No School!! Pancake Brunch at Travel Maker in 홍대 (Hongdae) & Dinner with my Korean Teacher {03/07/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/07/19 Thursday

Today I got to sleep in till 8!! I honestly took for granted all the sleep I was able to get during winter break… mornings that usually started anywhere from 8 to 9:30 in the morning. Now, I have to wake up before the sun is up; 5:45 am is too early to be awake! 

Why did I get to sleep in? Well, today was some national mock exam of some sort that I did not have to take since clearly I am not a student here {full-time student at least} so I, along with all other NSLI-Y students, did not have to come to school! In order to use our morning well, Katie and I went out for Brunch! We wanted to try something new {besides Flapjack Pantry mostly…} so we walked down these random alleys trying to see if we could find this brunch place that Katie very vaguely remembers seeing during one of our walks last week. After walking around for almost and hour, we did end up finding a brunch place but their idea of brunch seemed to focus on sandwiches? And not even good sandwiches either… it looked just like average homemade sandwiches on white bread with the crust cut off… not my thing. So we gave up and decided to go to Travel Maker! We had both been there previously but not with each other which made it feel kinda new? Plus, they recently moved locations since the last time I was there so it was like I was there for the first time ever. I ordered strawberry and banana pancakes and Katie got the same thing but in a French toast version. 

We enjoyed our time to chat together before Korean class {While we also did some last minute cramming— Katie memorizing words and me rehearsing my presentation for that day}. 

Class today was actually really good! I felt that I participated more than usual especially during the part of class when we discussed what we talked about with our host families. {Every week from now on, we will have a discussion in class about a conversation we have had with our host family and or school friends about a topic that was given to us beforehand.} Today’s discussion was on 미세 먼지 (Yellow Dust–air pollution) which I talked to my host sisters about last night at dinner and boy, did they have some strong opinions. 

Then this morning, I wrote down sentences that summarized all that they had said so when it was time for the discussion, I was able to use those sentences as an outline to talk about all that I did. I made mistakes here and there but because it was prepared, I felt confident in what I was saying!

We also went over the TOPIK tests that we took over the weekend… Luckily, my reading and listening scores went up {barely like I’m talking a couple points if that but hey… it is something}. 

The rest of the class periods were spent going over the reading passages in the chapter and we did start the grammar for today but only were able to get through 2 rather than the usual 3. Today was also presentation day but we only got through mine … I felt sorry for the others but I’m glad I got mine out of the way! 

After Korean class, I was supposed to have a little 상담 or (counseling) meeting of sorts with my teacher and so I figured we would just go to a cafe and chat but we both forgot that Thursday classes end at 6 pm meaning that we were both quite hungry. {I also wouldn’t make it home in time for dinner if I did the meeting with her}. Because of that, we decided to get dinner together instead!

I am not exactly sure where we ate but she drove me in her car and it didn’t seem to be too far of a drive from around 홍익역. At first, I thought the restaurant was a place serving Japanese food but they also had pasta and other western style foods there too–a little on the pricier side, though. My Korean teacher ended up ordering some type of Hamburg steak while I got 돈까스 (fried pork cutlet–One of my true love’s here in Korea!) But before we got our main meal, we got served soup and bread rolls! I was so surprised to see bread served like that.

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Dinner with my Korean teacher went really well. Before I warmed up, got over my nerves, and became comfortable, I felt really awkward speaking with her. Because class had just ended, I needed to try very hard to get out of the academic mindset. While eating with her, I had no reason to worry and mull over using advanced vocabulary and or grammar points. I just needed to speak and express the words that I wanted to say. 

She asked me how I was feeling in class and overall with my Korean abilities. I talked to her about the last TOPIK practice test that I took and how I kept putting it off until the last possible moment (particularly the reading and listening test). I explained that the huge amount of unknown vocab words and grammar in these sections makes me lose confidence and dislike the test taking project. However since the writing section depends only on what I know, I really enjoy completing that section. My Korean teacher reassured me that I should not be disappointed with not knowing what comes out on the TOPIK test seeing that we do not cater our current Korean class to the TOPIK exam. She said that I just need to continue studying vocabulary (like I have been doing since the beginning) to continue to raise my score.

