NSLI-Y Academic Year Packing List (South Korea Edition) // 9 Months in South Korea

안녕하세요 여러분!~

I posted a blog about my packing list for my NSLI-Y summer program (You can read that post here) because I figured it may help a few people. I know that when I was first traveling for NSLI-Y (and even now to be honest…), I watched countless Youtube videos and read numerous blog posts on the topic of how to pack for about a month-long trip. When I was an alumni leader at last year’s NSLI-Y Seoul Summer PDO, I had a quite a few students tell me that they read my blog– and that they appreciated being able to look at my packing list. So I figured I would make another one! A list that was a bit more daunting to make because of the length and characteristics of this trip. (For example, seasons! I won’t just be packing for summer weather, but every possible season.)

Well, I hope someone finds this helpful! I will be bringing a personal item (backpack/purse), a carry-on, and two large-sized pieces of luggage (which will be checked bags).



What I Will Wear on the Plane:

  • Sweatshirt
  • T-shirt
  • Leggings
  • Sneakers

Carry On

(No weight restriction but the bag must fit in the overhead compartment of the airplane.)

Note: In the interest of ease, I am packing all my heavy winter clothes in my checked bags while my lighter summer/spring items will be in my carry on. I will be wearing these clothes at PDO, the hostel, and during the first couple of weeks in Korea, so it is more convenient to have everything in a smaller bag then buried in my checked bag.

  • 5 T-shirts
  • 7 Blouses (more like nice/dressy summer tops)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 4 skirts
  • 2 summer/spring dresses
  • 2 pajama shirts
  • 2 pajama bottoms (one thin, long pant bottom and one pair of shorts)
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 workout/comfy T-shirts
  • One pair of nice winter boots
  • One week’s worth of undergarments
  • Laundry Bag
  • Tote Bag
  • Travel Scale

Toiletries Bag

  • Travel Size Conditioner (x2)
  • Travel Size Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Hair Brush
  • Hair Ties
  • Travel Size Body Spray
  • Mascara
  • Concealer
  •  Travel Size Face Wash
  • Tooth Brush
  • Toothpaste
  • One Razor
  • One Bar of Soap
  • Travel Size Shaving Cream
  • 4 Sheet Masks

First Checked Bag

(International Weight Limit: 50 pounds)

Note: I will be bringing two checked bags. Most of the stuff I am bringing in my second bag will be taken out/used up by the end of the program: toiletries, snacks, host family gifts, etc. My first checked bag will mostly just have my fall/winter clothes and essentials.

  • 1 Sweat Shirt
  • 1 Jean Jacket
  • 1 Zip-Up Jacket
  • 4 Sweaters
  • 1 Dressy Collared Blouse
  • 4 long-sleeved shirts
  • 2 cardigans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • 1 pair of yoga pants
  • 5 pairs of leggings
  • 4 pairs of thick wool stockings (black)
  • 2 pairs of sheer black tights
  • 3 pairs of sheer nude tights
  • 3 pairs of jeans
  • 1 winter dress
  • 3 camisoles/undershirts
  • More undergarments
  • 2 knee braces*
  • Winter Scarf
  • Winter Gloves
  • Winter Hat
  • One pair of nice sneakers
  • One pair of Dressy Flats
  • Deodorant (x8)**
  • Shower Cap

(I packed a lot of tights, leggings, stockings, etc because assumed that was what I would be wearing under my uniform skirt during the cold winter months. The sheer tights came in handy and I did wear those on a daily basis but I never wore stockings/leggings (except for finals week) because none of the other girls did. Mock me if you will but I suffered through the winter with my bare legs exposed for the sake of fitting in–I did have a long padding jacket, though. Another thing I bought because it was trendy…)


  • 3 notebooks
  • 3 packs of highlighters
  • Laundry bag for delicates (x3)
  • Pencil Case (with highlighters, pens, pencils)
  • Brownie Mix
  • Retractable Bag
  • Candy Goodie Bags (for host siblings)

Second Checked Bag

Toiletries Bag

  • 1 Bottle of Shampoo
  • 2 Bottles of Conditioner***
  • Face Wash
  • Bar of Soap
  • One Package of Razors
  • Feminine Products (x6)****
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Cold Medicine (Day & Night)
  • A&D Ointment
  • Nasal Spray (for a stuffy nose)
  • Toothpaste (x2)
  • Ibruprofen (x2)
  • Travel Stain Remover
  • Acne Treatment


  • Heavy Winter Coat
  • Large-sized Towel
  • 2 washcloths
  • School Backpack
  • One Jar of Peanut Butter
  • Bag of Breakfast Bars
  • Tuna Packages
  • Stuffed Animal
  • Host Family Gifts*****

Personal Item


Note: I would have used my school backpack as a personal item but I will be flying JetBlue to NY before flying Delta to Korea. JetBlue, being a budget airline, has stricter baggage restrictions. I used this backpack for three travels this summer (to NY, Florida, and Seattle), but it does not abide by JetBlue’s restrictions. So I am opting to use a backpack purse instead.

  • Important Documents
  • Passport
  • Headphones
  • Travel Snacks
  • Wallet
  • Water Bottle
  • (new) charging cable and cube
  • Portable Charger
  • (new) headphones

*I have knee issues (They just love to pop out of their sockets during the worst times…); therefore, I have to bring braces in case I do any strenuous physical activities like hiking, taekwondo, etc.

**If you listen to one thing from my list, let it be my tip on deodorant: PACK PLENTY. Pack enough for your whole time in Korea if you can. Korean deodorant formula is not the same as American brands and so it tends to not be strong enough–Plus, if you do find the American stuff, it is really really expensive. Just bring it!

***I have curly hair (a hair type that isn’t too represented in the Korean population (besides the 아줌마s and their perms), so I am bringing plenty of my favorite hair conditioner. I know I will run out while I am over there… so I will just survive off Korean brands.

****Period products in Korea are quite different than what is used widely in America. Tampons are quite difficult to find and so if you use those, bring plenty. Pads are available but a lot of them are on the lighter side so feel free to bring them if you need pads for a heavier flow. I brought enough pads to cover my entire time in Korea just because it was easier for me and they are cheaper in the states.

*****I am bringing host family gifts for my first host family and my host family from my summer NSLI-Y program. I think that a blog post about host family gifts would be a really great idea, so I plan on writing that in the future (probably after I get back– it can be an inspiration for the next batch of NSLI-Y summer and AY students). When I finish that, I will link it here.


Thank you for reading this post! I hope this helps future NSLI-Y AY students while they are figuring out what to bring and how much.

Update: Both my checked bags were around 42-43 pounds… so I did it! 😉

  • Emma 엠마

All About NSLI-Y Academic Year Korean Classes (3반 //Advanced Class)

In this blog post, I will be discussing Korean language classes on the NSLI-Y Academic Year Program (2018-2019). Seeing that these language classes are the most important part of the program, I have gotten quite a few questions about them from prospective applicants as well as finalists. Without further ado, like the version I made for my summer program experience (linked here), I will be splitting this post up into seven sections: placement, general information, textbooks, tests, break time, homework, and a reflection on my personal experience.


During the arrival orientation at the Better World building, you will have to take a placement test in order to gauge how much of the Korean language you already know. Even if you indicated that you have had no prior experience in Korean, you will have to take the test anyway. The placement is not fully definite as you are allowed to move between classes if the Korean teachers also agree with your decision to do so but more often than not, the placement test does a good enough job sorting the students into the classes that are right for them. No one during my program switched classes (even though I was close to it during the very beginning of the program). Usually, rather than switching classes, most students just end up doing extra homework or something of the sort if they feel like their placement is too difficult or not challenging enough for them.

