NSLI-Y Korea Summer Graduation Ceremony (August 12th, 2016)

Friday morning (08/12/16) was the fated day… our NSLI-Y Korea Summer Graduation Ceremony. I woke up in the morning feeling something I have never felt before. I sat up in bed and just took in the quietness of the house. There was no clatter coming from the kitchen signifying that food was being made and no sounds of traffic outside my bedroom window. I woke up just a few minutes before my alarm and so I woke up naturally and not forced. I sat in my bed and just felt very aware of my surroundings. I slowly realized that this would be the last time I would wake up in this bed and this room for the summer. I realized that in two short days I would be in my hometown starting my junior year of high school. I didn’t specifically feel sad at this point in time, I just felt connected to everything around me… probably as a distraction from the sadness I would be feeling later in the day… and even later this very morning.

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My breakfast plus my snotty tissues. There was even the box of fried chicken we had last night still on the table.

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Picture of me from breakfast. (I look like a wet dog XD)

My host mom made me breakfast as usual. She served me a nice plate of eggs, toast, Korean peaches, and a glass of milk. She also took this time to hand me some presents that she had picked out for me as well as a letter she had written to me. We talked for awhile and I couldn’t help but get teary eyed. She started panicking and handed me some tissues trying to make me calm down. Her eyes started getting watery and she excused herself to get ready for the day but I could hear her sniffling in her room. I finished my breakfast quietly with my host dad in the living room. We started talking and had a very heartfelt conversation – in English. My host dad never used English, and I didn’t mind since I was here to learn Korean. But I knew it was because he was embarrassed by his skill level. At that moment, however, the feeling that would usually keep him from speaking English with me had disappeared. He first started to talk about how much I have improved being here with them and how much he really enjoyed having me stay with them. But then he started talking to me about something I never imagined would come out of his mouth. He told me how proud he was of me. He said that he was always rooting me on when he saw me at my desk, studying, till late in the night. He told me that he knew I would do amazing things because I proved to be such a hard worker and never gave up. Hearing those things coming from a man who welcomed me into his home for 6 weeks, could not have made me tear up any more than I did at that moment. He kept laughing throughout this exchange and told me that he was sorry he could not stay at the graduation the entire time since he had to work. He told me that if he didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to me at the graduation, that he wanted me to remember him saying this,

Live for you, not others. It is Important.

That morning, when I was making my way to the subway station, I noticed something new. A fence.

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And you are probably asking yourself “A fence? What is the big deal about a fence? And why did you take a picture of a metal fence?” Well, it isn’t really a big deal or anything. Every morning, when I would cross the intersection, I did what all the other Koreans did– I jaywalked. Which isn’t exactly allowed, but none of the Koreans would walk in between the lines, they all jaywalked at the corner since it saved time. But today, that was not an option for me as the fence prevented jaywalking. The fence made it so you HAD to walk on the lines. It just made me realize that Korea is always changing. I know I was looking to deep into this whole occurrence but this made me more comfortable for some reason. I realized that change isn’t always a bad thing, and though I knew this already before, this situation comforted me after feeling very emotional towards the goodbyes that would occur that day. I know it sounds ridiculous but it got me through the morning ride to the university.

 

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The last time I walked through this entrance.

The ceremony was a lot of fun surprisingly. My host family came and I felt so happy seeing them in the back watching me. My supporter Sujin also came and I had no idea that she was going to be attending at all. They both acted like my mom by calling my name when I went on stage and taking photos of me. One of the best parts of the ceremony was when our university was awarding a student from every class a “most improved/exceptional achievement” certificate. We had 4 Korean classes and so a student was chosen from every class. And to my surprise, I was awarded the certificate from my teachers. I was so shocked but also overjoyed to know that my teachers could see my immense improvement. My host mom and supporter both took photos of me, they were literally my moms.

The one on the left was taken by my supporter Sujin while the one on the right was taken by my host mom.

