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

Korean Final, Chinese Food in Korea, Tapgol Park (탑골 공원), and Jogyesa Temple (조계사) 05/20/19 (NSLI-Y AY)

05/20/19 Monday

:,( Sad Face

It is my last week in South Korea :,(

I would be lying if I said time has gone by so fast because it definitely felt like 9 months but I still cannot believe that I arrived here back in September and now I am going back in just a few days… wowowowow 

Bright and early this Monday morning I awoke to the prospect of taking my Korean final!! I woke up quite early after a long night of studying and continued to study. I decided that grammar would be 헛수고 so instead, I quickly went through the bajillion and one Quizlet sets I have made over the many months–focusing on the ones for our last two textbooks as well as the random ones I made for Topik preparation (I really wanted to show off to my teacher in hopes that my improvement would be noticeable uwu) 

Though I was actually quite confident about this test. There is something to say about having an ‘end’ or ‘end goal’ so even though I am stressed about this final performance, at least it will be the last time! Also, looking back, I care so much about what my teacher thinks about me because I do truly care about her impression of me and I want her to see me taking my studies seriously–I am not just playing around! But I am so much harder on myself than anyone else! And I would literally have to ignore all the months of hard work if I was to say that I have not improved enough. To think that I was barely intermediate when I first arrived and now I can write essays and give presentations, and have conversations on such complex topics. I am proud of myself and I know my teacher is too! I was the underdog of my class~

Anyways, before arriving at the BetterWorld office to take our final test, Josh and I headed to Josh’s Cafe (this cafe will forever be known by this nickname) to pick up some pick-me-ups! Josh opted for coffee while I bought a basil scone.

The test actually went rather smoothly! I felt really good about the writing portion as it was sort of a reflection of our time in Korea which was definitely something I had thought about a lot and I think this was the best OPI I’ve had this whole year! Not just because I would logically be more advanced at this point but because I had more confidence in myself. The reading portion of the exam was a bit tougher to be honest and I did have to rush the ending and did not exactly get to read every single question… There were parts that I was completely lost on but I tried to not have that stump me and frustrate me before time was up. 

After we took our Korean final, we all decided to go out and celebrate the end of the program and classes together. My Korean teacher had planned out a little agenda for our date and what that first consisted of was getting lunch as three hours had now passed and we were all famished. Our teacher took us to one of her favorite Koreanized Chinese restaurants that was a little walk away from the office. It was on the second floor of a rather hidden-away building so I cannot imagine that many people just stumble upon it since the signage too was rather obscure. Though the restaurant was definitely quite full when we walked in so maybe this place was a local secret! If only I could remember what it was called…

For food, I had no idea what anything was on the menu as Chinese food in America is nothing like Chinese food in Korea which I bet is also nothing like actual Chinese food in China so our teacher ended up ordering all her favorites that she knew were good at this particular spot. We ate some sort of pork (?) dish, fried eggplant dish, a shrimp porridge/stew, and dumplings and I really had not eaten anything like any of the dishes in such a long time and everything tasted so delicious–especially the eggplant! (Salivating just at the thought of it!)

Once we finished stuffing our faces so that our bellies were just as full as our minds (minds filled with… knowledge! lol), we went along with our teacher to the 종로구 (Jongno District) from 홍대 which was not too far of a subway ride. We first walked around the less tourist-y neighborhoods as the alleyways had a lot of unique character. Our teacher was showing us all the small shops and stalls and told us that this part of historic Seoul has not changed as much as other places that have raced to modernize especially for tourism.

I took a couple of photos of some of the shops because I found them quite interesting to look at and one of the places we visited was a very small used bookstore. It mostly had Korean books with a few sparse copies of classics in English or Chinese. One of the books that I picked up was basically a guide for how women can be good wives to their husbands… Yup.

From here we walked to Tapgol Park (탑골 공원) which is a small, public park in the area which is famous for a couple historical monuments like this one traditional, colorful pavilion as well as a 10 story buddhist pagoda–which is actually enclosed in a glass structure to protect it. It kind of gives the traditional monument a modern twist on it. We walked around the park with our teacher closely following behind and taking tons of photos of us as a group. An interesting thing I noticed was that the park was mostly full of elderly. Like, there was a group of older men and women sitting in the shade of the pavilion and around the rest of the park too.

Afterwards, we walked from the park to the neighborhood 익선동 which I have been to a couple other times because it was an up and coming area on Instagram due to the architecture in the area is either 한옥 or styles reminiscent of them so photo zones are plentiful. Plus, cute cafes!!!

We walked around the narrow, winding streets of 익선동 and found a cute 호떡 stand that served the pastry commonly eaten in wintertime with ice-cream–a summertime treat, then!) So, we all ordered them and were happy to see that they were shaped like hearts! I gasped! They were delicious and the pairing of the hot honey/sugar flavors with the plain vanilla ice cream was a match made in heaven. On our walk, our teacher also showed us where she used to live as a child but now, her childhood home has been turned into an aesthetic café.

There was also an exhibition for the newest Samsung and for some reason, we went inside and explored all the new functions of the phone (even though our teacher was the only one with any Samsung products at the time.)

Our last stop of the day was walking towards the 인사동 area until we reached one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Seoul: 조계사 (Jogyesa Temple). Our teacher actually considers herself a practicing Buddhist so it was cool being able to ask her questions and look at the temple through her eyes. Also, because I was with her, I felt comfortable following her into the building after taking off our shoes and watching her bow. On the outside, the temple was very beautiful and I could not get over all of the rainbow colored lanterns that made me not want to ever look away.

Eventually Jacquelyn and Josh left us at the temple after saying goodbyes (until the graduation ceremony of course) while I decided to walk with my teacher back to the subway together as we were going to be riding the same line as she also lives near me. Our walk back was actually one of my favorite memories with my Korean teacher (besides our cafe dates) because it felt just so wholesome and we talked about so many subjects and I just felt freer to be myself since I was just with her and no one else.

