Chicken Bus and Karaoke: Tuesday Night Out {10/16/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/16/18 Tuesday

Today’s plan was to meet Katie at 10:30 in 홍대 in order to do some hardcore studying at a cafe. This was the intended plan; however, I was late—as usual. The reason being me underestimating how long my laundry would take. After my host family left in the morning, I did a load of laundry consisting of my pants and school uniform because I wanted to have that ready for next week {and I high key desperately needed some more pants to wear!} I also might have put wet clothes in my suitcase… YIKES. How fast does mold grow…

I got to 홍대 around 11:20 and met up with Katie at Angel In Us Coffee. Their vanilla latte was good, but the WiFi was terrible. I connected my phone and laptop to it but none of my pages would ever load. I think I was able to send one Snapchat on the WiFi. I couldn’t do my Quizlets and my teacher had my notebook, so I spent the hour just writing some lines for my presentation offline on Google Docs.

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One funny thing that happened at the cafe was that I ordered a hot vanilla cafe latte which was priced at 5,300 Won. I gave the barista 6,000 Won. {That is about $5.30 and $6.00 respectively.} Though this was the case, and you’d expect me to get only 700 Won back in charge… I ended up getting 4,000 Won in charge. When he handed me the bills, I was so confused. Confused as to why I was getting any change in bills seeing that I didn’t give him any large bills. I walked up to the second floor where Katie was sitting and told her about my 90+% discounted drink. I thought about going back down to say something but my Korean was and is not good enough for that so… I was glad that my stipend could stretch a bit further!~

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After the cafe, we rushed to meet Kaitlyn and Alix at one of the station exits to grab lunch which we were also late to too. We feared we would not have enough time to eat but it turned out fine~ We had time to spare too! Kaitlyn recommended this place because the food was so cheap! I got this huge delicious 치즈돈까스 for 6,500 Won and the normal one is only 5,500 Won!

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After lunch, we all stopped by the convenience store and picked up ice cream. I got carp bread ice cream which is filled with red bean (not fish flavored!!!)~ Something I’ve been wanting to have again since coming back to Korea. It was so good! Definitely my favorite ice cream here (not too sweet all!)

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I hung out with the other NSLI-Y students at the youth center for a bit before leaving with Josh and Jacquelyn to walk to Better World. 민정쌤 was there to hand out stipends to the 1반 2반 students so we figured she’d meet us at Better World later. But right as we were opening the door for the building, she showed up out of nowhere. We actually technically showed up to class a little less than 10 minutes late but it was alright because 민정쌤 let us know earlier on in the day that our Korean teacher was going to be 10 minutes late, so we took our sweet time showing up to class.

Class today was a bit of struggle I’m going to be honest… the end of this book just happens to have these grammar points that are so abstract to me. And though I can read the English explanation over and over, I can’t seem to understand how exactly to form the sentence.

There was one point in our conversation dialogue practice that my teacher was trying to get me to come to the conclusion that I should use 는데 rather than 어서 and I was not getting what she was trying to beat around the bush to say. I sat there uncomfortably trying to see my mistake until I finally looked at the example and copied it. And then, she asked me to explain how I feel when I notice a lot of similarities between 하나고 and my American high school experience. I wanted to describe that when I see similar things at 하나고 that I am reminded of my time in high school and I think about the memories— basically reminiscing. I didn’t want to say it in English so I tried my best to describe it but I was struggling so hard that I was near tears. But looking back at it now, I’m just so emotional. I can’t expect myself to be able to coherently and accurately express all my thoughts right now. I just have to get to the point that I can deal with the times where I feel like I’m stuck unable to say anything. It will take some time but I have 8 more months left for that~ GROWTH MINDSET!!!!

After class, 9 out of 16 of us met up to eat fried chicken at this place Liam wanted to go to. We thought the name of the place was exceptionally strange: Chicken Bus. Mostly we were going for the meme. We fit the loud foreigner stereotype to a T during that dinner— we were laughing and yelling… wow was it a night. But honestly, I didn’t mind, it was a Tuesday night and beside us, the place was empty. We ended up ordering 4 different types of chicken and I believe we only left one piece after the night was over. We ordered a black pepper garlic kind, a cheesy original kind, a spicy kind, and a sweet spicy kind. They were all very delicious but I felt that one of my garlic pieces was undercooked? So I only had one of that type. During dinner, I got to talk to June and Shada more which was so nice because I never seem to be able to hang out with them.

