NSLI-Y Reunion at Yonsei University (연세 대학교 – 신촌) and Cute Cafes (12/18-12/19/18) NSLI-Y AY

12/18/18 Tuesday

Tuesday was productive! I might have slept in a little too late… but besides that, I was able to do laundry which was desperately needed for a while now. However, due to my productivity mixed with not managing my time well, I was late meeting up with Katie to study at a cafe before class. I did end up getting there eventually! We just hung out at TwoSome Place for around an hour trying to cram study for our quizzes and I attempted to finish my workbook. (Attempted… did not finish, unfortunately).


We both got lunch from the 편의점 and hung out at the youth center while eating. I felt like I had not seen everyone in so long even though we were all together for activities on Saturday. One highlight from then was the moment Kaitlyn told us her ridiculous dream about program dismissal after she walked off the elevator shaking around a cup of yogurt and granola yelling program dismissal in a booming voice. She told us she had a dream that 민정쌤 came up to her while she was eating yogurt and granola and told her to pack up her bags because she was being dismissed from the program and being sent back to America. Kaitlyn was shocked and asked why and 민정쌤 pulled out the contract that we all signed stating that we would abide by all NSLI-Y rules and pointed to a clause in really really really fine print that read “participants shall not eat yogurt and granola.” Everyone in the room erupted in laughter at her story. It was fun and I will never be able to forget it (especially whenever I eat yogurt).


Korean class today was pretty good as well. We actually learned a grammar point that I studied (partly) the week before. I have been wanting to know how to express hypothetical situations (ㄴ/는다면), so I self-studied it. Because of this, I found the class a bit easier as I was able to follow along. I also studied the new chapter’s vocab which helped immensely, too. Besides that, nothing about the class was too memorable. We did have some fun conversations about winning the lottery, becoming invisible, and such. We talked about pollution and the melting ice glaciers in the North and South Pole which made me feel like I was somewhat good at Korean seeing that I could understand that conversation and add my two cents. Positive Vibes.

During one of the breaks, I went with Josh to this cafe (I think it is called Starlight–별빛) and the barista talked to us and asked us about Korean class–it was really cute. Josh goes there every Monday and Tuesday to buy coffee and I can see why. The prices were pretty good and the atmosphere was super adorable! They also had rainbow cake! I definitely want to try that sometime~ I will have to bring Katie.

I went home right away after class but as soon as I sat down in front of my desk at home, my host mom calls me to tell me that we will be eating Chinese food out. She sent me the address and told me to use the internet to find it. I was confident that I could do it once I realized how close it was (A big thanks to Kakao Maps), and I eventually figured out that we had been there once prior around the time of my younger host sister’s birthday. I waited outside the restaurant for a bit because my host family was coming back from getting photos taken. When I saw my host dad and eldest host sister from the corner of my eye, I was so relieved. Finally, I could escape the cold (and the stares from the other passersby). We all shared some 짜장면, 짬뽕, and 탕수육. Everything was very delicious.


While we were eating, I goofed around with my host sisters. They kept mimicking my movements and what I said in order to annoy me (glad to know that children all around the world have the same annoying tactics). I also taught them how to drink tea like British royalty (pinky up!).

12/19/18  Wednesday

(Song – Back in Time (Lyn))

Today I met up with Addie after she had her 연세 interview (She is trying to get admitted there for university! If things work out well, she will be in Korea for the next 4 years! UPDATE: She got in! Full scholarship and everything!) to hang out at a cafe and get some work done. I have finally downloaded Mango Plate (I believe it is comparable to Yelp? If that is even used in America?) which shows you the best-reviewed cafes and restaurants in the area. Using that app, Addie found this tiny cafe on the second floor of this building which served pretty expensive drinks but the atmosphere and cookies were worth it. Actually, when we were trying to find the cafe, the stairs up to it were pretty sketchy, to be honest. The cafe interior reminded me of the basement of a British bar (not that I actually have experience in that type of location). All the tables had red plaid tablecloths and the music that was playing was strictly classical. It was really nice though~ Addie and I sat at the windowsill and enjoyed the good desserts and drinks while people watching in between studying.


Addie and I studied and were mostly productive for around 5 hours! Yeah, I am not kidding. We truly grinded~ I finished so many workbook pages, edited some blog posts, and memorized lots and lots of vocabulary. When 6:00 pm rolled around, we made our way to the 연세 university campus to meet up with NSLI-Y Summer 2016 Alumna Adilene. We got there about 15 minutes early (and she ended up being a little bit late) so Addie walked with me through campus. She showed me some of the buildings and this one statue. Previous to today, I had never been on the campus and it felt really cool being able to walk around even if it was only for a few minutes. I have not had the opportunity to visit many college campuses (less than a handful) so I still feel in awe whenever I walk on a huge campus. Seeing busy students walk by–the hustle and bustle of everything–makes me excited and terrifies me at the same time!

Eventually, Adilene showed up and we went and had dinner at Kyochon Chicken. While we were studying, Addie and I realized that that restaurant was right in front of the cafe and once we spotted it, we could not help but crave chicken. After eating some delicious chicken (Honey & Soy Garlic), we updated each other on our own lives and reminisced on our pasts–just like my meeting with Madeline. Wow, so many meetings with old friends this week! I am so grateful to have met so many amazing people these past few years~ Adilene goes to school in the states but attended 연세 for this semester to complete her year of study abroad. (For her next semester, she will be attending a university in Tokyo, Japan!) Catching up was very nice~ I hope we can meet up very soon (Either again in Korea if she comes back while she is in Japan, or in NYC during the summer/school year~)

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Subscribe to my blog for more posts about my travels in South Korea as a part of my gap year before university! Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

Pancake Brunch, Dinner with NSLI-Y Summer RD, and New Host Family Information {12/17/18} NSLI-Y AY

12/17/18 Monday

Today was the first day of winter break for Katie and me! We planned to start it off with a bang!! And what better way to accomplish that than with a pancake brunch? (This is a hypothetical question but even if you did answer, I feel like I can be assured that you would say nothing because…well, pancakes!) Katie and I went to Flapjack Pantry which is a breakfast/brunch place really close to the Better World Office. 민정쌤 recommended it to us when we first arrived in Korea, so I have been wanting to try it out since. Katie had gone last month with Jacqulyn and Liam and with her stamp of approval, we went.


We shared a plate of chocolate chip pancakes and a side of fries. Everything was quite delicious. Although my local diner still serves up some of the best chocolate chip pancakes I have ever tasted, these were pretty good too. (Though, I take points off for the fake chocolate syrup drizzled over the top. I would have much rather preferred straight up chocolate chips.) The fries were honestly the best part because they were not sweet! What a concept! (Subtle shade to the majority of fries in Korea)


Lovely Painting at the brunch place

After brunch, we went to the Better World Office to cheat them of their wifi and study in my classroom rather than going to a cafe and having to pay for an expensive drink for only an hour or so of study time. When we got to the office, there was no one there. We looked around and were worried that it was a bad idea to come early but then we realized they were on lunch and in the break room. After a very awkward interaction with 민정쌤 and 소영쌤, Katie and I studied vocab together in the classroom.


In Korean class, I felt good– useful even. I had looked over the grammar points before class so there were not any moments when I felt confused trying to piece together my teacher’s explanations of the meaning behind grammar points. I also memorized all the vocabulary from the chapter the night before, so I found the example sentences and dialogues easier to understand the first time through. And, when 민정쌤 came in to observe, I was able to do a good job in creating example sentences. I even joked around at one point. We were using the grammar point 나 보다 to speculate why Jacquelyn’s voice was gone. Josh said that she might have caught a cold. In a moment of random confidence for me, I shout out, “Or last night she went to a 노래방!” Everyone laughed and I was glad that I allowed myself to speak my mind even if it was just for that one sentence in Korean class– stepping stones.

