Meeting Up with My NSLI-Y Summer Host Mother 2 Years Later {10/12/18} NSLI-Y AY

10/12/18 Friday

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~


Enjoying a golden kiwi treat while writing a blog post!~

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! ❤

That is all for this blog post~ Thanks for reading! Subscribe for more!!


  • Emma 엠마

Being Schooled in Korean Class, Buskers in Hongdae, and Bingsu {10/11/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/11/18 Thursday

In the morning, I woke up to find my host mom making 김밥 (to explain this dish simply, it is the Korean version of sushi basically. Rice and other ingredients rolled up in seaweed) on the kitchen table. I had never seen it being made before, so I was very intrigued by the long thin slices of the ingredients and the rolling process. She made the first roll for me for breakfast and it was delicious! I was able to eat it quickly and leave for the train station to be just on time. I always talk about leaving earlier so I can take my time walking to the station {rather than sprinting the second half of the walk} but I can’t get myself to save time. If I realize I have extra time, I waste it!


School was very chill today. Once again, all I had was self-study basically. During my first period World History class, we reviewed for one half of the class and then the other was for self-study. I utilized the time well and studied Korean. I went through my textbook and studied the week’s grammar points. I talked to my friend 지은 for a bit about her cute notes and how she is feeling about school. We didn’t sing today which was kinda disappointing! I was looking forward to that…


Next class was Art and again it was spent doing self-study; however, this class as a whole slept more than my previous class {more students were actually reviewing during class}. During the class, I memorized this chapter’s vocab words by doing Quizlets and then I caught up on some late blog posts. {I am a couple days behind and it is killing me! Though it’s the weekend now so hopefully I can catch up—and there’s no school next week so extra free time! AN: when I say that I am behind I do not mean posting–as I am quite literally two months behind–I mean that I try to write posts every day.}


During the ten minute break between the two periods of art class, I met Katie at the 매점 to pick up some snacks. I bought this Vitamin C drink that 서린 introduced to me and some chocolate covered sunflower seeds. All for about 1,800 Won {About $1.80}.

Katie and I ate lunch by ourselves today because we only had a limited time seeing that we had Korean class. They were serving an “American style” meal today so no chopsticks were even offered, just forks, spoons, and knives. There was some kind of meatloaf patty with a gross barbecue sauce, corn soup, white rice, and fries. Sweet fries might I add. It was like eating dessert fries? Katie and I really couldn’t stomach the food. I don’t like to consider myself picky but I hate corn, I don’t like barbecue sauce {or meatloaf} so I only ate the rice and some fries. We decided that we could get something before getting on the subway to tie us over.

On the bus, we got off one stop earlier at this market near the station and we found a lady selling 호떡. Two pieces for about one dollar. The type of 호떡 that we had was very thin dough with cinnamon and sugar {I think} sandwiched in between. It tasted like a thin English muffin with cinnamon butter. {<—— this is me comparing it to something I’ve eaten in America}

We made it back to 홍대 earlier than expected so we hung out at the convenience store by the cultural youth center. We bought a drink and snacks to eat later during Korean class breaks if we got hungry. We met up with our RD 민정쌤 at TwoSome Cafe quickly in order to ask her if we had to go to school on Monday. During homeroom today, I talked to 하나고 민정쌤 about the fact that our assigned lockers were occupied and that I needed to know the WiFi password. While she was figuring everything out for me, she let me know that Monday was just going to be self-study in most classes so it was not necessary that we go to school. She said she would be lenient with us!

So Katie and I had a plan to convince 민정쌤 by saying that we will study Korean (together) instead and that we would not even need extra stipend to cover lunch that day. Right away she was like “Sure.” and we got so happy! I was very grateful that I could sleep in another day and have a break~ (Though do not worry, I will be studying Korean very often during this week off.)

Korean class was a bit difficult today. I had a lot of trouble grasping this one grammar point (- (으) ㄹ 테니까) and though my teacher tried her best, I was having a hard time forming sentences on my own though I felt that I could understand the other example sentences. And one time, when she was trying to get me to work through my own example sentence, she kept hinting for me to use a formal version of this verb because this sentence was for her– a respected authority figure. I could not get what she was getting at whatsoever, so I sat there feeling like I was going to burst into tears at any moment. Luckily, she asked Jacquelyn to step in and clean up the mess that I created and it was break time right after. I ran to the bathroom–not to cry– but to take a break from everything. I was feeling very very overwhelmed.

But even though I was feeling this way, I also really enjoyed the class at many points too. We had a fun discussion about the other Korean classes (kind of spilling tea but it was fun being able to have a non-academic conversation in Korean class) and how our class was. My teacher talked about me being very emotional and unsure of myself at first but being able to get over that and gain confidence which has led me to participate more in class, etc (which is very true because I think I barely said more than a couple sentences during the very first class) But then she talked about realizing that I really was not an emotional person and I was wowwww… 선생님, you could not be more wrong! I am so emotional! Hopefully, there will not be a reason for her to change her mind. (Let us hope that I do not have any mental breakdowns during class!!!!) (AN: HAH Reading this two months later… this is so funny. If this was AP Lit, I would call that sentence major Foreshadowing.)

After school, I decided to hang out with some NSLI-Y students because I was in the mood to go out and clear my head– have some good conversation. So, Liam, Jacquelyn, Alix, Kaitlyn, and I decided to walk around 홍대 to watch some buskers. A few blog posts ago, I wrote about Liam’s encounter with a male dancer who called him 핑크형 (pink older brother): I will link that blog post here. We went back down the main (busking) streets of 홍대 looking for him and we did find him! Not only that, but he remembered Liam! They talked for a bit and he has convinced Liam to come back and do a dance. While this conversation was happening, I could not stop laughing with Kaitlyn.


Look at the height difference XD

We got 빙수 (Bingsu) shortly after at 설빙 which was very delicious! Kaitlyn, Alix, and I finally got to try out one of the melon flavors which included cheesecake pieces, strawberries, and of course half an entire cantaloupe. It was a bit expensive but worth it nonetheless. The 설빙 was decorated for Halloween and I really wanted to take some photos in front of the giant skeleton and pumpkin but I was not photoshoot ready (I love the 하나고 생활복 but not the cutest!) Maybe I can come back? Also, there was a photo booth inside which was 4,000 Won for 4 photos (such a good deal) and there was a corkboard of the photo strips right outside the cafe. I took some really cute photos with Kaitlyn and Alix. (Well pretty cute, we messed up a couple poses trying to get fancier with our poses– but luckily the booth let us choose the best 4 photos.

The rest of the night was spent relaxing with my host family, watching Youtube videos, and writing blog posts. I studied no Korean, literally none. At the time I was feeling very guilty about it but sometimes your brain needs a break. I am not upset. I could tell I was at my limit and needed to all myself to rest.


