First Supporter Group Meeting! (July 12th, 2016)

Tuesday (July 12, 2016) was a really fun day because I met my college student supporter! I would be hanging out with her and two other Nsliyians twice a week for the next 5 weeks. (I will make a post solely about supporter groups in the future.) I was excited to meet my supporter and hang out more with the Nsliyians in my group (Jodi & Casey) because I really hadn’t gotten any chances to hang out with them yet. Especially Casey.

I was very tired at school because I stayed up till midnight the night before writing in my journal. We also got assigned a lot of homework so I was feeling the stress >~< haha    After school, I went out for lunch with Casey, Jodi, and Jane. We went to 김밥천국 (Kimbap Heaven) once again. I have literally been to that restaurant three times already. It is a crowd favorite in my program because the food is delicious and the prices can not be beat! That day I ordered the 계란김밥 (Egg Kimbap). Casey and Jodi ordered Mandu Ramen (만두 라면). Jane ordered a cheese donkatsu but instead they gave her this noodle soup type thing. She was too shy to correct them so she just ate it unhappily (Jane really really wanted to try 치즈 돈까스).


Egg Kimbap (계란 김밥)


Casey & Jodi with their Mandu Ramen (만두 라면) & Beef Kimbap (소고기 김밥)


Jane is a bit washed out haha

After lunch, we started heading back to the school which was the meeting spot for today because our supporter wanted to make sure that we would be able to find the cafe (smart move, I would have probably gotten lost XD). While we were walking we passed by this 7/11 in which I spotted the carp bread ice cream in the freezers outside. We decided to buy ice cream for dessert and I even bought a vanilla cone to give to 수진 (Sujin – our supporter) when we finally met up with her. We were meeting her at the school at 2:40pm. When we first met her, it was very awkward. Everyone was nervous, even chatty Jodi! haha However, I think the ice cream was a good way to break the ice.


My delicious ice cream!


Our meeting spot in front of the school

We all walked to this Cafe for our meeting. The name of the cafe was Cafe Areca and it had a really good atmosphere.



Our first meeting was just going over the schedule for the next few weeks. Sujin also showed us the layout of each of the meetings where we would be studying Korean. Once that was done, our supporter bought us drinks from the cafe (they get a stipend to spend on food and drinks for the meetings). I ordered a banana chocolate smoothie. Eventually we pushed some tables together in the cafe and formed a huge group with my supporter group (수진, jodi, Casey, and I), and two other supporter groups (준 (Jun) with Peter, Ariel, Yves & 다영 (Dayoung) with Mckenzie & Sarah). Jun’s group was made up of my 나무 반 classmates while Dayoung’s group was made up of Nsliyians from one of the beginner Korean classes.  Once they joined us, we played some icebreaker games. We shared our name, hometown, and one of our hobbies. We also played this name memorization game which was very similar to the picnic game where you have to remember what everyone brought to the picnic. Then we played Never Have I Ever and I lost one of the games so my supporter Sujin had to flick me in the forehead (classic Korean punishment). However, she didn’t do it hard at all which was good for my forehead. I also flicked Yves in the head as one of his punishments since he picked me to the deliver the pain. (mwahahahaha!)

After the supporter meeting I took a different route home on the subway line so I could spend some more time with Casey but It ended up taking me a lot longer to get home. I ended up going home right after the meeting since I had so much homework to do for the next day and it wouldn’t hurt me to study some more. I ate dinner with my host family as usual and then went to bed after writing in my journal.


Cool staircase with Hangul in the Subway

Even though today was awkward at times, I had a lot of fun meeting my supporter. I am really excited to improve my Korean and be able to have more meaningful conversations with her. I can totally see us really getting close and I hope we do! I can’t wait for Thursday!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!~ 안녕!!!

  • 엠마 (Emma)







Hongdae Dog Cafe & Best Fried Chicken in Korea! (July 11th, 2016)

Monday (July 11th, 2016) was very fun and I was able to stay out later than usual because I recieved no Korean homework from my teachers (고마워요 선생님들!). Korean class was fun as usual. We reviewed the past grammar points we learned and also were taught a couple new ones. Before school Ariel and I stopped at Gongcha to pick up some bubble tea (She ordered mango and I ordered strawberry bubble tea). So during class we had bubble tea to accompany us which made staying awake and alert that much easier.

Monday was also our Korean resident director JT‘s Birthday, so my Korean Class (나무 반) prepared to sing for him when he came in for attendance and his everyday morning routine of “How is everyone feeling today?” I drew Happy Birthday for JT in Korean on the whiteboard and when he walked in, we all sang Happy Birthday.


The entire Nsliy8 family also sang to him at the Monday Meeting After School.


For lunch, Maris, Abbey, Sofia, Rhea, Mckenzie, Teresa, Angie, Jodi, and I headed over to Kimbap Heaven (김밥천국). We pushed some tables together and basically filled up the entire tiny shop. Everyone that came, ate the Cheese Donkatsu (치즈 돈까스) except for Jodi and Angie who both ordered bowls of Mandu Ramen (만두 라면). The lady at the register couldn’t stop laughing because every foreigner that went up to order wanted Donkatsu.


