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

04/22/19 Monday

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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~~ 

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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.)

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

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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.

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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 

Taking the TOPIK (Korean Proficiency Test) in South Korea {04/21/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

4/21/19 Sunday 

Topik Test Day! All of our effort at studying Korean throughout this program would be put to the test today (quite literally). We were taking the test at a university outside of 서울 so I had to travel two hours (including transfer time) to get to the testing location! Luckily, I was able to get a seat after about twenty minutes from my departure station so from there, it was smooth sailing for me. I spent the subway ride cramming for the test and worrying intensely–nothing new to see here.

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Off to take the exam!

Honestly every time I thought about the test, I felt like throwing up. I had taken so many practice/mock tests and studied so many vocabulary words up until this point… I did not want all my effort to be in vain. I did not want to disappoint the expectations of my resident directors, of my Korean language teacher, and almost importantly myself. I wanted to be able to take this test and be proud of not only my effort in regards to preparation but also my results…for once?

민정쌤 actually accompanied us to the school because of the fact that it was outside of 서울. She said that she wanted to get us a testing center within the boundaries of our program rules (so 서울, 고양시 and 인천) but when she logged in to register us all, the seats ran out in seconds. The only place she could register all 10 of us (the ten 2반 and 3반 students taking the Topik 2 test) was at this particular university. We had a short bus ride from the subway and before we knew it, we were at the school—actually needing to wait 20 minutes outside of the doors because they would not open until 11:50 am. 

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Entering a random school for the first time and following signs to my testing room brought back some stressful memories from taking standardized tests in high school. I was the first one in my classroom and I walked around for a bit trying to figure out if I should walk in or not. Then I tried looking for my seat by reading off the name tags on the desks rather than the giant sheet of paper on the board. Luckily, a nice guy told me what to do so I could quickly get to my seat rather than walk each and every row until I found to my seat (I happened to be the very second chair all the way at the end of the classroom so if I had done that, it would have taken me so long.) 

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I got to my seat at 12 but the test didn’t start till 1 pm. It was a lot of directions being explained, testing the audio for the speakers, and passing out test papers. There were some differences with the test (in comparison to most American standardized tests) which really surprised me.

First of all, for American standardized tests, pencils are always used (specifically #2 pencils) but they actually passed out special pens for us to use during the tests. They were not ball point pens; they more closely resembled sharpies than anything else. One side had a thicker point for filling in the bubbles for the multiple choice sections (reading and listening) while the other side had a thinner point for the writing section.

The issue I had with the pens was that you were allowed to bring your own white out (the tape kind) to use if you made a mistake because clearly, you can not really erase sharpie. However, if you didn’t have any 수정테이프 (correcting tape) with you, you had to raise your hand to ask one of the test proctors to bring you one of the 5 that they had at the front of the room. This proved to be really annoying because I would want to just quickly erase my mistakes and keep going but I had to wait to get the proctor to notice me in order to give me the corrector before I could keep on going with the test.

Specifically with the writing test, I couldn’t just skip my mistake and keep going because you have to write in grid paper and they will take off points for doing the spacing wrong. And for one question on the listening portion, I ended up missing the recording because it was one of the ones that only play once and I was too busy asking for the tape for my last question that I couldn’t focus on what I was supposed to doing at the moment. Very very frustrating.

Besides that though, I will say that I think I did pretty well on the test. At least, I did the best that I could have done. There were plenty of times that I finished reading a paragraph and was able to understand it basically perfectly and was able to pick out the right answer right away—this was quite motivating. I was surprised that I was able to understand readings about why people can’t sleep well on space stations and why people, in fact, have an eye that they use more (just like we have a hand we are more comfortable using). Also, when words that we learned recently came out in the readings or in the answer choices, I would become suddenly happier. Seriously, I’d be sitting there concentrating through a passage and then a word would come up that I studied from a Quizlet set the day before and the biggest smile would appear on my face instantly.

 There was one moment where I literally almost scared the test proctor. I was at the point in the test where they leave certain spots blank in the reading so that you can create an answer choice that fits into that blank space. For this one particular question, all of the answer choices were proverbs. I believe I only knew two out of the four that were given; however, after reading the passage, it was clear which one was right. I literally started flailing my hands around and smiling like an idiot because not only did I recognize the proverb and remembered the meaning but I knew it was the right answer. While I was doing my little freak out dance because of that one proverb, I made eye contact with one of the test proctors and at first she looked confused but then she tried to stop herself from laughing. It was honestly hilarious! 

What was that proverb you ask? Here it is 발을 벗어나고 간다. It basically means to get out there and help—put in effort somewhere. 

During the break between the two tests, Katie, Addie, and I just chatted in the hallway while eating this bread I bought from the bakery. We ranted about the test for a bit. I’m so glad they got put in my room; I would have gone crazy if I had no human interaction during the entire testing period. 

I was a little disappointed in my Topik writings though… to be honest. The short writing was alright but the long one… I understood the question perfectly fine but I didn’t know what to say. Actually, I couldn’t even think of what I would say in English. I don’t think that I expressed myself well enough and I didn’t even reach 700 characters… it was kind of disappointing. 

Regardless, I let go of basically all my feelings at the end of the test once we all had a rant session outside of the school building. I kind of wanted to let off some steam with the other students afterwards but my host mom was expecting me home and I also was really tired. So straight after the test, I took the 2 hour long train ride back home. (But not without a hitch.. I got in a train going in the wrong direction at my transfer stop… how long have I been in Korea? And I’m still getting on the wrong train? Who am I?)

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Cherry blossoms are falling :,) but here comes green spring~

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I came home and did literally nothing!! I knew I was going to a cafe the following day with Katie to study so I decided to make the smart decision (sarcasmmmm) to not do any of my homework this day. My host sisters also already ate dinner by the time I got home so I ended up just eating 떡볶이 (spicy rice cakes) and some 감자칩 (potato chips) in my room by myself—while watching a movie. It was still very nice though~ My host sister cooked for me, so I couldn’t have asked for a better dinner! 

That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! I cannot believe that I almost only have exactly a month left in Korea… I DO NOT want to think about it!!! (And yet I am speaking it into the universe now…welp, oops) But the next several blog posts are going to be so entertaining because it is 중간고사 기간 (midterm week) at 하나고 so Katie and I will not be required to attend high school throughout the week; therefore, I have lots of free time to relax, play around, and explore!! Hopefully, it will be more interesting content? In case the school days feel repetitive and boring? Writing them becomes tedious at times for sure… Anyway, till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

Just An Average Day in the Life of a Korean High School Exchange Student (04/16/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/16/19 Tuesday

My days were really off today (in my mind I mean). While chatting with Katie in the morning, I kept telling her that I was dreading going to 국어 and that Wednesdays were always so long… when it was in fact Tuesday. And then, I kept talking about Topik being on Saturday even though it is on Sunday! You would think that being back in school (and having so many deadlines from Better World to keep track of), I would be better about knowing the date and such but clearly, that is not the case. 

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During my usual English mentorship class today, I just self-studied in the library as midterms are approaching. The actual 하나고 students need to study for those!

Actually half way through the period, two of the girls from my group—은서 and 지연—came into the room apologizing to me as they thought I was waiting for them since they never outright cancelled the meeting with me. It was really sweet to see them thinking about me! 

In music class, our teacher explained to us this project that we will be doing. We were supposed to start it last week but the teacher was absent the whole week because of the flu, so we were starting it late. But this in the end had a positive, we were not going to have to present anything! The other students were put into random groups and then allowed to pick their topics from a list (a list that she created from topics that we included in our survey about music from the first day of class back in March) based on the number of their group (also chosen randomly). Because Katie and I were in two different sections of this music class, the teacher told us that we can just work as partners and she picked our topic for us: Arirang.

