Day in the Life: NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year Student (Gap Year) 2018-2019 Edition

Due to the popularity of this same type of post that I made for my experiences from the Korea Summer Program (Day in the Life: Korea Summer Edition Linked Here~~~) and the immense amount of questions I have gotten from friends, family members, and prospective applicants, I have decided to once again try my hand at making a Day-in-the-Life blog post for the Academic Year NSLI-Y Program.

Disclaimer: There is NO average day on the NSLI-Y program. And with me in Korea, there were 15 other students on the program and not one of them probably had my exact same routine (or the rough schedule my more ‘average’ days seemed to follow). An average day honestly depends on your host family (their lifestyle, schedule, etc), location (some students end up being placed in 인천 or 고양시– not 서울), host school (Whether you have a more specialized host school or one that is more similar to an average Korean high school), the time of year (weather, holidays, etc), program activities (cultural excursions, obligations, etc) and also how you are feeling!! Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this blog post… and I will just get on with my average day!!^^


6:00-6:30 am – Every single weekday I woke up at 6:00-6:30am in order to get ready for the school day ahead. During the NSLI-Y AY program, I attended a Korean high school Monday-Friday (but left early on days that I had Korean class). My wake up time highly depended on how tired I was, whether or not I was wearing my full uniform that day (or the casual sweatpants that were basically pajamas), my desire to eat breakfast, and the location of my host family.

With my first host family, my host mother woke up extra early every morning to get breakfast ready for me which usually consisted of rice, some type of soup, and side dishes. (By the end of the fall semester I ended up just warming up my breakfast myself to allow her to catch some more Zs.) When I stayed with my second host family, I would usually have a bowl of cereal every morning with the occasional addition of fruit or yogurt since my host family had a later schedule.

 

6:38-6:53 am – Around this time I would be scrambling out of my house after rushing to finish my breakfast without choking (or burning my tongue…rip my love for hot soup paired with my utter lack of patience) to the subway station. To be honest, although I would have appreciated more stress-free strolls to the subway station (one thing to look forward to on the weekend), I loved the walk–or the light paced jog–in the morning because I always would wonder what the new day would bring me. Also, one plus of having to leave so early for school was that the sunrise would also greet me every morning!

 

When I lived with my first host family, I took a regular train at around 7 am with an 8-minute walk to the station. When I lived with my second host family, I took an express train at 6:42 am (if not…I would have to take a normal train at 6:27 am!!) and transfer once (at the dreaded 대곡역… war flashbacks…) with a 3-minute walk to the subway.

7:20-7:30 am – Katie and I usually met up at 7:20 every morning to take a 15-ish minute long bus ride to our high school. We liked arriving at our high school by 7:40 to 7:50 because that allowed us time to sit and chill in the hallways before homeroom. (Sometimes to rant or freak out too if we had nerves or complaints about whatever.) Though occasionally we missed our ‘early’ trains and ended up meeting at 7:30 am.

 

8 am – At our Korean high school, homeroom started at 8 am and lasted for around 10 minutes though sometimes homeroom teachers would let us head to our first class early if there were not any announcements (Unlike most Korean high schools, the students at our school would switch classrooms every period rather than having teachers come to each individual homeroom). Our teacher would usually update students on any upcoming events, or things to turn in, or information on examination periods. She also often would give pep talks to the students to encourage them to keep studying hard! Sometimes we would watch a broadcast video that was run by actual students that would show the daily meals, any special info on the school day, and even the weather. (But more often than not the projector seemed to not be working so our teacher would just do the talking.)

 

8:20-12:10 pm – The first 4 periods of Korean high school classes in the morning.

Each period lasted for 50 minutes and then there was a 10 minute passing period or 쉬는 시간 (break time/resting time). Most of the classes I took were lecture-based, usually involving students taking notes or reading straight from the textbook. (I want to make a post more specific to my experience at 하나고. When that is finally written, I will link that right here~~ This post will discuss the classes I took and go into more details on the Korean education system: or at least a side of it that I was able to partake in at my host high school.)

