Friday was planned to be a special day from the start: I was meeting up with my host mother from my NSLI-Y Summer 2016 program 2 years ago. Thinking back to this day and meeting her makes me just smile so big. I cannot believe that it had been 2 years? Who would have known that we would be meeting up–two years later–in Seoul, driving by the area where I spent some of the most important 6 weeks of my life. I will get to this meeting later; I figured I had to open up the blog with this. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming:
My first-period class today was Philosophy which I was kind of (lowkey) not looking forward to it because I knew that I would understand nothing in the class! However, it turned out, our philosophy teacher did not show up to class. I was about to walk into the classroom and these two girls were coming out. They explained to me that he was not there and so the students were either studying in the classroom or the library. I walked up to the library with 문성 a first year and we studied together in one of the private study rooms. She was a really nice girl and we spoke in a mix of English and Korean. We talked about my experience learning Korean, (She complimented my level and I was like nooo you do not understand HOW bad I can be.) 하나고, the exam season, weather, and 문성’s travels to America.
After philosophy, I had AP Macroeconomics which was (you guessed it) a self-study period again! I spent the whole time doing my workbook pages for chapter 12. Happy to say that I got my homework done for Monday already (besides studying the grammar points and vocabulary). But Economics was still fun because I got to talk to my friend 세림~ During the break between the two Economics periods, I met 서린 and 도윤 at the 매점 because I was giving 서린 the same vitamin c drink and chocolate covered sunflower seeds she bought for me during the first week of school. I was so grateful that she did such a nice thing for me, and I had to pay back the favor.
At lunch, Katie and I ate with a big group of friends: 서린, 도윤 연세, 지연, and 혜지. We mostly talked a lot about our after midterm plans. The girls really want to visit Lotte World (Korean Amusement Park– the largest indoor theme park in the world!) during their Halloween festival so we can dress up as zombies and be chased by monsters. I cannot wait honestly! It is going to be so fun– especially to hang out outside of school.
Sociology was… more self-studying! During this class, I made a Quizlet for all the words I did not know or understand in class on Thursday. It was a pretty big set– more than 80 words! During the class, I sat next to a new friend: 선민. She complained to me about studying and all the work she was doing. We also collectively ranted about 국어 (Korean language class) because even though she is Korean, she too finds it difficult. She talked to me about some of the teachers too. Apparently, there is this one science teacher that a lot of the first year girls think is very attractive! Gotta love high school and the teacher crushes haha
My next class was the English conversation class with the second year students but because it was so close to midterms, we ended up not meeting today. So, instead, Katie and I sat in one of the private study rooms and “studied.” Actually, Katie and I just talked while I attempted to work on some blog posts. She played the Google Chrome no wifi dinosaur game for a bit when the 하나고 wifi was acting sketch. I heard the familiar ding of the dinosaur jumping and I was like “Katie?” We both erupted in laughter as I made fun of her. My last class was English which went by so slowly as I was waiting for the school day to be over. It was another self-study period but I had already studied everything I could that day… seriously. So I began going ahead and trying to teach myself this grammar point that is similar to the one I was having issues with. I figured knowing them both now would be a good idea.
As the time approached 4 pm, I was feeling more and more nervous about meeting my host mother. I wanted to show her my best self after 2 years but I was worried that she would be disappointed in my Korean ability or that we would be awkward together…. Basically, I had a lot of worries. When the music chimed to signify the end of the school day (I say music because a cute little chime is played between classes. It is not an obnoxious bell or anything.), I hurried out of my literature class and met up with Katie to use the bathroom. I brought some clothes to change into but I ended up only changing out of the pants just so I could be more comfortable (and not looking like I just rolled out of bed in my 생활복). I waited outside the school and my host mom called my phone, I freaked out when she answered as I could not understand her at first. She told me to walk to the bus top and she would pick me up there. I walked there with Katie and we also ran into our 한국사 teacher, too. But as soon as he began to try to make conversation with us, my host mom pulled up and I jumped in. It was a quick exchange of “Oh it has been a long time” and “It is good to see you!” As we continued to drive, I got more comfortable with my host mom again and felt better speaking more and trying my best to say everything I wanted to express in Korean. And during that car ride, I felt so happy. We caught up with each other, so I talked about what I am doing with NSLI-Y and my plans for college later. She told me all about herself and how her work situation changed and now she has had more free time lately to start cooking classes and practice English at a language exchange cafe. I also got to hear about my host brothers and what they are up to and I cannot wait to see them again. My host mom was describing how tall the older one is now (he is now in high school), and I was trying to imagine it but I could not! My previous host family is also moving down to my host father’s hometown because of family reasons and their business (They own a pension.) in January so I am glad that we met up now! (And we will again sometime next month possibly so I can see my host brothers and maybe my host dad.)
We drove past their apartment complex and seeing all the familiar places made me so emotional. I could not believe I was back there after 2 years. For dinner, my NSLI-Y summer host mom took me out for 한식 (Korean food) at this really famous place called 수빈 떡갈비. They are famous for traditional Korean meals served with a huge assortment of 반찬 (side dishes). Our meal made for a great picture and everything was very very delicious. I have never had 떡갈비 previous to this dinner and I do not know what took me so long; it was absolutely amazing. My favorite side dishes were the zucchini, the oriental salad, water kimchi, and the lotus roots.
After dinner, we walked around the area towards a coffee shop that my host mother wanted to take me to. She remembered that I did not like coffee and asked if my taste had changed. I told her no, but I said that I could probably find something on the menu that I would drink– I am not that picky. When we got to the coffee shop, it was closed. It closed at 6 pm. She explained to me that this area is usually more crowded and popular during the daytime (especially when it came to the elderly ladies). We kept walking and we decided to stop in this tiny little store known for cheese tarts (like egg tarts but replace the egg custard part with cheese. Like a mini cheesecake to be honest). My host mom told me she had been dying to try it so she was happy to be able to do it with me. We talked more about all sorts of things going on in our lives as well as the differences between Korean and America. My host mom also showed me a text from my host dad in which he expressed his sadness for not being able to meet up with his “American daughter.” I was so happy to know that this family really accepted me into their home not only for those 6 weeks two years ago (count how many times I said 2 years in this blog post. Go on, I dare you.) but how they accepted me into their family–their life– for a long while hopefully. Earlier that week, my host mom messaged me telling me that my host brothers (especially the youngest one) missed me and asked her when we could meet up. I thought this was all lies but I do not doubt it any more.
After indulging in some cheese tarts, we walked back to the car, arm in arm, continuing to chat about who knows what. My host mom invited me to come down and visit her and everyone at my host father’s hometown, but unfortunately, NSLI-Y rules do not allow me to leave 서울 individually. But I told her, that I will visit eventually! (In college, perhaps)
She dropped me off at the closest subway station on my line and we said our farewells. I know I will be seeing her again soon so I did not feel sad or anything. The moment I closed the car door and walked towards the subway exit, a big smile crept up on my face. I was so happy I could have screamed. I was feeling happiness and gratefulness and lots of relief. What did I do to deserve such a good host family? I think the thing that makes it even more special is that I was their first and only host student, so I truly am their American daughter~
I came home and was so exhausted that I went to bed pretty quickly after that. I had to wake up early for a cultural activity (I am so excited for it!!!), so I made sure to go to bed at a decent time. I did not get to spend too much time with my host family that night but hopefully, I can make up for that this weekend~ I really am so grateful for them! Though meeting my previous host mom today was great, I am with this current host family right now and I could not be happier. I feel like they are a great fit for me and I really love hanging out with and talking with them. I have always wanted younger sisters and now I finally have them! ❤
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- Emma 엠마