I honestly find it really heartwarming that she always thinks about what we will be doing in class. Like the other day, she gave us chords to work with for our song because she thought that we might have been having trouble. The fact that she prepares stuff outside of class for us rather than forgetting we are a part of the class (and even with small things like calling our names for attendance)… most teachers don’t do even that. It feels good to be included. 

During 한국사, our teacher lectured the whole time but that did not stop me from just doing my own Korean work in class. Before class started, I noticed that 동철 was still in the class, getting ready to leave. I wanted to say hi but I worried that he might be busy so I just sat down. He actually ended up coming over to me and asking how I was and we quickly talked about midterms, third year life, and so on. At one point, he pointed out his good friend (Both 동철 and his friend took AP world history with me last year) and asked him why he wasn’t sitting next to me. He pointed out that I had no one sitting next to me on one side, so he could just plop his stuff down on that desk. His friend was laughing along but you could tell he felt really awkward and uncomfortable. Then 동철 continues on and tells me to just go move over to him. It was funny that he wanted to make me feel more included within the class but I was not about to sit next to someone who clearly wasn’t up for the interaction. It was a nice gesture, though. 

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Today was also the 5th year anniversary of the 세월호 침몰 사고 (Sewol Ferry Incident) in which a ferry carrying mostly high school students on their school trips sank–killing many. In Korea to this day, this is a sore subject and is seemingly continuously present in the collective Korean psyche. To represent this event, many people wear a yellow ribbon. (Translation of the banner: “The 5th Spring, We Will Not Forget”)

Katie and I had another mentorship class before lunch so we just did some self-studying in the special room on the third floor—it’s for meetings I believe? But there are couches! And less fitting… a BMI scale? Students kept coming into the room to use it… I originally planned on sleeping during that period but instead I went hard on the study grind. 

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For lunch, we decided to actually just eat at 하나고 early for once. This entire second semester, we have not eaten at the school cafeteria (without our group of friends) at all—not even one time under our belt. Today we just went for it and honestly, it was not bad at all. In fact, it was quite nice because there was no line and lots and lots of seats. It was also quieter and easier to talk because there were less students. 

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Of course, stopped by to get 녹차호떡 on our way to Korean class. (Gotta get our fixings in before the weather gets too warm and they stop being sold–since it is more commonly eaten during cold weather),:

Korean class today was really entertaining. We learned two new grammar points but besides that, we talked a lot about new-age technology and the advancements that humans have made. One of the readings we looked over was about new inventions involving technology that can be commonly found in the home—making people’s lives easier. One of these inventions included refrigerators with touch screens or smart screens. At first, I thought this was extra but then I realized how handy it could be… until I read the description for it in the excerpt. It literally said that “by using the smart screen on the door, you can check where the items in your fridge are placed.” I immediately called this out to my teacher. 윤아 tried defending the idea saying that you could see what was inside (or how much you had) without opening the door and though I find that somewhat valid, that’s not what the article said. It literally said you can check where the items themselves are placed. We all started erupting in laughter as I kept questioning “Why can’t you just open the door of the fridge?” 

Our teacher gave the argument that finding things in the fridge can be difficult and then josh retorts back “Not if the fridge is organized.” He then goes through his own American fridge’s organizational state–meat drawer and all. This made me laugh so hard that tears almost left my eyes. Koreans already often have another fridge for their 김치 and 반찬! They also need a fancy fridge with a screen? Our teacher asked us if our host family’s fridges are organized and we all looked at each before simultaneously saying no. We all laughed at this point and our teacher kept saying that that was why—Koreans don’t really organize their refrigerators like Americans apparently. It was a funny conversation. 

We also read a blurb of an article predicting that there would be humans marrying robots in the near future and our teacher goes “Probably from Japan! That’s a very fun country…” and then she goes on to bring up the anime girlfriend pillows. It was pretty funny. 

After class, I wasn’t in the mood to go home. In fact, I was in the complete opposite mood. I wanted to go to a 노래방 (once again) and sing some old Justin Bieber songs like Baby, One Time, One Less Lonely Girl, etc. (But only for a short period at a coin 노래방, I wanted to be home for dinner.) 

So June took Kaitlyn and I to her favorite place and we spent about half an hour there. We sang a whole slew of oldies that included Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack, Taylor Swift’s Our Song and of course we sang Let it Go—the crowd favorite. 

I went home after that and I was told by my host mom that I would be eating alone tonight because my host sisters were so hungry that they already ate ramen at the 학원. She asked me what I wanted to eat and gave me three options that included 물냉면 so of course I went for that—one of my all time favorites. Eventually, my host sisters came home and they didn’t just bring themselves. They also brought back cartons upon cartons of strawberries (I’m talking at least 10) and three jars of Nutella. 

They had a cooking class at the 학원 today and the students got to eat fruit crepes. She showed me the pictures and wow did they look delicious! But it also looked like a lot of work. Nonetheless, the strawberries were delicious with the Nutella. I could have eaten that forever for sure. 

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

  • Emma 엠마 

Han River Park Picnic & Cherry Blossom Viewing (04/13-04/14/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/13/19 Saturday

So although the doctor ordered me to rest all weekend (and when I say doctor I mean my host family and myself), I was the one that organized this big picnic with the majority of the NSLI-Yians so how could I miss my own event??? I thought that this would be a fun activity in order to not only to hang out (because we haven’t all done that in awhile—I think the last time was Tacos after the OPIC) but also to celebrate Shada and Shannon’s birthday! So I planned a little 한강 picnic from 11 am to 3 pm-ish at the 여의나루 river park. 

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Katie surprised me with a macaroon at the subway station!! ❤ :,)

I was planning on taking lots of pictures in front of the remaining cherry blossom trees (literally there were like 3 left—no joke… the rain washed them all away…) so June and I decided to both wear our matching dresses to the picnic. We got some really cute couple photos out of it! 

We got to the park pretty early so although there was a good amount of people already there, it definitely got more crowded as it became later in the afternoon. 윤아 brought a picnic blanket and I brought two (actually they were 가희’s birthday gifts… from back in Feb…) but because we were also having 11 people in total coming, we had to rent two 돗자리 as well. Because I had done it on Sunday, I was confident that I would be able to do it again. Katie and I found a nice lady and when I asked for two of them, she of course was shocked at my abilities and then complimented my Korean. (한국어를 잘하시네요~~~) She explained that we would pay four dollars up front and then receive two dollars back when we return the blankets and I was able to understand every bit of it which made me proud. (Not that it was insanely hard Korean or anything…still.. little accomplishments)

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It is VERY difficult to fit everyone in one single selfie!

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Once we got our spot and the picnic blankets all laid out, it was time to figure out the most important thing of the day: picnic food. While making our way out of the subway station, 윤아 grabbed one fried chicken flyer from an 아줌마 and then all the other ones around us spotted that and started throwing flyers at her. It was honestly one of the most hilarious things I had seen that week. 윤아 kept shrieking as they kept piling on the flyers. She had so many in her arms that she could barely see before she rearranged them.

We planned to order fried chicken and pizza but needed to use three phones for the order because we wanted to use coupons for free side menu items with our pizza but of course they had a one-order-one-coupon policy so I was stuck ordering one of the pizzas. I was so nervous about ordering it that I was shaking! I listened to 윤아 order first and then I left the group and ordered by myself using my program phone. Even though I was really nervous about it, everything turned out perfectly fine! I was able to successfully order the pepperoni pizza and use the coupon for free chicken. I almost started freaking out when he asked me where to drop it off at but after thinking for one more second I understood what he said and replied ‘delivery zone 2’ with not too much hesitation (or fear in my voice). 

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Jumping over the small stream to get to our FOOD!!!