We also talked about my bombed OPI… I told her that I was not like that when I took the OPI before starting this program. I was really nervous but there were no extreme silences or as much stuttering as there was when I did do the OPI with her over the phone. I also opened up and mentioned that when I do it in front of her, I have to stay strong because I am being watched but when I was in the break room alone, I almost started crying when I got overwhelmed with the questions being asked. 

In addition to that, I explained my issue with speaking to some students at 하나고. My issue being the fact that I will have things to say or I will feel the urge to say something but then I am too much of a chicken to act on the desire. However, during other moments, I have no problem just speaking my mind when I am surrounded with friends or in emergency situations. But also just random confidence boosts! My teacher gave me some advice after assessing that I think too much when I try to speak Korean (and she literally could not have been more right). Lastly, she suggested that I try to persuade the other students to talk to me by offering them candy. (I will be using that one…)

My teacher also talked to me about my personality and the type of a person I am. She said that out of everyone in the class, she sees herself–the most–in me. She also exposed Josh by telling me that he confessed to her that seeing me studying so hard motivates him to also put in more effort to study Korean. Whether it be because of my organized notes or my countless Quizlet sets, he honestly believes I am the hardest worker among the class. Josh is such a great friend and I am so lucky to have him in my life! She told me that she too is impressed with all that I do with my pretty notes (She asked me where I learned how to make them so nice! And why I do it. Apparently she wants to bullet journal which she thinks I would also enjoy.)

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My Lovely teacher!

We talked a lot and stuffed our faces with really good food~ She also paid for my meal which was really kind of her! I definitely could have paid for it. When we finished eating, she got up right away and booked it to the counter while I was putting on my coat. I could see what she was doing then! Overall, it was a really nice evening spent speaking with my teacher. I honestly could not ask for a better Korean language instructor. What would I do without her? I am a pretty difficult student to teach (I have some extreme lows and not so frequent highs…) but she somehow finds a way to help me through everything. I am grateful.

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Andy is such a mood

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

Incheon Chinatown (October 28th, 2018) NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/28/18 Sunday

Unfortunately, I lost the blog post for one of my favorite days on this NSLI-Y Program thus far. That day is the day I am currently writing about: the day I went to Incheon Chinatown (인천차이나타운) with Josh, Jacquelyn, and Kaitlyn. As you can tell, I am a bit salty because today was such a fun day and I wanted to remember every last detail! Also, we did so much, there is no way I will be able to write about everything again. Even though this is the case, I will try my best to recollect my memories with the pictures I still have~ Enjoy this blog post!

We decided to meet up at 인천차이나타운 at 11:30 am. It took me about 2 hours to go from 고양시 to 인천 which is a city outside of Seoul–actually, it is the only other city (besides my home city of 고양시) that we are allowed to take individual trips to visit (without our host family). I have been talking about coming here with Josh during our Korean class breaks and so I was really excited to finally make our plans a reality!

When we first got to China Town, we walked around and just did some sightseeing before decided what to do first. One thing that was a little bit strange was that there was a lack of Chinese people here? I figured that this may have been a community in 인천 full with native Chinese people kind of like Chinese neighborhoods in America (like the China Town in Chicago) but we really only saw Koreans– and tourists, too.

While walking around we passed by a lot of pretty murals, parks, and architecture, so we did not pass up any of those opportunities to take photos!

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For lunch, we decided to get the dish that China Town is most famous for… 짜장면 (Korean style Chinese noodles with a black bean savory sauce)!! I also got to try 탕수육 (a Koreanized Chinese pork dish with a sweet and sour sauce) for the first time and although it was a bit pricy, It was definitely very very delicious!

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You can honestly sum up this day we spent together as a day of eating because that is what we did throughout the entire day. We just kept eating, never stopping. Even after having lunch, we just kept on walking and buying snacks and treats from the street vendors. Since we knew that we would not be back in a long time (if we come back at all), we tried our best to try everything!

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I do not remember where Josh got this map but his face made for the perfect picture! XD

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Our Egg Tarts! From the Tart King!

We walked around this mural village and park with a bunch of animal statues for a bit before the sky started to get really dark and the rain came pouring down. We found refuge in this cafe near the main plaza of the China Town. I cannot remember exactly what it was called but it was a Spanish name. Something about amigos? While it was pouring, we watched people out the window struggling with their umbrellas against the harsh winds. There were even signs flying off buildings! It was a pretty bad storm.