After class, we had our bi-weekly meeting, so 3반 made their way over to the youth center for all of 민정쌤’s announcements. She updated us on the Christmas party, our reflections that were due on Thursday, and how the rest of December was looking (schedule-wise). She shared what days each high school would be having off for winter break and what to tell our host families regarding our plans for the 24th and 25th of December. After the meeting, everyone that would be switching host families stuck around and were given our new placement information. However, before she handed out the sheets of paper, she started off with a huge disclaimer. She said that it was really hard to find host families that were not millions of miles away from 홍대 or our host high schools. She said that she could really only find one host family in 서울 that was a decent distance from Korean classes. She brought up the fact that so many host families were applying from really distant parts of Korea like 파주 (Not quite the boonies of Korea but might as well be). While walking to the center, I was joking with Josh and Jacquelyn about being placed in Paju because I was already in 고양시. I was 100 percent joking! (Foreshadowww)

When she passed out all our papers, everyone started screaming and groaning as we all looked at our commute times. 50 minutes here and hour and a half over there. 민정쌤 was not kidding. Everyone was so far!

My new host family lived closest to a station on the 경의중앙 subway line (mint line) also known as the hell line (by more people than just me). It is such a terrible subway line because trains come pretty infrequently so sometimes you will have to wait upwards of 15 to 20 minutes for a train and because it comes so infrequently, it is always pretty full. I refuse to ride it during rush hour! I am sorry… but I would rather risk cutting it close to curfew than getting stuffed in a train car feeling like a sardine in a can. The distance from Korean classes to my new host family’s house will actually be about the same as it is now. Even though it is technically farther, there is no transfer (because transferring onto the 경의중앙 line is worse than simply riding it) so it will take about the same time to ride the line down to 홍대. However, to 하나고… that is another story. I will now be 42 minutes from school which requires me to take a train about 25 minutes earlier than I do now… and with walking… I definitely can no longer wake up at 6 am… (and I thought I had it better off than I did in America for high school… looks like I am going back to 5:30 am alarms!). But even though the commute is less than satisfactory, I am excited for my actual family!

I will have two host sisters that are 16 and 20 years old. I have never had a host family made up of older siblings before, so I am excited about that experience~ I can already imagine getting close with my sisters and doing things together~ Going shopping, going out to eat together, going to cafes to study, I am imagining everything. Should I also add that they have a dog? I will have a pet! Yes!! I think this family will be a lot of fun–hopefully. I will definitely make the most of it.

Once all our host family information was settled, I left with Katie to go to 이화 to meet up with our summer RD Madeline! She was an RD for both NSLI-Y 8 Summer (2016) and NSLI-Y 9 (2017). We met up with her in Korea because she is completing her Master’s Degree here at 이화여대. She has one more semester left of school so she will actually be leaving Korea around the same time we do. We went out to a 보쌈 place that she recommended and it was actually really delicious! (I would definitely come back again!)

We talked about our life after NSLI-Y and what we are doing now on the AY Program. We ranted to her about Korean classes and our life at 하나고 while she told us all about going to school and her plans for returning to the states and getting a job teaching Korean hopefully at middle school or high school level. We also talked about all the students she has met since the end of our program and I was surprised to find out that she has met so many! (Mostly from my program). There were even people I would never have expected! It was really nice catching up with her and it did not feel like it had been more than two years since I last saw her. I really enjoyed being able to chat with her and having Katie there was also really nice~ We also brought up JT (my other summer RD) whom she has not had a chance to see in a while… Addie and I are going to try to set up a meet up between JT and Madeline and us sometime in January during our break. I cannot even imagine how it will feel like meeting up with him! Having both of them in the same room, crazy stuff!


Well, that is all for this post~ I hope you enjoyed~ It was definitely a day for the books– a great way to start off my winter break. Keep following for my blog for posts like this one!~

  • Emma 엠마

Traditional Korean Music Performance & Exploring Sinsa {12/15-16/18} NSLI-Y AY

12/15/18 Saturday

We had our December cultural excursion at The Museum of Traditional Korean Music (국립국악박물관). We were able to watch this one and a half hour performance that highlighted different types of traditional Korean music. We were not allowed to take photos or record videos until the very last performance of two men playing traditional Korean drums or 장구. The performances were definitely interesting and the subtitled explanations for both the type of performance and the song lyrics were pretty accurate/made sense this time (in comparison to the mask dance subtitles back in 안동). All the performers wore gorgeous traditional 한복 and seemed to range in age from twenties to late 30s or 40s. I believe that this performance is held every Saturday for a small fee.

sinsa 1

After we watched the performance, we were given the rest of the day to ourselves with no other program activities scheduled. Liam’s birthday had been earlier that week so we decided to all go out and celebrate his birthday with dinner. Originally, we wanted to get tacos and Jacquelyn was able to find this one budget-friendly place in 신사. But upon arrival, we realized that there were definitely not enough seats for the 15 of us. {Everyone ended up coming except Addie who went home early to hang with her host family.} We ended up getting 닭갈비 instead. I ate with Kaitlyn, Jack, and McKenzie. We ordered a cheese 닭갈비 set that came with cheese around the rim of the pot the chicken was cooking in. It was delicious! At the end of the meal, we ordered rice and mixed that in with the remaining sauce and veggies and had some delicious 볶음밥. Highly recommend!

sinsa 6

After dinner, we made our way to Baskin Robbins. I don’t know what came over Liam or me for that matter but Kaitlyn, Josh, Liam, Katie and I decided to order what I believe was a half gallon of ice cream {6 flavors}. It was very very delicious even though we took some risks since Liam wanted all the unique strange sounding flavors. When he brought the ice cream out to us, we were shook by how much there was—it looked huge! But not like it wasn’t to be expected, we finished all of it. At one point, we all took a spoonful of ice cream and fed the person to our right: creating this circle of eating ice cream. It was honestly so strange but hilarious. It only could have occurred after we consumed all of that sugar…

It was only 7:30 by the time we finished our dessert, so the other students decided to head back to 홍대 and go to a 노래방 but I was tired and not in the mood so I came home early. My host family didn’t come home for a while so I was alone for a couple hours which I half spent studying Korean and then also watched this really sad and upsetting kidnapping lifetime documentary? It made me cry… a lot… I do not know why I thought it was a good idea to watch it honestly… but that was my Saturday night.

12/16/18 Sunday

Sunday was just a really calm and relaxing day spent with my host family. We all slept late and enjoyed a really late breakfast. I studied most of the afternoon and worked on my blog out in the living room while my host sisters watched episodes of Victorious or read their 만화s (comics). I also helped my eldest host sister with some English homework.

Later that night, my host siblings and I played the Korean version of Monopoly: Blue Marble Game. The game takes a long time and it got late so we never actually fully finished it as everyone got bored after awhile.

sinsa 7

I spent the rest of the night studying a bit more {memorizing vocab in preparation for the new chapter in Korean class} and then watching YouTube videos. Tomorrow is Monday but I have no school! I’m going to celebrate our start of Winter Break with a fun brunch with Katie~

well, thanks for reading! And I hope you enjoyed this post~ It is kind of on the shorter side than what I’m used to but I don’t want to add tomorrow to it because then it would be a combination of a weekend and a random weekday… I don’t think I like the idea of that so this is it~ I hope it was okay! Till next time~

  • Emma 엠마

Last Day at 하나고 for the Fall Semester {12/14/18} NSLI-Y AY

12/14/18 Friday

Just like the other days at school this week, every single period was basically 자습 or self-study; however, I did not spend my time studying at all really. I was too busy finishing up letters for my friends at school. I won’t be seeing many of them for two months and me being attention-seeking and lonely half the time doesn’t want them to forget about me… {I’m only half joking…} So I spent the day writing 6 letters including my final letter to 윤세 who I have for 마니또. I had bought this really cute blue flower shaped card from 인사동 and I was excited to finally get to use it {though I will admit, writing in it was a bit of a struggle.}

Also before my Economics class, I surprised my good friend 세림 with a gift. Like everyone else, I wrote her a letter and gave her a macaroon but I also bought her this cute panda stuffed animal! It’s very adorable and the colors reminded me of things that 세림 really likes and it seemed that she was head over heels with it when she got it. But as cute as this panda was… it really embarrassed me in the morning! For some reason, while coming to school, Katie and I happened to get on a bus with every other teacher in the school (exaggeration? maybe…) and we had to ride the elevator together too {veryyyy awkward}. This group of teachers included my Statistics teacher! My backpack was open cause it periodically unzips when I run {and Katie and I ran across the street this morning…} so when we were walking to our homerooms, this panda falls out of my bag and my Statistics teacher screams Emma down the hallway. It was nice of him I know!!! But I was so embarrassed! Just my luck right?