After waiting an hour, all our food arrived and we picked it up at the designated zones. Delivery is on a whole other level here in Korea. All the nearby places will deliver to basically any part of the huge river park and there are special places along the stretch of it that are designated for food pick up.

The food potions were definitely kind of small compared to how many people there were so we ate all of the food very very quickly. Even though we were a little hungry afterwards, we were able to curb that by eating some ice cream for dessert from the 편의점 (convenience store). We spent the rest of the time together just chilling, talking, even played a game of spoon that left Katie with an injured pinky finger. 

When it got close to 3 pm, we cleaned up our area and left to take some group pictures before separating for the rest of the day. I ended up buying a $5 flower shaped cotton candy because I was feeling in the mood to waste my remaining money (stipend was on Monday and I would not be able to leave my house for the rest of the weekend) and so I chose to do that on cotton candy. Shada came with me and the vendor actually messed up the first one so he gave it to us for free, so Shada also got some cotton candy of her own.

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The cotton candy actually looked really pretty and I could tell it was a flower but only from looking at it from an overhead angle. From the side… it looked pretty strange so in pictures… I don’t even know if I can say what I think it looks like. But I will give the guy some credit, it looked really cute from above!

 

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Also June showed off her amazing singing voice!! She was so good!

After parting ways, I just went straight home from the long day and just rested/did homework for the rest of the day. Nothing too special. 

04/14/19 Sunday

I literally have no pictures from this day… oh well. I slept in till late and ate breakfast with my host family which included 미역국 (seaweed soup) and 김치전 (savory kimchi pancake). I lounged around in the morning until Katie told me that she would come to my station so that we could go to a cafe together—we planned to be productive and study (and write blog posts) but also Katie wanted to gossip. I needed to hear about what she got up to on Saturday cause everyone else went out and had fun after the picnic. 

We went to our usual Breadworks Bakery and bought some bread to snack on while we worked. We were there for probably almost 4 full hours and although we were there for a very extended amount of time, I can not really say much about all the work we got done…I did write quite a few blog posts though and am slowly catching up! (Actually after this post, I’m only like two days behind which I can deal with!) 

After Katie left around 4 pm, I went back home and had a very late lunch/early dinner with my host family before continuing studying. 

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When Andy falls asleep while you are busy studying!!!

We had our program reflection due that night as well and because I’m a perfectionist (while also being a procrastinator), I did not go to sleep till 2:30 am because that is when I finished my reflection. Not the best plan by any means… did I forget that you should sleep to stay healthy and get over sickness??? 

But that was my Sunday! Thanks for reading this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed it~

  • Emma 엠마 

Introducing American S’mores to Korean High School Students!!! (03/29-03/31/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/29/19 Friday

Katie didn’t come to school on Friday because she went to the hospital for her cold and so I ended up going to  school by myself for the second time this week. I didn’t hold it against her or anything. I was just sad because I like spending the mornings with her. 

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School today is literally a blur to me. This could possible be because it’s almost been two weeks since the day occurred or because it was so boring and uneventful that most of the day’s moments are no longer a part of my memory. I’m assuming it most likely was the latter reason. Although this is the case, there was one part of the day that I enjoyed wholeheartedly and thus, even now, remember quite well! And that was my public speaking class! 

During this class period, we were all giving our How To speeches on whatever topic we prepared. I was placed at the bottom of the list which I was fine with because I really had no interest in presenting… but it also worked in the favor of Jason because he had extra, unplanned time for the class and didn’t know how to spend it. So I was able to use it up with a quality American snack! 

But before that, all the Korean students did their presentations and they all did really well!! I was impressed by their abilities to control the English language so eloquently. We had presentations on how to get a good amount of sleep, how to find happiness, how to become more flexible, how to secretly eat 라면 in the school dormitories, and a flight simulation speech by our very own 서린. 

Right before 예찬 did his speech, these two recent 하나고 graduates came into the classroom to talk to Jason. This is when I learned about the April Fool’s Day tradition that some Korean high schools have (Some 하나고 students told me it was just their school but I later found out that 대원외고 also does it so there are probably other schools that follow suit.) This tradition involves the recent graduates coming back school to visit their teachers (sometimes dressed up in their 교복 or school uniforms) and interrupting classes/ taking the students out for 야외 수업 (outside class). In Korea, because of the 선배/후배 (senior/junior) culture in schools, the alumni feel connected to every batch or class of students and so they come back and give the students a break from the stress of oncoming midterms by bothering their past teachers. (April Fool’s Day was actually Monday but apparently everyone knew to come on the Friday before.)

Anyways, I was the last one to give my presentation and because I was too lazy to write and memorize a speech, I just gave one on the spot—a nod to my glory days as an impromptu speaker on my high school’s speech team (I am kidding… what glory days?)

I talked about s’mores, where they came from, their ingredients, and the best way to make them: golden brown (fight me if you burn them to a crisp and then eat them). Then 서린, 현수, and I handed out the plates and ingredients to each of the kids and we headed down to the 매점 (school convenience store) to use the microwave and make s’mores. 

 

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Although they were not the real deal, they were still so dang tasty!! A lot of the kids seemed to enjoy it though there were the handful that thought it was too sweet (a given if you are feeding Koreans a snack that is basically all sugar). Even the Japanese exchange students seemed to really enjoy the treat! 

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After public speaking, I had lunch with Katie and all our friends and we also gave s’mores to 혜지 and 윤세 after we ate. The weather was so nice that we sat outside on one of the benches in the courtyard area and just appreciated the few minutes we had left before the start of our next class. 

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Economics was just a lecture as usual. Our teacher told as a few funny stories too but I can’t remember them now… during the second half of class, three of her prior students came in (two that attend 서울대) so we spent time just listening to them talk about college life and what they did at 하나고. They seemed to enjoy seeing which students in the class were doing the same 동아리 or 1인2기. 

After school on Friday, Katie had dinner plans with Josh so we went to the Paris Baguette near the station for a little bit as she got ready for that while I just chilled before going home early. It was a Friday night but I had no plans. I decided to just go home (take a nap) and do a lot of my homework because I knew I had a busy weekend in front of me. I was planning on spending every day of the weekend with a local Korean friend! I was excited for my plans (and also the amount of Korean practice I would be able to get!)

03/30/19 Saturday

So it’s a known fact that my phone can be pretty useless at times. It loses its charge so quickly and when I plug it into a charger, it can go from a red battery (less than 20%) to 80% in seconds. But, today it was really not working. I would try to open it and the phone would just keep taking screenshots of my lock screen so this weekend I only ended up taking one photo while hanging out with Katie and some photos of my host dog Andy.

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I met up with Katie early in the morning to go to 놀숲 to do some work. We were not the most productive (to the extent that Katie ended up doing my makeup rather than doing any conducive studying) but I was able to upload a blog and finish my workbook so some progress was made! Since we arrived there early, we got to snag one of the special tents in this loft area of the cafe which were really cozy~ It was more secluded and the tent-style structure made me feel like were children in our own little fort. We just hung out and enjoyed each other’s company mostly. Eventually our three hours ran out so we cafe hopped on over to Slob Coffee and I literally only ordered a cookie and did a little bit more work with Katie there before leaving for other plans. 

I met up with a Korean friend in 홍대 (of course, no surprise there) and we went to a board game cafe. I have been to my fair share of board game cafes and this one was nothing special. Drinks were okay and the seating was kind of crowded. I have been to much nicer ones in and near 홍대 (Like 옐로우미플). ) But it was pretty cheap and on the main walking streets of 홍대 so sometimes convenience trumps all!

We had dinner together (which was some kind of beef? that we had grilled: Korean barbecue style) The restaurant we ate at had a little bit of a line wrapping around the front door area so, according to my friend, we could tell that it was a 맛집 (Popular restaurant known to have delicious food). One cultural note, Koreans will wait in line for almost anything. So when there is a line formed outside of a restaurant, it is important to take note and return during a less busy time! Because it has clearly received a mark of approval by large amount of people. I found this quite interesting when first in Korea because I know for me, I would much rather go somewhere else than wait more than 30 minutes for rumored-to-be-delicious food…no matter how nice the Instagram photos look.