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At the Cafe~ Kaitlyn and I bought matching red heart hair pins~

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Look at that RAINBOW! ❤

After the rain cleared up, we kept walking around and ended up visiting two different museums that had entrance fees of less than one dollar! It was like 70 cents for each ticket. We visited the 짜장면 Museum as well as a Korean-Chinese Culture Museum.

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The Culture Museum

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짱장면 throughout the years! Did you know that 짜장면 used to be called 짜짱면? The museum had a little section explaining how the name changed.

When we went to the second museum, we got to see an added art exhibition by Korean artists (that may have some ethnic Chinese background? Or maybe they had nothing to do with the museum…). Also, there was a really fun tile/puzzle game (made for children) that kept us entertained for a while. And I am going, to be honest, one of the rounds took me a lot longer than I am proud to admit!

After getting the education part of our trip out of the way (haha just kidding we all really wanted to visit these museums!), we kept walking around and stuffed our bellies full of street food!

While walking around, we went to the rooftop of one of these buildings and got to watch the sunset. It was very pretty~ When I looked up at the sky, I could not help but feel so grateful for being there at the moment with such great friends. Josh also took us through this really sketchy alleyway to find the culture museum so this is a picture of that:

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Bad quality but do you see… his small head haha

We also stopped by a dragon beard candy vendor to pick up a box for our host families. The guy that was heading the cart was very very sassy and sarcastic and we talked a lot in Korean about what we were doing in Korea. He was impressed by our Korean skills which made us all feel good. While we were talking about random topics, he showed us how to make the candies (stretching the honey into a million tiny strings) and told both Josh and me that we were pretty. He then made a comment to Jacquelyn and apologized for not calling her pretty which made us all laugh. However, Jacquelyn then tells the guy “You should see this other guy on our program named Liam, he is much better looking” or something along the lines of that which made Josh quite upset for a bit. Kaitlyn and I just could not help but laugh at the entire conversation. It was all for laughs though; no one took it too seriously!

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The pastries in the above pictures were very delicious! We each got a different flavor (green tea, cream cheese, mango, and chocolate) after waiting more than ten minutes in line for them. They were very popular and apparently were showcased on several travel shows it seemed. (Also, there were signatures of celebrities that had eaten at that certain stall.) Because we had eaten so much throughout the day, we decided to just get some lamb meat on a skewer for our dinner.

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And that was my day in Incheon Chinatown! I assumed that rewriting this blog post would be really difficult but the sheer amount of photos I had from this day definitely helped~ Though I know for sure, I left some things out. I believe I got home around 7 pm and just relaxed in my room until it was time to go to sleep. This weekend left me exhausted… and no part of me wanted to return to school the following day.

Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Until next time!

  • Emma 엠마

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

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

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

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Spot the difference!

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

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

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Peacock Dance (Chinese Folk Dance)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

안녕하세요 여러분! 你好 朋友们!

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

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Behind the Scenes: Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teri, Angela, and Diana enjoying the course!~

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Elizabeth the Model ❤

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Snapchat saw it first!

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

Startalk: Chinese Class Reunion Celebrating Chinese New Year (Feb 17th, 2018)

February 17th, 2018

你好!My Startalk Chinese class came back together today in order to celebrate Chinese New Year~ I carpooled with my friend Becca, and we were both super excited to see our classmates again. The director of the Startalk program planned this reunion at a Chinese Restaurant about 30 minutes from where I live. And, wow, it was so crowded. There were so many families and couples there. The line was out the door! I guess this place is a crowd favorite for ringing in the New Year!~

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10/10 I would definitely recommend!

Becca and I were the first people to arrive so we met 胡老師 and her husband at the front of the restaurant until they could clear a table for us.

We started off the afternoon with a little test. Our director gave us four slips of paper and we were told to write down four characters to then be placed in a box. The director would pull random slips out throughout the lunch, and the winners would receive small prizes: candies and pastries. Then, before we started eating, 胡老師 taught us how to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese.

新年快樂
Xīn-nián-kuài-lè
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Becca, Citlali, Adrienne, and I

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Citlali, Adrienne, Elaina, Bruce, and Magalie

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我的朋友!