Anyway, when I came into Economics, 세림 saved my seat as always but this time, she also placed her bag on her seat with her new panda sticking out of it~



She also even explained this point of Korean grammar that has never been explicitly explained in any of the Korean textbooks I have used. Knowing this now helps me with conjugating for other grammar points as well! 고마워 세림아~

Lunch today was one of the final days we would be eating with all our friends… it was bittersweet because this meant winter break was right on the horizon but it also meant we wouldn’t be seeing our friends in a while… Lunch was honestly once again not good… {What happened 하나고? I used to brag about your lunches earlier this year!} but it was fine because we were all too busy talking and yelling to take much notice of the food (or eat it basically…) We went around the table and guessed who was who’s 마니또. I had guessed that mine was 지연 and then Katie confirmed it for me during the first week so I knew I was right but our friends did not guess right about us!! 지연 thought that 도윤 had her rather than Katie and 윤세 thought 지연 had her instead of me!! We fooled them oh so well! 


After that, 도윤 and 윤세 were screaming trying to figure out where they went wrong because at dinner last night, they were positive they figured out who every one had. I explained how I finessed the system with asking other first-year students to give her the gifts {including giving her a gift in the dorm to throw her off my tracks}, having other people write the notes, and asking her for someone else’s locker number! They all kept saying “Emma you tried so hard!” And then 도윤 joked and said you know you are Korean when you wait for the day before the end of the gift giving period to give your gift because that is when most of the girls gave their gifts.

After lunch, we took a group photo but 서린 ran off somewhere? When we sent the photo later in the group chat, she was upset that she wasn’t in the photo so Katie edited her in and so we were blessed with this lovely cursed image:



The rest of my classes was more letter writing and gift giving. I accidentally smashed all the Macaroons in my backpack… so by asking 지원 with some good explanations and charade-like gestures, I was able to learn that the word for to squish or smash is 뭉개다 or to be squished is 뭉개지다. There’s your Korean lesson for the day!

During 영미문학, 서연 actually gave me a really cute letter back to me telling me that my letter really made her day and she wanted to thank me. It was really sweet! She also gave me a piece of chocolate and vitamin c tablet and apologized for the lack of gifts due to dorm living {which is why I brought my friends’ macaroons! So they could have a treat they cannot buy at the 매점.}

On Friday I came home early and relaxed for a bit but then I accidentally fell asleep before 7 pm. I woke up again at 7:30 and could tell that my host family was eating dinner but I really wanted sleep so I figured I’d sleep for another hour and then eat dinner later—by myself. I guess I underestimated how tired I would be? I ended up waking up at 3:46 am. I was so confused when I realized I had skipped dinner. I stayed up for a bit and then went back to bed.


When I was not looking, my host brother decorated my chalkboard! He wrote “Big Sister Emma, Goodnight~” 


I wanted to quickly end this post with a little blurb about how I feel regarding today being my last day at 하나고. This is going to be 100% brutally honest!

Going to 하나고 for these couple of months was really really difficult. At first, everything was exciting and new and the nerves and anxiety seemed fully justified. I remember ending school and being excited to tell my host family everything about my day when I got home during dinner time but eventually… the excitement turned into complacency with a routine and the things I expected to get better with time only grew to frustrate me more when I continued to fail at improving my situation. Feeling incompetent and like a burden became second nature to me and I struggled with those feelings. What other people may see as trivial things felt as if I pushing mountains. Having no one to sit next to or talk to during class, figuring out where to sit or even having to take a desk from another classroom because the class had no more empty ones–all these moments culminated into me feeling dejected during the school day. Spending hours worrying about having to do work in a class that seemed impossible (*cough cough coding in statistics *cough cough) to not even being told a class was canceled were frequent occurrences for me after awhile. I cried often and had never felt so stressed in my life. And comparing my school life to the others only made me more pessimistic. Everyone has their own problems, sure. Some of them might have wished they had it a bit more like me since I did have a little bit of Korean knowledge before coming to Korea and attending school. But at everyone else’s school, they weren’t expected to participate in class as much in comparison to the expectations on both Katie and I. They weren’t expected to try and follow along. They got to do their own work every single day.

And sure, high school in America was tough and I was stressed academically but at least then, I could ask for help. I was in a familiar environment and I knew how to solve problems when they arose. This was adjusting to a new type of stress. Stress about life—something I have never had to deal with before. Something a lot of people my age have never had to deal with. Although I say that it was extremely difficult, I wouldn’t have wanted to have been placed at any other school.

I love 하나고 because I love its students. I had such good friends that made waking up so early for my 5th year of high school worth it. I’m thankful for 서린 who found Katie and me and took us under her wing and gave us a friend group that included 윤세, 도윤, 지연, and 혜지. I am thankful for 세림 for trying her best to explain to me how to code or whatever the teacher was saying. She even made me a little cheat sheet with statistic terms in Korean for things like hypothesis test, confidence interval, etc. I am thankful for 지현 for hanging out with me during our 반모임 when no one else would. I am thankful for 정윤 for always sitting next to me during homeroom and saving seats for me in 한국사 and 통합사회. I am thankful for 지원 and 다연 for making me feel like I do have friends when they wave at me in the hallway. I am thankful for 서연 for reaching out to me in world history and for exchanging Instagrams. I am thankful for 동철 for being the first person to talk to me at 하나고, for telling me to sit next to him when I was alone, and for answering all my questions over KakaoTalk. I’m thankful for 예성 as our conversations in English made it one of my favorite classes. I’m thankful for 혜지, 윤세, 도윤 and 지연 for making me comfortable during lunch and our hallway conversations–for allowing me to feel included in school life and for always being patient despite our cultural differences and the language barrier. And lastly, I am thankful for Katie because without her, I know I would not have been able to survive those two and a half months at 하나고. She helped me navigate every situation and kept me calm during high-stress times. I could never thank her enough and will be forever grateful for having a best friend alongside me for some of the best and worst times of my exchange.

HAH Quickly… why do I even try… that is all for this post. Thank you for reading. I hope that this did not come off as too pessimistic or negative. I am just trying to keep it real, for myself and for others. Exchange is not easy; I can vouch for that. But, despite that, I am having the time of my life.

(I am editing this and posting this with only a month left of my exchange. Reading this over makes me teary-eyed. So much has happened and so much has changed, and I could not be more grateful. If only time would pass by more slowly…)

  • Emma 엠마

Final Week of the First Semester of Korean High School (12/10-12/13/18) NSLI-Y Korean AY

This week was quite busy and pretty stressful and because of that, my blog posts have definitely suffered. I have not been editing any of them nor have I been writing either. My usual routine of writing them on the subway ride turned into me just listening to ballads and thinking about life (yes angsty I know). I also did not take many photos because this week was not too eventful… and I do not have much to write as I have forgotten a lot… but oh well. Here is a quick update on this past week!

12/10/18 Monday

Katie and I were not feeling school this morning (a combination of it being Monday and the fact that we were done with high school 4 years ago and here we are again…) so when we got to school, we slouched onto some tables in the hallway and complained before homeroom started. (Sorry, we cannot always be positive!) While we were basically lying on the table, this alarm starts ringing throughout the school and we both looked at each other but were not too worried. It literally could have been a big deal but there we were just trying to relax before our day at school–not fazed.

The entire school day was spent self-studying. Since finals start next week, classes are pretty much done going over class material and instead of reviewing (like my American high school classes), the students are given the opportunity to just study whatever they need to.

weekly 1

Korean class was okay~ I do not remember much, to be honest. I started feeling sick around this time so I know my participation was not the best. After class, Katie came with me to the post office so I could send a package home to my family. I was sending Christmas gifts and lots and lots of snacks for my brothers and my friends! When Katie and I first got there, I was so nervous, you could say I was freaking out–having no idea what to do. (I have not even mailed a package in America!) I needed a confidence boost so I squeezed Katie’s hand and then I went up to the counter and asked the male worker there what I should do as I was not familiar with the process. He explained everything to me and so after understanding (some of) the instructions, I went back to Katie and we packed my box and filled out the packing label. We got everything sorted out and another employee helped me tie together the final few loose threads. The package ended up being about 185 grams (I do not know how heavy that is…sorry!) and it was a couple dollars short of $40 but I was fine with spending that!~

Katie and I went to a bookstore before heading home to buy the final few gifts for our 마니또 as well as our friends at school (that we will really miss during the break!)

