Visiting a Cat Cafe in Myeongdong and Meeting Up With a HelloTalk Friend in Edae (July 27th, 2016)

On Wednesday (July 27th, 2016) I went with a bunch of my classmates to this restaurant close to the university for some lunch. It was a big group made up of Sofia, Tucker, Nicole, Casey, Jodi and I. It was a very traditional restaurant that served us plenty of side dishes and the menu was only in Korean — no English translations whatsoever. I had ordered a dish of cold water noodles (물냉면) since I had it the night before with my host mom for dinner and it was very very delicious. My host mom finished up work a little before 8pm so she called me on my Korean flip phone telling me to walk outside of the apartment complex and find her car and then we would go out to dinner near the house. We went to this  restaurant and I ordered the cold water noodles while she ordered spicy cold noodles (비빔 냉면). I loved it so much the night before, I ordered it again!

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물냉면

Cold Water Noodles (mul-naengmyeon — 물냉면) are predominantly buckwheat noodles that are very thin and chewy. The broth of the noodles is cold and icy. It vaguely resembles slushy snow water if that makes any sense. The broth is very tangy and a bit savory. It is mostly eaten in Korea during the summer since it is a perfect dish to eat during a hot day. It is one of the dishes I know I will miss the most when I come back home from Korea.

After eating lunch, Sofia and I headed off to Myeongdong (명동) to go to a cat cafe. We had already been to a dog cafe but Sofia and I also really like cats as well, so we wanted to experience a cat cafe. We didn’t really have any specific one in mind or one that we researched. We just knew that myungdong had one since whenever we went there in the past, there was always a guy in a cat suit walking around holding a sign. We decided to just find him and ask him where we should go. We eventually found the guy walking around and I asked him in Korean “Left or Right?” but he just motioned towards us with his hands to follow him and he brought us to the building where the cafe was in. He told us to press level 3 on the elevator and then left us from there.

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Dude in the Cat Suit

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Sign Outside

When we arrived to the right floor we were in a small lobby type thing outside of the doors to get inside of the cafe. We took our shoes off and put them in this little shoe cubby and switched out footwear for indoor slippers. The girls had pink ones while the guys slippers were blue. When we got inside, we went to the counter to pay for admission that came with one free drink. (They advertise admission with one free drink but basically the admission is the drink.) The admission was $8 and both of us ordered green tea lattes.

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녹차라떼

We were ordering and talking to the manager or guy behind the counter (we later found out he was the manager from how he was talking to the other employees) in Korean and he was very impressed. He continued to talk to us in Korean and though we missed a lot of things he said, we understood the main important things.

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He showed us this laminated paper with all the rules of the cafe in English while he explained the rules to us in Korean rather than English. (which was really great since he had really good English skills. It was nice that he was helping us with our Korean listening skills.) The rules were pretty obvious but one rule that was pretty important is if a cat was wearing a blue scarf around its neck, don’t play with it or bother it. Most of the cats were wearing random colored scarves but some weren’t wearing any at all. The scarves/neck pieces (I can not explain it well enough) were super cute.

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 We sat at the back of the store and got a pretty big table to ourselves. We were able to see the whole cafe from our view point. We spent the first hour at the cafe in our seats enjoying our drinks and petting cats. I honestly prefer cats over dogs so this was heaven to me.

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The Cafe

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The cat sat next to me on the bench basically the whole time we were there.

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Sofia and a Cat!

I honestly prefer Korean cat cafes over Korean dog cafes and not just because I like cats better to begin with. Cat cafes are so much more relaxed and calm. There is no barking or screaming or any loud noises at all. The cats are also a lot easier to pet. The dogs (at least at the cafe I went to) were so hyper that they wouldn’t stay still for you to pet them. The only ones you could really pet were the ones that were sleeping. Plus, it smelled really bad at times since they would just take bathroom breaks in the middle of the floor. In the cat cafe, the cats would go through these little cat doors to a separate room in case they were not feeling human interaction and I am guessing their litter boxes were back there also since it didn’t smell bad in the actual cafe. To play with dogs you need toys and or treats or they aren’t into you. Cats are fine with just sitting on your lap and being petted. At the cat cafe, I was able to sit at a table with Sofia and do our Korean Homework while petting my favorite cat right next to me.

After the cat cafe, Sofia and I took the subway to Edae because later that afternoon we were going to meet up with one of my friends on HelloTalk that I have been talking to for awhile now. I help him practice English. HelloTalk is this app that is a community of language learners and by joining the app, you can talk to people that are native in the language you are wanting to learn while they want to learn the language you are native in. It is actually pretty great since not only do you message back and forth, but you can also correct their sentences and translate certain parts if you can’t understand it.

