Filming 1 Second Video Everyday While Studying Abroad in South Korea // NSLIY Korea AY

Hi Everyone~

So… I did a little thing. While I was studying abroad in Korea with NSLI-Y for a full year (2018-2019), I filmed short video clips every single day with my tiny, almost non-functioning iPod Touch. Some of these videos were one second long but others were closer to 3-6 seconds to be honest… As the year went on, it was harder and harder to decide what exact clips to include in the video compilation.

At our end of the year graduation ceremony, we had a ‘talent segment’ or something along the lines of that and since I have no creative nor worthwhile talents, I decided to just give a short speech in Korean and then filled the rest of the time with my video! So please enjoy:

https://youtu.be/ivxH7JuJa6c

  • Emma 엠마

Reflecting on Studying Abroad in South Korea for a Year // NSLIY Korea AY 2018-2019

안녕하세요 여러분~ 한국에서 썼던 모든 글을 아직 안 올렸는데 오늘은 다른걸 하기로 했다. 미국에 돌아온지 2달 전에는 저와 느슬리 학생들이 우리 유학 생활에 대한 반성을 써야 하고 나서 더나은 세상 조직이 우리 생각을 수집해서 어떤 책을 만들었다. 며칠 전에 방을 봄청소하기 위해서 정리하다가 저의 책을 찾았다! 당연히 브로그 글을 읽어 보다 보면 제가 유학 동안 재미있는 추억을 만들고 고생을 껵은 것을 잘 알 것 같은데 그외에 제가 경험이 얼마나 특별한지 표현하기가 너무 어렵다. 경험이 말로 못할 만큼 특별했는데도 이 반성은 자랑스럽다. 그리고 여기까지 보시다시피 제 브로그 글의 대부분은 영어로 쓰기는 했지만 이따금 한국어를 쓰지 않다면 모든 것을 잊어버리다는 것이 당연하다. (사실 솔직히 말하면 벌써 한국어 실력이 완전히 떨어졌다ㅜㅜ 아직 잘 한척하고 있는데 강한 자신감이 필수다!) 그런데! 이 반성은 영어로 쓰여져 있다 ㅋㅋ 재미있게 읽으시길 바랍니다~

Hi Everyone~ I still haven’t uploaded all of the blog posts I wrote in Korea just yet but today I decided to do something a little different. 2 months before returning to the states (back in 2019), the NSLI-Y students and I had to write reflections on our study abroad experiences, and then Better World compiled those writings and made a sort of book. The other day I was cleaning my room for those ~spring cleaning~ vibes and while organizing, I found my copy! Of course, if you read my blogs, you can get a good sense of all the fun memories I have made and even the struggles I have faced while studying abroad but besides that, expressing just how valuable of a experience this was to me is quite difficult. Although I cannot express these feelings in any amount of words, I am proud of what I detailed in my reflection. And as you can see thus far, most of my blog posts are written in English but if I do not practice my Korean every now and then, I will definitely forget everything! (Actually if I am being honest, my Korean skills have already plummeted…I am just pretending to be good. Confidence is KEY!) But this reflection is written in English. So without further ado, I hope you enjoy reading~ Thanks!

(P.S. Added Photos to Make it Fun!)

Emma’s NSLI-Y Korea AY Program Reflection:

My Greatest Endeavor Yet

An electronic voice declares that we have reached 연서시장 before the bus abruptly comes to a stop. After catching my balance and tapping my T-Money card, I hop off the bus– my nose immediately being greeted by the smell of raw fish. The bus ride turned into the hustle and bustle of a Korean market at a moment’s notice. Shopkeepers yell out competing prices as the smell of greasy yet delicious 분식 tempts the taste buds of every passerby. Katie and I find our favorite stall and are greeted with the warm, contagious smile of the vendor. We order 떡볶이 and 튀김 and immediately begin filling up cups with 오뎅국물– a habit that can be considered second nature to us by now.

Before I studied abroad, I heard the phrase “Study Abroad Will Change Your Life” countless times. Everyone seems to mutually agree that this experience you are about to embark on will be unforgettable and life-changing… which can be kind of intimidating: trying to imagine how something can affect you to such a great extent before it has even happened. Now that the NSLI-Y program is coming to an end, I have come to the realization that this statement appeared so daunting because I viewed study abroad as one big thing; however, rather than solely one event, it is the experiences and little moments that culminated into something overarching.

Through this program, I have learned to be independent, resourceful, self-motivated, more confident, and even how to (somewhat) budget money. But excluding all of that, I am most thankful for the way that this experience has enabled me to appreciate the little things in life–and not take even everyday things for granted.

Especially when things would become too overwhelming and frustrating. There were plenty of occasions during these 9 months that left me feeling defeated and dejected. Times when my efforts to learn Korean seemed futile or when the yearning to return home became too much. Tears were shed, and at times, I even wished that I had started college right away and chosen a normal path. Nonetheless, I was able to overcome all of these things by focusing on the present, on what was happening in front of me: the things I should be grateful for. 

