Birthday Party in Seoul, South Korea!!!!!!(August 2nd, 2016)

For about the past week, all our RDs have been talking about is the “NSLI-Y Talent Show” this and the “NSLI-Y Talent Show” that. For our end of the program ceremony there will be a part after the presentations from the culture clubs for us Nsliyians to show off our “talents.” I wasn’t planning on doing anything for it since I am absent of any entertaining talent like singing or dancing and I was not going to embarrass myself in front of all the supporters and host families that would be attending. However today (8/2/16) was a very interesting Korean class. I can not remember why we started singing it but all of a sudden, during one of our ten minute breaks, everyone in my class started singing the theme song to Phineas and Ferb. We probably started singing it since it is about making the most out of the summer and blah blah blah. We were having so much fun singing it and basically everyone already knew the lyrics that Tucker requested that our class enter the talent show and sing this theme song. Everyone was feeling the idea but then Sofia and I recommended that the performance would be a lot more meaningful if we changed the lyrics to pertain more to our NSLI-Y summer. Sofia, Tucker, and I planned to meet at our favorite cafe in Edae (백설공주 The World Dessert Cafe) to write the lyrics for the song since Madeline wanted us to fill out this outline for our performance by Friday. I also planned to edit a video with pictures, from everyone’s experiences, and the lyrics so while we performed, others could sing along too.

But before any of that happened, supporter meetings were after school as usual. Casey’s birthday was July 31st. (Same birthday as Harry Potter.) Therefore Sujin planned a little birthday party for Casey with a cake and candles from this Korean bakery called Tous les Jours. Everything in the bakery is French inspired but with a Korean twist like sweet pastries with a hotdog inside. (Don’t knock it till you try it. It is pretty good.)


The Cake!~

Sujin, Jodi, and I showed up a few minutes earlier than planned to surprise Casey with the cake and treats. We actually ended up lighting the candles for Casey and singing Happy Birthday to her in Korean in the cafe. (We had our meeting at Cafe Areca as usual.)


Sujin lighting the candles.

I was kinda surprised that we were allowed to do that but the worker was pretty chill and didn’t even look weirdly at us while we were celebrating her birthday. Casey did not see the celebration coming at all and so she could not stop smiling and was so shy throughout the singing.


Casey and Her Cake



Casey is such a cutie! 🙂

We were clapping and chanting once she blew her candles out and Casey got so embarrassed! However, I know she was super grateful for our awesome party.

I think the funniest part of the meeting was that we were also sitting next to another supporter group made up of Jun (준 the supporter), Yves, Ariel, and Peter which are my classmates. They choose the perfect day to sit next to our group (note the sarcasm). I guess Jun felt bad that we were eating cake and his group wasn’t (lack of summer birthdays in his group) and so he actually bought slices of cake for his group from Cafe Areca. (They did not only have drinks, but they also had cake too.) We made fun of Jun when we noticed, and all he could do was smile shyly as he said he was just feeling cake today! XD

Because of our celebration, none of us were feeling our supporter meeting. Sujin was trying to reel us back in but we kept goofing off and getting off topic.


Jodi was especially not feeling the meeting today after all of the cake!

Eventually we pulled ourselves together and finished the meeting by doing all of our recordings and role plays in record time actually! We really wanted to finish early to have time to just hang out so we got all serious and practiced the grammar points and recorded our answers. They were not goofy ones this time so we didn’t have to pause the recording after every answer to limit the amount of laughs in the recording.

After the supporter meeting I took the subway to Edae to meet Sofia and Tucker at 백설공주 (Snow White) The World Dessert Cafe to write the lyrics to our Talent Show Song. Sofia and I were the first ones there and Tucker arrived around 15 minutes later. I love this cafe so much and on this day I appreciated it even more because I finally figured out how to use the bathroom. The bathroom in the building is on the same floor as the cafe. It has a lock and passcode which is printed on the receipt after you buy something. I could never open the door and today I could not ignore my urges… so I asked the lady working there and she explained to me that I needed to press the “star” symbol. After a few trials and error I figured out that the “star” symbol was an asterisk! I felt accomplished when the door beeped and I made it to the bathroom stall. I just seem to have an issue with korean doors… it is a reoccurring theme apparently… XD

At the cafe I ordered a Taro Latte and I can honestly say I loved it soooo much! It was very sweet but not overwhelming whatsoever. It was better than any other latte I have ever tried previously. Sofia ordered a hot chocolate.


Look At The Heart!~

We worked really hard on the lyrics of the song and we finished it in about an hour. We kept repeating the song and trying to match our words to it so it didn’t sound awkward. We knew the Koreans probably wouldn’t understand the reference but we were sure that the Nsliyians would appreciate the authenticity. When I came home from the cafe, I stayed up till 2 in the morning editing the video for the performance. I also stalked everyone on my programs instagrams and asked them to send me some photos that matched the lyrics so I could put it in the video and so it would be meaningful to everyone, not just my class or just Sofia, tucker, and I.