Donkatsu may not be Korean, but it is delicious nonetheless!~


Are you hungry yet? XD

Once we finished eating, our huge group split up and went on our separate ways. Maris, Abbey, Mckenzie, Sofia, and I went to Hongdae for some shopping. We found this one street that was full of clothes, bags, baseball hats, and shoes that were all overall pretty cheap. The shops were very tiny but then they had racks of clothes outside the shop. Most of the shops only accept cash so make sure you ask before if you are planning on using a debit card. (I experienced this first hand! haha) We walked down the entire street and then went back to start at the beginning (to make sure we wouldn’t make any rash shopping decisions XD) The overall favorite shop of our group is this one called “Princess” because it has insanely cute Korean style clothes and is still cheap enough for us Nsliyians on a travel budget.


Hongdae Street


Racks and racks of clothes


SHINee cutout at The Saem location in Hongdae


After shopping around for a bit, we all decided we wanted to go to a dog cafe. Sofia looked one up on her phone and we spent 20 minutes trying to find it. After we realized we were probably walking in the wrong direction, we went to the Hongdae Tourist Information center and asked the workers there. They showed us on the map where the cafe was and once we got that map, we were on our way. The dog cafe was actually really fun! Since all the Nsliyians we were with were beginners (except for Sofia), I was the one who had to speak Korean to the employees running the cafe. The employee at the door explained the whole paying system to us and how we needed to wear slippers to come inside.

It was $3 for admission and you have to buy a drink (the drinks are all $5). I ordered a lemonade but I couldnt even drink it because it was carbonated. Just throwing out a tip, anything on a drinks menu that ends in ade (Lemonade, Orangeade, pomegranateade) will most likely be carbonated.


The dogs at the cafe were so cute and sweet. They were really active so at times it was hard to pet them for any longer than a minute or two. All of the dogs were small which was great because I am afraid of really big dogs.


Maris and Woman’s Best Friend


The beagles were my favorite


Sofia and I with a puppy

After the dog cafe, we all were very hungry for some dinner. We ended up going to this place called Kyochon Chicken which Sofia said was the best Fried chicken place in Hongdae. (She said she read an article about it.) After eating there, I would have to agree. The chicken there was delicious and I have to say compared to all the fried chicken I have eaten on this trip, it was the best one.


The restaurant was very very dark. We ordered a Honey Chicken Box for $15 (For 5 people)

The funniest part of the night was that the employees of the restaurant kept watching us. I guess it was granted seeing that once we finished ordering our food. We pulled out our Korean textbooks and turned our table into a portable Korean Language class (Well, Sofia and I had no homework so we just helped the other girls with their work.)

After dinner, Sofia and I dropped the other girls off at the subway station and we continued to walk around Hongdae (we lived closer to Hongdae then they did so we could stay out later and still make it home before curfew). I got home around 8pm which is an hour before curfew. I still made it home before dinner. (since my host family usually eats around 8:30 to 9:00 but I passed on food since I ate so much chicken that night!)

What I Bought Today

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Baseball Hat ($5)







Thanks for Reading and I hope you enjoyed this blog post!~ And remember the 2017-2018 Nsli-y program applications are due today at 4pm (Eastern Time). If you want a chance to learn a language and experience a foreign country over your summer break, make sure yo submit your application before the deadline. To everyone applying, Good Luck!

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Sinchon Water Gun Festival (물총축제) July 10th, 2016

The plan for Sunday (July 10th, 2016) was originally to go to this really cool board game cafe in Sinchon (신촌) with Sofia. However, the place must have been shut down because we walked around forever trying to find it. Eventually we gave up and ended up finding a bubble tea place called Bubble King. Sofia doesn’t like tapioca pearls so she ordered her drink without them. I ordered a taro bubble tea with tapioca pearls once again. (My favorite flavor.) I think Bubble King is one of the best places to get Bubble tea in Seoul. (Gongcha will always be number one though!)


Our Bubble Tea

While walking around Sinchon we ran into something pretty exciting- The Sinchon Water Gun Festival (also known as just the Sinchon Water Festival). We didn’t actually participate in the festival since we brought our backpacks and had nowhere to store them and they couldn’t get wet. However, just watching a dance performance by pirates was pretty cool (yes, you read that correctly.) Basically there was a fire truck and this huge pirate ship that was blasting water into the crowd. (All this was happening on the streets. You could still walk around on the sidewalks without getting wet.) Everyone was running around the streets with water guns squirting each other with water. (There were refill stations on every corner that people could use to fill up their water guns.)



The pirate ship in the middle of the street

After that, Sofia and I got really hungry so we walked around until we saw something that looked good. We decided to get Korean Barbeque because Sofia hadn’t eaten it yet.


Our rib (?) meat

We had no clue what we were doing. However, the employees were super nice and showed us how to eat everything correctly. (after staring at us doing it wrong for 10 minutes.) The meal was $10 for the both of us and we were stuffed by the end of it. It was very worth it.


While walking around Sinchon, we also found some cute wall art. I asked a random couple if they would take a picture of us and they gladly agreed! It was a pretty funny encounter because I asked them in Korean but then when the guy showed us the pictures, he asked us if we liked them in English. What a language exchange XD haha



After the excursion in Sinchon, we headed back down to the subway station in search of the KakaoTalk Store (KakaoTalk is a free Korean messaging app that all Nsliyians use).