I focused on the way my host siblings would barge into my room while I was studying hoping to steal my attention for just a few moments, the way my host mom would prepare me snacks and tea when she thought I needed an extra boost of energy, the way my friends at 하나고 would come to class early and save me seats with their textbooks to make sure that we could sit together, the way my NSLI-Y cohort could get me to erupt in laughter for seemingly stupid things, and the way my older host sister would put pieces of meat in my rice bowl to make sure that I was getting enough food to eat.

I focused on the smiles and warm welcomes of the workers from my most visited hole-in-the-wall café, 편의점, Twosome Place, and 녹차호떡 stand; the laughing fits that I would get into during lunch time with my group of high school friends that would sometimes prevent me from being able to finish all my food; the licks to my face from my host dog every single day I walked in through the door after being away for a little too long; the wonderful feeling of satisfaction after successfully utilizing a newly learned grammar point or a difficult vocab word in conversation with a Korean person; the beautiful natural and manmade scenery of places all throughout Seoul (and even a bit beyond); the after monthly-test waffle tradition that perfectly satisfied my sweet tooth while allowing me to stay salty enough to rant; the sprints to the 편의점 during class breaks to buy ice cream or whatever other snacks we were feeling that day; and the nights ending with raw, sore throats from spending too much time, talking, screaming, or singing with all my friends.

I focused on every seemingly trivial conversation, every tangent in Korean class, every cultural excursion, every by chance meeting, every major milestone, and every comfort-zone-tested moment. 

And just like the final drops of 오뎅국물–straight from a plastic cup and all– I will cherish every remaining moment in Korea. 

Having devoured all of our lunch, we say goodbye to the stall vendor and make our way out of the winding market back to the subway station. Soon enough I will take the subway home from 하나고 for the last time amongst many other final moments, and I know these lasts will be met with many tears; however, I find comfort that these tears do not come from a place of regret. They come from a place of utter gratefulness for being given this unforgettable and life-changing opportunity. 

END

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.

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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.

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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)

NSLI-Y Korea Summer 2018 Pre-Departure Orientation {Alumni Leader – Part 2}

안녕하세요 여러분~

Tuesday 06/26

The first full day of PDO (at least for the New NSLI-Yians) started bright and early. After breakfast, presentations of all different types were scheduled from 9 am onward.

 

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Ready for a long day of presentations!!!

The day started off with a video call presentation by the Department of State’s Christopher Schwab. He talked about the Department of States expectations for NSLI-Y and its programs as well as the importance of each and every program. (He also talked at length about the geopolitics concerning the US and North and South Korea.)

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After the presentation from the Department of State, we began a session called “The Intentional Language Learner” which focused on how to set goals, manage expectations, as well as general NSLI-Y goals regarding language acquisition.

 

The students shared their “Smart” Goals which were prepped before they arrived at PDO. They were told to try to make goals for their program that followed the SMART acronym.

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Relevant

T = Time-bound

 

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OPI Scale (Novice Low to Distinguished)

Ligaya then went over the OPI scale. Before we headed out for lunch, the students were allowed to check their OPI scores with their resident director Minjeong. iEarn discussed reasonable expectations for language skill improvement. According to iEarn, a student that began at novice low succeeded in reaching the program’s expectations if they were able to reach novice high– anything above that was surpassing expectations. They also made sure to let students know that the higher a student places on the OPI scale pre-program, the fewer levels they will probably move up/ are expected to move up.

The second session of the day was “The Flexible & Open-Minded Cultural Explorer” Minjeong went over culture shock and how to deal with it as well as Mental Health while abroad.

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We liked to call this the Stress Tornado

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Shown in the picture above is the NSLI-Y students playing this game that I really can only describe as a demonstration of differing perspectives and cultures. Each student was given a slip of paper and on that paper, there was a statement that revealed a pet peeve or something the individual should now consider disrespectful. For example, some slips of paper may have said “Not making eye contact” or “fidgeting” or “interrupting.” Each student was also given a pile of toothpicks to hand out to the other students they interact with if they do anything that does against the statement on their slip of paper.

The NSLI-Y students walked around having conversations and handed out toothpicks to their partners. Each individual was supposed to try to figure out what the other partner had as their “pet peeve.” Some were easier to guess than others–especially when there were certain statements that were about such subtle, natural things like fidgeting or playing with one’s hair. This activity was done to showcase and highlight the subtleties of different cultures and interactions between people in different societies. It made the students more aware of themselves within a larger entity.

After this activity, we moved on to lunch and the final three sessions of the presentation day: The Model Citizen Ambassador, The Safe & Savy Traveler, and The Thoughtful & Engaged Host Student.

