Virtual Reality Cafe at Lotte World & Photoshoot with High School Friend {02/17/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/17/19 Sunday 

Katie and I met up with 서린, one of our best friends at 하나고, to go to a  virtual reality cafe underneath Lotte World. We have been trying to plan something so that we could hang out before going back to school after winter break but it took us till now to get anything scheduled! My first real experience with VR Rides was with my younger host sister earlier this month so this was only my second time trying some of it out and I will continue to say that technology never ceases to amaze me! It’s crazy what one can accomplish with technology, truly! 


We paid about 13,000 Won {less than $13 dollars} for three VR experiences but they could be anything—genres from space, realism, horror with durations lasting from one minute to 20 minutes. We started out playing a team player VR game which involved using these guns to sling us to different poles to try to kill our enemies. My explanation makes no sense because I honestly didn’t know what I was doing then either… I was playing with the computer and we lost but… I’m pretty sure I killed someone like three times but maybe I’m just crazy. Maybe I kept killing myself in the game who knows.


After that, we went to this room that had several of the same looking machines but each one had a variety of scenarios that could be played. I ended up choosing a mode that had you trapped on a Ferris wheel type amusement park ride as it came undone from its bolts and rolled around the city streets. This was so extremely realistic! I was standing there holding onto the handrails and bending my knees to brace for impact because my body and mind literally thought I was falling at times. 

For our last VR experience, Katie and I decided to do the horror escape room that they offered. 서린 was all against the room because it was advertised as being scary but then when she did a one-player game about zombies, she got so scared and had to stop playing halfway through. I felt bad that she had to wait for us as there was a 20 minute wait time till we could go in. While we were waiting, one of the employees {Who had really cool hair! It was very curly! I loved it!} asked Katie and me if we were Korean because he said our Korean was so good that he would not be surprised. It was very cute. 

I have done an escape room before {with my host sister—blog post here} but this one was different in the fact that it was virtual! Clearly… why am I explaining this? Katie and I were hooked up to VR headsets on different parts of the room and then given these controllers that were literally shaped like hands. The guy said “right” and “left” as he handed me the controllers. 

The escape room was set up so that Katie and I were in separate rooms and we had to work together to solve each of the puzzles to proceed along with the escape room. So for example, Katie had a typewriter in her room but could not use it to get any clues because she was missing paper. Luckily, in my room, I had a stack of A4 papers. There was a little hole in between the rooms with a small tray where we could leave the objects in for the other person to take to use in their room. The escape room was a lot of fun! Definitely a lot easier than my first escape room experience but nonetheless, we had to think on our feet to solve the puzzles. We went along with the room pretty smoothly until we got to this point where we needed a blue light. Katie had a flashlight in her room but we could not find how to turn it blue. The worker overseeing then actually called over the intercom and told me to look behind me, in the set of drawers. I was able to find this blue cover that needed to be placed over the flashlight. That was the only hint we received so I am pretty proud that we basically did it all by ourselves.

Right before we finished the room, we ran into one more problem, though. I had to place my hand controllers on these two highlighted parts on a door but it turns out that my hand controllers were flipped! They were in the wrong hands. So we stood there trying to open the door with no luck. So much so that the worker had to come in and went up to me and grabbed my arms to switch the controllers. At the point in time, I did not know that they were in the wrong hands so when I felt a hand grab my wrist, I literally screamed in horror. It was a bit embarrassing. But in the end, we made it out alive! We survived and escaped the room! 


After the escape room, we hung out around the closest arcade for a little bit to sing some songs in a Karaoke room and then played the basketball arcade game. We debated what to do next for a while and decided to go to a photo studio to have a high-quality photo shoot together! Apparently, going to get photos professionally taken is something really common in Korea. A lot of friends, students, and couples get photos done. Actually, not only that, since job applications here still require an attached photo, a lot of people go to photo studios to take professional photos for Job IDs and such. We went to this studio one stop away from 잠실역 and got to take almost 100 pictures for about $30 which split up between three people, is not bad. I am not sure how long our session was? Maybe 20 minutes? I am not too sure. But we were given electronic copies of all the photos and 2 print outs (We also ended up paying a little bit more to get three copies instead so that we would not have to fight over anything.)