My teacher took this photo of me. She pointed out this artistic statue of sorts out and said that I should run up to it and pose!~

Today was such a great day with my classmates and my Korean teacher. It made me realize how grateful I am to have had them as a part of my support system while in Korea. I am so happy to have had my 3반 classmates and my Korean teacher ❤ They will always mean a lot to me!

There is a bit more to this day because I had evening plans but since this post is so long already, I am going to continue it in another blog post~ I hope you enjoyed reading this one and until next time~ Thanks!

  • Emma 엠마

Smuggling Cake & McDonald’s into Korean High School & Surprising my Korean Teacher!!! (05/14/2019) NSLI-Y Korea AY

05/14/2019 Tuesday

Tuesday marked my final mentorship meeting with three of my three 2nd year friends 수빈, 지연과 은서. After having a really great time hanging out together on Saturday, we were still buzzing with excitement during this meeting. Although it was the last one, we did not make it sad and instead focused on anything but eventual goodbye at the end of the period. I also gave them their s’mores kits which they absolutely loved since all of them had never eaten a s’mores before. From the night before I ended up buying baggies and letter sheets from ArtBox and wrote a cute little letter with instructions on how to make the smores. I also detailed that if a bonfire could not be found (IF…lol), that the microwave in their school 7/11 store would be a perfect substitution.

Music class as well as my other academic classes are a bit foggy now. I do not think anything much out of the ordinary occurred. Katie and I took a walk around the school this morning because as it got warmer this weekend, the plants and flowers around campus were exceptionally beautiful and vibrant. Throughout the year, Katie and I tended not to explore campus all too much but when I stroll around like this, I realize how beautiful the campus really is. And so of course I had to take a ton of photos to remember everything.

Today, I also had my final mentorship meeting with my other two second year friends and because I also have this period with Katie and her two first year students, we decided to throw a little party which would include cake, McDonald’s chicken tenders, and lots and lots of snacks from the convenience store. Our cake came with candles but we had nothing to light them with…or so we thought. Before we knew it, one of the students (hiding the name for privacy reasons), pulled out a lighter and so we were all able to make a wish by blowing out the candles. But not before we were all exclaiming how funny it was that they just casually had a lighter in their bookbag.

It was a really nice party and everything was delicious–even the cake which was only ten dollars!! I really do think the students enjoyed it and I was happy that we were able to make our last meeting together special. We ended our time together by playing some games which left me clutching my side because it hurt so much from laughing. One of the games we played was this elephant one that I learned in my ASL class from senior year of high school which comprises of one person standing in the middle of the others forming a circle and they point at someone randomly. The person that gets pointed at has to put their hands on their nose in order to impersonate a elephant trunk while the people standing next to them have to form their ‘elephant ears’ with their hands. It was fun and got us moving after eating so much sugar!

After our meeting was over and we separated to grab lunch, Katie and I made our way back to 홍대 for our final Korean class before our final exams, if you will. I quickly rushed over to the $10 cake store and bought a cookies and cream cake for my teacher (I also had a card I had written to her during one of my classes that day). While our teacher was filling up her thermos with hot water for tea, we told her to take her time as we needed to prepare ‘something.’ That something was the cake if you are not catching on. She started laughing and played along while Jacquelyn stayed in the hallway to stall our teacher and started asking her questions so that she would walk slower our classroom. Eventually she came in and we all shouted for her and wished her a Happy Teacher’s Day. Honestly, I wish I could replay that moment in my head always as her smile truly made my day. I think she thought we were only surprising her because it was the last class; she did not expect us to be doing all of this for Teacher’s Day (as well). Is my teacher not the most adorable teacher ever? (My classmates are cute too I guess… :p) Teacher’s Day is technically tomorrow but like I mentioned early, today was our last class and a test day is usually… not the mood for a celebratory day involving cake.

We passed out plates and forks and all got to enjoy some cake while the teacher started going over the grammar review. She kept trying to get us to eat more and we were like “This CaKe iS fOr YoU!!!”

This blog post is rather short but here it isssss anyways. Thank you for reading!~

  • Emma 엠마

Exploring a Hanok Village & Insadong Souvenir Shopping {05/08-09/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

5/08/19 Wednesday

I feel horrible but this day might win the record for having the shortest explanation because I have barely any pictures from it and it’s been so long… I forgot what I did!! 

After school on this day, Katie needed to go home early for some reason so we couldn’t have our usual study date at our favorite Twosome Cafe. However, instead of going home right away, we did spend some time exploring the 한옥마을 (Hanok Village) across the street from our high school. We enter the village quite frequently to buy coffee or snacks at the convenience store or to visit our cafe but we have not really spent any time just walking around and enjoying the scenery. So today, we decided to do just that. We picked up some ice cream from the convenience store and took a walk. It was so nice to walk through the streets and appreciate the gorgeous architecture that makes up 한옥s. The buildings themselves seemed to be mostly be private residences while some were made into cafes, tea houses, or small clothing boutiques. We found this one bridge that really made me feel like I was being transported back in time as we kept making our way closer and closer to the center of the neighborhood. It was so quiet and peaceful. Less touristy than other 한옥 villages which was perfect! 

5/09/19 Thursday

The only really memorable class of today was my AP Econ class because instead of our normal lecture, we played a hands on game with a group of students! So the game was basically utilized to talk about wages within the market and supply-and-demand. Every group was randomly handed a job relating to the production of bananas. My group was given the “lowest job” which was a banana farmer. The others included the plantation owner, the transporter, the grocery store manager, etc. We all had to agree on how much each job should get paid. It was pretty interesting but since we were given the obvious choice for the job that would get the least amount of pay… we were stuck being severely underpaid!! At the end of the game, our teacher handed us all chocolate coins to symbolize how much money we would earn at the end of the hour and we only got 2 coins… (We did get more at the end though! So that every student could have one to eat, of course!)

Katie and I decided to not eat lunch at school today because we did have Korean class so we left right after our fourth period and made our way to 홍대. We stopped to get some green tea 호떡 on the way over. 