But first, Sofia and I walked around some of the streets surrounding Ewha womans University. We went into Artbox and even discovered that the location we were at had another level (and we have been there several times already). Right next to Artbox there was a set of stairs leading to the other levels of the building. We went up the stairs and found a cafe on the second level called “백설공주 The World Dessert Cafe.” 백설공주 means Snow White so the Cafe is named after the princess I presume. Visiting the cafe was pretty much an impulse decision but I am glad we both did since we both really liked it and there were so many things that we could order from the cafe that seemed so delicious.

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Sofia and I split an Oreo Bingsu (오레오 빙수) which was delicious! It was my first time having that flavor in Korea and it was really good. They had a lot of other things to order as well. Different flavors of bingsu, toasts, ice cream, and lots of different types of drinks.

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Menu From Google

After our bingsu it was around 5pm which was the time we were meeting up with my HelloTalk friend at the exit closest to the cafe. When we met up with him at first, it was really awkward as messaging is a lot different than real life conversation. But eventually we got over the awkward silence and soon enough Sofia was feeling chill with him too. He wanted to go get dinner but Sofia and I didn’t plan this meeting very well as we did just finish eating Bingsu. My HelloTalk friend wasn’t so familiar with the Edae area so we walked around for awhile until he finally picked a place that was appetizing to him. Sofia and I ended up sharing a dinner since we were definitely not hungry enough to eat something by ourselves. We shared a plate of mild donkatsu. Even though we both shared, we still didn’t finish it since it was A LOT of food. And when I ordered, my friend was surprised to hear me read the Korean on the menu. I guess he thought I could only speak it. It was hilarious when I explained to him that I could read, write, and speak. From then on we promised to message each other more in Korean. He felt bad for always communicating in English.

For the rest of the night we ate dinner and talked about a lot of random things. He told us what it was like going to an international school and church and explained the differences he noticed from living in the states. He actually lived not too far from where I live back in the states. It was fun meeting a Korean friend in real life since we don’t have much of a chance to meet Korean teens on program besides going up to random strangers which is dangerous and not to mention very very very weird in Korea. Since it was so fun, when I came home I started talking to another friend about meeting up and we planned to do something together with Sofia and Yves (one of my 나무반 classmates) who also talks to the same friend on HelloTalk.

That was my jam-packed Wednesday in Seoul. We did so much in only one day which explains why this post is so long. Reading it over and editing it will be a hassle! XD haha Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ Do not forget to follow my blog!~ 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)
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Going to a Korean Movie Theatre!~ (July 26th, 2016)

On Tuesday (July 26th, 2016) I had the opportunity to go to a Korean movie theater with my supporter Sujin and fellow classmates Jodi and Casey. During our supporter meeting at Cafe Areca, we were learning grammar points that would help us with reservations and making plans. Because of this, I started talking about going to a movie and reserving seats through a movie theater teller. (In South Korea, you can reserve your seats in advance so when you get to the theater, you do not have to worry about not being able to sit next to your friends or family or whatever.) Jodi thought it was a great idea and immediately started pestering Sujin and trying to convince her to come to the movies with us and watch Train to Busan which is the only thing my korean class has been talking about since it is supposed to be a really good movie about zombies. Where can you go wrong with zombies? haha XD If you want to know a little bit more about the movie, I will link a trailer right here . Eventually we kept bringing up the movie in our role plays and recordings and therefore Sujin finally agreed. She didn’t like how last minute it was but she had no plans after our meeting and so to the movies we went!~

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Our Milkshakes During the Supporter Meeting

I have been wanting to go to a Korean movie theater ever since I watched a video about the movies from Eat Your Kimchi (back when they were living in Seoul). If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend you check it out in order to see some more visual elements of the theater since I did not take many pictures at all. Watch the video here.

The only movie theater in korea I noticed was the CGV in Myungdong but apparently there is also one in Yongsan Station and so my supporter Sujin was going to take us there. Yongsan station is huge! I use the station on my route to get to school but I never really went inside and it reminds me so much of a mall. It has many restaurants and shops and like I previously mentioned – there is also a movie theater. Sujin decided to make this movie experience more educational by forcing me to be the one to tell the lady what movie we wanted to see and reserve what seat section we wanted. She helped me out a lot though and we ended up getting exactly what we wanted. We then went to buy some food for the movies. We were definitely going to take advantage of the different popcorn flavors. Casey ended up getting a tray of dried squid while Jodi, Sujin, and I shared a caramel and normal butter popcorn. (I also know they have garlic and cheese popcorn.)

