Seodaemun Prison Excursion & Volunteering at a Halloween Festival {10/27/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/27/18 Saturday

This Saturday Morning was our cultural activity for the month~ We technically had two this month, but that was because the September one was rescheduled so many times due to the rain—usually, we will only have one cultural activity every month. This cultural activity was one based on Korean history as we would be visiting 서대문감옥 (Seodaemun Prison) to learn more about the Japanese Occupation of Korea.

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Before heading to the prison and learning more about the events and things that occurred there, we sat in the Freedom Park and discussed what we already knew about that time period and what we learned from asking our host families or our high school friends. Everyone’s answers were pretty similar. We all mentioned that we all heavily learned about World War II but not much about Japan and the countries it occupied. There was maybe a sentence in our textbooks at most.

We then talked about Koreans’ attitudes toward Japanese people. Katie and I, during our conversation class, asked our friends and they seemed to agree that Koreans don’t hate the Japanese. They said if there are any hostile views or thoughts present today, it is mostly toward the government and how they handled the situation rather than on an individual level. Most people don’t showcase negative attitudes when connecting with Japanese people on an intrapersonal level; however, they did bring up that the same thing really can’t be said about the older generation—the people that lived through the time period. The students mentioned that because the event wasn’t that long ago, there are many people still alive who hold very negative and distasteful opinions on the Japanese and sometimes they pass that down. Though this is the case, the younger generation {as it often appears} is often more open-minded than the older generation.

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What a BEAUTIFUL Fall Day with Kaitlyn, Josh, & Jack

We talked about that for a bit, hearing from a bunch of different people, before heading into the museum. I didn’t take too many pictures because I really tried to read everything that was there and I also followed 주연쌤 and 민정쌤 around because they had more information to share about the many things we viewed.

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One thing that I thought was interesting was that they created new words in the Korean language that were given as titles to certain figures during the resistance. For example, There was a female student who was also the youngest female participating in the resistance. Because of everything she did, they added a title to her name. Her full name is Yu GwanSun (유관선) but she is often referred to as 유관순 열사.

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Photos of Fallen Resistors

Reading about all the torture methods was honestly really difficult but I do agree that it gives me more of a perspective of the atrocities that were committed then. I know wars always come with violence but knowing this, helped me see the occupation on another level. I won’t go into detail with those here because they are honestly quite disturbing; you can do some research if you’d like.

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We got to walk through the jail corridors and could even go inside many of the cells. We walked around the training fields and got to see where the prisoners would be executed. I learned from 민정쌤 that the training field was built in a fan shape to allow for there to be only one guard on duty and yet he would be able to see what every single prisoner is doing.

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There was also this really large tree right next to the execution building that was coined as a wailing tree because as the resistors would be dragged to their death by the Japanese guards, many of them would hold onto the tree and say their final goodbyes to the world. It was surreal to be able to stand in front of this tree.

 

After we finished walking around, learning more about Korea’s history, and taking some group photos, we went to have lunch together. We had 전주비빔밥 (Jeonju Bibimbap — very famous bibimbap–mixed rice with vegetables and beef!) in a stone pot. It was utterly delicious! I know some people can get sick of 비빔밥 when they come to Korea but I could never—but I also don’t eat it too often.

 

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Our official cultural activity was over once the last person put down their spoon. After that, we were free for the rest of the day. I signed up to do a volunteer activity with 5 other NSLI-Yians at this Halloween Festival put on by Mapo-gu Youth Center. I was very very surprised when we got there; I was expecting this small, little festival with a couple of tents and some good decorations but it was way more than I could have asked for. The only thing it lacked was true American Halloween Candy and everyone wearing costumes.

 

We arrived an hour early so before heading straight to the festival, we killed some time at Ediya’s Coffee to just chat, drink some warm lattes, and study a bit of Korean. When 3 pm rolled around, I called the woman in charge and tried to communicate to her where we were but it was so very difficult. My listening skills were not helping me out and talking on the phone in any language is hard when the reception isn’t good… eventually, she found us after a really awkward description by me about where we were.

