Class Trip to Tongin Market, Korean Cooking Class, and Namsan Tower (July 22nd, 2016)

Fridays Korean Class (July 22nd, 2016) was a little different than usual as we were having a field trip for our Speaking and Listening Korean Class. Our teacher took my class 나무반 on a bus to the Tongin Market (통인시장) for a bit of a cultural excursion and a nice lunch! Before we actually went around the market, we had a tour guide show us around the area. It was kind of hard to pay attention as it was super super hot outside and everyone was complaining about the heat and how hungry we were. What I did get out of the little tour was a lot of nice pictures of some small Korean neighborhoods (a break from all the Korean apartment buildings I usually see) with some traditional houses scattered around for good measure. We were also shown this very famous, old tree but I really don’t remember the significance behind it… I should have written it down. Oops XD


Our tour guide and some unamused, hot, and tired Nsliyians





Some snapshots of the Korean neighborhood alleys

Our tourguide was a really nice man though. He spoke English very well and he tried to make the tour as interesting as he could for us by making lots of funny dad type jokes. Looking back on it, I kinda feel bad for him because once we passed the market, he totally lost everyone’s attention span to the smell of the delicious Korean food. Overall, the tour was a really nice experience and I really enjoyed hearing our tour guide talk about all the houses and their different styles.



Huge doors are honestly so interesting to me. I can’t help but stop and think about the lives and stories that passed through doors like this one.

Eventually it was time to visit the Tongin Market (통인시장). Something cool about the market is that it has this pretty cool payment system. You can buy most of the food from the market with normal Won (Korean Currency) but you can also trade in money for these old school coins and trade them in to certain market stalls to get food for lunch. Basically you pay a certain amount of money and you are given a stack of coins and a lunch tray. You walk around the market trading in coins for food and you get to pick and choose what you want your tray to contain. There are a lot of different types of Korean food like ddeokbokki (떡볶이), Japchae (잡채), and even popular Korean candy from the 80s and 90s.


The coins we got to use as money


I bought some Traditional Korean Dessert as well~


My Tongin Market Lunch Tray.

For an amount of coins equal to 5,000 Won, (A little bit less than five American Dollars) I was able to get so much food for lunch. In the top left corner of the lunch tray, I bought 마약김밥 (Drug Kimbap. It gets its name from how addictively tasty it is). I also had a Pork steamed dumpling. I didn’t use my coins to buy this, Jodi and Tucker shared with me after I saw them at the stall. They had such a big order so they gave me one and it was definitely the best part of my lunch tray if I am being honest 🙂 At the top right corner of my lunch tray I bought some sweet brown sugar/cinnamon chicken that came with some rice cakes as well. Then on the bottom left I had a Korean potato pancake (감자전 – basically a hash brown!) and another type of Ddeokbokki (떡볶이) which is rice cakes with red chilli pepper paste. Tongin Market is known for its Ddeokbokki. The rice cakes I had are a little bit different than the most common ones you see at street venders as it is more dry and crumbly than soft and liquidy. I think that is what makes it even spicier!~ And then finally in the lower right corner, I ordered Japchae which was really good but I tried the Japchae my friends Ariel got (from another stall) and it was much better.


Eating Lunch! From left to right: Me, Ariel, Yves, and Sofia


내 친구들 Ashley, Addie, and Sura who got cut off!

After a nice, filling lunch at the Tongin Market, I had to head off to my Korean cooking club. What turned out great for me was that the Tongin Market was right around the Gyeongbokgung subway station which is the exit we usually meet at for the club. All this time I have been going to Cooking Club, I have been passing this really cool market. It kinda makes me think about all these hidden Korean gems that I pass by on a daily basis. There are a limitless amount of experiences to have and things to see in Seoul!


View from the Food and Culture Academy

At cooking club we made Bibimbap which was very fun seeing that it was the very first Korean food I had ever eaten so it holds a special place in my heart!


비빔밥 – Warm white rice mixed with vegetables and sometimes beef. Our bibimbap contained carrots, bean sprouts, Zucchini, mushrooms, and onions.

Funny Moment at Korean Cooking Club (한국 요리 동아리)

So I didn’t eat my bibimbap because I had eaten so much at the market so I ended up asking our chefs at the Food and Culture academy for a little take out container. I wanted to put all the Bibimbap back in the container but still making sure that it looked aesthetically pleasing. I was surrounded by Joy, JT and Jodi and I was all like “I know, the rice is kinda dirty from all the vegetables so I will flip the rice over so the bottom will make the top completely white.” I proceed to carry out my idea by flipping over the rice only to be greeted with more dirty rice from juices at the bottom and the realization that the rice didn’t have to look clean since it would be covered by veggies and meat anyways. JT began to relish in my stupidity and declared “Emma, You think you are smart but you are not.” JT was being all sassy to me that day because I was roasting Jodi earlier during the class. He asked me if I liked Jodi and I explained to him that really close American friends are friendly mean to their friends using things like sarcasm. We were both joking though. He didn’t believe me since he lived in Michigan for 7 years and said he never saw that. But because I informed him on the friends matter, he turned into a savage towards me and I would never hear the end of it.

I later showed him how pretty my lunch box turned out and he goes “I do not care where you put it!” in a mixed British, Korean, and American accent.


My pretty lunch container

After Korean Cooking Club, I made my way to Myeongdong and met up with Sofia at the subway station. The plan for Friday night was to visit Namsan Tower (남산 타워 also known as N Seoul Tower – N 서울타워) which I had been waiting a while to visit.

So to get to the cable cars to take you up to Namsan Tower, you have to walk up a huge hill and when it is hot outside… that hill is treacherous. Sofia and I laughed so much in order to distract ourselves from the pain our feet were going through. It was way worse than the hill I have to walk up to get to our university for Korean classes. Eventually we made it and bought our tickets for the cable car and we had to wait in this super long line from the ticket booth up a few flights of stairs. While we were waiting in line on the stairs. Sofia and I shared some Korean candy popular in the 80s. We were just chatting about school and stuff when this Korean boy (around 10 years old) above us dropped his phone down the flight of stairs. I tried not to laugh… but it was hilarious. Luckily, the phone didn’t crack. Everyone in line clapped once the boy showed everyone that it was okay XD


View from the cable car which was such a fun thing to do but also pretty scary at first…


We had to climb up even more stairs to get closer to the tower



Namsan Tower. I finally got to see it in person after only seeing it in the horizon in many places like at 남산골마을 and our hostel.