Our placement test was a three-page test consisting of multiple-choice, fill in the blank questions (with a word bank provided), and finish-the-rest-of-this-sentence type questions. At the very end of the test, there were two short answer questions with three-part questions. This is the part of the test that you can really showcase your skills because it is a chance to use vocabulary and grammar points that were not suitable for the rest of the test as the answers for those questions are more concrete.

The second part of the placement test was the verbal interview which was done in front of the two of our would-be Korean teachers (mine being one of them). The interview will only be a few minutes (no more than 5 minutes) and they will start off by asking pretty simple questions and then see how far you can advance from there. Their job is not to trip you up but to figure out which class would be the best fit for you.


I was placed in 3반 (Third Class) which was considered the advanced class. I had two other classmates (Jacquelyn and Josh) so we made up the smallest of the three classes. We were by no means advanced level speakers but because of the makeup of the other two classes, it was just easier to refer to our class as the advanced class. We were really just intermediate speakers. I entered the class at an intermediate low level while the others were most likely around an intermediate mid-level.


3반!! My Faves<3

The normal schedule for our Korean classes was three times a week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We had three hours of class from 2 to 5 pm but on Thursdays, we would have an extra hour of class until 6 pm.

What we did during class highly depended on what textbook we were using as it seemed that our teacher liked to keep the routine of the class fresh by changing it ever so often. During some sections of the class, we would study about 2 grammar points with some listening/reading/speaking practice sprinkled in for good measure every class period. However, then sometimes, we would learn all the grammar points for a chapter on one day and allow for practice of those points the following class period with more of the main focus being the practice of other skills. Additionally, as the vocabulary in our textbooks increased in difficulty, we would spend class periods going over vocabulary together and eventually we also introduced proverbs. (Yes, you heard that right. We would study about 3 proverbs a week during the last half of the program.) We would also give presentations every Thursday class usually about a topic that related to the theme of our current textbook chapter but sometimes it was more random. This was something we did from the very beginning of the program which really helped me with both my Korean writing and speaking skills–most importantly, it helped me to reinforce the things we learned in class. (By the end of the program, the other two classes also started to incorporate presentations into their class curriculum as well.)

Korean Textbooks

Our class instruction was supplemented by the Ewha Korean (이화 한국어) language textbooks which include audio mp3 files for listening practice. We also used the matching workbooks for each textbook for homework. The series of these textbooks go up to book 6. The first three books are split up into two separate textbooks (1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 2-2, 3-1, and 3-2) while the last three books are just stand-alone (4, 5, and 6). My class started on textbook 2-2 and we were able to finish book 5 by the end of the program (So we were able to finish 5 books in total!) I believe that most classes were able to get through at least 3 and almost 4 books by the end. Just something I thought was interesting was that after book 2-2, the textbooks are fully in Korean–no English at all. Not for vocabulary definitions or explanations for the grammar points. Of course, it is good for immersion but during class, it can prove to be a hindrance if you are unable to understand the Korean (Reason number 1 for why these books are only good in the classroom and not for on your own studying).

In addition to the Ehwa Korean textbooks, we were also given Korean Grammar in Use books which were honestly the best Korean language learning materials I have ever used. If I had to recommend something to the Korean self studiers out there, I would say get yourself this book. (They are available for about $30 on Amazon –> link here: Beg, Int, Adv.) In the future, I would like to make an updated How I Self-study Korean blog post and I will talk more about these books then!

Korean Tests

Every class did smaller assessments differently (vocab tests, quizzes, etc) but we all had monthly examinations during the last class of each month. These tests took up about three hours out of our four hour class period. Our class would usually first have a multiple-choice reading test for around an hour and then a writing portion of the test which consisted of one short answer (300-400 characters) and then a long essay question (600-700 characters). During the writing portion of the test, our teacher would call us into another room, one by one, for a 15-minute verbal interview (OPI). The OPI is done like what is expected for the end of the program assessment in June with a roleplay, too. My class even started conducting our speaking portion of the test over the phone for the last two or three tests in order to practice speaking on the phone for the actual OPI. We would get our test results back in the form of an email about one full week after taking the test. It would include the percentages and points we received on all portions as well as our Korean speaking level (The end of the month tests were what could move your OPI level up.)


Last-minute cram sessions were frequent!

Break Time

After every 50 minutes of Korean class, we would get a 10-minute break to spend however we liked. Honestly, it does not seem like a long time but the 10 minutes were always greatly needed and we were grateful for the time. When I was in high school in America, we would only get 5 minutes every 57 minutes! (And we would have to switch classes so what kind of break was that?)

When my class was at the Better World Office for the first half of the program, I would spend the breaks talking to my resident director and some of the other Better World staff. When I was at the youth center with 1반 (the beginner class), we would just chat, dance (we had some dancers on our program), and go buy and eat snacks from the convenience store. Luckily our nearest GS25 was only a 2-minute walk away from the center! Truly convenient!


For my class, my teacher would usually not collect or check our homework during every single class period. We were assigned the workbook that follows our textbook curriculum for homework every night but it would usually only be collected at the end of a chapter or two. Along with the workbook, we were also assigned writing assignments every week which usually had prompts that were similar to the topics we were discussing in class. We used these homework essays for writing practice but also for TOPIK practice (Korean proficiency test which will be taken around April). Lastly, we were assigned presentations for every Thursday class so for homework, we would have to prepare a speech and a powerpoint (or well… I usually made a powerpoint and memorized my presentation) to present in front of the class. These speeches had to be around three minutes long.

During the second half of the program, we were given take-home TOPIK practice tests to take. We would be given them on Thursday and would have the weekend to complete them. They were due Monday at the start of class.

Although we were not assigned homework for specifically memorizing vocabulary, I would make Quizlet flashcard sets for the vocabulary in each chapter as a part of my self-assigned homework. We were given the Grammar in use Korean textbooks to aid our Korean studies but we were actually never assigned homework from that book. We sometimes looked at it during class; however, it was mostly just given to us to use if we needed extra help. I used that book to take notes on every grammar point that we learned which truly helped me a lot in class.


Korean class, for me, brings about many mixed emotions. The language classes on NSLI-Y are undoubtedly the most important/highly stressed part of the program. (For good reason… this is a language learning scholarship after all!) However, because of this, I found myself hitting some of my ultimate lows (as well as highs) during class or as a result of Korean class.

Korean class was extremely fun. I loved being in an environment where, most of the time, my classmates were just as eager and passionate and ready to learn Korean as I was. They chose to be there and that kind of atmosphere can really add to one’s language learning journey. We were able to enjoy each others company while learning and goof around as well–always making jokes. There were times that I had trouble breathing from laughing so hard and times when I would momentarily stop and take in the huge smile on my face. My teacher always tried her best to explain everything to us and her passion for teaching also shined as she was always happy to answer all the curious questions we had. She was never afraid to teach us certain words or talk about certain topics no matter our skill level (which was a good thing as well as a bad thing). She always wondered how she could better teach us, better prepare us and changed how she instructed our class to fit that goal.