I also found this lovely gem on the NSLI-Y Meme Page!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you for reading! Until I post again~

  • Emma 엠마

Teaching Korean Highschoolers American Slang & Exploring Hanok Cafes (10/10/18) NSLI-Y Korean AY


I woke up this morning feeling very groggy and wishing that I didn’t have to wake up at 6 am for school. It was cold in my room because I left my window open and the last thing I wanted to do was slip out of my comfy pajamas into tights, a skirt, and a button-down dress shirt— not the desired fit.

I was halfway to the station when I realized that I forgot the umbrella Katie and I borrowed from one of the teachers. I ran back silently cursing my life to grab the umbrella. When I came back inside the house, my mom was shocked again and said “What?!?” I quickly explained about the umbrella and said goodbye to her for the second time that morning. I missed the earlier train and took the next outbound train that came less than 10 minutes later. I felt bad for making Katie wait but she promised it wasn’t a big deal. I was able to get WiFi and text her at the station so she knew I was going to be late.

She also had a very rough morning that consisted of her losing the bow to our uniform at the convenience store. It was definitely a day… if that makes any sense to anyone.

School itself wasn’t bad. I made it out to seem very difficult today but academically, we did basically nothing. Because their midterms are so soon, most classes are either reviewing or allowing students to 자습 or self-study. My first period was economics and when I first walked in, there was a coat next to my friend 세림 {one of the only “friend” friends I’ve made so far} and I got sad. I assumed that I would just sit next to someone random—have no interaction because they would be studying or sleeping—and call it a day. However, 세림 called over to me and showed me that she put her jacket there to save me a spot! I couldn’t have felt more grateful at that moment.

During class, she studied economics while I self-studied Korean. She would whisper some things now and then to me and during the break, we talked for a bit. Just about my Korean studies and her feelings towards 하나고 and the exams closely approaching.


I self-studied the previous 이화 textbook in order to catch up to my classmates since I skipped learning most of those grammar points.

After economics, I had Korean history. Because we didn’t have school last Wednesday, it was my first time having the class! In the class, I sat down next to a girl from my homeroom {I need to get her name again~ I have her Kakao talk but her name isn’t attached to it!} and my teacher asked me a couple questions. He told me that they were gonna review for the first half of class so I was free to study Korean. And I’m so glad he said that because it gave me something to do because I knew I would understand nothing in that class. Mostly because that teacher talks so fast! Faster than anyone I’ve ever met! Including me, my mom, and my Abuelo and we are Cuban! He was like speaking at Auctioneer speed; it was crazy. {I also had no book so how could I follow along?}

During the break time, I met up with Katie because we wanted to visit the 매점 together but when we got there it was soooo crowded so we got overwhelmed and just left empty handed. We will try {and succeed} another time. Also, while I returned to my seat and continued studying Korean, my Korean history teacher complimented my Korean handwriting saying it was pretty. I was like no way and then he proceeds to say that it is better than many in the class, I laughed.

Katie and I met up for lunch together but we didn’t know if we should ask 서린 and 도윤 to eat lunch with us. We didn’t want them to feel burdened to have to eat with us, so we were going to go to lunch by ourselves but then 서린 ran up to us and asked to eat lunch together. She also let us know that she had other friends who wanted to eat lunch with us/meet us. So Katie and I were introduced to more friends: 지연, 연세, and 혜지.

Before lunch, 도윤 had to finish up something so she couldn’t meet us for lunch until 20 minutes in, so Katie, 서린, and I stole a practice room near the music classroom to just goof off in. Katie {who is actually musically talented} played the piano and sang to us for a bit. I also told them about my run-in with a cult {and that’s where I actually learned the word 사이비.} The rest of the time was spent with us laughing, being awkward, and listening to the boys scream-singing in the practice room next to us. Good times indeed.

During lunch, we taught each other slang. Katie and I tried to explain Lit and Yeet but the girls had trouble pronouncing it and understanding the meanings. I feel like a lot of American slang is just hard to explain {especially in Korean} and that’s why when parents try to use, it is so awkward because they simply don’t know the situations that they apply to. They also taught us some Korean slang but because they were not written down, I forgot all of them but 띠용 which they told me meant awkward but my host mom later said it meant surprise? It’s like the noise that happens when a cartoon character’s eyes pop out? I’m not sure… I’ll have to look into that.


Either way, lunch was a lot of fun! And the food was very delicious. I had AP Stats next And was dreading the class. I hated Stats in America and nothing has changed since landing in Korea. But I was looking forward to being able to talk to 세림 again~ When I sat down next to her after lunch, I told her I learned about 띠용 and she laughed. She said that if I used it with other people, they would be really surprised. {I know I would too if I heard a Korean high school student saying yeet or lit in the hallways.} During class, our teacher reviewed the concept of hypothesis tests which again, is not a new thing to me but I don’t remember everything and sometimes the different Korean notation throws me off. Additionally, we were learned about a type of test and I thought it was something I had never seen before; however, turns out that it was just called something different in the States.

During the break time, my teacher came over to me to explain that I needed a textbook and that soon we would be using these three computer programs {I only recognized Java I think?} so I needed to hurry up and get the required class materials. I was just a bit disappointed that my teacher was actually going to make me do work… oh boy. Time to email my old AP Stats teacher.

On Wednesdays, of certain weeks, our last period class consists of our mandatory club. (At 하나고 students are required to partake in one mandatory club during school hours and then they are allowed to have a maximum of two other clubs.) However, because it is Midterm season, club activities will not resume until next month. I have yet to know what clubs I will be joining but as soon as I find out, I will share~ I met up with Katie after this class and told her that we could go, that the school day was over. We walked around the school for a bit wondering if we should leave or not and instead of being smart and asking our coordinator teacher, we just left. I trusted 세림 who asked me if I was going home now and all the kids seemed like they were done for the day–if that makes any sense. They were eating ice cream! Who would do that between classes? Why ruin the taste of perfectly sweet ice cream with having to hurry off to class? That would leave a bad taste in my mouth for sure. So we left school.

We walked across the street to a Twosome Cafe and spent about an hour and a half chilling, studying, drinking lattes, and enjoying a cake? (I use the question mark because it really was not a cake but a cream souffle looking thing… I forgot the name but it was delicious!) When we ordered our drinks, a different staff member helped us out. She took one look at us in our uniforms and asked us if we were 하나고 students. She proceeds to tell us that we speak Korean well. They were really nice and maybe since we will be regulars (Katie and I are going to make this cafe-meeting-to-eat-cake-and-reflect/rant-about-our-week a regular thing), we can get to know them more? That would be cool.


After the cafe, I went home and ate dinner with my host family. I studied vocab words from my textbook and then words I was simply curious about or heard in class but I did not know the meaning of at the time. I talked with my host mom for a while after dinner which is honestly one of the best parts of the day. It allows me to reflect, practice my Korean with my family, and overall bond more with them. That is why I think that coming home for dinner is so important!


