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

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