Learning How to Use the Subway with my Host Mom (07/02/16)

On Saturday (July 2nd, 2016) my host mom spent the day teaching me how to use the subway and showing me how to get to school (I would be starting classes at Sookmyung Women’s University on the fourth). My host mom told me she never uses the subway (because they own a car) so while she was showing me how to read the subway routes, she was also refreshing her own subway riding skills. The subway ride wasn’t bad at all, she really did help me figure out how to use the subway properly (I wasn’t paying too much attention to Tatum’s instructions during our survival in Korea mission). What did happen was that we got off a stop too early and my host mom was very confused on why we couldn’t find the university on the map of the surrounding area. She then asked a couple about directions to the university which is when we realized her mistake. It was very funny as we both laughed while walking into the next train pulling in.

When we got to the street that the university was on, we walked all the way up to the front of the school and then immediately walked back down the street to find a place to eat lunch.

 

My host mom asked this couple (a common trend) for what was good in the area. They told us about the place they were going to and we followed them to the restaurant. It was called Best Friends and it was the cutest restaurant I have ever been to.

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Look at the purple velvet sofas!

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The restaurant was decked out in Hello Kitty Memorabilia. There was a giant Hello Kitty stuffed animal sitting on one of the couches. There were shelves of Hello Kitty products like tea cups, a microwave, fans, and even toilet paper printed with Hello Kitty faces. The food there was very delicious as well. My host mom and I ordered this cheese Ddubokki set (치즈 떡볶이). It had Ddubokki, (Spicy Korean rice cakes) fish cakes, ramen, another type of noodle, mandu, (Korean dumplings) and lots and lots of cheese.

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I want to come back so badly!!!

It was very spicy but we were also given a free box of peace juice known as 쿨피스. My host mom told me that Koreans drink this drink a lot when they eat spicy food. I told her that most people in America drink milk (at least I do).

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Another stock photo because I failed to take a photo of the drink

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A selfie with my host mom ft my shiny forehead XD

The day was super fun and I really enjoyed having a lunch with my host mom. It really allowed us to bond before life would get crazy for the both of us (I would be going to school and she would be going back to work). It was definitely one of my favorite days of the program so far and I can’t wait to make more memories with my host mom and other family members in the weeks to come.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe!~ See you next time for a post about my first day at Sookmyung Women’s University (숙명여자대학교). 안녕!!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

 

Last Day of In-Country Orientation & Meeting My Host Family! (July 2nd,2016)

July 2nd, 2016 was the day that our host families would be picking us up from the hostel. The morning started off with some breakfast in our room as usual. We were given an assortment of muffins once again (blueberry muffins never disappoint) and more juice boxes.

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The outfit I wore to meet my family. They recommended us to wear something casual but nice.

After breakfast we did an activity about host families. We had to write down the stuff we would do with our host family, how we would help them throughout the summer, and our worries about what was to come. We then listened to various host family situations (that were all real) and how to solve these issues without making anyone mad or ruining relationships in the process. We even had to perform a skit which was actually pretty fun (I played an angry host dad haha). After all the skits were performed, we got our stipends for the first three weeks of the summer as well as our program phones. My program phone was a pink flip phone and it was actually super adorable. The cover was electronic so every time it was opened and closed, a little virtual bird would fly across the front and then the time and date would flash across as well. My music was also pretty popping. All my ringtones were OSTs from Secret Garden (I never watched the whole series. I never got around to finishing the last episode).

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I couldn’t find a picture of my phone w/o scrolling through all my photos (there are too many) so here is a stock photo of the exact phone I had.

Then we had lunch which was more japchae, fish, rice, soup, and more banchan (반찬 is Korean side dishes. A staple for every Korean meal) I don’t know the name of.

After lunch was when everyone started leaving one by one with their host families. We were sitting up in the presentation room being all anxious as our RDs and Better World Staff would call someone’s name and help them take their luggage down to the lobby. It was such a torturous environment. We all kept betting on who would be next and when a car pulled up, we all tried to guess which person the family belonged to.

