Host Family Information

An underlying theme in both my Nsliy application essays as well as my interview was my excitement for my host family. I can definitely say that having a host family is a great plus to this program. I would have still applied if we lived in dorms like some of the other countries, but I am glad that I’ll be able to have the experience in Korea with another family. I’m not new to the whole “hosting” world as my aunt herself owns a homestay in New York where she hosts students from all over the world. I’ve met countless people from countless countries through staying with her every summer (unfortunately, I will not get a chance this summer but my time in Korea is something I’m super grateful for). Her business was one of the many starting points of my curiosity for other cultures and languages. But back to the original point of this post, I’m happy to share that on June 21st (Tuesday) I recieved my host family information by email. I will not be sharing everything (for privacy reasons) but I will share as much as I deem suitable.

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Seodaemun District (Seodaemun-gu)

I will be living in an apartment located in Seodaemun Gu (서대문구). This part of Seoul is where Yonsei University is located (A prestigious university in Korea) as well as Sogang university which is where previous Seoul Summer Korean classes have been held (Last year was the first year the program moved to Sookmyung Women’s University). Sinchon (신촌) is also a neighborhood in Seodaemun Gu which is known for it’s many shops and lively night time crowds. I will be living in an apartment with a mother and father who are both managers at an educational institute. I’m assuming this means that they work as managers at a hagwon (학원). Hagwon is the Korean word for a private academy or cram school that prepares students for the college entrance exam (대학수학능력시험). However, I’m not 100% sure. As for host siblings, I will have two younger brothers (Just like I do now). One is 14 years of age and the other is 11. It will take less than an hour to get to Sookmyung by subway which makes me happy since I would rather not have to wake up so early in the morning just for my long commute. Our curfew for Nsliy is also very very generous (at least to me it is). Our curfew for weekdays is 9pm and the curfew for weekends is 11pm. Both times are very manageable.

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Sinchon During the Day

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Sinchon At Night

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That’s all for today folks. Sunday (6/26/16) is my last full day in my hometown. These past few days have been spent cramming in last minute hang outs with my friends at the movies and downtown, as well as my mom making me all my favorite foods (I’m going to miss Cuban food so much when I’m gone. Tostones and Flan are my guilty pleasures). I’m still not packed yet but it’s supposed to rain on Sunday (tomorrow) so I can always do that then. Thanks for reading this post and don’t forget to subscribe!~ 안녕!!!

Emma 엠마

Flight Itineraries are Here!

I think it is safe to say that I am psychic. On June 13th, 2016 (Monday) I uploaded a blog post about how I am preparing for Korea. In that blog post, I mentioned that it was a very special day because that day was exactly 2 weeks away from the departure date to Seattle. To my surprise, Monday was a special day for one more reason… I got my flight itineraries! (For both my domestic and international flights). I would have posted sooner but I did just upload a post on Monday and I’ve been so busy trying to finish my summer homework before I leave that I couldn’t find time until today to write and upload a blog post. Nonetheless, I am here with some exciting news as I’ve been waiting for this information for awhile now! (In the past years, flight information was given out in May so everyone in my group has been anxious).

I want to start off by saying that NSLI-Y8 (NSLI-Y8 = 8th round of Seoul Summer NSLI-Y finalists) is such an amazing group of people. During the acceptance period, we made a Kakao Group Chat (KakaoTalk is a Korean messaging app that offers free texting, calling, and video chat). We have been talking throughout this whole waiting period and I can’t wait to meet them all in person! One of the amazing girls from our chat, (Her blog can be found here) formated a Google Doc so that we could put our flight information in one place. She did an amazing job! Now we all can figure out who will be on our domestic flights, as well who we will be sitting next to on our way to and from South Korea by looking at organized charts with some memes for good measure.

Basic Itinerary:

On June 27th, I will be heading to O’hare International Airport for my flight that leaves for Seattle (and I don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. Though I’ll probably still wake up way too early because of all the excitement). As of right now, I already know of one other girl, from our Kakao chat, who is on my flight so I won’t have to go this 4 hour flight alone! We will be arriving in Seattle in the early afternoon (From the looks of it, some people are arriving as early as 10am and others won’t be in Seattle until 7pm. So there will be a pretty long waiting period before everyone arrives).