 

She took us inside the center and explained to us what we would be doing: playing Go-Fish with kids and switching groups every 30 minutes. She also bought us Subway Sandwiches but we already ate so I felt bad for having them go to waste. Before we started the volunteering, we had our faces painted! We all got wounds (special effects makeup) put on our faces! It was fun having the prosthetic put on although my conversation with the guy doing my face was an EPIC fail. He asked me where I wanted the makeup and all I heard was where so as the self-conceited person I am, I assumed he was asking where we were from. I told him America before he said it again during which I realized how much of a fool I am! There was another incident shortly after with another face paint artist asking Shada to show her the stamp she got {guarantees payment} and then she tried to tell her she needs a stamp while we both thought she was asking if she wanted a stamp. {Granted this was a bit more understandable because we didn’t know how the “stamp system” worked here.} Eventually, I realized what they were getting it and I said that we were here today to volunteer and both her face painter and mine went “Ahhhhhhhh,” and that was the end of that conversation.

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Face Painting!

 

Jacquelyn, McKenzie, and Shada took the first shift so Harmony, Kaitlyn, and I just got to walk around and explore the booths. They had lots of food, face painting, nail painting, Halloween crafts, book readings, and this huge stage that was having a fashion show of all different types of costumes! It was so cool to see authentic Halloween costumes in Korea. We also found a booth selling Pickachu 돈까스 which was a bit frightening.

 

There were these two clowns on {those raised sticks? I cannot remember what they are called…} who were making balloons and I ran over to one and he immediately said I was pretty. I started to tell him that I wanted a balloon animal too but before I could finish my sentence, he shouted that he was surprised by how good I am at Korean. He let me cut the line {a big apology to those people waiting in line}, and he made me this yellow balloon flower rather than an animal. When being a foreigner gives you perks!

 

Eventually, Harmony, Kaitlyn, and I started our shift of board game playing with the little kids. Harmony held up a sign and would shout “play a board game” in Korean while Kaitlyn and I supervised or played with the kids. It was hard at first because I didn’t know how to explain the board game in Korean but eventually, I figured out which things made sense to the kids and what didn’t. A lot of them had trouble understanding when to say “Go Fish” so some of them would just say it during every turn—this was really cute!

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It got so cold that I was glad that the tent was blocking some of the wind. Later during the shift, my host family showed up to play some games. I told them about the festival the previous night and they really wanted to come! I got to teach my host sisters how to play Go-Fish and they were happy to receive prizes after winning.

When our volunteering shifts came to an end, the youth center coordinator had us come to the stage to watch some performances. It was so cold by this time that we were all cuddling trying to stay warm. Harmony’s arms made a nice scarf! We watched this hip hop performance that was pretty much boys against girls in the beginning and then at the end they joined together for an epic finale. The next performance {which the coordinator told us was somehow related to Better World} was these two groups of girls that did a cheerleading/Poms Routine? I’m not quite sure. The younger girls were dressed in sporty wear while the older ones looked like pirates? They were very fun though! I found myself bopping around and clapping along to the music.

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I was living for the gash on the side of my face!

After the festival, Kaitlyn and I got rid of our wounds in the subway’s bathroom {There was nooo way that we would ride the subway looking like that.} and went to 홍대 for dinner. We had 겨촌치킨. The original honey flavor~ It was delicious but we had a lot of leftovers.

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The rest of the night with Kaitlyn was spent walking around the streets populated by Buskers. They were all wearing Halloween costumes which were so nice to see! There was at least some Halloween spirit going on there. We eventually found this one group whose costumes were pretty lacking but their dancing was incredible. Though Kaitlyn and I found what happened surrounding the group the best part! Oh, who does not like people watching?