For lunch, we changed things up a bit and surprise, did not eat convenience store food!! We went to McDonald’s!! We shared some chicken tenders and intended to eat some French fries with vanilla ice cream but !!! McDonald’s ice cream machine was broken!! Who would have thought!! McDonald’s is not any better in Korea when it comes to their ice cream machine … yikes. 

We left McDonald’s with our fries and treated ourselves to convenience store ice cream. There is an ice cream sale happening all of May that if you get at least three ice creams, they all cost the same!! It’s such a good deal!! I also shook things up today with my ice cream selection and got a Melona Bar instead of my usual red bean fish ice cream.

Korean class today was something. I haven’t laughed so much in class like today in a while. I wasn’t stressed or feeling negative today at all. I truly enjoyed class and participated a whole lot!! Today, we also learned more about my Korean teacher when it comes to her past love life. Our teacher went around and asked us if were dating anyone because recently she had become intrigued by any possible love interests within the NSLI-Y program and when she came around to asking Jacquelyn, Jacquelyn had an answer that we were not expecting: she did in fact have a boyfriend, and a Korean one at that! Our teacher’s soul practically jumped out of her body as she rejoiced at this information. She then immediately deflated after Jacquelyn told her that she was gonna breakup with him before the end of the program because long distance never works. Our teacher went on a whole rant to express her disapproval!! She talked about how a good amount of Koreans are in long distance relationships because of the military (It is mandatory for all Korean men to serve in the military for about 2 years) and so they are innately good at it? (Maybe I understood this part…wrong?) She also brought up the fact that her first relationship was long distance (and that she had her first kiss pretty late in comparison to most because of that fact). She kept telling Jacquelyn that she could make their love last! It was quite heartwarming to witness our teacher being so enthusiastic about this topic. And in order to make this part of class truly educational, we of course had to learn the vernacular for long distance relationships and even the shorthand slang for it as well.

After class, Alix and I went to 인사동 to start buying souvenirs for our friends and family back home. We changed out of our uniforms at the youth center (Because no way we were gonna be dressed as school girls at the most touristy place in Korea practically) and did some shopping along the Main Street. We wanted to go to the poop cafe (yes, this kind of establishment DOES exist in Korea! You can eat stew out of heated toilet bowls and chocolate ice cream shaped like you-know-what) but we didn’t get to 인사동 until after 6 and unfortunately, we were too late. To make up for it, we did get poop shaped chocolate stuffed bread. It was just as delicious as expected. 

We walked around the shops filled with items mostly designed by independent artists. We went into this one cat store that Alix fell in love with at first sight. In their window display, they even had keychains of fake cat poo! It was pretty ridiculous. We each ended up buying a Korean book at this bookstore we also visited; I bought the Korean version of Peter Pan. The illustrations were absolutely gorgeous and I was able to understand he majority of the first page which made me take the leap to purchase it. (The amount of books I am buying in Korean for my future studies… is A LOT! I may need to send them to the states in their own box because they may be too heavy in my suitcase.

While walking around, we stumbled upon this store selling traditional Korean masks like the ones we saw being used for the mask dance in 안동 (That blog post linked here). There was even a wall with a variety of smaller sized masks that can be worn as a necklace (or used as decoration). They were also a really good price (Maybe about $5 each if I can remember correctly?) considering that they were handmade! The coolest part was that above each mask, the type of “character” it represented was also written. Alix and I were able to pick out the ones we saw in the dance like the fool character, the monk, and the maiden. I ended up buying two as gifts for some of my high school teachers (the ones that wrote me recommendations for college and NSLI-Y). 

We also bought some dragon beard candy (traditional malt candy that was eaten by the king). These candies can last for a long time if they are frozen so they act as perfect souvenirs. The night ended with some delicious food at a cozy restaurant off of the main road. It was on the cheaper side which was permitted a sigh of relief from our wallets. I enjoyed a nice bowl of 김치찌개 (kimchi stew) which was on the spicier side—exactly how I like it!

Walking through 인사동 at night might even be prettier than walking through it during the day! Looking up at the sky and seeing the outlines of dark trees and the multicolored lights lighting up the path is something right out of a piece of artwork. We also got to stop for a bit and watch a jazz performance by some foreigners! 

Well, that is all for this blog post! Sorry for the abrupt ending but let’s be honest, I probably just came home and studied for a bit or went to bed right away seeing that the next day was Friday. I hope you enjoyed~ I can’t believe these posts will be coming to an end soon… a little more than two weeks left of the program!

  • Emma 엠마 

Vietnamese Food in Sinchon and Parent’s Day in Korea (05/06-07/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

05/06/19 Monday

A/N: I am writing about these days quite a bit after they actually happened and my lack of pictures and a photographic memory means that this won’t be the most detailed blog, unfortunately. It’s more of a bummer for me than for you all, though.

Because I had no school today, I was finally able to spend time with my host family during a weekday for breakfast. My host mom made these deliciously healthy omelets and although my younger host sister complained, I found them tasty. I left after breakfast and met up with Katie and Jenna at 이대. We wanted to go out for lunch together and help refrain each other from buying any clothes that we see on the way. We walked around the 이대 area for a little bit and nothing really stood out to us for lunch. Eventually Jenna recommended us a couple places near 연세대 so we made the short trek to the area around that university instead.

Katie brought us Macaroons! ❤

Jenna took us to this Vietnamese place called (Emoi?) which she had been the day previous with her church friends. She promised that the food was so good that she didn’t mind coming with us again. We all ordered the cheapest pho dish on the menu (of course, stipend does not stretch that much!) and some fried roll to share. The service was fast and everything was delicious! The portion was huge so I couldn’t even finish all of my noodles even though I tried my very best. 

After eating, we went over to a cafe in order to get some work done and apparently every other college student in the area had the same idea. We passed by our first choice (Twosome) and there were literally no seats for us. We turned down a few alleys until we stumbled upon a place that was almost hidden and took the last big 4-seater-table. 