We also learned a lot about Chinese New Year. This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 16th which officially begins the year of the dog! (My zodiac sign is a rabbit~) Many people ring in the new year by cleaning their entire house and by decorating it with lanterns, calligraphy, and posters with poetic verses. Homes are filled with a lot of red! And on New Year’s Eve, families have reunion dinners– kind of like the one we were all having together!

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Such delicious food!!!

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For dessert, we had these pastries with filling that was made partially from egg yolks

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After eating, we played a couple of more games to try to earn points for prizes. We were taught the characters for Happy New Year and then we were given them, shuffled, and had to put the characters in order the fastest. We also played this game that involved our director holding up a piece of paper with a number (in Chinese characters of course) and then we had to quickly write a sentence in Chinese with the same number of characters. It was intense!

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Prizes for winning the games!

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Our director gave us training chopsticks shaped like ninjas. XD She told us that her 20 year old son can’t even use chopsticks! Fortunately, I do not need them, but they are adorable!

Lastly, 胡老師 talked to us about red envelopes during Chinese New Year. They are red packets filled with money given to kids, family members, friends, and coworkers to wish them a good new year and lots of luck. It is custom that once you get married, you should start giving out red envelopes. Our director all gave us “symbolic” red envelopes each holding one dollar. She explained to us that the tradition started off with small amounts of money but now, the custom has become more costly for the givers. (Especially when it comes to family members having to give money to the children in the family.)

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1. Accept the envelope with both hands 2. Give a greeting and express thanks 3. DON’T open the envelope in front of the giver!

At the end of the reunion, we took some group photos together and the individuals with the most points were able to choose a prize. There were so many prizes: Chinese coin purses, t-shirts, Chinese candy, chopstick sets, etc. I picked out this gorgeous set with 4 chopsticks and 4 chopstick rests~

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The Startalk Director (and my Chinese professor) with Becca and me~ ❤

And that was all for our reunion! It was a lot of fun being able to see all my classmates again (and eat some really delicious foods). Today has really motivated me to get back into my Chinese studies! It was nice being able to use it with everybody. Currently, I’m hoping to be a student helper alongside my director during this summer’s Startalk program! (Because I am too old to actually partake in it once again) I also found out that Lewis University’s Startalk is adding Russian this summer! How cool is that?!?! We will see how my summer plans work out 😉 Thank you for reading! 謝謝!再見!

  • Emma (敏娜)

Startalk: Chinese Class Reunion for the Mid-Autumn Festival

你好!This post is a little late… about four months after the Mid-Autumn Festival to be exact. But, I am finally getting around to making this post after collecting all my photos as well as researching more about this Chinese holiday.

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So this past summer (2017) I participated in a Startalk program to learn Traditional Chinese. I spent about 5 hours every weekday at a local university learning how to speak, read, and write Chinese for 4 weeks. Startalk’s mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens speaking critical languages, and it is funded by the National Security Agency (NSA). This summer was a blast, and I made a lot of really good friends from different high schools all around me. In order to keep us engaged with Chinese and to allow our classes to “stay” together, the director of my local Chinese Startalk program planned a reunion for the students. We would be celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival– eating delicious food, learning about the holiday, refreshing our Chinese skills, and just hanging out with friends we haven’t seen in awhile.

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PC: Examine China

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a harvest festival that gets its name from (you guessed it!) the fact that it is usually in the middle of autumn. (The festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the Chinese calendar.) The Chinese celebrate this festival by having dinner with family, playing with lanterns, flying lanterns, worshiping the moon, and more. And of course, food is plentiful!

We celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival and had our reunion on October 7th, 2017 (Saturday). This date, inconveniently, was the same day I took my SAT Subject tests. Therefore, I was a little late to the festivities because I had to deal with SAT Spanish and SAT Literature and when I did get to Lewis University, my classmates were playing games to refresh our memories on Chinese and practice new words and phrases.

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So happy to see everyone again!!! ❤

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Before I arrived, my classmates had eaten these flaky, sweet pastries. I later learned that these pastries were Taiwanese Sun Cakes, and they were very delicious!~

To practice out Chinese, we played this game that was very similar to Charades. We were given slips of paper (2 or 3 each) which had vocabulary words written on them. We had to get up in front of everyone and act out the word without any sounds. If someone guessed it, then both the guesser and the actor would get a point. (Points were important because there were “prizes” to be given out!) It was a lot of fun and Bruce acting out “Mother” will always be my favorite thing! XD

After games, we had our Mid-Autumn Festival feast! (Which was what everyone was looking forward to~)

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They got SOOO much food catered! It was crazy to see so much food for not that many Chinese students. (Lucky for the director, high school students know how to eat XD)

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Not every student was able to make it :/ However it was still very nice to catch up with everyone (and talk to those who I did not have a chance to during the summer).