First, there was a guy wearing a long black padded coat and a mask dancing along awkwardly to the songs right next to the group. He was so funny and honestly more entertaining than the other dancers. Then, there were these two older ladies that screamed when one of the guys came over to her and she did this really ridiculous dance as a kind of dance face-off type thing—but it was great. She had some moves! Lastly, when these two girls danced, they pulled this really tall foreign guy into the circle and danced with him {in a pretty sexy way}. At first, he just stood there awkwardly but after the chorus played for a bit, he copied their movements and squatted on the ground with them. That was surely a sight to witness: I will say that.

After watching the Buskers for a bit, Kaitlyn and I went our separate ways to go home. I know when I came home I talked to my host family for a bit, but I don’t think I studied much if anything at all. I put on a Halloween movie and went to bed pretty early.

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed~ Stay tuned for more!

  • Emma 엠마

 

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Confusing Times at School & Back to our Favorite Cafe {10/26/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/26/18 Friday

I would not necessarily call today one of those days where I felt my nerves consuming me {Those days were really representative of the beginning of my AY journey}. However, I would describe it more as a chill day with a few nervous pockets here and there. In the morning during homeroom, my classmates (and I) figured out when we would have a class meeting so that we could talk, hang out more, and have a nice dinner together {With our homeroom teacher, 민정쌤, too}. I let them know that I can do Fridays seeing that I don’t have Korean class those days, but our teacher seemed to be busy Friday nights {understandable} and Wednesdays were for club activities. We talked for a bit on the subject and I let them know that I am willing to make the trip back up to 하나고 after Korean class so that we could make the meeting sooner rather than later. We decided on Monday~ So after Korean class on Monday, I have to hurry and try to make it to school on time. If only the walk from Better World to the station and the walk to the platform itself wouldn’t take so long…

Friday was the second full day of the week and I started off the day with 철학 (philosophy). Our teacher just played two documentaries the whole time {one about a Catholic all-male university in Korea and the other was about young people choosing to become monks.} It was pretty interesting but I didn’t pay too much attention to it in all honesty. I was filling out my planner and organizing my Korean class assignments. Everyone else in my class was sleeping so you can’t really get mad at me or anything…

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I found this photo in my camera roll… I know it is a scene from the documentary but I have no idea what is actually being shown… any ideas?

경제학 (economics) was next and our teacher wasn’t there, so we just got to self-study. I spent the two hours “trying” to do my coding homework… but that did not turn out well. I could do some but then when new concepts came up in the textbook, I didn’t know what formulas to use..: 인터넷으로 코딩을 어떻게 하는 것을 검색했는데 아직도 코딩을 할 줄 몰라요… I could have asked 세림 sitting next to me but I didn’t want to burden her more with my questions… she’s already helped me so much! And she had her own studying to do.

Also, during this class, I was not using my own computer… nope! It was my 통계학 선생님’s (Statistic Teacher’s) computer. He gave it to me because I can’t download the coding program on my laptop since it’s just a Chromebook. He said he has two computers and I can just keep this one until I leave for America! And he said I can download other programs too; he will just delete them later. He is being so nice… we need more teachers like him, but I really don’t think I can do the work… How do I tell him this?

When lunchtime came around, I ate with Katie and some of our friends again: 서린, 혜지, 도윤, 윤세 and this new first year who had been wanting to eat lunch with us for a while. Today’s lunch was 5 stars. Forget the stars… it was worth 5 planets! We had Korean barbecue {삼겹살} for lunch. We had the pork, the lettuce wraps, a lime drink with coconut jelly, soup, 김치 (kimchi), and shrimp fried in some batter. Lunch was a lot of fun as always~

After lunch, I had social studies as one student put it but I think it’s more like sociology? So far, every time I have seen this teacher, he has been wearing a sweatshirt for an American University: today was Stanford. In class, we read this thick packet on globalization and international trade. Honestly, I didn’t understand much… except for the part when we talked about Disneyland! I kinda wanted to talk about it but no one asked me, unfortunately.