Lyrics To Our “Talent Show” Song

By Sofia and Emma With Some Input From Tucker XD

(Sung to the rhythm of the Phineas and Ferb Theme Song)

There were 45 days of our NSLI-Y adventure and school comes along just to end it

So the biggest problem for NSLI-Y8 was finding a good way to spend it…

Like Maybe…

Building friendships or fighting the heat or climbing up to Namsan Tower

Discovering something that doesn’t exist {In America! – Jesse}

Or giving our culture club submissions

Surfing through the crowds, creating memories,

or locating Hongdae Station (It is Line #2 – Tucker)

Finding some Patbingsu, painting calligraphy,

or driving the RDs Insane (JT! – Emma, Madeline! – Sofia)

As you can see there was Seoul much stuff to do before we go back home (가지마 – Casey)

A big thanks from 나무반 to all of you in Seoul

A big thanks from NSLI-Y8 to all of you in Seoul!

{Better World! 나무반 is getting all sentimental! – Jodi}

If you would like to watch the video that I edited, click here

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to read more posts about Korea and NSLI-Y!~ Thanks for reading! 안녕~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Insadong (인사동) and Bingsu (빙수) August 1st, 2016

After class on Monday (8/1/16) all of my classmates weren’t feeling too well including myself. We hadn’t gotten much sleep over the weekend and it had been raining a lot which made it pretty chilly at times (especially if you keep losing your umbrella… I just gave up and stopped buying them XD). We still had to stay after school for our Weekly Monday Meeting in which we recieved more information on our end of the program ceremony as well as our “Talent Show” and other stuff like that. One thing that was pretty exciting during that Monday Meeting was that our RDs announced the winners of the weekly photo challenge. And guess what… My supporter group won! JT explained that he had first thought that the photo was going to be disqualified since there were not four people in the image but then he found us in the reflection in the sunglasses. Him and Madeline both agreed that it was a clever thing to do so we won first. Our prize was a $10 certificate that worked in many major chains around Korea.


Look at us go! 1등!~

After the Weekly Monday Meeting, a group of us decided to go and find some 죽 (Korean Porridge) for lunch. I had already eaten 죽 in Korea since my host dad made it for me for breakfast the day before when he heard me sniffing and coughing the night before. We wanted to go really badly since Jodi told us that they had pumpkin 죽 and it was really good. We were all excited to go but when we arrived at the restaurant, there was a sign on the door that let us know that the workers were on vacation for a week and a half so we were out of luck when it came to eating 죽. Instead of moving on and not getting too upset over the restaurant being closed, we decided to take a picture to commemorate what could have been.


Tucker, Yves, and Sofia being :,(

Instead of being smart and going to a different restaurant for nutritious, healthy food, we decided to go eat bingsu (빙수) for lunch. Smart move… I know. But we needed a picker upper from the disappointment of not being able to eat 죽 and what better way to feed our sick bodies then with a cold dessert?!~ ^^

We ended up going to the 설빙 (Sulbing) near Sookmyung University. Yves and I ordered 메론빙수 (Melon Bingsu) while Sofia and Tucker ordered a 커피빙수 (Coffee Bingsu) I think… I didn’t eat it since the Melon Bingsu was too delicious! We did all share our Bingsus though and Sofia also agreed with me when I said the Melon Bingsu is by far the best flavor of Bingsu. Every time I went to Sulbing, I always saw most of the Koreans eating this flavor as it had become the most popular and after eating it, I can tell why!




The best part is that the Melon Rind acts as the bowl! Very aesthetically pleasing if you ask me! 🙂


Me playing around with Tucker’s Ryan fan

After lunch Tucker left since he had some other plans but Yves, Sofia, and I headed to Insadong and it was the first time any of us had been. Insadong is basically this super long street with lots of traditional souvenirs, Korean crafts, tea houses, and restaurants. A lot of the things in the area are pretty expensive so I recommend checking out all the different stalls before buying something just in case you can find something for cheaper. Yves, Sofia, and I walked around the main street and even went down some alleyways admiring all the traditional stamps, scarves, and paper we could never afford.


There is also an area where you can hang up tags with messages with your significant other or friends. Kinda like the locks at Namsan Tower.



Poop Bread!~ 똥빵! ❤ Filled with chocolate~

We also got to try 꿀타래 (Dragon Beard Candy) for the first time today too. Dragon Beard Candy is a very popular street food in Korea that is quite frequently purchased by tourists. You can make a quick search on youtube and find lots of people who have posted videos that they took while watching this candy being made by the vendors like here, here, and here. Dragon Beard Candy is a court cake made of ripened honey and malt and is made up of 16,000 strands. People eat it since it is supposed to help with longevity, health, and good fortune. The stall we went to had three flavors; original (which contains peanuts), chocolate (which contains almonds), and pumpkin. Each box was $8 and There was 6 in each box. Sofia, Yves, and I got to taste each different flavor as the guy working was very nice to us. We talked to him in Korean and since he was so impressed, he gave us free samples. He also knocked a dollar off of the price which he called a “student discount.”

After we bought dragon beard candy, we also passed by a stall with a man selling Turkish Ice Cream. He would have the cone and ice cream on this pole type thing and would give it to the customer and then yank it away last minute. Turkish ice cream is very elastic and stretchy so even when he would turn the ice cream cone upside down, the ice cream would not fall off. It was actually very funny to watch. The coolest thing about it though was that the man working was amazing at Korean! (And he was not Korean!) We later went up to the stall when he had no customers and asked him a few questions with the new grammar points we had learned that day. He told us he had been studying Korean for 4 years. He is honestly my inspiration! 🙂

We got tired from walking around so long and we ended up leaving Insadong to find a cafe. We passed this two story cafe that looked really cool and so we decided to stop there and get some drinks. Everything was really expensive but we were able to work on our Korean homework while sitting at some comfy chairs on the second floor. (It was going pretty great until Sofia spilled my drink… XD)