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Everyone stalking the parking lot

Eventually JT called my name and I internally died. Everyone screamed my name and shouted Fighting! (good luck in Korean). I hugged everyone around me (it was like I was going off to war and I had to say goodbye to my family haha). I came down to the lobby and was super scared. I didn’t know what my host family looked like and I was afraid of walking up to the wrong family (there were multiple waiting). I walked up to one of the Better World staff and asked them. They shoved me towards a family and then the photographer took several photos of us (I also don’t know where those photos went…). I followed the family to their car with Grace as she was also leaving with her family at the same time. She started to speak to her host dad in almost perfect sounding Korean and I was afraid that my host family expected me to sound like that too. My host mom (in English) asked me if I spoke Korean well and I shot that idea down real quick with a simple no. I was relieved to hear her speak English and I soon found out that she owned an English Hagwon (학원 is an after school tutoring center) near the apartment. You would expect that the car ride would be really awkward but it honestly wasn’t too bad (still awkward though). My host mom spoke English very very well so during the car ride she only communicated to me in English and I tried to use my nonexistent Korean skills but mostly found myself answering her questions in English. My youngest host brother was in the passenger seat of the car and he didn’t say one word to me. My host dad tried to add onto the conversation but his English wasn’t good and every time he messed up he would apologize and stop saying his thought. I kept telling him it was alright but he was so nervous about speaking in English.

The first thing we did was my host dad drove us to this lookout place (I really don’t know what to call it nor the official name for it). We parked on the side of a hill and walked along this path until we got to a cliff with a fence keeping anyone from falling off. There were those binocular machines and even a police officer standing guard. My host mom told me he was there because the location had a perfect view of the Blue House (the place where the Korean president lives). There was a plastic map stand and so my host mom showed me all the famous things that could be seen from this point including Namsan Tower (she was surprised when I told her I had already known what Namsan Tower was).

We spent around 10 minutes looking at the view of Seoul and then we returned to the car and started driving again. My host mom asked me about my life back in Illinois. Things like what my family did for fun, how my brothers acted, and what I usually ate for breakfast, etc. We took a quick stop at Digital Media City at this Ice Cream store and picked up this giant container of ice cream for my youngest host brother to share with my host dad. My host mom also bought me and her a cup of green tea ice cream. It was so weird having her buy something for me. I felt really bad about it at the time.

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Our green tea icecreams

After Icecream, we drove to Seoul World Cup Stadium. Next to the stadium there was a huge field that little kids played soccer at. The teams that play there are called The Future of Seoul. The field was very big and it was split into 4 sections for 4 different teams split up by age group. My little host brother was there for a soccer practice. I sat with my host mom and host dad watching the practice. My host mom and I also walked to the supermarket (that was right next to the stadium, there was also a movie theater) and bought a few groceries. We walked around and she asked me what I had tried and what I wanted to try and bought things to make for the next week.

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The field (before the practices officially began)

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The bleachers are very different than what I see in Illinois (There was also a roof over the bleachers to keep the sun off everyone’s faces))

For dinner we had Korean BBQ (삼겹살) and it was so delicious. It was the first time I had Korean BBQ and it was such a fun time. It was hard at first because I could not put the lettuce wraps in my mouth and not look like a crazy person trying to chew the food. Koreans must be born with this skill. haha My older younger host brother also joined us for dinner. He just walked into the restaurant and I was so confused on how he got there (I soon found out it was only a 7 minute walk from the apartment).

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It looks delicious right?

When we finally got to the apartment, my host mom showed me my room (it had been my host brothers room- the older of the two. He was now sharing with his younger brother) She showed me around the apartment. Explained to me what shower shoes were and how to throw things away properly. I then went to bed because I was so tired but before I did so, I had to actually ask my host mom how to close the door because it had a magnet and was connected to the wall. It was nothing like I had ever seen before so after freaking out for five minutes, I finally asked her and she helped me (culture shock moment #1 haha).

