NSLI-Y Reunion at Yonsei University (연세 대학교 – 신촌) and Cute Cafes (12/18-12/19/18) NSLI-Y AY

12/18/18 Tuesday

Tuesday was productive! I might have slept in a little too late… but besides that, I was able to do laundry which was desperately needed for a while now. However, due to my productivity mixed with not managing my time well, I was late meeting up with Katie to study at a cafe before class. I did end up getting there eventually! We just hung out at TwoSome Place for around an hour trying to cram study for our quizzes and I attempted to finish my workbook. (Attempted… did not finish, unfortunately).


We both got lunch from the 편의점 and hung out at the youth center while eating. I felt like I had not seen everyone in so long even though we were all together for activities on Saturday. One highlight from then was the moment Kaitlyn told us her ridiculous dream about program dismissal after she walked off the elevator shaking around a cup of yogurt and granola yelling program dismissal in a booming voice. She told us she had a dream that 민정쌤 came up to her while she was eating yogurt and granola and told her to pack up her bags because she was being dismissed from the program and being sent back to America. Kaitlyn was shocked and asked why and 민정쌤 pulled out the contract that we all signed stating that we would abide by all NSLI-Y rules and pointed to a clause in really really really fine print that read “participants shall not eat yogurt and granola.” Everyone in the room erupted in laughter at her story. It was fun and I will never be able to forget it (especially whenever I eat yogurt).


Korean class today was pretty good as well. We actually learned a grammar point that I studied (partly) the week before. I have been wanting to know how to express hypothetical situations (ㄴ/는다면), so I self-studied it. Because of this, I found the class a bit easier as I was able to follow along. I also studied the new chapter’s vocab which helped immensely, too. Besides that, nothing about the class was too memorable. We did have some fun conversations about winning the lottery, becoming invisible, and such. We talked about pollution and the melting ice glaciers in the North and South Pole which made me feel like I was somewhat good at Korean seeing that I could understand that conversation and add my two cents. Positive Vibes.

During one of the breaks, I went with Josh to this cafe (I think it is called Starlight–별빛) and the barista talked to us and asked us about Korean class–it was really cute. Josh goes there every Monday and Tuesday to buy coffee and I can see why. The prices were pretty good and the atmosphere was super adorable! They also had rainbow cake! I definitely want to try that sometime~ I will have to bring Katie.

I went home right away after class but as soon as I sat down in front of my desk at home, my host mom calls me to tell me that we will be eating Chinese food out. She sent me the address and told me to use the internet to find it. I was confident that I could do it once I realized how close it was (A big thanks to Kakao Maps), and I eventually figured out that we had been there once prior around the time of my younger host sister’s birthday. I waited outside the restaurant for a bit because my host family was coming back from getting photos taken. When I saw my host dad and eldest host sister from the corner of my eye, I was so relieved. Finally, I could escape the cold (and the stares from the other passersby). We all shared some 짜장면, 짬뽕, and 탕수육. Everything was very delicious.


While we were eating, I goofed around with my host sisters. They kept mimicking my movements and what I said in order to annoy me (glad to know that children all around the world have the same annoying tactics). I also taught them how to drink tea like British royalty (pinky up!).

12/19/18  Wednesday

(Song – Back in Time (Lyn))

Today I met up with Addie after she had her 연세 interview (She is trying to get admitted there for university! If things work out well, she will be in Korea for the next 4 years! UPDATE: She got in! Full scholarship and everything!) to hang out at a cafe and get some work done. I have finally downloaded Mango Plate (I believe it is comparable to Yelp? If that is even used in America?) which shows you the best-reviewed cafes and restaurants in the area. Using that app, Addie found this tiny cafe on the second floor of this building which served pretty expensive drinks but the atmosphere and cookies were worth it. Actually, when we were trying to find the cafe, the stairs up to it were pretty sketchy, to be honest. The cafe interior reminded me of the basement of a British bar (not that I actually have experience in that type of location). All the tables had red plaid tablecloths and the music that was playing was strictly classical. It was really nice though~ Addie and I sat at the windowsill and enjoyed the good desserts and drinks while people watching in between studying.


Addie and I studied and were mostly productive for around 5 hours! Yeah, I am not kidding. We truly grinded~ I finished so many workbook pages, edited some blog posts, and memorized lots and lots of vocabulary. When 6:00 pm rolled around, we made our way to the 연세 university campus to meet up with NSLI-Y Summer 2016 Alumna Adilene. We got there about 15 minutes early (and she ended up being a little bit late) so Addie walked with me through campus. She showed me some of the buildings and this one statue. Previous to today, I had never been on the campus and it felt really cool being able to walk around even if it was only for a few minutes. I have not had the opportunity to visit many college campuses (less than a handful) so I still feel in awe whenever I walk on a huge campus. Seeing busy students walk by–the hustle and bustle of everything–makes me excited and terrifies me at the same time!