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The movie theater (Credit: Google)

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An example of what we got (Credit: Google)

The movie itself was very very good! It was so good that I would definitely watch it again some time later this summer if I knew other people were going to see it. The movie was super well done and the acting was incredible. They really got the best actors for the roles like Gong Yoo (공유) and Ma Dong Seok (마동석).

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공유

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마동석

I also cried SOOOOO much during the movie. It was so good! There were no subtitles with the movie so it really tested my Korean abilities. I understood a majority of the Korean in the film. I could understand most of the conversation between characters. It was the phone call and train announcements that were throwing me off on the plot. But it is a zombie movie so it was pretty easy to enjoy it even if you can’t exactly understand every line.

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And that was my experience at a korean movie theater in Seoul with my supporter group. It was a lot of fun! I can’t wait to hang out with them all outside of our usual meeting time slot more often. ^^ Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ 안녕!!

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Visiting Ewha Womans University (이화여자대학교) and Being Followed by Chinese Tourists (July 25th, 2016)

On Monday (July 25th, 2016) we had our Nsli-y weekly Monday meeting like normal. The room was less full than usual since a couple supporter groups had community service that day. We received another weekly photo challenge! The only guideline was “Hot Summer” and that everyone had to be in the picture. My group had absolutely no ideas.

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Casey and Jane as we rode the escalator up off the platform

After the meeting, I visited Ewha Womans University with Casey and Jane. Caseys grandmother attended the university and so she really wanted to walk around campus and get a feel for what her grandmother experienced when she was a college student. The campus is insanely beautiful. The funniest part of our little tour was that we kept getting stopped by Chinese tourists.

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Casey, Jane, and I were walking around the campus when we started seeing a trend. There were a lot of Chinese teenagers wearing matching orange t-shirts. We were simply talking and laughing about random matters when we noticed the tourists starting to surround us slowly but not saying anything. We were being cornered in front of this stair like structure on campus.

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Where we were gathered (Pic Credit: Google)

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The view of the other side

At first we thought we must have done something wrong but eventually one of them came up to us and all they asked for was a picture. We laughed and obliged. Jane asked them why they wanted a picture and one of the girls explained how it was part of a school retreat mission. We kept walking around other parts of the campus and kept running into other teenagers from the same group (we assumed this due to the fact they were all wearing the same orange shirts) asking the same request.

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Another photo of the campus (Credit: Google)

It was really cool to see foreigners from different countries working together even though there was nothing benefiting the girls and I. It was fun, however, seeing them so happy after they took the photo for their mission. Now I am curious to know which group won! It was hard to communicate with them fully since they didn’t speak Korean and they were really shy with their English skills but it was fun conversing with them on topics we both could handle well.

After all our pictures with the Chinese tourists, we went to the gift shop and watched this informational video on Ewha before leaving the campus and taking a couple of pictures in front of this wall with 3D flowers.

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We asked a Chinese tourist to take this photo for us~ 🙂

This blog post is insanely short because we didn’t do too much interesting things that day. We had lunch and shopped around a bit after visiting the university. Not much to talk about. I guess I simply really wanted to share the Chinese Tourist story. I thought it was funny. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed! ^^ 안녕!

  • Emma 엠마

Visiting SM and FNC Entertainment and Shopping Underground (July 24th, 2016)

On Sunday (July 24th, 2016) Sofia and I took a trip to the more fancy and expensive part of Seoul to visit some Korean entertainment companies. I found some directions to the ones we wanted to visit (and when I said we I mean me since Sofia is not really into Kpop at all). We planned to visit SM Entertainment (for my boys from SHINee) and FNC Entertainment (for FTisland). The subway station we exited to get to these companies was Apgujeong Rodeo (압구정 로데오) which even the subway station looked super fancy! As Sofia and I were looking for the right exit, we thought we had wandered into a hotel lobby. Once we exited the subway station and started trying to find the entertainment companies, we passed by a lot of shops of famous designers. It felt kinda weird at first passing by all these fancy stores, hotels, and sports car dealerships with people wearing fur and suits.  Along the road there were also statues made for kpop groups. I definitely had to take a picture of the SHINee one (and with it too). I couldn’t find the FTisland one and I took a picture of the infinite one as well since I appreciate most of their songs, particularly the older ones. I also took a picture of the KARA since I have a friend back in the states named Kara. I have probably only listened to one KARA song and it was called Pandora if I remember correctly.