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Sarah received the award for her beginner class, I received the award for my intermediate class, Angie received the award for her advanced class, and Jessica received the award for her beginner class.

We then had all the culture clubs show off what they did over the summer. The fan dance group performed a really beautiful number. They all had on really long skirts and these huge fans. I have lots of shots from the dance as Casey was in it!

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The dance was very pretty~

The taekwondo (태권도) cultural club also did a performance to show off all the new kicks the students learned their ability to break wooden boards. I was so deeply enthralled with the performance that I was not able to take any photos. I was having too much fun laughing and enjoying all their kicks and screams. The traditional music culture club also performed a short song that was really good as well. I couldn’t believe they only spent around 2 hours on it once a week and it sounded like that. I also did not get any pictures because our cooking culture club was going next so we had to wait in the wings until we could go. We just filmed a video with clips of what we did (we can’t exactly cook in front of the whole audience… though that would have been fun) as well as clips of some individuals explaining background information of the food that we made.

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Photo from our video (Creds to my supporter). I was explaining Japchae which we made on our second club meeting.

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우리 요리 동아리 !~

We also had the talent show portion of the ceremony where we had lots of acts from different individuals in the program. We had a fashion show of different Korean styles, lots of dances, some singing, and my class’ talent show performance.

Angie, Tess, and Vinzent danced to Pick Me by I.O.I (아이오아이) and they did so well. Everyone was jamming along in their seats and the dance moves were great!

The talent show was also super fun to watch. Casey acted as the host/narrator and a bunch of different students from all of the Korean classes sported different Korean fashion styles. They had categories such as Work & Play, Seoul Food, Cutesy/Girly, Hip Hop, Clothes that are geared towards foreigners, and couple outfits.

My class 나무반’s talent show performance was also super fun. Most of us were not good at singing whatsoever but we still had a great time singing along to our video and music. It took a lot of time for me to edit it but I was glad to see it being so worth it.

The rest of the graduation ceremony was spent taking group photos (of supporter groups, Korean classes, and host families) and obtaining all of our certificates of completion, Korean class grades, and photos from our photographer. The ceremony was also spent saying a lot of goodbyes. My host mom had to leave with my host brothers early because she had to go to work. Most families took the students back after the ceremony to finish the day together and have dinner but mine couldn’t. That made my goodbye so much harder and I cried a lot after we said it. While my host mom and brothers were leaving through the doors, Sujin comforted me and I still couldn’t stop crying. (Even when we were taking our class photos, I was all teary-eyed and Jodi had to comfort me.)

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Class Photo (Angle #1)

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나무반!~ ❤ (Angle #2)

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Showing off our RINGS~ ❤

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My Resident Directors and I

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Me, My Host Mom, and My Youngest Host Brother

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My Host Brothers and I

And that was my NSLI-Y Summer Graduation Ceremony. I will be making a separate post about the rest of the day as this post has become very very very long. This day was very emotional as it marked the ending of such an amazing summer. Even though that was the case, it was also a very happy day as it reminded me how much love I have received from so many new people as well as all the relationships I have formed. I will always have these amazing memories and I wouldn’t exchange them for anything in the world, even if they caused a few crying sessions. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this post! 🙂 Do not forget to subscribe~

PS: Today, of last year, I received my NSLI-Y Korea Summer finalist notification. I want to congratulate everyone that was given a scholarship for this upcoming summer. And if you didn’t, please re-apply and give it another go! CLS is also an option if you will be entering university. Also, for the new finalists, I will be on iEARN’s Korea Summer Finalist Call as an alum to answer you or your parents’ questions! I will also be continuing making informational posts for supporter groups, my packing list, culture clubs, etc. Stay Tuned!

Also, if you care about programs such as NSLI-Y and want to keep them going for as long as possible, in order to give equal opportunities to citizens from all around the world, you might want to sign this petition regarding the new U.S. budget plan that could defund the Department of States ECE programs (such as NSLI-Y, CLS, CBYX, etc). Please take a few extra minutes out of your day to support this cause. The link will be linked here.

