New Years Day in South Korea: Watching the Sunrise (01/01/19) NSLI-Y Korean AY

1/01/19 Tuesday

I started the New Year before the sun even did! Literally, I woke up at 5:15 am in order to watch the sunrise with my host family; therefore, if you think about it…. We woke up to a new year before the sun! (I do not know why I think this is cool, but I do.) Apparently, in Korea, it is quite a common tradition for families and couples to go watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day. I am not exactly sure why they find it so meaningful but I assume that it has something to do with the fact that sunrises are known for symbolizing a new beginning. When I first woke up, I was immensely tired and felt that I was not in the mood to go stand out in the freezing cold to catch only a few seconds of the sunrise but after experiencing everything, I understood why this tradition is considered so special to so many people.

But anyway, we left the house a little bit before six and were met with a good amount of traffic on the streets. I was confused as to why we left so early seeing that the sun was not going to rise till after 7 am– closer to 7:45 according to the internet. I soon found out that it was because we would be eating breakfast at a restaurant and then climbing up this mountain (or someplace that people hike???) before seeing the sunset.

For breakfast, we all piled into this restaurant that was fairly empty and I was shocked to see that it was open. I wondered if it was usually open this early during the weekdays or if this was a special occasion seeing that it was New Year’s Day. We had some light noodles and 만두 (dumplings) for breakfast before heading up to the sunrise viewing. There were so many people! Actually, the huge amount of people proved to be kind of nice because it was as if we were all huddled like penguins waiting for the sky to brighten and the sun to rise. However, because there were so many people (and we did not get there too early), we could not get a spot right where the sun would rise (I mean the spot for the best viewing if that makes any sense…) and so we had to climb up this side part of the landscape which was had very crumbly dirt making it hard to climb and stand still on.

However, being surrounded by my host family and seeing all the togetherness around me made me immensely happy. We had a perfect view of a bridge across some water and with the lights on at dawn, it looked like a picture perfect moment. I looked out to the sky and thought about everything I was grateful for in 2018.


I realized that I have been so lucky and so blessed to have had such an amazing year. A year full of dreams coming true, great times spent with people whom I love, as well as lots of firsts from trying new things! Everyone around us was chatting and I goofed around with my host siblings for a bit too until the time came when the sun was really coming up–showing a beautiful bright orange color. Everyone quieted down and took in the view of the sunrise (and many took photos too which kind of disturbed the viewing with a bunch of loud camera shutters, but who can blame anyone for wanting to document this moment?) Everyone in my host family made a wish when they saw the sunrise. I did not know that this was something that can be done (or is usually done) but I can see how observing the sunrise can be seen as (reminder of the beauty of the world and the gift that is waking up every morning) a prime opportunity to make a wish. (I would say that it should also be as popular as wishing on shooting stars! But I guess that because they are less rare (actually you can call them frequent!!) it is not as special.


I made a wish too, but I refused to tell my host family about it because you know what they say: if you share a wish, it will not come true!

After watching the sunrise, we came back home and all immediately went back to sleep. It was nearing 8:30 am at this point and everyone was exhausted from the combination of staying up late, waking up early, and standing outside in the cold for quite a bit of time. I quickly texted my friends telling them that I was going to bed but that I would call them after my nap so that I could be a part of the Secret Santa Gift Exchange and watch the countdown in Chicago with them all. Seeing all my friends made me so happy. I have not gotten the chance to talk to all of them in such a long while because of our busy schedules and the different time zones (truly proving to be a pain in my rear end). Since their winter breaks from college started, I have been feeling major FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) from seeing all their posts on Instagram and Snapchat of them just hanging out and partaking in our friend group traditions (like eating pancakes at our local 24/h diner) or just things we have always wanted to do (like going to an Escape Room!) I know in particular there was a photo taken at a restaurant and my friend had put a Snapchat filter on it that read: New Year Same Squad. It was such an innocent add on to a really cute photo but of course, it made me feel sad in a way. I truly love my friends and I do not believe that we are being torn apart because of this but I do feel extremely disconnected to them due to the distance between us. They have the time to share with each other so many stories and updates and I am left feeling like I know nothing when things are brought up. These new inside jokes make me feel like an outsider… Or maybe a bit less obvious, there is a divide in where we are in life. They will have finished their first year of college while I have done something just as growth-invoking: a year abroad.


Wow, that was such a long tangent. (I am currently sitting in a cafe right now with Josh and maybe because I am being influenced by this deep/thought-provoking music, I am feeling the vibes to just dish out all my emotions and thoughts on this blog post right now… Anyway, since I brought my fears and the negative things that I have been feeling, I do want to bring up that it is not all bad. I like to think because I have such amazing friends, I have been reassured and reminded time and time again that they will always be there for me. In this past week, I video called one of my friends and she never failed to let me know how much she misses me. She told me that something always feels off without me there, and she even said she knew that they would have been successful with the escape room if I had been there too. My other friends too continue to update me on their lives through text (or by Snapchat video) and I really appreciate the extra effort they put in for me! Anyways back to my day! (and not my feelings!)