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I love Kahoot! We did not play this during my PDO 😛

Alicia (American RD) went over the program rules, expectations, as well as how communication will work during the program. After we discussed everything about safety and security, we played a Kahoot game. It was actually really fun seeing everyone being so competitive in order to win. (Dio also took out his phone to play… but let us just say we probably disappointed the iEarn staff with our low place… XD )

One thing that I thought went really well was the conversation the staff led about preventing sexual abuse and harassment. They went through a presentation slideshow on signs of sexual abuse (what is okay or not okay) as well as ways to report it.

We also discussed being homosexual in Korea and the stigma that can revolve around that. I know during my summer PDO, we glossed over this topic. We only had a small booklet about it that was given to us before the program.

We also talked about race in Korea. We discussed Korean beauty standards that praise pale skin and how that can cause stigma against darker skin tones. These discussions were very compelling to be a part of, and I was happy that the RDs took the time to bring awareness to these taboo topics rather than push it under the rug for the students to figure out along the way on the program.

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My Presentation ❤

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Example Slide~

The last session of the day was a presentation that I made about living with a host family! I presented about common host family issues (and how to solve them), tips for living with a host family, as well as useful phrases to use with your host family. I also shared plenty of stories about my host family to the students. (Glad I got them to laugh at my failures and my host brothers’ shenanigans.)

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After all the presentations, it was 5pm which means dinner time! I ended up going with Dio to take a group of students to the University District so that they could grab some food (Though I went with Alice and Calista back to the university to eat dinner at the cafeteria because it was free!)

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Dinner with Alice!~

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The view from the cafeteria! Wowww

After dinner, Alice and I walked around campus and got some more ice cream because why not! We saved money on our dinner 😉

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Another amazing view!!~ ❤

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Alicia (the resident director) decided that the students would spend their final night at PDO watching a Korean drama together! She hooked up her laptop to the TV in the lounge and played the first episode of a really old Korean drama that was not popular– but it was hilarious! We all sat on the floor or couches wearing our pajamas enjoying this show. I thought it was such a cute bonding gesture between the RD and her students. It was a nice way to end the night!

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After the drama, Dio and I did some room checks which meant making sure everyone was in their designated room by 10 pm. I checked about 12 rooms for the girls while Dio checked all the boys’ rooms. Dio joked about him being really good at room checks and that it was a sign that he would be a good resident director too. I laughed at the idea (jk I love you Dio ❤ haha)

Wednesday 06/27

Today was the day the NSLI-Y Summer 10 kids would be flying off to Seoul, South Korea! In the morning we were to meet in the lobby right after breakfast at 8 am; however, we ended up counting the group several times because a couple of people were missing. They were three of the NSLI-Y students and Dio. By 8:15 am Minjeong is getting upset and asking me where Dio was. I messaged him on KakaoTalk and I was like “Dio, where are you?” And he all casually goes “In my room… why?”

But do not worry, he made it down with the other boys in less than 5 minutes. I just laughed at the thought of him being a resident director that is always late.

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They were so excited!!~

We took a large shuttle bus to the airport (all 55 of us) and arrived about 3ish hours earlier than the flight just because getting a large group through an airport and security can be tough. It also gave the students enough time to grab some snacks or an early lunch at the airport if they so chose to.

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I sat by Dio and we talked the entire way~

We played games to pass the time and I talked to a lot of the students (especially Alice and Dio because I am going to miss them!)

Eventually, it was time to say Goodbye to the students as they embarked on their journey!

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Honestly, seeing them all file into the plane was pretty bittersweet (there were tears! From me!) This sight reminded me so much of my NSLI-Y experience and I could not help but think back to the feelings I had when I was traveling to Korea. This reminded me of how fulfilled I felt getting on the plane after grueling over the application and waiting to apply since I was in the 7th grade and first discovered NSLI-Y. Luckily, I could remind myself of the fact that I will return to South Korea, in September even.

After the students left, I hung out with Signe, Ligaya, and Dio until it was time for me to hop on a plane back to Chicago. We got dinner at the airport and just chatted about all sorts of things. We (Dio and I) also tried to teach Signe and Ligaya some letters of the Korean alphabet. They learned pretty fast! And I hope one day they learn Hangul completely.

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Back to Chicago!


This actually has nothing to do with this post but when I arrived back home, I had a lovely package waiting for me from American Councils:

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NSLI-Y Merch !!! ❤

Back in May, Shraddha (NSLI-Y Alum Rep –> Here is her Blog) held a NSLI-Y trivia competition through Kahoot for NSLI-Y alumni and finalists. I, of course, had to participate (rather than study for AP Gov test the following day). But also, I asked her if I could participate so it was not unfair~ And, by some stroke of luck, I ended up winning! So as my prize, I got a NSLI-Y waterbottle (a nice addition to my thermos ^^)

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And that is all for this blog post! My next few blog posts will most likely be about information regarding my NSLI-Y AY program (host school and host family announcements) as well as my last couple events as an alumni representative. Look forward to those! Until next time~ 다음에 봐요!