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SHINee (샤이니)

Eventually we came across FNC Entertainment. We were not the only ones there as there was also some Mexican foreigners waiting across the road holding some small poster type things. I felt weird running up to the gate and taking pictures with them staring at me but I realized they probably did the same thing minutes earlier.

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FNC Entertainment

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On the side of the building they were promoting FT island’s new album

We kept walking to find SM Entertainment which was the company I was looking forward to the most. Some other girls on my program said they had seen an exo member and a red velvet member come out of the building so I was hoping Sofia and I would have the same amount of luck but with some SHINee members (Spoiler alert – we saw no one!)

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SM Entertainment!~

Sofia and I took a lot of selfies in front of the building because you only see SM Entertainment once right? We also waved to the security guy and I will pretend that he waved back at probably the 4th group of foreigners visiting that day. We only saw a couple of girls leaving when we first got there but after that, we were by ourselves. It was a Sunday after all so I assume the small amount of fan girls was due to that reason. After we took selfies, we headed to the park across the street and hung out on these rocking chair seats just talking for around two hours – and I am not over exaggerating.

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The Park

 

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The view of SM from the park seats

After we spent too much time at SM Entertainment, Sofia and I took the subway to the express bus terminal for some underground shopping. But let me tell you, the underground shopping part was very difficult for us to find. We tried following the signs but had no luck. We went up and down so many escalators trying to find the shopping area. Eventually we found this place with a lot of restaurants which made us very hungry. We kept walking until we passed some craft stores and came to a dead end. We walked into this sad art gallery where there was literally no art or sculptures whatsoever. Just a broken computer on the floor. We passed through the doors on the other end and walked down these stairs to see a small flower shop with an old lady snipping some stems of the flowers. We finally got through her makeshift shop to find the underground shopping! There was basically two aisles with little shops on each side. One half the the area had mostly clothes, socks, and accessories while the other half had some home decor stuff, plants, bedding etc. Sofia and I walked around and didn’t really buy anything. We did pick up some socks since we found a stall selling them for only 50 cents rather than $1 like most places around Seoul. We also went into this store that reminded me of my mom so much since it basically looked like my house with all the signs and colors. I sent these pictures to my mom and she then texted me back with what sign she wanted me to buy and bring back for her.

 

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I have this phone at my house phone back home and it made me laugh when I saw it in a stall

We went home after the shopping which was kind of a scary experience since I was trying not to get lost in the huge subway station and I even had to miss a train since there were too many people in each cart. I then thought I had gotten on an express train (they always skip my stop since mine isn’t too popular – learned that the hard way) but turns out I was alright. I had to be on the subway for like 45 minutes but it wasn’t bad at all because there was only one transfer and once I transferred, I was able to get a seat.

That was my Sunday with Sofia spent shopping! and visiting SM Entertainment. XD

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ ^^ Please subscribe if you haven’t already! 😉

  • Emma (엠마)

My NSLI-Y Interview Experience

안녕하세요 여러분! In this blog post I will be writing about my experiences with the NSLI-Y interview. Like I previously stated in my last interview blog post, I have had two interviews with NSLI-Y. Once during my freshman year of high school when I was applying to the 2015 Korean Summer Program (which I didn’t get accepted to) and the second interview was for the 2016 Korean Summer Program during my sophomore year which I was fortunately accepted to. This post will solely be about my experience and if you want to hear about my advice and tips  for the interview, I have already posted a blog about that linked here.

First Interview

Date: 01/04/15   Time: 3pm

I found out that I was a semi-finalist on the first of December a little after 3pm. I was stalking the NSLI-Y forum on College Confidential and was getting disappointed when I saw that other people in my area had gotten their notifications. I eventually just refreshed my email and there, waiting in the my inbox, was my semi notification!~ I was made aware of my interview date, location, and time on December 13th through my email. My interview was scheduled at a church. It was on the 4th of January (a Sunday) which was the last day of my winter break as well. My interview was scheduled for 3pm but I arrived at the location at around 2:30pm with my dad. I was nervous that we accidently went to the wrong location but then when I got to the door there was a sign for the NSLI-Y and AFS interviews so I knew I was in the right place. From my research from past applicants some had to fill out a questionnaire of some sorts. I didn’t have to but others did so I would keep that in mind when figuring out how early you want to arrive at the interview location.

