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

NSLI-Y Korea Summer Graduation Ceremony (August 12th, 2016)

Friday morning (08/12/16) was the fated day… our NSLI-Y Korea Summer Graduation Ceremony. I woke up in the morning feeling something I have never felt before. I sat up in bed and just took in the quietness of the house. There was no clatter coming from the kitchen signifying that food was being made and no sounds of traffic outside my bedroom window. I woke up just a few minutes before my alarm and so I woke up naturally and not forced. I sat in my bed and just felt very aware of my surroundings. I slowly realized that this would be the last time I would wake up in this bed and this room for the summer. I realized that in two short days I would be in my hometown starting my junior year of high school. I didn’t specifically feel sad at this point in time, I just felt connected to everything around me… probably as a distraction from the sadness I would be feeling later in the day… and even later this very morning.


My breakfast plus my snotty tissues. There was even the box of fried chicken we had last night still on the table.


Picture of me from breakfast. (I look like a wet dog XD)

My host mom made me breakfast as usual. She served me a nice plate of eggs, toast, Korean peaches, and a glass of milk. She also took this time to hand me some presents that she had picked out for me as well as a letter she had written to me. We talked for awhile and I couldn’t help but get teary eyed. She started panicking and handed me some tissues trying to make me calm down. Her eyes started getting watery and she excused herself to get ready for the day but I could hear her sniffling in her room. I finished my breakfast quietly with my host dad in the living room. We started talking and had a very heartfelt conversation – in English. My host dad never used English, and I didn’t mind since I was here to learn Korean. But I knew it was because he was embarrassed by his skill level. At that moment, however, the feeling that would usually keep him from speaking English with me had disappeared. He first started to talk about how much I have improved being here with them and how much he really enjoyed having me stay with them. But then he started talking to me about something I never imagined would come out of his mouth. He told me how proud he was of me. He said that he was always rooting me on when he saw me at my desk, studying, till late in the night. He told me that he knew I would do amazing things because I proved to be such a hard worker and never gave up. Hearing those things coming from a man who welcomed me into his home for 6 weeks, could not have made me tear up any more than I did at that moment. He kept laughing throughout this exchange and told me that he was sorry he could not stay at the graduation the entire time since he had to work. He told me that if he didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to me at the graduation, that he wanted me to remember him saying this,

Live for you, not others. It is Important.

That morning, when I was making my way to the subway station, I noticed something new. A fence.


And you are probably asking yourself “A fence? What is the big deal about a fence? And why did you take a picture of a metal fence?” Well, it isn’t really a big deal or anything. Every morning, when I would cross the intersection, I did what all the other Koreans did– I jaywalked. Which isn’t exactly allowed, but none of the Koreans would walk in between the lines, they all jaywalked at the corner since it saved time. But today, that was not an option for me as the fence prevented jaywalking. The fence made it so you HAD to walk on the lines. It just made me realize that Korea is always changing. I know I was looking to deep into this whole occurrence but this made me more comfortable for some reason. I realized that change isn’t always a bad thing, and though I knew this already before, this situation comforted me after feeling very emotional towards the goodbyes that would occur that day. I know it sounds ridiculous but it got me through the morning ride to the university.



The last time I walked through this entrance.

The ceremony was a lot of fun surprisingly. My host family came and I felt so happy seeing them in the back watching me. My supporter Sujin also came and I had no idea that she was going to be attending at all. They both acted like my mom by calling my name when I went on stage and taking photos of me. One of the best parts of the ceremony was when our university was awarding a student from every class a “most improved/exceptional achievement” certificate. We had 4 Korean classes and so a student was chosen from every class. And to my surprise, I was awarded the certificate from my teachers. I was so shocked but also overjoyed to know that my teachers could see my immense improvement. My host mom and supporter both took photos of me, they were literally my moms.

The one on the left was taken by my supporter Sujin while the one on the right was taken by my host mom.


Sarah received the award for her beginner class, I received the award for my intermediate class, Angie received the award for her advanced class, and Jessica received the award for her beginner class.

We then had all the culture clubs show off what they did over the summer. The fan dance group performed a really beautiful number. They all had on really long skirts and these huge fans. I have lots of shots from the dance as Casey was in it!


The dance was very pretty~

The taekwondo (태권도) cultural club also did a performance to show off all the new kicks the students learned their ability to break wooden boards. I was so deeply enthralled with the performance that I was not able to take any photos. I was having too much fun laughing and enjoying all their kicks and screams. The traditional music culture club also performed a short song that was really good as well. I couldn’t believe they only spent around 2 hours on it once a week and it sounded like that. I also did not get any pictures because our cooking culture club was going next so we had to wait in the wings until we could go. We just filmed a video with clips of what we did (we can’t exactly cook in front of the whole audience… though that would have been fun) as well as clips of some individuals explaining background information of the food that we made.


Photo from our video (Creds to my supporter). I was explaining Japchae which we made on our second club meeting.


우리 요리 동아리 !~

We also had the talent show portion of the ceremony where we had lots of acts from different individuals in the program. We had a fashion show of different Korean styles, lots of dances, some singing, and my class’ talent show performance.

Angie, Tess, and Vinzent danced to Pick Me by I.O.I (아이오아이) and they did so well. Everyone was jamming along in their seats and the dance moves were great!

The talent show was also super fun to watch. Casey acted as the host/narrator and a bunch of different students from all of the Korean classes sported different Korean fashion styles. They had categories such as Work & Play, Seoul Food, Cutesy/Girly, Hip Hop, Clothes that are geared towards foreigners, and couple outfits.

My class 나무반’s talent show performance was also super fun. Most of us were not good at singing whatsoever but we still had a great time singing along to our video and music. It took a lot of time for me to edit it but I was glad to see it being so worth it.

The rest of the graduation ceremony was spent taking group photos (of supporter groups, Korean classes, and host families) and obtaining all of our certificates of completion, Korean class grades, and photos from our photographer. The ceremony was also spent saying a lot of goodbyes. My host mom had to leave with my host brothers early because she had to go to work. Most families took the students back after the ceremony to finish the day together and have dinner but mine couldn’t. That made my goodbye so much harder and I cried a lot after we said it. While my host mom and brothers were leaving through the doors, Sujin comforted me and I still couldn’t stop crying. (Even when we were taking our class photos, I was all teary-eyed and Jodi had to comfort me.)