However, the class also proved to be extremely difficult for me. In fact, I almost moved down a level during the beginning of the program. After our first class, I felt like I could barely understand anything at all and so I walked out of the classroom in tears because I was so overwhelmed. Throughout the whole program, many of these emotions and feelings never vanished. They simply laid dormant until something would make them resurface again. I cannot even count the number of times I felt utterly stupid, worthless, and dejected during class. The number of times I had to stop myself from crying during class or the times I ran into the bathroom in order to hide from all that was happening around me.

Despite all of this, I would not have changed one single thing about my Korean class experience. I felt guilty for keeping my other classmates behind due to my inability to catch up in class so this only pushed me to study that much harder. My teacher, and classmates, and resident directors were so supportive of me that I knew that I always had people to talk to when things turned sour. They may not have realized but every hug, every proud smile, every reassuring back pat, every comforting subway ride pep talk, every understanding nod of the head, and every chat at a cafe made me get through everything and I am a better person for it all. I can say that I am proud of myself for learning so much and making such great progress. And I am so very thankful for all of those people.

Never knew how much I would miss Korean class! ❤

Thanks for reading this little (That is a joke! This is such a long post!) informative blog post about Korean language classes during the NSLI-Y Academic Year Program. Some of these things can be generalized but a lot of it also follows my own personal and tailored experience in my class so remember that each class will be different! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed~~ Till next time!

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Day in the Life: NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year Student (Gap Year) 2018-2019 Edition

Due to the popularity of this same type of post that I made for my experiences from the Korea Summer Program (Day in the Life: Korea Summer Edition Linked Here~~~) and the immense amount of questions I have gotten from friends, family members, and prospective applicants, I have decided to once again try my hand at making a Day-in-the-Life blog post for the Academic Year NSLI-Y Program.

Disclaimer: There is NO average day on the NSLI-Y program. And with me in Korea, there were 15 other students on the program and not one of them probably had my exact same routine (or the rough schedule my more ‘average’ days seemed to follow). An average day honestly depends on your host family (their lifestyle, schedule, etc), location (some students end up being placed in 인천 or 고양시– not 서울), host school (Whether you have a more specialized host school or one that is more similar to an average Korean high school), the time of year (weather, holidays, etc), program activities (cultural excursions, obligations, etc) and also how you are feeling!! Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this blog post… and I will just get on with my average day!!^^

6:00-6:30 am – Every single weekday I woke up at 6:00-6:30am in order to get ready for the school day ahead. During the NSLI-Y AY program, I attended a Korean high school Monday-Friday (but left early on days that I had Korean class). My wake up time highly depended on how tired I was, whether or not I was wearing my full uniform that day (or the casual sweatpants that were basically pajamas), my desire to eat breakfast, and the location of my host family.

With my first host family, my host mother woke up extra early every morning to get breakfast ready for me which usually consisted of rice, some type of soup, and side dishes. (By the end of the fall semester I ended up just warming up my breakfast myself to allow her to catch some more Zs.) When I stayed with my second host family, I would usually have a bowl of cereal every morning with the occasional addition of fruit or yogurt since my host family had a later schedule.


6:38-6:53 am – Around this time I would be scrambling out of my house after rushing to finish my breakfast without choking (or burning my tongue…rip my love for hot soup paired with my utter lack of patience) to the subway station. To be honest, although I would have appreciated more stress-free strolls to the subway station (one thing to look forward to on the weekend), I loved the walk–or the light paced jog–in the morning because I always would wonder what the new day would bring me. Also, one plus of having to leave so early for school was that the sunrise would also greet me every morning!


When I lived with my first host family, I took a regular train at around 7 am with an 8-minute walk to the station. When I lived with my second host family, I took an express train at 6:42 am (if not…I would have to take a normal train at 6:27 am!!) and transfer once (at the dreaded 대곡역… war flashbacks…) with a 3-minute walk to the subway.

7:20-7:30 am – Katie and I usually met up at 7:20 every morning to take a 15-ish minute long bus ride to our high school. We liked arriving at our high school by 7:40 to 7:50 because that allowed us time to sit and chill in the hallways before homeroom. (Sometimes to rant or freak out too if we had nerves or complaints about whatever.) Though occasionally we missed our ‘early’ trains and ended up meeting at 7:30 am.


8 am – At our Korean high school, homeroom started at 8 am and lasted for around 10 minutes though sometimes homeroom teachers would let us head to our first class early if there were not any announcements (Unlike most Korean high schools, the students at our school would switch classrooms every period rather than having teachers come to each individual homeroom). Our teacher would usually update students on any upcoming events, or things to turn in, or information on examination periods. She also often would give pep talks to the students to encourage them to keep studying hard! Sometimes we would watch a broadcast video that was run by actual students that would show the daily meals, any special info on the school day, and even the weather. (But more often than not the projector seemed to not be working so our teacher would just do the talking.)


8:20-12:10 pm – The first 4 periods of Korean high school classes in the morning.

Each period lasted for 50 minutes and then there was a 10 minute passing period or 쉬는 시간 (break time/resting time). Most of the classes I took were lecture-based, usually involving students taking notes or reading straight from the textbook. (I want to make a post more specific to my experience at 하나고. When that is finally written, I will link that right here~~ This post will discuss the classes I took and go into more details on the Korean education system: or at least a side of it that I was able to partake in at my host high school.)



During break time, most students would run and buy snacks at the 매점 (or school store) or just take naps. At first, I did not understand how they could sleep for such a short amount of time but by the end of the semester, I too was also sleeping during breaks.


12:10-1:00 pm –  We were allotted around 50 minutes for lunch (including the ten minute passing period) However, there was kind of a hierarchy based on your school year that determined when you could go into the lunchroom. I am not sure if this was exactly monitored or simply done out of respect of the older kids, but the younger students adhered to it pretty well. Third years (seniors) were allowed to start their lunchtime first while second years had to wait till 12:20–at least–and first years were not allowed to enter the 급식실 (cafeteria) until 12:30 pm.


If Katie and I had Korean class (Monday, Tuesday or Thursday) we would have to leave our high school around 12:40 so that we could catch the right buses and subways to make it to class on time. If we ate with our friends, we would end up scarfing our food down fast (with little time for conversation). Or, we would just leave school right after 4th period and get lunch at the convenience store or local street market. (Also on certain special days, we would get 녹차호떡 (green tea pancakes) from our favorite street vendor.



On Wednesdays and Fridays, we were able to stay for the entire lunch period and take our time eating. Honestly, school meals often get a bad reputation but that clearly does not apply to our Korean high school because most of the time the food was delicious! (Minus a couple of times that they would serve weird meat patties and fries with a sweet glaze to pass off as a foreign meal if you will…I shudder at the memory.)


2:00-5:00/6:00 pm – Our Korean classes were on Monday and Tuesday from 2 pm until 5 pm and on Thursdays, we had an extra hour till 6 pm.


If we did not have class, we would stay at school for the remaining 3-4 periods until 3 or 4 pm. (On Wednesdays, school got out an hour earlier because some weeks club meetings would be held on those days. I participated in an Economics & Business centered club called BSRA: Business Strategy Research Association.)

Sometimes after Korean high school, Katie and I would go to a nearby cafe and study together (We had our two favorites: one near my home station and the 한옥 Twosome Place across the street from our high school). We were usually very tired after the long days of Korean high school and would tend to go home right after studying. (This definitely applied more to the first semester, however.) Occasionally, we would also go out (Always bringing a change of clothes because wearing our uniforms in public was not our favorite look when not in school…)


I also would like to do a more detailed blog post on my Korean classes for the year program because they were a tad bit different in comparison to my summer class (So when that is published, I will link it here~~). Our class periods were 50 minutes and we had 10-minute breaks in between them. I was in 3반 (Third Class) which was the highest level class and also the smallest with only three students. (The other two being Jacquelyn & Josh). We had one teacher and used the Ehwa Korean language textbooks.