That was my first day with my host family! They are honestly the sweetest family ever and I could tell that they were really excited to host me for the summer. I was excited for what was to come as well since my host mom told me  that once this weekend was over, she would try to never use English with me again. I was excited for this practice, it had been what I was looking forward to since I found out about NSLI-Y in 7th grade.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed! Please subscribe to my blog by adding your email and you will then receive emails every time I update. Hope to see you soon!~ 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

In-Country Orientation (July 1st, 2016) at Seoul International Youth Hostel

On July 1st, I woke up around 7am so I could take a shower and make myself look presentable before breakfast at 8am. For breakfast we had muffins from Paris Baguette, bananas, strawberry yogurt, and apple and grape juice. It was quite a spread and I was happy to have something from the notorious Paris Baguette (I wanted to eat something from Paris Baguette because literally every single Korea travel vlog on Youtube featured a Paris Baguette breakfast).

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We had chocolate, blueberry, original, and cheese muffins. I split a cheese muffin with Angie and It honestly wasn’t too bad.

At 9:30am I found myself sitting on the floor with all the other Nsliyians in front of the room where we were going to have all our presentations. We had to wait for the room since it was still being prepared but it was all good because we were given all these snacks which were very delicious. We also recieved name tags from Better World (Better World was the program that run all our in country stuff) for our stay.

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Our official in-country orientation started at 9:50am  with a small ceremony  with the president of Better World, a guy from the U.S. Department of State, and some of the other Better World staff. We were shown a presentation on Korea as well as some information regarding safety (phone numbers and things we had already heard in Seattle).

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NSLI-Y8 watching a video about Better World

Then after most of the informative presentations, one of the Better World staff members started conducting some icebreakers  on whether we like cats or dogs better, our favorite animals, our favorite kpop groups, etc. And because we are who we are… the icebreakers ended with even more dancing and singing. Some were more cringey than others *cough cough JESSE cough cough*.

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Angie and Tise dancing to Bang Bang Bang by Big Bang AGAIN! lol

We played a lot of mini games as well. One game we played was this one chopsticks using challenge. We got into small groups and had to stand in a line. The objective was to use chopsticks and move all the shrimp chips from one paper plate to the other. A lof of the Korean staff seemed pretty impressed with all of our skills (even though the chopsticks were literally for kids).

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Shrimp Chips are my life!~

We then recieved these plastic musical instruments known as 소고 (pronounced as soh-goh). JT (our Korean RD) taught us the name of all the different parts of the small drum (I do not remember any of these names) and then he taught us a small song to play. It was very fun and JT was having a blast teaching us how to use it. It was the first time we all got to experience his overly positive/happy attitude. haha

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Stock Photo of the 소고 (we actually got to keep ours) but I am too lazy to get up and take an actual photo of mine.

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Us learning the 소고 song

 

Then we had lunch in the cafeteria once again.

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We had white rice, tofu soup, zucchini, sweet potato, kimchi, and some ham type thing again.

After lunch we signed up for the cultural activities we wanted. The options were Cooking club, Fan dancing club, Musical Instrument club, and Taekwondo club. We had to write down our top two choices in case some choices got filled (Cooking class could only allow a certain amount of people since it was more expensive due to all the food costs). My number one choice was cooking class and luckily I got placed in Cooking club! I was super excited about my placement because learning to cook Korean food seemed so fun. Especially because I would have the opportunity to cook Korean food once I returned to the states as well.

After that, we were split up into groups for a Survival In Korea mission. I would describe it as a scavenger hunt/learning excursion. We had a checklist and had to do the stuff on the list in order to complete the mission and be able to come back to the hostel. My group included Eliya, Addie, Ava, Peter, and Tatum. Tatum was a Korean Summer 2014 alumni. She was in Korea because she was interning with Better World and attending Korean classes at Yonsei University. Our mission was to take the subway to Hongik University (홍익대학교) otherwise known as the famous Hongdae (홍대) and buy street food. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually complete that exact mission because while we were out and about in Hongdae, it started pouring! I have never been in that much rain before in my entire life. Chicago rainfall is nothing in comparison to Seoul’s rainfall. No street carts with food were actually out, but there were carts with umbrellas.