  • Emma (엠마)

 

Being an Alumni Leader at the Korea Summer 2018 Pre-Departure Orientation {Part 1)

안녕하세요 여러분!~

06/24 (Sunday)

I had a very fun little trip back at the end of June. iEarn flew me out to Seattle, Washington to serve as an alumni leader for their Korea (Seoul) Summer 2018 PDO (alongside fellow alum Dio). I was super excited when I discovered I had been afforded this opportunity~ I tried really hard on the application, so I am glad it worked out!

This year’s program PDO was scheduled for Monday (06/25) to Wednesday (06/27) with the students flying out to Korea late Wednesday morning. However, I and the other staff members and alumni leader arrived in Seattle a day earlier. I thought it was for setting up purposes, but honestly, Sunday turned out to be a very chill, free day.

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On the 4-hour plane ride to Seattle, I decided to study Korean. I wanted to review lots of things as a refresher.

When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted at baggage claim by both Signe (a staff member at iEarn that is one of the individuals in charge of the NSLI-Y programs) and Dio. I have talked to Dio previously but only to congratulate him on also getting into Columbia through Questbridge (You heard that right; We will be going to the same university!), and that was about it. It was really nice to finally get to meet him (in person) and become fast friends!! {You know Dio is going to give me a tour of Columbia later this summer!! ;D }

Our shuttle ride to the airport comprised of Dio and I just sharing stories and our experiences in Korea. We even had an impromptu conversation (all in Korean) about what we did on the plane ride. My Korean was very rusty!!!! But, it was all in good fun and helped me get more comfortable to speak in Korean later that day (and later during this trip).

At the airport, I also got to meet 민정쌤 (Minjeong) who is the Korean RD for the summer 2018 students (She has also been the Korean RD for the summer 2017 students as well as the AY 2017-2018 students.) This was a very exciting meeting because 민정쌤 will be my RD for my gap year abroad in South Korea. I have already had some really great RDs during my NSLI-Y summer program (JT하고 메들린쌤 사랑해요~~), so I was hoping that 민정쌤 would be a great addition. (And, I think this wish is on its way to becoming reality~) I am just glad to have met her early, and I hope we can get close in Korea ❤ ❤ ❤

When we arrived at the University of Washington, the staff members (now joined by Ligaya from iEarn and the American RD Alicia (so sweet as well! She did CLS and Fullbright in Korea!) wanted to have dinner by themselves (they missed out honestly XD Dio and I are greatttt company!) We decided to meet up with another Korea (Seoul) Summer 2017 alum Tierney and get some dinner at the University District. We walked around a bit contemplating what we wanted to eat but eventually, as expected, we settled for some Korean food. (Don’t act like it is a surprise~)

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Campus Tour courtesy of Tierney

We ate at a restaurant called Seoul Tofu House. Tierney swore by its charm and the tastiness of its food. When we entered the restaurant, it was packed full. Luckily, there was only a small table open… just for us it seemed~

 

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Tierney & Dio ❤

I ordered 잡채 (Sweet Potato Noodles) and it was honestly the best one I have had (in America). Dio had 해물파전 (Seafood Pancake) while Tierney ate 갈비탕 (Short Rib Soup).

After our very filling dinner (but kinda lunch???), Tierney made us walk off all our food by taking us off campus to explore a bit. We went to this park called Gas Works. Tierney (our awesome Seattle tour guide– though, she is from Colorado) told us that it used to be a Gas plant of some sort; however, the area was refurbished to be a nice place to relax. It had amazing views! And the bike trail to the park was really nice too! Made me want to go biking (and enabled me to find out that Dio cannot bike nor swim! Columbia will teach him the latter one (or he can’t graduate XD) but I want to teach him how to bike!

 

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Seattle Views ❤

 

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Gas Works

At that park, they also had a silent DJ party which comprised of lots of young adults dancing around on a large grassy hill with black headphones on–no music playing aloud. It reminded me of those silent dances that some high schools have to be inclusive to those individuals on the autism spectrum or others who struggle to deal with loud noises. Though, I believe this was just an initiative to get people outside and moving. (Apparently, they were continuing throughout the summer–every Sunday– and the cost of being a part of it was $5)

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Views from the top of the hill~

We also walked along the water for a bit; the views of the city skyline were gorgeous! We also stumbled upon an engagement photo shoot (Tierney thought it was her English teacher…) and the best thing I saw all day: a photo shoot of a dog dressed up as a sailor.

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After our very long excursion, we returned to the university to see all the staff members on their computers doing work. We chilled in the lobby together for the rest of the night chatting about everything and anything. Dio and I showed Ligaya, Signe, and Minjeong some wholesome memes from the NSLI-Y Meme Facebook page (unofficial). There was a lot of laughter that night.