We will be having our Pre-Departure Orientation at The University of Washington. On June 29th all the NSLI-Yians will be leaving Seattle and landing in Korea in the late afternoon (but it will be the next day in Korea). I’ve never experienced any sort of jet lag (Because the farthest place I’ve flown is New York and that’s only a one hour time difference) so I’m kinda excited (If that’s the right word…) to see what that has in store for me. Who knows, my group has already talked about staying up all night the day before our flight anyways (and we will be having a Smash tournament during the plane ride with our DS’s – I did mention they are the best people ever right?).

I have no clue where I’ll be sitting when it comes to my domestic flight from Chicago to Seattle but on my international flights (Seattle->Korea & Korea->Seattle) I have aisle seats for both durations which makes me super happy because I don’t want to be that annoying passenger when they need to go to the bathroom. I’d rather be woken up then be the one doing the waking up.

Now that I think about it, I’m kinda happy that all this flight business was late because I think the excitement would have been too much if I still had to wait a month knowing all this information.

Thanks for Reading. 안녕!~

“To Travel is to Live.”   Hans Christian Anderson



How I’m Studying Korean (Digital + Physical Resources)

Today is a very special day. It’s a special day because today marks only 14 days left until I hop onto a plane for my Pre Departure Orientation in Seattle. There’s only two weeks left till I potentially leave for Korea and this honestly boggles my mind (Well, 14 days till Seattle and 16 till Korea). Again, I remember when there were 70 days left and now there’s only 14! It’s crazy how fast the days go by (I mean, I expected this… but still). Now, I don’t have anything too exciting to post about my trip yet, (as I am still waiting for my flight and host family information) but I did want to dedicate a blog post to how I am preparing for my six weeks in South Korea (Beware!~ This will be a very long post).

Obviously, I am preparing for this trip by studying Korean. Is it hard to stay in during beautiful summer days to study a foreign language? It is, and it isn’t. I have a lot of fun studying Korean as seeing any sort of growth or success in my studies can make me happy for the entire day (literally). For instance, yesterday I was able to have a full Korean conversation with my Korean friend over Kakao Talk and I only needed to look up one word (French fries). Granted, our conversation was about food so it wasn’t too difficult, but the achievement definitely made me happy.  But I do have to be honest, it is hard to plan out a certain time of the day and actually sit down and begin studying (because it is still studying- during the summer). However, I know I will appreciate my hard work when I’m over in Seoul and that is PLENTY of motivation.

Physical Resources

So as a part of our PPLP, (Pre Program Language Preparation) we were given a textbook to study from as well as weekly assignments that we are expected to complete and email to our Resident Director every Friday by midnight. So far, I haven’t used my textbook in correlation to the worksheets all too much, but I have been studying the textbook by myself (Though I am in the advanced group and i’ve heard that the basic/beginner group uses the textbook a lot). The textbook we were given is the Integrated Korean: Beginning 1, 2nd Edition (Purchase It Here).

textbook 2

What The Textbook Looks Like

I already had the textbook so now I have two copies. Personally, I think the textbook is really helpful because it explains topics pretty well. It provides questions to help further your understanding and places for you to put forth the grammar skills learned (there are even cultural tidbits at the end of each chapter). 

cultural tidbit

Cultural Tidbit About Greeting With Bows

There’s also NO romanization in the textbook which is great for getting better at reading hangul (Korean Alphabet/Written Language) because it does not allow you to use the crutch which is romanization. The only downside I have is that the textbook was created for classroom environments so you will come across sections that ask you to discuss with classmates and there are some questions that involve responses from other people (I just made things up in these circumstances so it’s not that big of a deal). Also, it is a textbook so it won’t help with pronunciation but that can easily be taken care of with another Korean language resource.

Besides my textbook, I only have two other physical Korean Language resources and they are both dictionaries of some sort. The first one I have is Korean Phrase Book and Dictionary by Berlitz Publishing (Purchase It Here).

phrase book

You Can Tell It’s Well Loved By The Bottom Right Corner

The phrases in this book are actually quite useful and it is split up into categories like Arrival and Departure, Shopping, Sightseeing, Eating Out, Business Travel etc. Everything is pretty easy to find as all the phrases are put in organized sections. The Phrase sections show the phrase in English and to the right it has the phrase written in Hangul. Underneath the Hangul, the romanization for the phrase is also displayed (Though I don’t really pay much attention to romanization, this is a handy feature for tourists that don’t plan on learning Korean). phrase book example .jpg

Lastly, the book also has a small English-Korean dictionary as well as a Korean-English dictionary. I’ve actually used this book quite often when it comes to its dictionary. When I need to look up a word for my homework, I use this since Google Translate can’t always be trusted. The book is also quite small, so it’s the perfect size to just throw in your bag when you are going to class or around town. The only thing I don’t like about this book is that most of the phrases (98%) are very very very formal. It’s pretty easy to change many of the phrases by just altering the endings but how to do that isn’t exactly shown in the book so that knowledge will need to be found elsewhere (which is understandable since this was created for tourists and not specifically for language learning but still, I’m going to critique it how I deem fit).