You know it is a good day when your mom sends you a pack of Kakao emojis as a gift!!!~ ❤ 

I have been trying to not eat out with friends too often because I value dinner time~ I am going to aim for eating dinner out 3 times a week or less! (Though more often than not it will be less because school and Korean class will only continue to be exhausting and difficult physically and mentally.)

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Thanks! Till next time~

  • Emma 엠마


한글날: King Sejong Museum, Calligraphy, and Trying Hanbok at Gwanghwamun Square (10/09/18) NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/09/18 Tuesday

October 9th in South Korea is Hangul Day (한글날) which celebrates the creation of the Korean Alphabet by King Sejong or Sejong the Great (세종대왕). I also learned this day that his real name is not actually 세종; it is 이도! (Learned that at his museum!) He is famous because the Korean alphabet changed the Korean people’s lives as it made it easier for the common people to learn how to read and write (Since Chinese characters proved to be too difficult).

To celebrate this day (we had no school today too), my host family and I visited 광화문 (Gwanghwamun) Square because there would be a festival and lots of activities and performances to see in honor of 한글날.

When we arrived at the square, we ended up going down to the museum first because there was a very loud protest going on in the streets. I couldn’t really understand any of what was being shouted, but I do believe that some people were protesting about THAAD.

My host mom told me that people often protest around 광화문 because of the wide-open space and how there are always lots of police officers, which couldn’t have been truer. While we were walking from the parking garage to the square, there were these huge police buses lined up alongside the streets. It seemed that the officers were all getting out of the buses while we were passing by the protest. I have never seen that many uniformed men in one place. The bus was huge so it wasn’t exactly a clown car situation, but I still didn’t expect to see that many all in one place.

At the museum, my host mom and brother stayed at the little children’s library while I walked around with my host sisters and host dad as they tried to complete a special scavenger hunt. I couldn’t really participate {except when they were doing the word search, I helped with the answer of one question!} so I read the information cards under the artifacts/drawings by myself to learn more about this part of Korean history.

After the museum, we went back out to the square to see that the protesting had stopped. We walked around a bit to find a place to eat but there were so many crowds and lines. We ended up eating at a Japanese restaurant. I had Udon noodles which were pretty good~ But I thoroughly enjoyed the yellow radish side dish. {단무지! I finally learned the name!}

hangul nal 6

Our bellies were stuffed and content, so we left the restaurant to do our next activity: calligraphy. Or really we wouldn’t be doing it so much as waiting in line for it. At the square, there were these booths set up for free calligraphy of proverbs and mottos. My host family has two in their home under the glass top of their kitchen table right now. I got to look through a big book of phrases and I immediately felt intimidated because I couldn’t understand the vast majority of statements in the book. Eventually, I picked out 꿈은 이루어진다 because I had just learned that phrase the other day from working on my presentation.

While waiting in line, something happened to me that some foreigners can be “lucky” (note the sarcasm) enough to experience: cult recruitment or swindlers. In Korean, {I later learned from my 하나고 friends} they call these religious cults or groups 사이비. Naver translates this word to pseudo. I assume that these groups are called pseudo because of the religions that they hide behind? I am not too sure; however, I would love to do more research on this topic because the stories I have heard have never been anything short of interesting.

These three female college students (?)  approached me and started asking me all these questions about what I am doing in Korea (both in Korean and English). They had their phones out and were trying to fill out this form of sorts. They kept asking for my name and I refused to give it to them so they stood there for like a minute pointing at the name question confused as to why I was not sharing that detail with them. They tried to make it seem that they were hosting a language exchange meet up at a church and wanted to invite me. They kept saying that the important meeting would be Saturday and I had to come if I wanted to join. Eventually, my host mom saw what was going on and she grabbed my arm and pulled me back from the girls. She started scolding them in Korean asking them what they were doing. This part was a bit scary as my host mom seemed very angry. My host mom tried to explain to me that those girls are part of a dangerous and bad group and that I should not talk to any people on the street like that. She said they try to trick foreigners. I realized then and there that I had just experienced what I have seen on Youtube– a cult trying to recruit foreigners in order to (usually) take their money.

After getting our calligraphy scrolls, I took some photos in 한복 with my host sisters at this booth set up for free pictures. We continued to walk around the square for a bit after taking photos in 한복. There were several booths set up behind the 세종 대왕 statue about the 세월 ferry disaster. Back in April of 2014, a ferry carrying mostly high school students sank on its way to 제주도 (Jeju Island) killing more than 300 people. It was a very tragic thing to happen to the Korean people and to this day it still leaves a mark on society. At the booths, there were pictures of every single person that passed away and a place where you could take off your shoes and kneel in respect. There was also a something you could sign (which I am not sure exactly what it was for…), which I did (along with the rest of my host family). If you are in Korea and you see a yellow ribbon emblem anywhere, it is most likely for the 세월 ferry disaster (and not cancer as some of my friends thought at first).

hangul nal 1

We got back home around 5 pm and I basically spent the rest of the night writing blog posts as I was a couple days behind. I also made a new Quizlet but did not practice it because my brain was not in the mood. (Yeah, I know– not very studious of me but we all have those days. Even NSLI-Y students. Actually, ESPECIALLY NSLI-Y students. For dinner, we ate fried chicken and fries. I came into the dinner expecting my family to eat the chicken with their chopsticks (because I have seen it before), but I never thought that I would witness people eating french fries with chopsticks… I just did not understand. I tried eating the fries with them too but it felt wrong in so many ways… I was going to go to bed early so that I could have a good night’s rest for school the following day but as soon as I got into bed, I started diving into my Youtube subscriptions: always a bad idea.

My host sisters and I also spent some time drawing each other. Here are two portraits of me done by two host sisters. It was cute to see how they chose to portray me (including the Pokemon Eevee in both for example) However, they also fought about my eye color (whether it was green or brown) To end the fighting, I told them that they are in fact green!~

That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! Have any recommendations for what I should do in Korea? Let me know! Next week is Midterms at my school, so Katie and I are not obligated to attend (as we will not be taking the exams). We need things to do! Thank you! (Authors Note: Posting this more than two months later~ Funny how time flies! Yesterday marked 100 days in Korea!)

  • Emma 엠마

Aesthetic Cafe, Street Food, and Korean Class in Hongdae (10/08/18) NSLI-Y AY

10/08/18 Monday

Today was a Monday–the dreaded day– but I had no school! 하나고 was giving their students the day off (probably to study), so that meant I had a four day weekend (because I would also have Tuesday off for 한글날–Korean Alphabet Day). I still woke up early with my host sisters because I planned to meet Katie in 홍대 early in order to eat some street waffles and study a bit at a cafe before Korean class. We WANTED to eat some waffles (we have been craving them for a while); however, most Korean restaurants, cafes, street carts, etc all open pretty late– compared to US standards, at least. They usually open at 11 am… 10:30 am if you are lucky!

