First Full Day of Korean High School, Voting for Homeroom Class President, and After School Street Food {03/06/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/06/19 Wednesday

Although I’ve been a whole bundle of nerves this entire week, today I woke up more nervous than I had been for the previous two days. I would have to blame it on the fact that I knew it would be a full day—all 6 periods and eating lunch at school. There was no excuse of Korean class to whisk us away to a temporary haven with the other NSLI-Y students. If this day was going to be a long one, it was was going to be a long one. But even though I was so nervous, I was also super excited to visit my new classes especially because I knew I had some friends in them. 

The morning was exceptionally cold and it would not have been bad if Katie and I had worn coats, but we were set on just wearing our school blazers as our only form of outerwear protection. On the bus, we panicked over our days and what we might find ourselves doing in each class. We also ran into Andrew taking the bus. Apparently, Katie is in a first-year class with him and I am in some advanced writing and reading class with third years. {I know this might be extremely wishful thinking but… if I had the class with 세림, I would most definitely freak!} 

The first period today was 국어 (Korean language) and I have the same teacher as I did last semester! He’s a really funny guy that can sometimes make total sense to me and other times I struggle to understand whatever he’s saying. However, I really appreciate the effort he puts in to include me in his lectures. He likes to translate {or have other students translate} random words to English to me while he’s lecturing as if that one single word will help me understand everything. {The effort is really sweet and I do love when he does it!} And he also asks me questions too! Sometimes it’s embarrassing since it is almost always in front of the whole class but I would rather be embarrassed than ignored. 

At the beginning of the class, I sat down next to these two girls {this is a first-grade class} and they seemed so excited to talk to me as they instantly asked me my name and I did the same for theirs. Though, I feel bad… I already forgot their names… I will have to pay attention next time the teacher runs through attendance so I can talk to them during break again! 

When the teacher walked into class, he saw me and greeted me and had me do a quick introduction in front of the class which is when I pulled out my 자기 소개. After I finished my one second long, very basic introduction, everyone gasped and clapped for me—surprised I could speak Korean. My teacher then told everyone that I took his class last semester and know everything really well—especially the goat story. He told them that he would tell it later during the semester. I honestly really hope he does, it would make me happy to see how much of it I can now understand and to see what I got wrong the first time. It also cracks me up that he still remembers that I ACTUALLY understood the goat story. (I will link that blog post here!)

During class today, he just talked about himself so that we could get to know him more. He told us his three favorite Korean words {자유, 여유, and some other word that had some 한자 written in it so you know I didn’t understand it.} He also explained to us the three best times to drink coffee {and if you can get these to all overlap, it will be the best cup of coffee you’ll have ever had to drink}. Before he explained, he also asked me {and a couple others in the class} if they like coffee. 

What were the three situations when coffee tastes the best? 

  1. When it is raining— the pitter-patter of the rain and the mood a gloomy day puts you in just matches well with a cup of coffee 
  2. Drinking with a loved one {He used the word lover actually which has a stronger connotation.} He painted the picture of sitting in a cozy living room with your loved one on a rainy day. 
  3. When the following day is a 쉬는 날 {rest day/off day}. He said that this one is what makes the coffee taste the best as it too knows that you have time to relax the following day. 

I like to believe that this can be applied to something that I actually like… like perhaps cake? I feel like it could also fit these criteria! But anyway, I really enjoyed this class because I was able to understand probably 70% of it? I felt some sense of accomplishment then. 

After 국어, I would normally have an exchange student lecture class but they haven’t chosen the kids yet {Though 혜지 said during lunch that she applied! It would be really cool if she got chosen! They must be picking the groups now.} so I just hung out in the meeting room with Katie as we both wrote diaries/blog posts during the class period. 

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Next on my schedule was 세계사 {world history} which was a second-year class but I literally knew no one in the class. I sat down next to these two girls and one of them offered to share her textbook with me which was really sweet; however, I gave up trying to follow along during the second period of class. I had the teacher for this class for the first time ever and he didn’t even acknowledge me when he walked in the room. He could obviously tell that there was a new student and that she was a foreign one at that… but nothing, not even a greeting. I’m not expecting him to make time for me to introduce myself to the class but… if I was a new Korean student, there is no way he would have ignored them like he did for me. 

Could I have been the bigger person and gone up to introduce myself during the break? Yes… but I did not do that. He put on a soccer game during the break which he and the other male students seemed pretty engrossed in. 

Because of this off-putting atmosphere, I really didn’t put much effort into paying attention to his class {plus I was having trouble staying awake} so for the second hour of class, I took out my workbook and did that instead: I almost finished a full chapter and a half which was good work since I had been falling behind with my workbook. 

Eventually, it was lunchtime and I knew I could count on Katie and my other friends to cheer me up! Today’s lunch on the other hand, kind of made me more depressed because we were given this weird, strange meat patty. The other students seem to enjoy it but Katie and I really do not like these type of lunches…reminds us too much of weird school lunches back in America (and Salisbury steak which I hate!) Lunch was a lot of fun~ We talked about our first impressions of our class so far (and gossiped a lot about the English teachers). Luckily, Katie and I both have a friend in our public speaking classes (혜지 and 서린 respectively). We both talked about how excited we were to have a class taught by Jason–and more excited to have more time to speak with our friends! Though I will admit… I am not looking forward to having to give speeches. I may have been a captain on speech team in high school, but I still have major stage fright or presentation anxiety if you will.