7:00-7:30 pm – After class ended, we were off from any obligations from the program (usually). Every other Monday we would have Bi-weekly meetings which meant meeting at the youth center to hear updates and announcements from 민정쌤 our resident director.


If I decided to go home right away, I would usually end up getting back to my host family’s home by 7:00-7:30 and that is around the time I would have dinner with my host family. I was lucky enough to have two amazing host families that really took the time to make sure that I was able to eat dinner with the whole family (or at least with someone if there were other plans). My first host family had young children so it was a bit easier to sit down with everyone but even with my second host family, the dinners I would have with my sisters and with my host mom were always wonderful. (Both my host mothers–and even my older host sisters and first host dad–were amazing cooks! I was very spoiled and I grew to have favorite dishes from each family.)

(For example, while living with my host family, I loved 김밥 (seaweed rolls), 김치지깨 (kimchi stew), 볶음밥과 계란 (fried rice with eggs) and 잡채 (sweet potato glass noodles). With my second host family, I came to love 콩나물국밥 (bean sprout porridge?), 해물파전 (seafood pancake), 순두부지깨 (tofu stew), and 짬뽕 (spicy seafood (Chinese style) noodles.)


8:00-9:30 pm – If I stayed out with NSLI-Y friends or in-country friends on the weekdays, It would usually involve just grabbing a simple dinner or going to a cafe (maybe a trip to a 노래방–karaoke–to let off some steam or bottled up energy). Curfew was 9:30 pm so I would promptly always be home by then~


If I was not out and about exploring what Korea had to offer, I was most likely home on that study grind: working on homework, presentations, memorizing vocabulary, etc. When I was not studying, (because let us be real… I practiced self-care on the program!) I was most likely on my phone, writing my blog entries, chilling watching Disney shows with my younger siblings, playing board games, playing with Andy (my host dog), or watching Netflix or Youtube.


11:30 pm-12:00 am – I would say I definitely did not go to bed as late as I often did in high school because I always just felt so much more tired in Korea. (Probably cause learning another language and being immersed in said language is a lot for anyone). So I would try to get in my bed as early as I could and to be honest when I had no plans on the weekends (or no Korean class the following day)… I would even go to sleep as early as 9 pm!

(I would say this post is more of an average (week)day in my life as an AY NSLI-Y student in Korea because there really are not any average weekend days.)

Alright, that is the end of this here blog post! I hope that it was very informative and hopefully entertaining to read through. I tried to add relevant photos throughout to keep things interesting. (Some being never-before-seen photos as they have yet to debut on my blog!) I also have plans to make another version of this post for winter break because the research project and community service really shake things up then, and I think it would be interesting to talk about that as well! Our winter break followed more of the Summer program schedule I would say.

Well, I hope you enjoyed (once again!) Thanks for reading. If you have any questions for me at all, feel free to comment or email me. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Thank You! Until next time!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

My NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview Experience

안녕하세요 여러분! In this blog post, I will be writing about my experience interviewing for the NSLI-Y Academic Year Program in South Korea. This interview was my third (and last) interview for NSLI-Y.

  • I interviewed with NSLI-Y, previously, during my freshman year of high school (January 2015) and during my sophomore year of high school (January 2016).

I have already written a blog post about my last two interview experiences as well as a post about tips and advice! I will link those here and here, respectively. I may do an updated blog post about tips in the near future; I feel that I can refine some of my tips and write more about what I have realized NSLI-Y is looking for. (Maybe when I have extra time this winter break?) But anyway, let’s get into my interview experience!~

NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview

Date: 01/13/18        Time: 12 pm (Noon)

I found out that I became a semi-finalist for NSLI-Y on the 1st of December at exactly 2:30 pm; however, I did not check my email until a little bit after 5:30 pm. I had speech practice until 5 pm and because of past NSLI-Y application timelines, I was already expecting the email in my inbox. (I could have checked my email at school… but in case it was going to turn out to be bad news, I refrained until I was back in my room–alone.) I actually got a really exciting college email before I opened my NSLI-Y notification, so when I saw “congratulations” at the top of the email, I started crying even louder! What was different this year in comparison to the previous times I have been interviewed was the location of the interview, the date of the interview as well as when I was informed about the details regarding my interview. So… basically, everything changed from the last two times!

Previously, many of the Greater Chicago area interviews were held at this one church; however, this year it was located at a high school. Also, the Greater Chicago area interviews were usually held on the first Sunday of the year– while this year it was the second Saturday of the month. (Which actually turned out to be better for me because this allowed me to still be present for the Alumni Representative Workshop which was during the first weekend of the year.) Additionally, I found out about the interview location and date on the 30th of December while in previous years, I found out around the middle of December.

int 6

This building of the school was very beautiful! ❤


What I wore to my interview: red sweater dress, black tights, and simple (short) black heels.

int 5

My interview was at noon, but I arrived at the school with my mother around 11: 15 am. We waited around in the parking lot for almost 20 minutes and then she dropped me off at the door. The “waiting room” and the interview rooms were up a flight of stairs and down a very long hallway with a couple of turns. Fortunately, there were lots of signs posted so it would have been very difficult to get lost. When I arrived early, there were three other applicants in the room. I was going to join in on this one small discussion but then I noticed a girl sitting in the back of the room with her mom. It was my friend Citlali from Startalk! We had studied Chinese together!~

int 4



Seeing her in the room made me so much more comfortable, and I was super excited that she had made semis! (Though, I was also really salty that she (and my other fellow classmate Bruce) did not tell me that they made it! He, unfortunately, had an earlier interview time, so I missed him at the high school.

Eventually, noon rolled around and my interviewer pulled me out of the room. She was the sweetest lady ever! She made me feel very comfortable, and she was such a good listener with a very friendly face. She was an AFS volunteer and had taken a gap year with AFS in Uruguay. Additionally, her daughter was currently on a gap year with AFS in Paraguay, and she had also participated in the NSLI-Y China Summer program.

The interview questions were very similar to my last interview (and when I mean similar, there were only 2 questions that were new/different). Therefore, I was never really caught off guard with too many questions. I was able to smoothly answer all the questions with ease (mostly because I prepared for them). I was also able to engage the interviewer in conversation, and she told me stories from her and her daughter’s gap year and answered all my questions about my possible gap year in South Korea.

I came out of the interview feeling very confident in all of my answers and what I had to say. I was proud of myself for being so calm during it and being able to think on my feet for all the interview questions.

One thing I wanted to mention was something that my interviewer told me before the interview which helped ease my nerves just a little bit. She told me that her position was to be an advocate for my application. She was not going to judge my experiences as there were no right or wrong answers. She was only there to pass on as much information about me to the evaluators to aid my application. So to anyone fretting about their interview, this is something important to know!!!!

And, that is all for this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed reading it and to all the NSLI-Y applicants or semi-finalists out there, I hope this gave you some insight on the NSLI-Y interview process~ There are a lot of people that ask me what questions were given at the interview and I am sorry, but I do not think I can share that information. I wish everyone the best of luck on their interviews!! 화이팅! 친구들 다음에 봐요~~ ❤ 고마워요!

