So far, if I had to describe my NSLI-Y experience with one emotion, I would use anxious or nervous. I have been feeling this a lot lately, and it is making me feel sick at the worst of it. All this morning, I could not help but think about how nervous I was about everything. Randomly, I would find myself fidgeting and wanting to shriek a little. (Is that odd?)
This morning, I woke up at 5:45 am, by choice. This was because Harmony, June, Jenna, Katie, and I decided to wake up early to watch the sunrise together– on the roof. Unfortunately, it was very cloudy this day, so the sun was not visible whatsoever… but it was a nice little memory. Enjoy the photos of us looking like eggs!
Breakfast was at the guesthouse once again before we continued our Arrival Orientation sessions later in the day at a separate location.
We had the rest of our orientation at the Youth Center. We went through more rules and facts of the Korean culture to be aware of. I would say the most important part of the day was going through host family cases and then the alumni presentation. We were split up into groups and had to read a common issue had by NSLIYians. We discussed the issue and how to solve it and later learned from Better World the real situation it was based on.
We ate lunch at another traditional Korean restaurant. I ate 만두전골 with Kaitlyn, Josh, and 주연쌤. This was another meal I never had before. (I love that NSLI-Y is exposing us to new and diverse Korean food!) During lunch, 주연쌤 spilled the tea about previous NSLI-Y programs (just kidding!). We discussed how we have studied Korean thus far, our language gain expectations, as well as cultural excursions we would like to partake in. (For example, I really want to do a temple stay!)
We walked back to the guesthouse after lunch and to my surprise, there were already host families waiting to pick up their NSLI-Y student. All at once, I felt a wave of panic and nerves. Then, this man and two daughters walked in. They approached me and went “Emma?” I was surprised at first (and later assumed they were given my photo) and greeted them. We hurriedly got my bags and drove the 45 min to my host family’s apartment. My host dad was very sweet and began asking me lots of questions about myself– all in Korean. I was able to answer most with ease but some had awkward answers/silences when I was confused on what was said. My host siblings were very shy and kept to themselves in the car (When they were not attacking each other and acting like dogs. You think I am kidding.) They are so cute~ I hope we can get very close ❤
When we all returned, I met my host mom and host brother. And was bombarded with more questions. While they ate lunch (I already ate, so I just sat at the table), we talked for a bit. My host mom speaks very good English so sometimes she resorts to that when speaking to me (especially when I do not understand what was said). My goal is to have her use less and less English with me!
After lunch, I gave my host family their gifts. My host siblings immediately ripped open their candy goodie bags. I watched the younger of the two girls try a War Head. The moment her tongue touched the candy, her face contorted and her eyes squeezed shut. It was even more hilarious watching her have her mom, sister, and brother try it. My host mom was shocked and asked: “Do you like this candy?” I explained that most people do not– that they find it too sour, but I brought it cause the reactions are laughable. My host sister gave the rest of the candy to my host dad and he ate it like a champ. It seemed that the Jolly Ranchers were the crowd favorite.
Once my host brother opened the Chicago puzzle I brought, we immediately all got on the floor and began putting it together in the living room. With all four of us working together, the daunting task did not take too long. It was such an accomplishment putting together the final few pieces. It felt so good to stand back and look at the masterpiece.
In the late evening, we all packed ourselves in the car and went on a little adventure. My host dad walked around on his phone using Kakao maps to try to show me these buildings he figured I would be interested in. Unfortunately, many of them were closed but the thought was there! I can always come back!
We visited 중명전 (Jungmyeongjeon Hall) and 정동극장 (Jeongdong Theater). My host dad told me that a famous treaty between Japan and Korea was signed at the hall. Once I got home and did some research, I found out that that treaty was known as the Eulsa Treaty (This treaty made Korea a protectorate of Imperial Japan). However, the hall had also been a library and a place that foreign dignitaries went to discuss with the emperor.
정동극장 is a famous theater that shows performances of traditional Korean music with a modern twist like 판소리. I would really like to see something like that one day.
Lastly, we visited 덕수궁 (Deoksugung Palace) after eating a dinner of 라면 (ramen) and 물냉면 (cold water noodles). We walked around the palace grounds with a Korean tour guide and although I could only understand a couple words or phrases here and there, I really enjoyed being there with them. They kept asking me “힘들어? 피곤해?” But I kept reassuring them that I was fine. It was good 듣기 연습 (listening practice)!
We ended the night after that. Almost everyone fell asleep during the car ride (including me) and I went to bed early after unpacking a bit. (I have yet to finish that… even while writing this.)
Thank you for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed~ I am kinda using this space as a journal and although I will refrain from any thoughts I deem too negative, I do want to be honest which is why I may come off as emotional (or as I like to say it– real).
- Emma 엠마