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What I Wore To My Interview

I used the 30 minutes before the interview to calm myself down as I had become extremely nervous after seeing all the other well-dressed semi-finalists. The “waiting room” I was in was the basement of the church. There were fold up tables placed in a circle but when I came in there were no chairs open so I just stood near the windows reading the AFS magazines they also provided. The area also had snack tables with  water bottles and an assortment chips and crackers. 10 minutes before my interview, a man came up to me and introduced himself to me. He then came back to me at 3pm and introduced himself again but this time as my interviewer. We left the “waiting room” and cut through someone else’s interview to get to our room. (I apologize to whoever that was! I know it was pretty awkward…) We sat around a small, round table and conducted the interview. He had a packet and papers that he was filling out during the interview. There were mandatory questions he had to fill out and he straight out told me that. My interviewer was extremely nice and pretty easy to talk to. He had been a former exchange student. He went to Austria in his junior year of high school. The only small problem I had with him was that he didn’t speak English too well. I had to ask him multiple times to repeat his questions at certain times because I could not understand some of the words coming out of his mouth due to his thick accent. He, however, was completely understanding and would repeat anything I asked him to. I was also able to talk to him about himself which helped make the interview feel less awkward. My interview lasted around 45 minutes. I was waiting for him to call in my dad for the interview as I saw that happen to the other finalists in the “waiting room” when I was there earlier. However, mine didn’t ask for my dad. Overall my first interview experience was not like how most of the blogs I had read made it seem. There were no situational questions like “What would you do if you got into a fight with your host mother?” or really any questions explicitly about study abroad at all besides the “Why do you want to go?” question.

Interview 2

Date: 01/03/16  Time: 1pm

I found out that I was a semi-finalist on December 2nd. I recieved the email a little before 11am central time during my math class and yes, I did check my email in the bathroom secretly. I can honestly say that I returned to my math class with the biggest smile on my face. I was notified of my interview by email on December 15th. My interview was at the same location as it was last year. It was still on a Sunday (On the third of January) but my time was a bit earlier than it was last year. I came around 30 minutes early again but less for my nerves and more because I was wanted to meet and talk with another semi-finalist for Russian Summer that lives around my area. There is not much to add since the location was the same and so was everything else. I also was able to talk to one of my alumni friends who had done Russian summer the past year (We talked almost everyday on the CC forum and we both applied together. However, she made it the past year while I was rejected.)

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It Was Extra Cold That Day

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What I Wore To The Interview

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My interviewer this time around was a young girl who had studied abroad in Spain during college and had hosted several students while she was growing up at home. The interview went very smoothly and I felt a lot less stressed and nervous than I did during my last interview. There were no awkward silences and I found myself answering the questions with ease. When I finished there was something in me that told me I did really well. Again, at this interview, I did not have to fill out the questionnaire and my interviewer did not interview my dad either. My interview was around an hour.  The questions from both of my interviews were extremely different from each other which was good because they were easier to answer than the other ones but they were also a little hard since they were not expected. However, I was able to answer them well even with the surprise factor.

That is all I have for you guys! I hope you enjoyed reading about my interview experiences and I hoped this can help future semi-finalists prepare for their interview. If you would like to read a post about my interview tips and advice, please click here. Thanks for reading! 안녕 친구들!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

 

HanMi Camp – 한미켐프 (Korean & American Youth Exchange Camp) July 23rd, 2016

On Saturday (July 23rd, 2016) all the kids on my program participated in a culture exchange camp of sorts between American and Korean teenagers. The American teens present were Nsliyians on the Seoul Program while the Korean teenagers were from all over the country. They had to go to similar lengths to have this opportunity by filling out an application with essays.

On Friday we were told by our resident directors to meet at one of the exits of Hongik University Subway Station wearing our Nsli-y Korea shirts given to us by Better World. (The program taking care of all of our in-country needs and activities.) Luckily, I lived very close to the station so I didn’t have to wake up as early as many of the other Nsliyians had to in order to get there at the right time. Our resident directors took us to a convenience store for some snacks and drinks before showing us the way to where the camp was being held. It took quite a few elevator trips for all 49 Seoul Nsliyians to make their way up into the room and when I finally entered, we were greeted by some Better World Staff and directed to a long table with Paris Baguette pastries and an assortment of drinks. While we grabbed our treats, we got the chance to talk to some of the supporters who were helping run the camp smoothly. Eventually, I found a place to sit down next to Sofia only to be surprised to see my supporter Sujin.

