Korean High School Orientation {09/19/18} NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year


Today was the day! The day that I would be visiting my host high school—하나고— for the first time! I was so nervous but really excited to see where I would be spending so much time during the next 8 months.

I woke up early and had lunch with my host sisters before they went to school and even got in some studying time before I started getting ready for the day.

Katie and I were told to meet 민정쌤 at the subway station 구파발 at 9:50. I left my house a little before 9:20 and got to the station at 9:45. 민정쌤 greeted us and immediately asked us what was the matter— our faces most likely showed straight up fear.

After a mishap with where to wait to board the bus, we made it to 하나고 in 20 minutes. While the bus approached the school, you could see the giant mountains in the distance. When our stop came, I hurriedly got off and took in the view. Wow, the school was huge! Way bigger than my high school! It looked like a college almost— just with no surrounding campus. But there is a traditional hanok museum on the other side of the street. Katie and I will have to visit it one of these days~ Maybe on the last Wednesday of the month (Culture day! Entrances to palaces and museums are usually free!)

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As I walked up the steps to the main entrance of the school, my excitement somewhat disappeared and all I could think about was how nervous I was: would the students like me? Would I find the classes too hard? Would my Korean be good enough to communicate and not be a burden to everyone around me?!?! Dramatic? Maybe… the real question is are these questions realistic?…

First part of the orientation was meeting our coordinating teacher 민정쌤 {yup same name as our RD!} and the second coordinating teacher 민주쌤. With them, we got to figure out what classes we were interested in as well as what years we would be placed in {we did rock, paper, scissors to decide this; however, Katie won so I’ll be with the first years.}

I told them the type of classes I would really like to take: history, ethics, psychology, etc. 민정쌤 said she would take them into consideration and send us our schedules later. I also got talked into talking AP Stats… looking back, I really regret that decision. I hope it won’t be that bad? I did get a 5 on the test back in May but… I forget things easily and the class will be in Korean too! Sigh

Then, we sat in a large meeting room with the principal and vice principal of the school. I was so nervous at this point. They were all asking us questions in Korean and some of it was hard to understand to be honest. The vice principal actually went to UChicago, so his English was amazing !!

After that awkward conversation ended {just kidding… it was nice to see the school supporting us!!}, we dropped off our bags in the teachers’ lounge where we watched all the teachers in there look at us in a strange way. Katie and I kept bowing and saying hello as we walked through the entire room. We then took a tour of the school. We got to see the cafeteria, the school library, and the 7-Eleven they have on the first floor. {There is a 하나은행 (Hana Bank) ATM too, fitting since the school was founded by them.} The school has a rule that students aren’t allowed to bring in any outside snacks or drinks— they must buy everything from their in-school convenience store. I find this kind of extreme but obviously, I will respect their rules. Our coordinating teacher let us know that the students may ask us to bring them coffee or cake from outside and that we must say no.

She somewhat explained how all the room numbers worked, but I know I will probably still get pretty lost on the first day. Hopefully, the students can help me? Katie and I will be meeting the coordinating teacher 10 min before school starts on our first day of school so she can help us, at least, get to our first class. This is really considerate of her!

The thing that Katie and I were the most excited for about school orientation was the chance to get our school uniforms finally! We all took a taxi to get to the uniform store. {My first one since being in Korea! The only other time I rode a Korean taxi was after my summer program graduation ceremony~}

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We walk up the narrow staircase to be greeted by large cutouts of the BTS idols wearing uniforms. At first, I thought, “Aren’t they too old to be wearing uniforms?” And then I thought back to the fact that Katie and I are both 18, high school graduates, and will be turning 19 in two months… you do you BTS, get that coin!

The uniform store consisted of shelves and shelves of different collared shirts, skirts, pants, blazers, etc. The lady behind the counter simply looked us and picked out some sizes from the back wall. Katie and I tried them on in the dressing rooms to make sure they fit, and from there, we were basically on our way.

Our uniform is honestly really cute! At first, I had some reservations. I still don’t appreciate the shape of the skirt (realized on the first day of school that we had to cut the tags off of the skirt in order for it to be pleated! I like it better now~) I am extremely excited to wear it to school! Our uniform is made up of a striped collared shirt, a navy blue vest, a plaid skirt, and a gray blazer. We were also given a plaid bow and tie to wear with our uniform {We were only supposed to get one {either bow or tie} but the lady was quite kind and gave us each both.

Lastly, we got 생활복 which it seems (out of the NSLI-Y partnered schools), is unique to 하나고. 생활복 roughly translated to life outfit? I’m pulling at straws here but that is basically it’s “direct meaning.” It’s an outfit that 하나고 students wear on Thursdays and Fridays and consists of a sweatshirt {more like a noodie?} and a pair of navy blue jogger pants. It was so comfy!!! I can’t wait to wear it!

One our uniform mission was complete, we were off to eat lunch with 민정쌤. She told Katie and me to pick a food that we think is too expensive for us to buy and eat at normally. We just said “고기!” {Meat!”}

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Our lovely 민정쌤 ❤ ❤ ❤

We ended up eating 찜딹 near 홍대역 {Hongdae Station} which I had never had before this day! It was soooo delicious! I definitely remember this spot to come back again. During lunch Katie, 민정쌤, and I just talked about the orientation, any questions or worries we had, and we even got to practice our Korean a bit~

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찜닭 (Korean style braised chicken with veggies and potatoes)

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Katie and I left lunch somewhat early to start heading back to Korean class. Thanks to my habit of being very observing of my surroundings, I was able to redirect us back by following prominent buildings I remembered seeing on the way there.

Class was a struggle as usual. I found myself understanding some difficult topics and being proud of it but then it seems that immediately after I backtrack by being unable to answer a simple question. My comprehension abilities have definitely surpassed my speaking skills.

At home that night I had a delicious meal with my host family. While I was eating, I told my host mom that in class today I learned about 돌잔치 {Baby’s first birthday} and how babies pick something from an array of objects {돌잡이}. This led us to have a conversation about what my siblings picked. She pulled out these two scrapbooks and showed me all the cute photoshoot shots of my host siblings dressed up in a formal dress and 한복 (Korean traditional dress). The rest of the night was spent (you guessed it) studying. I made a new quizlet with another 80 something words I did not know and reviewed the grammar points we learned that day. We were having our first quiz the following day, so I had to do a lot of studying.

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ While editing these posts and adding photos before posting them, I started wondering how I was going to continue this style of writing (one post per day) once I get a routine– when things start getting normal? (Is that the right wording?) I have decided that I will try to do a post per day (like an average journal entry of sorts) but when those days come when I do not have much to say or many pictures to show, I will combine some days. Maybe do a weekly post? We will see!

  • Emma 엠미


2 thoughts on “Korean High School Orientation {09/19/18} NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year

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