  • Emma (엠마)

 

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Last Korean Class and Supporter Meeting (August 11th, 2016)

Thursday was a day of many lasts… :,( I woke up feeling excited about school but I was also feeling sadness due to the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be waking up for Korean class anymore. I also woke up pretty late today because I accidently set my alarm for 6:30 pm rather than 6:30 in the morning. Even though I woke up late, I still had an amazing breakfast made for me by my host mom.

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One important thing to know about Korean breakfasts is that they are pretty much like any other Korean meal in a day. Usually, there is rice, 반찬 (side dishes), maybe a soup of some kind, and a meat dish. I am pretty sure Koreans usually don’t eat Tonkatsu for breakfast but my host mom made it once in awhile (usually on the weekend).

Korean class was a lot of fun today. (I mean, it usually is but today was extra fun!) The first part of the class was our teacher just rushing through the grammar points we couldn’t finish before the final. We didn’t spend too much time on each one but it was still nice to be able to get through the summary of them with our Korean teachers. Also, before class started that day, Sofia and I visited the Morning Glory (a stationary shop) near Sookmyung to buy something to give to our teachers from all of their students. Sofia and I found these really cute apple notebooks and we figured that they would appreciate receiving a little book with letters from all of us. We bought the notebooks and then during every 10-minute break we had, we passed the books to everyone and had them write a short little letter to them in Korean. We eventually finished all the letters at the end of the school day and planned to give it to them during our graduation ceremony the next day.

During the second part of our Korean class, we played a few fun games. My favorite game was this one where we picked one person from our team (We split our class up in half depending on where we were sitting in the class. My team was Nicole, Jodi, Casey, Jesse, and me while the other team was Sofia, Cynthia, Yves, Tucker, Peter, Ariel, and Anna-Kate.) and they were sent to stand in the front of the class. Our Korean teacher would write a word on the whiteboard and then the other team members, the ones sitting down, would try to get the person standing up to say the word. It is basically like the game called hedbanz or the app called Heads Up except nothing is on your head. I got a video of the game and it was so hilarious watching the video back and seeing us struggle with some of the words that were chosen. We had to explain it to them in Korean only and we were not allowed to use gestures (which was hard for me since I always talk with my hands). We played two rounds of this game and the first one up was Jodi for my team and Tucker for the other.

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The word was 울다 (To Cry)

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Such a simple game that results in sooo many laughs~

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Things got a little heated when Peter used English to get Tucker to say the word.

Our teacher just flipped through our textbook and picked random words that we covered. She picked ones from the very beginning of the summer and mostly words that she knew we had trouble with.

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Casey was up next and she dominated!

We also had to break ties quite often because the people up front would not always listen to their team and therefore say the words at the same time. During this round, the word was 특별하다 (To be special) and they both said the word after Jesse made it super obvious by repeating one of the sentences from our textbook dialogues.

After our game, we had another activity where we each got a colored piece of paper with our Korean name written on it. (Some of the kids in the class had a Korean name – like Casey, Yves, and Cynthia – but most of us just had our English names written in Hangul.) We passed the sheets of paper around the class and had everyone sign our paper and write a little message on it. The room was so quiet while we did this and it was really sad as we knew this would be our last day in this very classroom.

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우리 선생님은 너무 귀여워요!~ ❤

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My last 바나나 우유 (Banana Milk) during our class break.

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Our deserted classroom during break time. Except for Cynthia who is sleeping on her desk. This was very common, though, she is in her natural state~ haha

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The Selfie Squad of 나무반

During this last day of school, we also voted on some projects that some of the other classes did. The advanced class made posters for a cool after school club they would have if they had the opportunity to make one. We watched them present them and then voted for our favorites by placing stickers on them. We also did the same thing for one of the beginner classes but I can’t remember what it was for. (It was not for a club though.) I voted for the lovely poster that had a drawing of 김수현 (Kim Soo Hyun) by the lovely Jessica.