Earlier in the night, my friends came over to my house to surprise my mom with chocolates and I later heard from my mom that she was almost in tears with the kindness they showed her–she had missed seeing them around so much. My friends picked up my package with my secret Santa gifts and snacks for all of them to try. When we video called, I was so happy being able to see how excited my friend Kara got when she opened all my presents. They were definitely nothing too special but I thought she would use them well!

I got to watch the countdown with them and as the countdown reached 1, all my friends screamed Happy New Year and let off (what is the verb for this?) confetti poppers. I ended the call soon after that and also talked to my mom for a bit.

For lunch, my host family and I ate 떡국 (rice cake soup) which is a soup traditionally eaten during the New Year. In Korea age works a bit differently when compared to American age. To describe it as simply as possible… Koreans are born as 1-year-olds rather than 0 and then they increase in age on New Years Day rather than on their actual birthdays. (Yes, they still celebrate their birthdays, however.) Because of this system, you have to either add 1 or 2 years to your current age to get your Korean age. For example, I am currently 19 years (My birthday is Nov 4th, 1999) and my Korean age is 21 years old. I gained a year today! Before New Years (back in December) I was only 20 in Korean age. Before my birthday (let’s say October!), I was still 20 in Korean age even though I was 18. This is probably so confusing but I tried!!


Once you eat the soup on New Years Day, you get one year older!

The rest of the day was spent spending time with my host siblings (watching a Barbie movie and then several episodes of a Korean tv show about the body? It was very educational.) as well as cleaning my room and finishing up all my packing. We played board games and I can finally say that I have won a round of Rummikub!! YESSS!

Our last dinner together was a very special one. There was a really big spread of all types of food. The main dishes were 삼겹살 and 회 with an assortment of veggies. Before we began eating, my host dad said that they had prepared a 진수성찬 for me and then asked me if I remembered what that was. I could not help but smile and think about the good memories from the 추석 holidays when my host dad first taught me that word. (Definitely, one of my new favorite Korean words since it is associated with such great memories. Should I do another favorite words blog post? Link to the first one: here) We also did a toast before starting to eat. My host parents said a few things about enjoying having me and I also thanked them for allowing me to feel comfortable with them and all the memories we were able to make with each other. Dinner was bittersweet, but I knew that I would surely be back soon. Hopefully, the next time I come back, I can make gingerbread houses with my siblings!


And that was my New Year’s Day in Korea! (Though I will admit that a large majority of this blog post was just me explaining my emotions but what would a realistic blog about my experience be without me getting all personal out on here?) Thank you for reading if you even got this far! Till next time~

  • Emma 엠마

The second Day of Korean Classes: Anxious, Stressed, yet Hopeful {9/18/18} NSLI-Y AY


This morning, I was left alone for about three hours in the apartment as my host dad left for the library, my host sisters went to school, and my host mom and host brother left to complete their daily routine. I really enjoyed this time, however. I finally had some personal, private time. Something I’ve been lacking since I got off the plane in New York.

I got ready for class and even got the chance to video call my mom. I updated her on how I was doing and what was planned ahead. I cleaned my room a bit and studied vocab I learned yesterday.

My host dad came back home around 12. We had curry together for lunch. It was awkward at first but then we began to make conversation. As the meal continued, I started feeling more comfortable as well so I just started telling him about my first day of Korean class the previous night. He told me he was studying to get a certificate for his job, so he is on a break from work this week. He said this all in Korean… and I understood! But, I wouldn’t be able to relay this information back to you. Though I did learn the word for certification during this chat: 자격증

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Me feeling emo before class started

Immediately after lunch I left for school and got to the station with the perfect amount of time to walk to the Better World Office and have time for speaking with 민정쌤 beforehand; however, 민정쌤 hadn’t arrived at the offices yet. She was still in 인천 with the girls attending 문일. I got the WiFi of the office from 솔지쌤 and realized that 민정쌤 messaged me. We would talk after the first hour of class— during break time.

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Waiting for everyone in our makeshift classroom

The first hour of class actually went really well. I was feeling slightly more confident and began to ask questions and speak more in class. I even answered the teacher’s questions with words we learned yesterday to show her that I knew what I was doing, that I studied hard to prove to her that I could be in her class.

During break time, 민정쌤 pulled me away to her desk and we talked about my place in the class. I told her that the grammar wasn’t what was giving me trouble… it was the vocabulary, the conversations we would have in class. Josh and Jacquelyn knew soooo much more than me that I could hear multiple sentences and not understand. And I couldn’t have her explain… I didn’t want to keep them back from learning new things if I kept struggling with what we were being taught. 민정쌤 reassured me by saying that I shouldn’t worry. If grammar was what was difficult, I may have to rethink my place; however, vocab is something you can catch up on and study very hard to memorize. She told me that our 선생님 talked to her after the first day and told her that I belonged in her class and that I would stay there till the end of the program. Hearing that made me feel really good. I kept thinking that every mistake I was making was causing the teacher to regret placing me in this class. Though the class was making me feel very frustrated, I did want to stay in it. I knew that it would help me learn quickly, and that was exactly what I wanted. If I moved to the class below me, I wouldn’t be learning too much new grammar. There would also be no one to push me to do my best— because I might have been the best? {I promise I don’t mean to brag.}

After the talk, the class went by pretty quickly. I had the expected moments of not understanding and just nodding along but this time, when those moments occurred, I made sure to remind myself that I am still learning— it’s okay to not understand everything. If I did, I wouldn’t be improving!