Eventually, Adilene showed up and we went and had dinner at Kyochon Chicken. While we were studying, Addie and I realized that that restaurant was right in front of the cafe and once we spotted it, we could not help but crave chicken. After eating some delicious chicken (Honey & Soy Garlic), we updated each other on our own lives and reminisced on our pasts–just like my meeting with Madeline. Wow, so many meetings with old friends this week! I am so grateful to have met so many amazing people these past few years~ Adilene goes to school in the states but attended 연세 for this semester to complete her year of study abroad. (For her next semester, she will be attending a university in Tokyo, Japan!) Catching up was very nice~ I hope we can meet up very soon (Either again in Korea if she comes back while she is in Japan, or in NYC during the summer/school year~)

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Subscribe to my blog for more posts about my travels in South Korea as a part of my gap year before university! Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

Pancake Brunch, Dinner with NSLI-Y Summer RD, and New Host Family Information {12/17/18} NSLI-Y AY

12/17/18 Monday

Today was the first day of winter break for Katie and me! We planned to start it off with a bang!! And what better way to accomplish that than with a pancake brunch? (This is a hypothetical question but even if you did answer, I feel like I can be assured that you would say nothing because…well, pancakes!) Katie and I went to Flapjack Pantry which is a breakfast/brunch place really close to the Better World Office. 민정쌤 recommended it to us when we first arrived in Korea, so I have been wanting to try it out since. Katie had gone last month with Jacqulyn and Liam and with her stamp of approval, we went.


We shared a plate of chocolate chip pancakes and a side of fries. Everything was quite delicious. Although my local diner still serves up some of the best chocolate chip pancakes I have ever tasted, these were pretty good too. (Though, I take points off for the fake chocolate syrup drizzled over the top. I would have much rather preferred straight up chocolate chips.) The fries were honestly the best part because they were not sweet! What a concept! (Subtle shade to the majority of fries in Korea)


Lovely Painting at the brunch place

After brunch, we went to the Better World Office to cheat them of their wifi and study in my classroom rather than going to a cafe and having to pay for an expensive drink for only an hour or so of study time. When we got to the office, there was no one there. We looked around and were worried that it was a bad idea to come early but then we realized they were on lunch and in the break room. After a very awkward interaction with 민정쌤 and 소영쌤, Katie and I studied vocab together in the classroom.


In Korean class, I felt good– useful even. I had looked over the grammar points before class so there were not any moments when I felt confused trying to piece together my teacher’s explanations of the meaning behind grammar points. I also memorized all the vocabulary from the chapter the night before, so I found the example sentences and dialogues easier to understand the first time through. And, when 민정쌤 came in to observe, I was able to do a good job in creating example sentences. I even joked around at one point. We were using the grammar point 나 보다 to speculate why Jacquelyn’s voice was gone. Josh said that she might have caught a cold. In a moment of random confidence for me, I shout out, “Or last night she went to a 노래방!” Everyone laughed and I was glad that I allowed myself to speak my mind even if it was just for that one sentence in Korean class– stepping stones.

After class, we had our bi-weekly meeting, so 3반 made their way over to the youth center for all of 민정쌤’s announcements. She updated us on the Christmas party, our reflections that were due on Thursday, and how the rest of December was looking (schedule-wise). She shared what days each high school would be having off for winter break and what to tell our host families regarding our plans for the 24th and 25th of December. After the meeting, everyone that would be switching host families stuck around and were given our new placement information. However, before she handed out the sheets of paper, she started off with a huge disclaimer. She said that it was really hard to find host families that were not millions of miles away from 홍대 or our host high schools. She said that she could really only find one host family in 서울 that was a decent distance from Korean classes. She brought up the fact that so many host families were applying from really distant parts of Korea like 파주 (Not quite the boonies of Korea but might as well be). While walking to the center, I was joking with Josh and Jacquelyn about being placed in Paju because I was already in 고양시. I was 100 percent joking! (Foreshadowww)

When she passed out all our papers, everyone started screaming and groaning as we all looked at our commute times. 50 minutes here and hour and a half over there. 민정쌤 was not kidding. Everyone was so far!

My new host family lived closest to a station on the 경의중앙 subway line (mint line) also known as the hell line (by more people than just me). It is such a terrible subway line because trains come pretty infrequently so sometimes you will have to wait upwards of 15 to 20 minutes for a train and because it comes so infrequently, it is always pretty full. I refuse to ride it during rush hour! I am sorry… but I would rather risk cutting it close to curfew than getting stuffed in a train car feeling like a sardine in a can. The distance from Korean classes to my new host family’s house will actually be about the same as it is now. Even though it is technically farther, there is no transfer (because transferring onto the 경의중앙 line is worse than simply riding it) so it will take about the same time to ride the line down to 홍대. However, to 하나고… that is another story. I will now be 42 minutes from school which requires me to take a train about 25 minutes earlier than I do now… and with walking… I definitely can no longer wake up at 6 am… (and I thought I had it better off than I did in America for high school… looks like I am going back to 5:30 am alarms!). But even though the commute is less than satisfactory, I am excited for my actual family!