12/11/18 Tuesday

First CEREAL IN KOREA! I have not had cereal since the summertime~ When my host mom asked me at dinner last night if I wanted to have cereal for breakfast, I was all for it. I had missed an American type breakfast, to be honest, and the thought of having milk at a meal (a first unless you count when I have purchased banana milk at the 편의점) really made me excited!

Tuesday at school was more self-study and Korean class was normal as usual. I struggled a lot in class as I could not quite understand the grammar concepts too well. They were not in our grammar book, so I could not even look in there for help when I did not understand. I also got really sick all of a sudden (from one day to the next) and in class, my symptoms only worsened. I kept sneezing like crazy and needed to blow my nose quite often if I wanted to be able to somewhat breathe. Also, because the lights in the classroom were so bright, my eyes kept watering and tears were falling left and right. When my teacher first turned around and noticed a tear, she started to freak out and asked me what was wrong. I assured her that I was fine and that I just had sensitive eyes.

weekly 3

After class, I met up with Jessica and we went to this cafe called Cafe Monobloc. We just spent a couple hours chatting–catching up–and studying for our respective subjects. I had a green tea latte and we both ate pancakes for our dinner. (They were delicious too might I add! I love pancakes! Definitely, my favorite food when done right!) It was really fun getting to hang out with her~ Though being sick at the cafe was kind of awkward (especially every time I had to blow my nose when the cafe was so quiet). Jessica updated me on fun college/life stories while I was able to rant to her and talk a bit about everything I had been going through. It was nice to hear a new perspective.

weekly 7

12/12/18 Wednesday

Honestly, school was just self-study so nothing really memorable sticks out to me except for lunch! Today was another 다 먹는 날 which occurs every so often on Wednesdays. Basically, if you finish all your food, you get a prize! Today they were giving out chocolate cookies~ unfortunately though… they also served this gross sweet potato casserole looking thing and no one was feeling it. Katie took one for the team this time and we piled all the food onto her plate. {Don’t worry! We shared our cookies with her!}

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After school that day, Katie and I went to the bakery that my Korean teacher took me to. We planned on eating dinner with our friends back at 하나고 so we stayed at the cafe for more than three hours until it was time to go to school for dinner. We enjoyed our delicious pastries and the cafe environment as we studied and did our Korean homework. I worked on my presentation on 제주 사투리 and luckily finished at the cafe! I also prepared 윤세’s last 마니또 gift which I bought the previous day. It was a sheet of bear stickers and some bear post-it notes. I wanted to write a little note for 윤세 but I figured my foreigner like handwriting would stick out to her so I literally paced around the second floor of the cafe for a bit until I mustered up the courage to ask this random couple on the third floor to rewrite this message onto my pink post-it note. They were confused at first but laughed along with me as I tried explaining to them what I was doing. I think they were confused to see me asking them for such a weird request and the fact that I was wearing a school uniform {yes the literal 교복 (school uniform), not our school’s 생활복} probably didn’t help me appear in the least bit normal. But, I did it and was proud of myself for putting myself out there!

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Dinner at 하나고 was definitely not the best. I honestly played with my food more than I actually ate it because I really wasn’t feeling the spread—especially the weird patty. Why is this meat following us everywhere? It was fun though being able to joke around with the girls and feel more included being that we were there with them at night—a time when we are NEVER at school. It was a nice change~ And I definitely think it would be nice to eat dinner with them every once in a while {especially while we are on break!}

During dinner, we talked a little bit about 마니또 and 서린 told me that some of the girls already knew that we didn’t have them because they received their gifts at the dorm {this list included 서린, 혜지, and 윤세}. I couldn’t help but smile at this… my sneaky plan was working !!!

12/13/18 Thursday

In class today we had a quiz over two chapters and a presentation. The quiz was a bit tough for me when I first looked at it and I was iffy about a lot of answers. Luckily, I only got 1.5 points off for using the wrong grammar point for one and choosing the right vocab word but conjugating it wrong on another question. I followed my gut on some of the other questions when it came to spelling and whether a word was an adjective or verb so I’m happy that my intuition was right. I did really well on this quiz compared to the other students too which was nice~ At times I like to be reminded that I’m not totally horrible!!!

Giving my presentation was fun because I prepared a fun Kahoot game to test everyone’s knowledge on 제주 사투리. My game consisted of 5 questions that asked the quiz takers to guess the meaning of these random words. The answers of the questions were mostly words that were similar to the one in the question and I obviously included plenty of words to throw off the guesses. Jacquelyn ended up winning followed closely behind by our teacher and then Josh placed last.


After class, I ended up going out to dinner with Josh, Kaitlyn, and Liam. This whole week all the NSLI-Y Students {except for Katie and I} have had no school due to finals at their respective schools and so they’ve been out having fun together and I have felt like I’m missing out on it big time! So I was really excited to go and have dinner with them~ We first went to Blanc Bakery so that I could buy macaroons for my 하나고 friends and then it seemed as if we walked around the 홍대 area for years!

We could not decide what we wanted to eat! Josh and Liam kept joking around about wanting to eat intestines and such but Kaitlyn and I were not having that. We ended up, eventually, going to a pizza joint and ordering Mac & Cheese Pizza which was delicious! I’ve never ordered it {or wanted to order it} back in America but they were all in for it so that’s what we did.

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Unlike what was expected, this pizza was soooo good! It was thick enough, they used tomato sauce, and there was even caramelized onions on top too—a great choice. The menu had a couple of spelling errors that stood out to us. One was that their quarter pizza (split up four ways) was called quater. We had a fun little argument on how to pronounce the word (한국어로는 콰터 아님 쾌터). There was also the fun little addition of garlic deeping sauce. We promised to come back again and try those two menu items! (And thus, the Quater Squad was born!)

I was feeling like I was up in the clouds after dinner because our conversations were so fun and the food was delicious. I was also looking forward to Friday as it was our last day at 하나고 for this semester~ I was so ready to start winter break!

But, later at my subway station, my mood worsened as I had a transportation card malfunction. I was minding my own business—going through the turnstile like I’ve done what seems like a million times by now—when the turnstile angrily beeped at me when I placed my card down onto the scanner. I tried my card again because I was confused. I literally put ten dollars on it at 홍익역 so I knew that this error had nothing to do with me. I tried putting more money on my card hoping that that would fix it but the refill machine on this side of the turnstiles was out of order. The mouse was going crazy on the screen and everything was stuck in Chinese. I watched as everyone else passed by me getting through the machines no problem and so I started freaking out—feeling like I was trapped. I connected to the WiFi and quickly sent texts to both Katie and my host mom freaking out about the situation. My host mom called me but I wasn’t understanding what she was telling me to do—go through the back? What? I was too panicked to properly focus on her words as I was near tears. Eventually, I called Katie and told her to stay on the line as I tried something out. There was this emergency gate on the other side of the turnstiles and I figured if I pressed the button, I could possibly get out. I was worried that someone would come out or that someone would pick up but I just went for it and luckily was able to get through. I screamed through the phone at Katie and told her that I survived. After hanging up on her, I texted my host mom and went home after buying some letters for my 하나고 friends.


My freak-out-face in the subway station!

When I came home, I explained the whole ordeal to my host family {though, to be honest, I still do not know for sure why my card could not be processed}. And I went to bed laughing it off after telling all my friends about my misfortune. Would it be an Emma NSLI-Y experience without these fun {note the unclear sarcasm} travel stories?

That is the end of this blog post. I wanted to include Friday on this blog post {because it was supposed to be a quick and easy weekly post…} but this has gotten to be too long! So I will end it here and start my next one off with Friday. Thanks for reading!! I hope you enjoyed!

  • Emma 엠마


Cultural Exchange Event with Korean High Schoolers: 한미캠프 {12/08/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

12/08/18 Saturday

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For today’s activity, the NSLI-Y cohort participated in a cultural exchange between America and Korea by attending a program at a Korean high school: 선정관광고등학교 {Sunjung Tourism High School} to be exact. This school is a pretty unique high school here in Seoul as it’s a specialized school for girls who have plans to work in the tourism/service industries. {This means anything from hotel employees to casino workers to flight attendants.} They take regular classes {like math and such}; however, the majority of them are not taking 수능 (Korea’s college entrance exam) and so they focus on other things. For example, the school has its own cafe class where they learn how to make drinks!! This is where we actually started the morning off at! After a group of girls picked us up at the bus station, we all got to get a drink from the cafe. Their green tea latte was pretty great!!

