Korean OPIC, (Real) Tacos, & Artsy Cafes (03/16/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/16/19 Saturday

I woke up as a ball of nerves this morning because of the impending doom that would be my OPIC test. In order to give us the opportunity to take an official OPI-like test before we take the real one at the end of May or June (and also to see where our level was according to the ACTFL standards), we would be taking an OPI test through the computer. 

We all had to meet at 혜화역 which is on the blue line, a couple stops away from 명동, and we walked together to the fashion/design school that was being used for the test. The minute I walked into the room and saw all the giant high school computer lab desktops and headphones with microphones at every seat, I began to mildly panic and high key start sweating up a storm. 

The man in charge gave us the directions of everything in English and Korean and it pretty much exactly matched what we learned from the orientation we had earlier that week. Before we knew it, the test started and 40 minutes was on the clock. After freaking out over what level to pick for my test, I ended up going with the one 1반 선생님 suggested which was the second most advanced level. I also talked to Kaitlyn about it on the train ride over to the station and she also helped give me enough confidence to not chicken out and pick an easier level. 

The test worked a bit differently than I had thought. Basically we were allowed to repeat the question one time and then we had to answer right away as the recording would immediately start once the audio track ended. We also did not have an unlimited amount of time to answer the questions. After the expected time duration for an answer passed, a message would pop up to tell you to proceed to the next question as the computer was no longer recording. You can finish your question earlier and move onto the next question sooner but it’s advised to try to talk during the entire allotted answering time since it will give you a better chance of getting a higher score as you have more time to show off your skills. 

Although the level I chose for the tests was the second most advanced, it didn’t feel like that. The questions I was getting asked me to explain the area surrounding my current living place, to describe what you can do at a park, to talk about a memorable time at a park, to describe the weather in Korea, to describe the area around my Korean classes, etc. Though I will say that even though things appeared to be really easy, I still struggled to answer most things. I may know a good amount of good grammar and talk about some advanced topics but you ask me to describe the location or appearance of anything… and I’m out. I’m not good at those so the park question and location questions in specific were very badly answered. I also just believe that the questions didn’t leave much room for utilizing complex/ advanced level vocab and grammar… it seemed to be just me stringing simple sentence after simple sentence to answer the questions. Also my role play really threw me for a loop! I had to go rent a car and explain to the worker that I didn’t have a license for the current country that I was in which I don’t know… it was hard! I knew the word for license and that was pretty much it. I do not think I could even properly explain that situation in English too well either. I mean especially since I don’t DRIVE! 

After the OPIC test was over, we walked around a small market before heading to get some Mexican food. I’ve been craving tacos lately and I’ve been dying to get my hands on some salsa and chips!!! I miss them a lot!! The place was small and cute and all the decorations reminded me of restaurants back in America. Plus, things were not incredibly expensive. 

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In order to get some work done (and get some cute photos for Instagram), Alix, Katie, Jenna, Jacquelyn and I ended up going to this cafe that Jacquelyn had found on MangoPlate. We ordered our drinks and talked for a bit all together but then I left the group to do some work because I had been slacking with studying recently. The other girls kept taking about program stuff and American news and I kept my ears open to what they had to say.

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After I exhausted my desire to study, Jenna, Katie, and I went and walked around the area near the station which honestly felt a lot like 홍대 but less crowded. It was so youthful and the weather was really great this day. We ended our day together with some ice cream from Baskin Robbins, the best flavor: 너는 참 달고나. 

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I got home after ice cream and took a nice nap before having dinner. Everyone else was out of the house and my host sister had already recently eaten ramen so I ended up having to eat by myself and spend the rest of the night studying. It was nice and relaxing though~~ I also was able to watch a movie on Netflix, something I haven’t had much time to do recently (which is a good thing). 

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He was waiting for me while I took a shower!!! ❤ Andy ❤

That’s all for this blog post then~ I hope you enjoyed! Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma엠마

White Day Romance, Yeonsu Market, and Eating Lunch with Third Year Korean Friends (03/14-15/19) NSLI-Y AY

03/14/19 Thursday 

Today was a special corporate created holiday in Korea (like Valentine’s Day) called White Day. Basically, in Korean couple culture and youth culture, girls are supposed to confess to the guy they like on actual Valentine’s Day and if that said guy likes the girl back, he will return the favor exactly one month later (Guys can also just confess to girls on this day). If a couple is already dating, White Day is a day for boyfriends and girlfriends to spoil each other. Obviously, I have no love interest in Korea but I have my soulmate Katie so we planned to meet up after class on Thursday to exchange sweets {Something to make the day sweet after a rather stressful Korean class.} 

In the morning, I had economics with 서린 and we finished up our supply and demand farming game from the previous week. We decided to play it safe and mostly chose to grow 고구마 (sweet potato). Turns out, we actually won the game; we had the highest profit by the end of the game!!! The rest of the class was spent taking notes from a PowerPoint which took a lot out of me to not fall asleep during. I had to even chew a stick of gum because I was high key nodding off in class.