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After chicken, everyone was still set on doing another activity so we went to a coin 노래방 and it was my first time going to one~ In the past, I’ve only gone to ones where you pay to have the room for an hour for a certain price. These rooms allow you to use coins to pay which is extremely convenient because everyone always has lots of coins but usually never ends up using them. I believe at this place {Owned by June’s host uncle actually} cost 300 Won {about 30 cents USD} for one song and 500 Won {about 50 cents USD} for two songs. We sang our little hearts out to a variety of artists: Seventeen, SHINee, Nicki Minaj, Twice, Apink, Ailee, Kwill, BTS, Gfriend, Taeyang, etc

Our throats were sore and dry afterward but it was so very worth it. I totally 100% acknowledge the fact that I am probably the worst singer to live on this planet but that won’t stop me from belting out those high notes. When Karaoke was over, most of us separated to go home but I still wasn’t ready to leave. I walked with Jacquelyn and Liam over to a park area and bought ice cream at the convenience store. We ate our ice cream bars while watching this busker and he was very talented. A voice like honey~ He was playing the encore song when we were watching him but then he ended up playing two more. He also sang some song in English but before he did that, he apologized for not being able to speak English well. Nevertheless, he did amazing! He was worrying for no reason.

I went home after that— getting home at 9:15 which is pretty late for me. Our curfew is 9:30 so I was on time but usually, I come home only a little after 8 pm. I told my host mom where I was and so it was alright plus, I really enjoyed spending that time with my NSLI-Y cohort~ Where would I be without them? I don’t know!

The rest of the night was spent me worrying over my laundry and adding more things to my presentation. I didn’t do much, to be honest, as I was exhausted. Tomorrow is going to be a cafe day so I’ll get it done then~

That’s all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Subscribe for more by just adding your email~ Thank you! 다음에 봐요~

  • Emma 엠마

Exploring, Studying, and Exploring While Studying {10/14-10/15/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/14/18 Sunday

This Sunday was such a nice morning; I got to sleep in, eat a nice breakfast, and scream at the sight of live fish squirming around in the kitchen sink. In reality, this was my morning but I didn’t scream— my two host sisters took care of that. I just watched the fish in amazement because my host dad and host brother caught those fish. As a girl who has never really been fishing, I was shocked that they could actually catch fish that big and that many too!


Said Fish

This morning was really chill. We stayed in our PJs well until lunch time and I just sat around with my host sister as we watching American Nickelodeon shows. Eventually, I returned to my room to actually be productive. I wrote some blog posts and then I finished my Korean homework. I had done the workbook pages at school on Friday, but I had to also write a short paragraph comparing two different popular types of public transportation {in two different countries}.

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떡국과 만두 (Rice cake soup with dumplings)

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I skyped some friends from home this morning too! ❤

Then during the late afternoon, I went to this fair for children they were having near the subway station with my host sisters. I believe that the fair was sponsored by the local libraries? Around the square, there were tents set up with different activities like a Halloween storytelling, decorating bookmarks, drawing WEBTOON style stories, etc. You could tell that my youngest sister felt a bit uncomfortable having only me there so she went home to get her mom. My eldest host sister stayed with me and we made our own bookmarks together. We used stamps to decorate them and I wrote a cheesy wish on mine: to be able to read books in Korean. {We can start with children books.}

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We kept walking around and got this free rice shack that popped out of this machine. There wasn’t much taste but I enjoyed the snack. We also took a photo with 고양시’s mascot which is a 고양이 {cat}. After that, we continued to walk down the main street near the subway station and I realized that it had so many things: cheap restaurants, chain stores, makeup, clothes etc. I will have to go back to explore. While we there, we went into a store that I had never been to before but it reminded me of Olive Young {Korean store} and Walgreens. My host mom bought some beauty products while my host sisters bought a bag of jelly candy.

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The rest of the night was pretty ordinary. I continued to study well into the night. I came out for dinner with my host family—we had Koreanized spaghetti—and then returned to my room. I was preparing for a quiz the following day so I broke out my textbook, grammar book, and workbook to read through example sentences and practice the grammar points. I went to bed a bit before midnight which isn’t exactly unusual for me but I was studying up until I decided to go to bed. Usually, I study till 10 and stay up to watch YouTube videos, chat with friends, relax, etc so it was a different feeling— I was mentally exhausted that day.