I also remember around this point in the year, there was a trend for 흑당 버블티 (Black sugar bubble tea) which had just came to Korea through cafes such as Tiger Sugar and Blind Alley. On the main streets of 홍대, you would see lines formed (while it was pretty warm outside too!) that took up the entire stretch of the street–almost to the intersection. I will just say that I never had the bubble tea while it was a huge craze. I waited out a month and a half practically before I got my first taste. (No regrets, though)

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Image From Google: Taiwanese Black Sugar Bubble Tea Trend in Korea

Back to the restaurant, a charming feature about it was that every SINGLE time a customer walked in or walked out of the establishment, all of the staff members would scream ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ depending on the situation. (I would have added in Harmony but it was very much not in unison… staff were all starting the greeting at different times and so it was truly a mismatch of sing-song voices). It was cute and I could not help but silently giggle every time. Maybe cause it slightly somewhat reminded me of the U.S.?

Another cultural note, it is not uncommon for someone to ask if it is okay to go and eat meat (in particular when going to grill meat) because of the 고기 냄새 (meat smell). Apparently, Koreans are cautious about eating grilled meat at times because the small can stay in clothes/hair. So my Korean friend would always ask me this–without fail–and I would respond that I never can notice a penetrating smell and Korean barbecue is always a go for me!

Afterwards, I convinced my friend to go to 노래방 (karaoke) with me because he couldn’t stop exclaiming how bad he was at singing; therefore, they did not enjoy singing karaoke—especially with people they didn’t know as well. I of course wanted to change this due to my love of belting out ballads despite my utter lack of any vocalization skills. I took him to a coin 노래방 where we sang a couple of songs. I did my usual ballads (Ailee, Lee Hi, etc) and Frozen soundtrack songs and we also sang some old school ballads and rap songs that he was in the mood for. It was surprisingly really fun! Interestingly, we did definitely have different styles of song choice for karaoke. It took him a bit to warm up; I had to keep reminding him to sing along with me, but it was fun in the end!~

At the end of the night we just went to a cafe, chilled, talked and ate some ice cream together before going home for the night. Today was a pretty packed day!

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Andy seemed to be exhausted too hehe

03/31/19 Sunday 

I also met up with another Korean friend on this day! I ended up leaving my comfort zone and (surprise!) traveled to a neighborhood other than 홍대…but it was not too far seeing that we only went to 신촌. We first met at the subway station and then headed over to the movie theater to watch the movie ‘Us’ (American movie from the same director as ‘Get Out’). The movie was a thriller based around the idea of doppelgangers. It was pretty intense and creepy! The acting was what really did it for me though. I enjoyed the movie—it definitely made me jump— but I will say Get Out was still better.

Afterwards, We went to a board game cafe (I am really honing in on my skills!) and played RummiKube and DaVinci Code as well as this Korean slapping game? I cannot recall the name of the card game but it involves slapping the table (usually with a bell) when adding up points. When we first got to the board game cafe, it seemed as if everyone was playing that game. Bells were ringing left and right constantly. I guess my reflexes are just horrible because I could not win. We ended up rewarding wishes to the the winner of each round to be able to choose punishments for the other. I believe I ended up winning 3 games out of 12… and none of my three were for that odd slapping game.

For lunch, we went to this hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we sat at a counter and were able to watch our food being made and plated. I had spicy 보쌈 with lettuce and rice which was delicious! Honestly, it’s becoming one of my favorite Korean foods to be honest. I thank 하나고 school lunches for first introducing me to such a lovely dish.

I came home after a long day of playing and did homework for the rest of the night. It was definitely a long weekend but well spent I will say. I was behind on work but it was nothing that I could not handle with the support of my host dog. Andy stayed with me the whole time! He is the best cheerleader~

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The Cutest!!!

Thanks for reading this rather long blog post! I hope my annoying rambles were not too long… I just write what I think…what can I say! Do not forget to follow my blog for more content!

  • Emma 엠마

 

Having (another) Mental Breakdown in Korean Class & Eating my Feelings with Heart-Shaped Korean Street Food (03/28/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/28/19 Thursday 

Today was our March monthly exam so of course I was a nervous ball of energy the whole day as I worried about how I would do on this test. Today’s classes were pretty chill (just AP 미시경제학 and 힌국사) so I prepared for our monthly exam during those couple of hours—reading over the reading passages in the book, preparing OPI possible answers, and finishing my review of all the newly learned grammar points. 

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During 한국사 however, the teacher would still try to include me in the conversation. In the beginning of the class he told me that he was going to go really fast today so he apologized and said I could work on other things—and that’s what I was doing. At one point, I got really frustrated at myself because I did something wrong and I showed it on my face and he literally stopped class to apologize! He then asked me if I had the book to which I replied no and that’s when he realized I was doing self-study. It was a pretty awkward interaction (and in front of the whole class so that made it better…) At one point he told the class this 속담 or proverb about the roots of plants (the color being the main point of the proverb) and tried to explain it to me. At the time, I’m pretty sure I was able to grasp the general meaning but now I have no idea. Though, the really nice first year next to me wrote it out on a post it note just for me! That was a really kind gesture. 

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Katie and I skipped lunch at 하나고 and just went straight to the cafe next to the youth center and ordered drinks. It was cram time! I had to leave a bit early to walk over to Better World to be able to take the monthly test. 

What can I say about the monthly test? How about that I pretty much bombed it?? Not only that, but my OPI ended up with me leaning against the wall and on the floor sobbing like a child! Wow, it must be nice to have a stable emotional state like mine. 

We took the reading test first which I just wasn’t feeling. There were several questions that made me scratch my head in confusion and I had to end up guessing. I was really upset because when she said there were only two minutes left, I had almost a handful of questions that still needed answers. I was able to read everything in the allotted time but when it came to comprehending everything and being able to answer the questions… that was another thing entirely. 

Then we started the writing and speaking portion of the test and I volunteered to go first which might have been my mistake? We were doing the test over the phone again which I thought would be okay because I did just do objectively well on the OPIC and that was over the computer—not even with a real person. Boy, was I wrong. I started off the call strong with my 자기 소개 and my teacher started right off the bat with questions describing the current place I live which I prepared for and was able to talk quite naturally and coherently about the topic.

At one point I tripped up and she corrected me which I think made me become nervous. She continued to ask me questions but I kept doubting my answers and being unsure of myself which prevented me from thinking about how I could have answered the questions and instead made me focus on the mistakes I was making or the fact that what I was saying was too simple (like lack of advanced grammar or vocab) or my extremely shaky voice. At one point (I actually can’t even remember the question), I started crying. I couldn’t think of anything good to say so I started crying and my teacher kept trying to calm me down and I was able to for a couple more minutes but then she asked me a question about the economy and the relation between America and Korea which just made me burst into tears as I paced around the room for a minute trying to think of what to say. My teacher told me to calm down and that it was alright but I just kept crying and sobbing “I am sorry” into the telephone microphone. Before she ended the call, she told me to calm down for a minute before returning to the writing portion of the exam. 

Once I knew she hung up, I cried on the floor of that meeting room. I was so mad at myself for being like that. Why couldn’t I just take the exam like everyone else? No one has broke down in front of their teacher as much as I have like this (if at all to be honest). I guess I’m not cut out for this type of program. I’m too weak… I wished I could taken the OPI well. Do-over? But I knew there was no time. I began to resent my actions which only made me cry more. I ran into the classroom crying while handing off Jacquelyn’s phone to josh before running out into the hallway to cry in peace. 주연쌤 saw me and ran after me to comfort me. 

