Pre-departure Orientation (June 27th-June 28th)

{So… I have been back in America for more than a month now and I never posted while I was in Korea. Not even one measly post. However, I did start some entries and I kept a journal so for the next few months I will be uploading posts about my time and some informational posts too like my favorite cafes, food, what I packed etc. This first post will be about PDO in washington.}

On June 27th, 2016, I found myself up at 7am all excited about the adventure that awaited me. (Well, once I made it to the airport and flew to Seattle). Going through the airport is so different when you are by yourself. I’ve only ever flown with my mother and siblings so going through security by myself and finding my gate by myself made me feel very independent. Security was a breeze (Especially because I got to keep my sneakers on). My gate was all the way on the other side of the airport from my security checkpoint so I had a long way to walk. As I approached my gate, I scanned the crowd trying to look for the familiar faces of the other Nsliyans on the same flight as me. It wasn’t till I heard quiet shouts screaming “Emma” when I finally found Angie and Jesse. There was an hour until boarding time so we just hung out and talked until it was time. We also met up with Kyle who showed up a little bit before our flight was scheduled to take off. The 4 hour plane was ride was really hard for me. For some reason I was really restless and my plane was super hot. I just couldn’t find any position that made it comfortable to sleep. After a super long shuttle ride, all the O’hare airport kids and LAX kids made it to the University of Washington. We got to the school around 3:30 or so and were greeted by our resident director and a couple of other IEarn program coordinators. There were two long, plastic tables that had Nsli-y Korea taped onto them.

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Our AWESOME Welcome to Seattle, Washington {Picture Credit @ Hailey}

When we got to the university, we received a lanyard with our name on it and a bag with goodies such as snacks and pens. After we collected our things, we got our room assignments and tried to figure out how the wifi worked (No wifi in the dorms. Only in the lounge area).

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My cozy.. and quaint little dorm room.

Everyone hung out in this lounge area that had a pool table, ping pong table, and a piano. I hung around with my really good friend Angie (my plane buddy) since she was the only one I was close with at that point in time. While we were there, the university had some Japanese exchange students as well. Some of the kids in my program spoke Japanese as well so it was really funny seeing them interact with the other students there.

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Angie and I snapchatting all the Nsliyians surrounding the Japanese kids like they were a zoo exhibit.

At around 6ish we finally got dinner which was an all American food- pizza! Dinner was very fun because I got to hang out with and talk to people that I hadn’t had much time with since I arrived. Angie and I sat down with Vinzent, Ava, and Adilene and they continued to prove to me that Nsli-y scholars are amazing people.

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We talked about our Korean studies and what we were most looking forward to in South Korea. At this time, I also met my Korean Resident Director. Our first conversation together was about Korean dramas. It was a good one.

After dinner was when the fun began… ICEBREAKERS. Well, I know many people wouldn’t call it that but I found it really enjoyable. From all the blogs I read about PDO, I was excited for all the awkwardness! We did a lot of things on the first night. We had to line up by date of birth (Without talking)

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Our birth line (It was not by year only month and day)

and then when we were in that line, we stated our name, our birthday, and a fun fact (my fun fact was that the knuckles on my ring fingers are basically nonexistent). Then we did a game of human bingo and this weird hand clap game that I couldn’t do and I also dont remember it. We wrote a constitution for our Nsli-y program and lastly (THE BEST ONE) we did Karaoke! That night we found out who the singers were on our program. We sang BTS, Apink, Taeyang, and Exo. It was a great way to end the night.

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Angie & Tise Dancing to BANG BANG BANG by Big Bang

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Trudi singing Save Me by BTS

The next day (June 28th) I woke up at the crack of dawn to take a shower and get ready for breakfast which was at 8am. After a lovely breakfast of waffles and fruit, we had lots and lots of presentations. These included presentations on culture shock, language learning, basic rules, program safety, and the experience of the two alumni (Zhuhur – Summer 2014 & Ben – Summer 2015} that were there with us. Dinner was at 5:30pm and I ate with all these girls and all we talked about was our excitement for the next day since we would be hopping on a plane! The dinner was also pretty funny because when I was in line getting my serving of pasta, these Japanese exchange students behind me said my hair looked like ramen (It was funny retelling the story to everyone at the table).

After dinner, a group of girls (Sofia, Rhea, Mckenzie, Teresa, Jane, Abigail, Cynthia, and Sura) and I went down to this lake on campus.

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The day couldn’t be complete without a selfie of some sort.

It was a pretty long walk and on a hill too! We just hung out on the dock talking while sticking our feet in the water. The dock was fun to sit on as the waves from the boats would move the dock up and down.

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Try to convince me that this isn’t beautiful.

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Top Right: Cynthia, Abigail, Sura, Jane, Rhea, & Mckenzie                                                        Bottom Right: Theresa, Me, and Sofia

We even asked a random stranger to take our picture. (He then jumped into the water which boggled my mind since it was literally ice cold!) It was a fun excursion (even though Sura almost got us lost on the way home).

We got home and I just hung out with my roommate Cynthia and Sura in my room and we just talked (Are you sensing a trend?). At night all the Nsli-y kids had to write their goals, a letter to themselves, and take a survey before the end of the night and at 10pm (curfew) the RDs came and collected everything.

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View looking out from the balcony of the lounge area

And that was my PDO experience. I can’t wait to be posting more about my time in Korea and I hope everyone liked reading this post! I will update soon. (HAH)

Emma  엠마

The best journeys answer questions, that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.  – Jeff Johnson

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