Katie and I were still on a 제주도 high so we decided to order a 한라봉 latte because it sounded fancy and I thought it would take us back. I should have taken a guess after seeing the several hundred strawberry lattes that Katie has ordered that this fruity drink would not be an actual latte but alas I was fooled. (spoiler alert: strawberry lattes are just cups of milk with pieces of strawberry in it). So that is what we got: a cup of milk with 한라봉. I was able to be pretty productive for around 2 hours so it was not a waste by any means. Plus, it was nice hanging out with the girls. Especially Jenna, I haven’t really hung out with her that often. 

My host family had eaten by the time I came home so I just had instant black bean noodles and some strawberries to end the night before tucking in to more homework.

5/07/19 Tuesday

Back to School! I don’t remember much of this day… in the morning I had my English conversation period with the three second year girls. Instead of speaking in English about a certain topic chosen beforehand, we ended up just planning out what we would be doing when we met up on Saturday in 홍대. We planned to make perfume or jewelry at this one place that 수빈 found on some list on Naver and we decided to eat at this pretty cheap chicken place—again due to another recommendation from 수빈. (She is definitely the one that plans within the friend group) We also would go to a 노래방 (Karaoke) and buy any street foods that the girls were craving. It looked like it was going to be a really fun day. Jam packed into only 3 hours—the girls had to be back at the school—but fun nonetheless. 

In music class Katie and I finished researching and writing out info for our presentation. We would not have to present them aloud to the class because the entire class was behind (Our teacher did not show up for a class period) so we would just be hanging up our posters in the hallway outside of the classroom. 한국사 (Korean History) was another lecture that I didn’t understand well (Though I also didn’t try hard to pay attention today.. I wanted to do my Korean homework instead…) 

My last class of the day was another English conversation class and the two girls and I just spent the whole time talking about how our class trips went. They all went to different places (강화도 and 부산). And let me just say they got away with a lot! 😉 I will not detail anything else because…a girls gotta have their secrets!

After school was of course Korean class but I don’t remember anything that we did. Since today was Parent’s day, I asked my teacher what to get my host mom and she told me that the most iconic gift for parents is the flower carnation. I realized that she was spot on when I left the center and saw that there were now flower carts on many of the street corners selling little bouquets of carnations. Kaitlyn and I ended up buying just one single carnation flower for our host parents (BIG shoutout to us for being able to use the counter for flowers when asking how much one single flower would cost!) 

After that, June, Kaitlyn, and I went to 노래방. I have been telling everyone that I needed a buddy to go with me as I really needed to sing some old Justin Bieber songs and so we did just that. Do not ask me why I was in the mood to sing such songs… I was just ready to be hit with a wave of nostalgia from middle school. Also, you would have to be lying if you disagreed with and said that Baby is not an iconic karaoke song. Like, come on. And, to top it all off, we were able to snag a score of 100 on Never Say Never by Justin Bieber. We truly sang our little hearts out. 

I went home after the hour of karaoke and had dinner with my host family. My host mom was on the phone for business when I tried to give her the carnation I bought her for Parent’s Day and so I awkwardly stood outside her bedroom door until my younger host sister noticed. They all started shouting at my host mom when I explained to them what the flower was for because they were so touched by my action. They had not even gotten anything for their mother so it was a surprise to see me following tradition for this holiday. My host mom was very grateful for the small act of kindness I showed her and she even set a photo of my carnation as her profile picture on Kakao Talk (The true Medal of Honor).

Well that is all I have for this blog post~~ It is kind of a bit everywhere because I had to combine so many days but it’s my fault for falling behind on writing!! Don’t get your hopes up though… my next post will probably also be a combination of a couple days with photos being few and far between. I’m sorry!! I’m hoping to up the quality of these posts soon but hey, that is life sometimes! I’m having a blast in Korea and the times are busy and hectic so my blog is taking a back seat. Hope you all understand ^^ Thanks for reading !!

  • Emma 엠마

Outside Class (야외수업), Travel Maker Brunch in Hongdae, and Korean Monthly Exam (04/30/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/30/19 Tuesday

Since Katie and I stayed up really late the previous night studying, we were both practically dead in the morning. We even went to the convenience store to buy coffee before school started because I knew that there was no way I would be able to sit awake during my classes today without some assistance from caffeine.

Morning selfie before we have to be in our homerooms

During first period, I had my English conversation class with three 2nd year students and instead of having any conversation on intellectual topics, we rather planned what we would be do in two weeks time when meeting up in 홍대 to hang out! The girls were going to be able to get permission to leave school to hang with me for a couple hours, so we spent our hour in the library picking where to eat and deciding what we could do to fill up the time. 수빈 recommended this really good (and cheap) chicken place that she had been to in 부산 (it was a chain) so were going to eat there and then most likely go to 노래방 (karaoke) and make perfume or macaroons or something crafty–we wanted to do something hands on! It was a lot of fun planning out our day!

My 한국사 (Korean History) teacher switched things up for today’s class and allowed us to have class outside which we call 야외수업! We left the classroom and walked down this really nice, scenic path past the 한옥 (Korean traditional house) museum and neighborhood almost towards the nearby Buddhist temple.

On our way there, we passed by these birds fighting on the sidewalk and one of the birds became injured and was struggling to flap its wings while it was down on the ground. A lot of the girls were scared of it although it was harmless so they kept shrieking every time it gained enough momentum to get a little bit off the ground. It was really sad to see it in so much pain, struggling to survive and get back up. One of the students called someone (maybe some type of Animal control?) so when we did walk back to the school, that bird was gone.

The teacher talked to us a little bit about the history of the area before letting us go free and visit either the Twosome Place Cafe or the convenience store. (He turned a blind eye away from those students who were buying ramen to stockpile reserves in the dorm.) During the entire duration of our outdoor class, I hung out and chatted with my friend 정민. She actually is close friends with my other third year friends (세림, 지은, and 지연) but this was the first class I was able to have with her.

She was so sweet with me that she even bought me a drink from the cafe–an iced chocolate (basically just the cold version of the hot chocolate). We talked all about our school lives and a bit about our past. Apparently, 정민 spent some time in America when she was young because her aunt lives in the US. That was interesting to hear about.