After class, I went straight home. Our homework consisted of workbook pages, and writing a paragraph on our 이상형 {ideal type}, and studying for our quiz the following day. I wanted to show the teacher I could keep myself above the water. Maybe not more than half of my face but still, I wasn’t submerged— that was the goal.

My host sisters helped me with studying again. While doing workbook pages, I would circle my answer and they would shake their head in agreement or disagreement. It was nice to have a living, breathing answer key but it also made me very self-conscious about my mistakes. I liked that they were so invested in my learning, though.

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열공 (Studying Hard)

And tonight, I got to return the favor, I helped my eldest host sister with her English writing. She has an assignment to write about an animal family; she chose rabbits. I helped her come up with the contents of her essay by asking her simple questions and allowed her to phrase the sentences herself. Then, I checked for spelling or grammar mistakes.

I went to bed pretty late. I stayed up making Quizlets to do in the morning. I also had a lot of nerves for school orientation the next day. But that was my day, I’m assuming this is what my daily routine will be like for a while. It’s very different than the summer. I was constantly busy then— always having plans, always going out. This is different… but in a good way.

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Look at us go! ❤

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

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


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

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

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Crossing the street trying to get a taxi

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

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My faves Jeremy and Nicole~ ❤

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

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O’Hare decorated for Christmas!

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

  • Emma 엠마

2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 2 (Jan 6th, 2018)

안녕하세요 여러분!

On our full day of the Alumni Rep Workshop (01/06/18), we would be having a majority of the presentations American Councils planned for us as well as learning about our planning expectations and requirements. (A lot of things would be repeated from last year, but I needed to hear more about in-person planning as I did not really pay attention to that aspect last year–because it wasn’t my role.)

We had breakfast at the hotel starting from 7:30 am until 8:30 am. I got up an hour earlier to take a shower and get dressed and my roommate Selin and I headed down for breakfast at 7:45 am. During breakfast, I sat with Jacquelyn, Shraddha, and Selin and was able to hear more about their experiences with NSLI-Y and their daily life in wherever they lived in America. The breakfast was really delicious! I usually never eat breakfast (and if I do it is a granola bar), so the spread for breakfast seemed so glamorous and luxurious! There were chefs who would make you a personal omelette with whatever you wanted!

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My roommate Selin and Shraddha at breakfast

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I took advantage of this breakfast by getting a lot of things: waffles, southern style potatoes, bacon, eggs, fruit, and a chocolate muffin

After breakfast, we walked to American Councils (except for Dean who took a couple people with him in an Uber because of his injury. If only AC knew that he crutched all the way to the Lincoln memorial the previous night… haha). When we first made it back to the American Councils Office,  we did some icebreakers to learn more about each other. We all made two circles (an inner and an outer) to talk about some highlights of our NSLI-Y experience, goals for the alumni rep role, etc.

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Walking to American Councils Saturday morning~

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Nicole ❤

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Ready for a long day of presentations!~

Then, like last year, we had presentations on our virtual presence on social media, in-person event planning, planning logistics, different types of events, and we were introduced to some resources we can access from the US Government.

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Like last year, American Councils gave out prizes to the reps that could answer some NSLI-Y/Alumni Association “trivia” questions. Shraddha and I both picked out some pretty cool merchandise. Can’t wait to use my thermos!!!

One difference between this year and last year was that American Councils had some of the alumni representatives (renewed and new) give presentations on the different types of events. First, we skyped past NSLI-Y Alum rep for Philadelphia (Mid-Atlantic Region) Andy Nguyen! Ahhhh it was so great to see him again. Before the video was set up completely, Nicole and I chatted with him for a bit telling him how much we miss him. He did a presentation on all of his events (which were EXTREMELY successful) and his tips for planning events and getting a good turn-out.

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Andy about to present to us

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haha PC: Nicole’s Snapchat // I do not remember what I was looking out but this is hilarious!

Then some of the other alumni reps presented about their experience with one of the types of events (+ tips and advice). For example, I had a presentation on my experience having a virtual Serve event. (I hosted a webinar with Youth Service America for Global Youth Service Day in April.) Jeremy (Virtual Engagement) presented about virtual events, Rahul (Virtual Engagement) presented about Outreach events, Jacquelyn (Midwest- Louisville, KY) presented about Learn events, etc.

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Deni presenting about his Grow (in-person in Boston) alum events from last year.

After what seemed like an endless amount of hours spent on presentations and note-taking, we had lunch!