This Cafe Was So Pretty!~ ❤

While we were walking back to the subway we ended up running into some other Nsliyians. I was talking to Ava and she was freaking out about all the cheap Kpop/Kdrama merchandise the vendors were selling. Ava really likes 송중기 (Song Jong ki) and was showing me where she bought her stuff and was asking me if she should buy a calendar. I told her to go for it. I was standing around with her and the owner of the stall asked me what kpop group I liked and I told him SHINee which was true but he didn’t have any SHINee merchandise anyway which was good for my wallet. However, after I said that he went back into the little hole in the wall stall and came out with a SHINee calendar after 5 minutes. I felt bad for making him get something for me and not buying it and Ava kept telling me to get it so she wouldn’t feel so bad and that is how I ended up with a SHINee calendar. What more do I need? 😉 It is a 2017-2018 calendar so I will have it for awhile.


Only $5 though! A steal!~

And that was my day in Insadong! I brought home the dragon candy for my host brothers and they devoured it in like 5 minutes. My host mom said that I knew just what they like since whenever I bring them home treats, they always love it to pieces! She said this is a good skill since they are so picky with what they eat. I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe!

  • Emma 엠마

Karaoke in Korea! (노래방) July 30th, 2016

On Saturday (July 30th, 2016) I spent the first half of my day with my host family or at least half of my host family. At around 10am I left with my host mom and youngest host brother to the Seoul World Cup Stadium (서울월드컵경기장) since the field right next to it is where my youngest host brother practices soccer. (One of the places he practices soccer. He also practices on a private, smaller field with a coach that specifically trains young boys to go professional. It is also a little bit outside of Seoul. I had gone the very first time I went with them to his practices.) During his practice I talked with my host mom on the bleachers (which warranted a lot of stares and questions as everyone around us was wondering why I was with her and how I could understand her.) and we also went to the nearest supermarket and bought food for the upcoming week including more eggs since my host mom makes me eggs for breakfast basically every morning. (On the days she doesnt, my host dad makes me a Korean style breakfast or fried rice. I love his fried rice!) After the soccer practice, we all went home and I took a nap for an hour since I was very tired from the day before. I woke up to my host mom knocking on my door and asking if I was up for going out to lunch with her. My oldest host brother disappeared to another PC방 (PC Room) and my youngest host brother went to go play soccer with some friends in the apartment complex. (The apartment complex had a little soccer field in the middle of it.) I of course agreed to go eat lunch with her. We left the apartment and walked out of the complex. (It was a pretty long walk because the apartment complex is huge!) We walked around trying to find someplace to eat and my host mom kept asking what I wanted to eat and I would just shrug my shoulders and tell her anything is good.

My host mom finally realized I wasn’t going to pick so she picked the restaurant we were going to eat at. The restaurant was called “더 완벽한 김밥” and like the name of the restaurant, the kimbap there is pretty perfect. Kimbap is a Korean dish of steamed rice and various other ingredients (usually cooked meat and vegetables) wrapped in seaweed (김). At this restaurant I had ordered tuna kimbap (I love tuna kimbap! More than any other flavor to be honest.) and my host mom ordered this dish containing mainly buckwheat noodles.


The Menu


Photo Credit: My Host Mom

We ate our lunch and when we were done my host mom started calling my host brothers and telling them to come to this restaurant to have some food because she wasn’t gonna cook for them and there was not enough leftovers for the both of them at home. She left to run an errand while I sat in the restaurant with my host brothers while they ate the kimbap they ordered. I talked to them a little bit but they weren’t feeling much conversation while eating. XD We also watched tv in the restaurant and my youngest host brother was freaking out when he saw Donald Trump on the screen. I thought it was interesting that even he knew about Donald Trump and what would soon become the 2016 American Presidential election.

After eating, my host mom took my youngest host brother to his second soccer practice. My host dad was out of the house and my oldest host brother left the restaurant immediately and returned to the PC방. I really wanted to do something fun but so many people were very busy and hanging out with their host family. I contacted Adilene to hang out and we decided to meet up at one of the Hongdae Station exits. We spent an hour walking around Hongdae. Not shopping or eating just talking while exploring parts I hadn’t  been to since they were less busy. Adilene lived in Hongdae so she knew everything well and could show me all the best places. One of things she showed me was a study cafe. Study cafes are basically like libraries but you are allowed to eat and drink inside. The cafe was filled with shelves of book and so many tables and couches and mini reading lamps. It may have been a cafe but it was literally quieter than a library since there wasn’t an area for children. We hung out there before we met up with another Nsliyian named Alethia. For dinner I took them to Kyochon Chicken because I wanted to show everyone how amazing their fried chicken is! We got the normal spicy flavor and it was delicious (though I think the honey one is still #1 for me).

After dinner we headed to a Sulbing which had no seats whatsoever! We stood around on the second floor scouting out any group that was almost done. We also might have glared a bit at this one group of girls that were hogging up seats with their bags while they were also obviously done with their food. Eventually we found three seats and this tiny table for two but we were happy with anything. We ordered Adilene’s favorite flavor of bingsu which is the chocolate brownie bingsu. I was happy with anything. I don’t discriminate when it comes to bingsu flavors.