Spotting Jonghyun in the subway was a highlight of my day haha


Apeach is my favorite KakaoTalk Character. (In second place is Ryan.)

The KakaoTalk store has really cute merchandise of all the characters. You can find notebooks, folders, stickers, dolls, mugs, toothbrushes, and even shoes.

What I Bought at The KakaoTalk Store


Muji Notebook ($4)


Tube Stickers ($2)


Frodo T-money (subway) card ($3)

Thank you for reading my blog post and I hope you enjoyed!

Reminder!!! Nsli-y Applications are due very soon! On October 27th, 2016 at 4pm Eastern time to be exact! So if you guys would like to learn another language and experience life in a foreign country, then apply to Nsli-y. I would love to help anyone who has any questions or anyone who wants me to read their essays! 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Going to a Korean Soccer Game at The Seoul World Cup Stadium (서울월드컵경기장) July 9th, 2016

On Saturday (July 9th 2016) I went to my youngest host brothers soccer practice for The Future of Seoul once again. I am used to going to soccer games/practices because I actually have a twin brother who plays soccer back home. However, I still found the practice very boring and it was super super hot outside! I almost fell asleep too! Luckily, I was able to talk to my host mom throughout the duration of the Soccer practice which made it more fun and definitely more memorable.


After his practice, I was introduced to friends of the family. They were all very sweet when talking to me even though they underestimated my Korean skills {I soon proved them wrong 🙂 }. It was a nice meeting and I got even happier when my host mom introduced me to them as her daughter. It really made me feel like part of the family. We went out to eat together at this really fancy Italian restaurant in this shopping center like structure underneath/next to the stadium (It is VERY confusing to explain… You might just have to check it out for yourself ^^). I ordered this olive oil pasta and even though it was Italian, it was probably the spiciest pasta I had ever eaten. You would have thought I ordered Kimchi noodles. I refilled my water cup so many times! haha

After dinner I went with my youngest host brother, his two friends, and the husbands of my host mom’s friends to the World Cup Stadium to watch a soccer game! When my host mom started talking about going to the game that was happening tonight, I got super excited. She told me that I could stay and hang out with the mothers at a cafe if I didn’t want to go. I reassured her that I really wanted to watch the game. It was a great opportunity!


Outside the Stadium



Seoul VS Ulsan (서울 VS 울산)


The soccer game started promptly at 7pm and the whole experience was very interesting. This was my first time being at a professional soccer game so I can’t really compare it to anything else in my past but I did make a lot of observations. And Korean soccer games are definitely different than professional baseball or hockey games that I have been to.



Look at how small the Ulsan section is compared to the Seoul side XD


PC: Host mom’s family friends high quality camera

One thing about Korean soccer games that I thought was very interesting was that they all seem to have memorized these fan chants. There are like 3 different ones and they shout them during certain times throughout the game. There were also songs that everyone would sing and clap along to.

There were also these annoying, loud horn type things. I believe they are called “Vuvuzelas” and they are said to have originated in South Africa and that is where their name comes from (the original creator, according to my research, is hard to pinpoint). Koreans LOVE to use them and they were constantly being blown at the game. The tv screens actually show images of the horns when they want the audience to use them.


Picture of a Vuvuzela from Google

There was also a part of the game where everyone held up their phone with the flashlight on and sang this song that was playing through the speakers. Luckily for me, the lyrics were flashing across the screen so I was able to participate with my phone and sing too!

The game was overall really fun and I am very fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to do something like that. It was also really fun to experience the game with my host brother as sometimes I find it hard to get close to him as our interests are very different. But we bonded a lot that day, especially sharing snacks! XD haha

The only downside was that no one won! The game was very action packed but it still ended in a tie 0 – 0 !!!


After the game was over, my host mom, my youngest host brother, and I visited HomePlus (the supermarket underneath/next to the stadium. I went there last weekend too!) We shopped around for the upcoming weeks groceries (I helped my host brother out and convinced my host mom to buy chocolate milk for him and I but in reality, it was all for him. I don’t like chocolate milk). My host brother and I also both ate some waffles for dessert! He ordered a waffle filled with strawberry cream while mine was vanilla cream.


It was VERY delicious!~


My host brother enjoying his waffle

We got home around midnight (past curfew omg! haha). It was all okay because I was with my host family 😉 During the car ride back home, my brother and I bonded over kpop groups. His favorite is CNBLUE. I was offended he didn’t know SHINee!

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe by adding your email to the right side of this post (or all the way at the bottom of my posts if you are on mobile). 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)



First Korean Language Test, Korean Cooking Class, and Myungdong!! (07/08/16)

Friday (July 8th, 2016) was a really fun day. I finally got a taste of the late curfew (on weekends our curfew was 11pm and on week days it was 9pm). I mean I got home around 9:30pm so it wasn’t too late but I felt very independent controlling what time I would get home. Friday was also my first Korean class that involved taking my first set of tests/quizzes. From now on I would have a grammar/writing test and a dialogue test every Friday.

Author’s note: Korean class was 3 hours and 30 minutes every day. The class was split into two different sections (with separate teachers teaching each class). We had a Grammar and Speaking class with one teacher, and a Listening and Speaking class with another teacher. This will help add to my test explanation. I will make a separate post solely about Korean language class in the future.