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Look how good this is!! ❤ 제시카는 정말 좋은 예술가예요. 김수현은 너무 멋있고 잘 생겼어요~ ❤

After school, we had our last supporter meeting of the program as well as a rehearsal/practice for our graduation ceremony that was going to be held Friday morning. For lunch, Sofia, Angie, and I were feeling some Bingsu. Our diets were made up of Bingsu during the whole summer and we had to eat it as much as we could before we wouldn’t be having it for awhile. So that was why we were being so unhealthy eating bingsu for lunch. (hey, at least our bingsu had fruit on it!)

If you asked me what my favorite bingsu was at the beginning of the summer, I would have told you Injeolmi Bingsu (인절미 빙수). But now that melon bingsu has graced my tongue, I will now say that I understand why all the Koreans were ordering this flavor this summer. Melon Bingsu (메론빙수) is the best bingsu!~

After having our “lunch,” we all split up and went to our meeting spots for our last supporter meeting. I believe Sofia was meeting our supporters at Cafe Areca and I told her how jealous I was! For my last meeting, we were meeting my supporter at our school’s front gate and then we would walk to the cafe together.

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We went to Blind Alley which took a lot of convincing since my supporter Sujin is afraid of dogs and this cafe always has a dog running around. It also has… raccoons!~

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This cafe is very popular for its raccoons. When we went there, there were a lot of Koreans but also another group of foreigners.

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The day was very fun as we spent the meeting just hanging out, talking, and laughing the entire time. We did go over vocab and our recordings which are our requirements but we also had a lot of fun as well. One of the funniest parts of the meeting was Sujin periodically screaming every time Cookie, the puppy, kept coming close to us and running under our table.

I have no idea how my supporter could even be afraid of this puppy. It is the cutest! For our meal, we originally ordered bingsu (haha XD) but the machine ended up being broken so we just ordered and ate honey bread as well as this grilled cheese bagel type thing.

And then… we experienced the raccoons. One of the workers at the cafe went into the room with the raccoons and started playing with them. He then takes the dark-colored one and put it on his shoulder and walked around the cafe allowing everyone to pet it. And then we think he is putting it back into the room (we were sitting right next to the raccoon room) but then he passes our table and places the raccoon on my shoulder. I started “whisper screaming” as he put some feed into my hand and the raccoon started eating out of my palm. After a few seconds, I got used to the creature and just smiled the whole time. It was so fun to be able to hold a raccoon and feed it.

Then throughout the time we were there, he was putting the raccoon on other customers and eventually Jodi, Casey, and even Sujin.

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Sujin only kept the raccoon on her shoulder for a few seconds but we were glad she had even done it at all. When the worker was coming closer to her to put it on her shoulder, she knew what he had in mind and started standing up so he couldn’t do anything. He then tried to reassure her by saying if it bit her, they would give her a free drink. This made Sujin scream even louder and it was too funny for us not to laugh at.

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The lady in the back smiling and laughing at Sujin.

Then, while we were at the counter putting sanitizer on our hands before leaving. A woman, who I presume was the owner, walked in. She was really loud, putting her bag on the counter and then went to go grab the raccoons. Jodi and I were waiting for Casey and Sujin to finish up, the lady put this white raccoon on my shoulder. This raccoon was so hyper and jumpy and I was silently freaking out while it walked down my arm. Then it jumped on Jodi while she was trying to put it back on my shoulder. It was such an interesting but also terrifying experience and we felt so much better when the lady took the raccoon off of us.

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I quickly snapped a photo of Jodi with the raccoon.

After our supporter meeting, we went back to school and had our rehearsal for our graduation ceremony. All the culture clubs practiced what they were gonna do and so did all the talent show acts (including my class doing our parody of Phineas and Ferb). It was not too long and I was able to get home early and have dinner with my host family.