10/15/18 Monday

This morning I slept in till 8 am, allowing myself to get 8 hours of sleep. I woke up and got ready in my room for a bit. I could hear my sisters leaving for school and my host brother eating breakfast while I was packing my bag and organizing my room. Eventually, I came out, and joined the world, to eat breakfast and such. I sat down and my host mom left with my host brother for their daily routine. I ate breakfast alone but enjoyed the peace and quiet— I also got to talk to some friends while eating which was nice.

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Fried Kimchi Rice! The best breakfast!

I met up with Katie in 홍대 in order to go to a cafe and study for a bit. We chose to go to the cheesecake cafe I had bought my host dad’s birthday present at because it was so pretty! Plus there were lots of seats and good WiFi albeit a bit pricey. When we got there, we realized that it wouldn’t open for another hour so I went to Daiso to pass the time. I bought a folder for school {which I’ve been meaning to do} and two notebooks for school. I bought these really cute ones that had phrases about studying across the front.

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Eventually, it was 11 am and we made our way to C27 Cheesecake Cafe which is such an adorable cafe. There’s this giant roller coaster that goes through the entire cafe and it lights up. There’s a huge Ferris wheel and gears that move and silver and gold balloons hanging from the ceiling. There are so many good places to take pictures but because Katie and I were high key grinding for our assessments, we only took photos at our seats. We will have to come back {not right when it opens so the cheesecakes won’t be frozen} in order to get photos. I spent the two hours memorizing vocab words on Quizlet and practicing grammar points while Katie studied linear algebra and vocabulary.

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Around 1 pm, we left the cafe and headed over to the youth center and hung out with the other students in the lobby. I left a bit early to walk to class and I ran into Josh on the way there. We talked about his day of school and the struggle of being good enough at Korean to continue a conversation but not good enough to do much else {also talked about his struggles with Korean girls fawning over him. Oh, what a struggle! haha just kidding}.

In Korean class, we got distracted many times from our lessons to have random conversations. We talked about Korean couple culture for a bit and how that differs from years past as well as American culture. This class was a bit difficult for me because I had some trouble coming up with example sentences for many of the grammar points. I would sit there believing I knew how to use the point but when asked to make a hypothetical situation to use the grammar, I was speechless. Class ended and we were saved by the “bell” really because we were going to do this conversation activity that I hate but we ran out of time. *happy dance*


This is a lovely drawing of Josh’s brain which includes candy corn as the biggest category, Korean, dragons, coffee and saying “ah yes.”

After Korean class, I went home right away— arrived just a bit past 6 pm and the train wasn’t that crowded. When I got home, I ate dinner with my host sister and host mom before my sisters had their Chinese classes in the living room. I went to my room, closed the door, and studied. I finished the workbook pages I could do and made some Quizlet sets. I even got to talk to my mom via video call for 40 minutes which was really nice. When I was texting her good morning, I started getting teary-eyed for no reason; I was so confused. When I asked her if she was busy and she replied with cleaning the bathrooms, tears started falling from my eyes onto my desk. She then told me to call her if I wanted to talk so I did. And the minute the camera turned on and I saw her face, I started crying. I tried my best to muffle the cries so hopefully, my host family didn’t hear them but my sniffles were pretty hard to mask. Eventually, my mom started updating me about what had been going on back home which made me feel better and I soon stopped crying.

I don’t know it was like all of a sudden I was so emotional and missing everyone and everything. It was my dog’s birthday the day before and my mom sent me a video of my dog Biscotti eating bacon and her singing happy birthday to him in a silly, high-pitched voice and seeing that video made me sad. It made me miss my mom and my dog because I missed his first birthday. And the other day I video called almost all of my big group of friends back home and talking and laughing with them made me miss them so much. Additionally, my mom has been kind of bad at texting me lately so I think that messed with my head, too. Basically, all these things added up to feeling so very homesick although I’m having a blast in Korea. And it’s strange to think back too because I was not homesick really at all during the summer program. I mean sure there were times when I missed my mom and wanted to see her but I never had an emotional breakdown over it. I know this year will be different but it hasn’t even been 6 weeks! Or 5 for that matter…

But I know have such great, supportive people surrounding me like my resident director, my host family, and all my NSLIY friends {especially Katie ❤ I couldn’t survive without her!!} and I know this unexplainable {but pretty reasonable} crying will continue throughout the duration of this program, but I just need to dry my eyes and remember that this will be a year to remember forever and always. I must make the most of it!