First we had our written test for the Grammar and Speaking Class. The test just went over all the different grammar points we had learned in the last week and we had to apply them to different sentences. There was also a section where we had to write full sentences using the given vocab words or grammar point. I did very well on the test actually (it was due to all of that studying). I only got 2 wrong out of 20 or so questions. The ones I got wrong were the two questions I doubted myself on (they were irregular). Either way, I was proud of myself!

Then we did a speaking test for our listening and Speaking Class. In order to pass our speaking test, we had to memorize three Korean dialogues from our textbook. We had to memorize the lines of both characters (the teacher would pick one conversation to test us for our grade). I was never told my exact grade but I do know I passed so that is good!

After our tests, our Listening and Speaking Korean Teacher showed us this video on youtube that was a song about 팥빙수 (Patbingsu – Red Bean Bingsu). It was a lot of fun! It was like a mini karaoke jam session because the lyrics were on the screen. Everyone else in the other classes came into ours during the break time because we wanted to keep on singing through break. Everyone said they were jealous of our cool teacher 😉 We also got no homework for the weekend so that was pretty awesome!~

Take a listen! Patbingsu Song by Yoon Jong-shin (윤종신)

After class, I went to this egg bread place with Sofia, Maris, and Grace. The English translation of the shop was “Older Brothers Egg Bread”. I ordered one with ketchup inside and for only $2, it was very tasty!


The Storefront

Then we headed off to Starbucks to grab something to drink with our egg bread. We couldn’t eat too much because we had cultural activities soon (and I had cooking class so I would be eating whatever I made!).


My chocolate banana smoothie and my egg bread

After lunch, I had a 30 minute subway ride to the cooking classes that were being held at the Food & Culture Academy (the president and lots of famous Korean actors/actresses have visited there!). When I arrived at the correct exit, I was the first one. I was afraid that I simply got the meeting place mixed up so I went back down underground but while I was doing that, I ran into this Korean guy. Right after we collided I immediately apologized in Korean and he immediately apologized in English. We both laughed after it happened and went our separate ways (I just thought I would mention it because I find it funny). I went back up to the exit and I ran into Joy who assured me that we were at the right exit. Eventually JT showed up with Vinzent. We ended up waiting a long time at the exit because Arjun and Ava were both late.


View From the Walk to the Academy

The cooking class was a lot of fun!~ The main chef in charge was super nice and she explained everything really well. She also would tell us the Korean name for every ingredient we used in our recipe. This class we made 해물파전 (Haemul Pajeon- Korean seafood pancake). Mine didn’t end up looking too good but it was still very delicious.


제 해물파전 (My Seafood Pancake)

After cooking class ended, Sofia and I went to MyungDong (명동) for the first time on the trip. At the Myungdong station there is a lot of underground shopping. The clothes are a pretty good price and there are kpop stores selling albums and merchandise cheaper than I could ever find on a website (and there is no shipping- SCORE!). At the subway store, I bought Jonghyun’s latest solo album as well as Taemin’s latest album. Lastly, I bought the newest BTS album for a friend back home. When I said thank you and bye to the guys running the store, they were very surprised. It was funny seeing the looks on their faces.


Fingerprints courtesy of my little brother

Looking for socks for $1? Check Myungdong station. It is the jackpot!

Right when we got to the most popular street in Myungdong, Sofia spotted a street vendor selling Carp Bread filled with Red Bean! (Something I have been wanting to try for forever). We each bought our own and they were $3 each.


Our Carp Bread!

Myungdong is mostly known for all the roadshop Korean makeup and skincare stores (two things I really don’t know much about since I usually never wear makeup). And you can’t go to Korea without buying something from the most famous stores. While Sofia and I were walking around, I spotted The Saem which is the Korean cosmetics store SHINee endorses (If this wasn’t known already, SHINee is my favorite Korean pop group).


This Sign was Truly Glorious


yes I made Sofia stand in a crowded doorway so I could take a selfie with Key! He is my favorite kpop idol!~

I ended up buying a face wash for under $4 dollars  which resulted in me getting a free SHINee face mask. I went back to The Saem (still in Myungdong, but a different location from the first one) and bought some blush thing for a friend (hoping I would get another face mask) but unfortunately, I didn’t get another one 😦

When Sofia and I were walking by this makeup store called Holika Holika, this lady standing outside shouting the deals at us literally grabbed us by our wrists and forcefully pulled us in. I was very shocked when it happened and after I was inside the store, I was too busy laughing to really care about the intrusion of my personal bubble. I ended up buying a product so I guess their sale tactic worked.


Sofia and I Minutes Before Being Pulled into Holika Holika by our Wrists

The rest of the night was spent walking around the many streets and taking note of all the different street food that was up for grabs. Eventually we caved in once again and shared a cup of spicy chicken with rice cakes (we ended up not finishing it because our tastebuds had still not adapted to the Korean Spice). We also ended up stopping at a cafe for a little bit so Sofia could charge her phone.


I made sure that we stopped in a Cafe that served bubble tea. This time I ordered Taro bubble tea!


Our Chicken and The Streets of Myungdong

I ended up going to bed really late that night since I stayed up eating watermelon with my host mom after she got back from Hagwon (Korean Tutoring Academy – AKA her job). Late that night I also got a text from my supporter!


From hearing lots of fun stories from previous years alumni about supporters, I was so excited to meet mine the following week!