After Katie and I finished our second exchange student conversation class of the day before lunch time, we immediately booked it off of school grounds to try to get to 홍대 as fast as we possibly could. All the other NSLI-Y students had no school today so they planned to all go out for a traditional American brunch at a famous place in 홍대 called Travel Maker.

Katie and I were able to make it to the restaurant just around the time that everyone else was receiving their food. We were able to just sneak into the booths they were already at and order some pancakes. Luckily, even though we did have school, we were able to make in enough time to eat with everyone for a little while. After we finished eating, we wanted to take a group photo so I (with some random confidence) ran up to a complete stranger walking in the park across the street and asked them to take a photo for us. I was glad that we were able to put this little brunch date together!

Blueberry Pancakes ❤ My favorite food = pancakes

Afterward, we all had to go and take our monthly tests for April… what a downer to a great first half of the day. I walked to the Better World Office with Josh and Jacquelyn and we passed by his cafe that day and there was a really cute sign out front. It made me smile.

Translation: Difficult days also pass by. Waiting for a happy tomorrow.

Our test this month was extremely difficult. We expected it, though. Our teacher warned us about it. The passages in this test seemed a lot more complicated than the ones in past tests and they were so much longer too! I barely had enough time to read through all of the reading passages and answer all the questions. I had to pick my best guess for a couple questions. I was also super tired from staying up late studying (and the coffee in the morning already wore off), so I started nodding off during the test too which is never good! After we all finished the reading test, we made a stop at the closest convenience store during break time to pick up some pick-me-ups including coffee and gummy geckos.

Usually my blog posts about the unit/monthly tests tend to be a bit more negative because more often than not I feel mildly incompetent after taking each and every test. Luckily, because I am writing this so much later, I do not have those negative thoughts floating around in my head. Looking back at this test and my OPI, I feel like I did pretty well. Comparing it to my march speaking test which involved me crying while on the phone with my teacher, this one went a lot smoother. She actually asked me to describe the movie plot of one of my favorite movies so I went on and described the basic plot of Hello Ghost which involves suicide and ghosts and although the subject matter was heavy, I was able to explain it all better than I originally assumed I would be able to. (Actually, I feel like that answer was probably one of the biggest reasons for why I was able to move up a level that month.) The writing test for this month was writing about our individual projects and I felt prepared to discuss my topic, but I still struggled with vocabulary. Even though I had to substitute some desired words for ones that I did know, I felt that I explained everything I wanted to discuss in my paper quite well.

After the monthly test, Josh and I walked to 와플대학 to meet some of the other NSLI-Y students (Alix, Hunter, Katie, etc) for our after-test-tradition of waffles. I had dinner plans with a friend after the test so I ended up not ordering my own and just stealing some bites from Katie. We talked about our tests and ranted for a bit before I left for 신촌.

In 신촌 we went to a meat restaurant and had barbecue for dinner while chatting about a lot of different topics. I learned that the tape and arrows on the roads and alleyways pointing to certain restaurants were a part of events that the university students hold. Apparently like a fundraiser type thing? Or they are ways to try to raise membership for clubs and such. When we first got to the restaurant, we watched some female students putting the yellow tape on the road and as it got darker, we noticed people directing others to follow the tape to the final destination. 

Yonsei at Night

After eating we walked around the 연세 campus which was honestly the first time I really was able to walk around a large majority of the campus. Previously, I had only walked up the large drive (lawn maybe is a better term?) with Addie and Jessica on two separate occasions. My friend was not a student there or anything but we still walked around the different buildings anyways.

We ended the night just chilling at a cafe to talk. Cafe Pascucci was the name of the cafe and it was my first time there! We just got our drinks and relaxed on one of the sofa seats on the second floor and talked until I had to go because of curfew. It was a nice way to unwind after the stressful days leading up to the test day.

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

Ikseon-dong {익선동}, Flower Cafe, and First Korean Convenience Store Ramen (04/25/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/25/19 Thursday 

Our plan to make the most of our days off was to return to 익선동 on a day in which there would be little to no crowds (AKA today) because the first time we visited back in March—on a Friday—there were so many people that walking through the narrow streets and alleyways between the closely packed buildings was extremely difficult. We decided then that it would have to be an excursion we take again during our midterm break. We decided to return to 익선동 to do some more shopping (for clothes, jewelry, whatever else) and also go to this cute flower cafe that we kept passing by the last time we went. 

Most cafes in Korea tend to open pretty late in the morning (11 am is a pretty average opening hour for most cafes here in Seoul) but this one was open from 7:30 am! Unfortunately, it’s not a study cafe though… so I wouldn’t know why anyone would come this early but I guess for those who want to peacefully take pictures undisturbed, they can do that super early in the morning. 

Although the cafe was obviously not meant for studying and more here for aesthetic reasons, Katie and I studied there anyway. I ended up ordering a rose latte (because I wanted something unique!) and Katie got her usual recent favorite—strawberry latte (which in Korea is just milk with strawberries… literally.) We were not being too productive as I kept getting distracted by our plans for our trip to 파주시 for the following day with the 대원외고 students.

We left the cafe earlier than planned and just did some strolling around the area. A lot of things were still closed which was a shame. Most of the cafes and food stalls don’t seem to open until 1 or 2 so although coming in the morning is a great way to beat the crowds, it may not always be the best decision either. (As an example, the jewelry shop that I bought earrings and a necklace from last time was closed unfortunately.. and no churros or 호떡 for us either! But maybe this curse was disguised as a blessing because it kept me from spending money!)

For lunch, we ended up just buying ramen from the convenience store near the youth center where I take Korean classes and eating it in the lobby of the fourth floor. We used the hot water from the water filter/dispenser and cooked the ramen that way.  (My first time not boiling water the traditional way–on a stove-top) It was actually also my first time buying ramen from the convenience store! But I still have yet to buy it, cook it, and eat it at the convenience store. I really want to have this inherent “Korean” experience but I just have not had the chance yet! That is still on my bucket list!! Although I will say, I am not the biggest fan of ramen so maybe that is why I have not instantly jumped at the prospect of completing this one.