Class Photo (Angle #1)


나무반!~ ❤ (Angle #2)


Showing off our RINGS~ ❤


My Resident Directors and I


Me, My Host Mom, and My Youngest Host Brother


My Host Brothers and I

And that was my NSLI-Y Summer Graduation Ceremony. I will be making a separate post about the rest of the day as this post has become very very very long. This day was very emotional as it marked the ending of such an amazing summer. Even though that was the case, it was also a very happy day as it reminded me how much love I have received from so many new people as well as all the relationships I have formed. I will always have these amazing memories and I wouldn’t exchange them for anything in the world, even if they caused a few crying sessions. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this post! 🙂 Do not forget to subscribe~

PS: Today, of last year, I received my NSLI-Y Korea Summer finalist notification. I want to congratulate everyone that was given a scholarship for this upcoming summer. And if you didn’t, please re-apply and give it another go! CLS is also an option if you will be entering university. Also, for the new finalists, I will be on iEARN’s Korea Summer Finalist Call as an alum to answer you or your parents’ questions! I will also be continuing making informational posts for supporter groups, my packing list, culture clubs, etc. Stay Tuned!

Also, if you care about programs such as NSLI-Y and want to keep them going for as long as possible, in order to give equal opportunities to citizens from all around the world, you might want to sign this petition regarding the new U.S. budget plan that could defund the Department of States ECE programs (such as NSLI-Y, CLS, CBYX, etc). Please take a few extra minutes out of your day to support this cause. The link will be linked here.

  • Emma (엠마)


Last Korean Class and Supporter Meeting (August 11th, 2016)

Thursday was a day of many lasts… :,( I woke up feeling excited about school but I was also feeling sadness due to the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be waking up for Korean class anymore. I also woke up pretty late today because I accidently set my alarm for 6:30 pm rather than 6:30 in the morning. Even though I woke up late, I still had an amazing breakfast made for me by my host mom.


One important thing to know about Korean breakfasts is that they are pretty much like any other Korean meal in a day. Usually, there is rice, 반찬 (side dishes), maybe a soup of some kind, and a meat dish. I am pretty sure Koreans usually don’t eat Tonkatsu for breakfast but my host mom made it once in awhile (usually on the weekend).

Korean class was a lot of fun today. (I mean, it usually is but today was extra fun!) The first part of the class was our teacher just rushing through the grammar points we couldn’t finish before the final. We didn’t spend too much time on each one but it was still nice to be able to get through the summary of them with our Korean teachers. Also, before class started that day, Sofia and I visited the Morning Glory (a stationary shop) near Sookmyung to buy something to give to our teachers from all of their students. Sofia and I found these really cute apple notebooks and we figured that they would appreciate receiving a little book with letters from all of us. We bought the notebooks and then during every 10-minute break we had, we passed the books to everyone and had them write a short little letter to them in Korean. We eventually finished all the letters at the end of the school day and planned to give it to them during our graduation ceremony the next day.

During the second part of our Korean class, we played a few fun games. My favorite game was this one where we picked one person from our team (We split our class up in half depending on where we were sitting in the class. My team was Nicole, Jodi, Casey, Jesse, and me while the other team was Sofia, Cynthia, Yves, Tucker, Peter, Ariel, and Anna-Kate.) and they were sent to stand in the front of the class. Our Korean teacher would write a word on the whiteboard and then the other team members, the ones sitting down, would try to get the person standing up to say the word. It is basically like the game called hedbanz or the app called Heads Up except nothing is on your head. I got a video of the game and it was so hilarious watching the video back and seeing us struggle with some of the words that were chosen. We had to explain it to them in Korean only and we were not allowed to use gestures (which was hard for me since I always talk with my hands). We played two rounds of this game and the first one up was Jodi for my team and Tucker for the other.


The word was 울다 (To Cry)


Such a simple game that results in sooo many laughs~


Things got a little heated when Peter used English to get Tucker to say the word.

Our teacher just flipped through our textbook and picked random words that we covered. She picked ones from the very beginning of the summer and mostly words that she knew we had trouble with.


Casey was up next and she dominated!

We also had to break ties quite often because the people up front would not always listen to their team and therefore say the words at the same time. During this round, the word was 특별하다 (To be special) and they both said the word after Jesse made it super obvious by repeating one of the sentences from our textbook dialogues.

After our game, we had another activity where we each got a colored piece of paper with our Korean name written on it. (Some of the kids in the class had a Korean name – like Casey, Yves, and Cynthia – but most of us just had our English names written in Hangul.) We passed the sheets of paper around the class and had everyone sign our paper and write a little message on it. The room was so quiet while we did this and it was really sad as we knew this would be our last day in this very classroom.


우리 선생님은 너무 귀여워요!~ ❤


My last 바나나 우유 (Banana Milk) during our class break.


Our deserted classroom during break time. Except for Cynthia who is sleeping on her desk. This was very common, though, she is in her natural state~ haha


The Selfie Squad of 나무반

During this last day of school, we also voted on some projects that some of the other classes did. The advanced class made posters for a cool after school club they would have if they had the opportunity to make one. We watched them present them and then voted for our favorites by placing stickers on them. We also did the same thing for one of the beginner classes but I can’t remember what it was for. (It was not for a club though.) I voted for the lovely poster that had a drawing of 김수현 (Kim Soo Hyun) by the lovely Jessica.


Look how good this is!! ❤ 제시카는 정말 좋은 예술가예요. 김수현은 너무 멋있고 잘 생겼어요~ ❤

After school, we had our last supporter meeting of the program as well as a rehearsal/practice for our graduation ceremony that was going to be held Friday morning. For lunch, Sofia, Angie, and I were feeling some Bingsu. Our diets were made up of Bingsu during the whole summer and we had to eat it as much as we could before we wouldn’t be having it for awhile. So that was why we were being so unhealthy eating bingsu for lunch. (hey, at least our bingsu had fruit on it!)

If you asked me what my favorite bingsu was at the beginning of the summer, I would have told you Injeolmi Bingsu (인절미 빙수). But now that melon bingsu has graced my tongue, I will now say that I understand why all the Koreans were ordering this flavor this summer. Melon Bingsu (메론빙수) is the best bingsu!~

After having our “lunch,” we all split up and went to our meeting spots for our last supporter meeting. I believe Sofia was meeting our supporters at Cafe Areca and I told her how jealous I was! For my last meeting, we were meeting my supporter at our school’s front gate and then we would walk to the cafe together.