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Instead of getting street food, my group and I headed off to Sulbing (설빙) which is a very popular Bingsu (빙수) cafe with various locations all over Korea. Bingsu is a Korean dessert popular in the summer. It is basically a shaved ice dessert with toppings such as fruit, red bean, and condensed milk (depending on what you order). We ordered the  Injeolmi Bingsu (인절미 빙수) and the chocolate bingsu (초코).

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Injeolmi Bingsu is just Bingsu topped with Korean rice cakes, powdered dried bean powder, and almonds. The choco bingsu was what it sounds like. It also had cheesecake and brownie bites. The cups with the white liquid are condensed milk.

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We ate all of it. We left no trace of food.

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I soon found out that this sight (empty tables at Sulbing) was a very rare sight indeed. It is so hard to find tables in any location.

After Sulbing and eating bingsu, we walked around the main streets of Hongdae and we finally got a glimpse of Seoul. All the hustle and bustle of the streets was just how I imagined the streets of Hongdae to look like. Hongdae was very very crowded even though it was raining. We visited a convenience store and Ava and I split a banana milk which was a dream come true. I have always wanted to drink banana milk ever since I watched Taemin from Shinee drink it day in and day out during the first year of their debut. I even tried making my own sometime in 7th grade (it turned out pretty good actually. A bit chunky but overall okay). Banana milk soon became the drink of choice while I was in Korea because it is so sweet and tastes like real bananas, not that artificial banana candy taste.

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The famous Banana Milk

 

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Blurry Pics but I felt awkward taking photos at this time

We got back home right in time for dinner which happened to be Japchae, (잡채) duck, kimchi, rice, and another type of soup. Japchae has to be one of my favorite Korean foods (Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of my plate). After dinner the alumni that were present (most of them were there because they were studying abroad for college in Korea except for Tatum who was interning, for the summer, with Better World) gave us a run through of useful Korean phrases to know and presentations on what they did when they went to Korea with NSLI-Y. They were all academic year students except for Tatum. These were the funniest presentations because the stories from the alumni were hilarious. After listening to their stories, I was super excited to make funny ones of my own.

We ended the orientation with some group photos as usual.

The rest of the night was free time and so I just spent the rest of the night in my room with my roommates. We stayed up till around 1am talking about whatever. We laughed so much (especially me) that even if some of the girls wanted to sleep, they couldn’t. Better World also bought us a midnight snack of pizza and fried chicken which was amazing because it was two foods I had never had before (Korean pizza is soooo different in comparison to American pizza or Italian pizza). We also had an incident when we finally decided it was time for everyone to go to bed. Right as we turned off the lights to our room, these ajusshis (아저씨 – Korean word for an older man) in the room next to ours started screaming and talking so loud (obviously drunk). Our two best Korean speakers, Grace and Rhea, opened our door and kindly started talking to the ajusshis (the door to their room was open) and asking them to quiet down since it was so late. They didn’t listen to us and actually started getting louder. Then, in some magical way, JT was still up and he showed up at our door asking us about the issue. He told us to go back inside and then he went and talked to the men. He actually helped a lot, they weren’t as loud as before and we actually were able to fall asleep. I got the whole thing on Snapchat but my blog doesn’t support videos so here are some photos of what had happened instead.

And that was my  first full day (second day) in Seoul, South Korea. It was filled with many presentations, icebreakers, and some excursions to the outside world. haha My next post will most likely be the first weekend in korea and it will also be with my host family! Hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe if you want to stay up to date with my posts. Thanks for reading! 고마워요!~

  • Emma 엠마

Flying to Korea! And the First Night at In-Country Orientation (June 29th-June 30th)

On June 29th, I woke up at 4:30am with an alarm (a second apology to my roommate, Cynthia, who woke up with me even though she didn’t need to!). I took a shower, packed my things, and then Cynthia and I headed down to the lounge. We all had our matching NSLI-Y t-shirts on and it was a pretty awesome feeling. Everyone was hanging out for a while- showing off their suitcase sets (I am not kidding) and using the wifi to update friends/family or blogs (something I definitely didn’t do XD).

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We all waited outside for the bus that would take us to the airport, for a pretty long time. It was funny to see how excited everyone would get when a bus came into view, and then when it wasn’t ours-how sad everyone got. We also took some pretty great group photos in front of the library. I will never underestimate taking photos of big groups ever again!