I will have two host sisters that are 16 and 20 years old. I have never had a host family made up of older siblings before, so I am excited about that experience~ I can already imagine getting close with my sisters and doing things together~ Going shopping, going out to eat together, going to cafes to study, I am imagining everything. Should I also add that they have a dog? I will have a pet! Yes!! I think this family will be a lot of fun–hopefully. I will definitely make the most of it.

Once all our host family information was settled, I left with Katie to go to 이화 to meet up with our summer RD Madeline! She was an RD for both NSLI-Y 8 Summer (2016) and NSLI-Y 9 (2017). We met up with her in Korea because she is completing her Master’s Degree here at 이화여대. She has one more semester left of school so she will actually be leaving Korea around the same time we do. We went out to a 보쌈 place that she recommended and it was actually really delicious! (I would definitely come back again!)

We talked about our life after NSLI-Y and what we are doing now on the AY Program. We ranted to her about Korean classes and our life at 하나고 while she told us all about going to school and her plans for returning to the states and getting a job teaching Korean hopefully at middle school or high school level. We also talked about all the students she has met since the end of our program and I was surprised to find out that she has met so many! (Mostly from my program). There were even people I would never have expected! It was really nice catching up with her and it did not feel like it had been more than two years since I last saw her. I really enjoyed being able to chat with her and having Katie there was also really nice~ We also brought up JT (my other summer RD) whom she has not had a chance to see in a while… Addie and I are going to try to set up a meet up between JT and Madeline and us sometime in January during our break. I cannot even imagine how it will feel like meeting up with him! Having both of them in the same room, crazy stuff!


Well, that is all for this post~ I hope you enjoyed~ It was definitely a day for the books– a great way to start off my winter break. Keep following for my blog for posts like this one!~

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Summer 2016 Reunion at Sookmyung Women’s University {11/09/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

11/09/18 Friday

Friday was honestly a blur. I was lost in Philosophy {as always}. Though, we did watch a documentary in the second half of the class which was a nice change. It was about different education systems being compared to Korea’s—very interesting. They even had a segment on gap years and I was sitting there smiling like a fool feeling grateful that I even have the opportunity to do this.


Economics was not too memorable. I was able to understand some of the teacher’s stories which made me proud. {Mostly because I could laugh along with the students} The best part of the class; however, was being able to talk to 세림. We talked during the whole break. This time we talked about our siblings and what they are doing right now. Funnily enough, we both have siblings studying to be dentists!

Lunch was fun because Katie and I got to eat with our big group of friends. Lunch wasn’t too filling so we all met up at 서린’s locker later to steal some of her birthday snacks.

After lunch was sociology and then my Mentorship class. Wow, I love the girls in my group, we could literally make any topic fun! We discussed the differences between academy {학원} teachers and normal school teachers in Korean and the different ways respect is shown in the Korean and American education system. While we were talking about these things, 규원 and 주연 then started {playfully} arguing about which type of teacher they would rather be; they were getting heated and it was hilarious. Then randomly during the conversation 주연 screams and says she thought she heard a rat. So then 규원 goes on to mock 주연 and ask her what a rat sounds like. They are such a fun group.

My last class of the day was English and we just discussed the last chapter of our novel Exit West {still salty that I never got to read it….} But when I walked into class, I see “We need more time” scribbled in giant letters on the dry erase board. When Andrew walks in, we all start singing Happy Birthday to 서연. She then makes a wish which was to push back the due date of the essay. This was all hilarious! Andrew laughed at it too {and later pushed back the deadline for them by two days}. This was definitely something my class would do in AP Lang and Lit so it was nice to see the struggling student symbol be universal.

Once class was over, Katie and I took the bus to 연신내역 together. We got 호떡 together and tried to withdraw money for me {RIP the bank near 연신내역 doesn’t accept foreign card!} I rode the subway with Katie till her station and then transferred to be on my way towards 숙대역 in order to meet up with Addie and Jessica for a NSLI-Y 8 reunion!

While on the train, 민정쌤 sent out our monthly evaluations based on our unit tests. I was so afraid of reading it because 민정쌤 personally wrote in the email that I shouldn’t be upset at my grade {because she knew I would be} because it doesn’t matter. This really worried me and I opened the attachment while my heart was practically beating out of my chest.