And that was my night! My first time in Myungdong. My first Korean language test. My first Korean cooking class. My first text from my supporter. And Finally, my first experience with the weekend curfew. It was a very fun day and it definitely set the bar high for the rest of the summer 😉 Thanks for Reading! Please subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already! 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

What I Bought That Day


I will never use my SHINee Face Mask


More Socks!~ XD

NSLI-Y Application Tips

It is October. What does that mean? Well, besides the obvious (Halloween) it is also the month where NSLI-Y applications for the 2017-2018 programs are due. (October 27th to be more exact) And even though they are due very very soon, I thought I would write a post to help out anyone with any questions about the NSLI-Y application. I have already recieved a lot of questions through this blog, my instagram, and emails. Since most of the questions are very similar, I thought I could answer them all here in a blog post. This post will only be about the application. Questions about the interview, what do when accepted, OPI, packing, etc will be answered in separate posts closer to when they will be the most applicable.

The Essays

The biggest part of the NSLI-Y application is the essays. The essays are the things that will set you apart from all the other applicants. So it is very important that you make sure that the essays show exactly what you want. However, this does not mean that you lie in your essay or act like someone you aren’t. It is important that you are honest because it is very easy to see through words that don’t actually have any passion behind them. It is also important to not try to be someone else. If you can’t easily put a big word in a sentence and make it sound natural, don’t use that word just because someone else does. An SAT vocab word is not going to help you get picked. If you can’t easily put humor in your essay, then don’t force it. Be who you are. It is less about your writing style and precise word choice and more about what the essay says about you. Dont focus on using an extreme attention getter, use those words to talk about you. Do not focus on using tricks to make you sound more interesting.

Now for the Dos for the essays

  • Do sound mature and professional (only enough to still allow your own personality to shine. NSLI-Y knows their applicants are high school students, they don’t except perfection).
  • Do have adults/English teachers/Alumni read your essays (It is good to get feedback from other people that aren’t as connected to your essay as you probably are. It is also a good idea to hit up an alumni since they have been there done that).
  • Do talk about negative experiences that have shaped you positively (NSLI-Y can prove to be very hard at times. If you show to be resilient and able to problem solve, you will showcase your ability to handle any stress in a foreign country.
  • Do talk about how you will use the language in the future (NSLI-Y wants to know how you will use this opportunity. You don’t have to want to be a diplomat, be real about what you want and not what you think they want to hear).
  • Do read your essay multiple times! (it is good to step away from your essay so you can return to it with a fresh mind).

Host Family Letter

I feel like this part of the applications is where most people get the wrong idea. Many of the host family letters I have read from new applicants (and old ones that didn’t make it) have missed the true point of these letters. This letter is to showcase who you are. That is why you are prompted to write about where you are from, your hobbies, your family life, what your friends think about you, etc. It is important to focus less on making yourself look good and more on showing off your personality.

Also, there is a chance that your actual host family will read your letter. In many programs before mine, the alumni had told me that their families never read their essays. However, for my program, some of the host families went to an orientation of sorts before we arrived and the ones that went, were given the letters to read (my family told me that they read my letter). So use the letter wisely. Make it about you and your interest with the host family’s culture. It is also important that the letter is written formally. Make sure you say thank you for allowing them to open up their home to you.

Teacher Recommendation

All I can say about the teacher recommendation is that you should make sure that the teacher you pick knows you well. That they will be able to describe you and be able to talk about your good characteristics. Therefore, your teacher doesn’t have to be a language teacher. If you didn’t take a language in the past year or you simply aren’t close with a language teacher, don’t ask for their help. It is better to ask someone who can write about you then picking a language teacher because you think that is what NSLI-Y wants.

 Language Experience

Do not lie about your language experience on your application. If you have never studied the language previously, then write that. It doesn’t mean you have less passion than someone who has studied in a formal class for 2 years. NSLI-Y accepts all language levels into their program (I would probably say that the majority of people on my program had no language experience or a very limited of knowledge of only basic words/the alphabet). So be honest, it won’t hurt you.

 Final Tip & Pep Talk

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE submit your application early! Even submitting it two days before is better. It will give you less stress if your computer isn’t working or if the site is experiencing too much traffic, you won’t be left for dead on the due date.

Finally, don’t be too upset if you don’t make semifinalist status. That decision does not mean you aren’t worthy of the scholarship. This is a very competitive program and sometimes even the good ones don’t always make it. There were plenty of people on my program that didn’t make it to semi the first time applying, and then when they applied the second time, they made it all the way. So do not give up. Try again! Because you will never make it, if you don’t keep giving yourself a chance to.

Good luck to all of you applying for NSLI-Y, I wish the best for all of you~ If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or email me at ( I would love to answer any further questions!~ 안녕!!

  • Emma (엠마) Seoul Summer 2016 Alum


Lunch Around 숙대 With Friends & Meeting My Host Grandparents (07/07/16)

Thursday (July 7th, 2016) was another day at school where we played some fun games and discussed a lot of words that I did not know. haha After class, we had an hour and 40 minutes to have lunch around 숙대 (SookDae – Combination of Sookmyung and the word for university 대학교. It is the slang all the young people use! XD). After lunch we had to go back to school for a meeting with Better World to discuss how we were adjusting with our host families and let them know if we had any issues with the family.