 

 

During break time, most students would run and buy snacks at the 매점 (or school store) or just take naps. At first, I did not understand how they could sleep for such a short amount of time but by the end of the semester, I too was also sleeping during breaks.

 

12:10-1:00 pm –  We were allotted around 50 minutes for lunch (including the ten minute passing period) However, there was kind of a hierarchy based on your school year that determined when you could go into the lunchroom. I am not sure if this was exactly monitored or simply done out of respect of the older kids, but the younger students adhered to it pretty well. Third years (seniors) were allowed to start their lunchtime first while second years had to wait till 12:20–at least–and first years were not allowed to enter the 급식실 (cafeteria) until 12:30 pm.

 

If Katie and I had Korean class (Monday, Tuesday or Thursday) we would have to leave our high school around 12:40 so that we could catch the right buses and subways to make it to class on time. If we ate with our friends, we would end up scarfing our food down fast (with little time for conversation). Or, we would just leave school right after 4th period and get lunch at the convenience store or local street market. (Also on certain special days, we would get 녹차호떡 (green tea pancakes) from our favorite street vendor.

 

 

On Wednesdays and Fridays, we were able to stay for the entire lunch period and take our time eating. Honestly, school meals often get a bad reputation but that clearly does not apply to our Korean high school because most of the time the food was delicious! (Minus a couple of times that they would serve weird meat patties and fries with a sweet glaze to pass off as a foreign meal if you will…I shudder at the memory.)

 

2:00-5:00/6:00 pm – Our Korean classes were on Monday and Tuesday from 2 pm until 5 pm and on Thursdays, we had an extra hour till 6 pm.

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If we did not have class, we would stay at school for the remaining 3-4 periods until 3 or 4 pm. (On Wednesdays, school got out an hour earlier because some weeks club meetings would be held on those days. I participated in an Economics & Business centered club called BSRA: Business Strategy Research Association.)

Sometimes after Korean high school, Katie and I would go to a nearby cafe and study together (We had our two favorites: one near my home station and the 한옥 Twosome Place across the street from our high school). We were usually very tired after the long days of Korean high school and would tend to go home right after studying. (This definitely applied more to the first semester, however.) Occasionally, we would also go out (Always bringing a change of clothes because wearing our uniforms in public was not our favorite look when not in school…)

 

I also would like to do a more detailed blog post on my Korean classes for the year program because they were a tad bit different in comparison to my summer class (So when that is published, I will link it here~~). Our class periods were 50 minutes and we had 10-minute breaks in between them. I was in 3반 (Third Class) which was the highest level class and also the smallest with only three students. (The other two being Jacquelyn & Josh). We had one teacher and used the Ehwa Korean language textbooks.

 

7:00-7:30 pm – After class ended, we were off from any obligations from the program (usually). Every other Monday we would have Bi-weekly meetings which meant meeting at the youth center to hear updates and announcements from 민정쌤 our resident director.

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If I decided to go home right away, I would usually end up getting back to my host family’s home by 7:00-7:30 and that is around the time I would have dinner with my host family. I was lucky enough to have two amazing host families that really took the time to make sure that I was able to eat dinner with the whole family (or at least with someone if there were other plans). My first host family had young children so it was a bit easier to sit down with everyone but even with my second host family, the dinners I would have with my sisters and with my host mom were always wonderful. (Both my host mothers–and even my older host sisters and first host dad–were amazing cooks! I was very spoiled and I grew to have favorite dishes from each family.)

(For example, while living with my host family, I loved 김밥 (seaweed rolls), 김치지깨 (kimchi stew), 볶음밥과 계란 (fried rice with eggs) and 잡채 (sweet potato glass noodles). With my second host family, I came to love 콩나물국밥 (bean sprout porridge?), 해물파전 (seafood pancake), 순두부지깨 (tofu stew), and 짬뽕 (spicy seafood (Chinese style) noodles.)