Check-in at the airport took quite a while because no one was paying attention to their name being called. Our Korean resident director JT was becoming so stressed trying to collect everyone and get them through the bag check. The airport employees were also pretty rude to us. It was hard for everyone to stay together being such a big group but eventually we got everyone to security which also happened to be the longest security line I have ever gone through! I passed the time talking to Mckenzie and Sofia and messaging my penpal (Our American RD Madeline got us penpals from the school she taught English at). I have never been out of the country so I had yet to experience such security lines.

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After Security, we were given an hour to buy breakfast and snacks for the long plane ride to South Korea. I bought breakfast at Starbucks (A blueberry muffin) and didn’t buy any snacks which I’m glad I did since we were fed so often on the plane.

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Eating our breakfasts~ (Super Blurry and Shoutout to the businessman cameo in the back)

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It was really an unbelievable amount of food. For dinner I ordered 비빔밥 or bibimbap (Korean dish with steamed white rice, cooked vegetables, and meat. Also, a spicy pepper paste for the spice factor. I put the entire little squeeze bottle in mine and I also kept the bottle as a souvenir).

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It does not look appetizing but I thought it was good. I had not eaten a real Korean Bibimbap yet.

We were also given pretzels, peanuts, an ice-cream sandwich, egg muffin, strawberry yogurt, and a KitKat Bar. The plane ride wasn’t too bad. I slept a lot but definitely not as much as I thought I would. I watched three movies on the plane (Zootopia, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Bakuman) and updated my journal. I was not uncomfortable on the plane like I had been on the flight to Seattle so that was a giant plus. On the plane I sat next to Sofia and when you sit next to someone for 10 hours, you get close real quick! We became the best of friends so quickly-it was crazy. We talked about our bucket lists and just informing each other about various details in our lives. In the beginning of the plane ride, I couldn’t sleep so I was awarded this position where I would wake up Sofia whenever we were given food or something extra (like a hot towel).

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Kenwoo (the main focus of this picture) was another form of entertainment throughout the plane ride. Joy (not pictured) used this tiny hand finger puppet and continuously stroked the back of Kenwoos neck. It was hilarious!!

Getting off the plane and walking into Incheon Airport was honestly such a surreal experience. We were immediately greeted by a sign that said Welcome to Korea!

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The said sign

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Selfie with Sofia

I had seen Incheon International Airport in several Korean dramas before arriving. So seeing it for the first time in person… well, lets just say I was pretty much jumping up and down in awe. If the airport was cool looking, I could not imagine what the rest of Korea looked like. And even though everyone else was also really excited for what was to come… we still had to take a group bathroom trip and roll call. (Everyone has a number and we count from 1 to 49. I was 39).

After we got all that very important stuff out of the way, we went through immigration, picked up our checked bags and made our way through the airport to the pick up area. Coming from Illinois, my school is not diverse at all. Seeing a whole sea of Koreans all around me was very weird at first (and the stares didn’t help very much either).

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Our group Picture (We got so many stares while taking this lol)

 

After our group picture, we split up into two buses by last name. And these buses that we took to our hostel were pretty amazing. They looked like what I imagine party buses from 10 years ago would look like. The bus had decorations, curtains, and cool seat patterns. I had never ridden in a bus like that before.

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Everyone staring out the window in awe

I sat next to Sofia once again and we basically spent the whole bus ride looking out the window and reading out all the signs in hangul and seeing if we could understand what each store was. Seeing all the stores with names that weren’t in English… was such a weird thing to get used to.

Eventually we arrived at the hostel and we stayed at the Seoul International Youth Hostel.

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I brought my bags up to the room I was sharing with 7 other girls (Rhea, Jane, Jessica, Jodi, Angie, Maris, and Grace). We were also only given one room key for the 8 of us and so I got locked out quite a bit (but it was honestly part of the experience. Figuring out who was in the room last was always a fun mystery to solve).

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Our room. It was super cute and quaint.