It would be my last dinner with my host family and so we had a very special one. We all ate cold water noodles (물냉면) as well as honey chicken from Kyochon Chicken. This summer I didn’t do too much with my family, activities wise because my host parents were always working and I had school so it was difficult to find time. My host brother was also always doing something with soccer so that made planning things difficult as well. But one thing I will always cherish, however, was all the dinners I ate with my host family. Eating with them and just talking about our days was what I wanted the most from my host family experience.

And that was my LAST Thursday in Korea… my last supporter meeting, my last Korean class, and my last dinner with my host family. But everything made for such great memories and I couldn’t have asked for better last experiences 🙂 Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ ^^ 안녕~

엠마 (Emma)

 

NSLI-Y Korean Language Class at Sookmyung Women’s University (Intermediate Class//나무반)

It is finally here!~ The long awaited blog post about Korean language classes on the NSLI-Y program! I will split this post up into 7 sections: placement, general, textbook, tests, break time, homework, and how I felt after being in the class.

Placement

In order to know what Korean class you will be in for the duration of the program, you will take a placement test to place you in the right class. The placement is not definite, therefore, you are allowed to move up or down if the teachers agree with your request to do so. (To be honest, I am not sure if that happened on my program. They are pretty good at placing students in the class that best fits them and their Korean language capacity.) On the Monday following our first weekend with our host family, we visited our university for the first time. It wasn’t technically the first day of school as we didn’t have any class, but we did take a placement test on that day. The placement test was a 4-page test with fill in the blank questions (with a word bank), reading passages, multiple choice, and one short answer question at the end of the test. We then took a second placement test because everyone had finished it pretty early and the teachers assumed that we had known all the material. The second placement test had the same makeup but it was obviously harder. This test also included a lot more grammar than the first placement test. After we took the sit down reading/writing test, we were called into rooms one by one to take a verbal test. I sat in a room with one of the Korean teachers (who soon proved to be my very own Korean language teacher) and answered questions that she asked me. They were basic questions about introductions, hobbies, and daily life. I believe that the verbal test is to gauge your grasp of understanding spoken Korean and to showcase what you can say on the spot (like if you can conjugate verbs in the past and future tense).

General

I was placed in 나무반 (Tree Class) which was considered the “intermediate class” or the level 2 class. It wasn’t intermediate by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to the three Korean class levels, it was considered intermediate. I would conclude that we were mostly advanced beginners and two or three were actually intermediate level Korean speakers. The class was split up into two sections, both 100 minutes long.

Grammar/speaking class – During this duration of the class, we would learn grammar points using our Teachers power points and Korean language flash cards. We would then practice the grammar by using the textbook and doing plenty of practice problems. The speaking part of the class was using these grammar points out loud and also talking about our weekends (to practice past tense).

Listening/speaking class – During this duration of the class, we would read aloud conversations from the textbook and practice answering questions after listening to a passage. When reading the conversations, our teacher would assign one-half of the class to read the lines of one character and the other half would read the other lines. We then would split up in partners (usually, the person sitting next to us but sometimes the teacher assigned us, partners, to switch things up).

Korean Textbook

To go along with everything we learned in class, we used the A-ha! Korean (아하! 한국어) textbook which is the Korean language textbook for Sookmyung Women’s University. For my class, we used the second book in the series of 4. At the end of the program, we were given the opportunity to buy the rest of the textbooks to continue studying with it. I only bought the third book because I wasn’t sure how well they would work for self-studying. The textbook comes with a mini booklet with all of the vocabulary words within the textbook, a workbook, and an audio cd with recordings of all the conversations and listening sections.

 

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우리 교과서 (Our textbook)

 

Korean Tests

We would have a test on Korean every single Friday. We would use one 50 minute section from each class for our test. For our grammar/speaking test, we would have a fill in the blank, multiple choice, and short response test on the grammar points and vocabulary we had learned during the past week. Then for our speaking/listening test, we were assigned conversations from the textbook earlier in the week to memorize for the test. We would get partnered up randomly on Friday and then have to recite what we memorized to the teacher. We would have to memorize anywhere from 1-3 conversations and she would test us on one out of however many we were assigned. We would recite the lines of one character and then switch and do the other lines with our partner.