Blind Alley real.jpg

We went to Blind Alley which took a lot of convincing since my supporter Sujin is afraid of dogs and this cafe always has a dog running around. It also has… raccoons!~


This cafe is very popular for its raccoons. When we went there, there were a lot of Koreans but also another group of foreigners.


The day was very fun as we spent the meeting just hanging out, talking, and laughing the entire time. We did go over vocab and our recordings which are our requirements but we also had a lot of fun as well. One of the funniest parts of the meeting was Sujin periodically screaming every time Cookie, the puppy, kept coming close to us and running under our table.

I have no idea how my supporter could even be afraid of this puppy. It is the cutest! For our meal, we originally ordered bingsu (haha XD) but the machine ended up being broken so we just ordered and ate honey bread as well as this grilled cheese bagel type thing.

And then… we experienced the raccoons. One of the workers at the cafe went into the room with the raccoons and started playing with them. He then takes the dark-colored one and put it on his shoulder and walked around the cafe allowing everyone to pet it. And then we think he is putting it back into the room (we were sitting right next to the raccoon room) but then he passes our table and places the raccoon on my shoulder. I started “whisper screaming” as he put some feed into my hand and the raccoon started eating out of my palm. After a few seconds, I got used to the creature and just smiled the whole time. It was so fun to be able to hold a raccoon and feed it.

Then throughout the time we were there, he was putting the raccoon on other customers and eventually Jodi, Casey, and even Sujin.


Sujin only kept the raccoon on her shoulder for a few seconds but we were glad she had even done it at all. When the worker was coming closer to her to put it on her shoulder, she knew what he had in mind and started standing up so he couldn’t do anything. He then tried to reassure her by saying if it bit her, they would give her a free drink. This made Sujin scream even louder and it was too funny for us not to laugh at.


The lady in the back smiling and laughing at Sujin.

Then, while we were at the counter putting sanitizer on our hands before leaving. A woman, who I presume was the owner, walked in. She was really loud, putting her bag on the counter and then went to go grab the raccoons. Jodi and I were waiting for Casey and Sujin to finish up, the lady put this white raccoon on my shoulder. This raccoon was so hyper and jumpy and I was silently freaking out while it walked down my arm. Then it jumped on Jodi while she was trying to put it back on my shoulder. It was such an interesting but also terrifying experience and we felt so much better when the lady took the raccoon off of us.


I quickly snapped a photo of Jodi with the raccoon.

After our supporter meeting, we went back to school and had our rehearsal for our graduation ceremony. All the culture clubs practiced what they were gonna do and so did all the talent show acts (including my class doing our parody of Phineas and Ferb). It was not too long and I was able to get home early and have dinner with my host family.

It would be my last dinner with my host family and so we had a very special one. We all ate cold water noodles (물냉면) as well as honey chicken from Kyochon Chicken. This summer I didn’t do too much with my family, activities wise because my host parents were always working and I had school so it was difficult to find time. My host brother was also always doing something with soccer so that made planning things difficult as well. But one thing I will always cherish, however, was all the dinners I ate with my host family. Eating with them and just talking about our days was what I wanted the most from my host family experience.

And that was my LAST Thursday in Korea… my last supporter meeting, my last Korean class, and my last dinner with my host family. But everything made for such great memories and I couldn’t have asked for better last experiences 🙂 Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ ^^ 안녕~

엠마 (Emma)


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

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


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


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

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

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

Korean Textbook

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



우리 교과서 (Our textbook)


Korean Tests

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



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


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

Break Time

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


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


What studying for a Korean test looked like for me


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

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

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Korean War Memorial, Studio Ghibli Store, and Karaoke (August 10th, 2016)

Wednesday (08/10/16) was one of the last (free) days we had in Korea because we there was a supporter meeting the following day and Friday would be our graduation ceremony. Wednesday was also our Korean Finals which I stayed up until one in the morning the previous night to study for. The final was in two parts. The first was the grammar/writing part and the second was the conversational part where we had a one on one conversation with our listening and speaking teacher. I think I did really well on it seeing that I studied so much. I have improved exponentially during this summer and the final was definitely a way to showcase that to my teachers. I won’t find out my grade until tomorrow but either way, I was proud of myself for working so hard on a goal and I knew I achieved it no matter what!

I spent the first half of the day reflecting on my summer which you can say made me very emotional and feeling very sentimental towards all the memories I had made. I decided to take video of my entire walk to the subway station from my host family’s house in order to remember the walk I took every single day. I took some screenshots of the videos (because my blog does not support videos) and I will upload them here.


My breakfast today. Some kind of spicy meat dish, white rice (as per usual), eggs, my host family’s version of bacon, and some other side dishes that included pickled vegetables of some kind.



The entrance I have started using ever since I changed my route to be half subway and half bus.

Madeline shirt day was also planned for this Wednesday. To elaborate, I noticed that my RD Madeline wore this black shirt with a deep plunging collar that reminded me of a sailor on one of the first days of our program in Korea. Ever since then, whenever I see a shirt that even vaguely resembles it, I have called it a Madeline shirt. This type of shirt is actually very popular in Korea and you can find them basically anywhere (in lots of different colors too!) I let everyone in our program know about the plans in our Kakao group chat. (Unfortunately, some of the girls on my program wore their shirts earlier in the week so they missed out on our group picture.)


Me, Ava, Sofia, Abby, and Madeline in our Madeline shirts~

Anyway, after our finals, Sofia and I have been wanting to go to the Korean War Memorial ever since we saw photos of it on Instagram. I never learned much about the Korean War in school, it is called the Forgotten War for a reason, and so I thought visiting the museum would be such a great experience. We also wanted to do some other activities too since our time in Korea was coming to an end shortly. Casey, Sofia, Abby, and I also planned to go to the Studio Ghibli Store as well as do some Karaoke later in the night. But first, we headed to the Korean War Memorial. I got some directions online but they were very hard to follow (as they were in Korean… I was trying to practice my skills!) but eventually, we found the memorial after passing so many Korean police officers. (I have never seen so many in Korea… well, besides the time they were everywhere near Gyeongbokgung that one weekend.)