I was shocked to see that I had moved up from my pre-OPI score. I could have cried in that moment if Katie and I were not on a train with a bunch of strangers. I was shocked because I didn’t think I could possibly be at that level yet {comparing myself to my classmates who were at that level coming into the class}. My teacher roasted me plenty in the comment section, however.

She said that I need to practice using the 습니다 form and mastering many basic beginner and intermediate grammar points {Which I knew}. She also said that I can be talkative when I’m leading a conversation or talking about something familiar but when it comes to speaking in class, I only participate when called upon to. {It is something I need to work on—confidence} But besides the many critiques embedded in the comments, she also praised me for studying so hard. I had a smile for the rest of the ride~

Addie and I got there the earliest so we changed out of our uniforms and walked along the streets of 숙대 together. The streets we walked down so often during the summer. I tried looking for my favorite cafe {Cafe Areca} but couldn’t find it… I’m really upset about it.. I’m hoping they moved locations? Ahhh this is depressing. (Good news! I left a comment on their Instagram and they did move locations! Thankfully!! I will have to visit at least once before I leave!

But eventually, Jessica showed up and she ran towards me and Addie. I embraced her in a giant hug! I couldn’t believe we were meeting after two years {so blessed to be still connected with some NSLIYians~} We decided to eat all you can eat Korean barbecue at a place that all of us had visited back during our days as 숙대 students. I went there once, on the last week of the program I think, with Abby, Yves, and Sofia {Link to that post here!} They upped the price to $11 {so one more dollar than two years ago} but I was still content! That’s a good price for so much food and filling up on meat at that. We talked while Jessica mostly grilled and fed Addie and me well~ I finally got to hear about Jessica’s life at 연세 and she even told us about her interesting yet kind of complicated love life. Addie and I updated her on our NSLI-Y struggles and some tea that we had. We laughed a lot!!!

After eating meat, it was still pretty early {cheers to weekend curfew being 11 pm} so we went to the 설빙 {another place we frequented using the summer program} and got some 티라미수빙수 (Tiramisu Bingsu). We talked a lot more and laughed our heads off in that cafe. We were definitely fulfilling the obnoxious foreigner stereotype at that moment.


Jessica & Addie ❤ ❤ ❤

The night was over as quickly as we finished our 빙수 {I’m sorry was that cheesy?} and I had to rush back home to make it in time for curfew as I live a good ways away from 숙대 now. Especially because I didn’t know how to transfer on the right line at Seoul Station…so I got on a line that added some minutes to my commute time. {But don’t worry, I made it home right by 11 pm!}

It was a night of reminiscing and making new memories~ I cannot wait to meet up with them all again very soon~ That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed!

  • Emma 엠마

10 Things to Eat in Seoul, South Korea!!~ {서울에서 먹을 수 있는 10가지 일들}

안녕하세요 여러분!~ To go along with my blog post about ten things to do in Seoul, South Korea, I thought I would also write a blog post about ten things to Eat in Seoul, South Korea. The way to my heart is definitely food and there was never a lack of delicious food in Seoul. On every single block, there will be restaurants, cafes, and convenience stores galore! Sometimes looking at the menu and choosing what to eat can be pretty difficult. So hopefully some of these foods will make it on your “food bucket list!”

(1. 빙수 (Korean Shaved Ice Dessert – bing-soo)

  • Bingsu is a summertime favorite for Koreans and tourists alike. (It definitely stole my heart!) It is a shaved ice dessert topped with a variety of things: condensed milk, fruit, nuts, cake pieces, chocolate, red bean, and more. I like to describe eating bingsu like eating sweet snow. Though it is shaved ice, it does not resemble the crunchy, hard shaved ice found in the states. It is softer and more flavorful and that is why it is so very delicious!


(2. 돈까스 (Fried Pork Cutlet – ton-ka-seu)

  • I believe Donkatsu is originally a Japanese dish, but Korea has created its own version of it. This is such an unhealthy meal but that is what makes it so delicious. Donkatsu is a fried pork cutlet which is usually served plain; however, you can also find some tasty spin-offs like Cheese Donkatsu (치즈 돈까스) and Sweet Potato Donkatsu (고구마돈까스). Donkatsu is usually topped with a gravy sauce of sorts or mayonnaise or both! My favorite place to eat Donkatsu is at Kimbap Heaven (김밥천국). Definitely, try it out!~


(3. 삼겹살 (Korean grilled pork belly – sam-gyup-sal)

  • Samgyupsal is fatty pork belly slices that are grilled. It is usually eaten with lettuce (상추), spinach (시금치), garlic (마늘), kimchi (김치), and onions (양파). The leafy vegetables are often used to wrap the meat into a ball. My favorite way to eat samgyupsal is to wrap it with radish (무). Korean barbecue and samgyupsal outside of Korea is delicious but nothing can compare to what you can eat in Korea!