We were all given name cards with our name in English and in Hangul (Korean Writing) with a person or animal on the back. I was a kangaroo (캥거루). Unfortunately, my animal did not match my supporters so I was definitely not in her group. I was upset at first and then happy since I would have the opportunity to interact with a different supporter.

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My supporter Sujin with Jodi

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The camp started off with a few words from our resident director JT and some of the Better World Staff before we started with some fun activities.

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Our first game/icebreaker was to get us up and moving and especially have us move away from our cliques. Most of the Korean teenagers didn’t know each other since they came from all over Korea but all the Nsliyians, at first, stuck together like glue. We played a human chain version of the classic rock paper scissors. I don’t think I need to explain how to play rock paper scissors but I will explain the chain portion of the game. So when you played against one person and you won, the other person would have to go behind you and hold onto your shoulders. Everytime you beat someone, they would hold onto the shoulders of the last person connected to you creating a long human chain if you are very good. I started off by playing Sofia and beating her. We kept going around playing rock paper scissors with Nsliyians and Korean teenagers. Soon enough I found myself beating people with very long chains which made my chain get longer and longer. Eventually, I was one of two human chains left. The pressure was high and I really wanted to win for everyone in my chain but unfortunately, I lost to the Korean girl in charge of her human chain. Even though I lost, I ran in and congratulated the girl.

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Looking for someone to battle with my hands! XD haha

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The Winning Game!

Our next game was this quiz with some random yes or no and true or false questions about a lot of topics. We got questions about animals, countries, Korean, and random fun facts. We would go to one side of the room for yes or true and then the other side of the room was for the answers of no and false. The best moment of the game was when we got a true or false question regarding whether or not an orange has more vitamin C than strawberries. I went to the false side of the room because I learned in my food prep class that strawberries were richer in vitamin C. A Nsliyian on my program and apart of my class 나무반 was asked why he thought the answer was true and he literally said “I am 100% positive that oranges have more vitamin c than strawberries.” It was hilarious because when they revealed the answer, everyone screamed and laughed. For the rest of the summer I joked around with that NSLI-Y student during class. It was such a fun game solely for the funny inside joke I got out of it. The winner of the game was a three way tie between two Korean girls and a girl named Sarah on the Nsli-y program.

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Our next icebreaker was a human bingo where we had a sheet of paper with characteristics like “I love shopping” and “I can’t eat spicy food.” We had to walk around and talk to Korean teens and get them to sign our paper when they matched one of the characteristics on the sheet. This game reminded me a lot of these type of games I would do on the first day of school.

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Human Bingo Game

After our sheets were filled up, we played this game that needed extensive instructions from JT. We all had to congregate in groups according to the animal/person on the back of our name cards WITHOUT using words. We could only use actions. I found one other Korean girl who was a Kangaroo and then we just jumped up and down until others came and found us. The point of the game was to get these onion ring chips from the beginning of the line to the end of the line. The trick was you couldn’t use your hands. You could only pass the chips using straws that had to be kept in your mouth. It was pretty difficult but after awhile we got used to the straws and were able to get faster and faster.

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Our RD JT explaining the game to everyone

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After our chip game, we went back to our groups and just spent awhile getting to know everyone in our groups by answering questions such as “What are your hobbies?” and “What is your favorite Korean food?” (and eating M&Ms while talking).

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We also played this cute little icebreaker where we had to stand up and massage the shoulders of the person in front of us while counting. It’s going to be hard to explain but I will try. We had to the massage the shoulders of the person in front of us while counting to ten. Then we would turn around and massage the shoulders of the person who was originally behind us for 10 seconds. Then, we would do the same thing again but for 9 seconds on both sides and then 8, 7 , 6, etc. Everyone in the group had to sit down once the counting went down to one. It was very fun and my group actually stayed in first place for a while but ultimately we came in second while another team was .5 seconds faster.

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Once all our icebreakers were done, we were told the cultural activities we would be doing with our groups. My team ended up getting Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥 마을) which I had been to earlier that week with Sofia and Anna-Kate. At first I was kinda disappointed that I was going to a place I had already been to (If you haven’t read that blog post, it is right here) but it ended up turning out to be super fun! I had a blast with all the kids in my group and we had the opportunity to wear Hanbok (한복 – Traditional Korean dress) which I hadn’t done yet. We also got the chance to watch this really fun and exciting Taekwondo performance but more on that later! XD

We all walked around the Korean traditional village taking lots of pictures and just talking with all the Korean teens and getting to hang out more with Nsli-y scholars I hadn’t been able to hang out with often.