Katie and I both had our English mentorship/conversation class next so we walked with each other to the library; however, we were both not in the best mood. Katie was frustrated with her 한국사 (Korean History) class and trying to rant about it me while I was trying to quickly Sparknote a chapter from the book we are reading in my literature class. We were both stressed and very much distressed which led Katie getting mad at me for not paying attention to her and I got upset at Katie for distracting me so when we got into our study room she began complaining loudly once again so I yelled at her for being too loud and to close the door which made us both very pissy at each other. As soon as the students walked in, our anger subsided for the time being. This was our first real fight and it was so silly… we were just in really bad moods and really stressed. Later while on the bus back to the station, I apologized for being so snippy and she did the same. We hugged and laughed about it.

Our mentorship class was fun as always. I had a blast speaking to the girls in my group about so many different topics: our weekends, famous Korean variety shows, Disney movies, and then somehow we got onto the topic of Korean history?! And we talked about this dictator {or at least that is what they called him} and other presidents/important officials that were killed or imprisoned. It was a very interesting conversation, to say the least. I would love to learn more about that time. At the end of the meeting, Katie and I asked them some questions that we were required to ask for our cultural activity the following day. The questions were about World War II, the Japanese Occupation of Korea, and the idea that Koreans dislike the Japanese till this day. {I will talk more about their answers in my next blog post~}

The plan for our Friday night was for Katie to come back to 고양시 with me and study at a cafe together (eat a convenience store dinner) and just relax and enjoy a chill Friday night. We bought some 녹차 호떡 (green tea pancake-like pastry– AKA winter street food) at the 시장 (market) near the station and took the subway to 화정역. While we were riding the train, this man started asking us questions in Korean–kinda creepily? He asked us if we were in 7th or 8th grade? And then he said 10th grade after we said no. We got off at the next stop mostly because I am a fool and thought that that stop was the last one for this train (it was the next one, unfortunately) but I am glad we got ourselves out of that situation. It was quite uncomfortable.

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My one true love: 호떡

We went to the same cafe that we visited on Sunday. (The drinks were delicious, service was very nice, and the prices cannot be beaten!) I cannot remember the name of it still… but I will include it the next time we visit if I do not edit it in this post. (Dodori Coffee!) I ordered a 민트초코라떼 (Mint Chocolate Latte) while Katie got an iced chocolate drink. We were quite productive and both did our homework (workbook pages, vocabulary, etc) while enjoying the nice atmosphere. There were quite a few other people in the cafe also studying. We ate dinner at the convenience store– just some 김밥 (kimbap), a random 음료수 (beverage), and a 쿠키 (cookie). I got a 전주 비빔밥 김밥 (Jeonju Bibimbap) which I assumed I would like it because my favorite flavor is 참치김치볶음밥 (Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice). However, this flavor was may spicier! Instead of a pocket of tuna in the middle of the rice, it was a pocket of straight up 고추장. Too spicy!!

I said goodbye to Katie in the station and walked home (the long, scenic route) by myself. I spent the rest of the night finishing some studying and writing some blog posts. It was a good day, and I was excited for the weekend~ A cultural activity, volunteering, and a day trip to 인천 was waiting for me!! I was anticipating a fun weekend~ That is all for this blog post! (Wow… I have been really lacking with the photos lately… oops) I hope you enjoyed anyway~

  • Emma 엠마

 

Art Class in Korea, Presentations, and Picnic Dinner {10/25/18} NSLI-Y AY

10/25/18 Thursday

If you remember my last blog post {which you probably won’t because who knows when this will be uploaded and there’s no need to pay this much attention to what I write… but if you do}, then you might remember me saying a knock-on-wood type statement when stating I hope I don’t forget my wallet anytime soon… well, I did! The following day… so my luck is pretty perfect!