After economics, I had 한국사 (Korean history) with the same smiley teacher from last semester. When he walked into the room and saw me, he immediately greeted me—this felt so good~ However, I have a feeling that he is expecting me to follow along in class from now on. He handed me a notes packet and told me to share a textbook with the girl next to me and he even asked me a question in class about something in the book. {There was a fossil in the book that was supposed to look like a human face but it honestly looked like any old rock. He asked me what it looked like and I told him I had no idea which made everyone laugh but he agreed with me that it was not clear at all.} I hope I can lower his expectations of me soon so I can just do Korean class work! That would be so nice! {I also might have accidentally told him I went home for winter break which was a lie… I stayed here the whole time, clearly).

For lunch today, Katie and I ate with our third year friends (one of my English mentor-ship groups): 규원, 지은, and 주연. It was nice being able to catch up with them since it feels like ages since we were able to eat with them~ They are all studying hard and struggling through that third year student life. I feel for them~~ Though, I’m glad we are still able to keep in touch! I hope that we will continue to have lunches together~ 

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On my way to Korean class, I stopped by Blanc Bakery for some macaroons {one for me, two for Katie, and one for 근영 (He did the English mentor-ship program with me last semester and he is now leaving 하나고:/ to transfer high schools} and I also withdrew some money because I used up all my stipend officially, today, after those pastries. Unfortunately, I could not make it till Monday…sigh

I honestly cannot remember Thursday’s Korean class at all. I believe we learned three grammar points that seemed to be pretty useful—meaning I can see myself sprinkling them in to some conversations. We also got our Topik writing back and I did pretty well on it!? I counted up my score and I was only 5 points away from getting a level 5 on that particular test which was really cool to think about. It would honestly be amazing to get level 5 but for now, I’m just hoping for level 4! 

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Me annoying Josh as usual~

After class, Katie and I exchanged our goodies~ She bought me Peppero and even wrote me the cutest letter in Korean! I was so touched~~ Wanna know the way to my heart? A cute letter on cute stationary ❤ Seriously, I’m easy to please. 

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I went home early that day and had dinner with my host family. I ate with my host sisters and we had some seafood fried rice (I keep forgetting the name of the fish!) I spent the rest of the night writing my topic proposal for our individual research project which will last until the end of the program. I decided to do mental/learning disability discrimination in South Korea, focusing on Autism as it is really heavily stigmatized here. I also took a trip to the 편의점 and Artbox to buy a card for 근영 and to try the new apple cherry blossom flavored apple juice that Kaitlyn was telling me about. 

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I also succumbed to Korean trends and bought a black “long padding” coat…

3/15/19 Friday

Katie and I started our bus ride to school the right way (the only way really): with a jam out session to the song Country Roads. It is now our new theme song!!

We started off the day with music class together. We got to the room early (the first students to arrive to be exact) so Katie played a song on the piano while I roamed around the room aimlessly. The first part of class today was spent learning to define chords of music (chords made up of 3 notes I believe?) which took a lot out of me seeing that I have no background in music! Katie was of tremendous help and I quickly grasped the new concept and was able to finish the rest of the sheet by myself! Honestly, it felt good being able to complete it. Also, since I was participating in a Korean class, this accomplishment made me ten times happier. 

During the break time between classes, Katie and I went inside one of the practice rooms and she just dug out the chords for Country Roads out of thin air and we sang together while she played the piano. I’m not sure how sound proof the walls are (I speak from experience, I can always hear the male students singing when they are inside of them.), but if anyone on the outside could hear us singing… I’m sorry. That must have been painful! 

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The rest of the music class was spent learning and singing a new song called 수고했어 오늘도 which basically translates to “Today too, you worked hard/suffered because of it.” Its kinda hard to directly translate this phrase from Korean to English. The song was quite catchy and the lyrics were relate-able for any student, and honestly… any struggles.

After music class, I had English public speaking with 서린 taught by Jason—one of the now two (American) foreign teachers here at 하나고. Honestly, this morning I was dreading the class because I had no desire to do public speaking while I was here and even though I did speech team and was a captain, I don’t enjoy the activity of giving speeches. That is why, I will not be continuing that endeavor at the university level… But even though those were the thoughts I came into to class with, the period ended up being really fun. We spent the whole first period and a part of the second learning different body and hand gestures we can use in our speeches. We also went over all these different gestures and discussed the vibe they gave off. It was pretty refreshing and fun since we all had to move our desks in a circle and then stand out in front of them and do all the motions along with Jason—it was an interactive class! Honestly, it felt like we were doing warm-ups you might do in drama club. It was a lot of fun! 

Jason also talked to us about our first speech assignment: an instructional speech. We got to spend the last few minutes of class brainstorming good ideas for what to present about. Since I’m not getting a grade, I can basically do whatever I like and I want to make it fun for the other kids so I was thinking of sing something involving American culture and food! My first thought was ‘How to Make a Grilled Cheese” but it would be hard to buy/or make that many… my wallet does not have sufficient funds for that. I then thought of teaching American slang or speaking style but I’m not sure what exactly that would consist of. I also thought of doing a ‘How to pack for a picnic’ speech but I don’t have a basket for that and picnic foods like cheese and fruit are expensive here so… I still need to think more about my topic. 