I told her that I literally just failed my speaking test because no words could come out of my mouth. She gave me the biggest and warmest hug I’ve had in a long time and let me just cry into her shoulder for a couple minutes as she patted and traced circles on my back. She cupped my face with her hands and told me that we all have bad language days and just because I had one on a rather important day (compared to most others) doesn’t make me a bad student or bad at Korean. She also brought up my OPIC score and how I am doing well. I smiled and wiped my tears but her encouragement only worked halfway. I understand that everyone has those days (Like Hannah Montanan said, nobody’s perfect!) but why do those days seem to happen so frequently with me? Why do I always feel so judged? And crumble under pressure? Some people don’t seem to have those days… 

After I calmed down in the bathroom (after a few more hushed sobs), I returned to the classroom to finish my writing test: however, I didn’t have as much time as usual because I spent so much time crying in the hallway so I was not able to finish my writing. I didn’t even make it to the minimum—600 characters. I felt humiliated and mad at myself for allowing my bad speaking test affect another part of my performance. 

Once we finished the test, our teacher proceeded to have us finish the rest of the last chapter in the textbook rather than allow us time to breathe and relax. I was not in the slightest mood to take risks with Korean and participate in class so I sat there with teary eyes for the entire last half hour of class. I kept thinking about having waffles after class with the other NSLI-Y students and ranting about how we did. I needed time to breathe. The room was increasingly feeling more stuffy. I did not want to be at the Better World Office any longer.

But instead as I was trying to escape the office with josh (bless him for trying his best to always comfort me), my teacher called me into the room and asked if it was okay that I skipped waffles and went to a cafe with her instead. This was a tradition that I loved and was a bit upset that I was missing out on one of the last times to partake in it but I took my teacher’s genuinely sweet offer and got tea with her. We walked together to a cafe near Better World and talked about my test. She wanted to get down to the bottom of why I had a literal mental breakdown during the class. I tried to explain my thoughts but as I foreshadowed earlier, my Korean skills were not their best today… 

I tried to explain my fear of disappointing myself and others and how mistakes really kill my confidence faster than anything else. I also talked about the fact that being alone in that room enables my body to freak out like that. We talked for a bit and she tried her best to comfort me but I still couldn’t help but feel incompetent. We had to cut our meeting short because my teacher forgot that she had a meeting with 민정쌤 so she had to hurry on over to the cafe next to the youth center for that. She walked with me until then and we had good conversation on our walk. I felt like I was able to be more open to her because of that meeting but I didn’t feel better about what I did this day at all… 

Josh and Katie were still waiting for me at the waffle place so I sat with them until Katie finished the last bits of her waffle. Josh and I had dinner plans with Kaitlyn that night so I decided it wasn’t worth it to eat a waffle if I wasn’t going to have it with everyone else as we simultaneously complained. 

Kaitlyn, Josh and I ended up eating at this 분식점 that we always pass while walking around 홍대. We shared some 떡볶이, 순대, 튀김, and 오뎅. It was all really cheap and it ended up only being less than 5,000 Won per person.

Also, because we were clearly not done with all that greasy, unhealthy food, we went to eat 호떡 at this one famous spot that I have been meaning to try out for the longest time! (서울호떡 is the name of the place!) Why this particular place? Because they had the cutest slightly pink colored, heart shaped 호떡! And wow… was it delicious. It was 2,500 Won which is a bit more expensive than the ones I am used to eating (cheap ones on the side streets of 신촌 or the 녹차 ones near 연서시장) but it was worth it! For the picture and the actual taste of the pastry. The filling was amazing!

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Thanks for cheering me up guys ❤

Afterwards, Josh came with me to buy ingredients to make S’mores for my public speaking classmates as a part of my speech on ‘How to Make S’mores.” We went to a foreign specialty snacks store in hopes of finding actual graham crackers but no luck… although we used Korean branded crackers and chocolate (Hershey’s was more expensive man… I’m on a budget.), we did buy American marshmallows! 

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And that was my Thursday! 

Wow, what a long blog post this was… and a lot of it was me rambling about my emotions. Honestly after reading over this post (while editing), I became depressed. All of my feelings of inadequacy and failure came rushing back to me because this day is one of those that would be difficult to forget–one of the hardest of my entire time in Korea. For me, there was such a difference between feeling these emotions during the beginning of my journey (maybe because I still had that ‘I-am-a-novice-excuse’) and towards the end. I began questioning why I was still feeling these types of emotions. I debated whether or not to include those parts because of how personal they are…but honestly, this was the REAL me. This was a REAL experience on my exchange. I do not want this blog to just be the highlights of my study abroad experience–as traveling and living in a foreign country is not all rainbows and sunshine and glitter. I hope this can bring some reassurance to those that are also going through a hard time. You are not alone; you are never alone.

Thanks for reading. I apologize for yet another long tangent ending off a blog post. I hope you stick around for the next one~ Till then!

  • Emma 엠마 

파주시 Eats & Cafe, 야외수업 (Outside Class), and Homeroom Teacher 상담 (3/22/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

3/22/19 Friday

Today was a really fun day. Thinking back on it now (about two weeks later), I can’t help but smile—especially looking at all the pictures I took from this day. I was genuinely happy during so many moments throughout the day. I can’t help but feel thankful for days like today. 

The Japanese exchange students arrived at 하나고 yesterday so everyone was still buzzing about the new students. There were about 12 students maybe? Half boys and half girls—representing about 6 schools or so among the students. In my homeroom, we watched a video introduction of them and Japanese culture which was really well edited. Though I will admit… it made me kinda sad to see how much effort the students at 하나고 put into it and how much they prepared for the Japanese students while Katie and I were left to our own devices to either sink or swim when we first arrived here. 

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One of the Japanese students in my public speaking class gave me this delicious Japanese chocolate! Best thing I have ever eaten, perhaps?!?!

Music class was the first period of the day and after we got through all the boring things about music theory, we got to sing ‘What I’ve Been Looking For’ from Disney’s High School Musical!! Honestly, I didn’t watch high school musical till the year prior when my friend group let me know that I could not finish my high school career without seeing the movie. The fact that it was an American song and something somewhat familiar made my heart skip a beat. 

For once, Katie and I felt like we knew something better than the Korean students which was nice. Singing the song was so much fun and my smile never left my face during the duration of the song. Even during break, we went into a practice room with some of the other girls in the class and practiced the song (along with random things like Justin Bieber.) It was the best music class yet. 

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Public speaking was my next class and we spent the entire class doing tongue twisters. It was truly a lot of fun. I think I have come to realize a hidden talent of mine: how fast I can say the Peter Picks a Peck of Pickled Peppers tongue twister! 

During lunch, I had to do a 상담 with my homeroom teacher so we ended up taking a short little walk to the Twosome Place Cafe near school and sitting down together to chat (while also enjoying some drinks and a cheesecake). We ended up talking about a lot of subjects: life at 하나고, making friends, 마니또, Korean class, plans with Katie, our upcoming 반모임, the templestay I will be doing this weekend! We spoke in all Korean and it was nice having time to say more to my teacher than the hurried ‘good morning’ when she is either rushing to start homeroom class or rushing to end it. 

Also the main female employee at the cafe was there and when she met my home room teacher, she kept complimenting my Korean and telling her that I come here often and that she’s always shocked by what I say. She also guessed my order before I said anything (My order being a green tea latte or a strawberry & peach frappuccino) which shows how observant she is! But also… that she likes me enough to remember my order!^^

We got back to the lunch room 10 minutes before the end of the lunch period so I ended up not being able to eat lunch… so my lunch ended up being the rest of the cheesecake that we did not finish at the cafe. It wasn’t a big deal though— I wasn’t complaining. It was my favorite flavor: raspberry cheesecake.