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My lunch consisted of a roast beef sandwich, salsa sun chips, and a brownie cookie.

After lunch, we got into small groups to plan out some events for the year. (As an alum rep, we are required to organize and host at least three events: two in-person or virtual events and one outreach event.) Since I will be attending university in NYC next fall, I will have to host all my events before I move. Josh was in the same situation as me, so we focused on planning all our desired events during the late winter, spring, and summer months. I am really excited to meet and hang out more with the NSLI-Y Chicago alumni!~

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My small group for the event-planning activity!! I worked with Paula (Northeast — NYC), Josh (Southwest — Dallas), and Rowan (West Coast — LA).

Also, before today’s segment of the workshop, we were told to take a survey to asses our leadership style. After adding up all my points, I had more or less a leadership style known as East–Vision. We got into groups based on our leadership style (I was placed with Rowan, Lila, and Justin), and wrote out a poster on tips we would give others to work with us.

Main Points of the East-Vision Leadership

  • Visionary who sees the big picture
  • Likes to experiment and explore
  • Looks for overarching themes and ideas
  • Generative and creative thinker; able to think outside the box
  • very idea-oriented; focuses on future thought

Then, we were getting ready to end the workshop activities for the day. Brian gave a debriefing and told us all the housekeeping rules for the night. We got reimbursed for transportation to get to the airport (to and back) from yesterday, and we also took some time to take photos in front of the iconic American Councils wall (It was in the room we stayed in last year!)

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They decorated for Christmas!~ So adorable!!! 🙂

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Front: Paula, Me, Jacquelyn, and Shraddha              Back: Jeremy, Dean, and Nicole

With Old Friends!~

With New Friends!~

American Councils would be taking us out to dinner at Bangkok Joe’s in Georgetown. We would also be given time to walk around Georgetown and experience Georgetown Glow (An outdoor light exhibit). We all walked back to the hotel, got changed and dressed for dinner (For me, this meant putting on more layers. It was so cold!). We took taxis to the same restaurant we ate at last year.

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I ordered General Tso’s Stir-fried Lomein with Fried Shrimp

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Alumni Representative Dinner! (Left to Right: Josh, Justin, Jacquelyn, Dean, Selin, Deni, and Caroline)

After dinner, we split off with Brian to find the Georgetown Glow exhibits and just hang out in Georgetown. (Many of us, including me, wanted to stop by Georgetown Cupcake and then sit down and chill in a fun cafe.) The light exhibits were not close at all. The first one was right in front of the restaurant and Washington Harbor, but the other ones were scattered all around.

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When I first saw it, I thought they just wrapped some pretty, glow-in-the-dark ribbon around the trees. XD

The second light exhibit consisted of light up floor “tiles” on the ground. When you step on them, they change from their normally blue color to either a purplish-pink color or a reddish-yellow color. It was a lot of fun to run around on them!

The third one was more of a trek away– and up a hill! And though it was very very cold, I got to talk to Nicole, Shraddha, and Jeremy more. I talked to Nicole about her first semester at Harvard, Shraddha’s experience helping out at a refugee center, and Jeremy and I bonded over our NSLI-Y Korea summer experiences.

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This gave me Olympics and Sonic the Hedgehog Vibes. Anyone else? No? ….

After walking for awhile, we made it to Georgetown Cupcake! I, and a couple other reps in the group, stopped by to buy cupcakes. The line was so long! I was surprised… but I still waited in line! XD I ended up getting a Happy New Year cupcake (chocolate) and a gluten-free peanut butter cupcake (chocolate).

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

We then walked over to the cafe right across the street to hang out, eat our cupcakes, and some of the reps ordered coffee or hot chocolate. We lost track of time, and I had to remind Brian what time it was. (We were late to the meeting spot but… it was worth it! haha)

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Cafe Aesthetic!~ ❤

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All the alumni reps took over the second floor! haha XD

We arrived back at the hotel, in taxis, around 8:30 pm. We messaged back and forth on our group chat to figure out whose room we should hang out in, but we decided to just all hang out in the lounge area on the first floor of the hotel (close to where we ate breakfast in the morning). A lot of the reps were doing homework or writing essays for some programs so there was a multitude of laptops out. (I had mine, but it took me about half an hour to get it connected to the internet. Thanks to Anjali for helping me figure it out!)

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The qualityyyyy (Jeremy, Deni, and I)

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I stayed up till 2 in the morning talking with the alumni reps! Till 1 am, Jeremy, Dean, and I talked about our NSLI-Y Korea Summer experiences. It was super interesting to hear about Dean’s experience because his was the most recent and he had gone to Jeonju (전주) instead of Seoul (서울). They took Korean classes at a high school instead of a university like Jeremy and I had. (Additionally, he was quite popular at his school. The girls were head over heels for him! XD)

Then From 1 to 2 am, Dean, Justin, Lila, and I just talked about who knows what. We moved from the tables to some couches and got into some deep stuff. (Except when Dean starts telling us what our animal selves would be– apparently I am a golden retriever and Lila is a turtle… weird haha) So a mix of deep stuff and stuff that you can only talk about when it is two in the morning.