 

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This dialogue was part of our first verbal test. I still remember it to this day.

 

Our speaking/listening teacher would tell us on the spot whether we passed or failed the verbal test while we had to wait to get our grammar test back before knowing our grade. If you failed any test, you were given extra work to do over the weekend. I am not sure if you would need to retake the test or not since I never failed any tests but I do know you are given extra homework because some of the students in my class failed a test.

Break Time

After every 50 minutes of Korean class, we would get 10 minutes of break time. (or 쉬는시간 as we came to know it by.) We spent this time refilling our water bottles, eating snacks, and just stretching. I would usually go off with some of my classmates and speak with our resident directors. My class and I would also leave the university during the break to run on over to the convenience store to buy snacks that we could eat during the following break times. Break time was greatly needed since 4 hours straight of Korean would be very taxing on the brain – for anyone.

Homework

We would almost always get Korean homework every single night. I would usually take an hour to two hours to finish my homework but I kept attention to detail and wrote as much as I could for the short response questions to practice effectively. The homework was usually an entire section from the workbook or our teacher would tell us what pages she wanted us to complete. Our teachers did not collect the workbook every class period. They would collect it randomly or usually after a test since we wouldn’t be needing it over the weekend.

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What studying for a Korean test looked like for me

Reflection

Korean class was definitely the best part of the NSLI-Y program (and the most important). I got so close with all of my 나무반 classmates and learned more Korean than I could ever have learned by simply self-studying. Especially when it came to my accent, it improved by tenfolds and sounds almost completely natural. I studied very hard for all of my tests and never got more than 4 questions wrong on the tests (which ended up being anywhere from a B-plus to an A-plus depending on how many questions there were on each test). I was also given an award for being the most improved in my Korean class from my teachers which made me happy to know that my teachers could see my improvement too. My Korean class gave me a great start into my Korean language learning journey and I left Korea placing into an Intermediate level of Korean language knowledge.

That’s all I have for this blog post. The basic outline of my class will most likely be very similar to all the other Korean classes regardless of the level as long as they are all at Sookmyung Women’s University in the future. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you are a future NSLI-Y applicant or finalist, I hope this helps you see what Korean class will be like on the program. 안녕 친구들~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

 

Korean War Memorial, Studio Ghibli Store, and Karaoke (August 10th, 2016)

Wednesday (08/10/16) was one of the last (free) days we had in Korea because we there was a supporter meeting the following day and Friday would be our graduation ceremony. Wednesday was also our Korean Finals which I stayed up until one in the morning the previous night to study for. The final was in two parts. The first was the grammar/writing part and the second was the conversational part where we had a one on one conversation with our listening and speaking teacher. I think I did really well on it seeing that I studied so much. I have improved exponentially during this summer and the final was definitely a way to showcase that to my teachers. I won’t find out my grade until tomorrow but either way, I was proud of myself for working so hard on a goal and I knew I achieved it no matter what!

I spent the first half of the day reflecting on my summer which you can say made me very emotional and feeling very sentimental towards all the memories I had made. I decided to take video of my entire walk to the subway station from my host family’s house in order to remember the walk I took every single day. I took some screenshots of the videos (because my blog does not support videos) and I will upload them here.

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My breakfast today. Some kind of spicy meat dish, white rice (as per usual), eggs, my host family’s version of bacon, and some other side dishes that included pickled vegetables of some kind.

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The entrance I have started using ever since I changed my route to be half subway and half bus.

Madeline shirt day was also planned for this Wednesday. To elaborate, I noticed that my RD Madeline wore this black shirt with a deep plunging collar that reminded me of a sailor on one of the first days of our program in Korea. Ever since then, whenever I see a shirt that even vaguely resembles it, I have called it a Madeline shirt. This type of shirt is actually very popular in Korea and you can find them basically anywhere (in lots of different colors too!) I let everyone in our program know about the plans in our Kakao group chat. (Unfortunately, some of the girls on my program wore their shirts earlier in the week so they missed out on our group picture.)