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After lunch I had a free study period with Katie (which is where I ate my cake!) and then it was Economics. Before our teacher came in, we (the other students and I) decorated the board with lots of pictures basically begging our teacher to allow us to go outside for class today: something known as 야외 수업. When she came into the classroom and saw all that we did, she was adamantly against letting us go outside. After a first period of actually working hard, we were able to convince her to let us roam free for the last period of the day. 

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That day, I hung out with the girls in my Economics class and the girls from the class next door (people like 소연, 서영, 예원, and of course 서린 and her Japanese exchange student friend Kana. We played some Korean games like I am grounded (I finally know how to play although I really suck at it!) as well as this flower blooming game that is very similar to the American game called Red Light Green Light. At one point, one of the math teachers came and joined us in playing the game too! (The math teacher that all the girls shriek over when he passes them in the hallway… Everyone thinks he is so attractive. The image of squealing high school girls live on here at 하나고.)

We took lots of selfies and just enjoyed the really nice weather. (We didn’t realize that it was actually going to get really cold that weekend and the week to follow…) 

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What do you call these poses? Just a bit concerned 😛

After school that day, Katie and I went back to my home station of 탄현역 to go to a cafe near my apartment. We studied for an hour or so there (Trying to get some work done since we knew we would be hanging out and having fun tonight—and there would be no work time at the temple—so we needed to be productive… though that was easier said than done.) 

For dinner, my host family, Ellen, and Katie and I went to the Chinese restaurant that was the first place I ate out with my host family: 도깨비 탕수육 (Goblin Sweet & Sour Pork) out in 파주시 (Paju-Shi). We had some delicious 탕수육 and 짬뽕. Dinner was a lot of fun! Katie and I were able to talk to my host sisters and Ellen about our days and life in general and since we are so close in age, it was fun feeling like we were actually friends! We talked about Katie’s current boy issues and just life lessons. 

After dinner, we also went to this really pretty cafe that looked like a regal furniture store that also sold handmade accessories like jewelry and purses! And it did sell all of those things… but the main purpose was a cafe! I got this really huge and yummy strawberry smoothie (it was also really expensive) and we all shared a massive plate of waffles and ice cream. Sitting all together and chatting was exactly how I wanted to spend this Friday night~~ It was such a special day. I will always remember this! 

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(I will also put Katie on blast and expose her for breaking the handle of the bathroom door. She went to turn the knob… and it just fell straight off!)

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We got home from the cafe and went on a little walk around my apartment complex. We bought some kinder eggs at the convenience store and ate those, built the little action figures, and talked for more than an hour–luckily it was not that cold this evening.

While we were sitting under the gazebo, we dished out everything that had been happening recently: ranting, complaining, and simply updating. While we were sitting there, a man walked by with this medium-sized pig on a leash. I stared at it for a second and blinked a couple times before I started silently shrieking and pointing at the animal. I was so shook! I had known there was a pig living in our apartment complex (because I had seen pictures taken by my host mom) but I was still not ready to see it! Here, big dog breeds are pretty rare so to see a pig… my jaw dropped to the floor.

Katie ended up sleeping over at my house because her host family would be going on a trip during the weekend and she could not go because of our required templestay programming so we were able to convince Better World to let her stay with me! For a sleepover! Katie finally got the taste of spending a night in a real bed which she hadn’t experienced for an entire 6 months. (She was also quite thankful because my bed is super comfy! I ended up sleeping on the floor, but it was also really comfortable.) 

We didn’t stay up too late talking or anything of that sort. We knew we needed to sleep because of the 3 am wake up call on Sunday (as per templestay routine) so we were good and went to bed by midnight. 

That’s all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ I have not uploaded a blog post in so long… it has to be almost half a year now huh? It was not my intention, but I ran out of storage space. It was not until now that I was able to upgrade my WordPress site. Now I have my own domain!! Isn’t it so snazzy??? Till next time (and it will be sooner rather than later)

  • Emma 엠마

School President Assembly, Korean Politics Project, and Cafe Study Date {03/13/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

03/13/19 Wednesday

My first class of the day was 국어 and I was able to get a seat next to the two first year girls I met during the last class. If I remember correctly, their names are 이언 and 민지. Today the teacher said some things that I was somewhat able to understand but then there were other times that I literally was able to follow along with absolutely nothing. At the end of class, he asked me if I knew the definition of one of the words but I was so lost. I watched him explain what it was but the whole time I had thought he was talking about that certain type of rope exercise equipment at the gym that seems to be only used by famous people or literal personal trainers. I later found out that the thing turned out to be some old tool used for laundry (called Dadeumi — 다듬이). Wow, was I wrong! This whole time! 

After 국어, I had my English mentor ship period which just ended up being a free period because the kids have not been chosen yet. I spent the whole time finishing up a blog post and being unproductive on Instagram. {This was kind of justified by me because I would be having 세계사 (world history) for the next two hours and I was pretty sure I could just do work during that class which is basically what I did! At the beginning of class when the teacher passed out the notes sheets, he also passed one to me and said, ”Please receive this.” At that gesture, I felt kind of compelled to try in the first half of class but after about 20 minutes, I gave up on that endeavor and just took out my workbook and did that during class {with the occasional break every so often to try to see if I could understand anything on the board}.

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Me feeling dead during my free period…

Katie and I ended up eating early today with 혜지 because she was having a counseling session with her homeroom teacher at 12:30 and if she didn’t early, she would have had no time to eat lunch. She was feeling really guilty about eating that early since it is time reserved for third year students only but since we came to eat with her, she felt better about it. Lunch today was nice, the line was short and the lunch room wasn’t as loud as usual—we were able to hear everyone talking. Plus, the food was pretty good! There was a nice pasta dish and these fried potatoes that were basically hash browns. 

After eating lunch, we had 40 minutes to kill before class which was such a nice feeling to have~ Katie and I got to do something that we have been meaning to do for awhile—explore the 하나고 campus. We walked around the several courtyards and even went up this back path behind the track to find some exercise equipment {the ones that are famous for being used only really by 아줌마s–older Korean women. We goofed around on those machines for a bit and walked around the track several times before making it back to have our last class of the day. 

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My last class was Politics and Law which we spent half the class reading from the book {I was really not able to follow along… though during break, 다은 explained one thing on the note sheet to me which was about people being submissive to their bosses even though they have different opinions. I think it might have been an example of political efficacy. I also asked her about the student election and she explained that to me. I also know now that 기호—which was written on all of the posters—means number and that 후보 means candidate.} and the other half was spent in our political party groups. We spent the hour finalizing our party’s platform and our pledge/slogan. I was literally barely any help as I didn’t even have the vocab to understand much of what they were discussing. We also have a debate next class about refusal to complete the mandatory military service and an alternate system that could be created. I feel like I should maybe prepare something? Or at least a comparison with America in case I am expected to participate… Anyways, I felt pretty useless in that class today. 

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Here is one of the posters from one of the potential candidates! He created his poster to the likeness of the hit Korean drama Sky Castle! Soo cool!

Although Katie and I would usually go to a cafe after school on Wednesdays to study {if there were no club meetings}, today was playing out a little different. We ended up making our way to the art center to watch speeches from the students running for school president. We had to split up and sit with our homerooms which was a headache in itself cause I have no friends yet…

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The speeches were all done by first year students except the last two which were groups of 2 second year students {boy and girl}. A lot of them had really good ideas for ways to improve the school for the students that included a space for eating outside {surprised they don’t have this yet…}, a stationary store with more options than the convenience store, better speakers for the school announcements, door stoppers, and even healing events. Although it was hard for me to stay awake during all of the speeches, it was still really entertaining at times {Especially the high quality edited videos! These kids have talent!}. After the event at the art center, Katie and I left to spend some time at the Twosome across the street to study. I went out of my comfort zone today and got a strawberry and peach frappe which was more like a smoothie than anything but it was nonetheless delicious. The color of the drink reminded me of a tomato smoothie {not my favorite thing in the world…} so every time I saw the color, my brain would quickly think of tomatoes before I would remember that it was not. 