While we ate our bingsu, we also worked on our end of the program reflection. We would be receiving booklets at the graduation ceremony with everyone’s reflections and obviously we procrastinated. (The due date was the following Monday XD)

It was hard writing the reflection since my brain wasn’t in the reflection mindset. It wasn’t even August and I didn’t want to even think about the program ending yet. Looking back and rereading my reflection, I am not happy with it. Since being back from Seoul, I have realized more things such as how I truly feel about my experience. Maybe I will post my reflection and how I would rewrite it. We will see if I find the courage.

After eating Sulbing, I listened to the other girls talk to me about their NSLI-Y experience so far.  I don’t hang out with the two that often and since we were writing our reflections together, our conversation became pretty deep and sentimental. It was actually a really good conversation and I can say that it is really easy to connect with people if you share similar experiences… for example, being in a foreign country for 6 weeks learning the language and living and interacting with people whom you have never had contact with previously.

After eating at Sulbing, the girls and I moved on to our next location which was a karaoke place near Ewha Womans University (이화여자대학교). Alethia had been to the place with her supporter group that week and said it was a lot of fun. I was beaming with excitement as I had not experienced a Korean 노래방 (Korean for Karaoke room) yet. It took a few wrong turns in order to jog Alethia’s memory but eventually we found the place we were looking for. (It is important to background check Karaoke Rooms. There are some that are a bit sketchy and may not be for just singing. My advice, go by recommendations from local Koreans (host family, supporters, in-country friends etc) or look up reviews on tourism sites. The place had its fee change by the time of day and at 7pm the price was $8 an hour which to me sounded like a pretty good deal. With three people splitting the bill, I only ended up paying $3 or so.

The Karaoke room pretty much looked like how I had imagined it. A dark room with a huge tv hanging on the wall. A soft couch in the middle of the room with a couple of microphones hanging by the tv. There was also two tambourines on this side table that had a menu of drinks and a stand with the wifi password written on it (definitely took advantage of that). Figuring out how to set up the songs was pretty confusing at first. In order to choose a song, you had to use this giant keypad like machine. You could type in the name of the song, album, or artist but figuring out things from there… was pretty confusing. At one point in time I accidently pressed a random button and some text appeared on the screen. I didn’t know how to fix it (or what the text even said) so I had to run out to the front desk and ask the man working to help. (While I was doing that, I realized the room next to us had all these pretty lights flashing around the room. That would have been cool to ask for but by the time he fixed my mistake, the colorful lights had left my mind.)


Photo from Google of the Keypad. Ours was definitely older and had a lot more buttons than the one pictured though.


There is also a giant book with songs you can choose from. They have lots to choose from including music that is not only Korean like American Music and Japanese songs.



So blurry but this was the tv

We sung so many songs! Kpop hits such as BTS’ I Need You, SHINee’s Sherlock, Taeyang’s Eyes, Nose, Lips, and EXO’s Call Me Baby. We also sang some pretty rocking ballads such as That Woman by Baek Jiyoung in which we got 100% ( In South Korea, most Karaoke places have the system set up so that it gives you a grade for your performance. (I honestly think it goes by how loud you are but that is just my observation.) It is a pretty awesome ballad. It is an OST from the really popular Korean drama Secret Garden. Wanna listen to the Song? Click here.

Karaoke was so much fun and I can see why Koreans enjoy the activity so much. It is really fun to be able to sing your favorite songs with your friends with such a production and in a judgement free zone. I could see singing your heart help you feel better on a bad day and just to make your day  fun with some happy moments with friends (or alone!) 😉 I would go to a 노래방 over a bowling alley or roller skating rink any day!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this super super long post! Sorry for the lack of pictures, I stopped taking so many as things started becoming so normal and natural and I don’t always wanna bring out my phone, especially when I am with the host fam. I feel more apart of the family when I leave technology at home. ^^ 안녕!

  • Emma 엠마

Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 2 (Jan 7th – Jan 8th, 2017)

Saturday (Jan 7th, 2017) was the first (and only) full day of our Alumni Representative Workshop. I woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready and showered before breakfast at the hotel at 7:30am. After breakfast, all the Alumni Representatives and I got right down to business as we had to prepare ourselves for a long day of presentations at American Councils.

We had presentations on our virtual presence on social media as alumni representatives, in-person event planning, the different types of in-person events, goal setting, and virtual events (the one I was most looking forwards to since I needed more information on what I could do being a virtual engagement alumni.)dc-50 dc-45

We also were given some time (in groups) to plan out what events we wanted to hold, figuring out what time we need to start preparing, and what things would need to be prepared. During this time of the workshop, I came up with 4 ideas of events I wanted to hold ( 3 virtual events. Two for every alumni and one just for Korean alumni.) but If you want to know about those… follow the NSLI-Y Alumni Facebook pages and make sure you also follow NSLI-Y’s social media because my events could turn up there ^^

NSLI-Y Social Media


Twitter: NSLIY

During the middle of all of the presentations, we got to take a short walk around the building. It was super cold outside and it was snowing a lot. It was nice because for the students whom had never seen snow before (like Angela (NSLI-Y Chinese Summer 2015 Alum – Southeast/Orlando Alumni Representative) and the walk was just what we needed to get all of our energy out before some more sitting.


The president of American Councils also showed up and talked to us for a bit about languages, being a cultural ambassadors, etc. It was really interesting to hear what he had to say, especially when he started talking about the Department of State and his language skills (He speaks Russian (A NSLI-Y Language fluently!) We also took a lot of photos with each other in front of the American Council’s “photo” area.