Sofia and I walked around the bottom of the tower which had many cute places to take photos (most were geared towards couples) and water sprinklers for the summer. At the entrance of the bottom of the tower there are gift and souvenir shops where you can buy Namsan Tower Merch. I ended up buying some really cute stickers for my scrapbook and these cute themed magnets for some gifts for my family back home. To get up into the tower you have to buy a ticket that costs $10 and after paying for the cable car ticket which cost around $8.50, Sofia and I felt that we really didn’t need to go up. What we really wanted to do was visit it, take pictures, and look at all the locks.

The coolest thing about the tower, well at least in my opinion, is the fact that there is a section near the bottom that you can buy a lock (with your significant other or just friends/family) and lock it onto this fence area made for the locks. It is so cute and Sofia and I looked through all the locks for ones we could understand and ones in English to see what the tourists wrote about their experience at Namsan Tower. We ended up not buying a lock since they are kinda expensive. It is best to come in a larger group because then you can all split the price of one lock. But at least the pictures were free!~




Sofia and I !!


In the background you can see a restaurant where you can eat dinner at. Super expensive though.


View from the cable car on the way back

We left the tower a bit earlier than we needed to so we could walk around Myeongdong and get some street food before going home before curfew. It was a very fun day and very action-packed. I did so much and went to many different parts of Seoul on this day. There were some moments where I was very tired, but overall everything was worth it. No amount of sleep deprivation, heat, or sore feet can get me down in Seoul, South Korea!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ 안녕~

  • 엠마 (Emma)




Words Of Appreciation

Since I have been back from Seoul, South Korea I haven’t been able to express my gratitude to some people that made my experience on the NSLI-Y program amazing. Therefore, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I felt that it was necessary to make a post expressing my thanks to some people even though they will probably not read anything that I write on here. Now I wont have the ability to thank everyone that deserves a thank you for making my experience great, but I mean well. This post would be so long if I did all that. This is going to be a very long post already… and I am writing it to make myself happy. So I am warning you, if you decide to keep going… this may take you several minutes to read.

A quick shout out to my apartment complex’s security guards, the nice woman who worked at 7/11 near 숙대, the most hilarious Dragon Beard Candy (꿀타래) vendors, and so many more!~ Authors Note: This list is in no particular order!

My Host Family

  • My Korean Mom

    I am so thankful for my host mom. She honestly made me feel so at home even though I was thousands of miles away from my home. I was definitely awkward with her during the first few weeks and my Korean was awful, but she was still so patient with me no matter where or what we were doing. She tried extra hard to make sure I was doing okay by constantly asking me if I needed help with my Korean homework and asking me about twenty times per night if I was still hungry and if I wanted watermelon, yogurt, tiramisu, or whatever else she had

    I also loved the fact that she always talked to me. This might not seem like much but I truly enjoyed those breakfast and dinner conversations we would have. She would talk to me like I was a native Korean making sure to speak Korean normally to me. I am able to understand Korean pretty well and that is because she never used her amazing English skills with me if I didn’t ask her to. We would talk about her students, life at home, and how I was doing in Korea. If I didn’t understand something, I would ask and then she would tell me what the word translated to in English. My host mom also always expressed her pride in me when I would speak Korean. She always cheered me on. It made me feel so good when I would talk to her in Korean (and use a new vocabulary word or grammar point) and she would tell me how she had noticed me improving from the first week. One moment I specifically remember was when I told her about where I had eaten cold noodles with chilled broth (물냉면) earlier that week. I told her “저는 친구들이랑 숙대근처 물냉면을 먹었어요.” She was so proud of me for simply using the word “근처” which means near/close to. I thought it was a simple word that everyone would know (and I still think it is) but it made me really happy that my host mom told me I was improving and that she could tell. I can’t wait to come back to Seoul in the future and be able to see my host mom again. I miss her so much and our Kakao messages are simply not enough for me.

  • Host Dad

    My host dad and I definitely didn’t get as close as I did with my host mom but I didn’t have a bad relationship with him either. He meant well but we didn’t talk too much as he was very nervous to speak English and was even nervous when I would speak to him in Korean but nonetheless I am thankful for him. He would usually just tell my host mom to tell me anything he wanted to say. My host dad was great. Because even though we didn’t talk as much, he was still nice to me by basically making all my meals while I was in Korea. My host mom believed that she wasn’t a good cook and all she would make for the family was eggs (계란), rice (밥), and Donkatsu (돈까스). He would wake up earlier than he needed to every weekday to make me breakfast. He could have given me cereal but he instead made me nice breakfasts of different types of Korean soups, fried rice, and meat/seafood dishes. He also took me out to eat dinner with him and my host brothers on several occasions for things like Korean barbecue (삼겹살) and Black bean noodles (짜장면). thu-6

But my favorite memory with my host dad was the day before I left for America. It was the morning of my graduation ceremony and only my host mom and host brothers would be going. While I was eating the breakfast he made me, he started talking to me like a motivational speaker… and it was in English. My host dad was terrified of speaking English and hearing him do it on the last day made me so happy to see him try because he really wanted me to understand what he was saying. It made me start tearing up and he kept telling me to stop crying. But I will always remember what he ended his “speech” with.

“Live for you, not others. It is important” – Host Dad

  • Host Brothers

My host brothers and I didn’t get as close as I had imagined I would with my host siblings but I don’t think badly towards them because of it. We both had to deal with a language barrier and we didn’t have too many common characteristics to bond over. But I am glad that my host brothers were my host brothers because they allowed me to work towards a better relationship and though I didn’t see it as a very good one at first, it definitely got better compared to the first week or so when my youngest host brother would whine about sitting next to me at the breakfast table. We had our moments when we would talk and I brought them home treats. I still remember the first time my host brothers tried War Heads and they ran around the kitchen screaming and then my host dad ate one like it was a strawberry — with no reaction whatsoever. It was pretty funny to me since I love sour candy. The best thing I did for my younger host brother was go to his soccer practices and games. Even though I felt that I didn’t do enough with my host brothers, I tried and my experience in Korea wouldn’t have been the same without them and so I am thankful. My host brothers taught me that sometimes the littlest things are what you remember and cherish the most.