It was sooo spicy yet so good! (I will have to bring some of these back with me to America…;)

However, this ramen was so good? The one Katie and I bought came with a packet of kimchi to mix in with the ramen because it was 김치찌개 (kimchi stew) flavored which only added to its deliciousness!

Josh’s dumpling-looking crab

During Korean class today, we did not get through much of anything that we needed to get through. We kept on getting off track by telling stories about things that somewhat related to the chapter?? When we went over the vocab words for the chapter, we discussed this proverb: 개자는 게 편이다 which basically has the same meaning of the English saying birds of a feather flock together. And I guess because of this proverb, Josh drew this very very weird looking crab on the board. It highly resembled a 만두 (dumpling). Our teacher showed him up thereafter though! She drew the cutest crab! I love her drawings~

After class, I went with Jacquelyn to walk around the main streets of 홍대 in search of some cute unique earrings because she was going out to dinner but did not bring any to class. I tagged along because I did not want to go home just yet but of course, I ended up buying some earrings as well–two pairs for only 5 dollars! We ran into Addie and Katie while walking back to the subway station and I decided to go with Katie to try to find something to buy to wear tomorrow. We walked around and ended up in one of our favorite stores (Lucky Factory)… I bought a dress for tomorrow–on sale–so I do not feel that bad for spending something extra on myself. I went home after that and chilled with my host mom, ate dinner, and did…some homework.

This post is extremely short! I would combine it with tomorrow but I know it is going to be super long and I do not want to post something that is too painfully long… so this is all for now. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed anyways!

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Class Hangout, Pasta Dinner with Resident Director, and Mailing Packages Back to America (04/23/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

4/23/19 Tuesday 

Katie and I met up at 홍익 station at around 10:30 am so that we would have ample time to walk to the post office (about a 20 ish minute walk—but it felt like years carrying all of our bags) to mail some packages back to America. Because the program is coming to an end, we are beginning to worry about the whole packing situation: overweight bags or not having enough space at the end is not an option! With all our bags in tow, we made the walk in the heat to mail our things. I brought a lot to mail! So much.. in fact, I couldn’t even mail everything in the one box I chose… I’ll have to come back if worse comes to worse…

I packed up and sent all of my finished Korean workbooks, unused notebooks, stationary, Korean notebooks, books, stuffed animals, two winter coats, and a couple random things like a music box, party hat, etc. 

Boxes fully packed!

Katie and I were experts this time around and were able to pack our things into the boxes and fill out the mailing form with only a couple mistakes. Mine ended up being about $40 by boat for like 17 pounds? Possibly… I’m not sure how their scale worked.

We left the post office feeling accomplished and then stopped by a nearby convenience store for ice cream because after this whole ordeal we were sweaty—and felt that we deserved the sweet treat. We scarfed those down pretty quickly and recharged for a couple minutes before heading back to Better World to meet up with 소영쌤 and 주연쌤 for lunch. While we were walking back; however, Katie began doubting my navigational skills—convinced that I took the wrong turn. I kept telling her that I knew what I was doing but low key I did just make the turn at that moment because it felt like the right moment to turn. So I was also worried that I made a mistake. Eventually, we saw some familiar places and knew that we were on the right path. I was proud that my ‘traveler intuition’ if you will did not steer me wrong. It also made me happy to realize how well I have adjusted to the area–it does feel so familiar and comfortable.

When we got to Better World, 주연쌤 asked me what I wanted to eat and I said pasta which blew a fuse with 주연쌤 because she and Katie were planning on going to a pasta place too. She assumed that we did that on purpose to eat together. (Though I was the first one to tell Katie that I wanted to have pasta!) They took us to this little joint down an alleyway from the office and we even passed this ‘quirky’ cafe. Upon seeing the name, both me and Katie read it aloud: Cafe Urp, saying the last word like the urp in burp. 주연쌤 laughed and corrected us by informing us that you are supposed to say each of the letters of the name individually. She mentioned that last year’s group did the same thing! It’s just the cafe’s name, not us! (Apparently, last year’s program’s students loved this place. It is so interesting to see how each cohort is so different.)

Look at this complimentary bread! It was black! (Because it was infused with squid ink! So cool)

Lunch with 소영쌤 was really great! I ordered a carbonara pasta and it was one of the best pasta dishes I have probably had in Korea? I loved that it was a cream pasta but that the cream wasn’t overwhelming. Plus the mushrooms were perfectly cooked! It was kind of expensive for 13,000-15,000 Won for a plate of pasta but that’s normal for Italian food here; we cannot complain about that price point. I’ve felt like I haven’t gotten the chance to get really close with 소영쌤 (Maybe because she came a little bit later into the program? She joined the office back in mid-late November. But honestly, I forget that she has not been with us since the beginning often! That is a good sign I believe.) After talking with her a lot during my host family check-In meeting, I wanted the chance to talk to her more. 

I’ve never been prouder of my Korean skills than I was during this lunch. I honestly surprised myself with the things I was able to say— the grammar points and vocab words used. But most importantly, I was proud of myself for figuring out how to explain my thoughts properly and for talking around things when I was missing vocab word knowledge. For example, at one point, we discussed my individual research project which is about Korean society’s perception of the disabled—with a main focus on those with mental disabilities rather than physical. I wanted to explain that some families will go to the great length of convincing the doctors to misdiagnose their patients in order to not receive a diagnosis of Autism. I didn’t know the word for diagnose and I sat there for a couple seconds becoming really frustrated with myself because I could only think of the word for “to prescribe” which I knew wasn’t right. I began to think about how to say the word in English but I couldn’t even think of that. And then suddenly, I just started talking around the subject and giving an example to 소영쌤 for her to tell me the word for ‘to diagnose’ (it is 지단하다 by the way) and from there, I was able to explain my thoughts. This may seem like something small but often times when I can’t figure out how to say something, I give up and just say anything but what was originally intended. I filter my own thoughts due to these ‘word barriers.’ This lunch showed me that I can overcome the bad habit of planning out what I want to say in my head before saying it. I can make sense if I just let myself speak! 