He is looking at me! haha




The two Korean reps for 2017!~ ❤

After all of our presentations, we all split up into taxis to head to dinner at Georgetown. We ate at this restaurant called Bangkok Joe’s (and it serves what you think – Thai food). I ended up only ordering a small plate of shrimp dumplings because I wasn’t feeling too well and I knew eating a lot wouldn’t help the situation.


Everything was so fancy! 0_0


After dinner, some of the reps went ice skating at Washington Harbor. I would have loved to participate in that activity but I was way too cold and like I mentioned earlier – I was not feeling good that evening. I ended up going with another group of reps to walk around Georgetown and find a place to sit in for an hour or so. We ended up deciding to try and find cupcakes (more specifically Georgetown Cupcake). After walking for what seemed like the longest time, we found the cupcakes. I had seen episodes of the show and I was really excited to try out the famous desserts!~





The line was not bad at all which was fortunate



Jaime (NSLI-Y Chinese Summer 2016 Alum – Seattle Alumni Representative) and I


Nicole (NSLI-Y Russian Summer Alum – Chicago Alumni Representative) and I


7 days late but Happy New Year ❤ !!!


Jeremy (Korean Summer 2015 Alum), Charlotte (Arabic Summer 2016 Alum), Nicole (Russian Summer 2016 Alum), Andy (Chinese Summer 2015 Alum), Me, and half of Elizabeth’s face (Arabic Summer 2013 Alum).

We got back to the hotel around 9pm. Most of us reps were hanging out in the lobby when someone (I think Ben ?) brought up the idea of having a pasta party. Everyone took it very seriously. Nicole also wanted to buy a Department of State Hoodie that she had seen vendors selling in D.C. before and Jeremy mentioned how certain stores, like CVS, sometimes carry merchandise like that. So a group of us (Andy, Jeremy, Nicole, Jaime, James, Alisa, and I) went off to CVS to allow Nicole to buy her sweatshirt but also to buy some pasta and tomato sauce for our pasta party. Nicole could not find what she was looking for but most of us bought some D.C. souvenirs. (I bought postcards and a couple of shot glasses for my parents and their collection.)


Donald Trump Merchandise >~<


Passed by George Washington University

After a lot of arguing… the party was decided to be held in Andy, Deni, and Jeremy’s room (I believe I got the roommates right… ? haha). The cooks of the night were Alisa and Andy who made some pretty bomb pasta. The hotel room did not have enough bowls for us so we ended up having to serve some pasta in wine glasses. I was all for eating pasta out of wine glasses – It was definitely an experience.



During the pasta party I was putting some finishing touches on this application I was working on while hanging out with all the Alumni Reps and listening to their stories. Most of the night was spent sharing funny stories and mostly talking about our time in our host country among other things.


Essays and Pasta in a Wine Glass


We obviously had to do a cheers with our pasta (Jeremy, Alisa, Andy and I) and it is honestly my favorite picture of the trip XD

We hung out in the hotel room for the longest time because it was our last night together. I ended up getting back up to my room with my roommate Jaime at 1:00am. We both still had to pack as we would be needing to check out of our rooms in the late morning. We packed that night but we also talked for a long time. We ended up staying up until 2:30 “packing” but mostly talking about who knows what. It was really nice getting so close to the Alumni Reps. They are honestly such AMAZING people~ (and so talented too! I am jealous XD)

The next morning (01/08/17) we had breakfast at the hotel again and had our last presentation on public speaking at the hotel rather than walking to American Councils.


The coolest part of Sunday was being interviewed for the Department of State’s Snapchat! On their snapchat they were going to have a segment on us, NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives, and our experiences (since the Department of State funds NSLI-Y). It was very fun to see everyone else get interviewed because I got to hear everyone else speak their target language and hear their favorite parts of their own program. I was also interviewed as the Korean summer alumni. I said (In english) that my favorite part of my study abroad experience was the language exchange camp (한미 캠프) with a bunch of Korean teenagers. (I would have said my host family but Elise had said that and I did not want to repeat anything.) The funniest part of the interview was when we found out that Ryan, Chinese Fall Semester 2011 Alum, had actually met the president of China. After he translated what he had said, we all screamed and demanded the story. It was hilarious! (It was kind of a “you have to be there” type moment)


Screenshot of what I said in Korean (I look lovely here XD )


Top to bottom, left to right: Deni, Charlotte, Elise, Ben, Jeremy, Ryan, James, Me, Angela, Jaime, Alisa, Nicole, and Andy (taking the photo).




Jaime, James, Me, and Angela (Selfie Squad XD)

After the interview, Alisha, Nicole, and I had to leave in a taxi to the airport shortly. We quickly grabbed some lunch at this vegetarian place that was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel.



I got a Beet Burger~ It was actually really great!~ ❤ Thanks for the recommendation Alisa!

When we came back, we had to say goodbye to everyone and take our last selfies together (To the west coast kids (whose flights were later in the evening) and to the 4 kids who were staying an extra day). A great part of this workshop was being able to meet so many other alumni from across the country. I can now basically go anywhere in the U.S. and have a friend to possibly meet up with. (And another fellow Chicagoan to hang out with!) I am so happy to be able to have these connections because of my NSLI-Y experience. It was really sad saying goodbye to everyone (even if we had only known each other for a weekend) but I can not wait to see all the pictures of what we alumni end up doing with our events. We will meet up eventually~ 😉



Final Moments in D.C.