Next up, is another dictionary! This one is titled McGraw-Hill’s Korean Illustrated Dictionary (Purchase It Here). Dictionary

This isn’t any plain old dictionary. Why? Well because it has pictures to go along with the words inside!~ So like the phrasebook this dictionary is split up into sections like In the Bathroom, People, At the Restaurant, Transportation etc. The dictionary displays the word in Hangul as well as an illustration to match that word. The word is then shown with it’s romanization and it’s English Translation of that word. dictionary example

The dictionary also has an index in the back of the book so if you are looking for a word in particular, it is easy to find. Not only that, but the dictionary also comes with a CD with the pronunciation of every single word in the book so you can put it on your computer/phone/mp3 or whatever you use and listen to it when you feel like it (I personally haven’t touched the CD… but hey it will be there when I need it). 

Digital/Online Resources

Here I’m going to link my favorite websites for learning Korean as well as a list of the names of apps that I use. Depending on the resource, I may give a brief description or some information but I won’t be too in depth as it is very easy to just click on the link and check everything out.

(1. TalkToMeInKorean

  • A very popular Korean learning resource (that also has a Youtube Channel to aid lessons). The website also has free lessons as well as things that need to be paid for (I definitely don’t use this website all too much but I did use it to learn hangul).

(2. HowToStudyKorean

  • A very guided Korean language learning resource. It starts off really slow with hangul and works it’s way up in difficulty. (For example, this website introduces the conjugation of verbs in later chapters.) This website has recorded pronunciation of the words introduced in each chapter and it also includes free word searches that go along with the vocab learned in each chapter (Pretty much free but has workbooks to go along with the chapters that can be purchased). I also use this online resource the most out of all three mentioned.

(3. WordReference

  • Dictionary (For all languages. Works for English-Korean and Korean-English).



(1. Memrise 

  • Vocabulary app (You can download the vocabulary from lessons/chapters from many Korean language resources such as TalkToMeInKorean, HowToStudyKorean, and the Integrated Korean Textbook).

(2. Quizlet

  • Online Flashcards (Also has games to help memorize vocabulary).

(3. HiNative

  • Language Learning Community (You can ask questions about grammar and pronunciation and get answers from native speakers).


Lastly, I want to talk about Pimsleur (Purchase It Here). I personally have the CDs for the Basic Korean Pimsleur Program which can be found here.

So I purchased this program after watching Pimsleur’s youtube video about this product. It seemed like a very good buy especially since Rosetta Stone was way out of my budget. Fortunately, this program is not that expensive (at least for the Basic Programs) as I was able to get this program for around $25 (I did buy this awhile back and I’ve actually been able to find it for cheaper lately). So this program is solely an auditory language learning experience. The Basic Korean Program comes with 5 discs with an hour of conversational Korean on each disc. pimsleur cds

It really helps with pronunciation as you are hearing Korean being spoken by native Korean speakers. It helps you adjust to the pace and speed of native Koreans which is really nice. I also like that the lessons are split up by 30 minutes because it makes sitting down and scheduling time for studying a lot easier. Also, each CD reviews what has been taught previously so you won’t have to go back and listen to a CD again when you need extra help with a phrase or question. Obviously, the only problem with this program is that it is solely based on auditory learning so you need to find resources to accompany it if you want to learn how to write. Not only that, but the program does not introduce Hangul at all. If you don’t have knowledge about the Korean alphabet, these discs can prove to be difficult as you have the possibility of not knowing how to pronounce many of the words/phrases. I would suggest knowing the sounds of the Korean alphabet so that following along with the discs is easier.

And that is everything! This was quite a long post and it won’t be very interesting to people who are not studying Korean but if you are looking for more Korean language learning resources to add to your collection, I hope this list helps you with your language journey as they are definitely helping me with my studies! My next post will either be my packing list or my flight/host family information so look out for another post sometime next week. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed, don’t forget to subscribe!~

“Don’t study hard, study smart.” – Amy Lucas