6/25 (Monday)

Today was the day! The day that the new NSLI-Y Summer students were flying into Seattle! I was so excited to be able to meet all of them~

Dio and I finally got the chance to help out this morning. We set up the tables where the NSLI-Yians would be greeted at. We laid out the 49 name tags onto one table while we folded the many NSLI-Y t-shirts and placed them on the other. Once we got the two tables ready and organized, we did the most intern-like thing possible: we got Minjeong and Signe coffee. iEarn sent us off to pick up chart paper and stickers from Office Max and  Vanilla Lattes from Starbucks.

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I couldn’t wait to welcome the new NSLI-Y students!!!~

Dio’s Google Map skills are decent at best, so it took us a little while to find Home Depot. And afterward, on the way to Starbucks, we forgot whether the staff wanted hot or iced lattes, so Dio texted our PDO group chat asking “Do you want a cold or cold latte?” We didn’t realize that this was the case until Minjeong pointed it out to us… but don’t worry, we ended up getting their HOT vanilla lattes to them as they wished~

When we returned to the UW campus, some NSLI-Y students started to arrive. Dio and I took a few of the recent arrivals out to lunch because they were all hungry as they had some really early flights– with no lunch. Because they were with us, we were allowed to go off campus. After a lot of back and forth on what to eat (we had to convince them not to get Korean food… they were super excited, but we wanted them to cherish their last meals in America!), we decided to get some Vietnamese food.

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This is where we ate! Such a cute little restaurant and the owner was the sweetest!~

We spent a little bit too long enjoying our lunch, so we had to rush back to campus in order to allow Signe and Ligaya to take lunch. Minjeong eventually went to her room to pass out because of the time zone change, so Alicia was the only one with Dio and me as the rest of the students came in.

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Tierney came back out to help us!!~

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I love these two!~ ❤

Alicia focused on getting the students checked into the university’s front desk and bringing them up to their rooms while Dio, Tierney, and I took charge of the tables in the lobby. Tierney handed out name tags while Dio collected their passports and marked them off on the RD’s chart. I gave out the NSLI-Y T-shirts, collected the students’ luggage receipts, and handed out stipends (and luggage reimbursement to those in which it applied).

Eventually, evening rolled around and it was dinner time. Two NSLI-Y students still had not arrived yet because their flights had been delayed by a lengthy amount of time, but dinner and a short segment of PDO went on as planned. We ate pizza out on the patio before beginning the first round of icebreakers. We played a bingo game where each square had a statement (in Korean and English) like 매운 음식을 잘 먹을 수 있어요. (Can eat spicy food well) Then, the point of the game was to find someone who fits that statement and have them sign their name in the square. Afterward, we had to all fit ourselves in a map of the United States based on where we live– without talking! Our map turned out alright… Texas was a bit too close to Florida but heyyy, we tried!

After dinner and a couple icebreakers, Dio and I took a group of the students to get ice cream at the University District, and I finally got some time to hang out with Alice! Alice lives near Chicago (like me) and we met up the week prior in Chinatown. We only met up for a couple of hours, but we were already fast friends!

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We love hipster ice cream! My flavor was called “Dough or Die” !! haha

And that was my first two days in Seattle (including the first day of the Korea Summer 2018 PDO)!!~ This post will HAVE to be in two parts because I am already at 1,600 words and I still have two more days to write about… So until I post the next one 다음에 봐요 친구들!~

Part 2: Coming soon

PS. I also got some more information about my academic year in Korea! I cannot wait to share about that too~ But I think I will wait off on that until I finish posting about PDO~

  • Emma 엠마

 

 

 

NSLI-Y Alumni Bubble Tea Social w/ Midwest DIR: Melissa Martinez {06/01/18}

On the first of June, I was able to partake in my second NSLI-Y alumni event! As an alumni representative for the Great Lakes (Chicago) region, I am expected to organize and carry out such events for the NSLI-Y Alumni, and so I arranged a NSLI-Y Alumni Bubble Tea Social with the Midwest DIR: Melissa Martinez to kick off summer in Chi-town.

The event was scheduled to begin at 2 pm; however, I made my way to Chinatown about an hour and a half earlier in order to meet up with two of my StarTalk classmates Citlali and Bruce (and now NSLI-Y Finalists! They will be going to China this summer!) for lunch. We went to Joy Yee and indulged in Teriyaki Chicken and dumplings. (Didn’t get any pictures though… because we were too busy eating and catching up!)

During the event, NSLI-Y alumni were afforded the opportunity to converse with Melissa Martinez and ask her questions all while enjoying delicious bubble tea. We had deep, engaging discussions that covered topics such as team management, government jobs, Department of State internships, government fellowships, culture shock, being flexible and adaptable, diplomatic experiences, sexism abroad/ in the foreign service, etc.

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At the end of the event, we obviously took some group pictures and then, many of the alumni hung around Chinatown Square to talk. We took some selfies, exchanged social media, and talked about future plans to meet up. It was very fun to be able to meet another handful of alumni in the Chicago area! Especially, Korean Summer 2017 alum Katie because she will be heading to Korea with me in the Fall~ It was great to be able to meet the person I have been messaging on KakaoTalk (and have a 35-day SnapChat streak with…as of now).