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내 캥거루 그룹

The whole reason we got into groups and visited a cultural site was to make a short video showcasing what the place had to offer. For our video, our group would be taking advantage of the hanboks and dressing up in them and bowing for the camera. Better World edited all the video clips together from all of the groups and made a huge Hanmi Camp video and I will link that video right here if anyone wants to take a look. Our part of the group starts at 3:52!

We went inside one of the traditional houses after taking off our shoes and got to pick out the hanbok we wanted to wear out of maybe 50 options. They had limited options for some of the bigger girls but they were still able to accommodate for them and they didn’t go without wearing a Hanbok. They also had versions that were smaller made for the short and petite. The ladies in the house helped everyone put on their Hanboks and gave us traditional accessories to put in our hair to pull the entire look together.

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In our video we did a bowing ceremony with everyone wearing Hanbok which can be seen in the video I linked in this blog post earlier. After we finished filming the video clip, we each got our own photos taken in our Hanbok in this pretty room.

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When we came back from our cultural excursions, we were given some downtime and lemonade to chill and relax until everyone got back since we were (and so were some other people) early. Once everyone arrived, we began to make posters showing what we did and what we had learned from visiting Namsan Hanok Village.

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Working on our poster

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It is cute! XD haha

We then had to present what we had done and learned on stage for the rest of the groups. I presented it in English while one of the Korean girls in my group did the translating in Korean.

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Hanmi Camp came to an end as we all said goodbye, took some last minute selfies together, and took a group photo with all the Korean teens, Nsli-y teens, supporters, and Better World Staff.

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The Hanmi camp was honestly such a fun experience since I had the opportunity to make friends with some Korean teenagers. Since we don’t go to Korean high school during the summer program, it is hard to make friends with Korean teens unless you have a host sibling that is a teen and they introduce you to their friends as well. It was fun being able to talk to them especially when we had conversations in Korean and they were surprised I understood them so often. The day was filled with laughter more often than it was filled with awkward silences and that is proof how much fun this was and how we were able to break cultural barriers. I had such a fun time and I believe the Hanmi camp was definitely a highlight of this program.

After the Hanmi camp, Sofia, Angie and I wanted to get some dinner since we were starving. I already told my host family that I would be gone the whole day so I wasn’t expecting any food when I would come home. We decided to go to Kyochon Chicken since Sofia and I loved going there the first time (read about it here). We ordered the same Honey Chicken set and we finished it all, it was just as delicious as the first time.

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Angie enjoying the chicken for the first time ever!

After dinner we went to sulbing for some Bingsu. We found another location of Sulbing in Hongdae which was really close to the chicken restaurant but unfortunately it was smaller and filled to the brim with people. We tried the second location that we usually ate at and was able to find a table for three which was perfect for us and our bingsu needs. We ordered the chocolate brownie bingsu and ate all of that as well~

And that was my lovely Saturday in Seoul! Do not forget to check back periodically for my posts or you can subscribe and an email will let you know everytime I post. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ 안녕

  • 엠마 (Emma)

NSLI-Y Interview Tips & Advice

So I heard the big news. NSLI-Y Semifinalist notifications came out! I am so proud of everyone that received their notification, you worked so hard! And to the ones who did not, do not stress about it for more than a little while. There were a couple of people on my NSLI-Y program who didn’t make semis when first applying and then for their second time applying, they made it all the way to Seoul, South Korea! And if you are too old to apply again, there are a lot of other opportunities for college students to study abroad. Actually, CLS is a program just like NSLI-Y but for college students. Anyway, now that I got that out of the way, it is time to talk about the tips I have for the interview. I have been interviewed for NSLI-Y twice. Once during my freshman year of high school (For the 2015 Korean Summer Program) and then the second time was during my sophomore year of high school for the 2016 Korean Summer Program which I was accepted to. For the sake of the length of this blog post, this post will be about my tips and advice for the interview while my next post or so will be about both of my experiences with the NSLI-Y interview. (Both of them were very different from each other including the questions asked.) I will link that post here once it is posted.

Before The Interview~ 

Dress For Success

For the interview, I highly recommend that you dress professionally. Try to look your best. The majority of people I saw at the interviews (both times) were dressed nice. There was only one girl I saw that was wearing a t-shirt and dark jeans. Boys should probably wear suits with or without the suit jacket. Ties are not necessary but plain colors would be the best. Every guy I saw at the interview was wearing a nice button down shirt and a vest or tie. Girls, in my opinion, have more freedom when it comes to how they can dress. You can wear suit pants and a nice blouse, or a skirt, or a nice dress. Just make sure that the dress or skirt isn’t too short and that the blouses are modest and not too low cut.