He asked me to take a picture of him

Like the time I went walking to the convenience store with my youngest host brother and when we passed his school, he showed me the bunny they had in a cage by the gate. He was telling me stories about the bunny and even though I didn’t understand much of it, I enjoyed the thought that he was sharing part of his life with me. Once I left Korea, my host mom messaged me on Kakao one day telling me that my host brothers told her that the house felt weird without me and that was the best thing anyone could tell me.

My Supporter Group

  • Sujin

Sujin was my supporter. She had to be with me. She had to act as a tutor. But what she didn’t have to act as was my friend. I grew so close to my supporter group and Sujin. From what I observed from all the other supporter groups on my program, I would probably say that my supporter group got the closest. Sujin was the best supporter ever! When I first met her I really wanted to make her like me but I knew it would be a bit more difficult since my Korean language skills were not too great… especially compared to Jodi’s and Casey’s Korean language skills. Sujin and I were able to forge a friendship that pushed passed language barriers and when I improved my Korean, our friendship grew and got more meaningful. I miss hearing her laugh when I ask her for the millionth time to repeat something and her stern voice when reprimanding Jodi for whatever she had done. I want to thank Sujin so much since she really did make my experience better.


Sujin ❤

So much that when I found out that she couldn’t come say goodbye to us at the airport like she had planned, I (and Jodi) spent a good 20 minutes crying to Casey about how much we would miss her. I still text my supporter Sujin very often and I know one of the first things I will do when I return to Korea, is to visit her and hopefully catch up at a nice cafe. In particular our favorite cafe,  카페 아레카 (Cafe Areca).

  • Jodi

죠디!!!  NSLI-Y is such a great experience due to the people you will meet and the relationships you will create during the duration of the program. Jodi was no exception. Until the supporter meeting started, I hadn’t talked too much with Jodi and I am so glad we were able to get close through our supporter meetings. Jodi and I got close super quickly and I enjoyed every minute that we spent together whether it be stuffing our faces with banana milk (바나나 우유), triangular kimbap (삼각김밥), or simply making konglish (Korean and English) jokes.



Jodi never failed to make me laugh and she was always there when I needed help with my Korean in class. I want to thank her for making my supporter group one of the best parts of my NSLI-Y experience.

  • Casey

Oh Casey! 오 미선! I miss my Casey so much! Casey and I always joked around in class, during our supporter meetings, and especially just hanging around in Seoul. She and I would be immersed in laughing fits from the littlest things and I never regretted any moments I spent with Casey. I also want to thank Casey for always helping me out during supporter meetings. Whenever I couldnt understand Sujin completely, Casey would be there helping me out making sure I didn’t lose out on any important information. She also never failed to cheer me on when I impressed her with something I said in Korean. Casey and I could talk to each other for hours and I truly miss our conversations.thurs-7

Our skype calls always remind me why we are such close friends even though we don’t see each other every day any more. I want to thank Casey for being there every step of the way making my journey in Korea the most fun I could imagine (and for calming me down when I started crying at the airport. It meant a lot).

My Korean Class

  • Classmates

I have never loved a class more than my Korean class 나무반 (Tree Class). Sure I have had fun in my classes back at home from time to time but I have never had such an interest in a class before that everything we do is fun to me. Even when I would get only 5 hours of sleep, I was always still looking forward to class. I want to thank all my 나무반 classmates for making Korean class so fun and interesting. If it wasn’t for all our funny jokes and ridiculous answers to our teachers questions. (I am looking at you Jesse! *cough cough 결혼한 여자 *cough cough ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ.)


I am thankful for the white board in the back that we never used for class but as the days went on, more and more weird and funny drawings started collecting on it. I am thankful for all the positive attitudes that everyone brought to class every single day and I am super thankful for all those runs to the convenience store during our ten minute breaks because those green tea bars, chocolate mushroom snacks, and pepero saved me from my always growling stomach. My classmates made my Korean class the best! I am really thankful for this experience. Korean classes in college could never be this good! 🙂

  • My Teachers

Teaching a foreign language is definitely difficult but my Korean teachers didn’t make it seem that way at all. In my Spanish class back home, especially during my freshman year, we were always using English during class. However, I can count the amount of times I used English in class on both my hands. My Korean teachers made learning fun and always encouraged us if we didn’t understand. We were engaged with constant role plays and questions and we got enough examples for each grammar point to last us a lifetime! I want to thank them so much for helping me improve my Korean language skills and being able to see my improvement as well. Receiving the most improved award at the end of the program ceremony made me super happy. I knew I improved and knowing that they could see it too… made me thankful for having such great and observant teachers.


감사합니다 이선생님 그리고 박선생님!~

 Resident Directors


  • Madeline

고마워요 메들린!~ Madeline was such a great resident director. Sometimes I felt that I was annoying her going to talk to her every morning and between classes with Sofia but I honestly just enjoyed talking to her. Even though I never had a real emergency while I was in Korea I know that if I did, I could count on Madeline to help me out with anything. Plus, saying “Madeline!” every time I would see a “Madeline Shirt” in Hongdae, Edae, or Myungdong was pretty great. I got lots of stares too! By the time the end of the program came around, I felt so much closer to Madeline.gyeong-14

The more time I got to spend talking to her did not only create good memories, but also a good friendship as well. I can’t wait to soon have the opportunity to meet up with her in NYC! It has been long enough!