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Reunion photo with Class 2’s teacher (My class’s teacher was busy :/) and the director of the program (and my professor for my online Chinese course at Lewis).

After dinner we learned about (and obviously ate) Mooncakes which are traditional Chinese pastries eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Mooncakes are usually circular or square in shape with a pastry exterior and a sweet filling. There are many things that are used in the filling for the Mooncakes: Lotus seed paste, fruits, red bean, nuts, dates, etc. Mooncakes are very popular and are often offered as gifts to family, coworkers, and friends during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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The Mooncakes were purchased in gift boxes because of how often they are given as gifts.

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Mooncakes often have really intricate details on the outside!

Our director purchased two types of Mooncakes: The first having pineapple filling and the second having a filling made out of dates. Mooncakes can be considered an acquired taste. Some of my classmates were not fond of the taste or texture or both. However, I found them really tasty! (Even though I had never even eaten dates before this day!)

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Becca trying to be funny! XD  我爱她 ❤ ❤

After we stuffed ourselves with all the Chinese food we could get our hands on, it was time to start wrapping up the reunion. Throughout the day we were accumulating points if we had won any of the games in order to pick prizes at the end. (Those with the most points got to pick first and then so on down the line.) Unfortunately, because I was the last student to show up (As if the SAT Subject Tests were not bad enough! haha jk…), I had the lowest amount of points which meant I was to pick last. I received an American candy bar XD It was still greatly appreciated, however. (Though I definitely had enough to eat already!) But there were some really great prizes: Chinese textbooks, Chinese books, Chinese music CD’s, Taiwanese scarfs, and notebooks.

The biggest prize of all (at least for me) was the fact that the director of Startalk needed to get rid of all the leftover food so we were allowed to take home as much as we liked. So, of course, I made myself a nice plate for dinner.

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Sam getting his Ziploc bag for leftovers ready!

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Bruce bringing home a whole box of leftovers! #goals

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My dinner for the night XD 谢谢老师!~ ❤

And that was my Startalk’s class reunion for the Mid-Autumn Festival! It was a lot of fun to come back together since we had not seen each other for almost an entire 3 months. Additionally, I was talking to my Chinese professor a couple weeks ago, and she is trying to have another reunion in February for Chinese New Year!~ I am excited to see what she plans for that! (This reunion happened today: February 17th) I will write a blog about that soon!~ 谢谢!再见~

  • Emma 敏娜

Startalk: Last Week of Chinese Classes & Graduation {July 17th – 21st, 2017}

你好!~ It is time to talk about the last week of Startalk :,( I had been putting this blog post off for quite awhile because looking through these pictures, especially the graduation pictures, makes me feel very nostalgic! I want to go back! I need to get back on the Chinese grind!

Monday (July 17th, 2017)

This week we continued learning vocabulary words about the weather and we expanded on that theme by learning how to describe the temperature/highs and lows. We also learned more hobbies and how to describe peoples’ physical appearances.

We also had our last calligraphy class which was low key a blessing because I was really bad at calligraphy and I would get so stressed when our director would call a minute left and I still had to complete the assignment given. This class was really fun; however, because we also got to make our own bookmarks. Our director was trying to give us ideas on what to paint and she suggested writing “I love Alfred.” She was kidding… but everyone took that and ran with it XD Basically everyone used one of their bookmarks to write “I love Alfred.” (AN: Alfred is the name of our TA)

At the end of the calligraphy session, our director picked the three best pieces to win a calligraphy brush and to my surprise, I was chosen as the third winner! (Honestly, I do not think I deserved it whatsoever… but I kept asking her for help throughout the session and so it might have been a pity prize XD ) I will probably not continue practicing calligraphy on my own time but the next time I go to China Town, I will definitely buy a bottle of ink or an ink stick so I can paint when I am in the mood.

 

Week 4 7

I got Alfred to write my Chinese name (吳敏娜) in calligraphy. He did so much better than I could ever have done! 😛

 

Week 4 9

我們愛我們的小老師。謝謝Alfred.