That’s all for this blog post~ Thanks for reading and I’m sorry for getting a bit emotional at the end but that’s a real exchange for you!!! Emotions!!

  • Emma 엠마

Wearing Hanbok at Gyeongbokgung, Tongin Market, and Playing Board Games {10/13/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/13/18 Saturday

The first cultural activity/excursion of the NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year 2018-2019 Program! I had been looking forward to this day for so long because it was rescheduled about three times. Originally, we were supposed to have this excursion back in September; however, I am happier that it was put off till now because the weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold. It was a perfect day to be walking around the palace grounds wearing hanbok.

We all met at 경복궁역 early in the morning around 9 am. I did not have time to eat breakfast because my host family was still sleeping by the time I left the house and I decided to prioritize sleep over giving myself time to buy some breakfast on the way to the palace. When I got to the meeting place, 민정쌤 said I had 3 minutes to go by something. I ran down the stairs with Josh and Jack (as they wanted to buy coffee) but I decided to give up as I saw nothing in the direction they were running towards. As I was about to return to the group, I saw this small bakery around the corner and I went to scout out what I could buy for breakfast there. At first, all I saw were cupcakes but then I saw a 치즈크림번 (Cream Cheese Bun) and I ended up ordering that. I was technically one minute late when I returned with breakfast in hand, but the 인천 girls still had not arrived yet so it was not a big deal. Jack and Josh returned with no coffee and I told them I found a place selling coffee so they left to get some.

All 16 of us piled into the 한복 rental place and basically filled up the entire room. We put all our belongings into lockers and then got to pick out the skirts and tops we wanted to wear. We were picking from the traditional 한복 rather than the premium (more modern) dresses. Though, I definitely want to return to 경복궁 and the 인사동 area to take photos wearing those types of 한복. (Maybe during the spring? I would wear a brighter color like pink or blue~)

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At the Hanbok Rental Place

I really wanted to wear a red 한복 to match the architectural aesthetic of the palace and so I picked out this red skirt with some flowers lining the bottom. At first, I imagined a white/gold top to match with it but the lady that was assisting me picked out a dark emerald green top instead. I loved these two colors paired together. I was worried it would remind me too much of Christmas… but I thought that it was too pretty and very traditional. Later, Kaitlyn told me that I looked like a “cute little tomato” which I took offense at first. But honestly, I rocked that tomato look!

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Happy Laughing Tomato

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We took so many photos! I would not be surprised if our resident director 민정쌤 took several hundred photos. We took several group photos with and without our NSLI-Y banner. Not only would our RD have tons of photos just because of the sheer of amount of locations we posed at, but because she would also take photos by holding down on the button so that she took photos in bursts. We could hear the insane amount of shutter sounds and could not help but laugh.


NSLI-Y AY 2018-2019

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One thing that I still find so weird when visiting such touristy places is how some of the other tourists react to seeing other foreigners– specifically some of the Chinese tourists. While we were posing for group photos or individual shots, many of them would come up behind our RD or whoever was snapping the picture to take photos of us. I was so confused as to why they were taking our photos– especially without asking. At one point, while I was walking around the palace with a group of NSLI-Yians, this one Chinese man came up to us and tried to take a selfie with us girls without even asking! He just came up to us and put his arm and phone in front of our faces. I quickly ducked and ran under his arm away from the group with Liam and Josh. I turned around to see him walking towards another student and getting her to take a photo with him. I do not know exactly why but this makes me feel so uncomfortable. Maybe I am over the honeymoon phase where pictures and stares are not a big deal– the attention might be liked; however, I do not think like that. I find this treatment utterly comfortable.