Katie and I had lunch with our big group of friends and had a good time just enjoying the actual food cafeteria food today and chatting about everything. Actually, high status police men actually came to 하나고 today to do a presentation and so a bunch of really attractive looking young guys (and one girl!) with dark blue uniforms came in and almost all the girls stopped to turn their heads—they all definitely noticed the different male energy. It was really funny. 

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Since yesterday was White Day, the school set up this little event at dinner time that allowed students to get a balloon, put a wish on it, and then tie it on the balcony in front of the dorm and they would release the balloons later. Yesterday, 지은 told me that they used to always do it during lunch time so it was a shame that we were gonna miss it because we weren’t going to be here for dinner. But anyways, all the colorful balloons with messages made for a perfect backdrop for a photo! So we got all our friends together and took a group photo. 

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After lunch, Katie and I both had free time since we had our library classes. I actually had my 공강 and Katie and her mentor-ship period but because the kids haven’t been decided yet, it was a free period for both of us. I spent the first half of the period actually being productive and reviewing a grammar point but then I got so sleepy that I started nodding off while taking notes… so I ended up sleeping for the last ten minutes or so and it was a hardcore nap. I woke up low-key drooling and there was a mark on the side of my face from my coat. 

The last class of the day was Economics which is always a class that I have a difficulty staying awake in but I really think that 10 minute power nap gave me the energy to stay somewhat alert and awake. The teacher just lectured the whole time and everyone listened and added to their notes. But, we also had some fun conversations too! Our teacher, at one point, was trying to reach us about this one graph that showed how a person was willing to buy a product based on price. She used the one product that we all could get behind: ice cream and 호떡. 

She first started off by writing all the different prices of 호떡 from 500원 {less than 50 cents}—which she stated was the price of them when she was younger—all the way up to 2,500원 (a little less than $2.50$. Then she asks “Who would buy 호떡 for 500원 and I also raised my hand with most of the rest of the class and my teacher actually was surprised. She exclaimed, ‘Oh Emma is answering too!” which made me laugh. I guess she found it surprising that I was following along. We did the same activity with this famous Korean ice cream bar called 돼지바 which is basically like the strawberry shortcake (there’s also chocolate version) ice cream bar back in America except this one was both chocolate and strawberry, not just one flavor like the bars mentioned above. She asked a couple people how many they would eat if each bar was only 50 cents but most people were shy or really said they would only eat two. One of the guys said he would get 4 but I bet he could have said more! Our teacher, being the true honest gal she is, wrote that she would gladly buy 6 bars. I could get behind that, most likely. 

School ended and Katie and I set off on an adventure to eat some 분식 (snack food). We walked by the stall that we know is right by our 녹차호떡 stand but there was no one there. We didn’t really know where else to look so we mustered up the courage to walk through the market (연서시장) and get something to eat there. Our criteria was 딱볶이 and preferably a place to sit and eat. Our first walk through the mountain that was a lot of shops selling packaged 반찬 or other fresh produce and meat. We took this one random turn and then we did pass by some actual small sit down restaurants but none seemed to serve the spicy rice cakes that we had a craving for. Eventually, we tried one last time to walk though one of the alleyways and by doing so, we found the perfect place with a line even (good sign good sign)! We ordered some 떡볶이 and a variety set of 튀김. It was all so delicious! And it only came out to be less than 4 dollars! 

After eating, we went to a cafe for an hour just to chill and get some work done. I had to leave pretty quickly after we arrived cause I really wanted to make it home in time for dinner since I was going to be meeting Ellen—my older host sister’s best American friend. 

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When I got home, she was the only one there so we talked a little about her experience on NSLI-Y and her Boren scholarship and what she’s working as now. She’s so cool! A role model! As soon as my host sisters came home, we went to the 24 hour restaurant near the apartment complex and ate some 콩나물국밥 (bean sprout rice porridge/stew). Dinner was so much fun~ We talked about a bunch of things ranging from the drug scandal that a Big Bang member is a part of, travel, the drama within my NSLI-Y cohort, and some tea from when Ellen did NSLI-Y. I really liked the way her presence changed the atmosphere. She is really fun!

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That is all for this blog post~ It is quite a long one. I hope you enjoyed. I cannot believe that it has been two whole months since I last posted… College sure has been hectic and busy but I am enjoying it all the same. Hopefully, I can crank out more posts during these winter months. Until next time~

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

03/12/19 Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shada and our free gummies!

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

03/11/19 Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

03/09/19 Saturday 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

03/10/19 Sunday

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

03/09/19 Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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View from the school!!~

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

안녕하세요 여러분!~

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

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

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What I Will Wear on the Plane:

  • Sweatshirt
  • T-shirt
  • Leggings
  • Sneakers

Carry On

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

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

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

Toiletries Bag

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

First Checked Bag

(International Weight Limit: 50 pounds)

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

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

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

Miscellaneous

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

Second Checked Bag

Toiletries Bag

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

Miscellaneous

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

Personal Item

(Backpack/Purse)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

03/07/19 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Lovely teacher!

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

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Andy is such a mood

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

03/06/19 Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

What were the three situations when coffee tastes the best? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

03/05/19 Tuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마