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(Back: Citlali & Kristin // Front: Me, Katie, Sydney, Bruce)

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Look at all those countries being represented!!~ (And Melissa could have soooo many flags!)

And that is all for this blog post! This event was very fun and I really enjoyed having a guest speaker and being able to host an event in a more informal environment. Hopefully, I can organize one more event before I leave for Korea! And, maybe I will blog about my outreach at my local StarTalk program– we will see if I have enough to share! Thanks for reading~ I hope you enjoyed!

P.S. NSLI-Y Alumni, make sure you are a part of your regional alumni FB group! This is where you will hear about events such as these~ I hope turnout can continually go up as it has so far! 😉

  • Emma 엠마

Chinese Dragon Lights at Soldier Field in Chicago {April 27th, 2018}

The Dragon Lights was an exhibition of Chinese lanterns, cultural performances, demonstrations, as well as popular products, handicrafts, and food. I found out that this exhibit was coming to Chicago after being bombarded with SnapChat messages from my fellow StarTalk Chinese classmate, and we immediately decided we had to go!

The Dragon Lights exhibited numerous displays of Chinese lanterns: pandas, koi fishes, dragons, bears, Chinese warriors, families, gates, etc. They were very beautiful and intricate! I had never seen anything like them before! I really can’t do much explaining in this post so please, simply, enjoy these photos:

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Spot the difference!

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These dragons were constructed with tiny jars filled with colored liquids!

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There were also cultural performances scheduled throughout each day; however, it was raining while we were there, so they had to cancel some of the performances. Though, we were able to watch two very interesting showcases. I believe the ones we missed were martial art performances.

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Peacock Dance (Chinese Folk Dance)

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The dancer was very thin, but she had such defined back and arm muscles! So talented~ (And she must have been so cold being rained on…)

Besides walking around and catching up with my friend Becca, I think the best part of the exhibition were the stalls with Chinese handicrafts and products. Becca and I pulled out our Chinese skills (if we can even say skills) to talk to the vendors.

It started raining a lot more and it got super cold at the end of the night, so we left early to indulge in Chinese food. The best ending to a great day.

Website of the Dragon Lights: http://dragonlightschicago.com/

  • The Dragon Lights exhibition lasted from March 30th to May 6th

Thanks for reading this post! It is quite late (the last month of senior is crazy, okay!) but better late than never? I have also been really sick these past two days (which is why I was able to write up this post XD) but my next post will be about my second NSLI-Y event! I organized a bubble tea social with a group of alumni as well as the Midwest DIR. Stay tuned!~

  • Emma 엠마

Studying Abroad in South Korea Again? (NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year 2018-2019)

안녕하세요 여러분!~

As evidenced by the title of this blog post and the featured image, I have been afforded the opportunity to yet again study Korean in South Korea thanks to NSLI-Y (The National Security Initiative for Youth). On April 12th, 2018, I received an email in my inbox informing me on my acceptance to the 2018-2019 NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year program!!! This program will enable me to study Korean for 9 months in Seoul, South Korea as a gap year before I begin my time at university.

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The emojis don’t just cover up my personal information; they also represent my exact feelings towards receiving this scholarship!!!~

It has been a little while since I found out for two major reasons: 1. I had to figure out if a gap year was right for me as an individual and a student. 2. I had to make sure that the university I committed to would allow me to defer my admission til the fall of 2019 as well as my scholarship.

The latter proved to be more of a daunting task because I had no idea how to go about asking for a deferral, and the FAQ section of the school’s website was only so helpful.

(Have I mentioned in a blog post where I will be attending college? Well, just in case I haven’t, I will be attending Columbia University in NYC as a QuestBridge Match scholarship recipient. I will be making a post on QuestBridge and my experience when it becomes more applicable– right before applications open, for example.)

It ended up taking about a week to figure out whether or not I could accept my spot on the NSLI-Y Program. This was very stressful and frustrating because it seemed that everyone in our finalist group chat had already been deferred and had accepted the scholarship. I wanted to be excited about the prospect of spending a year in South Korea, but I could not let myself until I knew it was official–because I honestly did not know whether or not I would be accepted. I couldn’t find any information about QuestBridge (Match) Scholars taking gap years, so I went through that one week in the dark and extremely anxious.

One week may not seem like a big deal, but after waiting since November to know of the results of my application, one more week was honestly very torturous.

But, finally, it has been figured out!! And, I will be going to South Korea with NSLI-Y yet again (but this time for 9 months!)

Story Time:

I just wanted to add how/when I found out that I had been accepted into the program! (More so for my remembrance, but hopefully you can find enjoyment or a few laughs from it!)

I was sitting in AP Spanish as my teacher discussed our plans for the Socratic Seminar we would be having after we annotated the reading (It was by a famous Spanish author. Jorge Borges I think?) And like the bad student I am (just kidding), I kept checking my email throughout the class. I truly did not think I was going to get anything because I thought (if they did come out that day) it wouldn’t be til after 3 pm. However, to my surprise, an email was waiting in my inbox with the subject line “NSLI-Y 2018-19 Application Status” and an attached PDF.