If I can, I will write an updated application blog post upload it next year when it becomes relevant once again~ I hope that my subscribers are enjoying reading what I am up on my gap year thus far (though I am about two months behind… I am sorry! Editing posts takes some time…)

  • Emma 엠마



Ten Things to Do in Seoul, South Korea! {서울에서 할 수 있는 10가지 일들}

안녕하세요 여러분! It has been awhile XD I thought I would write a post about some of the things that I did in Seoul, South Korea that everyone should experience. These are in not in any particular order because if I did have to order them… well, I just could not do it! haha

(1. 서울숲 (Seoul Forest – Soul-soup)

  • I ended up going to 서울숲 with Sofia on a whim. We never had any plans to really do so, but after passing the subway station named 서울숲, we really wanted to check it out and see what it was all about. Riding the subway for more than 30 minutes was truly worth it in the end. 서울숲 is the perfect place to go to get the feel that you are out in nature. The trees are huge and provide a nice, cool shade and there are plenty of things to do: feed deer, walk through flower/vegetable gardens, roam around an insect botanical garden, play in the parks, and more! And one of the best things is that the park’s admission is free! (Some things may cost extra like the feed for the deer costs 1,000 won or approximately less than a dollar. But you could take a walk and visit a majority of the gardens for free!)

(2. 남산골한옥마을 (Namsangol Hanok Village – nam-san-gol-han-ok-ma-oul)

  • 남산골한옥마을 is a Korean traditional village with restored traditional Korean houses, a traditional garden, pavillion, and more. You get to walk around as if you are in a historical drama taking in all the beautiful views (for free might I add!) Besides the beautiful views and architecture, you can also try traditional Korean games, hanbok, and there is even a gift shop! If Korean history is something you fancy, you must head on over to 남산골한옥마을!~

(3. 통인시장 (Tongin Market – tong-in-shi-jang)

  • As part of our Korean class curriculum, we took a field trip to 통인시장. We got to exchange 5,000 won (approximately less than 5 dollars) for some old school Korean coins to get more Korean food than we could eat. It was a lot of fun walking through the entire market and choosing what foods we wanted to buy. We got to practice our Korean skills with the 아줌마s (term used to address married or married age elder women) at the stalls while also ending the afternoon with a hearty and filling lunch.

(4. Biking at Han River! (한강 자전거 타기)

  • This was a huge goal of mine ever since I knew I was going to Korea. I loved to bike ride back home and I knew that bike riding along the Han River would be better than all my neighborhood views. Renting the bikes was not too expensive at all, they were about $3 per bike for an hour. We went on a hot day but the shade from the trees cooled us down throughout different portions of the trail. Tucker played some old school Kpop songs as we biked for an entire hour. It was a blast!~

(5. 명동하고 홍대하고 이대에서 쇼핑하기 (Shopping at Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Edae)

  • A list of things to do in Seoul would definitely not be complete without shopping!~ My three favorite places (and probably the three most famous places) are Myeongdong ( Myeongdong station – 명동역), Hongdae (Hongik University Station – 홍대입구역), and Edae (Ewha Womans University – 이대역). Myeongdong is definitely the place for Korean skincare and makeup while Hongdae and Edae are the best places to go for cheap street fashion (Protip: Go to Edae before buying any clothes from Hongdae! A lot of the times, you can find the same shirt in both places but they are usually cheaper in Edae!)

(6. 노래방 (Karaoke Rooms – no-rae-bang)

  • For me, singing was reserved for my shower, my bedroom, and the car. I had never been to a karaoke room before and I did not know how I felt about going to one in Korea. It was one of my best decisions ever! Singing into microphones (badly and usually loudly), became one of my favorite things to do. Korean Karaoke rooms are filled with the best Korean and English (and sometimes Chinese and Japanese) songs imaginable. It is also a great way to practice your Korean reading abilities. (I would recommend not going to a 노래방 to sing Korean songs until you are comfortable at reading Hangul because it might be hard to follow along (especially if you are not familiar with the song).

(7. 동물 카페 (Animal Cafes – dong-mul-ka-pe) EX: 강아지 카페 // 고양이 카페

  • Animal cafes are such a unique part of Asia. They are slowly being introduced to other countries around the world but you still can not find more animal cafes anywhere else in the world! Cat Cafes, Dog Cafes, Racoon Cafes, Sheep Cafes, Turtle Cafes, if you can name it, Korea probably has it! Usually, the price of admission is a drink, and then you get to enjoy a nice cafe environment with the animals of your choosing. I personally enjoy cat cafes the most because it is quiet enough to work on actual homework, and you can pet cats while doing so. It is a win-win!~

(8. 인사동 (Insadong – in-sa-dong)

  • 인사동길 (Insadong Street) is a street in Seoul that is known for its traditional Korean crafts, cultural products, and tons of souvenirs. There is so much to see and buy: chopsticks, pottery, paintings, K-pop merch, stationary, and more. I bought the majority of the souvenirs for my friends, family, and teachers here. It was a lot of fun to walk around and see all the beautiful Korean crafts. The street food in Insadong is also really great!

(9. 경복궁 (Gyeongbokgung Palace – gyeong-bok-gung)

  • 경복궁 is probably the most popular Korean palace and tourist attraction. Even though this is the case, and hidden gems are usually seen as better, tourist spots are tourist spots for a reason. There are a lot of palaces near the actual Gyeongbokgung and Insadong is not a far walk away either. What can I say about 경복궁? Well, the views are exceptionally beautiful and you can not leave without photos. Try to go on a cooler day because if it is hot, it won’t be as enjoyable as it could possibly be! Ticket prices for 경복궁 for international visitors range from 1,500 won to 3,000 won depending on age.

(10. 트릭아이미술관 (Trick-eye museum – trick-eye-me-sul-gwan)

  • The Trick Eye Museum is an art gallery with paintings that give off a 3D effect which makes them perfect photo ops. Make sure to not go alone! You will need people to take photos for you and it is always more fun to go with friends! Admission is 15,000 won for adults and 12,000 won for children and students (So bring your student ID for a discount). The admission cost also comes with admission to the ice museum. It is honestly a great place for really funny photos and you will never forget your time there making a bunch of poses and using up all your phone storage.

And that was 10 things to do in Seoul, South Korea. There are a million things to do in Seoul (and I have so much that I have yet to have the chance to do), and no matter where you go, you will always be able to find something fun and worthwhile to do. I hope this blog post was entertaining or even informative. Did you add anything to your Korea bucket list? Once again, none of these things are in any particular order. I could never rank them! If you liked this post, make sure to subscribe to my blog!! 감사합니다! 다음에 봐요!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

What to pack for Seoul, South Korea (NSLIY // 6 week trip during the summer)

안녕 여러분!~ This blog post, as evident if you read the title, will be on the list of things I packed during my trip with NSLI-Y to Seoul, South Korea for 6 weeks during the summer. I will first be simply listing the things that I brought, and then, at the end of the post, I will write about the things I wish I had/hadn’t brought.