  • JT

JT쌤! ㅎㅎㅎ 고마워요! It was really funny meeting JT for the first time since I didn’t even know that we had another resident director. I saw him walking around the patio of Washington University and was really confused on why one of the Japanese students was so interested in talking to everyone. I soon found out he was our RD when he came and started talking to my table about what got us interested in the Korean language. I am so thankful for JT being such a great RD and making me laugh so much. Since he was in charge of the cooking club I got to talk to him a lot more than I probably would have if it wasn’t for the club. He made everything so fun and he would get so excited for us for the silliest things. For example, he would smile so big whether it was just us succeeding in flipping our 김치전 (Kimchi Jeon – basically a crispy kimchi pancake), talking to him in Korean and not English, or just asking him about his time in Michigan. I will never forget JT for being a savage towards me and also being so sassy. I am thankful for having him on our program which made my experience even better. He also gave all 49 of us permission to come to his house in 8 years from the day we arrived in Korea for a potluck dinner and ramen! I mean it wasn’t exactly permission… but I know we will be coming. 😉


End of the Program Ceremony 😦

“You think you’re smart but you’re not!” – JT


Sofia!!!!! I can honestly say that I probably got the closest to Sofia out of everyone I met on the trip and for that I am so thankful! When I first met her at the airport and talked to her on the shuttle ride, she was so quiet and I thought she didn’t like me. I hovered around Angie during the entire time in Seattle and didn’t give much thought to anyone else since I was scared I would have trouble making lots of friends (which soon proved to not be difficult at all). I started bonding with Sofia on the plane ride to Korea since we sat next to each other on the plane. You can’t help but become friends with someone you spent 10 hours with in a small confined place. I got to see Sofia change and grow as a person and we started hanging out more and more once we found out we were in the same

Most of my blog posts mention Sofia or are about an adventure I had with Sofia because we honestly became best friends seeing each other basically every day. I am thankful for Sofia since we did so many things together and we grew so close. I still talk to her every single day and we skype sometimes too. NSLI-Y would not have been the same without her and she knows it too 🙂 I can’t wait to meet up with her this summer in New York!~Best Reunion ever! ❤


고마워 소피아!~ 사랑해!~

NSLI-Y8 Family

What is NSLI-Y8? NSLI-Y8 is the 8th group of NSLI-Y scholars to Seoul, South Korea. I was lucky enough to be apart of this amazing group of people and I could not be more thankful!~ These 49 people made my trip amazing. I didn’t have the chance to get close to everyone but I am thankful to say that I didn’t leave without talking to everyone and I was able to start a good relationship with everyone on the program. The Nsliyians on my program were honestly some of the best people I have ever met and it had to do with the combination of their awesome personalities and us sharing common characteristics like our passion and love for the Korean language and culture. Whether it be being able to text our group chat and plan fun activities or simply walking around during break and joining peoples after school plans, there was never a moment of isolation. Everyone included everyone and no cliques were formed. I am thankful for no drama!!!!


Everyone worked so hard with their Korean and made the most of their time in Seoul. I was able to make so many amazing memories with spending time with my NSLI-Y8 family!~

나는 니슬리8 가족을 너무 사랑해~ ❤ !!! 고마워~

The People that Made this Possible

Last but not least a huge thank you to everyone that was able to make my trip to Seoul, South Korea possible. That means my lovely parents for allowing me to take a hold of this amazing opportunity. The State Department for seeing the benefits of sponsoring this program for the rising generations. IEarn for doing all the “behind the scene” stuff to make this program to Korea a reality. The Better World Staff for making our time in Seoul a blast and making sure everything in country ran smoothly from the start. My Spanish Teacher for writing my recommendations and supporting me on this endeavor. All my amazing friends back home who were always supportive every step of the way especially when I was able to share the good news. And a thanks to everyone at my old middle school and those teachers who encouraged me to follow my passion (even though some called it a phase). I would not have been here today if It wasn’t for the influences of those around me. Lastly, thank you to Elaine. A Korea summer and year alum that was the one who introduced me to the NSLI-Y program in 7th grade. Who knows where I would be without her. Thank you all so much! I am so grateful for everyone.

And thank you for reading. I hope this encourages you to thank the ones that have helped you on whatever journey your dreams will take you on and if NSLI-Y is that dream, I wish you the best of luck!~ It is worth it — TRUST ME!

Emma 엠마

“Whatever happened this past year, be thankful for where it brought you. Where you are is where you are meant to be.” – Mandy Hale


Gyeongbokgung Palace & Biking Along the Han River (July 21st, 2016)

Today (July 21st, 2016) was the first cultural excursion I had with my supporter group and the two others that we usually share our meeting spot with. We would be going to Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)! I was super excited to go since Gyeongbokgung is definitely a place everyone should visit when traveling around Seoul. Since we had to take travel time into consideration, we didn’t have too much time to have lunch. Therefore I had a quick convenience store lunch with Jodi, Casey, Sofia, and Yves. I definitely bought too much stuff but I shared my food with everyone so nothing was wasted.

gyeong 1.jpeg

Triangle Kimbap (삼각김밥),  Choco Pie (초코 파이),  banana milk (바나나 우유), and Honey Butter Chips (허니버터칩).


Have you seen the Korean Drama “Cheese in the Trap?” This Kimbap is a little parody of it.

After lunch we visited Gyeongbokgung! The architecture of old Korean palaces is truly beautiful. I walked around with my supporter group through the palace grounds and took lots of pictures especially of the detailed roof tiles. I loved them so much.




Group Photo!~ ❤


The roof details I was talking about


Casey and a Korean photobomber

It is pretty difficult to explain what everything looked like and that is why I have plenty of pictures to share from the day. I have plenty more but this blog post would be way too long 🙂 I think that a lot of them turned out very well! Especially the ones with some of my favorite people (If you haven’t gotten the message yet… they are my supporter group).




Casey and I


This building is Gyeonghoeru (경회루) which was used to hold important events back during the Joseon Dynasty




We know we are weird XD


Jodi, Me, and Casey


My RD Madeline and I

While we were walking around, JT and Madeline met up with us to spend the day with us as well. It was fun to hang out with them as they are such jokesters together! XD



I remember when Sujin said “너같은데!” (It looks like you) to Jodi 😉

After visiting Gyeongbokgung , we walked around the surrounding streets to find some cafe to sit and eat at. Jun (준) was leading the way sticking his head into every cafe until he could find one that had enough seats. He accomplished this while simultaneously giving us information about everything we passed. I heard many childhood stories about him that afternoon and he isn’t even my supporter! XD


I was very artistic with the taking of these photos

Eventually we found this cute cafe and we were actually the only ones in there which was good because we took up all the seats on the first floor. (There were 13 of us.) As this is a common trend throughout my summer in Korea, my supporter group ate Bingsu! We ordered a Green Tea Mango Bingsu (녹차망고빙수) and the original Red Bean Bingsu (팥빙수) because Casey does not like eating fruit. I don’t understand why… she is so weird!


