Katie and I met up at 홍익 station at around 10:30 am so that we would have ample time to walk to the post office (about a 20 ish minute walk—but it felt like years carrying all of our bags) to mail some packages back to America. Because the program is coming to an end, we are beginning to worry about the whole packing situation: overweight bags or not having enough space at the end is not an option! With all our bags in tow, we made the walk in the heat to mail our things. I brought a lot to mail! So much.. in fact, I couldn’t even mail everything in the one box I chose… I’ll have to come back if worse comes to worse…
I packed up and sent all of my finished Korean workbooks, unused notebooks, stationary, Korean notebooks, books, stuffed animals, two winter coats, and a couple random things like a music box, party hat, etc.
Katie and I were experts this time around and were able to pack our things into the boxes and fill out the mailing form with only a couple mistakes. Mine ended up being about $40 by boat for like 17 pounds? Possibly… I’m not sure how their scale worked.
We left the post office feeling accomplished and then stopped by a nearby convenience store for ice cream because after this whole ordeal we were sweaty—and felt that we deserved the sweet treat. We scarfed those down pretty quickly and recharged for a couple minutes before heading back to Better World to meet up with 소영쌤 and 주연쌤 for lunch. While we were walking back; however, Katie began doubting my navigational skills—convinced that I took the wrong turn. I kept telling her that I knew what I was doing but low key I did just make the turn at that moment because it felt like the right moment to turn. So I was also worried that I made a mistake. Eventually, we saw some familiar places and knew that we were on the right path. I was proud that my ‘traveler intuition’ if you will did not steer me wrong. It also made me happy to realize how well I have adjusted to the area–it does feel so familiar and comfortable.
When we got to Better World, 주연쌤 asked me what I wanted to eat and I said pasta which blew a fuse with 주연쌤 because she and Katie were planning on going to a pasta place too. She assumed that we did that on purpose to eat together. (Though I was the first one to tell Katie that I wanted to have pasta!) They took us to this little joint down an alleyway from the office and we even passed this ‘quirky’ cafe. Upon seeing the name, both me and Katie read it aloud: Cafe Urp, saying the last word like the urp in burp. 주연쌤 laughed and corrected us by informing us that you are supposed to say each of the letters of the name individually. She mentioned that last year’s group did the same thing! It’s just the cafe’s name, not us! (Apparently, last year’s program’s students loved this place. It is so interesting to see how each cohort is so different.)
Lunch with 소영쌤 was really great! I ordered a carbonara pasta and it was one of the best pasta dishes I have probably had in Korea? I loved that it was a cream pasta but that the cream wasn’t overwhelming. Plus the mushrooms were perfectly cooked! It was kind of expensive for 13,000-15,000 Won for a plate of pasta but that’s normal for Italian food here; we cannot complain about that price point. I’ve felt like I haven’t gotten the chance to get really close with 소영쌤 (Maybe because she came a little bit later into the program? She joined the office back in mid-late November. But honestly, I forget that she has not been with us since the beginning often! That is a good sign I believe.) After talking with her a lot during my host family check-In meeting, I wanted the chance to talk to her more.
I’ve never been prouder of my Korean skills than I was during this lunch. I honestly surprised myself with the things I was able to say— the grammar points and vocab words used. But most importantly, I was proud of myself for figuring out how to explain my thoughts properly and for talking around things when I was missing vocab word knowledge. For example, at one point, we discussed my individual research project which is about Korean society’s perception of the disabled—with a main focus on those with mental disabilities rather than physical. I wanted to explain that some families will go to the great length of convincing the doctors to misdiagnose their patients in order to not receive a diagnosis of Autism. I didn’t know the word for diagnose and I sat there for a couple seconds becoming really frustrated with myself because I could only think of the word for “to prescribe” which I knew wasn’t right. I began to think about how to say the word in English but I couldn’t even think of that. And then suddenly, I just started talking around the subject and giving an example to 소영쌤 for her to tell me the word for ‘to diagnose’ (it is 지단하다 by the way) and from there, I was able to explain my thoughts. This may seem like something small but often times when I can’t figure out how to say something, I give up and just say anything but what was originally intended. I filter my own thoughts due to these ‘word barriers.’ This lunch showed me that I can overcome the bad habit of planning out what I want to say in my head before saying it. I can make sense if I just let myself speak!
We had such great conversation! I talked all about my project and we discussed the possible sources of the difference in perception of disabilities between America and Korea. We also talked about the burning sun controversy, drug related arrests, drug searches/investigations, the Topik test, technology causing a disappearance of jobs, the difficulty of getting a job after college, teachers at 하나고, and finding a roommate for college! It was a really nice lunch~~ I hope I can do something like this with her again once last time before we leave—even if it’s just a little cafe date.