And that was the second day of the Alumni Representative Workshop! Usually, (well at least last year) I combined the second and third day of the workshop together; however, this post is getting so extremely long! This post is already getting up to 1,700 words!!! I had a ton of fun getting to know the reps more and learning more about what I can do as the Chicago Representative this year. I am so excited!! Hopefully, I can post a (rather short) blog post about the third day sometime soon~ Hope you enjoyed! 고마워요 여러분! 다음에 봐요!~ 🙂 Do not forget to subscribe!!!~

  • Emma 엠마

2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 1 (Jan 5th, 2018)

안녕하세요 여러분!~ I am back with yet another blog post about the NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop!~ I have been granted the amazing opportunity to renew as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative! So Alumni Representatives (shorthand = alum reps) are given the chance to renew their position for a second year if they successfully completed their events and fulfilled the requirements of the role. Last year, I was a NSLI-Y Alum Rep for Virtual Engagement; however, this year I am in the role of the Chicago/Great Lakes Region Alum Rep (Nicole had this position last year, and this year she is a virtual engagement rep. So, we switched positions! haha). If you want to read my posts from last year, I will link them here and here!~ ❤

So the Alumni Association is a network of exchange alumni which focuses on engaging alumni to continue language learning, promote the NSLI-Y Program, perform community service, connect with other alumni, as well as network and attend events geared towards professional development. The role of a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative is to engage the alumni in their respective region with events that help to fulfill the mission of the Alumni Association. (These goals being learning, growing, connecting, and serving.) Along with this responsibility, NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives are required to attend a 3-day workshop in Washington DC coordinated by American Councils. (One of the many implementing organizations of the NSLI-Y Programs.) Therefore, I flew to DC with 16 other Alum Reps  to attend this workshop–once again.

(To learn more about the NSLI-Y Alumni Association, check out the alumni tab on the NSLI-Y website HERE. You can also view the profiles of the new NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives.)

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Waiting at the gate~~~ Anticipating the fun that awaits in Washington DC

On Friday (Jan 5th, 2018) I flew to Washington DC with Paula Zhang (Yes the infamous #NSLIYQueen) as well as Shraddha Joshi. Paula is from Chicago, so you would think we would have met up by now… but this was our first time meeting and she is incredible! Such a lovely person~ And Shraddha is a Virtual Engagement Alum Rep this year, so we talked a bit before because she had some questions about her position. (Just like I did! XD) Shraddha is so sweet, and she has a blog too! I will link it here~ FOLLOW HER!

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Paula (Northeast/New York Alum Rep), Shraddha (Virtual Engagement), and me.

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These biscuit cookies are the best airplane snack. Nope, pretzels DO NOT compete!!!

We then met Brian (The new American Councils NSLI-Y Alum Rep coordinator as our last year coordinator, Tyler, took a position at a University) at the airport after our plane landed. We were going downstairs to baggage claim, totally passed by Brian though he literally had a NSLI-Y sign in his hand! haha We talked to Brian for a bit while Shraddha got her bag. He did Peace Corps in Armenia! So a fellow world traveler~

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Our amazing hotel: Embassy Suites



We got to our hotel at around 2 pm and we were supposed to meet in the hotel lobby at 5:30 in order to walk to American Councils to start the Alum Rep Workshop; therefore, we had some to kill before things truly got started. (Reps would be arriving anywhere from 1-5 pm– but poor Lila missed her connecting flight.) So, a group of us (Me, Josh, Shraddha, Dean, Deni, and Selin) walked around the hotel to look for a coffee shop (that was not Starbucks). We ended up going to this Cafe called Illy. Dean kept pointing out that the logo for Illy was very similar to this Korean song (???). Apparently, it used a very similar graphic.


The Illy Cafe in DC (PC: Google). The next two pictures are screenshot from the Korean Music video “Iffy” sung by Jay Park, SiK-K, and pH-1.


At Illy, some of the alum reps got coffee, and we all just hung out in this seating area talking and getting to know each other better. I just love connecting with alumni at this workshop– hearing about their experience and talking about our shared interests.

Selin (NSLI-Y Alum Rep for the Austin, TX/Southwest Region) turned out to be my roommate, and we got ready for the workshop together. We, once again, had to dress Business Casual on the first night for pictures and to meet with staff from the Department of State.

We walked to American Councils and as we arrived (perfect timing), our dinner had just gotten there. We were given a NSLI-Y folder full of contents for the workshop: a list of the Alum reps, an agenda, a scavenger hunt, a calendar, brochures, etc. We ate Mediterranean foods in one of the conference rooms before we started presentations.

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We got his really nice NSLI-Y Notebook and Pen too~ As well as a name-tag (but we learned everyone’s name pretty quickly.)