Tuesday-Thursday (July 18th-20th, 2017)

The rest of the week, minus Friday, was spent learning the last few things on the curriculum and working on our Final project, extra credit assignments, and other assignments that were due before the final on Thursday. Our final project was to pick a Taiwanese celebrity and introduce them with a video. I did mine on Aaron Yan or 炎亞綸. (I chose him because not only did I really enjoy his acting and singing in “Fall in Love with Me,” but also because Sydney and I did a project on him last week as one of our tasks. Take a look:

Week 4 14

Nothing too fancy… and I am currently cringing at my handwriting!!!

For extra credit, we had to watch a video on the Chinese language and radicals/characters and answer some questions. This week we also got to watch the entirety of a Taiwanese movie. It was called “Eat Drink Man Woman” or “飲食男女.” We got plenty of time to work on all these assignments during class as tasks stopped this week; however, I mostly used this time to goof off with all my classmates because we did not have that much time left together!

Highlights:

  • We had to rap a song about weather. We discovered that Ricky has a hidden talent in rapping. Someone sign him please !!! XD
  • Conversations about memes with Jada, Bruce, and Cetlali
  • Alfred roasting us as per usual
  • Teaching our 老師 what “twinning” means
  • Singing Kpop in the car with Becca
  • Embarrassing Jada with our singing skills when singing her Happy Birthday in the cafeteria- in front of everyone
  • The cafeteria CHURROS
Week 4 24

#bestlunchever #很好吃

Week 4 25

Photoshopped Kameron into our last lunch photo. Can you tell? XD

Friday (July 21st, 2017) – Startalk Graduation Ceremony

Oh, this day was filled with the feels! It was a really nice day though~

Week 4 46

Becca and I waiting to go inside. (We did not want to be too early…)

We started off the day viewing final projects. It was pretty awkward and embarrassing because I hate how my voice sounds over recordings and I was nervous that others would judge my pronunciation. Everyone felt the same as me, however, so it was not too bad. After our projects, we played a few rounds of this new vocab game (it has something to do with the wind… I wish I remembered its Chinese name!) and just talk with each other until it was time to take a class photo and make our way to the room where our graduation would be held.

 

Week 4 57

Last selfie in our Chinese class!!~

The graduation ceremony was in the same room we had orientation in which was an interesting feeling because our time in Startalk felt like it went full-circle. The ceremony started with the director talking about the program and what exactly it entailed (for all parents in attendance). We also had a few messages from our teachers. Next, they did something unexpected… they started playing my final project video! I almost fell out of my chair! I was surprised and my face immediately became red. Our director said that she wanted the parents to hear more of what the students had learned and so she had the teacher of each class pick the best final project. My 老師 picked mine! I was honestly very proud of myself, but I still could not help cringe at my voice XD We then got to watch a compilation of photos from throughout the program with some upbeat background music – it was really cute and I literally teared up.

Then, it was time to get our certificates. We started with my class and we all lined up like practiced (one of the things we did this week in preparation for graduation). We went down the line translating the Chinese sentence said before us and then saying a sentence in Chinese of our own choice. Afterward, the teachers called each student, one by one, to shake hands and accept their certificate of completion. The other class went after.

Week 4 35

My Class ❤

Week 4 36

Congratulations to me!~

And as I predicted, after the Director called everyone out to the hallway for photos and light refreshments, I started literally crying. My friends were gathering around me trying to comfort me and so I quickly stopped. I never thought that I would be getting so emotional. The program was less than 4 weeks but I still had a blast learning Chinese and I bonded a lot with my class mates. I could not imagine starting my senior year of high school and not going to Chinese class. Everything just blew up in my face at that point. However, I quickly got over it and a smile returned to my face~ Which was good because there were so many pictures afterward!! Prepare for a spam…

Week 4 52

Sabrina, me, Jada, Daina, and Adrienne with our Certificates of Completion

 

Week 4 40

The “Yeah Boi” Squad!!

 

Week 4 38

Becca did not get the “wear a yellow dress” memo

Week 4 41

The best people you will ever meet

Week 4 44

Me with my 小老師

Week 4 43

Had to snap a picture with my teacher and director~

After the ceremony, I had planned a lunch outing with anyone from my class that could attend at a Chinese restaurant in Bolingbrook called “Gong Ho.” Not everyone could make it… but a good amount did! I am so glad that we got to celebrate altogether outside of school~ We plan to hang out and eat food at least once a month or once every two months~ I really want us all to keep in touch even if we do not see each other a lot.