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After we all got our warm drinks, we went up to the library to hear some speech from the principal of the school {Who happens to be Jack’s host dad?!?! Literally, no one but the other boys on program knew. We were all shook when he pulled up a picture of Josh, Liam, Jack and him eating a half gallon of ice cream from Baskin Robbins. It was hilarious though because the picture itself was quite funny.

After some words from the man in charge, we started going through our presentations. And let me just say it was clearly evident that the Korean students tried a lot harder than us when preparing their presentations. After seeing all that they did, I immediately felt bad for not putting in as much effort…

Our group presented about American pop {and other features of American popular culture like memes and trends}, American holidays, and American school culture. The Korean girls prepared presentations on Korean superstitions, spicy food, Korean etiquette/slang, and of course KPop. They all had these and funny videos to their presentations that really made them memorable. They even brought actual spicy food for us to try! So I actually had my first bite of Chicken feet in that library during the presentation. Jenna had it for the first time too but she could not swallow it… she had to spit it out in her latte.

After presentations, we split up into groups and moved onto the next activity: an M&M activity (The same one we did at the Hanmi Camp {한미캠프} during the summer program) Each color M&M corresponded to a question and so we all went around and asked each other these questions in order to eat all our M&Ms. I was put in a group with Kaitlyn and two Korean high schoolers: 윤지 & 지현. 지현 actually lived in America till 6th grade before she moved back to Korea, so she sounded just like an American when she spoke English. 윤지 was also really good at English.

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We went to this traditional Korean restaurant for lunch and got to eat with our new friends. The spread was 보쌈, fish, and of course lots and lots of 반찬. However, instead of being served plain rice, we were given rice that seemed to have been steamed in some kind of leave. The rice itself was brown and there were things like lotus root and beans mixed in. It reminded me somewhat of the Spanish rice my mom makes but also, in itself, very different.

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Once we were stuffed with tons of delicious food, we left to do the main activity of the day: the 한옥박물관. Yes, the very museum that is in front of 하나고. The museum explored the history of traditional Korean houses from how they are built to the most famous ones in existence all around Korea. I tried my best to pay attention but to be honest, we were all too eager to just get to know each other and goof around so the tour guide did not receive our undivided attention.

After leaving the museum, the scheduled program activities were over so we were given free rein to spend the rest of the day doing whatever we liked–with our new-found friends. First, June, Harmony, Kaitlyn, 지현, and 윤지 and I went to Baskin Robbins to get ice cream. I shared one with Kaitlyn and we got a scoop of 달고나 ice cream and one caramel crunchy one (Kaitlyn’s choosing). Once we were finished indulging in the sweet dessert, we were off to find a 노래방 (karaoke). We spent about an hour singing and dancing to our favorite Korean and American songs. It turned out that everyone that was with us had a good voice? Like what gives? Here I was practically screaming and feeling my voice crack as I try to reach certain notes while I listen to the others sounding just as good as the original singers! I am not even kidding. While we were singing Ailee’s 보여줄게, I thought it was weird that this recording included the singer’s vocals too. I was like… is this even considered karaoke then? Turns out, it was just the amazing vocals of 지현! She could have seriously been going to an art/performance school rather than this tourism high school.

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For dinner, we all (including 연우–she joined us at the 노래방) found this chicken place called Outdark. We chose to eat there because another big group of NSLI-Yians was already there. We ordered two big servings of chicken and fries–it was very very delicious. Hanging out with our friends was a great time and we spoke in a mix of Korean and English. We laughed so much and made lots of jokes. I was so happy that we came out to meet these students today. We promised to meet up once again–when the girls finished their exams. I was glad that we would have the opportunity to continue these friendships. (During the summer program, we only had a couple weeks after meeting those students so many people could not keep in touch and continue those friendships… I was happy to have more time!) Actually, when we first met, 지현 thought that we were only here for a quick trip and that we were going home to America soon. She was super happy to know that we would be here till May. I hope we can meet up again soon!~

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That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ 다음에 봐요 친구들! 

  • Emma 엠마


Last 공강, Coffee with my Korean Teacher, and Breaking School Rules {12/04-07/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

Quick update on these days~ 😛

12/04/18 Tuesday

This was my last Tuesday having 공강 {or my mentorship class} with 호영, 근영, and 건우 which was truly sad for me. I always look forward to Tuesday mornings just to talk with them and laugh away most of my worries. It was always a good time and a nice distraction. Today was no exception. We mostly talked about New Years and how it is celebrated differently in both of our countries. We also went around and made ridiculous New Year’s Resolutions after we laughed about how they usually end up failing as soon as the new year rolls around. But we also talked about other fun topics regarding the movies that are coming out soon and the fact that Koreans only make snowmen with two snowballs rather than three! And that there is no word for snow angel in Korean!! I was really shocked to hear this.

At the end of our meeting, I gave them each little bags with a macaroon and a letter I wrote {In Korean too!} They seemed to really appreciate the gesture and we took some group photos. I’m really gonna miss them! I hope my next group can compare!~

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Tuesday’s Korean class was whatever… nothing too memorable… EXCEPT we took a quiz. I tried studying really hard for it but there were still so many doubts in my mind while taking it. The concepts were difficult for me but I wanted to prove to my teacher that I could do everything despite the stress. And guess what… I ended up getting 100% !!! Nothing wrong! I even took a risk and used hard vocabulary in one sentence example and it actually paid off. I was super proud~

I had my individual monthly with 민정쌤 after class so I walked with Josh and her to Twosome place to talk about my monthly goals and how I’ve been dealing with this past month. I explained to her all my struggles at 하나고 and in Korean class but I also didn’t leave out the numerous happy memories either.

민정쌤 said that I need to give myself love, that I need to learn to love myself– faults and all. She told me that she could not quite do that either until one day she woke up in her thirties… She told me that the friends she had that learned to love themselves while they were in their 20s were better off because they knew who they were. When she told me this, I was taken aback by how real she was being with me and it also hurt. She was so very right. She told me to stop being so hard on myself… that I am doing well right now. I should be proud; she is proud. I am so thankful for such a kind and thoughtful resident director! I am surprised I did not break down and cry at that moment! I feel optimistic now, though. I think I know how I can approach these stressful situations (or at least how I can try)… wish me luck. ❤

12/05/18 Wednesday

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Wednesday was a much better day for me~ {Emotionally speaking especially!} The main interesting that happened was that I went to a cafe with my Korean teacher near 하나고. I assumed she had forgotten that we planned to meet because I didn’t get a message the night before or the morning of. But then, 20 minutes before school ended, my teacher sent me a message on Kakao. When I met up with Katie once the bell rung, I was freaking out! I was so nervous that she was going to ask about how I was doing in the class which would make me emotional because of how much anxiety and stress it gives me but also because I know I can’t adequately express my feelings to her in Korean which will make me feel ten times more burdensome and frustrated.

She picked me up at the front of my school in her car and I was really shocked. I assumed she was taking public transportation because I knew that’s how she got to our Korean classes. I didn’t know she had a car. We drove to this fancy looking bakery/cafe thing which had about three stories! There was no parking available so we had to drive to this parking lot farther away and there was a car service that drove you from the parking lot to the cafe. I had never experienced anything like that and was quite surprised.

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A BEAUTIFUL Christmas Tree~ ❤

The cafe was beautiful! The atmosphere was really nice and they even had Christmas decorations up! The drinks were honestly not that much more on the expensive side compared to other cafe chains that don’t have such a unique appeal like this cafe. I ended up ordering some coffee drink with cream that I never heard of prior to reading their menu. I was going to just get a latte but my teacher convinced me to get that instead. We also each got a pastry— I had a croissant and it was delicious! Perfectly flaky and crispy~

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At first, being there with my teacher was quite strange… I was so awkward… but eventually we both got more comfortable with each other and we ended up talking for almost three hours about so many different things. We talked about my teacher’s experience traveling to Japan for her studies, my struggles at 하나고 and in class, my family back home {particularly my brothers}, my friends on program, our music tastes, Pokémon, Christmas, life after NSLI-Y, my 마니또, etc. We talked about so much!! It was a really nice time~ Not only did we talk for the longest time at the cafe, but she also drove me home~ or at least to the subway station near my house.