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Everything was very delicious!!! ❤ ❤ ❤


After we had dinner, we had a welcome and introduction from some of the American Councils staff: Emily Matts Henry, Kate Elci, and Brian Leopold. Then, we met Chris Schwab and Megan Huber from the Department of State who talked to us about resources that were available to us as a part of the International Exchange Alumni. We learned about grants, other scholarships, internship position listing, databases– basically how to use the website for whatever we were looking for. (This was very similar to last year’s presentation.)

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A short weekend with a lot of presentations was in our future~


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I am so excited that NSLI-Y has added Indonesian! I definitely want to try learning the language in the future~

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Some of the Alumni Reps stayed till Monday to present at the Department of State. And Look! This is our group picture from last year~

At around 8:30 pm we finished up the day’s session and were informed about the activities planned for tomorrow and the rules for the night (house-keeping, rules if we went out, and our curfew of 11 pm). We also took some photos before walking back to the hotel from American Councils.

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2018 Renewed NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives! (Jeremy-Virtual Engagement, Nicole-Virtual Engagement, Me, and Deni-Boston/Northeast Region)

A group of us (Jeremy, Deni, Nicole, Justin, Selin, Dean, Lila, Caroline, Josh, and me) decided to walk around DC and visit the Lincoln Memorial and the State Department (even though it was really cold!). Luckily, we had Jeremy as our tour guide as he attends George Washington University, so we did not get lost on the way to the memorial.



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Loved being back in DC with Nicole!~ I have missed her! ❤

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Justin and Josh called this the #SlavSquat ??? I think… I do not the significance but hey, this photo makes me laugh! haha

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Such a nice (cold) night!~

After we visited the Lincoln Memorial (and after Justin almost “tried” standing on the ice over the reflecting pool XD), we made our way back to Burger, Tap, and Shake. The same restaurant we ate at last year after that monument tour! It was so nostalgic~

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Hanging out and having a good time!~ (Me, Nicole, Justin (Portland/West Coast Alum Rep), Deni, Lila (San Francisco/West Coast Alum Rep), and Jeremy

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Deni & Selin!~

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I got my table fries to share. The hot fries helped us deal with the cold (Though even inside Caroline was shaking! It was a big change from North Carolina weather.)

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Caroline (Chapel Hill, NC/Southeast Alum Rep) and Jeremy

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Lila and Nicole

And that the first day of the 2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop!! I am so grateful that I am able to experience this workshop twice in order to continue planning and organizing events for my local alumni as well as meet and become friends with so many alumni that I may not have met otherwise (I would have just kept stalking their Instagram as usual…. just me? XD) This post has gotten extremely long so I will post blog posts about the workshop in parts. (Hopefully two but we will see what happens…)

Thank you so much for reading this blog post! (And for once, this blog post is going up a decent amount of days after the event– not almost two months later like my last post haha) All NSLI-Y Alumni! If you have not signed up for the Alumni Association or if you have not joined the Alumni Facebook pages or your respective region page please do so! If you want to attend events and receive these resources, this is a must-do!

Follow my blog if you enjoyed~ I will be posting the next part(s) soon as well as posts about the events I organize as an Alumni Rep! Stay tuned! 고마워요 여러분! 다음에 봐요!~

  • Emma 엠마



Diversity & Inclusion Fly-in Program at George Washington University (11/09-11/10/17)

Thursday November 9th, 2017

GW (George Washington University) has always been on my college list, and to be frank, I did not really know why. I knew I had put it on there because it was located in DC and offered International Relations. But other than that, it just took up space. While researching other programs, I discovered the ‘amazingness’ that is fly-in or fly-away programs at universities. Fly-in programs give students the opportunity to thoroughly explore and get to know a university. (Typically these students are underrepresented on their college campus.) While scrolling through a list, I came across GW. And, I was excited to see their application was still open– although the deadline was in three days. I filled out the application, wrote the essay, and the following week I received an email affirming my acceptance to the program– with all expenses paid. I was ecstatic.

I flew independently to GW, but this was nothing new to me. I had flown alone to Seattle because of NSLI-Y as well as to DC previously due to my position as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative; therefore, I was not nervous about the flying aspect … just the “Will I like this school or will I forever not know where I want to go to college” aspect.

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O’Hare International Airport –> Reagan National Airport

I arrived with a couple other students on the program around 4 pm-ish. Luckily, I immediately met my roommate Payton and our friendship formed just as quick. We met our student host Ana as we took a taxi from the Reagan National Airport to the Marvin center– a building on campus. We dropped off our luggage in the room we would be eating dinner in– Continental Ballroom– and then had Ana show us around campus a little bit. We also got to take a quick jog down to see the White House. Last time when I was in DC (Jan 2017), the front of the White House was closed and so this was my first time being able to see it from the front. First Observation: It was smaller than I expected.

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Afterwards, we had a delicious dinner. The mashed potatoes were to die for! And the chocolate cake for dessert… let’s just say I took two slices! XD

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I finally got to see the true nature of the GW students when the director said that you could go back to the buffet for second helpings, all the student hosts ran up to the buffet with their Ziploc bags and plastic sandwich containers. It was hilarious.