Korean War (1950-1953)

The War Memorial of Korea is a really big museum with photos, maps, and artifacts from the Korean War. The outside of the memorial has lots of very deep sculptures as well as military tanks, missiles, planes, and so on. We didn’t have that much time to walk around and so we decided to just go on inside just covering the basics of the outside area.



We went on inside and explored some parts of the museum. (like I mentioned before it is pretty big and we didn’t have time to see everything. I would love to come back and spend a couple more hours there, to be honest.)


I have so many photos from the museum. (I basically took a photo of everything I saw.) I will end my spam of photos here and maybe I will upload a separate post with more later. I have a lot more things to write about for the rest of this day and If I put all my Korean War photos here, this post would take 10 minutes to read.

After the Korean War Museum, Sofia and I met up with Casey and Abby at Hongdae Station in order to go find the Studio Ghibli Store. Studio Ghibli is this Japanese animation studio that is internationally distributed by Disney. I love all of their films. They have made really famous animated movies such as Spirited Away (2001 ), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), and Ponyo (2008). So when I found out there was a store located in Hongdae that sold merchandise (I can not find any back where I live.), I had to go! And… It was magical!~


All of my favorite animations are by Studio Ghibli and they include Spirited Away (2001), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and When Marnie Was There (2014). The store was quite expensive and because it was the end of the trip, I was very mindful of my spending. I ended up buying 6 folders for about two dollars each of some of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies. They also had a life size Totoro and a Cat Bus you could take a photo in. My childhood dream had finally come true!




After the Studio Ghibli Store, we headed to sing some songs at a 노래방! (Karaoke Room). This one was really good as they had free refreshments and some snacks and it wasn’t even pricey. They had tambourines for us to play and even lights that flashed around the room. ( I mean all rooms do but I can never figure out how to turn them on but this room had the lights automatically turned on.) Karaoke in Korea just gets better and better because every time I go, I learn what songs are the best Karaoke songs and I gain more confidence to shout loudly. I literally mean shout, I can’t sing. haha

We sang soooo many songs. We sang Taeyang’s 눈 코 입, Let it Go from Frozen, Cnblue’s 외톨이야, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, BTS’ I Need You, and (of course) SHINee songs like Hello and Sherlock. We had such a good playlist and even earned scores of 100 like five times! (In Korean Karaoke rooms, each song performed is ranked. I personally think the key to a really high score is simply singing (or screaming) really loud.)


Our playlist at the end of the hour. We did pretty well. Karaoke rooms have such good song choices that include more than just Korean songs. But if you want to sing a Korean song, you must be able to read Hangul because there is no romanization.

That was my Wednesday! It was honestly action packed and I did so many things I have been wanting to do. It was a lot of fun too~ I am gonna miss being able to sing at the top of my lungs in 노래방s whenever I please… Thanks for reading~ Don’t forget to subscribe! 안녕 친구들~

  • Emma (엠마)

All You Can Eat $10 Korean Barbecue! (August 8th, 2016)

So Monday (August 8th, 2016) marked my last week in Seoul on the NSLI-Y program. This, obviously, made me very emotional as well as the other kids on the program. I definitely fell in love with this city and knowing that I would be leaving soon made me want to visit all my favorite places one last time throughout the week. I think it is important to constantly try new things when living in another country for a long duration of time, however, I also think having a certain place that you visit often is really important as well since you will learn to treasure those places when you look back at all your memories there.

Today, in Korean class, we had our last discussion on what we had done over the weekend (to practice speaking in the past tense). It was kinda sad for me when I started thinking about my lovely 나무반 (Tree Class) coming to an end. I have never appreciated being in a classroom so much before. Everyone truly loved the act of learning and the enthusiasm in the classroom never failed to motivate me to try my very best all the time. I talked, to my teacher and the class, about the trip to Seoul Forest with Sofia. My teacher explained that she loved visiting there in the fall. I can’t imagine how beautiful the trees must look during the autumn season!

We also took so many selfies this day! I think everyone was feeling the sadness from the fact that we were in the 6th week of our program. Today, we also had our program photographer come into our classroom to take our class photos which were a lot of fun.


So attractive~


Our 나무반 Photo~ #CutestClassEver

Monday was also our last weekly meeting with our RDs and we all got so emotional. There were a couple people (including me) that started crying/tearing up during the questions and activities. During the meeting, JT told us this really stupid, cheesy, but heartwarming story about space and the Earth. The basic summary/meaning of the story was that the astronauts did not realize the beauty of their own planet (Earth) until they stepped away and saw it from a different perspective. The meeting was mostly about preparing ourselves to fit back into American society and our hometowns.


The story that JT told us was very spontaneous and even Madeline didn’t see it coming so she couldn’t help but laugh with us while JT shared his story.


Everyone was also very TIRED as well!

After our weekly meeting, I went with Yves, Sofia, and Abby to a restaurant that sells Korean barbecue, as much as you want, for only $10! (Well, 10,000 won.) Everyone from our class said really nice things about it and so I wanted to try it out before leaving. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the name of the restaurant is but I do know that it was really close to exit 8 of the Sookmyung Women’s University subway station. The all you can eat deal is that you can order as many servings of meat as you can eat and everyone pays 10 dollars. If you don’t finish all of the meat you order, however, you have to pay extra.


Sofia, Yves, and Abby



Look at all that FOOD! ❤

After lunch, Sofia and I went to Edae and walked all around the main streets near and around Ewha University. Sofia and I love Edae and it is one of the places that I was describing earlier, the places that you visit a lot and will always have special memories there. I could not leave Korea without visiting Edae one last time, especially our favorite cafe (Snow white (백설공주) World Dessert Cafe). Sofia and I ordered a new flavor of bingsu which was Green Tea Red Bean Bingsu (녹차팥빙수). It was delicious! Our cafe never fails to satisfy us with its delicious treats. We ate our bingsu while working on our Korean homework (It may be the end of the program but we are still getting homework and Sofia and I never stop being 모범생s (Model Students) haha. Ariel, Sarah, Elliya, and Kenwoo also magically showed up at the cafe. They told us that they just walked in thinking the food on the advertisements looked good. It was a really great coincidence if you ask me. I was playing around with them by taking stalker-like photos and uploading them to our program group chat. The responses were great. I kept getting more and more creepy by even taking one outside of the cafe when I went to the bathroom. It was hilarious! Especially when Kenwoo started taking photos of Sofia and me in order to retaliate back. Good times!~


Beautiful Bingsu and Awkward Photobomb



Black and White filter creates a silent movie vibe

I came home pretty early in order to finish up all my homework and start studying for our Korean final which would end up being on Thursday. I ate dinner with my host family and went to bed after partaking in the last video call with my mom in America whilst in Seoul, South Korea.