The best bingsu flavor I have had so far


빙수야! 팥빙수야! 사랑해 사랑해~


The back of the Cafe had some pretty cute wings. Reminds me a lot of the Korean Drama “To the Beautiful You”

gyeong 75.png

My supporter Sujin is the cutest in the world!~  🙂  😉

After eating at the cafe, I planned to do something after with Sofia and Tucker from my Korean class – 나무반. We ended up deciding to go to the Han river and rent bicycles to ride. I met up with them kinda late as Jun was having a bit of trouble finding the closest subway station that we could use. However, I made it eventually and they can both agree that the wait was worth it since bike riding with them was so much fun! We rented bikes for an hour and they were $3 each. I ended up paying for both of them since I am such a good friend! ㅎㅎㅎㅎ


Us picking out our bikes

Biking was so much fun and the trails to ride on seemed neverending. There was a point in time where I thought we wouldn’t know how to get back before the hour was up and then have to pay a fee (I was not for that at all). Riding around the nature trail reminded me so much of the bike trail near my dad’s house back home. I only realized I was still in Seoul, South Korea when I would hear Tuckers old Kpop playlist (which consisted of T-ara for example) playing on his portable speakers and when I would catch glimpses of Korean modern architecture which is nothing like I see back home. It was honestly so fun and such a nice way to spend a day with friends. If we had more time, I would have loved to have had a picnic by the river with Fried Chicken and maybe a tent. (Something we saw everywhere when we were simply walking around.)



Why was I laughing? Tucker made a joke about the building we could see in the distance that had the word “Trump” written on it


Looks like a roller coaster!


We bought chicken as a snack but unfortunately, it wasn’t all too great.

My first cultural excursion with my supporter group was loads of fun! This day made me even more excited to spend even more outside classroom time with my supporter group. And it made me hopeful that the different flavors of Bingsu I will try will only better in taste… I am only joking a little bit! 😉 The rest of the night was spent with my host family as we all went out for Korean Barbeque for my host moms birthday which was very nice. No one told me it was her birthday until I got a text about dinner plans so when I was walking to the apartment after the Han River, I bought a box of 12 doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. My host mom loves eating the original glazed with vanilla yogurt with blueberries. Even though I am pretty sure that my host brothers ate most of them by themselves. XD

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed~ Do not forget to subscribe if you would like to read more about my time and experiences in Seoul, South Korea on the Nsli-y Scholarship! 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)



Community Service in Korea!!! (July 20th, 2016)

After school on Wednesday (7/20/2016) I did some community service with my supporter group and one other group at this facility for disabled teens and young adults. Jodi, Casey, and I stopped at a convenience store to pick up some lunch before we met up with Sujin at Seoul station where we took the subway all the way to Banghwa station (방화역) which is a few stops away from Gimpo International Airport. It was a very long subway ride, but luckily we were able to get some seats.

The main guy at the center was really nice to all of us and his English was actually very good. I asked him later and he hadn’t even studied abroad in any English speaking country. For our community service, we helped everyone at the facility make a dinner of pizza with tomato sauce, cheese, corn (such a Korean thing!), and bacon. Some of them needed more help than others but it felt really great working through certain setbacks and making something together like the pizza. It was a lot of fun too.


Getting the explanation of what we would be doing

After we finished up all the pizzas, we also made some for ourselves and ate them for lunch.


Afterwards we completed some of these worksheets that showed you what it could be like having certain disabilities. One of the activities included looking into mirror while trying to solve math problems and finding the exit of a maze. They were very eye-opening for me.

Before we left, we helped the center even more by cleaning up for the night. We split everyone up into groups for chores such as cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming the rooms and hallways, cleaning the dishes, and bagging the food waste. I was put on dish duty with my supporter Sujin while Teresa also worked with us in the kitchen bagging the food waste from our pizza activity and some days previous.


The coolest chore – Dish Duty


The main room after we cleaned it


Group Photo!~

My Reflection On The Experience –

This experience was just what I needed to fulfill part of my goals for this program. Back in October when I filled out my Nsli-y application, I had written in one of the essays that I wanted to go to Korea to not only learn the language, but to also get to know the different people of the society. I haven’t had much time to do that besides with my host family. This was the first experience I had where I got to work with a bunch of other people (Nsliyians and Koreans alike) to reach a common goal and get to know some pretty great people. I will definitely look into volunteering there again when I hopefully come back to Seoul because it was such an amazing experience and I would love to come back and help again.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed! Check back soon for more~ Do not forget to subscribe by plugging in your email to receive updates whenever I post!~ 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)



Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골한옥마을) July 18th, 2016

Monday (07/18/16) was another one of those days where the main goal was to check off something from the Korea Bucket List. Korean class was normal as usual. We got a lot of homework which is the usual part. We also had our Monday Meeting where JT and Madeline (our RDs) announced the top three winners for the Weekly Photo Challenge. And guess what! My supporter group won second place! haha So as a prize we recieved a whole box of 12 Banana Choco Pies (바나나 초코 파이). Choco Pies are a very popular Korean treat and recently they came out with a banana version. They became our snacks during Korean class for the following days.


Stock Photo

So today, after school, the plan was to go to a traditional Korean village with Sofia and Anna-Kate after a nice quick lunch at the Hello Kitty themed restaurant I had eaten at with my Host mom during the first weekend in Seoul, South Korea. We ended up eating the same thing I had with my host mom which was a cheese ddukbokki set with fish cakes and mandu. The girls really loved the food and were really glad that I brought them to the restaurant.


Photo Bomb by Sofia XD


After eating we followed directions I had found online to 남산골한옥마을 (Namsan Hanok Village) and after a few missed turns, we ended up going down the right street to find the main entrance of the village.