So, I went with Yves, Anna-Kate, Ariel (All 나무 반 classmates) to find a cool lunch place to eat. We had no idea what we wanted to eat so we just walked around until we stumbled upon a place that had pictures of really delicious looking food plastered on the windows. The funniest part about our pick was that 10 minutes later, another group of nsliyians showed up at the exact restaurant. An example that great minds think alike. haha


I had a lovely Cream Ramen with Shrimp and Vegetables

After lunch we stopped by this cafe near Sookmyung for some bubble tea. Bubble tea is an Asian specialty drink containing flavored tea and tapioca balls usually called pearls. I love bubble tea so much. Back in the states, there are no shops near me! Since I am in Korea, I am taking advantage of all the opportunities to drink, eat, and sleep bubble tea. haha 🙂


I ordered a caramel bubble tea and Yves ordered a taro bubble tea



Group Selfie! (Ariel, Yves, Anna-Kate, and Me)


The cafe was very small but cutely decorated

I ended up leaving my new umbrella at the cafe (I just bought it the day before for $4). However, the employee was super nice and he actually stuck his head out the door and yelled “우산!” (우산 is umbrella). Luckily, I knew what the word was since it was one of the first Korean words I learned (Thank you Integrated Korean Beginner 1 Textbook). I obviously rushed back and thanked him.

After a little bubble tea break, we had to go to the meeting at the school. It wasn’t all too interesting. We looked over the Nsli-y terms and conditions (the things we signed when applying) as well as solving some host family cases from previous years.

After the meeting, I went to the convenience store with Yves and we each bought two different types of pepero to share during Korean class breaks the next day. I purchased cookies and cream pepero and blueberry pocky. Korean convenience stores are literally the greatest things ever! (A separate post about that soon).


Stock Photo


Stock Photo

Dinner was one of the best dinners I have had so far. I had dinner with my entire host family (My host mom, host dad, both host siblings, and my host grandparents from my host mother’s side). We had Korean pizza and Korean fried chicken. The food tasted great (even though my pizza had a cream sauce rather than a tomato sauce) but the best part of the dinner was the conversation that I had with my host parents and host grandparents. That dinner was what I really needed to feel fully invested in the family. I had so much fun laughing with them all. Even though my host grandmother didn’t speak a lick of English, the jokes transcended the language barrier and we both shared a couple of laughs. I learned that the family has quite a few family members that live in America and English speaking countries (Australia and New Zealand). I also learned that my host dad really liked Western cowboy movies. Luckily, I had watched his favorite in my cinema class Freshman year. I was able to talk to him about it (He was a wee bit drunk which made him talk to me a lot more since he was not afraid of making mistakes in English. He talked to me more when he was drunk than any other time). The most memorable part of the night  was when my host grandmother was trying to tell me about the American actresses she knew of. She kept telling me “Marina Mondue” (I was so confused and kept looking at everyone with such a puzzled look). Finally, I got the hint that she was talking about Marilyn Monroe and when I said her name out loud, my host parents erupted in laughter. They kept telling me to repeat her name (in an American accent of course) and wouldn’t stop laughing because of the difference. It was really funny.


The pizza we ate. It was actually pretty normal according to standard Korean pizzas

Hope you enjoyed reading about my day in Korea!~ Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to come back soon for another update (it would be easier if you simply subscribed ^^).

  • Emma (엠마)

Shopping Trip to Hongdae (홍대) (07/06/16)

Wednesday (July 6th, 2016) was super fun because we had no obligations after school. So once the clock struck 1pm – we were free! A big group of us decided that we wanted to go to Hongdae. It was the perfect day to go because there were no clouds in the sky. Sofia, Ariel, Yves, Sarah, Saha, Elliya, and I ate lunch at this fried chicken place down the street from Sookmyung (It was called Mom’s Touch).


Inside of the restaurant


We shared a big basket of fried chicken, french fries, and some popcorn chicken as well

After lunch, we all rode the subway to Hongdae (홍대) and once we got there, we made our way to Sulbing (설빙). Somehow I managed to remember the location of the Sulbing Tatum brought me to on the second day and like previously mentioned… Sulbing has the best bingsu!~ There were 7 people so we figured 3 bingsus would be a perfect amount. Well, we were wrong. It was way too much. I guess we overestimated the sizes of our stomachs. Nonetheless, we ordered the 망고치즈빙수 (Mango Cheese Bingsu), 팥빙수 (Red Bean Bingsu), and the 인절미빙수 (Injeolmi Bingsu). My favorite of the three is definitely the Injeolmi Bingsu. Hopefully I will be able to try more in the future.



From the right; Injeolmi, Red Bean, and Mango Cheese Bingsu


After our dessert, we just walked around Hongdae. It felt VERY surreal because it looked just like all of the videos I watched of it. I had been there already late last week but I guess it didn’t hit me that I was actually in Korea yet. We all walked around and went into basically every single store. I bought so much… but all of it was cheap so it wasn’t too bad.


Asking a Korean guy to take this photo was a good game of charades. It was great.