I want to say a big thanks to NSLI-Y, American Councils, and The Department of State for making this weekend possible and I am so grateful to have been able to experience this workshop with some amazing alumni and better yet, be an alumni representative for this year 2017! I can not wait to hold events and do my best in this position that I have been given. Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope you enjoyed. Part 1 of this weekend will be posted here if you have not already read it and do not forget to subscribe to my blog in order to read up on more posts about South Korea, Studying Abroad, and Alumni Opportunities (as I am one now ^^) Thanks again!~

  • Emma (엠마)

Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 1 (Jan 6th, 2017)

Since I am now an alumni of the NSLI-Y program, I will be starting a series on my blog about the opportunities that are available to alumni of the NSLI-Y program. The first one I will be talking about is showcased in this blog post. (Duh!) The Alumni Association is a network of exchange alumni that encourage alumni to continue their language learning, serve the community, promote NSLI-Y, and the association helps alumni with professional development. Alumni Representative positions are given to exchange alumni which makes them responsible for engaging alumni in their respective regions. (Each representative is given a region of the country or they can be a virtual engagement Alumni Representative.) The application for Alumni Representatives is emailed to all alumni from all program years and languages around the middle to end of November. If you want to know more about the position and the Alumni Association, visit the Alumni Association tab on the NSLI-Y website which I will link here.

This year I was given an Alumni Representative position for virtual engagement which means instead of my role being to connect alumni from my region, I am in charge of connecting alumni nationwide with virtual events. (I am also a Korean summer 2016 NSLI-Y alum for those that have not done an extensive reading of my blog.) One of the obligations of an Alumni Representative is to attend a three day workshop in DC coordinated by American Councils in order to learn about the roles, responsibilities, and rules for the position. Therefore, this past weekend, I was sent to DC with 15 other Alumni Representatives for the workshop and I will document our happenings on this blog post. (Prepare yourself… for a very very long blog post.)

On Friday (Jan 6th, 2017) I took a flight with Nicole (Russian Summer 2016 Alum – Chicago/Great Lakes Alumni Representative) and Ryan (Chinese Fall Semester 2011 Allum – Midwest/St Louis Alumni Representative) to Washington D.C. for the workshop. Representatives would be arriving on Friday anywhere from 1pm to 5pm and so our workshop would not officially be starting until around 5:45pm but we all had to meet at the lobby of our hotel at 5:30. Since Ryan, Nicole, and I arrived so early (before 3pm), we decided to walk around the area and visit some monuments and such after dropping our luggage off in our rooms.


The room was so big and nice! We had a bathroom in our walk in closet and a kitchen. Very interesting.


Selfie in the hotel room! XD



View from the hotel balcony!~

We went to many monuments and walked for almost three hours straight. Nicole and I would never have been able to find all these cool places without our amazing tour guide Ryan. (It was also my first time in DC and so I had a huge smile on my face the entire time. It was sooo much fun walking around… even though the circular streets were quite annoying.)


We tried to visit the White House but there was a lot of extra protection so we couldn’t get that close.


We then went around to the back and I was able to have a better view of the White House.



Executive Building


I wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial more than anything else!~

Ryan left us early at the Lincoln Memorial because he still had to change into his dress clothes for the activities and presentations tonight. Nicole and I were prepared as we had worn our business casual clothes on the plane and were already dressed nice. We finished up at the Lincoln Memorial around 5pm and we had to hurry up and make it back to our hotel. If we had walked normally, we wouldn’t have made it so we speed walked and ran when crossing the streets. Luckily, we didn’t get stopped at too many streets because it seemed every time we got to a street, pedestrians were allowed to cross. We made it to the lobby at 5:26pm, 4 minutes before the meeting time. Go us! At this time, I met with most of the representatives which I hadn’t known or met before. (Well everyone except for Angela. (Chinese Summer 2015 alum – Southeast/Orlando Alumni Representative) We met on the NSLI-Y forum on College Confidential a few years back. It was really nice to meet her in person finally.)

We all walked to American Councils and the first thing on our agenda was introductions and icebreakers. We met with people from American Councils as well as the other fellow Alumni Representatives and did some speed networking. For dinner we had some middle eastern food before we had a presentation from two women from the Department of State on resources that are available by registering with the international exchange alumni and where to find them. (Resources including internship position listings, databases, etc.) Then we had a presentation on the roles and responsibilities of NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives.


Our Conference Room


Left to right, Top to bottom: Elise, Ryan, Andy, Jeremy, Deni, Ben, Me, Charlotte, Angela, Nicole, Alisa, Shanice, Mayesha, Jaime, and Elizabeth. (James had not made it to DC yet.)


Waiting in the lobby of the hotel for everyone to get inside.

We got back to the hotel around 9pm and a group of us (15/16) decided to go out and explore DC some more. A lot of the representatives wanted to visit some monuments. We were given a curfew of 11pm so as long as we were back in the hotel by then, we were golden. While we were walking to the Lincoln Memorial (for the second time in one day! haha), we passed by the Department of State and we had to take a group selfie.


Department of State


PC: Andy (Chinese Summer 2015 – Mid Atlantic/Philadelphia Alumni Representative)


What a good photo XD


Group Photo with Lincoln


PC: Angela

After walking around the area, we all stopped at this Burger and Shake Place called BTS near our hotel in order to grab some food. The place was known for shakes and since we had already eaten dinner, almost everyone ordered shakes and fries. I ordered their signature shake (BTS Shake) which was a vanilla shake with Butterfinger, Twix, and Snicker chunks. The shake tasted really good but the pieces of candy kept getting stuck in my teeth which was pretty annoying. We all hung out at the restaurant and talked some more in order to get to know each other. While eating, I talked mostly with Mayesha (Persian Summer 2016 Alum – Mid Atlantic/Washington D.C.) as she was across from me.