What I Wore on the Plane

  • Cardigan
  • Tshirt
  • Capri Jeans
  • Sneakers

Carry On

(Can be any weight but must fit in overhead compartment)

  • 7 shirts
  • 5 pairs of short
  • 2 skirts
  • A pair of walking sandals
  • A pair of dressy sandals
  • Undergarments
  • Laundry Bag
  • 2 pairs of pajamas

Checked Bag

(International Weight Limit: 50lbs)

  • 1 bottle of shampoo
  • 2 bottles of conditioner
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Face wash
  • Deodorant
  • Bar of Soap
  • Razors
  • Feminine products
  • Sunscreen (Body & Face)
  • Bug spray
  • 2 knee braces
  • Ice pack
  • Slippers
  • Host family gifts

Personal Item (Backpack)

(No weight limit but must fit under plane seat)

– Electronics

  • Laptop (Charger and 3 Prong Adapter)
  • Phone (Charger & Adapter)
  • 3DS (Charger & Adapter)
  • Portable Phone Charger

– Other

  • Important Documents
  • Passport
  • Headphones
  • Snacks
  • Wallet
  • Journal
  • Pencils & Pencil Case


What I Wish I Didn’t Bring to Korea

  • I would say that I packed pretty lightly in comparison to some of the other students on my program (Mostly, I did not bring as many clothes and I did not bring any makeup). I remember comparing our suitcase weights at PDO and my checked bag only weighed 32 lbs while most of the other NSLIYians’ bags weighed close to 50 lbs and a few were actually overweight. But anyway, now I am going to get into what I wish I did not pack. (Disclaimer: Everyone’s experience is different! Other participants may tell you that they needed these things.)
    • Adapters – I paid sooooo much for the adapters I bought because I could not just find Asia-specific adapters and instead, had to buy a whole pack of adapters that would not all work in Korea. Also, I had ordered a special 3 prong adapter to be able to use my laptop charger without getting electrocuted; however, it did not work in Korea! It had the right shaped prongs but the shape of the actual adapter would not fit in Korean sockets. Therefore, I would recommend buying them in Korea; they are so much cheaper! Maybe just buy one or borrow some from friends at the hostel until you can go shopping on your own or with your host family. I bought a 3 prong adapter and a third two prong adapter (one of my adapters belonged to a friend of mine and so I would be giving it back to him when I returned) at the Sookmyung Women’s University (숙명여자대학교) Bookstore for around 2 dollars each.
    • Slippers – I personally believe that I should have just bought slippers in Korea. They would become a good memento and you might not even need any if your host family provides you with guest slippers (like mine did). The slippers I bought in the states were way more expensive than the ones in Korea. (And the ones in Korea were cuter too!)

What I Wish I Brought to Korea

  • I obviously survived without these things or I ended up succumbing to my comfort zone and bought them later during the program, but these definitely are not necessities – just my personal preferences. Once again, some people will have not needed these but I would have liked to have brought them with me.
    • Large-sized towel – I like being fully wrapped in a towel and because I have long hair, small towels get soaked too quickly. I did not bring any towels because I figured my host family would lend me some, and they did. However, the towels were only ever around double the size of a washcloth. Nothing that they had in the house was even close to a large-sized towel back in the states. And this was actually very common in many of the host family houses. After the first week, I went to Daiso with a few other girls to buy the largest towel we could find. I just wish I had brought one since it would have saved me a lot of time and soaked hand towels.
    • More conditioner – I have really long curly hair, so many people would probably not have a problem. In fact, bringing two bottles of conditioner might already be too much, but I needed another one. My tip would be to keep track of how much products you use in a 6-week time span before the program and buy what you need from there. (I wish I did that!)
    • Large-sized water bottle – Buying water bottles constantly can be expensive and most water bottles I saw in Korea were either not big enough or really expensive. I simply used a water bottle that was gifted to us from Better World but that was a bit too small for my liking. I wish I had brought one from the US so I could have all the water I wanted without breaking the bank.

And we have come to the end of this blog post!~ I hope this ends up being helpful to someone, that is all I really want from these posts! My finished packing list was definitely influenced by videos and other blogs on this topic.

*I can not believe that June has already arrived! The newest NSLIYians (NSLI-Y9) will be heading off to Korea at the end of this month and I could not be more excited (and jealous) for them! They seem great (from my time talking with them on the finalist call and skyping some of them) and I hope they will write blogs because I would enjoy that 🙂 (If you are a NSLI-Y finalist (and we are not already in contact) and have a blog please tell me!)

Also, Please follow my blog if you like these kinds of things! I will be posting soon!!!!~ I have a really fun and exciting announcement to share! 안녕 친구들~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

NSLI-Y Korean Culture Clubs: Cooking Club {니슬리 한국 문화 동아리들: 요리동아리}

One of the best parts of the NSLI-Y Korean Summer Program (I sure say this a lot XD) is culture clubs. Culture clubs are figured out during the in-country orientation. There are a wide variety of culture clubs to choose from: Cooking Club, Traditional Music Club, Traditional Fan Dancing, and Taekwondo. The spots in the cooking club are limited because the food costs are generally more expensive than the costs of the other clubs. During my program, we decided what culture clubs we would be in by writing down our top two picks on a small piece of paper. Our resident director counted to 3, and afterward, we all ran up and basically tackled him on the stage as we gave him all our slips of paper. Later during the evening, we were told what clubs we would be in.

Culture clubs are a great way for NSLIYians to be more hands on with the Korean Culture. By taking part in a culture’s traditional music, food, dancing, or martial art, NSLIY students are able to understand more about the Korean society besides the language. These culture clubs provide context behind the food that is eaten every day, Korea’s history, music, etc.

Now onto the main point of this blog post, Korean Cooking Club! Culture clubs are on Fridays for around 2 hours. Cooking club takes place at the Food & Culture Academy (푸드앤컬쳐 아카데미) which is a very famous tourist attraction. Also, many celebrities have been there. They have a whole wall dedicated to pictures of the head chef with K-pop idols, actors, comedians, and even the former Korean president 박근혜. At the cooking club, we usually learned a little bit about Korean food culture/manners and then the food we would be making before actually getting in the kitchen. In the kitchen, we each had our own personal set up: Portable Mini Stove (I am not sure what the official name of it would be) and all the ingredients that would be needed for each recipe. The cooking club also included a built-in language lesson as the head chef would always teach us the names of every ingredient we used (as well as the meaning behind the names of many of the meals). It was hard to pay attention to the language acquisition part of the class because of FOOD, but we all successfully learned the word for mushroom (amongst others) by the end of the program. (Mushroom seemed to be the word that everyone would forget by the start of every class. For anyone wondering, 버섯 is the Korean word for mushroom.)

Korean class had a lot of fun memories such as the time I waited, patiently, for my seafood & green onion pancake (해물파전) to cook while it looked like everyone and their mother was already plating their food. Turned out, my stove was out of fuel the entire time. We also had contests to see who could flip food the highest with the frying pan and have the most (successful) flips in a succession. There was also a lot of sassy remarks by both cooking club members and JT (our resident director).

We made a TON of food: 해물파전 (seafood & green onion pancake), 비빔밥 (mixed rice with vegetables & meat), 불고기 (grilled beef), 김치/김치전 (kimchi & kimchi pancake), and 잡채 (sweet potato noodles).

After we all got to be chefs and cook some Korean food, we always got to eat our food. The head chef’s mom would come around our table before we would start eating and pick one dish from a boy and a girl that she thought looked the best. Let us just say that I never won anything! XD Most of us would not eat lunch before coming, so the food was usually devoured in minutes! At the end of each club meeting, one member volunteered to write a reflection on the meal that was made that day. Therefore, we had a total of 5 reflections by the end of the program. (I wrote the one for the 불고기 class!)

Here are some pictures!



Seafood & Green Onion Pancake (해물파전) – mine was a little bit burnt …




At the end of the program, we were given recipes for everything that we made during the duration of the classes. We also received certificates of completion and a measuring spoon that we actually used when cooking at the academy.