 

8:00-9:30 pm – If I stayed out with NSLI-Y friends or in-country friends on the weekdays, It would usually involve just grabbing a simple dinner or going to a cafe (maybe a trip to a 노래방–karaoke–to let off some steam or bottled up energy). Curfew was 9:30 pm so I would promptly always be home by then~

 

If I was not out and about exploring what Korea had to offer, I was most likely home on that study grind: working on homework, presentations, memorizing vocabulary, etc. When I was not studying, (because let us be real… I practiced self-care on the program!) I was most likely on my phone, writing my blog entries, chilling watching Disney shows with my younger siblings, playing board games, playing with Andy (my host dog), or watching Netflix or Youtube.

 

11:30 pm-12:00 am – I would say I definitely did not go to bed as late as I often did in high school because I always just felt so much more tired in Korea. (Probably cause learning another language and being immersed in said language is a lot for anyone). So I would try to get in my bed as early as I could and to be honest when I had no plans on the weekends (or no Korean class the following day)… I would even go to sleep as early as 9 pm!

(I would say this post is more of an average (week)day in my life as an AY NSLI-Y student in Korea because there really are not any average weekend days.)


Alright, that is the end of this here blog post! I hope that it was very informative and hopefully entertaining to read through. I tried to add relevant photos throughout to keep things interesting. (Some being never-before-seen photos as they have yet to debut on my blog!) I also have plans to make another version of this post for winter break because the research project and community service really shake things up then, and I think it would be interesting to talk about that as well! Our winter break followed more of the Summer program schedule I would say.

Well, I hope you enjoyed (once again!) Thanks for reading. If you have any questions for me at all, feel free to comment or email me. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Thank You! Until next time!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Last Orientation, Korean Fried Chicken, and a Night Out in Hongdae {09/20/18}

09/20/18

On Thursday, I woke up a little bit before 7 to get ready for the day. We would be having our last Better World Orientation at their office around 9:45 in the morning. This meant waking up earlier to be able to take a shower and get there on time.

I ate breakfast with my host sisters and we both left the house at the same time— them for school and me to talk about culture, communication, and “How my week is going.” For breakfast that morning, we had chicken soup, rice, and more side dishes including 돈까스 {fried pork cutlet}, 오징어 {squid}, 김치 (Kimchi) and 오이김치 {cucumber kimchi}.

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Breakfast! (Already started eating before snapping the picture, sorry!)

When I got to 홍대 station, Liam was waiting there for someone to walk with him, so we ended up walking to the office together. We talked about Korean class and other awkward small talk topics.

We were like the 3rd and 4th NSLIYian to arrive so we had to sit and chat for a while. 9:45 came around and someone was missing… Josh!

민정쌤 told us that in Korean {friend} culture, when someone shows up to a plan late, the other people in the group often clap when they arrive and force them to do a punishment. We decided on dancing or singing along to a song!

When Josh walked in, we all stood up and clapped while he huffed and puffed from what I presume was him being out of breath because of running to the office.

He went to the front, onto the stage, and 민정쌤 played a Black Pink song. Josh starts dancing but it looks more like Jazzercise. It seems like he was doing jumping jacks and getting his steps in for the day! Everyone had their phone pulled out, Snapchat open, to write this moment down in history.

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Our orientation consisted of talking about how different Koreans and Americans communicate. We learned about the term high and low context cultures. High context cultures depend a lot on already established context like things done, none verbal communication like facial expressions and gestures. This can cause someone to often beat around the bush and come off to be passive aggressive.

On the other hand, low context cultures say everything directly with verbal communication. These people are usually very blunt and can come off as rude. They may not be able to pick up on hidden context.

We established that Korea {as are most Asian countries} is a country that follows high context culture, while Americans {often} follow low context culture.

After that lesson, we went on to look at some host school case studies—commonly had problems— and how to solve them. They revolve around feeling lonely in class, getting yelled at for doing Korean homework, and such.

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We were supposed to have a cultural activity on Saturday together, but the rain made Better World Reschedule. They decided to show this to us through pictures on their slide show! XD

Once that was over, we were free for lunch! Better World wouldn’t be taking us out for lunch but this day was covered by the lunch stipend we received last week.