(4. 김밥 (Seaweed rice rolls – gim-bap)

  • 김밥 is a really easy (and usually cheap) meal or snack that is very delicious. Kimbap is basically seaweed rice rolls with various ingredients like egg, tuna, ham, cheese, kimchi, carrots, radish, cucumber, and more. It is often compared to sushi rolls except that kimbap is not made with raw fish or seafood. Kimbap Rolls are a quick meal to eat on the go and can be purchased at convenience stores. 삼각김밥 (Triangle Kimbap) is the popular type of kimbap that can be purchased at a convenience store for very cheap. When you are low on cash, want some fresh, healthy food, or need some portable food for a busy lifestyle or picnic, Kimbap Rolls are the way to go!


(5.  국수/면류 (Noodles – gook-soo/myun-ryu)

Noodles are a staple of Korean cuisine and many dishes focus around all types of noodles: buckwheat noodles, wheat flour noodles, and even sweet potato noodles. They fill you up really well and are also super tasty!~ There are so many noodle options in Korea. And you can even get other cultures’ noodles very easily as Korea has a very diverse range of noodle selections: Japanese, Chinese, Italian, etc. Even simple ramen from the convenience store can prove to be delicious– especially if you are hungry. Just make sure to read whether the noodles are spicy or not, you do not want to accidentally take part in the fire noodle challenge XD !!


(6. 치킨 (Fried Chicken- chi-kin)

The combo of Chicken and Beer is a beloved one. The slang for this combo is 치맥 (chi-maek). But besides being a good food to eat whilst drinking, fried chicken is enjoyed by Koreans of all ages. Korea has normal fried chicken like KFC chicken, but Korea also has their own version of fried chicken– and it is delicious. The batter is different and a lot of times, the chicken is covered in pepper flakes to make it spicy. Radish is also often paired with fried chicken to compliment its flavors. The best fried chicken in Korea, hands down, is at 교촌 치킨 (kyo-chon chi-kin). And if you do not like spicy, you can always get the original or honey flavored chickens.


(7. 와플/토스트 (Waffles/Toast – wa-peul/to-seu-teu)

I never really thought about turning waffles and toast into desserts–and that the transformation would end well–before visiting South Korea. But now, if I am being honest, all waffles should be sweet! You can get waffles on the street or in cafes covered with sweet syrups, cinnamon, whipped cream, and chocolate. Toasts also come in a wide variety of flavors and are mostly cafe dishes but you can find some toast vendors on the street.


(8. 떡볶이 (Spicy Rice Cakes – ddeok-bok-ki)

Ddeokbokki is probably one of the most famous dishes of Korea. It is the dish foreigners usually first learn about, and Korea makes sure to advertise it on every travel show and brochure. Ddeokbokki can come in different forms with some being in a liquid based sauce while others are dry. My favorite way to eat ddeokbokki is with ramen. Cheese ddeokbokki is also very tasty~ And you can not have ddeokbokki without fish cakes too!


(9. 버블티 (Bubble Tea – buh-beul-tee)

Bubble tea can be an oddity to Americans who have never tried it, but once you do, your whole life will change. Bubble tea is a tea-based drink with milk and tapioca balls (Though you can see a shop on every block in Korea, this drink was actually created in Taiwan.) In most shops, you can ask to change the amount of sugar and ice in your drink which can really alter the flavor of your drink. It all depends on how much of a sweet tooth you are. And if you say you drink bubble tea, but that you do not eat the pearls… you are a disgrace.


(10.  길거리 음식 (Street Food – gil-geo-ri eum-sik)

The concept of street food can be found in other cities– like New York where you can buy hot dogs for cheap or a nice smoothie. But, there are other places, like Chicago, where street food is not as common as an occurrence. Luckily, Koreans love their street food and there is always lots of it! Especially at night at the most crowded popular places. You can get things ranging from 붕어빵 with red bean or custard to spicy chicken, egg bread, candied strawberries, octopus, 번데기 (silkworm pupae), and ice cream. This type of food is rarely healthy but it can be cheap and a perfect sidekick to a night of shopping.



And that is all I have in store for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading about foods you must try while you are in Korea. I did not want to do too many of the more popular foods– like bibimbap or kimchi–but I had to include some famous ones: ddeokbokki, samgyupsal, and kimbap. I also hope you did not read this at midnight or on an empty stomach… if you did, I am sorry. Book a flight to Korea right now!