That is all for today’s post!~ I hope you enjoyed reading. If you would like to read more posts like this, do not forget to subscribe to my blog~ Thank you! 안녕 친구들

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Going to Itaewon (이태원) and Meeting up with Another HelloTalk Friend (8/03/16)

Wednesday (August 3rd, 2016) was another meetup with one of my HelloTalk friends. This meeting was especially fun because Sofia and Yves would also be coming with me as they are also friends with the same girl. (Last time Sofia just accompanied me to meet up with my HelloTalk friend, however, she hadn’t actually talked to him previously.) But before the actual meeting, we had our Korean class as usual. I usually don’t write much about my class because there is usually nothing new that would be interesting. But today I actually documented our breaks between class with pictures so I will add them in. I thought it might be interesting to read about how the break time went down in 나무반. In the future, I want to dedicate a post on what Korean class was like but that will probably be awhile from now. Here it is. Before class started at 9am, I went to the Paris Baguette close to the school for some breakfast (I woke up late and missed breakfast with my host family…) with Cynthia and Jesse from my Korean class. I bought a pack of blueberry muffins and Cynthia and Jesse both bought the same sweet pastry and drink. A majority of the students in my class would buy snacks from cafes and convenience stores beforehand so they would have snacks to eat in class. Paris Baguette had just opened so there wasn’t much stuff out yet but I was fine with my muffins. (They were actually the same muffins we got to eat for breakfast at the Hostel~)


Paris Baguette

During the breaks between classes we always ate convenience store foods and just talked about plans so others could decide to tag along if they liked the activity. If a small group of people were lacking in snacks, we would have left the university and hurried to the convenience store to buy some. (We were never told we were allowed to do this… but we weren’t told to stop it either… XD ) During this day, we were practicing our talent show song by singing along to a karaoke version I found on Youtube. Tucker was trying to motivate everyone to memorize the lyrics as the majority of the class hadn’t taken the initiative to memorize the lines yet.


Said Motivational Speech


Snacks and Phones. Our staples during break.


We also usually added things to our white board that had a picture of Anna-Kate’s cat, random phrases in Korean, and other students from the other classes coming in and adding their own drawings of choice. Casual XD


During break, Jodi introduced us to 사과머리 (apple hair) which Jesse gladly demonstrated (using my hair tie! haha)


Selfies were also a constant activity we would partake in during class breaks. From left to right; Jesse, Nicole, Me, Casey, and Jodi.


And during class I drew on this photo of Jodi’s future boyfriend. She found my drawings amusing.

Finally after class, I went with Yves and Sofia to Itaewon which was the planned meeting spot for our HelloTalk friend. We planned to meet at an exit and we were the first to arrive. It was really awkward waiting because we were not sure if we could recognize her in the sea of Koreans. Luckily, we are pretty recognizable and our HelloTalk friend came up to us. Nothing else was planned from there on out so we just walked around Itaewon until we found a place to eat. We ended up eating at this pancake house. It was very interesting eating there as most of the people dining there were foreigners. Most of them were from South Asia and the Middle East. It just made the workers even more impressed when we did speak in Korean. Eating with our HelloTalk friends was nice as we got to practice our Korean with her. We mostly talked to each other in Korean and then used English to fill the gaps where our Korean knowledge failed us. The funniest part of it all was that she would let us know when we made mistakes to help us not make them again. This was only funny because some of the mistakes were unbelievably hilarious. During one of our conversations, Yves mentioned that he had green skin. (I can’t remember what he was trying to say but either way we all couldn’t help but laugh at his attempt.)

For the rest of the day we just walked around Itaewon and went into different shops. We ate some turkish ice cream from a vender. Turkish ice cream is very interesting because of its texture. Turkish ice cream is very thick and chewy with somewhat of an elastic texture. The ice cream stretches and sticks together which allows the vendors to play with the ice cream cone, turning it upside down and yanking it away from you quickly, before giving it to their customers.


An example of what I mean when I say they “play” with the ice cream. Pic Credit: Google


We made the worker at the Line Store in Itaewon take this photo


A wall inside of Mcdonalds


One of the things we tried to do in Itaewon was get into the American military base and we almost did it! Yves has a relative that was apart of the air force so he had this special ID of sorts that indicated that relationship. I also found out (from my Hello Talk friend) that supposedly Americans are allowed to visit the base. They were also gonna let our friend in with us since she was apart of our group. We gave them all of our IDs and they were gonna let us in but Sofia did not bring her ID to Korea (and all of our passports were with JT and Madeline) so she had no identification and they wouldn’t let her in. We were not going to go in without her so we left. Next time I go back to Korea, I would really like to visit that same base. I think it would be very interesting.

That was all for today! I hoped you enjoyed reading this post and if you would like to subscribe to my blog, click the subscribe button to the right of this post (or all the way at the bottom if you are on mobile) and confirm the subscription in the follow up email you will receive. Thanks for reading ~ ! 안녕

  • 엠마 ( Emma )

Birthday Party in Seoul, South Korea!!!!!!(August 2nd, 2016)

For about the past week, all our RDs have been talking about is the “NSLI-Y Talent Show” this and the “NSLI-Y Talent Show” that. For our end of the program ceremony there will be a part after the presentations from the culture clubs for us Nsliyians to show off our “talents.” I wasn’t planning on doing anything for it since I am absent of any entertaining talent like singing or dancing and I was not going to embarrass myself in front of all the supporters and host families that would be attending. However today (8/2/16) was a very interesting Korean class. I can not remember why we started singing it but all of a sudden, during one of our ten minute breaks, everyone in my class started singing the theme song to Phineas and Ferb. We probably started singing it since it is about making the most out of the summer and blah blah blah. We were having so much fun singing it and basically everyone already knew the lyrics that Tucker requested that our class enter the talent show and sing this theme song. Everyone was feeling the idea but then Sofia and I recommended that the performance would be a lot more meaningful if we changed the lyrics to pertain more to our NSLI-Y summer. Sofia, Tucker, and I planned to meet at our favorite cafe in Edae (백설공주 The World Dessert Cafe) to write the lyrics for the song since Madeline wanted us to fill out this outline for our performance by Friday. I also planned to edit a video with pictures, from everyone’s experiences, and the lyrics so while we performed, others could sing along too.