We walked around the streets of 홍대 for a while and it was pretty strange because no one was there. All the clothing shops and food stalls were closed, so Katie and I simply looked at closed doors and chatted about how badly we wanted waffles– especially when we passed by the waffle stalls with the ice cream scoops but saw that they were unfortunately closed.

Eventually, we found a cafe to go to called 빵꼬마 (Bread Comma) which is a cafe that also serves bread. Two in one: cafe and a bakery. It was pretty pricey, to be honest, but the atmosphere was nice and the cafe itself was very aesthetically pleasing. Katie and I both ordered straight up coffee drinks which were so bitter, and we could not find any sugar. They were not good. I still do not stan coffee. At the cafe, I practiced my presentation and studied vocabulary words on Quizlet while Katie also studied her stuff too.

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After studying, Katie and I met up with Kaitlyn at one of the subway exits in order to get lunch together. Kaitlyn was going to take us to this very famous (and cheap) 돈까스 (pork cutlet) place but it was closed!! I learned this day that a lot of places in Korea are actually closed on Mondays. (And I am not quite sure why?) We felt defeated so we left the more touristy and popular area of 홍대 to walk towards the Better World office because they have a lot of 분식점s (Snack Bar/Cheap Restaurant serving Korean comfort food) that have really cheap food like 돈까스 (pork cutlet), 라면 (ramen), 김밥 (kimbap), etc. We found one but there was absolutely no room in there for us so we kept walking another 5 minutes till we finally found another one that had the room. The restaurant was called 김밥 세상 (Kimbap World). I really enjoyed their name choice.

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Today, Korean class consisted of our present presentations (ugh I hate how those two words look and sound right next to each other…) and some really hard grammar that was difficult for me to grasp. 민정쌤 actually sat in on our class during the second hour (I guess to evaluate our teacher?) and so she sat through my presentation. That made me feel ten times more nervous! Ahhhhh Though, I think that I did pretty well. I presented about the life lessons that my mom taught me and how those were the gifts that I cherish the most. In particular, I talked about how she taught me the importance of education and effort. Within this presentation, I was able to discuss my mom’s past and then how she pushed me to do my best in school which enabled me to be successful/ have these doors opened for me. I also added that I would continue to value these things and use them as motivation for future endeavors.

When Korean class ended, Jacquelyn, Josh, and I had to quickly walk over to the youth center to meet up with the other NSLI-Yians because we were having our bi-weekly meeting. The cafe that they originally planned to have the meeting at was closed. (What did I tell you? Mondays!) We walked over to Holly’s cafe and all 16 of us fit ourselves into that tiny cafe; I still do not really know how. Better World allowed us to order a drink (on them), so I tried out a drink that I normally would not order– because of its price to be honest. I had a Belgian Hot Chocolate which was amazing! Like drinking melted chocolate~

During the meeting, 민정쌤 had us fill out applications for our Alien Registration Cards because we would need to apply for those soon because it would be illegal for us to not have them on our body at all times. (I believe 민정쌤 said you need one if you plan to stay in Korea longer than 6 months.) We are all going to get our cards on different days and at different locations depending on where we lived (I would be going by myself with 민정쌤 as I am the only student living in 고양시. The 인천 girls are all going together and there will be two groups of 서울 students. I was also going to be the first person to be receiving theirs. (I will be going next week!) After the meeting, I did not want to go home but everyone either had plans with their host family already or they wanted to get home in time for dinner. However, Kaitlyn saved the day and said she would hang out with me and get dinner too. McKenzie also tagged along for a bit before going back to her home for dinner with her host family.

Kaitlyn, McKenzie, and I first went to Morning Glory–a stationary story–to look around and possibly buy cute stationery? I ended getting one of those pens that have like 4 colors because all the students at 하나고 seem to have them and I want to fit in! (Just in kidding, I did want one, though.) Plus, it was only like 70 cents so a deal!

We also came across a snack shop and I found 찰떡파이 which is this delicious chocolate covered rice cake that Josh introduced to me in Korean class the other day and I went to three different convenience store locations trying to find them! Finally, I did! Ahaha McKenzie left for her home after we walked around for a bit so then Kaitlyn and I began our search for some street food. We were not entirely hungry so we figured some street food for dinner and dessert would be good enough.

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I got to try Takoyaki (Octopus Balls– dough shaped balls with diced octopus inside) for the first time ever and it was delicious! We got the cheese version but the cheese was just a sauce… not really a fan. I would get it again but just the original flavor. For dessert, we split a chocolate cream cheese waffle (I did get my waffle!) and a 32cm ice cream cone. Very delicious.

After getting home, I played a board game with my host sister for a bit, took a shower, and hopped straight into bed. I really did no studying besides making a Quizlet for vocab words. I just needed to rest~ It was a very good yet tiring day.

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I hope you enjoyed this blog post~Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Flea Market, Fishing on Ganghwa Island, and Going to the Movies (10/06-10/07/18) NSLI-Y Korean AY


Saturday morning and afternoon were pretty relaxing. I spent those several hours getting ready for the day, studying Korean, making Quizlets, working on blog posts, and hanging out with my host siblings. I helped out my eldest host sister with her English vocab words (She had a test on Monday so I helped her memorize the definitions and spellings of her assigned words.) and played some board games with her. My host siblings also showed me their new collection of white worms?? (larva possibly?) They collected them from these chestnuts that my host brother found in the park with my host dad. My host sister showed me that if the chestnut had a hole on the side, it was probably housing a worm. They put them in plastic cups with dirt and are now raising them on the balcony– quite odd but cute.

At night, my host family and I went out to watch a movie! We went to see Christopher Robin (Or in Korean they call it by the name 곰돌이 푸 which translates to Teddy Bear Pooh). I was thankful that we were watching an English movie because though I would have still enjoyed the movie regardless of whatever language it was shown in, I was thankful that I could understand everything. (Also, reading the Korean subtitles was fun and good practice. And it was interesting to see how certain things were translated.)

The movie was really cute. Winnie the Pooh said the most adorable things that also turned out to be deep and thought-provoking and I teared up so many times throughout the duration of the movie! I just could relate it to my life now (especially to exchange life and being away from my family) which made it so special. And although this is a family movie, I believe that adults will truly get more out of it as they will understand the message more. 

