Saying Goodbye to My Host Family & Winter Break Orientation {01/02/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

1/02/19 Wednesday

I woke up this morning feeling a bit out of it. I knew as I climbed down the ladder attached to my bed that it would be the last time. I looked over at my desk area and seeing all the pictures and photos gone made me suddenly very very sad. I woke up early that morning and got changed—did some last minute packing too. I also painted my nails with my host sister but did it end up as a mess! This is why I only ever get my nails professionally done—but because that’s expensive and I cannot be bothered half the time—I usually never go.

When my younger host sister woke up, she threw a huge fit because the nail kit was her gift from Santa and no one had asked permission to use it. It got heated pretty quickly as my host sister kept crying and screaming and it was really awkward for me to sit there as I was a reason for the meltdown. Not exactly how I imagined my final morning with my host family to go down. For breakfast, we all ate together around 10 am. Everyone had skipped school so that they could come with me to drop me off. Breakfast was lively and we joked around but there was definitely something different in the air.

After breakfast, I helped my host dad bring down my luggage to the car and I said goodbye to my host mom and brother as they would not be coming with. I tried holding back my tears as I said goodbye—a very difficult task. I got in the car and endured a very silent car ride. Besides a few pictures taken to show off my host sisters and my matching scarves (a scarf I received as a gift that day!), we did not really talk. When we pulled up to the hostel, we had to park a bit farther away and then take all the suitcases to the right place as my host dad found actual parking.

My host dad and sisters stayed with me in the cafe for a little bit—taking lots of pictures. We said our final goodbyes as I watched their car roll away. As they passed by, my sisters waved her hands out the window and screamed my name. When I walked back into the hostel and returned to the group of waiting NSLI-Yians, I couldn’t help but begin to cry. Kaitlyn gave me some tissues and reassured me that we’d meet again and I knew she was right.

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Once everyone showed up and dropped off their bags, we all left to go find a place to eat lunch at. We ended up deciding to eat at Little Taiwan. {Kind of a running joke between Josh, Liam, Kaitlyn, and I because Liam always offers this place up as the dinner option and it never has gotten picked.} Honestly, I’m not sure what I ate… it was like country fried chicken if I had to compare it to something American. The seasoning on it was very delicious! Reminded me of my mom’s cooking…

After eating, Kaitlyn and I went to a bakery to buy macaroons for our new host families before heading to Better World for the winter break orientation.

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The orientation was a lot like the other ones we have had except we focused a lot on what difficulties we have overcome and ways to try to get past or even deal with the ones that we are still currently experiencing. We started off orientation doing a type of roundtable activity with three tables: Korean class, host high school, and host family. We spent 15 min at each table with one RD and discussed our difficulties and how we were able to solve them or how they can be solved. This activity was really interesting because I was able to see that the other students also were having the same problems as me although, my school difficulties seemed a bit different compared to the other kids. Their problems were sleeping in class or having too much self-study time like… I wish!!

We also created a new Group Working Agreement or contract. We ended up choosing the word Supportive to represent our group’s goal as a whole. We ended up thinking of this as a 약속 or promise which led us to take these really ugly and cringey photos of us doing pinky promises. It was surely interesting.

During the winter break orientation, like the name suggests, we discussed winter break and our plans for it. 소영쌤 enlightened us about the times for our supporter meetings to work on our Cultural Explorers project as well as other volunteer activities and cultural activities that are sprinkled throughout the next two months. We also found out about our groups for the CEP and to no surprise, I was placed with Katie. {Like I have mentioned earlier, we may or may not have purposely chosen the same project topics.}

The last activity of the day was to look back at the boats that we filled out during arrival orientation. On the boat, we wrote our motivations on the wind, our expectations on the sail, and our fears as the base of the boat. The important part of this boat was that all three of these things must be balanced and utilized together in order to move the boat forward—progress. If you have too many fears, the boat sinks and without motivation, the boat will not be able to move forward.

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We filled out new ones which ended up being a really nice exercise. I realized that some of my fears were the same while others were conquered {while new ones were added…}. My expectations changed a little bit but my motivations were still as strong as ever. It was a nice activity to take a step back and see how far we have all come during these past 3 months.

We had dinner afterward at Flapjack Pantry. Pancakes were not on the menu Better World gave us but if I had known we would be eating there… pancakes for dinner! I ended up getting a Cajun Salad which was honestly really good~ I would eat it again for sure.

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After dinner, we all returned to the guest house in order to get assigned our rooms and hear information about the rest of the morning and the next day as well. {Well, actually they let us choose what rooms we wanted to be in. I wanted to be on the 4th floor again with the loft so I stayed with Addie, Katie, McKenzie, and Jacquelyn. The s were kind enough to extend curfew till 10 pm today {rather than our usual 9:30 on weekdays} and allowed us to leave the guest house to do whatever we pleased. A big group of us {Jack, Katie, Jenna, Josh, and Liam} decided to hit up this cafe called Dinga Cake House which looked so pretty. The Cafe literally looked like one of those American homes in the rich gated communities and the Christmas decorations were still up making the place look so magical! However, unfortunately for us the only seats still open were two-seaters and we had 6 people so we spent the next 20 minutes or so walking around trying to find another cafe to chill in. We ended up picking this place called 17 degrees because it looked pretty much empty and they had plenty of seats. Their tag line was “the perfect temperature for chocolate bonbons” or something like that but the place was TOO expensive. Especially considering that I would be splurging on coin-sized chocolate and not even a piece of cake or something. They had really great hot chocolate, though.

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Yikes bad quality photo…

At the cafe, we just talked and laughed the whole time while enjoying our drinks. We discussed the new year and our plans while also just being weird like deciding whether everyone was either a fork, spoon, or knife or placing each other on a scale of 0– is not chaotic at all–to 10–full on Chaotic energy. It was a lot of fun.

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Before heading back to the hostel, I bought this big tub of vanilla ice cream at GS25 because McKenzie mentioned wanting ice cream and I was always down for that. So after we arrived back, we all sat on the floor around Jacquelyn’s bed and ate vanilla ice cream with plastic spoons. When 민정쌤 came in to check up on us for the night, she immediately made a face when she saw what we were doing. She was just clearly jealous!!

The rest of the night we just stayed up talking. Well, particularly Katie and me. Everyone fell asleep basically by midnight but not us. We stayed up to just talk and dish out all of our emotions and expose pretty much everything personal about us. Wholesome fun. What’s a sleepover without deep talks at 2 am? Exactly!

And that was this blog post! I hope you enjoyed! I’ll keep you updated on what’s to come~ Tomorrow I meet my new host family! I’m so excited yet nervous. I could honestly start bouncing off the walls right now or puke out all my insides. Or both? Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

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