were. There were no seats so we ended up sitting behind 서린 and another friend during the entire 입학식. 

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The ceremony was actually really nice. {Or well, I bet it would have been if I was able to understand all of it!} They played an introductory video that showcased 하나고 in all its glory and if I was a Korean student, I would want to come here after seeing that video. They also had each first-year homeroom class last year make a video for the new first years which was really cute! All of the editors they had were really good! I’m talking professional level stuff! My homeroom class of last year edited their video in the style of that Snapchat meme trend that involved the lyrics “You so f*cking precious when you smile” but they did not censor the f word at all which made Katie and I gasp because that would not have flown at our high schools or probably any American high school. 

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There were also some speeches from board members I would presume as well as student performances and even one by two teachers {one being our new coordinating teacher Mike}. There was also this point in the ceremony in which the Korean flag was projected on the screen and everyone stood up and placed their hands on their heart. I’ve experienced something like this before and assumed it was gonna be something similar to the pledge of allegiance but luckily there was no chant in unison so I was able to just stand there. 

Katie and I also got to hear the 하나고 song for the first time! My school called it our fight song but since 하나고 doesn’t have sports teams… would it just be their theme song? School song? They put the melody and the lyrics on the screen so we were able to sing along. I probably won’t ever get the chance to sing it again but I think it would be cool to learn it! 

The last two parts of the ceremony were introducing the freshman homeroom teachers and the students in each class themselves. They played the graduation song the entire time and called down each student one by one and gave them some type of certificate of sorts. While the students walked the stage, their ID photos flashed on the screen and a little blurb of something that they wrote for the new semester/for their class. {Things like I won’t give up, let’s challenge ourselves this year, I hope we get close, etc} 

After the ceremony ended, we had an hour before lunch and we spent that in our homerooms. Katie and I were unfortunately not able to get any of our friends in our homeroom classes so I was dreading arriving there early. I sat at a random desk in the middle of the room and hoped that I wasn’t taking anyone’s spot or that someone felt burdened to sit by me. As I was sitting, 도윤, 윤세, and 혜지 surprised me by coming into my classroom and trying to cheer me up! They are probably more nervous about a new school year than I was yet they still tried to make me feel better and make me feel comfortable because they knew how the unknown and the thought of having to give self-introductions throughout the entire week was making me want to (lowkey) die. 

Eventually, a girl named 소연 sat next to me and we chatted about our feelings for the first semester. I would be switching homeroom teachers for this new semester as 민장쌤 was now Katie’s teacher. I was really worried about having a new teacher but when she walked in, she reminded me a lot of my Korean teacher. Her smile was very bright and she looked so friendly—I felt somewhat at ease. 

Our teacher explained where everyone’s lockers were and how they would figure out amongst themselves who would get which one {at our school, they call lockers 홈베스—literally, the English word homebase} and she mentioned that mine was somewhere else. I kind of understood this but at the same time I thought she was explaining instructions for what we needed to do which only stirred panic inside me but when 소연 re-explained things to me, I realized I was overthinking things. 

We then had to fill out this sheet with a lot of information about us like name, birthday, our dream job, where we want to go to school, our hobbies, our past awards, etc. I was proud to say that I understood most of the questions and only asked 소연 to clarify a few words here or there. (And to add on, when I ask students to explain or clarify things for me–I still ask them and have them answer in Korean!)

Once homeroom was over, it was time for lunch! The line was so long and 서린 explained that it was most likely due to the fact that the first years do not know when to eat yet. {My high school back in America had different lunchtimes too but here at 하나고, your grade determines what time you eat lunch: first years = 12:30 pm, second years = 12:20 pm, and third years = 12:10 pm}. We met with our big group of friends at 12:30 and we were still in line at 39 so Katie and I made the executive decision to leave and just have lunch before {or during} Korean class. We zoomed out of the lunchroom– trying to remember what we usually did when it came to bus and train times. 

Because we didn’t have lunch, we stopped by one of our favorite traditional spots on the way to Korean class: the 호떡 stand! The lady working the stall remembered us and said that it had been a long time! It was so nice to see her again and of course, the warm, delicious 호떡 were also just as inviting as ever. {Besides the fact that I spilled the sugary insides on my hair and vest within minutes of getting the pastry.} 

Korean class today was pretty good. We got to look over our monthly exams which I didn’t do too bad on! I only got 5 wrong on the reading {about a high B} and for the writing, I did better than I expected! Also for the grammar portion that really racked my head, I only got one wrong! I even picked the right grammar point… just used it wrong. For once, getting back a test did not put me in a bad mood. 

During class we studied the new vocab {from the workbook} and only two grammar points (rather than three) because we ran out of time. The vocab words this time around were less just words but actual phrases or expressions with meanings behind them that are used in very specific situations. These are harder than normal vocab words cause it’s not just one word with a very tangible meaning but often a couple words in a phrase that has a different literal translation to what meaning it actually has. Does this make any sense? For example, 발 뻗고 자다. This literally translates to “sleeping with your feet stretched out” and it is used when something that you were worried and nervous about has passed so you can now sleep well. {Wow reading this over I realize how LITERALLY stupid I am. I just tried describing what an idiom is in a terrible manner.} Excuse me while I lay my English skills down to die because, at this rate, I will return to America not being able to speak Korean or English it seems!

We are not allowed to speak English during the breaks between each class periods so rather than face that rule and speak Korean to the other students, I decided to just stay in the classroom and text my friends–beating the system. (Should I have gone out and talked? Yes… I am disappointed too…in myself.)

After class, I met up with Katie because we planned to have a little picnic near her subway station. There was this bridge with some nice steps underneath that we have used in the past to just sit and talk while eating an assortment of 편의점 (convenience store) food. We walked around the park for a while before trying to find this little 분식점 near Katie’s apartment (which is supposedly always there on Mondays) but today… it was sadly not there! We, instead, went to Paris Baguette and had some bread for dinner–healthy I know. Actually, while we were there chatting, her three younger host sisters showed up! So I got to meet them for the first time! They were all so adorable and I presume that since Katie has talked about me to them so often, they were not shy to speak with me (according to Katie, that is out of the ordinary!)

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After our “dinner,” we went to the nearest 7-11 to buy ice cream and ate that as our picnic under the bridge. Of course, I went for the old-time favorite– carp ice cream (When will I learn the name of this ice cream?)

I got home around 8 pm or so and spent the rest of the night either laying on my bedroom floor with my host dog wondering why I had no motivation to do work or actually doing work on my desk without my phone (no distractions!) I would consider it a productive night as I did finish all that I wanted to do… but then, on the other hand, I stayed up way too late for no reason. I went to bed past midnight which was usual for me during the winter break but now… I will have to wake up at 5:45 every single weekday! I cannot be surviving on 5 hours of sleep a night… Unlike the Korean students at 하나고, I cannot fall asleep in class. 

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That is all for this blog post! This post is over 2,000 words! But I had a lot to say so no apologies here… Obviously, I just have a lot to share but soon my school blog posts will become boring and repetitive once again (like they were back in November and December) but I hope you still stick around regardless. I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for reading.

  • Emma 엠마