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Regular Popcorn & Caramel Popcorn



Flea Markets. What an interesting word and concept. I would look up the meaning behind why these type of sales are named after a bug, but I’m on a subway car right now so no WiFi. Maybe when I’m editing this? {Okay I looked it up. It apparently comes from a market in France that sold second-hand, antique items that often contained fleas.}

I’ve never been to a flea market but mostly because I live in a pretty small town. When anyone has ever wanted to sell something, they simply had a garage sale in front of their house. I went to the flea market with my host sisters and had a good time seeing what was there. A lot of stuff you’d expect at garage sales: used clothes, books, toys, life products. However, there were also people selling new things like cleaning supplies, hair accessories, and stationery.

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While we were walking around, all eyes were on me as I was probably the only foreigner within many mile radii of that market. {I can say this because I live in 고양시, not 서울.} This one woman tried pulling me aside and started basically interrogating me in Korean. First, she asked me if my host sisters were my daughters. I was shocked! I know that Koreans tend to believe that foreigners {particularly non-Asian foreigners} are a lot older than they actually are, but I feel like I look pretty young compared to my other peers. Do I look old enough to have two 10-year-old daughters? Do I look thirty?!?

We came home after buying some mechanical pencils {which in Korean are 샤프} and a toy for my host brother.

After the flea market, we left to go fishing soon after. I was pretty confused as to what we were doing as no one had really explained it to me. I just saw bags with food and other items being packed and knew that we were going somewhere. Our drive was about an hour long and when we arrived I knew we weren’t in 서울 anymore because of the welcome lions on this one bridge. At the time, I didn’t realize that we were actually driving onto an island of 인천 (Incheon) to go fishing. I didn’t realize this was the plan until I started seeing all these stores saying “낚시 슈퍼” (fishing supermarket) and when my host dad stopped at one and came back with live bait and 고구마–sweet potato {not fishing related exactly— we all just wanted a snack.}

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When we got to the fishing location, it was this cliff that jutted over a muddy, clay beach of sorts. We set up camp— kinda literally because we had a tent— and then my host dad and brother began fishing. I just lied in the tent with my host sisters and goofed around.

During one part of our excursion, my host sisters and I walked past some of the other fishers and realized that they had actually caught fish while we were empty-handed {basketed? There goes my English…} When my host sister told my dad of this fact, his face immediately turned sour. I felt bad that there was just some serious bad luck on our side of the water.

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We ate 라면 and 김밥 in our tent which was a lot of fun! My host mom pulled out her portable stove top and boiled water for the instant ramen bowls. We sat together and enjoyed the natural views and good food while slurping up unhealthy, msg filled noodles.

We came home around 6 pm and I immediately began doing my homework— a presentation for Korean class about my favorite present {that I received}. At first, I was going to go with a physical gift but then realized that my presentation wouldn’t include as many good grammar or vocabulary words so I went with something more metaphorical. This way my presentation wouldn’t sound like child’s play in comparison to Jacqueline’s and Josh’s and I would also be able to learn useful vocab. {For example, I learned the word for education (교육) and to accomplish your dreams (꿈을 이루어지다)} When I finished the presentation, I was really proud of it~ I will describe more about it on the blog post from the day I present it.

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Wow… reading this two months later…(while editing this post) the mistakes!!! AHHHH

So that was my weekend with my host family~ I really enjoyed it. I had great conversations with my host mom and bonded more with my siblings {especially my host brother!}

Hmmm, did I not mention the incident? {that word has a negative connotation but I can’t think of another word to use so} My youngest host sister went to a birthday party on Saturday and returned in time for dinner and to go to the movies. At the party, she made these cute sugar cookies out of different colored dough. She gave each of us two cookies, but my host brother was not in the room when I received mine. When he got his cookie, he exclaimed: “Emma 누나 needs one!” And that might as well have just melted my heart.

Okay, that is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed~ I ended up putting Saturday and Sunday into one post because my Saturday blog was pretty short as the day was not the most eventful. I believe that this will happen occasionally when I don’t have fun things planned with friends or my host family/ when I start getting into a daily routine of school, class, home– the works/when I am not rambling about my emotions or things that seem mundane to the majority (like the cookie story told above). But hey if you are up for that, follow my blog for more!~

  • Emma 엠마

First Full Day of Korean High School & Celebrating with Cake (10/05/18) NSLI-Y AY


I was extra nervous for my day at school on Friday because it would be my first full day attending 하나고 {Wednesday should have been but since it was a national holiday, we had no school.} Not only would it be my first full day, but three out of my 5 classes scheduled for that day would be totally new for me: Philosophy, Macroeconomics, and {what I believe translates to} Sociology. Classes that I would have loved to take in high school— but in Korean? I think I’m going to be completely lost in all of them. {But economics might have an English textbook? We will see.}

Today was Friday so 생활복 day! When I left the house in the morning and immediately felt the cool breeze hit my face, I was thankful to have some comfy clothes on rather than an itchy vest and a skirt.

Katie and I met at the subway station as usual and rode the bus to school together. {At the time I didn’t know but} we actually rode the bus with my philosophy teacher. And it was him who gave us the courage to jaywalk across the street when the crosswalk light was green but the bus stop was too far from the crosswalk itself. We watched him jog across and so we did the same— silently shrieking as the road was huge and we saw some construction machinery coming down the road towards us.

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Katie and me at the bus stop~

At school, we hung around together for a bit because neither of us wanted to get to our homerooms early. We were not ready to feel immediately alone when walking into that room. When I got to my first-year homeroom class, I asked to sit with this big group of girls and though I didn’t doubt they would say yes, I was still incredibly grateful. I sat with them and they even asked me what I was going to do during exams and if I’m taking Korean classes. I even sparked up a conversation with the girl in front of me who has this stuffed red panda: my next vocab goal is to learn the word for red panda! I’ll add it in here if I remember! (I asked my host mom and sister and they did not know… we consulted Google and think you can call them 레드팬더 or 레서팬다) I asked them about lunch because I was still curious when it actually ended {since Katie and I have been leaving early every other day} Apparently, lunch starts at 12:20 and ends at 1:00 pm.

After homeroom period, I had Philosophy for the next two periods {with the earlier talked about jaywalking teacher}. When I got to class, I recognized no one. Most of the friends I’ve made so far are second years, so I felt the need to try making more first-year friends. I sat next to these three girls and immediately asked for their names and they gave me their phone numbers too! I’m going to later put them on Kakao so I can make a group chat with them? I hope we can be friends.

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From the first half of philosophy, I felt that I could probably get to a point of understanding it a bit more than some other classes because I recognized so many words but not the abstract concept they were built around. While I was following along {I shared a book with a girl next to me}, I kept a running page of vocab words that I looked up while we were reading. {The teacher let me use Naver on my phone during class.}

He was also very kind, trying to make me understand certain points through the class. He even asked me questions about America which I actually understood?!? What? I could understand the questions about punishing students but not what year I am in high school? I’m a mess!

Our breaks in that class were longer than the 10-minute breaks between periods {probably because he knew students were falling asleep or maybe because he knew exams were approaching}. I spent the extra time studying Korean which was really nice.