But before any of that happened, supporter meetings were after school as usual. Casey’s birthday was July 31st. (Same birthday as Harry Potter.) Therefore Sujin planned a little birthday party for Casey with a cake and candles from this Korean bakery called Tous les Jours. Everything in the bakery is French inspired but with a Korean twist like sweet pastries with a hotdog inside. (Don’t knock it till you try it. It is pretty good.)


The Cake!~

Sujin, Jodi, and I showed up a few minutes earlier than planned to surprise Casey with the cake and treats. We actually ended up lighting the candles for Casey and singing Happy Birthday to her in Korean in the cafe. (We had our meeting at Cafe Areca as usual.)


Sujin lighting the candles.

I was kinda surprised that we were allowed to do that but the worker was pretty chill and didn’t even look weirdly at us while we were celebrating her birthday. Casey did not see the celebration coming at all and so she could not stop smiling and was so shy throughout the singing.


Casey and Her Cake



Casey is such a cutie! 🙂

We were clapping and chanting once she blew her candles out and Casey got so embarrassed! However, I know she was super grateful for our awesome party.

I think the funniest part of the meeting was that we were also sitting next to another supporter group made up of Jun (준 the supporter), Yves, Ariel, and Peter which are my classmates. They choose the perfect day to sit next to our group (note the sarcasm). I guess Jun felt bad that we were eating cake and his group wasn’t (lack of summer birthdays in his group) and so he actually bought slices of cake for his group from Cafe Areca. (They did not only have drinks, but they also had cake too.) We made fun of Jun when we noticed, and all he could do was smile shyly as he said he was just feeling cake today! XD

Because of our celebration, none of us were feeling our supporter meeting. Sujin was trying to reel us back in but we kept goofing off and getting off topic.


Jodi was especially not feeling the meeting today after all of the cake!

Eventually we pulled ourselves together and finished the meeting by doing all of our recordings and role plays in record time actually! We really wanted to finish early to have time to just hang out so we got all serious and practiced the grammar points and recorded our answers. They were not goofy ones this time so we didn’t have to pause the recording after every answer to limit the amount of laughs in the recording.

After the supporter meeting I took the subway to Edae to meet Sofia and Tucker at 백설공주 (Snow White) The World Dessert Cafe to write the lyrics to our Talent Show Song. Sofia and I were the first ones there and Tucker arrived around 15 minutes later. I love this cafe so much and on this day I appreciated it even more because I finally figured out how to use the bathroom. The bathroom in the building is on the same floor as the cafe. It has a lock and passcode which is printed on the receipt after you buy something. I could never open the door and today I could not ignore my urges… so I asked the lady working there and she explained to me that I needed to press the “star” symbol. After a few trials and error I figured out that the “star” symbol was an asterisk! I felt accomplished when the door beeped and I made it to the bathroom stall. I just seem to have an issue with korean doors… it is a reoccurring theme apparently… XD

At the cafe I ordered a Taro Latte and I can honestly say I loved it soooo much! It was very sweet but not overwhelming whatsoever. It was better than any other latte I have ever tried previously. Sofia ordered a hot chocolate.


Look At The Heart!~

We worked really hard on the lyrics of the song and we finished it in about an hour. We kept repeating the song and trying to match our words to it so it didn’t sound awkward. We knew the Koreans probably wouldn’t understand the reference but we were sure that the Nsliyians would appreciate the authenticity. When I came home from the cafe, I stayed up till 2 in the morning editing the video for the performance. I also stalked everyone on my programs instagrams and asked them to send me some photos that matched the lyrics so I could put it in the video and so it would be meaningful to everyone, not just my class or just Sofia, tucker, and I.

Lyrics To Our “Talent Show” Song

By Sofia and Emma With Some Input From Tucker XD

(Sung to the rhythm of the Phineas and Ferb Theme Song)

There were 45 days of our NSLI-Y adventure and school comes along just to end it

So the biggest problem for NSLI-Y8 was finding a good way to spend it…

Like Maybe…

Building friendships or fighting the heat or climbing up to Namsan Tower

Discovering something that doesn’t exist {In America! – Jesse}

Or giving our culture club submissions

Surfing through the crowds, creating memories,

or locating Hongdae Station (It is Line #2 – Tucker)

Finding some Patbingsu, painting calligraphy,

or driving the RDs Insane (JT! – Emma, Madeline! – Sofia)

As you can see there was Seoul much stuff to do before we go back home (가지마 – Casey)

A big thanks from 나무반 to all of you in Seoul

A big thanks from NSLI-Y8 to all of you in Seoul!

{Better World! 나무반 is getting all sentimental! – Jodi}

If you would like to watch the video that I edited, click here

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to read more posts about Korea and NSLI-Y!~ Thanks for reading! 안녕~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Insadong (인사동) and Bingsu (빙수) August 1st, 2016

After class on Monday (8/1/16) all of my classmates weren’t feeling too well including myself. We hadn’t gotten much sleep over the weekend and it had been raining a lot which made it pretty chilly at times (especially if you keep losing your umbrella… I just gave up and stopped buying them XD). We still had to stay after school for our Weekly Monday Meeting in which we recieved more information on our end of the program ceremony as well as our “Talent Show” and other stuff like that. One thing that was pretty exciting during that Monday Meeting was that our RDs announced the winners of the weekly photo challenge. And guess what… My supporter group won! JT explained that he had first thought that the photo was going to be disqualified since there were not four people in the image but then he found us in the reflection in the sunglasses. Him and Madeline both agreed that it was a clever thing to do so we won first. Our prize was a $10 certificate that worked in many major chains around Korea.


Look at us go! 1등!~

After the Weekly Monday Meeting, a group of us decided to go and find some 죽 (Korean Porridge) for lunch. I had already eaten 죽 in Korea since my host dad made it for me for breakfast the day before when he heard me sniffing and coughing the night before. We wanted to go really badly since Jodi told us that they had pumpkin 죽 and it was really good. We were all excited to go but when we arrived at the restaurant, there was a sign on the door that let us know that the workers were on vacation for a week and a half so we were out of luck when it came to eating 죽. Instead of moving on and not getting too upset over the restaurant being closed, we decided to take a picture to commemorate what could have been.