And that is all I have to say regarding 요리동아리! I hope this blog post was informational and maybe encouraged some future NSLIYians to want to partake in Korean cooking club. I will be posting future blog posts about the other three culture clubs. Obviously, I did not participate in them, but I will have other alumni from my program write up posts about their experiences with the clubs. Stay tuned for those!   안녕 친구들!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)







All About Supporter Groups (Korean Summer NSLI-Y Program)

Though everything from my summer in Seoul, South Korea with NSLI-Y was amazing, the friendships I fostered within my supporter group and the memories we made with each other were nothing short of being on the top of the list of my favorite things from the program.

The name “supporter” is pretty unique to the NSLI-Y Korea program. From the conversations I have had with other alumni, most programs have peers that help the students with their language learning by tutoring; however, supporters and supporter groups are really only found on the Korea program.

A supporter is a Korean college age student that acts as a tutor, a tour guide, and if you can successfully build a relationship — a lifelong friend. Supporter groups are made up of your Korean supporter and usually one or two other students. (Usually, these students are from your own Korean class since you will have a similar language level to them.) We found out our supporter groups when we received a text from our supporter on our program phone. I found out the other members of my group by comparing texts with my classmates on the following day during Korean class. On the Korean summer program, we had supporter meetings twice a week: Tuesday and Thursday. The meeting was about two hours long and there were two types of meetings.



My Lovely Supporter Group (Left to right: Jodi, Casey, Sujin, and I)


The Academic Supporter Meeting

During the average supporter meetings (which I will call an “academic supporter meeting”), our supporters acted like our Korean language tutors. Supporters usually meet at cafes and sometimes restaurants if they have planned to have lunch with their “students” before the actual studying part of the meeting. They are given stipends to use to buy any food, snacks, or drinks from the cafe; therefore, this is a great way to try out many Korean treats and cafes as a matter of fact. My supporter meeting was at the same cafe every time (with one or two exceptions when we, instead, went to 설빙 and Blind Alley) but many supporter groups changed up their meeting locations every meeting. They would have their supporter text them the location/map before every meeting. During this kind of supporter meeting, we would study Korean using this little booklet that went along with what we covered in class. (And a little more vocabulary words for good measure.)

We would go over vocab words as well as grammar points. Our supporter would make sure that we knew how to utilize the new knowledge effectively before asking us questions in which we could practice using them. After everyone had studied the vocab and grammar points, we would record our answers to more questions that our supporter asked us. (This sometimes took awhile due to many BAD mess ups as well as too much laughing in the background of the recordings.)

Cultural Excursion Supporter Meeting

The second type of supporter meetings were cultural excursions. Our supporters acted as tour guides by taking us around Seoul to famous historical sites. My supporter group had two cultural excursions throughout the duration of the program. We had one at Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) and at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자).


The cultural excursions were a great way to learn more about Korean history (and more modern aspects of the culture) which we did not get much of during class. They were also great for bonding. Through these excursions, I was able to get close with more of my classmates as well as make some Korean friends. We also got to try a lot of delicious Korean desserts during our cultural excursions and actually… they were all bingsu desserts haha

And that is everything I have to say about supporter groups! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and hopefully it is informative to all the future NSLI-Y scholars. Supporter groups can truly make the program that much better! The next informational post I will be writing will be about culture clubs for the Korea summer program in Seoul. Look out for that!~

안녕 친구들~ ❤

  • Emma (엠마)

NSLI-Y Korean Language Class at Sookmyung Women’s University (Intermediate Class//나무반)

It is finally here!~ The long awaited blog post about Korean language classes on the NSLI-Y program! I will split this post up into 7 sections: placement, general, textbook, tests, break time, homework, and how I felt after being in the class.


In order to know what Korean class you will be in for the duration of the program, you will take a placement test to place you in the right class. The placement is not definite, therefore, you are allowed to move up or down if the teachers agree with your request to do so. (To be honest, I am not sure if that happened on my program. They are pretty good at placing students in the class that best fits them and their Korean language capacity.) On the Monday following our first weekend with our host family, we visited our university for the first time. It wasn’t technically the first day of school as we didn’t have any class, but we did take a placement test on that day. The placement test was a 4-page test with fill in the blank questions (with a word bank), reading passages, multiple choice, and one short answer question at the end of the test. We then took a second placement test because everyone had finished it pretty early and the teachers assumed that we had known all the material. The second placement test had the same makeup but it was obviously harder. This test also included a lot more grammar than the first placement test. After we took the sit down reading/writing test, we were called into rooms one by one to take a verbal test. I sat in a room with one of the Korean teachers (who soon proved to be my very own Korean language teacher) and answered questions that she asked me. They were basic questions about introductions, hobbies, and daily life. I believe that the verbal test is to gauge your grasp of understanding spoken Korean and to showcase what you can say on the spot (like if you can conjugate verbs in the past and future tense).


I was placed in 나무반 (Tree Class) which was considered the “intermediate class” or the level 2 class. It wasn’t intermediate by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to the three Korean class levels, it was considered intermediate. I would conclude that we were mostly advanced beginners and two or three were actually intermediate level Korean speakers. The class was split up into two sections, both 100 minutes long.

Grammar/speaking class – During this duration of the class, we would learn grammar points using our Teachers power points and Korean language flash cards. We would then practice the grammar by using the textbook and doing plenty of practice problems. The speaking part of the class was using these grammar points out loud and also talking about our weekends (to practice past tense).

Listening/speaking class – During this duration of the class, we would read aloud conversations from the textbook and practice answering questions after listening to a passage. When reading the conversations, our teacher would assign one-half of the class to read the lines of one character and the other half would read the other lines. We then would split up in partners (usually, the person sitting next to us but sometimes the teacher assigned us, partners, to switch things up).

Korean Textbook

To go along with everything we learned in class, we used the A-ha! Korean (아하! 한국어) textbook which is the Korean language textbook for Sookmyung Women’s University. For my class, we used the second book in the series of 4. At the end of the program, we were given the opportunity to buy the rest of the textbooks to continue studying with it. I only bought the third book because I wasn’t sure how well they would work for self-studying. The textbook comes with a mini booklet with all of the vocabulary words within the textbook, a workbook, and an audio cd with recordings of all the conversations and listening sections.



우리 교과서 (Our textbook)


Korean Tests

We would have a test on Korean every single Friday. We would use one 50 minute section from each class for our test. For our grammar/speaking test, we would have a fill in the blank, multiple choice, and short response test on the grammar points and vocabulary we had learned during the past week. Then for our speaking/listening test, we were assigned conversations from the textbook earlier in the week to memorize for the test. We would get partnered up randomly on Friday and then have to recite what we memorized to the teacher. We would have to memorize anywhere from 1-3 conversations and she would test us on one out of however many we were assigned. We would recite the lines of one character and then switch and do the other lines with our partner.



This dialogue was part of our first verbal test. I still remember it to this day.


Our speaking/listening teacher would tell us on the spot whether we passed or failed the verbal test while we had to wait to get our grammar test back before knowing our grade. If you failed any test, you were given extra work to do over the weekend. I am not sure if you would need to retake the test or not since I never failed any tests but I do know you are given extra homework because some of the students in my class failed a test.

Break Time

After every 50 minutes of Korean class, we would get 10 minutes of break time. (or 쉬는시간 as we came to know it by.) We spent this time refilling our water bottles, eating snacks, and just stretching. I would usually go off with some of my classmates and speak with our resident directors. My class and I would also leave the university during the break to run on over to the convenience store to buy snacks that we could eat during the following break times. Break time was greatly needed since 4 hours straight of Korean would be very taxing on the brain – for anyone.