After philosophy, I had Macroeconomics. I was afraid of this class because I have never taken its equivalent in America. I had wanted to take AP Econ but there was a waiting list and I was already taking 5 AP classes during senior year, so I decided to go against my urge. But when I walked into class, I was so excited to see some friendly, familiar faces: 세림 and 지원! I immediately sat down next to 세림 and couldn’t stop smiling. She was so nice to me on the first day and I couldn’t explain to her how appreciative I was to her. I knew that this class was going to be alright since she would be my side.

At the start of class, 세림 explained to me that the students had already learned everything they needed for the exam so they were now just self-studying. Then, when the economics teacher came in, she told me the same thing {but it was easier to understand from 세림 so I’m thankful she explained it to me!}


I introduced myself to the class {luckily I only had to stand up from my seat rather than do it in front of the whole class} and then my teacher had every single student introduce themselves to me. This was the first teacher to do this for me, and I really liked it! It helped me see all my classmates and although I remembered no names from this “exercise” of sorts, I appreciated the effort greatly! {I feel like within this blog post, I’m going to use words like thankful, appreciative, and grateful so many times! But just like last week was represented by nervousness, this week is simply me feeling blessed.}

Between this class, I ran into 서린 in the hallway and she took me to the 매점 {school store} and bought me this vitamin c drink and some chocolate covered sunflower seeds. I felt so thankful that she was taking me under her wing! I promised that I would return the favor to her eventually! {Probably by buying her those snacks! And something special for her birthday.}

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I met up with Katie again for lunch and wondered what we were going to do. We contemplated eating by ourselves again or asking 서린 from yesterday to eat with us again. Since we were staying the whole day, we opted for asking her. She immediately agreed! Katie and I jumped for joy~

Katie and I sat with 서린 and 도윤 {서린’s roommate} and we talked while enjoying some delicious food. It was the birthday meal {they have it once a month to celebrate that month’s student birthdays.} It consisted of 잡채, 미역국, ribs, and persimmons. Very very good! During lunch, we talked a lot about clubs because Katie and will be getting ours soon. We found out that 서린 is in advertisement and cooking club. I knew I wouldn’t do advertisement, but I thought that cooking club would be fun! {And an extension of what I did two years ago during my Seoul Summer 2016 program but with 하나고 students~}

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My following class was Sociology {still don’t understand how to translate the name of this class???} and at first I literally talked to no one. I sat down next to red panda girl from my homeroom {I need to learn her name; she’s really sweet to me} and simply studied Korean cause the teacher said we were doing “self-study time.” Eventually, he came over to me and I was surprised to first see him because he was wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. I wondered if he went there? But I’m not too sure {didn’t ask if that wasn’t clear} He asked me some questions about myself like what year I was in school, where I’m going to college, what I’m majoring in, etc. When he found out I was from “Chicago,” he told me that the vice principal went to UChicago. At first, I didn’t realize he was asking about him so I told him I hadn’t met him yet— it was about 2 seconds later that I realized my mistake. Oh well!

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Me and 다연 ❤

After “Sociology,” I had another exchange student lecture {or an English discussion with 하나고 students}. I met the three girls in the library and I was happy to figure out that they are the cutest and sweetest bunch of girls I could ever have asked to get to know! Too bad we didn’t get a photo together! {Next time though~} my group consisted of 지은 {from my world history class}, 주연 {a new friend! She had homeroom with Katie} and 규원. They are all second years.

For the majority of the period, they asked a lot of questions about America because they were so curious. We sat and talked about the differences between our countries especially when talking about the education system. They were so funny and I really enjoyed my time with them. I also found out that they were friends with 세림 which was great! Now maybe I can hang out with all of them when they get a chance to leave school~

I also asked them a lot about 하나고 cause of I’ve been so curious. Apparently, they can only go home and see their parents once a month and if they want to leave the school, they must fill out a request form asking for permission. Though 주연 said that it depends on the teacher you give the form to. She said that some teachers don’t like the kids going out. I was like “Why?” And she said cause they think the students will play.

I got their Kakaotalk IDs after the period, and we made a group chat. I’m excited to see how close we can get throughout the first semester^^

My last class of the week is 영미문학— which was a relief because after a full day of speaking Korean nonstop {besides some texts to Katie and short interactions} I was ready to finally get a chance to speak English! The students started reading West Exit which I need to purchase so I can keep up with the class. Apparently, they also meet on Thursdays but I don’t attend that class because of my Korean classes. So I’ll have to catch up on readings by Friday {which isn’t too bad because I have no Korean class on Friday so I can spend Thursday reading. Plus, I want to read the books and participate in class, I don’t want my English skills to deteriorate over the remaining 8 months.}

After English, Katie and I met up with 서린 and 도윤 and we said goodbye to them since we wouldn’t be seeing them till Wednesday.

While we were leaving school, we realized that it was raining— and hard. We stood at the entrance of the school like lost ducklings wondering if we should run and just get drenched. But then, this teacher noticed us and offered us her umbrella since she had another in her office. We were really grateful at how nice she was being. She told us her name and said we could return it the following week. With that umbrella in hand, Katie and I crossed the street to head toward Twosome Cafe. We weren’t planning on studying for anything; we just wanted to chill and just talk about our week: what we were grateful for, our hope for the future, and our concerns.

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We both ordered drinks and shared a slice of cake: Dutch Caramel Chocolate Cake. It was delicious! The man working at Twosome at first only spoke English to us even though Katie and I responded in Korean. But, when I came back downstairs to take up the tray of our drinks and cake, he asked us if we were 하나고 students— in Korean. I don’t know if I should, but I felt proud to be a 하나고 student at that time. I really think this school will be a good experience for both of us.

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I got home back in time for dinner and I ate with my host family. I watched the Nickelodeon show Sam & Cat with my host siblings as I worked on a blog post. My host mom also served us a slice of leftover birthday cake so we can see that I have been eating very healthy lately. #twocakeslicesinoneday

Right after I went to bed, 서린 sent me a video of her in her dorm room with a big group of friends. They all introduced themselves in the video and asked to eat lunch together sometime. I was melting at how nice this was! I was so thankful, once again, for 하나고 students! I hope we can get closer~

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Follow for more!

  • Emma 엠마

Making Korean Friends (Finally) and Being Lost in Korean Class (Again) October 4th, 2018


My biggest goal for my day on Thursday was to get to school ON TIME! In fact, I wanted to get there early! I was not going to have a repeat of Tuesday’s occurrences… I woke up at the same time as I did on Tuesday, but I rushed trying to get ready. On Thursdays (and Fridays) instead of wearing our normal uniform, we get to wear 생활복 which consist of some jogger type pants and a sweatshirt that says 하나 (Hana). It is really comfy and baggy and I am glad that we can look frumpy– and for it to be acceptable– during some days of the week. This made it possible for me to get ready quicker this morning and have 20 min to eat breakfast rather than a rushed 10 minutes.