We had such great conversation! I talked all about my project and we discussed the possible sources of the difference in perception of disabilities between America and Korea. We also talked about the burning sun controversy, drug related arrests, drug searches/investigations, the Topik test, technology causing a disappearance of jobs, the difficulty of getting a job after college, teachers at 하나고, and finding a roommate for college! It was a really nice lunch~~ I hope I can do something like this with her again once last time before we leave—even if it’s just a little cafe date. 

After lunch, Katie and I walked back to the youth center and just hung out with all the other students for a bit. I ended up taking a walk with Shada and then stopping at Dari Cafe together just to chat—while I was multitasking by studying both my vocab words on Quizlet and talking to Shada. 

Class today was very rushed as we are currently a bit behind when it comes to our schedule. Today we ended up having to present our technology presentations which were supposed to originally have been given last week Thursday. We also took a quiz that was supposed to be taken then too. This time, our teacher made our tests harder by increasing the amount of vocab questions (as well as the amount of words in the word bank) and adding more questions that included answers that were proverbs or commonly used phrases. There were word banks (or should I say phrase banks?) for the proverbs but questions for the phrases gave nothing. 

Lately, I haven’t been doing my best on these quizzes. Usually it’s a mix of mostly me not understanding the actual question (like the overal meaning or random vocab words in it) and then sometimes me generally not knowing a word in the word bank. This time, though, I surprised myself. On the hardest quiz we have probably had yet, (Also, we are on textbook 5! This is like Topik Level 5 advanced vocab !!) I got 100%!! Nothing wrong!! I haven’t gotten an 100 on a quiz in what seems like forever. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’ve been getting back to studying the amount that I need to do well and the effort is already starting to show itself~ 

Once class was over, Jacquelyn, Josh, and I left to have our very first class dinner—of just the three of us—for the first time this entire program. While we were walking to the destination, we tried coming up with times we met up and ate together but there was always one other person with us. I brought up our one short trip to the grilled cheese place but I didn’t eat anything when we went so Jacquelyn ruled that out and said it doesn’t count. 

We ate here~

So we had our first class dinner at this Japanese restaurant. I am not too familiar with Japanese food so I was happy to try something that I usually don’t eat—especially something that I wouldn’t leave my comfort zone to try if I was by myself. I ate 사계동 (or something like that?) It was basically just a bowl of rice topped with raw salmon, veggies, and soy sauce—very tasty though! The fish was very fresh. 

During dinner we talked a lot about how far we’ve come throughout the program, our relationships with the others, how we have changed during program (growing to really love 김치 being one common thread that I had with Josh), worries about college, our plans for what to study in college, plans to meet up in Virginia and go to Betty’s Azalea Ranch (an inside joke within my class), as well as plans to go to 노량진시장 together once more before leaving Korea! 

It was still really early when we finished our dinner since we did get to the restaurant only a bit after 5:30 pm so we decided to get some dessert at a cute cafe.

Of course, Jacquelyn pulled out Mango Plate and was able to find a place selling chocolate lava cake. It was a bit pricey—6,500 Won (probably a little less than $6) but it was worth it! The cafe was decorated gorgeously and the atmosphere was so comfortable. Additionally, once this couple before us left, we had the whole cafe to ourselves for about two hours. No one came in during the duration that we were there. That probably isn’t the case on non weekday nights but I liked that it wasn’t crazy loud or busy or anything like that. 

Our cafe conversation was fun as well. We have fun in class too with stories and such but it felt different to be out of the classroom environment and in a more chill one with the both of them. It was really enjoyable and it made me wish that we had done this more often—from the beginning. We always said we would…

We even ate the lava cakes with these cute little wooden spoons! Adorable!

At one point, Jacquelyn brought up a fact that she doesn’t really hang out with this one NSLI-Yian anymore after they moved away from 홍대 and how the distance kept their relationship from getting closer. Josh added to this to say that he used hang out with a girl named “Emma” (literally not subtle at all) a lot when he lived in 고양시 and since then, they haven’t hung out often. I felt sorely attacked by this but I mean he wasn’t wrong. We did kinda drift a part after he moved away due to the distance as well as some misunderstandings within our cohort. But we have been hanging out more lately it seems! And I will continue to make plans with Josh because I really do treasure his friendship~ 

사랑하는 3반친구들

Josh and I ran into Jack at the subway station and he told us about his master plan to order pizza before class the next day and then asking to pick it up during one of the class breaks so that he and Liam could eat pizza during class. I found this plan very funny and exactly something they would do for sure. I went home after that, arriving at about 8:30 pm ish. Rather than studying Korean, I stayed up late figuring out financial things for college and filling out my housing application. Everything is so complicated and I am out of the loop… I know no one from my ‘new’ class and I’m nervous about that. I’m also not a apart of the new QB (my scholarship) chat so… that’s concerning. I need to figure out how to join. I also did research on where to rent 한복 near 경복궁 but that proved to be preparation in vain..you’ll find out why in the next blog post. 

Thanks for reading~ Till next time! Subscribe to stay in the loop for more updates! Bye!~

  • Emma 엠마

Pancake Brunch Tradition in Hongdae & Josh’s Cafe (04/22/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/22/19 Monday

brunch 10

Morning walks with springtime flowers >>>>>>

Katie and I kicked off our midterm break in the same way that we kicked off our winter break… with brunch! Specifically, brunch at Flapjack Pantry–our favorite place to get American-style breakfast in 홍대. (Travel Maker is a close second, though. This was a highly contested debate within our NSLI-Y cohort) We stuffed our faces with pancakes of course!! No surprise there~

The weather was so nice this day~~ It was supposed to be the warmest day of the week and it definitely felt like summer rather than spring. Katie and I had a lot of fun just talking while enjoying our scrumptious food—happy to not have woken up at 6 am that morning for school…just that high school student life! We also ordered a side of fries which I understand is not a typical pairing with breakfast foods but we were craving a FULL American experience this morning. 