We had such a great conversation and it really showed me how much I’ve been improved since coming here. I understood her well and was able to communicate most of my ideas to her~ The me that first arrived in Korea definitely couldn’t do that so I’m so very grateful!!!

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I also got my 마니또 gift finally! I figured out it was 지연 because I compared the handwriting on the note to my birthday card from her! hehe I later found out that she put it in my bag because of Katie’s help!

The rest of my Wednesday night was spent hanging out with my host family after dinner and then working on a presentation about an area in Korea I really liked visiting.

12/06/18 Thursday

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Thursday was pretty uneventful~ Korean class was like how it always is—although I did get 100% on my quiz again which made me super happy {and proud!}. After class, I went to Holly’s Cafe with Jacquelyn just to chill until Katie was finished with her meeting with 민정쌤 but we ended up finding Kaitlyn and Shannon already there trying to join a Kpop group’s fan club? I think it was VAV? You could tell they were desperate for members because within minutes maybe even seconds of both of them sending in their applications, they were approved for membership.

I met up with Katie back at TwoSome and said goodbye to 민정쌤 before she left. Katie and I ended up staying there for a little while longer just chatting. When I got home, I opened a letter I received from my friend Grace and it literally made me burst into tears… she even sent me photos of us together and the rest of our friend group. She’s so sweet!

12/07/18 Friday

Friday would be our last real school day before finals as the next week would be mostly 자습 in all of our classes. My Philosophy teacher didn’t show up to class again but instead of going to the library, everyone stayed in the classroom. I studied Korean for the first half of the class and for the second… I took a nice nap.

Lunch was fun as Katie and I got to eat with all our friends again~ After lunch was Sociology and my friend 선민 saved me a seat by writing my name on a pink post-it note and placing it on the desk next to her~ This meant a lot to me and I was once again taken aback by the gesture~

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My very last 공강 mentorship class with 지은, 주연, and 규원 was today… it was really sad. I couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t have this time with them anymore… I always looked forward to it~ Today, instead of discussing a certain topic, 지은 suggested that we have a party! And I was all for it! In the study rooms, food and drinks were not allowed so we planned to get something at the 매점 and find someplace to go from there.

While we were walking there, 주연 was so visibly afraid and nervous. She kept muttering about getting caught and hoping there were no teachers in the hallways to run into. This had to be a knock on wood situation biting us in the butt because as we approached the 매점, we passed the Vice Principal!

We tried calming 주연 down with the comforting statement “We are not breaking any rules, just bending them.” At the store, there was no employee when we first arrived. We couldn’t decide what to buy to eat so we were there for a while, the worker at the store even had to help us out. We ended up getting a container of ice cream {less than a gallon more than a pint} and a Christmas cake! Yeah, at the store there happened to be one cake! So we ended up buying that in order to really celebrate and have a party!

We couldn’t go back to the library so we went up to the 6th floor and picked out a practice room to eat in. We were doing our best to be quiet and we scurried into the practice room the farthest from the main staircase. Spending time with them while enjoying some delicious dessert was all I could have asked for our final period together. We talked about a lot of things (switching between both Korean and English). We found out that 지은’s dad’s friend’s wife is a manager for BTS or something along the lines of that? This then led us to analyze the success of BTS in Korea and abroad. We also ranked our favorite Christmas songs and discussed after graduation plans (I hope they follow through and come out to NYC to meet me after 수능 ends! Eventually, the bell rang and we had to clean up the practice room (and leave no evidence). Even though our time together was short, I will always remember the memories we shared~

Katie had plans after school on Friday so I ended up going to our favorite cafe for a bit by myself before heading back home for dinner with my host family. The worker at the cafe gave me a tangerine as service which melted my heart! It was the perfect study snack to go along with my muffin. My host mom also later gave me a slice of cake while I was studying, so we can definitely say today was a sugar-filled day for sure.

That is all for this blog post!! I hope you enjoyed~ School has made me so busy lately but this week is the week prior to midterms so hopefully I will have time during my study periods to edit and post more blogs. A girl can hope! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

More Christmas Shopping & Breaking Down in Front of my Korean Teacher {12/03/18} NSLI-Y AY

12/03/18 Monday

I am a couple days behind on my blog posts but I’m on the subway right now feeling lots of emotions today and I need to just get everything out right now—hopefully to prevent more crying…

So during Korean class today, we got our monthly tests back. And when I first looked at my test, I was pretty happy. She gave us back the reading test first and I only got 4 wrong. I can’t remember how many I got wrong last time but I’m pretty sure this is an improvement. Then, I looked at the writing test and my mood immediately changed. The whole page looked red. I started breathing heavier as I began to get upset by how many things it appeared I did wrong. I read over my essay and tried to make sense of the mistakes I made. Many of them were small errors that concerned particles while others were about using wrong grammar points entirely, words that my teacher didn’t recognize, or mainly… writing the whole essay in the wrong verb form. {I wrote the whole thing in the formal conjugation 습니다 rather than the diary form ㄴ/는다. So basically every sentence was circled because of the wrong ending, but she also underlined every correct grammar point usage which only made the essay appear as if there way more mistakes than in actuality. I ended up getting about 4 points off on the long writing and 2 points off on the shorter response. But the thing that really irritated me and made me the most disappointed in myself was the grammar section that involved completing sentences with certain points. I read the directions but did not exactly understand what exactly they were asking. Each question consisted of three parts of a sentence chopped up. For example, one might have said “To be sick,” “don’t eat anything; eat bread.” and “Teacher said.” The page also had a word box at the top of the page with lots of different grammar points. However, I assumed that you only needed to pick two not three. Because of this, I wrote all three sentences with only two grammar points. Despite the fact that I used those grammar points perfectly, I still got 1.5 points off on each question for not combining the 3rd point into the sentence.

This totally failed writing section led me to have a grand average of 71% !!! Wowwww I love having high grades! I don’t think I would have cared all too much if I didn’t do the percentage calculation… as soon as I did that… my eyes began to water and I had to fight back tears from forming in my eyes.

We started off the rest of the class by going over the grammar points we learned last class— two points that I only semi-understood. They include some exceptions to the main conjugation rule which threw me for a loop because I couldn’t exactly pinpoint what that exception was until I looked at everything later by myself. My teacher asked me a question at one point and I just sat there and didn’t say anything. I was honestly trying to think of something to say but I didn’t know what would work as like I said, I wasn’t 100% sure on when to use the point. She allowed the others to answer instead of me as I was at a loss of words.

She asked me another question and I answered it pretty well but then she asked me to describe a situation at a park where you would ask someone to do something and all the things I was thinking of were not things I could not say with my vocabulary. I struggled just sitting there. I started sweating and felt like I was going to cry.

During break time, the teacher could tell that I was having an issue and while I was fixing my notes, I could tell she was trying to subtly tell Jacquelyn to leave the room as I heard their whispers. I then hear Jacquelyn say “제가?” and then the noise of her chair being pushed back and the door closing. My teacher looks at me and asks “왱?” And I immediately hide my face in my hands and start crying. I did not expect myself to lose it {especially since I cried the previous week… I figured it would be a while till my next public cry… oof that’s sad to say}

She came over to my seat and tried comforting me with a small hug and some pats on the back. It was such a kind gesture and I really am glad my teacher cares so much about me. She doesn’t have to worry so much and it hurts me to know that she does. She asked me if I was upset about the test and although that was partly it, I think it really just added to me feeling overwhelmed until I just hit my limit right there in class.

She tried talking to me but I can’t even accurately express my feelings in Korean normally let alone when I’m crying. I just told her that things are hard and I’m feeling stressed about school, classes, my improvement lately… and I’m missing home a lot.

My teacher told me that when I do not understand a vocabulary word or a grammar point, I should ask her and she will take the time to explain. She told me that I am not stupid (I told her I feel like that when she calls on me and I cannot answer) and that everyone is good at different things. She said that I should be proud of my improvement, that I got the highest score on the reading section out of everyone… so I should not be too hard on myself. She was even kind enough to tell me that if I need extra help with something, she can ask Jacquelyn and Josh to leave first after class and she can stay back to help me out with whatever I need. Bless my teacher! Her heart is too kind!