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I look bad in this picture but… I was in such a good mood (for some reason) this morning. I mean, look at that eye smile!~

I met up with Katie at the subway station and we proceeded to take the bus to school together. While waiting at the bus stop, a female greeted us and then asked me about Katie. Eventually, I recognize her voice and face and realize that she was the teacher in the library when I had my English conversation class. (The one who called me on the bus too!) We talked to her while waiting for the bus to arrive which was also pretty awkward but good practice in speaking Korean for Katie and I. Also, while riding the bus, our English teacher Andrew got on. Will we be forced to have these awkward interactions with our teachers for this entire year???

At school, my first period consisted of 세계문명사 (which actually translates to world civilization history but everyone in my class said it was AP World History). We are covering the American Revolution right now which is nice because it is familiar and I already know the vocabulary. During this class I sat next to 지은A (There are two 지은s in my class. On Tuesday I sat next to 지은B but today I changed it up a bit!) She talked with me before class started and during the break (all in Korean). It was nice to have someone to talk to– I really appreciated her being so kind. We sang the Korean Independence song again today! I just loved hearing the students getting so into it! Screaming and throwing fists in the ear. Today, the boys sitting in the back of the class even harmonized! They all said certain lines of the song at different times– it was the best. Also, today the teacher played one that had English subtitles (I am assuming for me).

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After history, I had art which I was honestly not looking forward to in the least bit. When I was younger, I really enjoyed art and drawing but because of school I pretty much dropped those hobbies. I also do not like the ideas of art classes in general. I think I took only one art class in high school (I only took it because it was mandatory; they are not really my thing.) When I got to class, my teacher let me know that because the midterm period was coming up, the students were given the class time to quietly self-study. I spent the two 50 minute class period studying for my quiz in Korean class in a couple of hours. I did not talk to any of my classmates because it was so silent during the class and I did not really wanna bother any of them. Hopefully, art will prove to be fun in the future, though.

(random photos of the inside of 하나고. The first photo is their waterfall wall–it is kind of hard to tell in the photo–it is a black wall that constantly has water flowing from it. I wonder if it ever turns off? We have been at 하나고 at like 7 before and it was still going although there would not have normally been any students still on that floor (study rooms and the library are a couple floors up). The second photo is just a hallway shot of the 4th floor.)

The best part of the day by far was lunch– and no, not because of the food (Though that is definitely a plus.) It was because Katie and I finally had a friend to eat lunch with. When I met up with Katie in front of the cafeteria, she was like “This girl asked to eat lunch with us! We will not be alone!” I could not have been any happier~ We met up with the girl, her name was 서린, and she introduced us to her group of friends. (Who were all so very sweet!) We sat at a table together and talked about a variety of things. Meeting the other girls was great! Katie and I have not had the easiest time making friends… so it was really nice to have a built-in friend group– even if it was only for today. I found out that one of the girls was in my 국어 class (a class that I assumed I would hate in the future because of how the class was structured and the students own opinions on it… but I know that assumptions should not be made when studying abroad!) I was happy to know that I would now see a familiar, friendly face. Maybe I could sit with her from now on?

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For lunch that day, we had Pho (Vietnamese noodles) and chicken wings– everything was so good. But, unfortunately, we had Korean class that day so we had only 20 minutes to eat lunch which meant I wasted so much food! I would have eaten more if I had the time! We said goodbye to the girls and practically ran from the school to the bus stop so that we would not miss the earlier one this time. While waiting for the bus to arrive, Katie and I were gushing out our feelings on how happy we were that we did not eat alone and that we were able to make friends! It felt so nice~



Today, in Korean class, I was the first to arrive which was a surprise but also nice because I got to pick the window seat (it is cooler there~). Instead of learning any new grammar points this class, we focused on reviewing the four chapters that we have learned in the past three weeks (chapter 8, 9, 10, and 11). Because we were just reviewing, we had a lot of fun conversations and time to tell lots of stories. We also got to share a lot about our days. One of the funniest parts of class was me freaking out because this one random number kept calling me and I answered the call (finally) during the break time and I told him that my name was Emma and not the person he was looking for but then he kept saying things (things that I did not understand). Josh witnessed me freaking out and was just standing there watching me make a fool of myself. Finally, I hung up and then he called back again. My teacher walked in to see my freaking out and I explained it to her and she was like “give me the phone next time and I will help you.” Luckily he did not call me back again during the rest of class time. (Though the same number called me for a couple days after…)

At the end of class, we started talking about race and stereotypes. A lot of vocabulary went way over my head so it was kind of difficult to understand everything. I was getting really frustrated at this point because I really wanted to know what was happening but I could not understand so much and then when I caught on at one point, my teacher asked for my opinion but I could not express my thoughts coherently at all. I was so upset and when class ended, I was in a really bad mood. Just earlier in the day, I saw myself making language strides when talking to my classmates all in Korean and then with that conversation in class, I realized how much I have yet to learn. But it was so frustrating because my classmates already are at that point and I am so behind in comparison to them…

I did no studying this night (which honestly makes no sense because I was so frustrated in Korean class and yet I did nothing to prevent those feelings– besides convos over dinner with my host family). I just relaxed, watched iCarly with my younger host sister, worked on some blogs, and messaged my new friends! A very good day nonetheless.

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I can say the same thing about Korean class and interactions at school… I guess I was in a deep mood then XD

Thank you for reading!~ I am currently on Winter Break!!! So, hopefully, I will have more time to edit and get this posts up. I mean it is the middle of December and I am only just getting through the first week of October… my bad. It has also been more than a week since my last post, so I apologize for that. I blame the hectic schedule of our last week at 하나고. Until Next Time!

  • Emma 엠마

My NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview Experience

안녕하세요 여러분! In this blog post, I will be writing about my experience interviewing for the NSLI-Y Academic Year Program in South Korea. This interview was my third (and last) interview for NSLI-Y.

  • I interviewed with NSLI-Y, previously, during my freshman year of high school (January 2015) and during my sophomore year of high school (January 2016).

I have already written a blog post about my last two interview experiences as well as a post about tips and advice! I will link those here and here, respectively. I may do an updated blog post about tips in the near future; I feel that I can refine some of my tips and write more about what I have realized NSLI-Y is looking for. (Maybe when I have extra time this winter break?) But anyway, let’s get into my interview experience!~

NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview

Date: 01/13/18        Time: 12 pm (Noon)

I found out that I became a semi-finalist for NSLI-Y on the 1st of December at exactly 2:30 pm; however, I did not check my email until a little bit after 5:30 pm. I had speech practice until 5 pm and because of past NSLI-Y application timelines, I was already expecting the email in my inbox. (I could have checked my email at school… but in case it was going to turn out to be bad news, I refrained until I was back in my room–alone.) I actually got a really exciting college email before I opened my NSLI-Y notification, so when I saw “congratulations” at the top of the email, I started crying even louder! What was different this year in comparison to the previous times I have been interviewed was the location of the interview, the date of the interview as well as when I was informed about the details regarding my interview. So… basically, everything changed from the last two times!