After lunch, Katie and I walked back to the youth center and just hung out with all the other students for a bit. I ended up taking a walk with Shada and then stopping at Dari Cafe together just to chat—while I was multitasking by studying both my vocab words on Quizlet and talking to Shada.
Class today was very rushed as we are currently a bit behind when it comes to our schedule. Today we ended up having to present our technology presentations which were supposed to originally have been given last week Thursday. We also took a quiz that was supposed to be taken then too. This time, our teacher made our tests harder by increasing the amount of vocab questions (as well as the amount of words in the word bank) and adding more questions that included answers that were proverbs or commonly used phrases. There were word banks (or should I say phrase banks?) for the proverbs but questions for the phrases gave nothing.
Lately, I haven’t been doing my best on these quizzes. Usually it’s a mix of mostly me not understanding the actual question (like the overal meaning or random vocab words in it) and then sometimes me generally not knowing a word in the word bank. This time, though, I surprised myself. On the hardest quiz we have probably had yet, (Also, we are on textbook 5! This is like Topik Level 5 advanced vocab !!) I got 100%!! Nothing wrong!! I haven’t gotten an 100 on a quiz in what seems like forever. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’ve been getting back to studying the amount that I need to do well and the effort is already starting to show itself~
Once class was over, Jacquelyn, Josh, and I left to have our very first class dinner—of just the three of us—for the first time this entire program. While we were walking to the destination, we tried coming up with times we met up and ate together but there was always one other person with us. I brought up our one short trip to the grilled cheese place but I didn’t eat anything when we went so Jacquelyn ruled that out and said it doesn’t count.
So we had our first class dinner at this Japanese restaurant. I am not too familiar with Japanese food so I was happy to try something that I usually don’t eat—especially something that I wouldn’t leave my comfort zone to try if I was by myself. I ate 사계동 (or something like that?) It was basically just a bowl of rice topped with raw salmon, veggies, and soy sauce—very tasty though! The fish was very fresh.
During dinner we talked a lot about how far we’ve come throughout the program, our relationships with the others, how we have changed during program (growing to really love 김치 being one common thread that I had with Josh), worries about college, our plans for what to study in college, plans to meet up in Virginia and go to Betty’s Azalea Ranch (an inside joke within my class), as well as plans to go to 노량진시장 together once more before leaving Korea!
It was still really early when we finished our dinner since we did get to the restaurant only a bit after 5:30 pm so we decided to get some dessert at a cute cafe.
Of course, Jacquelyn pulled out Mango Plate and was able to find a place selling chocolate lava cake. It was a bit pricey—6,500 Won (probably a little less than $6) but it was worth it! The cafe was decorated gorgeously and the atmosphere was so comfortable. Additionally, once this couple before us left, we had the whole cafe to ourselves for about two hours. No one came in during the duration that we were there. That probably isn’t the case on non weekday nights but I liked that it wasn’t crazy loud or busy or anything like that.
Our cafe conversation was fun as well. We have fun in class too with stories and such but it felt different to be out of the classroom environment and in a more chill one with the both of them. It was really enjoyable and it made me wish that we had done this more often—from the beginning. We always said we would…
At one point, Jacquelyn brought up a fact that she doesn’t really hang out with this one NSLI-Yian anymore after they moved away from 홍대 and how the distance kept their relationship from getting closer. Josh added to this to say that he used hang out with a girl named “Emma” (literally not subtle at all) a lot when he lived in 고양시 and since then, they haven’t hung out often. I felt sorely attacked by this but I mean he wasn’t wrong. We did kinda drift a part after he moved away due to the distance as well as some misunderstandings within our cohort. But we have been hanging out more lately it seems! And I will continue to make plans with Josh because I really do treasure his friendship~
Josh and I ran into Jack at the subway station and he told us about his master plan to order pizza before class the next day and then asking to pick it up during one of the class breaks so that he and Liam could eat pizza during class. I found this plan very funny and exactly something they would do for sure. I went home after that, arriving at about 8:30 pm ish. Rather than studying Korean, I stayed up late figuring out financial things for college and filling out my housing application. Everything is so complicated and I am out of the loop… I know no one from my ‘new’ class and I’m nervous about that. I’m also not a apart of the new QB (my scholarship) chat so… that’s concerning. I need to figure out how to join. I also did research on where to rent 한복 near 경복궁 but that proved to be preparation in vain..you’ll find out why in the next blog post.
Thanks for reading~ Till next time! Subscribe to stay in the loop for more updates! Bye!~
- Emma 엠마