We planned to also get 떡볶이 at one of the street food stalls on the way home but it ended up being closed that day so we had the next best thing: 호떡. 

When I got home, I ate dinner with my younger host sister and my host mom as my other sister was hanging out with her American friend Ellen {She did NSLI-Y too—AY & Summer} since it was her birthday. We had a 진수성찬 as my host sister put it seeing that we had so much 반찬 and big dishes of 잡채, 해물파전, and some seafood that we eat so often (and yet I can remember the name!_ I think that this meal made me realize that I must change my favorite Korean food. It is no longer 잡채. Rather, it is actually now 해물파전! So delicious !! 

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For the rest of the night I researched and wrote my proposal for my individual research project which is going to focus on mental disabilities in Korea, specifically Autism as it is heavily stigmatized here. I think it’s going to be an interesting topic to learn about~~ I just hope I can find some good information on it! 

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With my host dog Andy~~~

Well that’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed~ Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마 

 

Korean Classmate’s Birthday and 편의점 아주씨 Makes My Day! {03/12/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

03/12/19 Tuesday

Tuesday was 윤세’s birthday so Katie and I had to casually bring her giant gift into the school without looking too suspicious. While we were trying to accomplish this, we saw Jason쌤 arrive at the front gate of school right before us. We attempted to sneak past him and even walked up the stairs slower than usual so that he would get to his floor on the elevator before us. We saw him walking to his office and thought we made it but then while we were speed-walking to our lockers, we heard a loud voice say, “Hey, you two!” We stopped in our tracks. We turned around slowly to see Jason쌤 walking towards us. We told him that we were not purposely trying to avoid him but that we had some “illegal contraband” in our possession (aka ramen the most sought after outside food at 하나고). It was our little secret that he was now aware of our situation. We were trying to avoid any adult figures…Okay, spy game over. Jason쌤 was cool and laughed at us for trying to be so sneaky about it (“Like they would punish the American students” he said) but in the end, we WERE successful in getting the gift to our lockers without many head turns.

My first class of the day was my English mentorship class but students have still not been chosen yet so I spent the morning just writing a birthday card to 윤세. Second class of the day was music with Katie which ended up being a lot of fun liked I had hoped. During the part of class when the teacher gives instructions, I was completely lost since I cannot read music at all and could not relate the new Korean vocabulary to my existing knowledge of music since I literally have none. I guess the funny thing is now I will only be able to read music and describe it with Korean terms. When the teacher passed out a worksheet for us to fill out, I looked at Katie with such a pouty face because it felt terrible having to participate but not know what to do. Katie, being the doll that she is, helped teach me music intervals and the order of the notes with the letters of the alphabet. I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I was able to get questions right without Katie’s direct assistance. Look mom, not only am I learning Korean on this program, I will come back a music prodigy as well!! (This is major sarcasm for those that cannot tell I am joking).

한국사 was my third period and rather than pull out my Korean homework, I decided to try by best at understanding what was being taught in class. I have this class with third years and was inspired to actually give listening a shot. I really could not understand much but there were words here and there that I was able to pick up which helped me feel like I was somewhat following along. There was one part about education during the Joseon Dynasty that I understood which made me feel proud for the rest of the class–yup, just by understanding one sentence! Fourth period was another English mentorship class which was spent with me sitting on the ground on my knees (There were no free chairs in the discussion room and the librarian had trouble acquiring a chair for me for the longest time…)trying to finish my workbook as fast as humanly possible. I also went a bit crazy adding the words I did not know from the workbook into my Quizlets and ended up with two 100 word Quizlets to memorize for that class period since we were having a quiz in class that very same day! That fact totally slipped my mind until I started completing my workbook so I somehow {somewhat successfully} studied 200 words from lunch till arriving to 홍대. (Though I will say that I had studied both sets {back when they had like 70 words} earlier that week so it wasn’t like all 200 were new words to me.)

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Our 한국사 teacher also always gives each of his students a piece of hard candy halfway through the class period to boost motivation (and keep students from falling asleep…) Such a kind and sweet gesture!

When lunchtime rolled around, we found 윤세 and 혜지 and gave 윤세 her gift but we decided to skeet out of lunch then because the line was unbelievably long. Rather than eat at the cafeteria, we went to the convenience store in the 한옥마을 and ate some kimbap there {We also ate some 호떡 to add some more healthy food to our already nutritious meal…}. We HAD to stop by our favorite 호떡 stand and get some of that goodness! {Dude I’m not kidding… when winter ends and 호떡 is no more… what are Katie and I going to do???} 

Class today wasn’t the most productive… usually on these days, we would have studied three grammar points but last class we did not finish the book work so that bled onto this class. We also spent a lot of time talking about lots of different topics unrelated to what we are currently learning. Although I really enjoy these discussions, I do not participate as much as I should {which I know is my own fault} and so I end up just siting there quiet, shaking my head the whole time and taking notes. It’s not the most helpful to me. 

Our teacher came in late today so we had to start our quiz without her. She actually gave me a folder yesterday with the quizzes inside and told me to bring it to class. I guess this was why, she knew she would be late to class. Although my tactic of cramming 200 words the hour or two before class is definitely not a long term strategy of mine, I did do just fine on the vocab section! I only got .5 points off for not using past tense in one of my answers for a grammar point. Yes!!! I haven’t had a quiz grade this high in awhile… 

We also had a discussion on food combinations that we talked to our friends at school about. There were the expected popular ones like 치맥 {chicken and beer} and seaweed and rice but then there were rather interesting ones like pickles with pizza, jam on grilled cheese, and the worst one: 김치 and ice cream/cake. 

During one of the Korean class breaks, I went to the 편의점 with Shada to buy some snacks. The usual 아주씨 that works there greeted us when we came inside. For the first time since coming to Korea, he told me the price of my items in Korean rather than English! This may seem like the smallest thing ever but I was so happy. Also, after Shada bought her stuff, he gave us a free snack— vitamin (candy) gummies. He was so sweet! 

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Shada and our free gummies!

After class we had our OPIC orientation. The OPIC is basically an OPI but over the computer so there is no real person speaking with you {but it only measures speaking language abilities}. On Saturday, we will be taking it as a way to familiarize ourselves with the post program OPI and to see where we stand according to that measurement right now. 1반’s teacher held the orientation cause she is well informed about the program and explained how to do everything during the test as well as what we should answer for our answers. {Since it is a computer test, there is no person to gauge what things they should talk about with you from your previous answers so there is a survey with topics you choose and those become what you will get asked about during the test.} At one point we were practicing and on the second example question, Shada just throws the mic to me basically and says that Emma will answer. I was so nervous and mad that she did that to me because there was no part of me that wanted to speak Korean in front of everyone. The question was easy—it was was about your experience traveling and what you packed in your bag. I didn’t answer it badly… but I did use the wrong tense. (I answered in future tense when I should of conjugated it in the past tense.) 

Once the orientation was done, I was still figuring out whether or not to return to 하나고 to do a 면접 with my economics club from last year because 지현 had asked me to. However it was after 6 when we finished the orientation and I wouldn’t have been able to get to the school till 7:30 and the thought of having to make two 40 minute commutes overwhelmed me so I ended up going straight home {and having a convenience store dinner cause I told my host mom I would be eating at school.} 

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My new favorite drink! It is an apple and cherry blossom juice from Minute Maid ❤ It is everything!