For my first interview I wore a gray and black polka dotted dress with a long black cardigan. For my second interview, I wore a brown polka dotted blouse under a cream sweater and then a black skirt.

Prepare Yourself

If you aren’t 100% sure why you want to study abroad, you will not survive the interview. You have to be able to explain in concise sentences why you want to go and why you deserve the opportunity. If you left out anything in your essays, use the interview as a chance to get those things in. Interviewers will write down things that you say and your answers to required questions they have to ask you and so the evaluators will see what the interviewer writes. Also, prepare stories from your life that can act as examples of a time when you persevered through obstacles or were flexible in a hard situation. They will most likely ask questions about times when you showcased a certain trait that a person needs to have in order to have a good study abroad experience.

Probable Topics include

  1. Strengths
  2. Flexibility
  3. Leadership
  4. Willingness to try new things
  5. ability to cope with disappointment/ shattered expectations
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Teamwork

Arrive Early

It is important to arrive at an interview earlier than the time in the email. Some interviewers require you to fill out a questionnaire while others may have their interviewers ask for their interviewees early. I know at my interview they had alumni from NSLI-Y and AFS programs in the waiting area that chatted with us and answered our questions which helped my nerves. I would recommend arriving 20-30 minutes early. (Also, this can also help you in case you get lost driving to the location or experience car troubles.)

 

During The Interview~

  • Don’t stress! I know being calm and relaxed is a lot harder than simply saying it but if you stress yourself out, then you will overthink the questions and possibly make slips ups like talking too fast or stuttering. You don’t have to be a perfect speaker but you will come across better if you are calm. Remember the job of the interviewer is not to trip you up or try to disqualify you. The point of the interview is to make sure you can handle the opportunity and that you really want to learn a new language.
  • Don’t worry about sounding like an A paper. Interviewers will summarize what you say and so they won’t pay attention to your word choice. Focus on being calm and talking like you normally do (unless you talk in slang and text acronyms all day) rather than trying to speak in a manner to impress your high school English teacher.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer questions and get into a conversation. The interviewer will most likely write better things about you and remember you if you include them in the conversation. Most interviewers have had study abroad experiences. (During my first interview my interviewer studied abroad in Austria in high school and then in America during college. My second interviewer hosted several students in her lifetime and she had studied abroad in Spain during University.) Whether your interviewer seems to be a descendant of Scrooge or a grumpy granny, asking them questions will make your interview less of an “interview” and more like a conversation.
  • Be yourself AKA BE HONEST. Don’t lie about what extracurricular activities you do, how long you have studied the language or about an amazing event in your life that seems unbelievable. (Even if it did happen… maybe you should leave out the resourcefulness you showed when you saved your baby cousin from falling into a well in your backyard.) The interviewer will appreciate all kinds of people. They will want a chill, bookworm or an athletic AP student rather than a person trying very hard to be quirky and unique and just comes across as robotic.
  • Be confident! Smile and keep eye contact. Think before you respond to questions. They will not penalize if you take a minute to think of an appropriate answer. Do not rush. You got this.
  • Don’t be afraid to laugh. Cracking a few jokes at the interview will create a good environment that will make both you and the interviewer more comfortable. Don’t push it though. You don’t want to be too cheesy and look like you are trying too hard to be funny. Just be yourself like stated earlier.
  • Remember to thank your interviewer. They are taking time out of their day to help you out on your study abroad journey (hopefully) so make sure you let them know you appreciated the sacrifice they made to be here for you and the other semi-finalists. Just don’t be too much of a kiss up.

And now all you have left to do is wait. Some will find out in February (If you applied for Russian Summer or Hindi Summer you will probably find out that you were accepted late February or early March.) and others will find out in April. (All year programs will find out in April according to past years timelines.) My next post (maybe) will be about my interview experiences and I hope to put it up late next week. I want to get the post up before the majority of people have their interviews as I believe the majority are done during Christmas Break and in the month of January. Hopefully, it will give you an idea of how an actual interview is conducted (well how my interview was conducted). Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. Hopefully, it helped and if this was all common sense… at least you feel more prepared reading this blog post right? I know before I had my first interview, I read all the blog posts and watched all the videos I could find on the subject of a NSLI-Y Interview.

  • Emma (엠마)