  • Emma (敏娜)

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)







Last Day in South Korea & Flying Home (August 13th, 2016)

Saturday (08/13/16) was the last day of my NSLI-Y Korea Summer (Seoul edition) 2016. The day started out bright and early with me waking up to take a shower before all my roommates (and the extra people in the bedroom) woke up. I finished packing all my belongings and sorting through all the thank you letters I had written before any of the girls woke up (which is crazy because if it was any other day of the summer, I would have slept in as long as possible). Room check this morning was hectic as I forgot to put away the gifts so when Maris opened the door for our resident directors, I dashed to the shelves to hide them with my body. They didn’t notice, luckily, though we did get in trouble for allowing Joy, Casey, and Sofia to sleep in our room. Our RDs told us that breakfast was in another room on the floor above us and that we had to bring our bags down to the lobby soon. I got the breakfast for everyone and we were having muffins from Paris Baguette again as well as apple and grape juice.

After we ate breakfast and brought all our suitcases to the lobby, we were given two hours to leave the premises and do whatever we wanted to do before lunch would be served in the hostel. I went off with Sofia, Angie, and Jodi to Myeongdong and explore some more. I was able to get us there quickly as I had just done the same trip the day before.

We stopped at a convenience store (for duh banana milk) and then walked the main shopping streets of Myeongdong. Sofia and I wanted bingsu for the last time but we had no memory of ever seeing a Sulbing in Myeongdong and we were not quite sure what other cafes sold good ones. We then saw Gongcha and decided to get Bingsu from there as we had it before and it was quite unique… like silk bingsu… if that makes any sense (it probably doesn’t). We ordered a Taro Bingsu and I also got the matching bubble tea drink (the last time I would be having both of these lovely foods that summer). Jodi and Angie bought some KFC chicken and brought it on over to us at Gongcha and we all ate together.


We were all alone on the second floor


Taro (silk) bingsu with boba and cheese cake cubes

We also stood and watched some street performances as well. There was a group of three girls and a guy as well as this trio of little girls with their “lead” being a bit older. I want to insert the video footage but my blog, unfortunately, doesn’t support videos.


They were really cute!

When we got back to the hostel we got to have lunch. I was really hungry as only having bingsu did not fill me up. I packed a lot of things on my tray but when I sat down to finally eat, I had no appetite whatsoever. I tried eating but I couldn’t. I ended up giving most of my food to my friends and I was only able to stomach the soup and some rice.


Ham and veggies, sweet potatoes (고구마), kimchi (김치), rice(밥), and fried tofu soup




After lunch, we turned in our program phones, phone chargers, and T-Money Cards and then started grabbing our suitcases and getting into one of the two shuttle buses that were waiting outside for us. I didn’t want to sit down in the shuttle so I left my group and my seatmate Sofia and just left to hang out in the lobby with Ari 쌤 until all the NSLI-Y8 kids had retrieved their bags and made their way to their own shuttle bus. Then, it was realized that there were too many bags and they wouldn’t all fit underneath the shuttle bus in the bag compartment. So I helped JT and our program photographer put the extra baggage onto the bus in empty seats. Then, we were on our way.


Our shuttle bus


Our Bus~

The shuttle bus ride was sad but also happy as we never failed to make each other laugh even at the grimmest of times. I mostly talked to 나무 (Yves) and Jesse during the ride. We (plus Sofia) started singing our talent show song that even JT sang along and swayed his arms too. One funny conversation from the shuttle ride was when two of the suitcases fell out from the seat and into the aisle. JT exclaims “Where did these come from?” and Sofia (oh the dear friend she is) replies, “You see JT… When two bags love each other very much…” JT laughs and quickly declares “That is against program rules!” And 나무 completely puts us in a laughing fit when he interjects with “It is an extreme sport!” This was so funny to us because, in the many hours of orientation, we learned that any extreme sport (skateboarding, skydiving, rock climbing, etc) were wrong. Inside NSLI-Y joke. One day, I hope you can have the chance to understand 😉


Yves being Yves


View out the shuttle bus window

We got to the airport and Sofia and I helped unload the suitcases from the shuttle bus. We ended up standing around in the airport for so long while everyone checked their bags and did all the “fun” (HAH) airport stuff. Finally, when everyone’s bags got taken care of, we started moving along. JT came with us all the way to the security line (He would not be going back to Seattle with us; he was going to stay in Seoul.) and read us this long letter from him to us about how thankful he was for this summer.

His letter was a TEAR JERKER! I cried so much as it was very cute and really sweet of him to do. (Especially when he said his usual “See You Later” in his British/American/Korean English accent. JT started crying at the end of the letter and Madeline started crying too. They must have gotten so close in Korea… I was last in the security line and I hugged JT and gave him my thank you letter I had written to him. I was crying and so he told me “엠마 울지 말고!” (Emma Don’t Cry) which only made me cry even more. JT continued to tear up and said: “My tears are spicy.” Madeline laughs at this and replies “You mean salty.” JT took off his glasses, wiped his eyes and goes “No, they burn my eyes!”