After dinner, there was a student performance showcase where we got to see a lot of organizations on campus, in their element, showing off their talents.

We watched a few A Capella groups such as the Troopadors (Co-ed) and The Sirens (All Girls) who sang some really great renditions of songs such as Toxic, Crazy, Praying, It’s Raining Men, and Somebody to Love. We got to hear GW’s band play the Fight Song and other classics like One Direction’s You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful XD There was also a performance by GW’s K District (Kpop Dance Group) and Raas (Indian Dance Group), and some performances by Spotify artists like Blink and Plantain Poppy.

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Group Photo of everyone that was a part of Your GW (prospective applicants as well as student hosts)

After the performances, we went to the MSSC (Multicultural Student Services Center) on campus and had some Hot Chocolate while meeting with the director and other students who who just chill in the lounges. Once Payton, Ana, and I were equipped with our cup of hot chocolate, we went out to see as many monuments as possible. (I had seen them all during my last trip to DC, but I love walking around DC so the exploration was much appreciated). We left the bigger group around midnight because we were so exhausted and headed back to Ana’s Dorm. She showed us a tour of her floor and we got to meet some of her roommates. She lived with 5 other roommates so the room was quite full but also spacious. Not only that, but they had their own private bathroom and full-sized fridge. It was all pretty neat! Payton and I both slept on the floor, but honestly, it was not all that bad.

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Payton and I at the Lincoln Memorial

Friday November 10th, 2017

We woke up bright and early for breakfast in the same building. Once again there was a buffet with a TON of food: scrambled eggs, waffles, bagels, fruit, bacon, french toast, and potatoes (Southern… I think?) And like expected, GW students ran to the buffet when second helpings were called with all of their containers.

After filling my belly with the best potatoes ever, it was time for a campus tour of Foggy Bottom (the name of the campus). We had an official tour guide and a student who was training to be a tour guide take us around campus to see some important buildings, statues, and places. They also explained the food plan for freshman and I loved it! So, GW does not have any dining halls. Instead, you get points on your ID card. These points can be used at local restaurants and grocery stores, so you can eat out or buy food to cook at home in your dorm. I thought that this was pretty food. You literally have control what you eat and you do not have to be in a routine if you do not want to.

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Ready for a tour of GW!


Then, we watched this really great documentary that was truly eye-opening. The documentary was called “Hands Up” and it was directed by Zinhle Essamuah. The majority of the documentary was filmed in Ferguson Missouri and focused on the Black Lives Matter Movement. It was beautifully filmed and tragically sad. What a great piece. (We also ate lunch during the viewing.)

The last two events of the day were visiting the MSSC once again and getting to ask questions to some regional admission officers from GW. The visit to the MSSC involved getting more information on how it supports students, and we also participated in these activities called “round tables” which were very similar to icebreakers. We did a bingo sheet, a discussion on our future fears, and a discussion of “Where are you from?” and “Where are you from from?” The question session was not too helpful. We read through a GW application– but they refused to tell us if the individual got in or not (Then how was that supposed to help us?). I also already knew most of the answers from my extensive research on the college admission process through YouTube, mostly.

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And that was my fly-in experience at GW (Nov 2017)!~ It was a really fun experience, and it truly made me  love GW and DC, in general. GW is the best! Who knows… I could possibly end up here!

  • Emma 엠마

Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 1 (Jan 6th, 2017)

Since I am now an alumni of the NSLI-Y program, I will be starting a series on my blog about the opportunities that are available to alumni of the NSLI-Y program. The first one I will be talking about is showcased in this blog post. (Duh!) The Alumni Association is a network of exchange alumni that encourage alumni to continue their language learning, serve the community, promote NSLI-Y, and the association helps alumni with professional development. Alumni Representative positions are given to exchange alumni which makes them responsible for engaging alumni in their respective regions. (Each representative is given a region of the country or they can be a virtual engagement Alumni Representative.) The application for Alumni Representatives is emailed to all alumni from all program years and languages around the middle to end of November. If you want to know more about the position and the Alumni Association, visit the Alumni Association tab on the NSLI-Y website which I will link here.

This year I was given an Alumni Representative position for virtual engagement which means instead of my role being to connect alumni from my region, I am in charge of connecting alumni nationwide with virtual events. (I am also a Korean summer 2016 NSLI-Y alum for those that have not done an extensive reading of my blog.) One of the obligations of an Alumni Representative is to attend a three day workshop in DC coordinated by American Councils in order to learn about the roles, responsibilities, and rules for the position. Therefore, this past weekend, I was sent to DC with 15 other Alumni Representatives for the workshop and I will document our happenings on this blog post. (Prepare yourself… for a very very long blog post.)

On Friday (Jan 6th, 2017) I took a flight with Nicole (Russian Summer 2016 Alum – Chicago/Great Lakes Alumni Representative) and Ryan (Chinese Fall Semester 2011 Allum – Midwest/St Louis Alumni Representative) to Washington D.C. for the workshop. Representatives would be arriving on Friday anywhere from 1pm to 5pm and so our workshop would not officially be starting until around 5:45pm but we all had to meet at the lobby of our hotel at 5:30. Since Ryan, Nicole, and I arrived so early (before 3pm), we decided to walk around the area and visit some monuments and such after dropping our luggage off in our rooms.