We would almost always get Korean homework every single night. I would usually take an hour to two hours to finish my homework but I kept attention to detail and wrote as much as I could for the short response questions to practice effectively. The homework was usually an entire section from the workbook or our teacher would tell us what pages she wanted us to complete. Our teachers did not collect the workbook every class period. They would collect it randomly or usually after a test since we wouldn’t be needing it over the weekend.


What studying for a Korean test looked like for me


Korean class was definitely the best part of the NSLI-Y program (and the most important). I got so close with all of my 나무반 classmates and learned more Korean than I could ever have learned by simply self-studying. Especially when it came to my accent, it improved by tenfolds and sounds almost completely natural. I studied very hard for all of my tests and never got more than 4 questions wrong on the tests (which ended up being anywhere from a B-plus to an A-plus depending on how many questions there were on each test). I was also given an award for being the most improved in my Korean class from my teachers which made me happy to know that my teachers could see my improvement too. My Korean class gave me a great start into my Korean language learning journey and I left Korea placing into an Intermediate level of Korean language knowledge.

That’s all I have for this blog post. The basic outline of my class will most likely be very similar to all the other Korean classes regardless of the level as long as they are all at Sookmyung Women’s University in the future. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and if you are a future NSLI-Y applicant or finalist, I hope this helps you see what Korean class will be like on the program. 안녕 친구들~

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Day In The Life: NSLI-Y Korea (Seoul) Summer Student~ 2016 Edition

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is: What is an average day on the NSLI-Y Program? The answer to this question will be different depending on your country, host family, school, implementing organization, and location. However, I wanted to make this blog post about the “average” day for students on my program. Most likely this will be quite similar for the future Nsliyians in Seoul, South Korea (unless one of the factors I mentioned above is different than what I had). Well, I hope you enjoy reading this post and I will just get started already~ XD

6:30 am – Every single weekday morning, I woke up at 6:30 am in order to take a shower, get dressed, and pack my bags for school. It took me about a week to get used to waking up so early as my school got out at the end of May. Therefore I had been sleeping in till 10 am for almost a whole month before coming to Korea. However, I did not mind my alarm clock as much since I was always way excited for what the day was going to bring me.

7:00 am – After I finished getting ready for the day, I would eat breakfast at 7 am. My host parents were kind enough to always make me a homemade breakfast: every single morning. My host mom would usually make me eggs and toast with a side of fruit; while my host dad would usually give me a plate of homemade fried rice or a regular Korean breakfast of meat and vegetables.

7:45 am – I usually left for the subway around 7:30-7:45 am. It really depended on how long I took to eat breakfast and how long I talked to my host mom while eating. (I always had the best conversations with my host mom during breakfast. She always worked late, therefore I did not get much time to talk with her, one on one, otherwise.

8:30-8:40 am – When commuting to school, I took the subway for a couple of stops and then I transferred onto the bus because it saved a lot of time and it made the commute a lot cheaper. I would usually ride the bus with Tucker and Adilene as they were only one subway stop away from me. Sometimes we would ride the bus with Kyle as well. A couple of times, we ran into one of my Korean teachers. It was kinda awkward but also fun since she took us on a secret route to get inside the school. We got to go down into the underground parking lot and use the employee elevator. It was nice. I usually arrived at the school around 8:30-8:40 am. While I waited for class to start, I would usually explore our floor and talk with the other kids in different classrooms. I also usually talked with my resident directors as we only really saw them during school hours. Sometimes I would run down to the convenience store and pick up snacks (like Banana milk and Pepero) for the ten-minute breaks in between classes.

9 am – All classes started at 9 am. We would have two hours of grammar/listening (문법/듣기) with Teacher Lee (이선생님) and then two hours of listening/speaking (듣기/말하기) with Teacher Park (박선생님). I would talk more about Korean class in this post, but I want to save that for another one so I can go more into detail among other things. (I posted it HERE)


12:50 pm – Class ended around this time but we usually didn’t leave the building until after 1 pm. If it was a Monday we would have a weekly meeting right after school in one of the empty classrooms. After the meeting, however, we were free for the rest of the day.

1:15 pm – Most of the NSLIYians would eat lunch around the university. It was just easier to pick a place to eat and then from there, explore the city by taking the subway somewhere. If it was a Wednesday, we had no program obligations and could eat lunch and then do whatever we set our minds to (well, as long as it fit the rules laid out by the program staff during both orientations). On free days (such as Monday and Wednesday), I usually used them to do something that I wanted to spend a whole afternoon doing or do a couple of things I could do all in one day. During the beginning of the program the activities were pretty spontaneous, but by the end, I really focused on doing things on my bucket list.

2 pm – If it was a Tuesday or Thursday, we had supporter meetings (I will do a more in-depth post about that as well– HERE it is) from 2 – 4 pm we would either go on a cultural excursion, study Korean, or in my group’s case- celebrate a birthday. (It seemed we were always celebrating birthdays XD)


3 pm – If it was a Friday, we had a culture club (we picked these at the in-country orientation) from 3 – 5 pm. I had the cooking class at this time on Fridays where I went to a Korean culture facility with a group of NSLIYians and our RD JT to cook some Korean food. (I also want to do a post about culture clubs! I want to have a post with a little bit of information for every activity and I will get some information and pictures from other people since I only participated in the cooking club. Basically, expect a lot of informational posts in the months leading up to the summer haha) Cooking Club Post HERE.


4/5 ish pm – After all our mandatory activities, we were allowed to basically do whatever we wanted. We could go out with friends and explore Seoul, or we could go home early and eat dinner with our host family. I would usually hang out with classmates after supporter meetings and culture club activities. If it was a Thursday, I would go home right away from my supporter meeting in order to study for my Korean test on Friday.

8 pm – On weekdays, I would usually get home around 8 pm. Our curfew was 9 pm on weekdays and 11 pm on weekends but I never arrived home close to the weekend curfew. (On the weekends I would get home usually around 9:30 – 10:15 pm) Luckily for me, my host family ate dinner pretty late compared to other host families. This was nice because I was able to stay out later with friends rather than having to come home early worrying that I might miss dinner with my host family. My host family usually ate dinner around 9:00 – 9:30 pm because that is when my host parents would come home after work from their 학원 (Tutoring academy).

10 pm – I usually would be doing homework around this time or chatting with my host mom over a nice plate of watermelon or tiramisu and blueberry yogurt. From school I would usually get a couple of workbook pages a night which would usually take me an hour to two hours to complete.


11:30 – 12 pm – I usually went to bed before midnight during weekdays. My host family was definitely the night owl kind so they would stay up well past 2 in the morning. I did not get much sleep in Korea (well under the 8-hour mark) but I honestly didn’t feel that tired throughout the days. The first week was bad, but I got used to it after a while.

  • And that was the day in the life of a student on the NSLI-Y Korea Summer Program (Summer 2016 edition)! I hope you enjoyed reading. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to comment on this post and I will get back to you as soon as I see it~ I will be posting more informational posts such as this one soon, because the summer of 2017 is upon us and I am running out of blog posts from Korea unfortunately: It is very depressing 😦 I will hopefully link the informational blog posts in the places I mentioned them throughout this blog (well, once they are completed of course.) Thank you~ 안녕 친구들~

-엠마 (Emma)