Previously, many of the Greater Chicago area interviews were held at this one church; however, this year it was located at a high school. Also, the Greater Chicago area interviews were usually held on the first Sunday of the year– while this year it was the second Saturday of the month. (Which actually turned out to be better for me because this allowed me to still be present for the Alumni Representative Workshop which was during the first weekend of the year.) Additionally, I found out about the interview location and date on the 30th of December while in previous years, I found out around the middle of December.

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This building of the school was very beautiful! ❤


What I wore to my interview: red sweater dress, black tights, and simple (short) black heels.

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My interview was at noon, but I arrived at the school with my mother around 11: 15 am. We waited around in the parking lot for almost 20 minutes and then she dropped me off at the door. The “waiting room” and the interview rooms were up a flight of stairs and down a very long hallway with a couple of turns. Fortunately, there were lots of signs posted so it would have been very difficult to get lost. When I arrived early, there were three other applicants in the room. I was going to join in on this one small discussion but then I noticed a girl sitting in the back of the room with her mom. It was my friend Citlali from Startalk! We had studied Chinese together!~

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Seeing her in the room made me so much more comfortable, and I was super excited that she had made semis! (Though, I was also really salty that she (and my other fellow classmate Bruce) did not tell me that they made it! He, unfortunately, had an earlier interview time, so I missed him at the high school.

Eventually, noon rolled around and my interviewer pulled me out of the room. She was the sweetest lady ever! She made me feel very comfortable, and she was such a good listener with a very friendly face. She was an AFS volunteer and had taken a gap year with AFS in Uruguay. Additionally, her daughter was currently on a gap year with AFS in Paraguay, and she had also participated in the NSLI-Y China Summer program.

The interview questions were very similar to my last interview (and when I mean similar, there were only 2 questions that were new/different). Therefore, I was never really caught off guard with too many questions. I was able to smoothly answer all the questions with ease (mostly because I prepared for them). I was also able to engage the interviewer in conversation, and she told me stories from her and her daughter’s gap year and answered all my questions about my possible gap year in South Korea.

I came out of the interview feeling very confident in all of my answers and what I had to say. I was proud of myself for being so calm during it and being able to think on my feet for all the interview questions.

One thing I wanted to mention was something that my interviewer told me before the interview which helped ease my nerves just a little bit. She told me that her position was to be an advocate for my application. She was not going to judge my experiences as there were no right or wrong answers. She was only there to pass on as much information about me to the evaluators to aid my application. So to anyone fretting about their interview, this is something important to know!!!!

And, that is all for this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed reading it and to all the NSLI-Y applicants or semi-finalists out there, I hope this gave you some insight on the NSLI-Y interview process~ There are a lot of people that ask me what questions were given at the interview and I am sorry, but I do not think I can share that information. I wish everyone the best of luck on their interviews!! 화이팅! 친구들 다음에 봐요~~ ❤ 고마워요!

If I can, I will write an updated application blog post upload it next year when it becomes relevant once again~ I hope that my subscribers are enjoying reading what I am up on my gap year thus far (though I am about two months behind… I am sorry! Editing posts takes some time…)

  • Emma 엠마



Studying at a Cafe Near Ehwa Women’s University {10/03/18} NSLI-Y AY


Today started out right… with kimchi fried rice and an egg on top! (Look at me always thinking about food~) I sat in front of the TV with my eldest host sister and we watched ICarly while eating. After a relaxing morning with my host family, I left the house to meet up with Katie at 이대 (the area around 이화여자대학교) in order to get lunch together and then hang out at a cafe.

We originally planned to visit my favorite cafe (one that I religiously went to when I was here two years prior) but when I arrived at its location… I saw a Twosome Place instead! I was pretty disappointed. Katie and I walked around for a bit trying to find a cheap place to eat. We decided to go to this restaurant with 냉면 (cold water noodles) in the name; however, there was no 냉면 on the menu? I ended up ordering this spicy noodle dish thinking I could handle them… boy, I was wrong. I later showed my mom the picture of the food afterward and she was like “You tried eating that? Some Koreans think that is too spicy. No wonder you did not finish it all!” They were not that bad if you do not count the fact that my mouth felt like it was going to disintegrate because of the heat and spice…


After we had lunch, we attempted to find a cafe to sit at and do work (I planned to do my Korean homework while Katie wanted to decorate some notebooks she bought at Artbox for school.) But, we also really wanted dessert (me specifically because I did not eat much of the noodles and I wanted something cold and refreshing ASAP!). We ended up at 설빙 (a famous 빙수 {Korean Shaved Ice} place).

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Feeling like experimenting, we decided to try out the 초코첵스빙수 (Chocolate Chex (cereal) Bingsu). And it was probably the best decision I made that day. (Comparing it to those spicy noodles, it definitely was!) It was so delicious! And the 빙수 came with a little bowl of milk to pour on top which made it feel like we were eating cereal! We ate the 빙수 pretty quickly and then stayed to study for about two more hours.

I came home afterward to be early enough to eat dinner with my host family. My host mom made these cute little skewer things with spicy 떡 (rice cakes) and sausage which ended up becoming one of my favorite things (that she has made so far) so dinner was great. We also talked more during that dinner. My mom finished decorating our home back in America for Halloween, and I showed my host mom and sisters all the photos. My mom goes crazy when it comes to decorations, so they were truly amazed to see everything. My youngest sister even got a little scared when looking at the zombie decorations and the severed heads, etc.

I studied more at night because I had a test the next day. I reviewed the two chapters of vocab that we learned and then I also went through my quizlets a couple of times. I am really thankful for this day off~ I needed some time away from the demanding things in my life right now to take a breather. (Did I mention that I did not go to school–on this Wednesday–because it is Foundation Day (개천절날) in Korea? The holiday celebrates the formation of the first Korean state Gojoseon (고조선) and is considered to be the date in which the Korean People were founded.)

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Enjoy this picture of my host sister wearing my uniform jacket ❤

Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Subscribe to be updated when I post regularly! This is a very short blog post for me~ (Usually, I would combine this day with the next day…) However, I will be uploading an extra blog post next week because NSLI-Y Semi-Finalist Notifications are coming out! (They are probably out by the time I post this!) I want to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to those moving onto the next step of the NSLI-Y applications! And to those that are not… I hope you continue to apply or at least continue to find some way to fuel this language-learning passion of yours~ My next post will be my Academic Year Interview Experience. I will link that here (when it is up).

  • Emma 엠마