학원 House Party, Sledding, and Vicious Live Octopus?? {01/19/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

01/19/19 Saturday 

Before I even met my host family, I knew about the party and the trip to go sledding planned on this day. When messaging my older host sister over Instagram, she invited me to come with if I liked to sled/had no other scheduled program activities that day. Luckily, we had nothing planned~ 

Early in the morning, you could feel the stress and worry in the air as everyone hurried to get ready and prepare for the big day ahead. Although I could feel this negative energy around me, I also could feel a ton of excitement. My two host sisters left to go pick up the kids from the 학원 to bring them back to the house to play for a bit and to have lunch. 

I was studying in my room when my host mom showed up at my door holding Andy and telling me that the kids arrived and that we should come out to greet them. She also mentioned that Andy will behave better {less to no barks} if he can enter the house with guests rather than have all the guest pile in suddenly when he’s unaware. We went down to the lobby and waited to the door until we saw a swarm of Korean elementary to middle school students coming towards us. I was shocked. I knew that it was a party but I did not imagine that there would be so many!! There had to be close to or more than 30. As they all piled into the building, many of them waved and said “hello” to me in English which was so cute. 

When we got inside the house, it was so overwhelming!! Luckily my host family’s apartment is pretty spacious for a Korean apartment but even with that, the number of kids there made it seem quite small. For about an hour or so the kids just played around—talking, on their phones, playing board games, or petting Andy. At one point, I was on Andy duty which meant I sat with the kids on the bed with Andy and watched them. It was probably less because they didn’t trust the kids handling the dog but more because many of them were scared of the dog and I was there to make the dog feel more comfortable around all the unfamiliar faces. 

For lunch, my host mom cooked up the meat medley that we bought at Emart the previous night. She just went around to the kids and passed out bowls of the meat. Bowls that included one sausage, a strip of bacon, fried shrimp, and two pieces of 삼겹살. Definitely a cholesterol raiser but very delicious nonetheless.

sled 1

After lunch, everyone put on their coats and we got ready to leave for the 눈썰매장(sledding hill). I accidentally left my wallet in my room and began to fear for my life as I realized I didn’t have my card to pay for the bus fare, but my younger host sister reassured me that it was okay… since they rented a huge bus! A party bus if you will! 

We drove off to 하피랜드 which is an amusement park in 파주시 {the city next to 고양시} and while we were driving there, we really saw the 시골!! We passed by tons of farms and fields and saw stray dogs running around. My host sister pointed out these round cylinder things that looked like huge marshmallows and told the kids sitting across from us that that was how they made marshmallows— they just cut it down into the shape that you normally see them in. None of them believed the tall tale but it was still funny to listen to.

We arrived and were greeted by two large hills covered in (real) snow for sledding. One hill was made for kids (think bunny hill) which had these circular swimming float type sleds while the bigger hill had plastic sleds (two different types). We spent about a little more than 2 hours at the sled park. I started off the day by sledding down the big hill with my older host sister and a couple of the students which was very thrilling! I am not the thrill-seeking type of person, so even just this (which many kids did fine) was a lot for me! I will also mention that steering sleds is so difficult! Part of the thrill of going down the hill was trying not to hit anyone! (Almost crashed into a mother and her child not gonna lie…)

 I honestly cannot remember the last time I really went sledding, so doing this was a lot of fun! Back home, winter does not really bring any new, fun activities for me–but this was something I never knew I could actually look forward to! However, one of the 학원 students recommended to my older host sister and me to switch our sleds for this sleeker shaped one because it went faster. We agreed to do so and really had no reservations about it but after going down that hill with that demon sled, I was done with that hill! It was a lot of fun do not get me wrong… but that sled really did make me go faster and I actually also could not stay on the sled while it was moving. Half of my body kept coming off and so my pants and arm kept getting wet from the snow. I got to the bottom and needed to take a break–and my host sister felt the same way. We decided to give the child hill a try which was a great decision since it was ten times better. I went down with my host sister while holding hands and then with a group of the students which was better since I did not have to do down by myself. The best part of it would be when our sleds would turn around and we would go down BACKWARDS! What a day!!

At 4 pm, all the students gathered back near the entrance and we returned to the bus to go back to the 학원 to drop all the kids off. From there, I visited my host sister’s 학원 for a quick bit and it was the cutest thing. All around the room where cute decorations, American memorabilia, and lots and lots of signs. I could see how this would be a really great environment to study English. 

sled 2

My Older Host Sister & Me

After we got home, we just chilled for a little bit before leaving to go to a seafood restaurant near the apartment complex/subway station which my host mom kept telling me was a 맛집 (A very delicious restaurant that is well known in the area– usually chain restaurants cannot be considered a 맛집– 맛 is taste and 집 is house (or place). For dinner, we had this large seafood soup/stew set that included a lot of seafood: crab, shrimp, clams, octopus, etc. We also ate 해물파전 (seafood savory pancake… which I have made before! During my cooking class in Korea two years ago!) as well as some spicy rice with what my sister told me was cockle? She translated the Korean word on Naver and that was what came out. I never really ate seafood in the States so I am not sure what that exactly is but… we ate it, and it was delicious! However, the highlight of the dinner was not the delicious food or the good conversation with my host family (although of course, those were all good things). The best part of the dinner made me laugh for several minutes straight… and that was the live octopus in the pot escaping through the lid and scaring my host mom so much that she screamed. I heard her cry and saw tentacles coming out of the side of the pot and I couldn’t help but laugh. Everyone in the restaurant turned to look at us as anyone would have if someone suddenly screamed in a somewhat quiet public place. A nearby waiter came by and put the octopus back in and shut the lid but my host mom was still freaking out so she switched seats with my older host sister who then held down the lid until the octopus stopped moving.

At one point, the waitress serving us finally asked my host mom about me and she told her that I can speak Korean so might as well just ask me directly. She then proceeded to ask me where I was from but she used extremely formal Korean which caught me off guard for a hot second and I was chewing tough octopus at the same time so I tried swallowing as fast as I could to tell her I was from America.

Dinner was delicious and a great end to such a busy but fun day. We came home quite early as it was only 8 pm. We just relaxed for the rest of the night which was much needed~

Thanks for reading! This is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Today officially marks halfway through my AY program… starting tomorrow, there will be more days behind us then there are in front of us which is honestly very very very bittersweet to me. I must make these last few months truly count! Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

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