New Years Eve: Cafe Conversations in 회현 (Hoehyeon) and 홍대 (Hongdae) 12/30-31/19 NSLI-Y AY

12/30/18 Sunday

Nothing too special happened on Sunday. I spent most of the morning trying to pack my suitcases even though I was majorly dreading it. Honestly, I love packing. I find figuring out how to fit everything and then stepping back and observing the final product as rewarding and really calming. I like to pop in some headphones and listen to Netflix or Youtube videos and pack away. Though…this time it just reminded me of the fact that this chapter was ending and although I am looking forward to this new change too, I cannot help but feel emotional about everything–mostly leaving my lovely host family.

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One thing that was really great about this morning was that I finally got to skype Sofia since coming to Korea! We have not talked since I have gotten here… we tried to talk back in October but because of the timing and the internet connection, we had to give up during the call. We ended up talking for almost 3 hours!! We had so much to catch each other up on–her about her first semester of college and me (obviously) about my time in Korea. Sofia is the kind of friend that even though we may not talk as regularly as you would expect for close friends (we do text/snap each other every day, though!), we get back to where we left off and it is like we were never away from each other! We still have not met up in person since the end of our NSLI-Y Program in 2016 but we have big plans during the fall of 2019 seeing that we will both be on the east coast–and in the same country too!

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I wrote blog posts, packed, and played board games with my host siblings for the rest of the day; the epitome of a very chill day on the weekend here in Korea.

12/31/18 Monday

The last day of 2018!!! I cannot believe that the end of the year is already upon us… it is honestly crazy to think about (I know… I know, everyone says this every single year…) I left early in the morning this day to meet up with Katie around noon at 회현역. She was meeting up with someone staying around there so I came to hang out with her until her plans began. (I had nothing better to do and did not want to stay home alone for the whole day.) When we got to the station, we walked outside for a bit before going inside one of the other exits looking for the underground shopping center. We ended up thinking that we had made it to the entrance of one of Korea’s famous department stores/malls called Shinsegae (신세계). I spotted a Johnny’s Rockets (Do they still exist in America? I was shook to see one in Korea!) and we took out some cash at one of the ATMs. Then, we tried entering the mall at the place we thought was the entrance but boy were we wrong. We walked past the doors to see a security guard look at us and begin to get out of his chair. We saw only people wearing lanyards and ID cards walking through and lots of keypads right at the entrance. I immediately freaked out and Katie pulled me to get out of there. We ran back up from being underground and laughed at how we are always getting ourselves in these situations.

We walked around the area for a bit until finally finding a cafe to sit in and chat and do some “work” which for me meant writing blogs and for Katie, she was researching restaurants in the area to go to with her friends. We stopped into a Yoger Expresso (the first time I have been to this chain). We ordered our drinks and shared some strawberry waffles.

After I hung out with Katie, I was not ready to go home yet as it was still pretty early in the afternoon, so I texted the group chat and luckily was able to go ahead and make plans with June in 홍대! We walked around the outside shops together because June needed to buy gifts for the goodbye party she was having with her host family. We chatted while doing some shopping which was fun. I have not hung out with June in awhile so I appreciated getting to talk to her more! While June bought dog clothes, socks, and candles for her host family, I just bought a pair of socks and a pig-themed New Years card for myself… gotta treat yourself sometimes!

We ended our hangout at Blanc Bakery where we shared a slice of red velvet cream cheese cake and some conversation. I also bought some macaroons in order to bring something back to my host siblings in honor of it being New Year’s Eve.

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After getting home, I ate dinner with just my host dad and host mom because my host sisters were having Chinese language tutoring in their room. We talked about a lot of things like why Japanese and Chinese are more popular languages to learn (and their cultures are more readily known) for Americans rather than Korean as well as the colonization of both Korea and America (in the sense of the Native Americans). It was very interesting~ I definitely understood more than I could properly reply with complex, coherent answers.

The rest of the night was spent packing and watching the New Years Countdown with my host family– which included counting down from 10 (in Korean of course) and then watching some performances from famous k-pop groups like Twice, Red Velvet, Exo, Winner, and BTS. We stayed up past midnight even though we were planning to wake up at 5 in the morning to watch the sunrise (This is apparently a very common tradition for Koreans on New Year’s Day.) which did not matter at the moment… but I definitely noticed the next morning. It was not the usual New Years Eve and I severely missed my best friends, but it was still a very nice day. I spent it well with some really lovely people (Katie, June and my host family) and so I will always cherish the memory! My sisters also gave me letters they wrote… I ended the night in tears.

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SHINee’s Minho was on the Countdown as an MC of sorts

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed this blog post! My next blog post will be about the first day of 2019!!! Thanks for reading~ I hope you rang in the new year with lots of good food and people. Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

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