Tucker, Yves, and Sofia being :,(

Instead of being smart and going to a different restaurant for nutritious, healthy food, we decided to go eat bingsu (빙수) for lunch. Smart move… I know. But we needed a picker upper from the disappointment of not being able to eat 죽 and what better way to feed our sick bodies then with a cold dessert?!~ ^^

We ended up going to the 설빙 (Sulbing) near Sookmyung University. Yves and I ordered 메론빙수 (Melon Bingsu) while Sofia and Tucker ordered a 커피빙수 (Coffee Bingsu) I think… I didn’t eat it since the Melon Bingsu was too delicious! We did all share our Bingsus though and Sofia also agreed with me when I said the Melon Bingsu is by far the best flavor of Bingsu. Every time I went to Sulbing, I always saw most of the Koreans eating this flavor as it had become the most popular and after eating it, I can tell why!




The best part is that the Melon Rind acts as the bowl! Very aesthetically pleasing if you ask me! 🙂


Me playing around with Tucker’s Ryan fan

After lunch Tucker left since he had some other plans but Yves, Sofia, and I headed to Insadong and it was the first time any of us had been. Insadong is basically this super long street with lots of traditional souvenirs, Korean crafts, tea houses, and restaurants. A lot of the things in the area are pretty expensive so I recommend checking out all the different stalls before buying something just in case you can find something for cheaper. Yves, Sofia, and I walked around the main street and even went down some alleyways admiring all the traditional stamps, scarves, and paper we could never afford.


There is also an area where you can hang up tags with messages with your significant other or friends. Kinda like the locks at Namsan Tower.



Poop Bread!~ 똥빵! ❤ Filled with chocolate~

We also got to try 꿀타래 (Dragon Beard Candy) for the first time today too. Dragon Beard Candy is a very popular street food in Korea that is quite frequently purchased by tourists. You can make a quick search on youtube and find lots of people who have posted videos that they took while watching this candy being made by the vendors like here, here, and here. Dragon Beard Candy is a court cake made of ripened honey and malt and is made up of 16,000 strands. People eat it since it is supposed to help with longevity, health, and good fortune. The stall we went to had three flavors; original (which contains peanuts), chocolate (which contains almonds), and pumpkin. Each box was $8 and There was 6 in each box. Sofia, Yves, and I got to taste each different flavor as the guy working was very nice to us. We talked to him in Korean and since he was so impressed, he gave us free samples. He also knocked a dollar off of the price which he called a “student discount.”

After we bought dragon beard candy, we also passed by a stall with a man selling Turkish Ice Cream. He would have the cone and ice cream on this pole type thing and would give it to the customer and then yank it away last minute. Turkish ice cream is very elastic and stretchy so even when he would turn the ice cream cone upside down, the ice cream would not fall off. It was actually very funny to watch. The coolest thing about it though was that the man working was amazing at Korean! (And he was not Korean!) We later went up to the stall when he had no customers and asked him a few questions with the new grammar points we had learned that day. He told us he had been studying Korean for 4 years. He is honestly my inspiration! 🙂

We got tired from walking around so long and we ended up leaving Insadong to find a cafe. We passed this two story cafe that looked really cool and so we decided to stop there and get some drinks. Everything was really expensive but we were able to work on our Korean homework while sitting at some comfy chairs on the second floor. (It was going pretty great until Sofia spilled my drink… XD)


This Cafe Was So Pretty!~ ❤

While we were walking back to the subway we ended up running into some other Nsliyians. I was talking to Ava and she was freaking out about all the cheap Kpop/Kdrama merchandise the vendors were selling. Ava really likes 송중기 (Song Jong ki) and was showing me where she bought her stuff and was asking me if she should buy a calendar. I told her to go for it. I was standing around with her and the owner of the stall asked me what kpop group I liked and I told him SHINee which was true but he didn’t have any SHINee merchandise anyway which was good for my wallet. However, after I said that he went back into the little hole in the wall stall and came out with a SHINee calendar after 5 minutes. I felt bad for making him get something for me and not buying it and Ava kept telling me to get it so she wouldn’t feel so bad and that is how I ended up with a SHINee calendar. What more do I need? 😉 It is a 2017-2018 calendar so I will have it for awhile.


Only $5 though! A steal!~

And that was my day in Insadong! I brought home the dragon candy for my host brothers and they devoured it in like 5 minutes. My host mom said that I knew just what they like since whenever I bring them home treats, they always love it to pieces! She said this is a good skill since they are so picky with what they eat. I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe!

  • Emma 엠마

Class Trip to Tongin Market, Korean Cooking Class, and Namsan Tower (July 22nd, 2016)

Fridays Korean Class (July 22nd, 2016) was a little different than usual as we were having a field trip for our Speaking and Listening Korean Class. Our teacher took my class 나무반 on a bus to the Tongin Market (통인시장) for a bit of a cultural excursion and a nice lunch! Before we actually went around the market, we had a tour guide show us around the area. It was kind of hard to pay attention as it was super super hot outside and everyone was complaining about the heat and how hungry we were. What I did get out of the little tour was a lot of nice pictures of some small Korean neighborhoods (a break from all the Korean apartment buildings I usually see) with some traditional houses scattered around for good measure. We were also shown this very famous, old tree but I really don’t remember the significance behind it… I should have written it down. Oops XD


Our tour guide and some unamused, hot, and tired Nsliyians





Some snapshots of the Korean neighborhood alleys

Our tourguide was a really nice man though. He spoke English very well and he tried to make the tour as interesting as he could for us by making lots of funny dad type jokes. Looking back on it, I kinda feel bad for him because once we passed the market, he totally lost everyone’s attention span to the smell of the delicious Korean food. Overall, the tour was a really nice experience and I really enjoyed hearing our tour guide talk about all the houses and their different styles.



Huge doors are honestly so interesting to me. I can’t help but stop and think about the lives and stories that passed through doors like this one.