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Internally, I freaked out. But I was in class, so I had to contain myself. After class, tears started welling up in my eyes because everything started to become very real as I knew I could now check my email at any moment. I let my Spanish teacher know that I had received an email regarding my gap year (because she supported my wishes to take a gap year since the beginning of the school year) and that I would check it in the bathroom.

She offered her classroom because she did not have a class third period, but I knew I was going to cry (with either decision) and I figured being alone would be best. I went to the least traveled to bathroom in the school and opened the email. I read the first line and literally screamed. I erupted into a crying fit and I could not contain my happiness. I ended up missing the first 40 minutes of my third period class (American Problems) because I went to see my counselor to tell her the great news and calm myself down.

From there I told my friends and my (other) Spanish teacher who wrote the NSLI-Y recommendation for me as well as some teachers who were around. I waited to tell my mom when til I got home because, of course, in person messages are lot better than sharing the news via text message.

So that was how I found out! And I would like to just end this post with how utterly grateful I am to be able to receive another amazing opportunity to study Korean– especially because everything is paid for by the government. I am thankful for everything and everyone! I officially accepted the NSLI-Y scholarship on April 21st, 2018. Therefore, I could finally make this post! To more awesome endeavors in Korea!~

(P.S. I wrote a blog post earlier this year about my AY interview experience, but I will wait on posting it until December or January since it will be more relevant then! I will also post an updated interview tips/advice blog post then too!~ So look out for that– by following my blog!!)

고마워요!~ 다음에 봐요.

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Alumni Dinner Event (Chinatown, Chicago – March 29th, 2018)

안녕하세요 여러분! 你好 朋友们!

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to host an alumni dinner in Chinatown, Chicago (my first in-person event) as part of my role as this year’s Chicago (Great Lakes Region) NSLI-Y Alumni Representative! I had been planning this event for about a month or so and when the date finally came, I was so nervous! I really wanted to make a good impression on the other alumni by organizing a successful first event~~

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Behind the Scenes: Preparation

I took over NSLI-Y’s Snapchat in order to document the event (Follow NSLI-Y on Snapchat: @nsliforyouth) and it was a lot of fun taking photos of the alumni! Plus, their introductory videos were very cute! We had some shy alums but I was glad that they were open to group photos~~

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We started off the dinner event by introducing ourselves. It was interesting to see that we had a variety of alumni eating with us. We had two college graduates, one current university senior, and then two seniors in high school (including me). It was fun hearing about what they had done after their NSLI-Y programs: studying abroad, traveling, interning with the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, working for the Department of State, taking NSLI-Y (target) language classes, and even taking up new languages.

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(Left to Right): Diana {Morocco Summer 2017}, Angela {China Summer 2011}, Teri {Egypt Summer 2010}, Me {Korea Summer 2016}, and Elizabeth {Morocco Summer 2014}.

We discussed Chinese New Year (even though this event is quite a late celebration) and its traditions. We allowed Angela to take the floor and share her experience studying in China. Though this was an event for the Chinese New Year, we still discussed all of our experiences and because the majority of the alumni present were Arabic alumni, I got to hear a lot about the Morocco and Egypt programs.

Till this event, I had not personally talked to any alumni that had participated in the NSLI-Y Egypt programs, so it was very interesting to hear from Teri. Let’s just say that programs have changed so much in comparison to the stories she told…

We talked about our language learning journeys, our host families, and issues of race and identity on program. Our discussions were quite in-depth and stimulating.

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Of course, we also ate plenty of food (too much to be exact!)

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We feasted on a lot of delicious Chinese foods: Beef Fried Rice, Mongolian Beef, Beef & Broccoli, Orange Chicken, General Tso Chicken, Mapo Tofu, and Vegetable Chow Mein.

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Teri, Angela, and Diana enjoying the course!~

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Elizabeth the Model ❤

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Snapchat saw it first!

This event was a lot of fun and I enjoyed meeting these alumni and hearing their stories (while sharing mine as well). I hope that I can hold a few more events so I can connect with as many Chicago alumni as possible! Though we had a few cancellations right before this event, I am proud of the turnout~

To all the NSLI-Y alumni out there, make sure to join your regional alumni Facebook pages! This is where you will be notified about events in your area.

Thank you for reading this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed~ 😉 Don’t forget to subscribe for future posts about events I host as Chicago’s NSLI-Y alum rep as well as other posts about language learning, travel, etc. 다음애 봐요!~

  • Emma 엠마

2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop PT. 3 (Jan 7th, 2018)

The last day of the 2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop proved to be a very fun (yet emotional) day. I was very excited to be spending more time with the people I had been chatting with over Facebook and Instagram for many months leading up to this workshop; however, I was also very sad to think that I had to leave them only having just met them. This would also be my last time as a NSLI-Y Alumni representative as you can only renew the position for one year. I better make the most out of this year and these friendships! 😉

We started off the day eating breakfast at the hotel buffet like previously. This day I ended up sitting with my roommate Selin, Deni, Remi, and Jeremy. I got to hear more about their respective experiences and all about Remi’s adult life– he is the only alumni representative who is out of college with a career.