When you see it

What I Bought~


Face Masks ($1 each)


Lip Tint in the color 오렌지 에이드 (Orange Ade)


Notebook, 2 pens, and 2 sticker sheets from Artbox ~$7


Gudetama Keychain ($5)

I got home around 7pm and finished all the homework I had received that day. I ate dinner with my host brothers and host dad (my host mom worked late) and I went to bed after sharing watermelon with my host mom and conversing in Korean.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed! Please subscribe by adding your email~ 안녕!!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

First Day of Korean Class & Visiting the National Museum of Korea and The Hangul Museum (07/05/16)

Tuesday (July 5th, 2016) was the first day of classes at Sookmyung. I was super excited to attend a real Korean class (I have only self-studied it in the past) and see where I was placed regarding my skill level. However, getting to school wasn’t exactly easy since it was raining super super hard in the morning and when I was riding the subway to school (at 용산역) the lights of the train turned off and it stopped moving for around 5 minutes. I called JT and told him that I would be late getting to school (this phone call was really awkward as the train was silent and the only one talking was me and the fact that it was in English made me stand out even more). When I finally arrived to the station, I met up with Saha and Sarah who were also late getting to school. We went out exit #10 and began to walk up the huge hill to get to school. We literally had to walk up a river. There was so much rain that the sidewalks were flooded. When we finally got up the stairs of the university, the drainage on the tiles were stopped up and so there was a huge pool of water. Of course I didn’t see it so I put both my feet into the pool of water. My sandals got so soaked! (I later took my shoes off in the classroom and set them on the air vents to air dry).

When I got to the right floor, there was a long list hanging up next to the stairwell with the four different Korean classes and all the names of who was in which class. For this years program, we were split up into 4 different classes. The first two classes were beginner classes. The only difference between the classes was that one class learned the alphabet on the first day while the other class simply reviewed it and then started learning other things. The third class was called the intermediate class (it wasn’t intermediate level but from the kids in our program, it was considered the intermediate class) and finally, the last class was the advanced class (again the students in the class weren’t advanced speakers of Korean. I would classify them as intermediate at the beginning of the summer. They were just the advanced students in comparison to everyone on the program).


우리 나무 반 (Our Tree Class)

I was pleased to find out that I was placed in the intermediate class. Our class’ name was 나무 반 which translates to tree class (it was a great fit since my classmate Yves’ Korean name is 나무). The only bad thing about my placement was that a majority of the students in my class were way more advanced than me. They could easily conjugate verbs and I still hadn’t learned future tense yet. The problem must have been that I couldn’t be placed in beginner (because I was passed that) but I wasn’t exactly at the same level everyone else in my class had been at in the beginning of the summer. The first class was spent receiving our textbooks (we had a textbook and a workbook) and of course introducing ourselves to our two teachers. It was a lot of fun and it was nowhere near being the same as my Spanish language classes back at home. For three big reasons;

(1. Everyone WANTED to be there

(2. They wanted to actually Learn and Study Korean

(3. Everyone gave their best effort


My classmates Jesse, Cynthia, and Yves (Not pictured: Sofia, Peter, Tucker, Nicole, Jodi, Casey, Ariel, Anna-Kate, and Me)

After class ended at 1pm, we only had 30 minutes for lunch because we had to be at 이촌역 (Ichon Station) at 1:40pm. For lunch I went to 김밥천국 (Kimbap Heaven) with a lot of the Nsliyians but I sat at a table with Yves and Ariel (two of my 나무 반 classmates). We ordered three rolls of Kimbap and they were around $2 each (such a good deal). We ordered 소고기 김밥 (Beef Kimbap) , 계란 김밥 (Egg Kimbap), and 누드 김밥 (Nude Kimbap. Normal Kimbap but with no seaweed wrapped around the rice).


My Egg Kimbap (We shared all the rolls though)

We took a little too long eating lunch so we ended up showing up late to the meeting spot which made our resident directors pretty mad but we apologized profusely and at least we weren’t the last ones to show up (they were over 10 minutes late. We were only a couple minutes late).

First, we went to the Hangul Museum.


It was raining as usual


Hangul Museum

We watched a few videos on King Sejong and how he was able to create Hangul, an alphabet easy enough for the common people to learn. We also watched clips of indigenous cultures from Africa and parts of Asia that adopted Hangul as their writing system in order to preserve their languages (this was very interesting to me as I had never heard of anything like that before).


Then we learned all about Korean holidays such as New Years. We learned about Hanbok (Korean Traditional Clothing) and 세배 (Korean New Year Bow).



Nyslians Tucker, Nicole, Margo, and Kyle demonstrated the 세배

세배 (romanized as sebae) is a deep formal bow that younger members of the family perform to the older members of the family to show respect. On New Years, a well-performed Sebae will result in the older family members giving gifts or money to the younger members of the family.

Then we watched a video on the King Seongdeok Bell (and how it is the best bell in the world) and a video about modern advancements Korea has made since the Korean War.

Our little presentation ended with some traditional Korean treats/desserts. We were given slices of Korean Pear, Korean rice cakes, and some fruity tea/juice.


Selfie w/ Sofia (ft Grace)

Then we headed on over to the National Museum of Korea where we were split up into two groups and had a tour guide take us around the museum and give us talks on the things that we saw. My favorite room was the ones with all the buddhist statues. I just find them very beautiful.



The details on everything were very beautiful.