At first, getting comfortable in front of the camera took a while. We were all sitting quite uncomfortable and awkward on this long bench for the first set of photos but we eventually eased into it and mastered the perfect fake laugh! It was a lot of fun! We decided that we have to come back here with our 하나고 friends and have a huge friend group photo shoot! (In our uniforms… I think that would end up looking so cute!) I have so many photos from this day… from this shoot should I say but I will spare you and only include my very favorites! Enjoy!


Once we chose the photos to be printed out, we left to visit 서린’s house and meet her family. I’ve done this countless times in America because going to your friends’ houses is a very normal occurrence. Actually, they don’t even have to be your friends! Because of school projects and such, you end up going to the homes of people you may barely know well because you were assigned to the same group. This does not happen in Korea. When students hang out, they go out. Not only is going to friends’ houses not that common which made the idea of meeting her family awkward but also the fact that we had to speak Korean! They were meeting 서린’s foreigner friends! They probably had expectations…



We came in and met her parents and her little sister {as well as her extremely adorable cat!} and then left to eat 삼겹살 at a nearby restaurant. 서린 told us that the area around the apartment is pretty nice except for some few sketchy 노래방s… you can guess what that means… 


We had a lovely dinner of a lot of food I still don’t know the name of! For one thing, we ate 게밥 {crab rice} and 서린’s dad made a dad joke {in Korean 아재개그} about the fact that Katie and I could tell our other friends that we ate 개밥 {dog food} with 서린’s family. I took this time to share the funny Korean joke I made back during 설날 vacation. 

Q: What does a snack say to his other snack friend when he wants to go to a different place together? 

A: 같이 과자! 

If you don’t speak Korean… the joke won’t work for obvious reasons but basically, it’s a play on saying let’s go (가자) and the word for a snack (과자). He appreciated my joke! Even though both Katie and 서린 groaned in disapproval. (Too bad for 서린, she had to listen to this joke a couple more times when I would share it in class!)

After dinner, we went back to 서린’s and just sat at her kitchen table and talked for the next 2 hours or so (before we had to leave to make it home in time for curfew). 서린’s mom acted as the normal caring mom character and gave us this huge plate of a variety of fruits, 떡, and even these very delicious mochi ice creams. 


Sitting with 서린 and Katie at the kitchen table reminded me of my hangouts with American finds~~ Just chilling, talking, and hanging out at home. We talked a lot about what we have been doing these past few weeks and our feelings on going back to 하나고 {We also got some tea about some 하나고 students and their overwhelming competitive attitude.} I was really surprised to hear that 서린 was ready to go back to school because she 1. Couldn’t sleep at home and 2. Hated going to 학원 for so many hours in a day only doing math. She expressed the fact that even during breaks at the 학원, the other students would still push themselves and work and so she felt trapped. She preferred having classes and time to breathe and think. Honestly, this surprised me because as an outsider looking in, I can’t imagine going to school at 하나고. But now seeing what the alternative would be for 서린 for example, I can see how for some, it’s exactly what they want in education. 

Also found out … that I think my favorite foreign teacher {Correy} went back to America for his Master’s Degree… It is so sad! Katie and I really loved talking to him. Having lunch with the foreign teachers was the best! I’m gonna miss that… He was able to relate to us so much! Unlike the other teachers, he studied Korean so he was able to understand us when it came to language struggles and not just the universal foreigner struggles experienced here. I think he said he might have been going to school in NYC? If so… maybe I can figure out how to meet up with him! I will be in NYC next year for school. (While editing this, he did recently reach out to me on Kakao! He will be studying at Columbia University too so we will be grabbing lunch together for sure!


Well anyway, that’s all for this blog post! It was a long one… I had a lot of things to say and I didn’t go easy on the details. It was such a nice day— being able to spend time with a good 하나고 friend outside of school! I don’t know when is the next time we will get the chance again.. well till next time! Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마

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