After we got our room situations figured out, we all had our very first meal in Seoul, South Korea! I imagine that the food we ate was what Korean high school students eat at school. It was honestly very good and some of the stuff I had there, I never had again anywhere else (Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of like anything I ate while being in the hostel). I was super afraid of my chopstick skills before I ate dinner (especially since I have never eaten with metal chopsticks). However, I did just fine and I don’t use them 100% correctly but… I can still eat perfectly fine! haha The 아줌마 that ran the dishes part of the kitchen was so sweet to me even when I didn’t know where to place the utensils and my water cup. She was also very happy that I finished everything on my plate (아줌마 is a respectful word to use when addressing a Korean woman who is a little bit older and at a married age).

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White rice, Kimchi, Sweet Potato, some type of Soup, and some Ham and Vegetables

Nothing was planned for our first night at the hostel for the obvious reason that everyone was super tired and moody as well as super happy go lucky and not in the mood to sit and listen to presentations all day. After dinner most of the Nsliyians (including me) went up to the rooftop garden of the hostel. Some people played cards under this gazebo type thing but Sofia, Rhea, Mckenzie, Teresa, and I sat at some tables and enjoyed the night view of Seoul. The hostel is located really close to Myeongdong so we were able to see Namsan Tower and in the distance we also saw some traditional Korean houses. Very pretty.

Then some Korean middle schoolers/high schoolers (I think it was a mix) showed up and everyone surrounded them (just like they did with the Japanese students in Seattle) and tried speaking in Korean. Only a few kids actually succeeded, but it was pretty funny seeing everyone trying. We even set up a yoga class and some of the Korean students joined in. (Shout out to Vinzent- the best yoga instructor ever!!~)

After the nice exercise of doing a few yoga poses with Vinzent, Sofia, Cynthia, Sura, and I went back to the hostel and started exploring it by getting in the elevator and stopping at each floor. We started at the second floor which turned out to be the ultimate jackpot! The second floor had a cultural center (made for kids but whatever). There were tables and couches and lots of shelves with books (all in Korean).

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Korean children books are VERY difficult! I personally feel that some chapter books can be easier to read than children books. So Cynthia, Sofia, and practiced our Korean skills while reading children books.

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The one book I could ACTUALLY read (ft Cynthia)

The cultural center also had this giant sneaker with broken and old toys glued onto it with hot glue I presume. There was also a costume center in the back and Sura and I had a pretty amazing photoshoot but the photos are too cringey to share to be honest.

At 9pm I went back up to my room and literally fell asleep at 9:30pm since I was so exhausted from the whole day but nonetheless it was really really fun.

And that was my first day in Seoul, South Korea! Hope you enjoyed reading~ Next post will be about the REAL part of my in-country orientation. Spoiler Alert: More presentations and more matching shirts! haha

  • Emma 엠마

 

Pre-departure Orientation (June 27th-June 28th)

{So… I have been back in America for more than a month now and I never posted while I was in Korea. Not even one measly post. However, I did start some entries and I kept a journal so for the next few months I will be uploading posts about my time and some informational posts too like my favorite cafes, food, what I packed etc. This first post will be about PDO in washington.}

On June 27th, 2016, I found myself up at 7am all excited about the adventure that awaited me. (Well, once I made it to the airport and flew to Seattle). Going through the airport is so different when you are by yourself. I’ve only ever flown with my mother and siblings so going through security by myself and finding my gate by myself made me feel very independent. Security was a breeze (Especially because I got to keep my sneakers on). My gate was all the way on the other side of the airport from my security checkpoint so I had a long way to walk. As I approached my gate, I scanned the crowd trying to look for the familiar faces of the other Nsliyans on the same flight as me. It wasn’t till I heard quiet shouts screaming “Emma” when I finally found Angie and Jesse. There was an hour until boarding time so we just hung out and talked until it was time. We also met up with Kyle who showed up a little bit before our flight was scheduled to take off. The 4 hour plane was ride was really hard for me. For some reason I was really restless and my plane was super hot. I just couldn’t find any position that made it comfortable to sleep. After a super long shuttle ride, all the O’hare airport kids and LAX kids made it to the University of Washington. We got to the school around 3:30 or so and were greeted by our resident director and a couple of other IEarn program coordinators. There were two long, plastic tables that had Nsli-y Korea taped onto them.

