American Pizza in Itaewon with my Host Sisters (01/15/19) NSLI-Y Korean AY

01/15/19 Tuesday

I woke up bright and early on Tuesday for another project meeting. The air was once again really really bad. In Korea, they have really bad dust pollution that can’t be seen by the naked eye, which mostly blows over the country from China. This is called 미세먼지. It’s honestly really harmful to your body and once it gets in your lungs—it never leaves! According to Katie… so not sure how accurate this is! {Sorry Katie! :P} Today the app said “Deadly” and “Never go Outside” which meant I could not leave the house without a mask. In Korea, people can wear special pollution masks to protect themselves from the bad air. As I walked outside to head to the subway, the sky looked so foggy. But don’t be mistaken, that’s not natural—it’s just dust.

For this supporter meeting, we met at a new cafe called 1984 rather than the Blanc Bakery. It was actually really close to our Korean classes but the drinks were too expensive for their size… highly disappointed. But, I guess the low key cool vibe of the place was nice. We were very very productive during this meeting. We went over all the research we did as homework from the last meeting and we also researched possible locations to go to for our field trip. We ended up choosing to interview and volunteer at KUMFA– the first organization we found (Korea Unwed Mothers Families Association). For our second option, we thought we could just volunteer at a shelter for single mothers as well as donate some daily necessities like toilet paper or laundry detergent. However, we hope to be able to do both because we want to volunteer as much as we can!

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During this meeting, Katie and I kinda butted heads a little bit… probably because we were both stressed about things and were not in the best moods but at times, we were kinda tense during our meeting. At the end of it, we were packing up to leave and Katie decided to just study at a cafe before Korean class rather than get lunch with me which made me a bit disappointed. We just silently packed up. I went to return our cups to the counter and while I was doing this, Katie just left, without a goodbye–so we did not walk together. This made me kind of angry but I figured she needed space. (We had a low key argument and we both could tell the other was feeling off.) We talked it out later that night and are fine now~ One reason that I love Katie, we both are so considerate of the other and will not let anyone stay angry for very long. We talked it out and honestly, these little bumps make our relationship stronger! Love you Katie!~ ❤

Korean class was normal. Nothing too special happened. Honestly, often times I speak negatively of Korean class so at least nothing during class today made me feel that way. For one hour of the class, rather than doing normal textbook work, we started doing weekly debates. Like a presentation, one of us (my classmates… if that is not obvious) picks a topic and leads a discussion on that. Jacquelyn went today and talked about 미세먼지. (Relations with China because of it, causes, possible solutions, etc.) I was able to understand more than I thought but it really was not a debate? Instead… it seemed like just a conversation she had between the teacher and herself? I did add something to the conversation. I tried to explain that if the Korean government keeps putting blame on China then they will not see their own harmful actions–and I spouted some percentage nonsense I read in an article earlier in the day.

After class, I was almost bouncing off the walls from excitement. I would be meeting my host sisters at 홍익역 to take the train together to 이태원 (the foreigner) district in Seoul in order to eat at this pretty famous pizza place. They were showing up a bit after 5:30 pm so I first went to the bookstore connected to the station with Josh and Alix. I wanted to see if I could find a book to help me with the Topik Test (the Korean ability level test) that we will be taking in April, but no luck in finding anything. We did find all the books and workbooks we currently use in Korean class–including the grammar books! I will have to return to buy the advanced grammar book because I want to be able to write in it and fill it out as I go through the points. (In the one we received from Better World, we are not allowed to do that.) Also, while at the bookstore, we stumbled across these tiny books. They were tiny little books in Korean (or English) of classic literature pieces like Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Little Prince, etc. I wanted to buy several but for now, I just bought The Little Prince for less than $5. I tried reading it while waiting for my host sisters but it is still too difficult for me! (One day…)

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I met up with my host sisters by getting on the same train car they were currently on and we rode the train together till 녹사평역 which is where we got off. At the station (It was huge! Multiple stories too), they had this little machine called a memory exchange machine. The directions were as follows: Write a memory about the area you are in, put it in the machine, and then take one of the memory cards from someone else (one that was put in earlier). We all wrote our memories (although, I had to write one in a different place–I chose the day I went to 신촌 with 연우, 윤지, and Kaitlyn–since I had never been to this area before) and put them in the machine. For some reason, no memories came out for us to read? I assume it is probably because there are not enough? This could be a fairly new machine… or it is broken–who knows.

For dinner, we went to this pizza place called Motor City (Detroit Pizza!) which was recommended by my elder host sister as she had been there twice with friends. We ended up ordering a four cheese pizza with tomatoes and spinach, a garlic shrimp cream pasta, and a drink to share. Before we started eating, there were not enough forks on the table so my older host sister asked the waitress for more and she only brought one which she handed to me. Then, the pasta arrived and she asked again if we could have one more fork. But it seemed as if the lady forgot as no fork was ever brought back to our table until finally, we called over a different waiter. This was funny because as my younger host sister was waiting for the fork, my old host sister kept teasing her about not being able to eat the delicious food.

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Our conversation during dinner was a lot of fun– the times we were talking and not silently stuffing our faces with food. We talked about my younger host sisters obsession with Japan (called her an Otaku), though I believe she really is not that obsessed. We talked about spinach for a bit because I missed it and the fact that it was on this pizza… I brought up the children’s cartoon Popeyes (the sailor man) and how I used to eat spinach straight out of the can because of that man. My host sisters agreed that they liked it; however, they found it not tasty in Korean food. I also told them more about myself including what I plan on majoring in college, my brothers, and such. It was a really nice dinner.

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Rather than going home right away, we decided to hang out in a cafe for awhile so we ordered tea and hot chocolate and just talked. The place was pretty crowded for a Tuesday night but then again the place was quite small too. The first floor was just the counter and then there were stairs that led to a second floor with only a few places to sit. When we arrived there; however, every single table but one was being used (mostly by couples too…) At the cafe, one thing that we talked about were puppy mills here in Korea as well as families who buy puppies but then throw them away once they get older. It was a very sad topic… I told them about PetSmart and other businesses where you can bring your dog to the store with you. I also told them about the many animal shelters there are in America and the growing movement of people trying to adopt rather than buying straight from breeders.

We rode the train back home and got back at 9 pm. The trip back up to 고양시 was smooth although there were more people taking the train than we expected (worse than it can sometimes be during rush hour–in less frequently used subway cars. It definitely is way worse in the front/middle cars during rush hour.) Again, while riding the train, we talked some more and made jokes. My younger host sister put her face mask over her entire face and that just led me and my older host sister to die from laughter.

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On a more serious note, we discussed some problems in Korea such as perverts on trains and spy cameras in public women restrooms. Definitely not a lighthearted topic but it was interesting hearing their opinion on it.

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Also, I found out from my host sisters that Namsan Tower (남산 타워) will light up in certain colors to show the condition of the air. When it is red (like in this photo), the air quality is bad and you should wear a mask. Other times, it is green for good air!

That is all for this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed~ Keep up to date with my life by subscribing to this blog! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

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