Village Entrance


You can see Namsan Tower in the distance

The traditional village was a very fun experience. The girls and I probably spent almost three hours walking around the whole thing looking at the houses and some artifacts inside. All the houses and areas in the village had many signs explaining what everything was in detail (In Korean, Chinese, and English). I took so many pictures of everything that we saw since everything was honestly very pretty. It was so interesting taking photos of the traditional structures and having skyscrapers and modern buildings in the background of the photos. It is so cool to me to see traditional Korean culture mix with the modern culture so smoothly with pockets of traditional villages and temples in Seoul. Especially when you are simply exploring Seoul and you accidently run in to such pockets of tradition and history. We went into this one section of the village that showed you the inside of the houses and we were able to see traditional Korean furniture. You could also try on Hanboks at the village but we decided to save that for another day probably somewhere else.



The inside of one of the rooms



One of my favorite photos from the day

Besides the interesting architecture, the nature around the village was very beautiful as well. We even found some cute little waterfalls and ponds along the way. While we were walking around the grounds, we found an area with some old, traditional games. There was this arrow throwing game, some kind of checkers like game, and this game I have seen Korean pop idols play on some variety shows. Sofia tried it out and was actually pretty good with it. My knee wasn’t feeling too good that day so I refrained from trying it out. While Sofia was playing, there was this grandpa and possibly his son watching. They laughed along with us while Sofia struggled with playing the game and they clapped along with us while Sofia got better and better with playing the game as time went on.




Tiny Waterfall 🙂


Pretty similar to hacky sack


When Sofia almost hit me! XD haha

We took a lot of photos together and what you cant see from  all of them, is how often we burst out laughing at all the fun we were having with our mini photoshoots. The scenery was just beautiful!!!~ ❤


Okay this one kinda gives you an idea. We tried so hard to keep straight faces while bowing! XD


Sofia & I ❤


Anna-Kate & I

Eventually we all got a bit hungry and wanted a treat. So… we decided to get some Bingsu! What a surprise right? haha XD We could not find a Sulbing close by so we ended up going to Hollys cafe and trusting that they would not disappoint us with their bingsu. We ended up ordering a strawberry cheesecake bingsu which was so delicious!~


So tasty!~

We hurried up and left the cafe after Anna-Kate spilled her barley tea all over the floor. Sofia and I wiped everything up with napkins and then left because we felt so embarrassed with all the stares. I ended up getting home just in time for dinner as usual and ate with my lovely host family. And that was my super fun Monday~ ^^

Thank you so much for reading and do not forget to follow my blog with your email! I hope you enjoyed and I will be back soon with another post~ 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)



Hongdae Trick Eye Museum (트릭아이미술관) and the Ice Museum (July 16th, 2016)

On Saturday (July 16th, 2016) Sofia and I realized that we were already halfway done with the month of July and there was still so many things we wanted to do before this summer was over. So we took a look at our bucket lists and decided to go to the trick eye museum in Hongdae which is always all over alumni blogs and youtube. The last time we were at Hongdae, we were actually so close to the Trick Eye Museum but didn’t even notice it. It isn’t actually hard to find at all. I used directions from a random blog and we found it with no headaches or confusion.

Walking into the museum was very cool because as soon as you walk in, there are already stands you can put your head in or optical illusions you can do with your friends. (Protip: bring at least three people so you can take photos with your friends rather than asking random strangers because after awhile… you feel guilty for asking other people who are busy taking photos for themselves.) There were also people drawing caricatures at the front of the museum. Admission for the Trick Eye Museum is $15 for adults and $12 for kids so if you are under 18 years of age, remember to bring your ID so you can get the discount. I ended up paying 12 dollars while Sofia had to pay 15 since she didn’t bring hers with her. The admission also gives you free entrance to the ice museum. (There is also a love museum for adults 18 and over but I am not sure how much that costs.)

Basically the Trick Eye Museum is more like an art gallery that has pieces of art that look 3D rather than 2D and you can interact with the pieces and make it look like you are apart of it. Each piece has a picture next to it with examples of poses you should take. I think you will be able to understand it better if I just show you the pictures… There really isn’t that much else to say XD



Sofia and I never got the chance to show our RDs this photo! We wanted to see their reactions XD


This is probably my favorite one! XD



Then after we went through the entire Trick Eye Museum, we went to the Ice Museum. In the Ice Museum everything is made out of Ice and it is crazy cold. They give you a poncho so if you sit on any of the chairs you won’t freeze your butt off (but you can freeze everything else off since the ponchos literally do nothing!) The Ice Museum has a ice slide too that you can go down. I thought the Museum was very very fun since we had to rush to take all the pictures which made Sofia and I laugh continuously throughout our time in the freezing cold chamber.





Does this furniture set come pre-assembled from Ikea?

After the Trick Eye and Ice Museum, Sofia and I walked around Hongdae and then it started raining. We decided to just chill in a cafe so we walked up some random streets until we saw a cafe that looked cool and somewhat empty. (everything was filled!) We ordered drinks (which were so expensive -_-) and talked in the cafe for an hour or so. Sofia ordered a green tea latte while I ordered a Vanilla Iced Latte.


After the cafe, we were hungry but we were planning on going back home early for dinner so we decided to go to Sulbing to get some Bingsu. We even switched it up this time because we tried a new flavor and some toast.


Does this make you hungry like it does for me?

It was delicious!~

And that was my Saturday in Seoul!~ I hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Spending a Birthday In Edae (이대) & Making 잡채 (Japchae) July 15, 2016

So on Friday (July 15th, 2016) I woke up with a huge bruise on my forehead. (From running into the glass door of Cafe Areca yesterday.) It wasn’t too bump-like… just very pink. Even though I kept telling myself no one would notice, it couldn’t help but be very noticeable.