Waiting to get on the plane to Seattle

The plane ride (as well) was very difficult and sad. The minute the plane took off, I was holding hands with Sofia and we both cried together (as I assume most Nsliyians were doing at that point in time).

But, we made the most of our plane ride (and the last hours I had with my new best friend Sofia). One funny thing that happened was that the flight attendants were speaking Korean and then they heard us speak in Korean as well. One of the flight attendants said, “They understand Korean, better be careful of what we say, ladies.” The plane ride was also spent having a jam session with Sofia and 나무 behind us. We were listening to kidzbop. We whipped and we nae nae’d so hard that we got stares from Koreans (and fellow Nsliyians). Casey judged me A LOT. But if I am being honest, most of the plane ride was sad and mopey. I slept most of the time. When dinner time rolled around, Sofia and I both got 비빔밥. I started crying again when I started eating the bibimbap as It was my first Korean meal and it would be the last (of this trip).


I got the window seat this time around


30 minutes till Seattle :,(


Airplane food (dinner)


We finally got to Seattle and we actually had gone back in time (It was still August 13th but at the time of arrival, it was around 1pm. Getting through the Seattle airport was pretty messy as our RD had to go back on the plane with a student and everyone was confused, dazed, and feeling down. At one point in time, all the kids flying on Delta were separated from the group and because of this, we were not able to say goodbye fully. No one knew that they would be going somewhere else to get their bags and so it was a very abrupt ending with those Nsliyians (though I did sneak past the security guard and gave a few final hugs especially to Sofia.) However, some of us were able to meet back up at the gates. Once we made past the check in, all the Nsliyians met up in a fast food joint and just hung out together as individuals or groups would leave one by one as their flights took off. I was waiting in the airport with the other Chicago airport Nsliyians for around 4 hours but I valued the extra time with all my friends. I also got to hang out and say goodbye to Madeline one last time (and give her my thank you card). She was also thinking of me as she asked me if I had said goodbye to Sofia properly (as she was a part of the Delta crew) and she looked reassured to know that we got to say goodbye.


Saha and I

I ended up arriving in Chicago a little bit before midnight. I walked with all the other Chicago/Wisconsin (Angie :P) Nsliyians (Angie, Kyle, and Arjun) to baggage claim. I stood around with Angie and met her parents. We all talked until I saw my mom walk through the doors. I did that thing they do in the movies (basic) and ran to her with tears streaming down my cheek. The ride home was awkward. I sat in the back and everything was completely dark. I tried to stay straight faced and stoic in the back seat but I couldn’t help but tear up when certain memories came into my mind. I arrived home after midnight and my mom gave me some chicken noodle soup. I had trouble eating it because it was so salty. I then went to bed because I needed to get back on a good sleep schedule. I only had the Sunday and Monday to do so because my junior year of high school was starting on Tuesday.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this sappy, emotional post. Do not forget to subscribe to my blog. I will not be posting any more days in Korea (as I have written about all of them) but I will still be making posts about other opportunities I come across as well as other travel things. I will also still be posting Korea content such as lists, help for future applicants and other sentimental things… You will have to subscribe to see!

  • Emma (엠마)


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)

Night at The Seoul International Youth Hostel (August 12th, 2016)

Friday Afternoon (08/12/16) was a time for all the NSLI-Y scholars to spend the last couple of hours with their host families. Most went on their last cultural excursions or simply had lunch with their families one last time; however, not everyone’s host family could make time to do this. Both of my host parents had to get to work and so my last meal with them was yesterday night. Therefore they brought my luggage to the university and I was told I would make my way to the hostel with the help of one of the supporters. I wasn’t the only one, though. I was traveling with Nicole and there were about three other students who were hanging out with their supporters because their host families were busy. It was around lunch time when the ceremony ended so I went along with some supporters and our program photographer to get some lunch at one of the restaurants close to the university. It was such a hassle heading to the restaurant because we couldn’t leave our bags at the school; therefore, we had to carry them to the restaurant which was not easy. Not even that, but the restaurant they chose was on the second floor of a building so we had to carry all of our bags up the stairs (I am really surprised no one got hurt…) The lunch was nice even though I was really quiet in the beginning. (I didn’t know any of the supporters before this lunch and I was also still pretty sad about all the goodbyes and not being able to spend the rest of the day with my host family.) We went to Bbalbong. I ordered this dish of Ddeokbokki (떡볶이) and Donkatsu (돈까스) which also came with french fries, a salad, a small chicken leg, and white rice (staple). It was all very filling and delicious too! I was also able to handle the heat brought by the 떡볶이 (Spicy rice cakes). Once we got some food, I found some energy and started engaging in conversation with the other supporters and my fellow classmate Nicole. We talked about our favorite memories from Korea and even some “gossip” like who we think had feelings for each other.