Well, that’s all for this blog post! I did some work and then I definitely did NOT stay up till midnight (for no reason) to just watch the movie the Last Song on Netflix… yup… Till next time! 

  • Emma 엠마

 

Presentations in Public Speaking, Falling in Love with 콩나물국밥, and Free Snacks at our Favorite Cafe?!? {03/08/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/09/19 Friday

I had somewhat gone to bed early on Thursday night seeing that I had no Korean assignments due the following day so I was in a good mood when I woke up this Friday. It was also our first day back to school wearing 생활복 which always means an extra ten minutes of sleep! (Do not underestimate the amount of time a full uniform takes to put on…)

While I was making my normal commute, I looked out the window of the 대곡역 platform and got to watch a really beautiful sunrise. I realized that even though I am annoyed by this commute at times, I’m going to miss it dearly when it is not a part of my daily routine. 

For first period, I had music class with Katie but we soon found out that we were not with the same class we met on Tuesday—but that we were in a different section. This meant that the kids were not the same bubbly group that knew we spoke Korean after interacting with us on the first day. Katie and I sat in between this group of girls and basically kept to ourselves. 

During the second half of class, we began singing this famous Korean song called 아름다운 나라 which is honestly such a bop {but seriously it is a really beautiful song}. I can’t read sheet music so I had no idea how to sing the song, so I just followed what I thought everyone else was doing. I listened to the way they sang and followed closely behind. I got confused every time there was a repeat of a line but soon I realized how to read that symbol {music people must hate me for not knowing any of the names…} Katie and I both had a really fun time singing the song! {So much so that I purchased the song on iTunes so I can listen to it during my morning commute!} I feel like music class is going to be such a fun class—mostly because I’m able to take it with Katie~ 

After music class, I had public speaking with 서린 which would be my first English class of the week and my first class taught by Jason! I walked into class and I sat down next to these two random girls because I couldn’t tell if 서린 had already dropped her bag off or not yet. When she came in to see me sitting by them, she was offended at first. It was pretty funny. 

The girls I sat next to were named 수빈 and 민지. When I first sat down, 민지 told me that she hadn’t gotten the chance to take a class with me yet so she was super excited that she finally was able to. 수빈 also asked me what my age was and mumbled under her breath that “Isn’t Korean age different?” In which I replied “Yes.” She was spooked for a quick bit—forgetting that I did speak Korean in front of her just before then. 

Jason came in and began class with this annoying Metronome ticking and making fun of these two guys in the class. He pointed at them and said that they were allowed to sit wherever they want but if they choose to, they may not see their English skills improve. After he said this, one of the boys turned to the other {in Korean} and asked “Did you understand that?” And the other replied with, “No.” which made the entire class laugh. 

It also may have just been the first day of class, but we were starting off right away with presentations. The topic was “Something that is important to you.” I decided to do mine on memories. 서린, being the lovely person that she is (note the sarcasm), tells Jason that I did speech team in high school?? Thanks for raising his expectations 서린아!!! 

Everyone presented for around 2 minutes about something that was important to them. I realized that a really common term for the presentations was anything revolving time at 하나고, which makes sense… this is their life. But it made me wonder if I would have answered similarly if I had done this topic in my communications class {basically my school’s version of public speaking} during sophomore year. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I would even have mentioned my school’s name. There were quite a few kids that were really good at English which always impressed me beyond no end. 서린, for one, had a really great speech about having confidence to go out of her comfort zone when learning English. She hadn’t lived abroad, traveled intensely in an English speaking country, or gone to an English kindergarten/academy when young, but she was never afraid to speak to foreigners and that is how she improved. Honestly, she’s inspiring.

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One of the kids in the class (기준 is his name if I am correct; he was also in Bisera–economics club–with me last semester) gave a speech on roommates and talked about his last semester roommate who was on the wrestling team and would use him as a punching bag every single day. At this, 서린 turned to me and said that his roommate really did look like a thumb. I was shook because I feel like I would have noticed a walking thumb around the school hallways? But maybe the school uniforms can hide a person’s thumbness? 기준’s speech was exceptionally funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Jason pointed out at the end that he definitely would have gotten first place and me second but I was not offended! I was never a good speech-giver anyways. 

Eventually, it was finally lunch time and I was ready to eat! The spread today was good as it included chicken and strawberries! Real, raw fruit at lunch? Wow, what a concept! Lunch was fun as we discussed where we wanted to go for the school trip {we decided to vote for 제주도} and then we talked more about the differences between our school systems—like AP classes! I tried to bring up the disparity among different schools in America explaining that private schools usually only have higher class people and are often religiously affiliated. I also brought up Chicago public schools and how the poor students who attend them often don’t have the same resources as other schools. This conversation was brought up when the girls asked Katie and me what AP classes we took and I explained that every school has different classes. 

After lunch, Katie and I hung around the halls to find our lockers because we actually have some this year! And, they actually had our names on them too {On  sticky note paper rather than fancy printed name tags like the other students but I’ll take what I can get!} We had our free period in the library at this time so we just chilled in the study room and did work. I’m pretty sure I spent the whole time editing a blog post and saving photos onto my computer to use for said blog post. 

The last period of the week for me was 미시경제학 (Microeconomics) with 서린 and the same teacher that I had last semester. When she walked in and saw me, she greeted me and welcomed me back. She also asked 서린 if she would be able to help me during class which made me feel bad… like a burden to 서린. I hope she doesn’t start regretting having so many classes with me… 

Our teacher started the class off with talk about what we were going to do for the semester before handing out a sheet of paper to all of us that included a brain map and questions to fill in.

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At the end of the class period, we started playing this economics game that showcased how supply and demand and luck plays an influence in farming. This was a game I would expect in an American class too except the food we grew emphasized the fact that we were in Korea. The vegetables chosen were 배추 (lettuce), 무 (radish), and 고구마 (sweet potato). In American classrooms, we definitely would have used corn. At least, in my class back in the Midwest. 

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View from the school!!~

After school, Katie and I yeeted out of the school after speaking with some of our friends for a bit because we were planning to go back to our favorite cafe to study. Shada was coming too so that Katie could help her with SAT math problems. It had probably been almost half a month since the last time we were there, so it was nice having the owner remember and acknowledge us and how long it’s been. 

I was feeling some sort of random wave of confidence when I went up to order so I told her that I wanted to try out a new drink as she knows I always just get a hot green tea latte. I asked her what was good on the menu and she helped me narrow it down to a fruit smoothie of some kind, I went with strawberry. Also, while we were hard at work, she brought us a little tray of free nuts which was really nice of her~ Free snacks!! I wish I could only come here more often… now that I don’t live at this station, there’s really no reason for Katie and me to meet there when we can just go to each other’s stations. 

I left the cafe after an hour and a half or so and went back home to have dinner with my host family. We ended up going out to eat at a well-known place called 남도복국 out in 파주시 right near where June used to live! It was a place that was open 24 hours and my host sisters told me that it got really popular because taxi drivers would eat there and the food they served was built for the taste palettes of 아주씨s (Older Korean men) if you will. However, the food they served here was also just good in general {to the general public} so it became known as a 맛집 (highly delicious restaurant!)

We ended up eating 콩나물국밥 (Bean Sprout Rice Porridge) with a side order of 생선과 감자 튀김 (fish and fried potato) which was all very very delicious. While we were there, they asked me if there were any 24 hour places in America besides fast food chains. This led me to describe diners and the cozy, homey feel they have. I also tried my best to explain comfort food… This talk made me really miss the local diner by me that served the best chocolate chip pancakes. The first thing I get home {when I’m still getting over being jet lagged} is go to that dinner at 2 am and order the biggest stack of these pancakes! 

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I spent the rest of the night just chilling in my room watching this Korean Web Series. You could kind of call that productive? Well that’s all for this blog post! Till next time~ 

  • Emma 엠마