Eating Waffles to Deal With My Emotions (10/23/18) NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/23/18

I had to run back to my host family’s apartment in the morning because I was having a left-my-wallet-in-my-room-and-literally-realized-I-forgot-it-when-I-was-right-outside-of-the-subway-exit-3-minutes-until-my-train-arrives kind of day. I met up with Katie at the subway station about 14 minutes later than I usually do, which freaked both her and me out. Fortunately, we arrived with 5 minutes to get to our homerooms before the bell (or music melody technically…) started.

waffle 1

My first period was the English mentoring program with these three second-year students. We had some really fun conversations. I first showed them pictures of some famous American and Cuban foods because we talked about Korean food last time; however, I had no pictures prepared or WiFi to look things up for them with. They seemed to get the most excited when I showed them Chicago deep dish pizza and the Philly Cheese Steaks. After that, they wanted to do this game where they would play a  Korean song and I would need to say the lyrics that I heard. This immediately scared me because my listening comprehension is… nonexistent. (Especially because I can never understand songs anyways.) We tried Twice’s TT song at first… but no, it was too fast. We then did the three little bears song, which I did just fine on thank you very much, but it was deemed too easy for me so we tried this song about Mothers. I could understand parts but I did not want to be wrong, so I simply said I did not understand. We quickly threw away that idea and just talked about random topics– mostly comparing American high school with Korean high school but also everyday life. I talked about suburbs for a bit and told them that yes, a good majority of Americans actually live in houses; they are not just in movies. Korea actually does not really have suburbs. 호영 compared suburbs to apartment complexes– just that houses are replaced with large apartments. We also talked about general school rules. I explained that in America (unlike Korea) only private or religious schools wear uniforms. Most public schools allow students to wear whatever they want (while following a dress code of course). We also talked about 하나고 rules like no relationships, no eating ramen, etc. The conversation was very interesting and I enjoyed speaking with the guys.

I had 국어 next and boy… it was interesting? I did not really understand anything that happened in the class except for this one story: a story about a goat. (Or at least I think I understood? I might be wrong?) The teacher literally said that when he was young, he heard that if you poured water in a goat’s ear, they would die. His mom confirmed this thought and said that she heard it from her grandfather. He later tries to pour water in a goat’s ear with his friends and they are surprised when it does not die. That was it. Or at least I think that was the end of that…there seemed to be no moral to the story. It was funny, nonetheless. Also in that class, I sat next to 윤세 (We went to 스포츠 몬스터 together!) and we got to talk a bit. I am glad that I now have a friend in that class!

My last class of the day was World History–I prepared myself to not understand anything that would be said in class. I sat next to my friend 지은 and we talked a bit about her tests. She was mad because she spelled something wrong on the World History test. Our notes today were in Korean so it was harder for me to follow along. I also was very tired, and so I kept nodding off at some points. (I was grateful for the fact that we screamed that independence song during this period of the class because that helped me stay awake!) I ended up running off to meet Katie during the break time because I needed someone to talk to.

Lunchtime eventually rolled around and I never know what we eat, to be honest… I should probably start paying attention to the menu that they always have up near the start of the lunch line. Today we had some beef in spicy sauce, rice, mushrooms, kimchi, and these noodles that looked similar to ramen but after eating them, you could tell they definitely were not. We were leaving school early today, so we arrived at 홍대 a bit earlier than usual. I hung out at the Youth Center for a bit to talk with the other NSLI-Yians. I lost track of time and had to run a little bit to get to the Better World Office on time.

waffle 4

I’m going to be honest, class was really rough today. We started off the class reading this Korean story that Josh found online. I don’t know where he found it but it said level 3 on the top left corner and I have since come to the conclusion that I am not deserving to be at level three. I had no clue what was going on. Want to know the story plot? Sorry, but I can’t tell you. I got literally nothing from that story. The teacher explained the difficult and new vocabulary but I still didn’t know what was going on. I annotated the first couple of pages but then after a while, I gave up. I wasn’t understanding it whatsoever. The grammar, the vocab, all of it. We spent almost an hour and a half on this story which directly correlates to me spending almost an hour and a half in Korean class comprehending nothing. The words were also not very widely used so writing them down almost served no purpose as I would rarely see them used in real conversations. After reading the story, our teacher asked how we felt about it and both Josh and Jacquelyn thought it was a fun read though Jacquelyn had a bit of trouble staying awake. I just sat in silence feeling completely and utterly incompetent.

Afterward, I figured we would learn some new grammar points {we have one chapter left of our text book} but that did not happen… our teacher closed the book and we just talked about a variety of things. Nothing of too much use, though. The conversation was fun but I felt that I had wasted this class because I didn’t feel that I got much out of it. I was disappointed with the class as well as my performance in it. At the end of class, our teacher talked to us about switching the books we use in class. Possibly ditching the 이화 books and using the grammar book. This made me pretty upset. The grammar book was great and I had been using it to support my studying but I wanted to stay on the path that everyone else was on too. However, Josh and Jacquelyn seemed pretty fond of the idea??? This just made me feel like more of a burden in the class. I don’t want to keep them from learning and I do agree that I should be struggling a bit to grow, but I don’t want to spend most of the class being confused and not knowing anything. Additionally, my comfort with using some of the “beginner” or “basic” grammar points is kind of shaky because I was put into the “intermediate” class at 숙대 and I had to teach myself some concepts and I had to do the same thing this time around because I was placed in the advanced class… I don’t know these are my thoughts and I know they are pretty negative but I needed to get them out there. I’m really struggling in Korean class with this placement. It just seems that with every stride in the right direction, something pulls me back—making me feel inadequate. I know everyone struggles with their language journey… but sometimes it’s hard to focus on the improvement instead of the distance left to go.

After class, I stayed behind to talk to 민정쌤 but she didn’t seem to have gotten the fact that I wanted to let off some steam so I shortly left for the subway by myself. While I was walking back, I ran into Katie who stayed to talk to me—see if I was alright. What did I do to deserve such a good best friend?!? We walked down the nature path near exit three of the subway station and let each other complain and rant. It was nice to be able to put everything in words and hear some encouragement from Katie. We are not in the same situation but knowing that someone else is struggling too, makes the whole thing feel a bit more comforting. After that, we decided to split a waffle. We went to this one place called 와플 대학 (Waffle University) that had self-order machines. Luckily, we were able to deal with that just fine! We ordered a cheesecake Nutella waffle which consisted of what it sounds like: Nutella, cheesecake bites, and vanilla gelato. So good!

waffle 3

After the waffle break, we both headed home for the night. I ate dinner with my host family before playing a board game with one of my host sisters. The rest of the night was spent writing a blog post and creating Quizlet sets. I planned to go to bed early… but instead, I stayed up watching Youtube videos. I fell asleep a bit before 11:30 pm. That was my day… there was a lot to it– both good and bad. Right now life is a bit tough; however, I know I can get through it and persevere! Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more (hopefully less negative/emotional in comparison to this one! But who knows what this year will bring. I can still say this because it is the beginning of my exchange… I do not even know how it will feel when I am already halfway done… Ew let us not think that far in the future!)

waffle 2

Authors Note: That is the end of this blog post! I just wanted to say (mostly so I do not get an abundance of worried texts from my family and close friends) that I do not feel so negative towards Korean class anymore! This was not even a month into the program, so me struggling was pretty inevitable. I still have my bad days (which will be evident in future blog posts) but I also have many good days! Okay, that is all. Thanks for reading!~

  • Emma 엠마

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