After the museum, I went home on the subway right away. Some people went out but I was tired and I had to study really hard that night if I didn’t want to be behind (because my classmates were so good). I stopped at the convenience store on my way home, picked up some banana milk and I got home just in time to have dinner with my host mother and siblings. And that was my Tuesday in Korea!~


When the rain seemed to stop just so I could take this photo 🙂

Thanks for Reading! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to subscribe~ 안녕!!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

First Day at Sookmyung Women’s University! (Placement Tests Galore!) July 4th, 2016

Monday (July 4th, 2016) was the fourth of july which is a pretty important holiday to my family. We always celebrate it with lots of family and friends and of course a barbeque. However, in Korea it was just a normal day so I just wore red shorts and a blue t-shirt (I was trying to be a bit festive). Monday was also my first day at Sookmyung Women’s University. Well, it technically wasn’t the first day of classes… we were only going to take a placement test to see what class we should get placed into.

My host mom woke up early with me and made me a lovely breakfast of toast and eggs. During the car ride on the way back from the hostel, she had asked me what I usually ate for breakfast and I told her toast and eggs. It was super nice because Koreans eat a lot of meat, fish, and vegetables for breakfast and I was glad she was going to ease me into that (though I was excited to eat a real Korean breakfast in the future).


My Breakfast

After breakfast I had to ride the subway to Sookmyung by myself for the first time ever (It was also the first time I rode the subway by myself anywhere). To get to the closest subway station to my apartment, I had to walk for around 8 minutes so it wasn’t bad at all. It was raining (drizzling) so instead of going the way my host mom took me, I ended up taking this shortcut which cut the trip in half (it was less modern looking though).




Super blurry pictures but it is SUPER hard to take good quality pictures when you are walking and trying not to be late for school.

Many of the Nsliyians I talked to didn’t really like the subway (because it was so crowded especially in the morning) but I honestly love the subway. It is so easy to learn how to use and it makes traveling anywhere so convenient. The subway made me feel so independent and I honestly loved the 35 minutes I had to spend on the subway that morning. It could get kinda awkward at times because literally all the Koreans on the train are on their phones. They are either messaging people, watching variety shows or Korean dramas, or playing apps. I never had wifi on the subway (there is wifi but you need to have an account) so I always just stare out the window. It would get really awkward when I would get stuck in the middle of people because there would be no where to look! (I also would get stares on the subway because I was so obviously a foreigner).

Anyway, the subway ride proved to very fun because at the stop right before Sookmyung Women’s University, I ran into Yves and his host mom (do you realize that meeting him on the subway had to be like a 1/100,000,000,000,000 chance of happening? haha) Yves and I got to the station at 8:35am. After waiting for everyone to show up, the RDs and some staff from Better World walked us to the university and showed us how to get there from exit #8 (my host mom showed me how to get to the school from exit #10).

At the university we took our placement test for the Korean classes. The test was mostly multiple choice but there were a few questions where you needed to write in the correct word. There were a few passages you had to read in order to answer the following questions and then the last question had you format the words into a coherent sentence. I felt pretty good about the test. All of the NSLI-Y8 kids finished the test really quickly. The Korean teachers assumed that we thought the test was too easy… boy, were they wrong. What it really meant was that most people didn’t know what they were doing so they guessed on most of the answers. We were moved to another room where we took a second placement test. I am not kidding, I guessed on every single question. I understood none of that test. It was so bad.

We then had to take a speaking/listening test which was an interview in a tiny, tiny room with one of the Korean teachers. I felt fairly good about how mine went. I was able to answer every question though I did ask her to repeat a few of the questions. My interviewer was so sweet and she encouraged me with every answer I gave her. She also would make this “hmm mm ” sound when I would give an answer. It is really hard to explain nonverbally but it was a really cute sound that made me more at ease with my Korean skills.

After our tests we were given water and a bag of snacks to eat (since the orientation of the school was running through lunch) and we sat through an orientation of the school, learned about when it was founded, the cool people that graduated from the school, and we got to meet all of the Korean language teachers.



The bag of snacks


Sofia stole my phone during the orientation and took like 200 selfies. I bet she regrets it now XD

Then we split up into 2 groups of 25 kids and toured the school. This lady showed us around the library and the study rooms in case we wanted to take advantage of those things when studying Korean in the future.

Then our RD JT took us to the nearest bank where we could exchange money and take out money from our debit cards whenever we needed to (The bank everyone used was called Shinhan Bank).

Then we had a tiny meeting to explain the plans for tomorrow. We would be going to the National Museum of Korea and the Hangul Museum after classes and lunch.


After everything was over, it was already 4pm and it was still raining. Most of the Nsliyians took a trip to Hongdae but because it was so late I decided to eat dinner near Sookmyung with a couple other girls (Sofia, Rhea, Teresa, and Mckenzie). We went to this Japanese restaurant near exit #8 and it was actually really delicious. I got an omurice (A japanese dish that consisted of an omelet over fried rice). The other girls ordered Cheese Tonkatsu (Japanese fried pork cutlet). We spent a couple hours at the restaurant just eating and talking


Teresa, Mckenzie, and Sofia


My omurice

I got home around 7pm and ate a small dinner with my host family (I was not hungry but I ate with them anyway). We ate some chicken dish I don’t know the name of.

And that was my first day at Sookmyung Women’s University (well not the first day of classes but still a first day of something). I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. Thanks for reading~ 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)