Week 4 48

Reflection: Startalk was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did it allow me to stay productive through the summer, it gave me a kick start on learning Chinese which I might not have gotten from anything else. I made a lot of really great friends and I am now inspired to not only gain fluency in the Korean language but also the Chinese language. Lewis University was very kind; they gave us Startalk students the opportunity to continue our Chinese learning journey with a second semester online Chinese course. If we got an A in the summer course, we would be allowed to enroll in the online Chinese class for free! (Which was super nice because it would have been so expensive if I had to pay for it!)

  • I found out my grade from the class a couple weeks after the graduation ceremony- while I was in NY visiting family. I got an A and I am happy to say that I will be continuing Chinese with Lewis University this fall! Classes start on August 28th. I will have 3 assignments per week up until December. I will be meeting, through video call, with my professor (otherwise known as my director from Startalk) once every two weeks. We will also be doing handwritten assignments and we will also be taking tests. I can not wait to improve so much during this semester!! (Hopefully, I can handle it with my 5 AP classes… wish me luck! haha)

If you ever get the chance to participate in a Startalk program, please do! You will have a lot of fun and learn so much! If only I could apply next year, I would do it in a heartbeat~ Thanks for reading and do not forget to subscribe to my blog! More posts to come on traveling, NSLI-Y stuff, and learning Korean and Chinese. 謝謝! 再見!~

- Emma 吳敏娜

 

StarTalk: Third Week of Chinese Classes {July 10th – July 14th, 2017}

你好!The third week of StarTalk Chinese classes was super fun but also super stressful. This was because we had our field trip to China Town and our Chinese midterms all during one week!

We still learned a lot of Chinese this week. Our teacher did not let us slack off just because we had a field trip and that we needed to study for our midterm. This week, we focused on family vocabulary, common Taiwanese foods, and adjectives to describe places.

We also got to practice more calligraphy. Calligraphy and I truly have a love-hate relationship. I am not good at it, but I really want to be. It is honestly a struggle.

China Town (7/12/17)

  • In the morning, both Chinese classes met up at the library in order to wait for the bus that would take us to Chicago. We did not start the day off with really good luck because our bus was 45 minutes late and it started seriously storming while we made our way to China Town.

We were supposed to do a scavenger hunt as soon as we got to China Town but because it was raining and we had lost a lot of time due to our ride being late, our teachers and the director allowed us to just walk around for a little bit before it was time to eat. The scavenger hunt then became extra credit, and because mt group was very extra (haha word play) we completed the task! (We just had to take photos of storefronts on our list and take photos of signs where we could recognize some characters.)

Then, it was finally time to eat! (Honestly, the part of the trip we were most looking forward to!) We ate orange chicken, duck, white & fried rice, dumplings, steamed buns, eggplant, fried noodles, tofu, etc.

After lunch, we were all treated to drinks from JoyYee. I had milk tea with tapioca pearls and I was in love! Bubble tea (or Boba tea) is my favorite thing to drink. I had not had it since Korea and boy… did I miss it!

After lunch & drinks, we were given an hour to just walk around China Town and do whatever we wanted until the bus arrived to take us back to Lewis. This part of the trip did not treat my wallet very well XD

Midterms (7/13/17)

  • One of the scariest words in the English vocabulary: Midterms. Our midterms were split into two parts; we had to take a reading test and a speaking interview. The reading test was composed of one side being sentences in Pinyin that we had to translate to English while the other side had sentences in Chinese characters. The speaking interview was with the director in which she would be asking us lots of questions and then, at the end, we would have to ask her questions like we were getting to know a host sibling. With my amazing luck (note the sarcasm), I had to do the interview first. Fortunately, my midterms went great! Aced both of them!~

And that was my third week of Chinese classes at Lewis! It has been very fun and I have gotten even closer with all of my classmates. Honestly, it is going to be very hard for me to have to say goodbye to everyone! Good thing we all do not live too far from each other! Thanks for reading~ Don’t forget to subscribe!~ ^^ 再見!

  • Emma 엠마 敏娜