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After lunch, I had my politics and law class which I am taking with 윤세, 혜지, and 서린! I cannot believe I got lucky enough to have a class with that many built-in friends! No awkward small talk for me! The teacher of the class seemed nice but also kind of strict (He very much reminded me of my AP Gov teacher from senior year; they had the same vibe.) When he did roll call, he, of course, did not say my name (which is usual) but asked the class to let him know if their name was not called. My friends started whispering to me and told me to let him know that he did not call on me. I waved it off and told them it was okay. It kind of bothered me but it is what it is… Though it is not that hard to include my name on the class list… but that is beyond the point.

The teacher went through the syllabus and surprisingly, I understood basically everything he explained! But then he got onto the topic of our first-class assignment which was to get into groups of 5-8 to make our own political parties! (I needed a lot of explaining from 혜지 to know what we were doing because I do not know any political vocab words!) I formed a group with 혜지, 윤세, 서린 as well as these two other girls whose names I have yet to learn. We talked about our party’s name, its pledge, code of commands, and who would be voted as the president and speech giver (Is there a fancier word for that?) 

The party’s name is a play on words and means a party that will bring others up but is also the same name as a chemical polymer called Oligosaccharide in English. Our party name is 올리고당! We decided to focus our party’s goals on the environment and education–as well as one more aspect that has yet to be decided. 서린 told the other girls that I would be attending Columbia University majoring in Political Science which made them all want to vote me in as the president of the group but luckily 서린 reminded them that I would be leaving in May which might be troublesome if this project continues till past then. She also told the teacher about my future academic plans… I hope this doesn’t mean he is going to ask me political questions and ask about America’s political climate because I am not in the loop at all…because I am here…

But anyways, at the end of the period, the teacher had every single political party send up one representative to read what they had prepared for their platform and also answer impromptu questions thrown at them from the teacher. I did not understand too much if I am being honest, but it was interesting! 서린 did a really great job presenting about our party. Actually, we were the last ones to go and the bell rang in the middle of her speech. Right as the bell went off, 서린 sped up her pacing which made me laugh. Overall, I am really excited for this class and for what is to come! I hope it will be fun!

Since school was supposedly over (or so Katie and I thought), we made our way to Twosome Place to study for a bit before going home for dinner. We saw the usual male employee and chatted to him about the start of the new semester. He looked visibly sad for us when we told him that we in fact did not return to our countries during the winter break–we were here the whole time. We ordered our drinks and went upstairs to our usual table but we were not there for long…because 하나고 민정쌤 texted Katie and asked where she was because the homerooms were having class elections as we were across the street at the cafe. 서린 and 혜지 told me that they were hoping to get elected for class president but even with them telling me that, I totally did not put two and two together. 

We decided to leave all our stuff at the cafe and we ran back to school as quickly as possible to try to be a part of our homeroom elections. When I came inside the classroom, my teacher immediately gasped and apologized to me since the students had all already voted. They were just counting all the ballots as I walked in the door. Even though that was the case, I was still happy to have joined them at that point–last minute or not. Also, while I was there hanging out for that hour, I got to talk to some of the other students in the class. One girl, 혜선, helped add me to the class group chat and complemented my shampoo, saying I smell good. It was funny and also cute. In addition, at the meeting, they passed out 2019 calendars as well as their version of a yearbook that included letters written by all the third years. It may seem like something very trivial… but I felt included because of those two things. As I stood at the back of the class (at a standing desk) flipping through the booklets like everyone else, I felt like a part of the class! As for the results of the election, a kid named 우선 was voted as the president and another student–예진–got the second most votes so she became the vice president.

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(Also, the calendar included an art piece by one of the male students from one of my English mentorship classes last semester! I messaged our group chat afterward to congratulate him on the feature.)

Katie and I returned to Twosome Place feeling happy and giggling about what had gone down in our classes. We cherished that moment (and the break from studying) well before getting back on the study grind! 

On the way back home, we stopped at this vendor near the market and bought some 분식 (cheap street food) to share (떡볶이–spicy rice cakes and 오뎅–fish cakes) and enjoyed that. It was my second time eating this type of food sitting down in front of a stall so I was very happy to have the experience. Plus, I had been really craving 떡볶이 as of late. I do not know what has come over me but now all of a sudden, I really crave spicy food! I had a full dinner with my host sister after coming home and spent the rest of the night writing my presentation and preparing that. One thing kept bothering me, however. This thing was keeping me from focusing entirely on my work. And it was all because I was so genuinely happy.

I was so happy due to the fact that I knew we had no school the following day! A free Thursday before class! All the students at our host schools would be taking a national required mock test of some sort, so we were not obligated to attend school. I was so excited to sleep in and enjoy a nice carefree morning that it was hard to finish my work this night. 

That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! I know the application for the 2020-2021 NSLI-Y programs came out a couple days ago and so I have noticed an influx of readers of this blog–many of them being prospective applicants. I want to welcome everyone to my blog and I really hope you enjoy the blogs that I have left! I moved into my college dorm yesterday and will be beginning my freshman year at Columbia University next week! Even though life is becoming more hectic as summer break is over, I hope to keep uploading blog posts quite regularly. Till next time~ Thanks for reading!!

  • Emma 엠마

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