Afterward, we continued to walk down the main street and we went into a couple of stores to pass the time. We also had to stop at a glasses store as Trudi (one of the girls whose host family also had to work) needed to pick up new contacts. That store though… was so aesthetically pleasing. The shelves were so organized!



띵똥와플 (Ding Dong Waffle) sprang up out of nowhere. It only started to be built a week ago and it already looked like this. Unfortunately, it wasn’t done in time for us to try out the waffles… and they look so good!~


The famed egg blow up (I loved seeing it this summer!)

I took a taxi with one supporter (I forget whose supporter she was… but she was in my group back at the HanMi Camp as well.) to the Hostel we were staying at again. It was my first time in a taxi in Korea and it was a very nice experience. My Korean was the best it has ever been and I was able to have a good conversation with the driver about my skills and my time in Korea. He was very surprised to hear that I was only a high school student. When we got back to the hostel, we were one of the first ones there and our rooms were not even ready yet so we had to drop off our luggage in the lobby. I hung out in the lobby with the supporters and Nicole until a couple other NSLI-Y kids came back from lunch with their host fam. I believe the time everyone was supposed to back was 5pm. Abby showed up after her host mom and sister came and one of our program coordinators told us that we were allowed to leave the hostel, as long as we came back home by 5pm. I went with Abby, Nicole, Trudi, and a few of the supporters to Myeongdong which was a close walk and subway ride away from the hostel (well the main shopping area). We spent the next two hours walking around, talking, and hanging out around the area. It was great because I thought I had already made my last visit to Myeongdong but it looked like it really wasn’t the last (for the summer). We came home just in time for our rooms to be ready and we got to carry our luggage up once the room keys were administered (there was only one per room… it was weird having all the power haha). We were not in the same rooms from the beginning of the summer but we had the same room mates (so in my room there was Me, Angie, Jodi, Jane, Rhea, Grace, Maris, and Jessica). For dinner, our program totally spoiled us! They ordered each room a box of Korean fried chicken and a box of pizza (we got the plain cheese pizza but they also were giving out sweet potato pizza). It was a lot of fun to pig out on all this food while spending some of the last moments in Korea with the same people who I started out the summer with (Read about those nights here and here).


Sofia taking candids XD


Me writing a thank you letter to Madeline while Jodi is cooling down (Our room was very WARM!~)

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Hostel Dinner (Photo Creds: Nicole)

That night was also very hectic as I was running around the whole hostel (with Sofia at times) to finish up our group presents to our resident directors Madeline and JT. So earlier in the week Sofia and I visited the Morning Glory (A Korean Stationery Store) in Hongdae trying to find a group gift for our RDs. We were able to find these really pretty jars filled with these tiny messages/scrolls. We thought it would be a very fun idea to have every student in the program write a message for our RDs and put it in the bottle. And that is what we planned to do.


One of the Jars we bought~

The night before the graduation ceremony, Sofia and I fixed up the bottles by putting in mostly “masculine ” colors in one jar for JT and we put all the other pastel-colored scrolls into a jar for Madeline. We also had to count out 50 scrolls for each jar to make sure it would be ready (but we kept the access in a baggie just in case some accidents were made… and there were PLENTY). Then, at night at the hostel, Sofia and I went around to every room and placed scrolls on the vanity to have all kids fill them out with short messages. You would probably think the rest of it would be easy… but it was not! I had to follow and stalk so many people trying to get them to write their message before the curfew. I literally had a list of people that didn’t hand in their scrolls yet and I had to track them down. Not only that, but getting the scrolls from the boys rooms was even more difficult because every time I would head up to their floor… JT was there. One time Kenwoo told me the coast was clear and when I came up to collect their scrolls, JT opened the door (I quickly and quietly rolled the jar down the hall… I do not think he saw me.) But he did notice that I was acting funny since he told me not to worry. He promised that everyone in the room was decent XD Eventually, however, I was able to collect all 50 and fill up the jars to look all pretty.

That night was spent mostly switching between hanging out in the lobby with my resident directors and Ari 쌤, talking with my roommates, collecting scrolls for our group presents, and hanging out in the “lounge” area of our floor. We all stayed up until past midnight just chatting. We had a curfew but we were allowed to go to other rooms even if it was past curfew (which is why Joy, Casey, and Sofia hung out with my roommates). The last night in Korea was spent well and I am glad I got to spend it with so many people that influenced me and made this summer one of the bests. (Actually… I think it earns the title of the BEST SUMMER EVER!) The next morning we would be waking up in Korea for the last time leaving for the states in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading~ And I hope you enjoyed~ 안녕 친구들!

  • Emma (엠마)