I went outside of the classroom and Jacquelyn, Josh, and 민정쌤 looked over at me at the same time. I ran to the bathroom and cried just a bit more and then I got myself back together: blew my nose, wiped my tears, and said some semi-motivating affirmations. During the following break, I confronted 민정쌤 and she gave me a hug which was really what I needed~

The rest of the class was not too bad. I was still quiet and not feeling motivated to participate all too much but I was better. I tried to use my imagination when creating example sentences and I did speak up when I did not know a word in the question I had to answer. Just by doing something as little as asking for help about the meaning of a word, I was able to answer the question correctly~ It made me feel good– optimistic even.

During our bi-weekly meeting, we practiced the presentations we would be giving about American culture {holidays, school culture, and popular culture} on Saturday when we visit a Korean high school. We also talked about upcoming events like our next cultural activity and any reflections/surveys due. During one of the presentations, we had 민정쌤 guess American slang words/memes and it was hilarious! Especially, hearing her say yaaaas and “Let’s get meat” when we brought up “Let’s get this bread!”

After the meeting was over, Katie and I went to Artbox and bought gifts for our 마니또 and bought tons of letters for our friends at 하나고, spending a bit too much money. I love Art Box! Definitely one of the best stores ever~ 

It also seems that I skipped talking about school this day but honestly nothing special happened… here was my day in two pictures:

Yup, school lunch and a reading from 영미문학.

That’s all I want to share with this blog post~ It kinda ends abruptly… but that’s how it is sometimes. I am behind {like I said earlier} so I need to catch up. I apologize for my next blog post too in case things feel rushed. Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마


Making Kimchi and Christmas Shopping {12/01-12/02/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

12/1/18 Saturday

Today I woke up bright and early to participate in 김장 (The process of preparing 김치 during the winter time!) with my host family. We drove out to visit my host mom’s parents’ house in order to make the one Korean food that is probably most known to westerners! I was really excited to do this because it is a big part of Korean culture. Actually, I have already technically made 김치 when I participated in 요리동아리 (cooking club) during the NSLI-Y Summer program, but I knew this was going to be a different experience– a more intimate one if you will. And, I was right!

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We got to my host grandparents’ home a little before 10:30 am and went right to work! I was advised to take off my cardigan and we all crowded around these large bowls on the living room floor. One was filled with the filling or ingredients that the cabbage would be fermented in and the other ones were empty so that we would have space to prep the kimchi. We put on these long rubber gloves and wet them in order to have an easier time at handling the kimchi. First, we would take the filling/ingredients and do a quick wipe all over the outside of the cabbage. Then, we would separate each leaf (I do not know how to describe this process…. I apologize!) of the cabbage and spread the filling all over it so that the white/greenish color would become tinted with a red color. And then close to the center of the cabbage (the location where all the leaves come together to form something with the resemblance of a door hinge. Okay, I am sorry for not making any sense!) we would place a little amount of the filling– the amount would be proportional to how many leaves there were as you did not want any of the ingredients spilling out from the side. Lastly, the kimchi was turned onto its side and folded/tucked into the boxes where it would be allowed to refrigerate and ferment. It was a lot of fun… but it was also quite a bit of work! My arms were hurting afterward. I probably did more than ten heads of cabbages.

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After using all our energy on making 김치 we hung out in the living room until it was lunchtime. I am not exactly sure what we had to eat…. I do know that we had some type of fish soup, 삼겹살 (pork belly), and this really interesting (read: weird) looking sea creature. I ate one and it was pretty slimy and did not have much of a taste. Definitely, something I have never tasted before. My host grandmother was so very kind during lunch and kept telling me to eat more meat and asking if I wanted more rice or soup. She even showed me how to eat the 삼겹살 with the 반찬 she had out: lettuce, meat, 고추장 (pepper paste), and then some salty shrimp mixture? It was very delicious.

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When lunch was finished and we all cleaned up, I went with my host dad, host grandfather, and my host siblings to a toy market in 동대문. Here we walked through the stalls and into the very crowded and narrow shops to look at all types of toys, stationery, and snacks, too. My siblings each picked out a toy and their grandfather purchased it (for Christmas I presume). It was a bit confusing to me though… because when they got home they opened their gifts right away. And, additionally, their grandparents had already bought them each one other gift earlier and they opened those as well. I know Christmas is not a huge thing here but I did not expect them to open them so early. It was interesting. My host sister got a cotton candy machine and the stuff it spun was not half bad, and she had a blast making them for everyone with the special wand.

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We had dinner there and then drove back home afterward. I was pretty exhausted from the day’s activities so I quickly took a shower (removed my kimchi stained socks off my feet for one) and headed to bed.

12/02/18 Sunday

I left my home during the late morning to meet Addie at 인사동. We planned to do some Christmas shopping together as we both really wanted to send packages home for Christmas. We planned to hit up two famous places: 인사동 and 명동. In 인사동, we would be able to find more traditional and souvenir type gifts while 명동 would have more modern things to buy.

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When we got to 인사동, the long street was bustling with families, couples, and lots of tourists. The first thing on our list of missions to complete was to purchase some type of cards and any other traditional things that caught our eyes. We went inside this one store because I was looking at the traditional bags that they had out on display. (My mom currently has one she uses to semi-protect her phone when it is in her purse. She bought it at this bookstore when we were visiting Koreatown in New York. I told her not to buy it since I could get it for way cheaper, but I let her, in the end, do what she wanted.) Here, I found the same thing and one even better for 4 dollars cheaper. I decided to buy one and send it to her as part of her Christmas gift. I also bought this cute little traditional bag that I will send to my friend Kara as a part of her Secret Santa gift. (I figured it could be a cute pencil case or makeup pouch!) The man that ran the store struck up a conversation with Addie and me which mostly consisted of complementing our Korean. Apparently, he studied in America for more than 5 years I think? We definitely did not impress him; he was just being nice (I see your profit making tactic!) He also asked us if the guys at our school go crazy over us. It was honestly so hilarious so we both started laughing. (At the time, I did not realize that Addie goes to an all-girls school so it must have been even funnier for her.) He was all like “They must be shy and nervous about their English language skills.” If only that was the case.

After visiting that shop, we visited the famous outdoor 4 story building walk thing (I honestly suck at describing anything it seems! Seriously… what is wrong with me?) to look at the more crafty things available for purchase in 인사동. We ended up buying these cards that are shaped like flowers. To open them, you unfold the petals and becomes a normal piece of paper. We also bought these handmade wooden signs for our parents. I got my mom one that says Our happy (home) in Korean. Addie’s had little cartoon drawings of a mom, dad, two boys, and a girl. She got her family’s names engraved under each of the drawings. It was adorable! I love them! And, it is not that heavy so I do not think that it will make the package too expensive. We also were able to find 한복 cards there for pretty cheap! Once we walked through 인사동 and purchased/saw everything we wanted to, we left to head to 명동.

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In 명동, we walked around and ate some really good street food. I indulged in a cup of 고구마 (sweet potato) and Addie had this corn dog covered in fries. It was so funny though because while she was eating it and walking, this lady came up to her and started asking about it and wanting to take a photo! It was hilarious. I ended up buying Christmas wrapping paper and a taekwondo outfit for my dog while Addie also got a sweatshirt for her brother and body lotion from a famous French brand from the Lotte Mall.

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It was a lot of fun hanging out with her! For dinner, we went to the Innis Green Cafe. I really wanted to try their pancakes and even though the wait was an hour long, I waited!! They were so delicious and I have been craving pancakes~ Definitely worth the wait.

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Some of the best pancakes I have ever had in Korea!

And that was my Sunday spent Christmas shopping with Addie! I had a great time spending the day with her~ We updated each other on our lives, ranted a lot, and de-stressed. It was so nice.

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The sign I bought for my mother! ❤

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Wrapped Gifts ready to send!!

Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope you enjoyed!~ I cannot believe it… less than 50 days left in Korea… How can I make the most of this time left?