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Me, Ava, Sofia, Abby, and Madeline in our Madeline shirts~

Anyway, after our finals, Sofia and I have been wanting to go to the Korean War Memorial ever since we saw photos of it on Instagram. I never learned much about the Korean War in school, it is called the Forgotten War for a reason, and so I thought visiting the museum would be such a great experience. We also wanted to do some other activities too since our time in Korea was coming to an end shortly. Casey, Sofia, Abby, and I also planned to go to the Studio Ghibli Store as well as do some Karaoke later in the night. But first, we headed to the Korean War Memorial. I got some directions online but they were very hard to follow (as they were in Korean… I was trying to practice my skills!) but eventually, we found the memorial after passing so many Korean police officers. (I have never seen so many in Korea… well, besides the time they were everywhere near Gyeongbokgung that one weekend.)

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Korean War (1950-1953)

The War Memorial of Korea is a really big museum with photos, maps, and artifacts from the Korean War. The outside of the memorial has lots of very deep sculptures as well as military tanks, missiles, planes, and so on. We didn’t have that much time to walk around and so we decided to just go on inside just covering the basics of the outside area.

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We went on inside and explored some parts of the museum. (like I mentioned before it is pretty big and we didn’t have time to see everything. I would love to come back and spend a couple more hours there, to be honest.)

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I have so many photos from the museum. (I basically took a photo of everything I saw.) I will end my spam of photos here and maybe I will upload a separate post with more later. I have a lot more things to write about for the rest of this day and If I put all my Korean War photos here, this post would take 10 minutes to read.

After the Korean War Museum, Sofia and I met up with Casey and Abby at Hongdae Station in order to go find the Studio Ghibli Store. Studio Ghibli is this Japanese animation studio that is internationally distributed by Disney. I love all of their films. They have made really famous animated movies such as Spirited Away (2001 ), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), and Ponyo (2008). So when I found out there was a store located in Hongdae that sold merchandise (I can not find any back where I live.), I had to go! And… It was magical!~

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All of my favorite animations are by Studio Ghibli and they include Spirited Away (2001), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and When Marnie Was There (2014). The store was quite expensive and because it was the end of the trip, I was very mindful of my spending. I ended up buying 6 folders for about two dollars each of some of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies. They also had a life size Totoro and a Cat Bus you could take a photo in. My childhood dream had finally come true!

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AHHHHHH The Cat Bus! EEEEEKKK~

After the Studio Ghibli Store, we headed to sing some songs at a 노래방! (Karaoke Room). This one was really good as they had free refreshments and some snacks and it wasn’t even pricey. They had tambourines for us to play and even lights that flashed around the room. ( I mean all rooms do but I can never figure out how to turn them on but this room had the lights automatically turned on.) Karaoke in Korea just gets better and better because every time I go, I learn what songs are the best Karaoke songs and I gain more confidence to shout loudly. I literally mean shout, I can’t sing. haha

We sang soooo many songs. We sang Taeyang’s 눈 코 입, Let it Go from Frozen, Cnblue’s 외톨이야, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, BTS’ I Need You, and (of course) SHINee songs like Hello and Sherlock. We had such a good playlist and even earned scores of 100 like five times! (In Korean Karaoke rooms, each song performed is ranked. I personally think the key to a really high score is simply singing (or screaming) really loud.)

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Our playlist at the end of the hour. We did pretty well. Karaoke rooms have such good song choices that include more than just Korean songs. But if you want to sing a Korean song, you must be able to read Hangul because there is no romanization.

That was my Wednesday! It was honestly action packed and I did so many things I have been wanting to do. It was a lot of fun too~ I am gonna miss being able to sing at the top of my lungs in 노래방s whenever I please… Thanks for reading~ Don’t forget to subscribe! 안녕 친구들~

  • Emma (엠마)