After we had brunch, we went off to find a cafe to work at because we needed to do some homework. The both of us left things until the last minute… We were gonna go to this “Insta-worthy” cafe at first but alas, they are closed on Mondays! So instead of that, we went to our trusted cafe near Better World—Josh’s Cafe. (I wish I could remember the actual name…but the name included stars or moons? It will come back to me eventually.)

Earlier, when we passed by the cafe, the owner waved at us as she saw us out the window. When we returned to study there after brunch, she said “우우 다시 왔어” (ooo You came again!) as we walked through the door. I felt as welcomed as ever~~ 

brunch 3

I ordered a chocolate banana smoothie and when the owner brought out our drinks, there were two little cute pieces of strawberries right on top of mine~ She told me that she prepared them just for me. It was such a sweet gesture!

We studied there for almost two hours and I was able to really get productive, even when Addie and Josh came by which disturbed the peace for a bit (Not throwing shade but it’s the truth! When people are around you not working, it makes you not want to work either). I was able finish my witting assignment on the reasons behind the  increase of international/interracial marriages as well as problems that arise for those types of couples AND re-memorized my speech on technology (even though I ended up not needed to since we did NOT any presentations give them on Monday.)

brunch 4

In class today we discussed the term “millennials” in Korean and how Korean society has split up generations and their respective names.

brunch 6

Also, we discussed our current packing crisis since we will need to start preparing for returning home and our teacher recommended that we donate some clothes! She told us about used clothes bins around the city and I will have to look into that! I have some clothes I want to leave behind/no longer fit.

brunch 5

Since Katie and I had a large brunch, we ended up not eating lunch which was fine with me at the time but eventually after Korean class, I was feeling extra hungry. We had our bi-weekly meeting after class so all the NSLI-Y students met up at the center for that. To my surprise, Katie bought me ice cream! She came through the door holding some cookie sandwich ice cream and I was so touched~~ I was hungry so she really has good sense! 

 

After class, I walked around the main shopping street of 홍대 with Kaitlyn for a little less than 30 minutes because she wanted to kill time before her train. I ended up buying a new wallet during that time… reason #217 that I can’t go down that street: I will buy something. It’s kind of a necessary though; my current one is falling apart. Literally. 

I got home just in time for dinner and when my sisters arrived home, they asked me what I wanted to eat. Usually, I say something along the lines of “상관 없어” (I do not have a preference/I do not mind) or “아무것나 괜찮아” (anything is good) because I do not want to give them any more work. I will literally eat anything they prepare for me. However, this time I actually chose out of the options they offered. So we had chicken for dinner! 

My host mom had to leave mid-meal because of some work thing so it was just me and my host sisters eating dinner together. And, it was a lot of fun! I ended up staying at the kitchen table/chilling in the living room for almost two hours after we ate because we were just having that much fun talking! Honestly, I love my host sisters so much because we always have great conversations. They aren’t afraid to talk about any topic with me and I love that! (And I do not mean in just a personal/intimate sense–with what is discussed–but they also do not shy away from certain topics (or words even) just because of the language barrier. For them, our relationship has no barrier–it is simply a hurdle. And that can be hard to find, especially in regards to relationships with locals. When I speak with them, I feel normal–just like a human. Basically, not as a foreigner.)

First, they told me about this recent scandal with a famous clothing brand on Instagram. Apparently, someone messaged the owner about the holes on some shirt being too small for the buttons and the owner rudely replied (in a fake nice manner) telling the customer to just cut the holes bigger with a knife. That customer posted the DMs online on some forum and it went viral in Korea. Tons of other people started exposing that online store and they lost a lot of their followers on Instagram.

Stemming from that, we started talking about scandals with how people respond to certain situations, so I brought up the scandal with some American college professor or other who sent an email to someone asking for the Chinese students of that particular university (they were possibly international students?) to not be allowed to speak Chinese on campus with others around. Her round-about ridiculous reasoning being that they would do better connecting to the community or getting internships or something of the sort if they refrained from speaking Chinese. My sisters asked me what happened to the teacher and I’m pretty sure she was fired because the school did not want to give an image of an institution that doesn’t promote or accept diversity. 

We also talked about funny subway stories in which I mentioned the time that I saw a carry-on fall off the shelf above the seats right onto a woman standing there. My sisters were freaking out when I was telling this story because they couldn’t believe someone could be so dumb as to place their bag up there—especially seeing that it was one of those rolling carry-on bags with the hard plastic shell covers. Their screams of disbelief kept getting louder and louder as they added each description word to the suitcase: wheels? Plastic? Hard?

They also told me the old way that people would confess to random strangers on the subway. And that would be by telling the person that they like that they would be getting off at the next stop. Hoping that if they were interested, they would follow them off at that stop. My younger host sister told me of the time that she witnessed it happen to a girl that was standing next to her on the train. When the guy told her that statement, she bluntly replied that she would not be getting off at the next station. That would be so embarrassing! It was a public confession at that!! But hey, kudos to him for being brave enough to shoot his shot in that manner–and in public.

We also talked about turnoffs with guys and one that we brought up was a guy that uses social media a lot and takes a lot of selfies. My host sisters think that kind of behavior is okay for girls to do (even though they do not do it) but for guys, they find it distasteful. It was interesting to hear that perspective because I think that a lot of Korean guys could fit into that box? Social Media is such a BIG thing here and I have observed that social media habits are quite different for both genders in Korea but especially in comparison to the habits of the same genders in the United States (or at least, within the circles I know on social media). Maybe I should write a post about this subject! I feel like it could be interesting to more deeply analyze this topic.

After hanging out in the living room chatting for a bit, I returned to my room to finish up my homework for the next day. I also had to pack because I was going to mail a package at the post office the following day. I needed to go through what I was gonna send now (and wouldn’t receive for 2-3 months as I would be sending it by boat) and what was gonna come with me back to the states in my suitcase. 

That’s all for this blog post then~ Thanks for reading!! I hope you enjoyed!! Please subscribe if you enjoy this content!^^ Bye!

  • Emma 엠마