So Thursday morning didn’t start off too great… but I didn’t let that stop me! I let World History do that. Just kidding just kidding… but not really. Sitting in a class for two hours not understanding one word coming from the teacher’s mouth is so frustrating. Also, there was no free seat next to the girl I usually sit with and so I sat by myself in front of the class for a hot second before 동철 saved me. Bless that kid as he told me to move and sit next to him. During class, I tried to concentrate and focus as much as I could but I was still left sitting there feeling bad. So during the first half of class, I tried taking notes based on what our teacher said but my paper was mostly blank—his handwriting is also super hard to read so who even knows if what I write down makes sense. The second half of class I just wrote down my entire Korean class presentation on paper to test my memorization skills while the teacher went over the students’ midterm.

Once world history was over, I had art which once again, I was not looking forward to. I never took an art class at my American high school because I kind of grew out of seeing art as fun, and I’m such a perfectionist that it really bugs me when I don’t think what I make looks good. In this class, I was with a group of girls and we had to work on this project that we would be presenting next week on Thursday. We were given this French painter who painted in Rococo Style whose name escapes me… The girls did Rock Paper Scissors to decide who would be the one was in charge of making the power point and the others {including me} would be chosen to draw. So I ended up drawing a wishing well and some trees. I’m definitely not an artist. {I told my art teacher that I didn’t take Art in America and that I really don’t have an interest in it and after that, she kept complimenting my drawing—she probably wanted to make me like art.}

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This was drawn by me, not an 8-year old. Also, this looks NOTHING  like Rococo style so major fail?!?!

After class ended, I rushed to find Katie for lunch and we ate alone but we were really content since the food was so delicious. It was birthday day at school {the meal that celebrates all the birthdays in October} so we had LA갈비 (special ribs), 잡채 (sweet potato noodles), 미역국 (seaweed soup), and 케이크 (cake)! It was so delicious and filling!

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Translation: It is Birthday day. Happy birthday to the students with October birthdays.

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맛있는 점심~~~

Korean Class went really well I think~ We had our presentations and I was honestly really proud of how mine turned out~ I don’t think the teacher had too much to fix which made me feel good. The grammar points we learned in class were also not that difficult. We actually “learned” 반말 or informal speech in Korean. I’m surprised that it’s this far in the textbook series. Although even though the book didn’t introduce it till now, I doubt anyone has studied this far and not learned it. When I was in Korea for the summer, I had no idea how to speak informally for the most part. I learned by texting informally with my supporter and NSLI-Y friends after the program had ended. I definitely couldn’t imagine coming to year and not using informal language {Though I do mess up with informal language all the time to my high school friends or my host siblings.}

After class, I ended up going home with Katie. We planned to at first study at a cafe but since it was already so late, we decided to just eat dinner together. That dinner consisted of 편의점 food! The best of course! (Is this a joke? The world may never know!) We ate under this bridge in a park near her host family’s home. I ate this 김밥 with butter in the name thinking that it was weird they chose that word but I didn’t think there would be actual butter but a flavoring?! Boy, was I wrong… the rice had a huge pocket of literally just butter right in the middle. It was disgusting. Good thing we had 호떡 to wash away the foul taste.

When I got home I was burnt out by Korean class and how tired I was. I made a Quizlet for the words I studied in class and then just lazily hung out in the living room with my host siblings until I could no longer keep my eyes open anymore. I ended up falling asleep early which was nice. 

Sorry for the kind of short blog post? With nothing really interesting going on? Oh well, I mentioned that a routine would kick in eventually and school is not that fun–in any country! Thanks for reading! Till next time~

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

10/24/18 Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

10/23/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

10/21/18 Sunday

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

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

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

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Views! I took this while riding my bike!

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

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

10/22/17

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

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

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

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

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

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What is coding!?!?

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

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

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

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

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  • Emma 엠마

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

10/20/18 Saturday

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

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

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

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Our lunch spread!~

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

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

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

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Massive Food Trucks

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

10/19/18 Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

10/18/18 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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우리 사랑하는 RD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

10/17/18 Wednesday

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

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

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My love Katie ❤

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

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

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

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

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  • Emma 엠마