At breakfast my host mom pointed to my forehead and asked “Mosquito Bite?” So I then had to explain to her about my encounter with a glass door (and during that conversation, I learned how to say glass in Korean – 유리). One of the most memorable conversations I have had with my host mom to be honest XD

I ended up getting to school very early that day because I was able to make the 7:45am subway train which I like making since I can take my time walking to school and not have to run up that huge hill to get to Sookmyung. When I got to the school, I hung around in the lobby with some of the other Nsliyians. Then 10 minutes before our attendance check at 8:50am, I asked my RD Madeline if I could run to the convenience store to get something to put on my forehead because it was hurting. I grabbed Casey and we scurried over to the 7/11 near school to buy something. While we were rushing to the store, we ran into JT who was walking up the hill. He asked us what we were doing and I mentioned it real quick. He was confused at first and then he laughed at me once I took my baseball cap off and he could see my forehead. I was trying to rush and I couldn’t find the ice (and I didn’t want to ask the cashier because I didn’t know what the word ice is. I still don’t know it XD Actually, I just looked it up. It is 얼음) so I went to the frozen section and just bought a bag of chicken for four dollars. I actually rode the elevator back up to class with JT in which I showed him my convenience store haul. He proceeded to tell me “That chicken is actually really good.” and then in the mix of midwestern, British, and Korean accent that he has, he called me and I quote “Chicken Girl” XD

During attendance, I was holding the bag of chicken up to my forehead and he made the joke again by calling me chicken girl rather than Emma. But he also told me I should be careful and get better so he meant well.


Me dramatizing my bruise with this sad selfie on snapchat

School was not bad at all. The writing/grammar test felt harder this time around. We didn’t get our grades back but I know I got at least two wrong since I know I conjugated 살다 (to live) wrong in one of the grammar points and I also spelled the verb 덥다 (to be hot) wrong in my sentence. The speaking test was actually very good. I was partnered with Sofia and we did super well together. After school I found out that I was going to do community service with my supporter group on Wednesday with some disabled teens and young adults. JT also put me in charge of leading a discussion about the end of the year ceremony at our Korean Cooking Class later today since he wouldn’t be there. (He was taking one of the kids to the hospital.)

For lunch, I went out with Rhea, Sofia, Teresa, and Mckenzie to the place where I had eaten cream ramen the week before. Unfortunately, the guy said that they were out of the ingredients to make the cream ramen. (Everyone except Mckenzie had ordered it.) I had to leave earlier than everyone else because JT had set the meeting time for our cooking class way earlier than usual (he wanted to make sure we would not get lost) which made me not eat most of my food. Which wasn’t a big deal since I ended up eating at cooking class.


Instead of JT taking us to the class, Tatum showed up. She was the one who took me to Hongdae during Survival in Korea during our in country orientation. That cooking class, we made 잡채 which is definitely my favorite Korean food. Too bad it is usually only eaten for occasions that are more special than everyday. Even though I left my stove on and put the soy sauce in my egg rather than my meat, it still ended up tasting delicious and I ate the whole thing!

After cooking class, Abbey and I rode the subway to the Ehwa Womans University stop so we could shop around Edae (which was my first time there). It was also pouring rain while we were walking around so lots of shops closed up and it was very hard to maneuver the sidewalks with our huge umbrellas. There wasn’t as much street shopping as I had seen in Youtube videos but I’m assuming that we simply didn’t go down the right streets. Hopefully, we will have better luck next time. We mostly just found all the makeup/skin care stores. I did score some great finds though! I found these really cute shirts for only 5 dollars! I bought two of them in different colors since I loved them so much. I also scored some more socks because Korean socks are the best kind of socks.

Today was Rhea’s Birthday so we went to Edae to celebrate it! We ate dinner together, but since Abbey and I had eaten Japchae earlier, we just ordered an appetizer meal of croquettes.


After dinner we went to Tony Moly which was having this huge 20-50% sale on almost all of their products so I bought some stuff. (I bought things off of recommendations from Jodi and the cute packaging…) After Tony Moly, Teresa, Rhea, and Mckenzie went home as they had longer commutes. Sofia and I lived close by and Abbey lived very far away (she lived a little outside of Seoul) so she knew that either way she would be getting home late (but still made curfew). We decided to go to Baskin Robbins to have some ice cream. After we got our ice cream (I got Lucky Caramel Turtle) we found a park near one of the subway exits and sat there while we got rained on. It was pretty nice.

I got home around 10:30 pm which was pretty late for me and I felt a bit bad but my host mom was glad that I spent time outside and did not come home early to just study and do homework. This Friday was super fun. It was great!~

Thank you! I hope you enjoyed this post. 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Supporter Group Meeting & Bonding With My Host Brother (July 14, 2016)

Thursday (July 14th, 2016) started off very well! For breakfast I got to try a cool array of fruits that I have never eaten in the United States before.


I got to try Golden Kiwi and Korean Melon with a side of Honey toast from Paris Baguette.

Class was pretty jam-packed as we would be having our second Korean test the following day. I was assigned two dialogues to read and an entire lesson in my workbook (as well as study for the grammar points that would be on the test). I was feeling kind of stressed so knowing that today was also my first real supporter meeting, was super exciting! I was excited to study Korean with Sujin as well as the other Nsliyians in my group Casey and Jodi.

After class ended, I went out to lunch with Maris, Grace, Teresa, Mckenzie, Rhea, and Sofia. We all went to Waffle House. I ordered a honey and cinnamon waffle for only $2. It was definitely the perfect size to fill me up until dinner.


After lunch, I met up with Casey and we walked to the meeting place. The cafe where we would be having all of our meetings was Cafe Areca (카페 아레카). When we got there, Sujin hadn’t arrived yet but Jun, another supporter, was already there waiting for his group. Eventually Sujin got there and Jodi was like five minutes late XD This time Casey and I ordered vanilla milk shakes. (They were delicious by the way!) Every Time we had a meeting, there was always only one guy working there. I am assuming he was the owner. He took a long time to make all the drinks but it was worth it. They were very well made.

The meeting was very fun and I think I understood everything very well. But then again, I didn’t understand a lot either! I would always tell Sujin that I understood her and then I would whisper to Casey and ask her what had just happened. It soon became a running joke throughout the meeting. We went through some new vocabulary and grammar points and I even knew most of the grammar. Sujin was really impressed. (Especially because of the many times I couldn’t understand her XD)

Then at the end of the meeting… something stupid, bad, and embarrassing happened. While I was heading to the bathroom, (the bathroom of the cafe was next door on the second floor. You also needed a key to get inside) I ran into the glass door – hard. I literally ran into the door. It made such a loud noise and everyone stared at me at the time it happened. I went through the door and ran up to the bathroom and laughed my head off. I profusely rubbed it like crazy because I did not want a bump on my forehead. To this day, I have never heard the end of it from Casey and Jodi. I messaged them that night with a picture of my bump (which I will not be posting because of its grotesqueness).