Eventually it was time to visit the Tongin Market (통인시장). Something cool about the market is that it has this pretty cool payment system. You can buy most of the food from the market with normal Won (Korean Currency) but you can also trade in money for these old school coins and trade them in to certain market stalls to get food for lunch. Basically you pay a certain amount of money and you are given a stack of coins and a lunch tray. You walk around the market trading in coins for food and you get to pick and choose what you want your tray to contain. There are a lot of different types of Korean food like ddeokbokki (떡볶이), Japchae (잡채), and even popular Korean candy from the 80s and 90s.


The coins we got to use as money


I bought some Traditional Korean Dessert as well~


My Tongin Market Lunch Tray.

For an amount of coins equal to 5,000 Won, (A little bit less than five American Dollars) I was able to get so much food for lunch. In the top left corner of the lunch tray, I bought 마약김밥 (Drug Kimbap. It gets its name from how addictively tasty it is). I also had a Pork steamed dumpling. I didn’t use my coins to buy this, Jodi and Tucker shared with me after I saw them at the stall. They had such a big order so they gave me one and it was definitely the best part of my lunch tray if I am being honest 🙂 At the top right corner of my lunch tray I bought some sweet brown sugar/cinnamon chicken that came with some rice cakes as well. Then on the bottom left I had a Korean potato pancake (감자전 – basically a hash brown!) and another type of Ddeokbokki (떡볶이) which is rice cakes with red chilli pepper paste. Tongin Market is known for its Ddeokbokki. The rice cakes I had are a little bit different than the most common ones you see at street venders as it is more dry and crumbly than soft and liquidy. I think that is what makes it even spicier!~ And then finally in the lower right corner, I ordered Japchae which was really good but I tried the Japchae my friends Ariel got (from another stall) and it was much better.


Eating Lunch! From left to right: Me, Ariel, Yves, and Sofia


내 친구들 Ashley, Addie, and Sura who got cut off!

After a nice, filling lunch at the Tongin Market, I had to head off to my Korean cooking club. What turned out great for me was that the Tongin Market was right around the Gyeongbokgung subway station which is the exit we usually meet at for the club. All this time I have been going to Cooking Club, I have been passing this really cool market. It kinda makes me think about all these hidden Korean gems that I pass by on a daily basis. There are a limitless amount of experiences to have and things to see in Seoul!


View from the Food and Culture Academy

At cooking club we made Bibimbap which was very fun seeing that it was the very first Korean food I had ever eaten so it holds a special place in my heart!


비빔밥 – Warm white rice mixed with vegetables and sometimes beef. Our bibimbap contained carrots, bean sprouts, Zucchini, mushrooms, and onions.

Funny Moment at Korean Cooking Club (한국 요리 동아리)

So I didn’t eat my bibimbap because I had eaten so much at the market so I ended up asking our chefs at the Food and Culture academy for a little take out container. I wanted to put all the Bibimbap back in the container but still making sure that it looked aesthetically pleasing. I was surrounded by Joy, JT and Jodi and I was all like “I know, the rice is kinda dirty from all the vegetables so I will flip the rice over so the bottom will make the top completely white.” I proceed to carry out my idea by flipping over the rice only to be greeted with more dirty rice from juices at the bottom and the realization that the rice didn’t have to look clean since it would be covered by veggies and meat anyways. JT began to relish in my stupidity and declared “Emma, You think you are smart but you are not.” JT was being all sassy to me that day because I was roasting Jodi earlier during the class. He asked me if I liked Jodi and I explained to him that really close American friends are friendly mean to their friends using things like sarcasm. We were both joking though. He didn’t believe me since he lived in Michigan for 7 years and said he never saw that. But because I informed him on the friends matter, he turned into a savage towards me and I would never hear the end of it.

I later showed him how pretty my lunch box turned out and he goes “I do not care where you put it!” in a mixed British, Korean, and American accent.


My pretty lunch container

After Korean Cooking Club, I made my way to Myeongdong and met up with Sofia at the subway station. The plan for Friday night was to visit Namsan Tower (남산 타워 also known as N Seoul Tower – N 서울타워) which I had been waiting a while to visit.

So to get to the cable cars to take you up to Namsan Tower, you have to walk up a huge hill and when it is hot outside… that hill is treacherous. Sofia and I laughed so much in order to distract ourselves from the pain our feet were going through. It was way worse than the hill I have to walk up to get to our university for Korean classes. Eventually we made it and bought our tickets for the cable car and we had to wait in this super long line from the ticket booth up a few flights of stairs. While we were waiting in line on the stairs. Sofia and I shared some Korean candy popular in the 80s. We were just chatting about school and stuff when this Korean boy (around 10 years old) above us dropped his phone down the flight of stairs. I tried not to laugh… but it was hilarious. Luckily, the phone didn’t crack. Everyone in line clapped once the boy showed everyone that it was okay XD


View from the cable car which was such a fun thing to do but also pretty scary at first…


We had to climb up even more stairs to get closer to the tower



Namsan Tower. I finally got to see it in person after only seeing it in the horizon in many places like at 남산골마을 and our hostel.

Sofia and I walked around the bottom of the tower which had many cute places to take photos (most were geared towards couples) and water sprinklers for the summer. At the entrance of the bottom of the tower there are gift and souvenir shops where you can buy Namsan Tower Merch. I ended up buying some really cute stickers for my scrapbook and these cute themed magnets for some gifts for my family back home. To get up into the tower you have to buy a ticket that costs $10 and after paying for the cable car ticket which cost around $8.50, Sofia and I felt that we really didn’t need to go up. What we really wanted to do was visit it, take pictures, and look at all the locks.

The coolest thing about the tower, well at least in my opinion, is the fact that there is a section near the bottom that you can buy a lock (with your significant other or just friends/family) and lock it onto this fence area made for the locks. It is so cute and Sofia and I looked through all the locks for ones we could understand and ones in English to see what the tourists wrote about their experience at Namsan Tower. We ended up not buying a lock since they are kinda expensive. It is best to come in a larger group because then you can all split the price of one lock. But at least the pictures were free!~




Sofia and I !!


In the background you can see a restaurant where you can eat dinner at. Super expensive though.


View from the cable car on the way back

We left the tower a bit earlier than we needed to so we could walk around Myeongdong and get some street food before going home before curfew. It was a very fun day and very action-packed. I did so much and went to many different parts of Seoul on this day. There were some moments where I was very tired, but overall everything was worth it. No amount of sleep deprivation, heat, or sore feet can get me down in Seoul, South Korea!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ 안녕~

  • 엠마 (Emma)