The room was so big and nice! We had a bathroom in our walk in closet and a kitchen. Very interesting.


Selfie in the hotel room! XD



View from the hotel balcony!~

We went to many monuments and walked for almost three hours straight. Nicole and I would never have been able to find all these cool places without our amazing tour guide Ryan. (It was also my first time in DC and so I had a huge smile on my face the entire time. It was sooo much fun walking around… even though the circular streets were quite annoying.)


We tried to visit the White House but there was a lot of extra protection so we couldn’t get that close.


We then went around to the back and I was able to have a better view of the White House.



Executive Building


I wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial more than anything else!~

Ryan left us early at the Lincoln Memorial because he still had to change into his dress clothes for the activities and presentations tonight. Nicole and I were prepared as we had worn our business casual clothes on the plane and were already dressed nice. We finished up at the Lincoln Memorial around 5pm and we had to hurry up and make it back to our hotel. If we had walked normally, we wouldn’t have made it so we speed walked and ran when crossing the streets. Luckily, we didn’t get stopped at too many streets because it seemed every time we got to a street, pedestrians were allowed to cross. We made it to the lobby at 5:26pm, 4 minutes before the meeting time. Go us! At this time, I met with most of the representatives which I hadn’t known or met before. (Well everyone except for Angela. (Chinese Summer 2015 alum – Southeast/Orlando Alumni Representative) We met on the NSLI-Y forum on College Confidential a few years back. It was really nice to meet her in person finally.)

We all walked to American Councils and the first thing on our agenda was introductions and icebreakers. We met with people from American Councils as well as the other fellow Alumni Representatives and did some speed networking. For dinner we had some middle eastern food before we had a presentation from two women from the Department of State on resources that are available by registering with the international exchange alumni and where to find them. (Resources including internship position listings, databases, etc.) Then we had a presentation on the roles and responsibilities of NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives.


Our Conference Room


Left to right, Top to bottom: Elise, Ryan, Andy, Jeremy, Deni, Ben, Me, Charlotte, Angela, Nicole, Alisa, Shanice, Mayesha, Jaime, and Elizabeth. (James had not made it to DC yet.)


Waiting in the lobby of the hotel for everyone to get inside.

We got back to the hotel around 9pm and a group of us (15/16) decided to go out and explore DC some more. A lot of the representatives wanted to visit some monuments. We were given a curfew of 11pm so as long as we were back in the hotel by then, we were golden. While we were walking to the Lincoln Memorial (for the second time in one day! haha), we passed by the Department of State and we had to take a group selfie.


Department of State


PC: Andy (Chinese Summer 2015 – Mid Atlantic/Philadelphia Alumni Representative)


What a good photo XD


Group Photo with Lincoln


PC: Angela

After walking around the area, we all stopped at this Burger and Shake Place called BTS near our hotel in order to grab some food. The place was known for shakes and since we had already eaten dinner, almost everyone ordered shakes and fries. I ordered their signature shake (BTS Shake) which was a vanilla shake with Butterfinger, Twix, and Snicker chunks. The shake tasted really good but the pieces of candy kept getting stuck in my teeth which was pretty annoying. We all hung out at the restaurant and talked some more in order to get to know each other. While eating, I talked mostly with Mayesha (Persian Summer 2016 Alum – Mid Atlantic/Washington D.C.) as she was across from me.


My shake and fries (The fries were so delicious as they were very hot and it was a nice change from the freezing cold outside.)


It was very dark


PC: Angela


Gotta love Angela and her camera!~ ❤ haha

When I got back to the hotel, I met my roommate which turned out to be Jaime (Chinese Summer 2016 Alum – West Coast/Seattle Alumni Representative) and I had already talked to her a lot since she sat next to me during the presentations. We stayed up till 12:30pm on our phones and just talking about our programs and experiences. We had not gone to the same country, but we were still able to bond over the NSLI-Y experience in general. And it was fun for us to learn more about the other programs. I also found out Jaime has a blog! So I will link that here if anyone is interested in reading a blog about Chinese summer.

And that was the first day of the Alumni Representative Workshop! I wanted to just make one entire post about it but this is already past 1,000 words and I think it would be easier for me (and you, the reader) if I split it up in two parts (or maybe three… depending on how much I end up writing… hehe) But thanks for reading about this opportunity I had because of my NSLI-Y program! I had never met so many alumni in one place and especially alumni from different language programs. I can’t wait to see what events they hold in their regions and I can not wait to attend all the Chicago events with Nicole!~ (It is useful living in a region with another representative~) Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope you enjoyed. Do not forget to follow my blog for more posts about Korea as well as more alumni opportunities and other travels~ 안녕 친구들~!

  • 엠마 (Emma)