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Selin, Deni,  & Jeremy (Remi is MIA because he had gotten up to get a second helping.) ^^

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A filling, “healthy” breakfast with a lot of variety: scrambled eggs, Frosted Flakes cereal, fruit, chocolate muffin, and potatoes.

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I also took a picture of my girls Anjali, Paula, and Shraddha because they were looking extra cute this morning! ❤ I’m going to miss them a lot!!~

After breakfast, we got down to business and headed to a small conference room on the first floor of the hotel. At this time, we discussed what characteristics make a good speaker as well as tips for commanding a room and not letting a fear of public speaking take over one’s presentation. We did this practice activity called giving “elevator speeches.” Basically, the premise was that you should be able to introduce yourself and state your purpose/goal all while being on a quick elevator ride. This was deemed to be about a minute of speaking. (And it is a lot harder than it sounds, trust me!) I partnered up with Shraddha and we practiced giving our speeches. We both had to restart many many times but eventually we made it through. And, the jokes and laughter just added to the learning process. This was honestly the same exact thing we did last year at the representative workshop; however, I needed it again because I never ended up having to use my “elevator speech” last year. As a virtual rep who really only hosted/partook in webinars, I had all the time I needed to introduce myself and my role. So, I appreciated this repetition.

After the public speaking session, we all practiced answering common questions about NSLI-Y the “right way,” meaning the way that NSLI-Y would want us to answer. (This does not mean we would lie or not give personal experiences, we just had to make sure we did not guarantee things that the program doesn’t promise as well as remind the applicants about the true purpose of the program.) These questions included:

  • “How safe are the NSLI-Y countries?”
  • “Is previous language study required?”
  • “Will there be a lot of free time during the program?”
  • “How hard are language classes?”
  • “What type of person is NSLI-Y looking for?”

We then chose partners to hold us accountable for hosting our requirement of three events (2 in-person/virtual and 1 outreach event). I partnered up with Lila (West Coast – San Francisco) and Josh (Southwest – Dallas, TX).

After everything, it was almost 11 am. Some of the alum reps had to start calling taxis and departing to the airport for their flights back home. Luckily, my flight was not till 2:30 (and then later, it was even delayed!), so I could stay with everyone for a bit longer.

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Had to get a picture with Emily and Kate before I left!! 🙂

A group of us decided to go out and explore DC some more. Paula wanted to go and get a picture in front of the famous Department of State sign, so Paula, Dean, Deni, Nicole, and I went on a journey to the State Department. At first we were following Paula’s Google maps which got us lost… very very lost. We ending up walking so far (and in the wrong direction). Eventually Nicole and I saw some landmarks that looked familiar, and we tried to redirect the group in the right direction. Though we may all be bad at directions (in the US and Abroad), we did find the building and the sign!

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Look at us go! ❤

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Before we found the Department of State, we stumbled upon the United States Diplomacy Center. It was quite a chic building!

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The Sun was in my eyes! haha During our walk, I got to hear A LOT of stories about Harvard from Deni and Nicole.

 

Eventually, we had to make our way back to the hotel. Paula and I would be going back on the same flight while Nicole stayed till Monday for some presentations. Deni’s flight got delayed by quite a few hours but Dean was out with us later than he was supposed to be. Emily kept messaging us asking if Dean had left yet and though we reassured her, Dean was still scrambling to get an Uber. He eventually had to cancel cause the Uber passed our location! He expressed his anger on the Facebook group later when he was charged a cancellation fee. XD

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Dean calling his Uber. (Yes he walked all the way to the State Department on crutches.)

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Crossing the street trying to get a taxi

When Paula and I got back to the hotel, we had to say our final goodbyes~ I was not ready to leave everyone!

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My faves Jeremy and Nicole~ ❤

At the airport, Paula and I grabbed lunch and we talked some more. Before we knew it, we were back at O’Hare International Airport. On the plane ride home, I was feeling really grateful that I got the chance to renew as a rep as well as visit DC once more. I love the city so much!~ ❤ NSLI-Y has granted me so many opportunities as an alumni, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!!!

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O’Hare decorated for Christmas!

That is all for this blog post (and this series about the 2018 Alumni Representative Workshop!). I hope you enjoyed reading, and I hope that this post can inspire NSLI-Y alumni (or future NSLI-Y alumni) to apply to be an alum rep! You will not regret it! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out~ I will be hosting my first event as an alum rep late this month. I am so excited for it! I will definitely write a blog post about it~ Stay tuned! 고마워요! 다음에 봐요!~

  • Emma 엠마