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Our AWESOME Welcome to Seattle, Washington {Picture Credit @ Hailey}

When we got to the university, we received a lanyard with our name on it and a bag with goodies such as snacks and pens. After we collected our things, we got our room assignments and tried to figure out how the wifi worked (No wifi in the dorms. Only in the lounge area).

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My cozy.. and quaint little dorm room.

Everyone hung out in this lounge area that had a pool table, ping pong table, and a piano. I hung around with my really good friend Angie (my plane buddy) since she was the only one I was close with at that point in time. While we were there, the university had some Japanese exchange students as well. Some of the kids in my program spoke Japanese as well so it was really funny seeing them interact with the other students there.

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Angie and I snapchatting all the Nsliyians surrounding the Japanese kids like they were a zoo exhibit.

At around 6ish we finally got dinner which was an all American food- pizza! Dinner was very fun because I got to hang out with and talk to people that I hadn’t had much time with since I arrived. Angie and I sat down with Vinzent, Ava, and Adilene and they continued to prove to me that Nsli-y scholars are amazing people.

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We talked about our Korean studies and what we were most looking forward to in South Korea. At this time, I also met my Korean Resident Director. Our first conversation together was about Korean dramas. It was a good one.

After dinner was when the fun began… ICEBREAKERS. Well, I know many people wouldn’t call it that but I found it really enjoyable. From all the blogs I read about PDO, I was excited for all the awkwardness! We did a lot of things on the first night. We had to line up by date of birth (Without talking)

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Our birth line (It was not by year only month and day)

and then when we were in that line, we stated our name, our birthday, and a fun fact (my fun fact was that the knuckles on my ring fingers are basically nonexistent). Then we did a game of human bingo and this weird hand clap game that I couldn’t do and I also dont remember it. We wrote a constitution for our Nsli-y program and lastly (THE BEST ONE) we did Karaoke! That night we found out who the singers were on our program. We sang BTS, Apink, Taeyang, and Exo. It was a great way to end the night.

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Angie & Tise Dancing to BANG BANG BANG by Big Bang

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Trudi singing Save Me by BTS

The next day (June 28th) I woke up at the crack of dawn to take a shower and get ready for breakfast which was at 8am. After a lovely breakfast of waffles and fruit, we had lots and lots of presentations. These included presentations on culture shock, language learning, basic rules, program safety, and the experience of the two alumni (Zhuhur – Summer 2014 & Ben – Summer 2015} that were there with us. Dinner was at 5:30pm and I ate with all these girls and all we talked about was our excitement for the next day since we would be hopping on a plane! The dinner was also pretty funny because when I was in line getting my serving of pasta, these Japanese exchange students behind me said my hair looked like ramen (It was funny retelling the story to everyone at the table).

After dinner, a group of girls (Sofia, Rhea, Mckenzie, Teresa, Jane, Abigail, Cynthia, and Sura) and I went down to this lake on campus.

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The day couldn’t be complete without a selfie of some sort.

It was a pretty long walk and on a hill too! We just hung out on the dock talking while sticking our feet in the water. The dock was fun to sit on as the waves from the boats would move the dock up and down.

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Try to convince me that this isn’t beautiful.

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Top Right: Cynthia, Abigail, Sura, Jane, Rhea, & Mckenzie                                                        Bottom Right: Theresa, Me, and Sofia

We even asked a random stranger to take our picture. (He then jumped into the water which boggled my mind since it was literally ice cold!) It was a fun excursion (even though Sura almost got us lost on the way home).

We got home and I just hung out with my roommate Cynthia and Sura in my room and we just talked (Are you sensing a trend?). At night all the Nsli-y kids had to write their goals, a letter to themselves, and take a survey before the end of the night and at 10pm (curfew) the RDs came and collected everything.

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View looking out from the balcony of the lounge area

And that was my PDO experience. I can’t wait to be posting more about my time in Korea and I hope everyone liked reading this post! I will update soon. (HAH)

Emma  엠마

The best journeys answer questions, that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.  – Jeff Johnson