After our meeting, we all took our icebreaker photo. (During our Monday meeting earlier that week, our RDs proposed a weekly photo challenge. This week’s theme was Icebreaker. That was the only guideline we recieved. The only rule we had to oblige by was the fact that everyone in our group had to be in the picture.) We bought cherry ice cream from Baskin Robbins for Sujin which is her favorite flavor. Basically, we just took the photo in front of the Baskin Robbins store (we made sure to get Song Joong Ki in the picture). It ended up looking very cute.


Our Weekly Challenge Photo

I went home right away since I needed to do my homework and study for my tests tomorrow. I ended up getting home around 5:30pm. I got home a little bit later than usual because I took the long way walking home from school so I could look around my neighborhood for a bit. It really amuses me that walking down one street I was passing by very small, family owned restaurants and then one more turn and I was walking past lots of chains like Paris Baguette (Korean Bakery) and even foreign stores like Krispy Kreme.


Look at all those clouds!

Then at around 8:30pm, I got a call from my host mom. She was telling me to go down to the basement level of the apartment building since I was going out for dinner with my host dad and my youngest host brother. We went out for 삼겹살 (Pork Belly – Korean Barbeque). It was also very tasty! Everyone was staring at me at the restaurant (for the reason that there aren’t many foreigners in the area) but after awhile everyone got used to me.


The food was good and I had a few things for the first time too! This time I got to try eating the meat with radish. When I first saw it, I thought it was a thinly sliced melon and it tasted like it too. The radish was thin, cool, kinda sweet, and very juicy. It wasn’t till my host dad told me what I was eating when I learned otherwise (Luckily I knew what he said because the word for radish – 무 – is one of the first food vocab I learned. Thank you Korean travel phrasebook! XD haha)


This is from Google, but the circular green vegetable is the Radish!


But I mostly ate the meat with simply lettuce.

After eating, my host dad, my youngest host brother, and I walked along this river (maybe?) close to the restaurant. My host dad drove back home while my youngest host brother and I decided to walk back to the apartment (it wasn’t too far at all). It was actually really nice because the weather was cool and it was fun walking along the river. We didn’t talk too much because my Korean skills weren’t very good yet. I talked to him about his hobbies (which we had learned on the first day) and why he liked playing soccer. He asked me about my dream but I could not say what I wanted to do since I didn’t know the word for diplomat at the time even though Sujin told me what it was during our supporter meeting >~< (I know it now though! Diplomat – 외교관). I spend more time with my younger host brother (just because the older brother is never home and on the weekends he always goes to the PC 방 – Computer Room. You go in, pay for how long you will be there, and then play video games all day).


Stock Photo of a PC 방

The only time I really spend with the older host brother is welcoming him home or waving goodbye when he leaves the house and vice versa. (He does the same for me)

After the walk with my youngest host brother, I rushed back to the desk in my room and continued to study for my test the next day. I ended up staying up till 1am that night. And that was my Thursday in Korea! My first supporter meeting, my first time opening up towards my host brother, and my first time eating 무 with 삼겹살 XD It was great!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Check back soon for another~ Do not forget to follow my blog if you do not want to miss out on my future posts! 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)




Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장) July 13th, 2016

Wednesdays (July 13th, 2016) are always fun since we don’t have any schedules after school. This leaves us with all of wednesday to explore Seoul and all that it has to offer. So I spent this Wednesday with Sura, Cynthia, Abigail, Ashley, and Sofia. For lunch we went to Mom’s Touch (my second time) and I shared a family pack of fried chicken with Sura and Ashley. (we had so many leftovers!)

wed 1.jpeg

After lunch, Sura and Ashley went to the Sookmyung library to pick up Cynthia and Abigail while Sofia and I went to Gongcha and bought bubble tea. (Once again I bought taro bubble tea- definitely my favorite flavor.) We actually ran into our resident director Madeline and fellow Nsliyian Peter at Gongcha. We talked to them while our drinks were being made and then we went on our way to meet up with the rest of the girls at the subway station.

We all made our way to Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장). Namdaemun translates to Great South Gate (남 is south, 대 is big or great, and 문 is door or gate). Basically it is this huge outdoor market filled with street vendors selling clothes (mostly for ahjummas), hats, shoes, souvenirs, and food! We actually came across this shop where everything in the store was only $5 which was a great price for the quality of the clothes inside. One of the funny things that happened today was that Sura went into this shoe store to buy these replica birkenstock shoes. The guy that worked there kept complimenting us on our Korean but kept making fun of Sura saying that she must not study hard. The teasing was really funny but he wasn’t being mean at all. He actually gave her a huge discount on her shoes.


The coolest part of the Market

After we hung out around the market, we said goodbye to Sofia who was going home early and the rest of us decided to head to Hongdae. (Definitely one of my favorite places in Seoul.) We walked around everywhere and visited certain parts of the area that I had not previously been to. I even went into some real stores (instead of just shopping on the streets) like Forever 21 and Bershka. Luckily, I didn’t buy anything – got to budget more wisely 😉


More snaps of the streets of Hongdae


We even came across some street performers (bad quality screenshot from a Snapchat video I took).

Cynthia and Abigail went on to do their own thing while Sura, Ashley, and I went and ate some bingsu at Sulbing! We ordered Mango Cheese Bingsu (만고치즈빙수) and it was very delicious. And since we sat by the window, we decorated our receipt and hung it up.


The receipt streamers on the wall


Our Bingsoo


Let us ignore the fact that I spelled Thank You wrong on the receipt…


Ashley being all cute


Our finished receipt! Maybe I will find it again one day? XD

That was my Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed reading my blog post. 감사합니다 (I know how to spell Thank You! XD haha I do not know what happened at the time!). 안녕

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  • 엠마 (Emma)