My shake and fries (The fries were so delicious as they were very hot and it was a nice change from the freezing cold outside.)


It was very dark


PC: Angela


Gotta love Angela and her camera!~ ❤ haha

When I got back to the hotel, I met my roommate which turned out to be Jaime (Chinese Summer 2016 Alum – West Coast/Seattle Alumni Representative) and I had already talked to her a lot since she sat next to me during the presentations. We stayed up till 12:30pm on our phones and just talking about our programs and experiences. We had not gone to the same country, but we were still able to bond over the NSLI-Y experience in general. And it was fun for us to learn more about the other programs. I also found out Jaime has a blog! So I will link that here if anyone is interested in reading a blog about Chinese summer.

And that was the first day of the Alumni Representative Workshop! I wanted to just make one entire post about it but this is already past 1,000 words and I think it would be easier for me (and you, the reader) if I split it up in two parts (or maybe three… depending on how much I end up writing… hehe) But thanks for reading about this opportunity I had because of my NSLI-Y program! I had never met so many alumni in one place and especially alumni from different language programs. I can’t wait to see what events they hold in their regions and I can not wait to attend all the Chicago events with Nicole!~ (It is useful living in a region with another representative~) Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope you enjoyed. Do not forget to follow my blog for more posts about Korea as well as more alumni opportunities and other travels~ 안녕 친구들~!

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Cooking Bulgogi (불고기) and Going to a Korean Movie Theater … Again!!!!!~~ (July 29th, 2016)

It is Friday Friday Friday (07/29/16) and after school I wandered around with Jodi, Angie, Tucker, and Cricket trying to find a place to eat (around 숙대) that we hadn’t been to yet. Tucker started saying that he was craving American food and so we set off on a journey to find a place with burgers or pizza. Eventually we almost walked down the entire street leading up to Sookmyung University but then, we saw a grand opening sign. We followed the sign and went up these pretty small sketchy stairs to the second floor of this building to be greeted by two colorful doors. There were lots of colorful decorations and masquerade masks in the lobby type thing.

There was a sign next to the door that said “Please Knock.” We wanted to follow the rules and so Tucker stood at the entrance knocking on the door. We stood there for around 5 minutes with Tucker knocking on the door periodically. Finally, one of the workers opened the door but when he did, he was very confused. I think that sign could have been for the other door which might have been a bathroom… who knows. We made a great impression with the staff at the restaurant as we looked pretty stupid XD haha

The place we went to was called Kanival Pizza and it was an Italian restaurant with a twist. There were some pretty crazy options like a pizza with french fries on it. They mostly served pizza but they also had some appetizers as well. We all split a Crazy Potato Pizza and a simple Cheese Pizza. They also gave us two small buckets filled with ice water and straws for them. It was a pretty interesting way to drink water. But I kinda liked it.


We Couldn’t See the Menu From the Table so I Took a Picture of the Good Half XD

After lunch I rode the subway with Jodi to Gyeongbokgung Station since the location where we have our Korean cooking club is around there. JT also planned for us to have a meeting for the End of the Year Ceremony before our culture club meeting at the nearest Paris Baguette but we then discovered that the one right by the subway station had been torn down. The building was literally empty with no sign of a bakery. We kept walking and found one even closer to the cooking academy. Unfortunately, we didn’t have too many people show up. Only two others besides Jodi and I. At the last 5 minutes of the meeting, we had a few more people show up but we had already figured out what we wanted to do for our video.


Annalise, Arjun, and Jodi

For this cooking class, we made Bulgogi. Bulgogi (불고기) literally translates to Fire Meat in English. From what I learned from our chef, Bulgogi is basically Korean style barbecued beef that is one of the most well-known Korean traditional foods. I have previously eaten Bulgogi at a Korean restaurant in Queens, New York and I was super excited to find out that we would be learning how to make it.


My Bulgogi (불고기)

yori dong.jpeg

After Korean Cooking Club, I took the subway to Yongsan station. But I wasn’t taking my usual route back to my home, I was actually stopping at Yongsan to meet up with Eliyah, Sarah, Ariel, Yves and Sofia. We planned to spend our Friday night watching Train to Busan (what would be my second time watching the movie). Since I was the only person that had been to a Korean movie theater, I recommended going to the CGV theater in Yongsan since I had been there earlier that week with my supporter group. With my memory and Korean reading abilities, I was able to find the theater once again and we all bought tickets for a 7pm showing of Train to Busan.


영화 티켓


I bought an individual cup of sweet caramel popcorn to enjoy during the movie~

The movie was just as good as when I watched it the first time. I actually understood a lot more of the movie than I did the first time which made me really happy. I was able to catch more parts of the conversations which made the movie viewing more pleasurable and it also made me cry even more since I was able to understand more of the story line. Honestly, I highly recommend everyone to watch this movie. Even if you do not like foreign films or reading subtitles, this movie is a must! I love Train to Busan (부산행).