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3반 – Jacquelyn & Josh & Me! (My Korean Class)

Walking around the palace in 한복 was such a fun experience~ I got to hang out more with NSLI-Y students I do not see as often due to our different locations, host schools, and language classes and talk about how we have been. But also, just walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the architecture and feeling like I was transported back in time was amazing. I did not get a chance to do this during the summer program, so I was happy to have the experience today~

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Follow me around the Palace Grounds!~ ❤

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After we finished up our two-hour rental with the 한복s, we walked over to 통인시장 (Tongin Market) for lunch. I visited 통인시장 with my Korean class during my participation in the NSLI-Y summer program in 2016 and loved every moment of it: ordering food using traditional money, eating the delicious food, and being able to walk around and see everything the stalls have to offer. We were given 10 엽전 (Korean brass coins — an old form of currency) pronounced yeop-jeon which is the equivalent of 5,000 won or about $5. We were set loose to get whatever food we wanted and boy, did I get so much food. I tried to get a good variety that was different than what I ate last time. I think I succeeded!

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엽전 (Korean brass coins — an old form of currency)

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Left to Right: Alix, Josh, Jack, & Kaitlyn

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Spicy Chicken, 잡채 (Sweet Potato Noodles), 만두 (Korean dumplings), some kind of 전 (Korean style fried savory pancake)

Our cultural activity officially finished after lunch, so we were let loose to do whatever we wanted (while abiding by program rules of course!) I texted my host mom asking her if they had any plans for today because I did want to stay out a little bit longer. She let me know that there was nothing planned and that I could come home whenever was comfortable for me. I ended up going to 이대 (the area around 이화여자대학교– Ewha Woman’s University). We went to this cafe that doubles as a study cafe (there is another room on second floor that is completely quiet for studying purposes) called Waffle It Up. We ended up staying there for about two hours talking and playing card games. We played Go Fish and Flip (A new card game I never knew about previously: Jacquelyn taught it to us.) while enjoying our cafe orders. Katie and I shared some waffles and a scoop of gelato which was not badly priced at all! (It was about $7!)

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We walked from that Cafe in 이대 to 신촌 just to walk around for a bit as we had some energy left. While we were there, there happened to be this battle game championship in the streets, a market festival type thing, and live music. It was very interesting. We then walked from 신촌 to 홍대 where we split up. Jacquelyn, Liam, Josh, and Jack decided to keep walking around while Katie and I decided to go home. I was tired and thought I had been out long enough while Katie wanted to do college applications and study math. Before we separated to go on our respective train lines, I found a phone in the bathroom. I brought it to the station info center and asked this worker where the lost and found center was. At that moment, someone called the phone, so I gave him the phone to deal with it. I felt bad for leaving him with this problem but I was not about to answer that phone and possibly talk to the owner. I already had trouble explaining the original situation to the worker. I hope that person found their phone alright!

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I got home a bit before 5 pm and spent the rest of the evening catching up on blog posts (I finally caught up! I am back on track~) and bonding with my host family. For dinner, we ate fish that my host dad and host brother caught that morning! I guess it was their attempt to redeem themselves from catching nothing when we all went to 강화도. We also ate 회 or raw fish which was tasty when I wrapped it with lettuce and put some sauce and garlic on top. Later that evening, I played a board game with my host sisters and host dad that very strongly resembles Monopoly. It was called the Blue Marble Game (부루마불게임) which is called Blue Marble (even though blue marbles are never used in the actual game) because the Earth is kind of like a Blue Marble? To be honest, I have never heard of the Earth being referred to as that but you live and you learn I guess~ Basically, the board game had many famous cities from all over the world and you have to buy them for their property value in order to earn lots of money to by building hotels and such. The game was fun but confusing at the same time because I kept landing on spaces that required me to draw cards but most of the time I could not read the card. Additionally, Korean money over 5만원 (~$50) confuses me so much so this game helped me feel more comfortable saying and figuring out larger amounts of money in Korean currency. My host sister ended up winning while my host dad had to sell all his cities and became bankrupt. I guess that meant I got second place? It was a very fun game and I would love to see how it would be different to play once my Korean improves more.

That is all for this blog post!~ It is a long one because of how much I wrote (we did a lot okay!!) and because of all the photos I have added to it. Nonetheless, if you got through it all, thanks~ I hope you enjoyed~

And Happy New Year! I am posting this on Jan 1st in both Korean and America on purpose– just so I could say Happy New Year and genuinely mean it!~ I hope 2019 is filled with plenty of happiness and good people for both you and me! I have some goals that I want to accomplish regarding my time here and my language progress, so hopefully, those resolutions (if you will) will actually be completed!

  • Emma 엠마