  • Emma 엠마

Monthly Test, Waffles, & Dinner Out in 홍대 {11/29-11/30/18} NSLI-Y AY

11/29/18 Thursday

Today was the day… monthly test day. I spent the morning feeling like a giant bundle of nerves while I got dressed and had breakfast. As I rode the train to school, I studied vocab words. Katie and I tried to destress on the bus… but this lasted only a couple minutes before we both took out our phones and started studying vocab again.


Thursday at school was pretty uneventful. I spent World History half participating and the other half going over both new and old grammar. In art class, I got some time to just let my mind wander as I tried completing this book… I ended up not finishing… and I’m not sure if I need to for class next week.

Katie and I left school right at the lunch bell so that we could make it to 홍대 early and have enough time to study a bit more before the test. We grabbed lunch at a 편의점 too. I got nervous about the test as soon as I arrived at the youth center, so I ate my lunch and tried to calm my nerves by talking with some of the others rather than cram.

Our test was split into three parts again: 읽기, 쓰기, and 말하기. The reading portion was pretty familiar seeing that many of the passages were straight from our textbook (and workbook), or at least had major elements. During the writing section, we took our OPI and I ended up going second this time.

My OPI was not the best… I will be honest. I feel like she didn’t ask me the most difficult questions and when I answered two of them, I kind of missed the point of what she wanted me to talk about because I was too busy trying to think of how to answer it using the most grammar points and elevated vocab as possible. Although that’s the case, I kind of feel that it went better than the last one? Even though this one was 15 min shorter. The writing was similar to the last test with a long essay prompt and a short one. I took too long writing the longer piece; only ending up having less than 15 min to write the short one so I know it will probably have tons of mistakes! What’s done is done. I can only wait and see.

After class on Thursday, I planned to go get waffles with Shannon & Katie. But by the time Josh, Jacquelyn, and I made it back to the station (no one had met us halfway.) I texted Katie but she never got back to me. I didn’t know where else to go, so I went with Jacquelyn and Josh to 설빙 as Liam, Alix, June, and Jack were already there and had ordered two 빙수s. Eventually, I got a hold of Kaitlyn and found out that the girls left the youth center at around 6 pm so they must have left to walk to Better World as soon as we had passed the youth center. I find out that they walked all the way to Better World to meet up with me. We laughed it off and planned to meet back at the subway station.


My photos with Kaitlyn and Alix are still hanging up!

Katie, Shannon, Hunter, and I {Kaitlyn decided to go home} went to our favorite waffle place to eat some waffles {for dinner practically} We hung out at the store and just talked about our test and updated each other on our lives. The waffles were delicious and one of the employees even gave us a free waffle! He said “서비스” and handed us something we didn’t order and we were freaking out because of the generosity. It was funny because that same guy came up to us when we were ordering at the self-checkout machines and told us that we could switch the language to English and proceeded to do so for us. We told him that we could use the machines just fine because we are studying Korean. He shyly apologized and switched it back.

After waffles, I went with Katie to buy some conditioner and then we said goodbye for the day. I came home and did not study whatsoever! No Korean homework was done {yes we were assigned work!} I relaxed, watched YouTube, edited a blog post, and slept a bit early~ It was really nice!

11/30/18 Friday

I slept in 20 min extra today which usually does not happen on schools days. The start of the morning was actually good and I was looking forward to the fact that the weekend was starting! I had dinner plans after school which made me even more excited to start the day despite a wild day of school also being ahead of me. And by wild I mean… just uncomfortable and awkward!

So… I might be following the same class schedule for about two months now; however, I still do not know where I am going half the time!! I thought I had Economica class first rather than Philosophy and I even told my friend 원준 that as I talked to him walking to the fourth floor but then I saw 세림 and she asked where I was going… I realized that your girl made a mistake. I hurriedly checked my schedule and dashed to my 철학 class. I would have technically been a minute late but when I got to class… the lights were on but there was literally no one in the class. Literally no one! I screamed inside my head a little wondering why this was my life…

I wandered the halls for a bit hoping to run into a teacher and luckily I bumped into a teacher I knew— my 통합사회 teacher. I explained to him that I have 철학 right now but that when I went to my class, no one was there… and I didn’t know what to do. He walked with me back to the teachers’ office and checked on it for me. At that time, while I was waiting outside, 하나고 민정쌤 also came out and I explained the situation to it to her too. When my teacher came out, he said something I didn’t really follow but I assumed that the teacher was absent. They told me to go to the library.

So that’s what I did. I went up to the library teacher and told her I was here because of Philosophy. She said some word that I thought was 공강 and so I assumed she was confusing today with another day, thinking I was meeting students today. {Later I learned she was saying 결강 which is the term used when a class is canceled.} She told me to just sit down anywhere. I asked her what I should do, wondering if there was something the teacher left us to do? She told me I could do anything or read. On the first floor, there were no seats so I sat on this cushion type sofa thing by the printers. Eventually, she came over to me and told me there was a second floor. She brought me up there and I quickly took a seat. I saw a lot of my kids from Philosophy also up there… it was quite embarrassing showing up late. If only someone had cared to mention something to me…


Me feeling annoyed in the library because I was left alone to fend for myself… (regarding the class being canceled)

It was nice though~ In those two hours, I got to finish my Korean homework for the weekend and relax a bit on Snapchat. {I also texted Katie throughout the whole class.}

Lunch was fun because Katie and I got to eat with our friends again~ During lunch today, we made each of our friends pick out a name from a bag in order to do Secret Santa but then last minute, we decided to do 마니또 {Secret Angel} instead. The premise of it is pretty similar to Secret Santa but instead of giving one gift and revealing everyone’s Secret Santa at one time, you surprise them with gifts secretly {usually small things leading up to something big} for a period of time. We decided that we had till lunchtime on the 14th of December {as that day would be our last day attending 하나고 for the year.}

After lunch, I had fun talking to 선민 during Sociology. When I first came into the classroom, I sat next to our other friend but there was no open seat for 선민 so when she came in, I moved my seat in order to be able to sit with her. I think I accidentally took the seat away from this guy and his friend? Oops… 선민 also gave me this mint type thing which helped me stay awake during the class… because doing that is such a struggle sometimes.

Friday’s 공강 class was fun as usual. I ended up speaking a bit of Korean with them too and 지은 complimented me on my pronunciation which made me feel good~ We talked about a lot of things but because it was soo long ago… I can’t remember what was said… ahhh, that’s unfortunate. I do know that it was a lot of fun, though~ I definitely was laughing way too loud at times.

영미문학 on Friday was good~ We were just finishing reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. The most fun part of the class was definitely just talking to my friends– particularly 예성. His homeroom class actually got the most people to eat all their lunch on the 다 먹는 날 on Wednesday!! So he won a cute cat pillow looking thing. I was majorly jealous. He told me that they had someone stand watch so they wouldn’t get sabotaged after they reached their class total. He explained that someone probably unfairly put a sticker on ours so we wouldn’t win… I was shocked! People took it so seriously! (My homeroom class got disqualified because we had more stickers than people in our homeroom… we were so close!)

Friday after school, Katie and I went back to 홍대 in order to have dinner with June and Harmony since we don’t often get opportunities to hang with them. We ate at this small Japanese restaurant that was kinda hidden in an alleyway? Like I honestly would not have noticed it if June didn’t have the directions. I ordered a 돈까스밥 bowl type thing. It was very delicious~ We had a really good time laughing and updating each other about everything going on in our lives.

Also, side note, the worker that was helping us out the entire night was super nice. He saw that our backpacks were kind of crowding our feet and he took them and placed them on empty chairs around us. He also noticed my coat was touching the floor and he grabbed the sleeve to show me. He was just being very kind; we definitely appreciated it.


Katie ft. my badly drawn art book…

June and Harmony went home together and Katie and I went to a cafe to hang out for a bit more and get some “work” done. I also ordered Jacks’ Secret Santa gift. Did I mention this yet? I have Jack for our NSLI-Y Secret Santa and I had literally no idea what to get him. However, I thought back to our 안동 trip and remembered him calling Bigfoot Squish Squash and how it literally made the entire back of the bus erupt in laughter! Sooooo your girl went on Amazon and ordered him a Sasquatch stuffed animal. Who else would take a simple joke this far? Hopefully, he remembers though… or else he is gonna be like “Emma how is this relevant? Are you telling me I have big feet?”


Okay, that’s all for this blog post! I hope you I enjoyed~~ Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마