After Movie Bathroom Selfie


After Movie Selfie on an Escalator //               Credit – Sofia


After Movie Selfie Somewhere in Yongsan Station (용상역)


And that was my Friday in Seoul! I came home and told my host mom all about what I did today and my host brother overheard me talking about the movie and he was very jealous of me going to see Train to Busan. It was very funny seeing him repetitively ask to go see the movie. Looks like we have some more weekend plans? haha

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading my blog post! 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Best Supporter Meeting Ever! (July 28th, 2016)

This Thursday’s Supporter Meeting was one of the best ones yet. I think I can say this due to all the goofing off we did. We still got everything we had to do done like going over the meeting vocab and recording our answers to the questions, but we had even more fun doing it since we were joking around with our answers. For example, we were asked about our future plans and Jodi’s whole spiel was about how she is going to marry Jonghyun from SHINee. Her and I are in love with SM Entertainment’s boy group named SHINee. My favorite member is Key while hers is Jonghyun. It was hilarious seeing our supporter Sujin’s face while she was trying not to laugh while recording Jodi’s answers. I had to get up from the table and move away since I felt like I was gonna explode with laughter. Moments like these are why I really appreciate my supporter group. I love that we all take our Korean study seriously but we can still have fun with everything. The only ones I felt bad for was the other supporter groups in the cafe because we were pretty loud at times. And the owner of the cafe, he seemed to be amused with our conversation as well since I would look up at him making drinks and he was chuckling under his breath. That was pretty funny too.

For our meeting, like usual, we went to Cafe Areca which is hands down my favorite cafe in Seoul and I know if I get the chance to come back to Seoul in the future, I will definitely come back to this cafe and order my favorite drinks. This time, I ordered a green tea latte which came with this really cute stirring spoon. This cute picture came out of it as well.


My adorable, good-looking green tea latte ft Jodi ❤


Favorite Cafe: Cafe Areca


When I first came in, the cafe was pretty empty. It was usually never filled. I liked it that way.

During the supporter meeting we also had to take our weekly challenge photo for our resident directors JT and Madeline. This week’s theme was Hot Summer and once again the only rule was that everyone had to be in the picture. We finished everything earlier than planned so then we sat around trying to figure out what we should so. Sujin had to be somewhere after the meeting so we needed to make sure it could be taken in the cafe. Jodi, Casey, and I really wanted to win this week’s challenge as we were second last week. Finally, Jodi took out her really cool sunglasses that were reflective so you could see yourself in her glasses. These sunglasses sparked an idea. We all decided to take a photo of two people and then the other two in our supporter group would be in the reflection of the glasses. We took turns taking different pictures and trying different poses until we finally settled on the perfect photo.


Casey and I Before Our Weekly Challenge Photoshoot



Casey and I Looking Forever Moody



The Picture Jodi Edited And Ended Up Submitting

After the Supporter Meeting, Jodi and I went to a mall of sorts but I have no idea where we went. She just wanted me to come with her for an hour or two before she left to go meet up with a Korean friend who goes to her school but was in Seoul for the summer. We walked around this mall and went to the many floors. Most of the stores there were designer clothes, handbags, and makeup. Jodi and I kept making jokes about how awkward it was walking around with our obvious Hongdae get up.


One of the Stores I am Talking About


Jodi Found this Picture of Minho from SHINee and I Had to Take a Photo

Not only that, but at around 9:30 we had a curfew check. So I had never heard of curfew checks before this day and so it was a big surprise when I received the message from our RD JT. All the Nsliyians on my program are on a Kakao group chat with our two RDs and some IEarn staff. The Kakao chat is used by the RDs to message us important information, meeting times for activities and so on. Randomly at 9:30pm, I received a message from JT. At the time, I was studying for my Korean test the next day since it was Thursday night. (We always had tests on Fridays.) I had just eaten dinner and I was just about to get back into the studying zone until I received the message.

So in order for us to be in the clear for this curfew check, we had to take a photo of ourselves in the kitchen with a ladle. For our NSLI-Y program curfew was 9pm on weekdays and so we were expected to be at home at that time. I left my room and tried to explain to my host dad in very awful Korean that I needed to take a photo with them. They immediately said okay but then I had to explain the ladle part of the requirement. I looked up ladle in Korean and now I will never forget it. (And for anyone who is curious… Ladle is 국자 in Korean. Pronounced gook-ja.)


I was able to get this cute picture out of the curfew check and I was able to take it and send it in the ten minutes JT was allowing us. If we didn’t send it, we would be given a consequence the following day of school (which turned out to just be a stern talking to by JT).


The funniest part of this photo was my youngest host brother took it as an opportunity to play on the Tablet XD

The curfew check was hilarious as we got to see pictures from so many of the Nsliyians with their host family and their ladles (or rice paddles or normal spoons). It was also super funny when JT would message the people who were not following the exact instructions like Kyle who sent a photo of him in his bed and Joy who sent photos of her host siblings in a restaurant. I spent the next 20 minutes simply laughing at all the photos and messages from everybody. Curfew check definitely distracted me from studying for my tests but it was so worth it to me. I honestly really like this photo of my host family and I and it is the only one I have with my entire host family. (They were not too big on taking photos.)

And that was the curfew check and my Thursday Supporter Meeting! My supporter meeting was a lot of fun and I love learning Korean with my supporter group. They never fail to make me laugh uncontrollably (and the curfew check photos also did not fail to make me laugh at 9:30pm ! )

Thanks for reading this blog post. I hope you enjoyed and if you did, please subscribe to my blog~ 안녕!!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)