I sat by Kaitlyn during the orientation and kept telling her that I was craving fried chicken, in particular… Kyochon Fried Chicken. I told her that we should eat lunch together. At the end of the orientation, everyone was asking where others were going for lunch and Kaitlyn just said, “Emma wants Chicken.” And then it was decided. We would ALL {yup, all 16 of us} eat fried chicken. I kind of remember where the building was {but I was not gonna trust my two-year-old, rusty memory map}, so I used Kakao maps to guide our way.

It was farther than I remembered and I soon found out why; they had changed location. Everyone was complaining about being hungry or “lost” but I was like just wait, guys! I know what I am doing~

Eventually, we made it! 5 minutes till opening which was perfect because the whole restaurant was empty. We were able to sit all 16 of us at three tables in the back on the second floor.

I sat with Kaitlyn, Katie, Liam, Jacquelyn, and McKenzie. We ended up getting an order of the red original chicken {spicy} and the honey original chicken {my favorite}. It was delicious! Even more than what I remembered {probably cause I was so hungry}. I ate so much and was totally stuffed after.

After we finished eating, Katie and I tried to exchange money at the bank (Keyword: TRIED). We walked into a 신한은행 {Shinhan Bank} but realized we had no idea how to say anything relating to exchanging money in Korean. With no source of WiFi, we left real quick.

{Luckily, I learned the word to exchange in class today! I am currently writing this on the subway on my way home from class. 환전하다 means to exchange (money)}

I think Katie and I will try our luck again next week Thursday or Friday {After the 추석 holidays are over}. These two days are the last weekdays before high school starts so we will have to wait for the weekend if we don’t get it done then!

Class today wasn’t terribly bad. Yes, there were moments where I was completely lost. Yes, I filled three pages of my notebook with words I didn’t know. However, I talked more than I usually do! I gave extra information in my example sentences just for the heck of it! And, I tried my best to add to the conversation as much as possible.

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The Better World Staff gifted us some traditional Korean candy and snacks they received as 추석 presents. Here is Josh trying to eat one of them! 

After class, I decided to get dinner with some of the NSLI-Y students. It was the first time I wasn’t having dinner with my host family since the start of the program, but I texted my host mom during lunch to let her know. Jacquelyn really wanted 짜장면 (Black Bean Noodles), so she found a highly recommended place and we TRIED finding it. She pulled it up on Naver Maps, but it was still a lost cause– we trekked all over and could not find it. We then gave up and sat down at a Meat restaurant but left as soon as we sat down. We found out that each person had to order a serving of meat but a lot of people were not feeling too hungry or up for meat. We kept walking and decided to just grab some dinner at a convenience store. Honestly, I was happy; I was kind of craving 김밥 lately. We got our food and sat outside along the walkway, eating our dinner and chatting. It was actually really nice~

After eating Hunter, Harmony, June, and Alix left cause their commutes were pretty far. That left Kaitlyn, Addie, Jacquelyn, and me to hunt for some dessert. We all wanted 빙수 (Korean shaved ice dessert) originally but the place we tried first only had personal bowls— no sharing permitted. Then, the second place we went to… their story was their machine was broken! After that, our 빙수 dreams were shattered. We kept on walking, trying to get our sweet tooth craving in, and eventually discovered a tiramisu place. I wasn’t feeling cake, and I don’t think I like Tiramisu very much, so I didn’t get anything. But the cafe was really cute inside and the cakes were not on plates but in cups, instead! It was quite unique! Jacquelyn got the original flavor while Addie got earl gray. I definitely would have eaten one but I didn’t want to spend $6 on it. #savingthatstipend

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Me, Jacquelyn, Addie, and Kaitlyn!

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The fun part of my night ended like that, the rest was spent agonizing over workbook sheets, my presentation on 추석, and studying for a grammar quiz.

I went to bed at 1:30 am that night working on my presentation. I broke out my American snacks for the late night study session. I’ll have to ask my mom to send more!

Thanks for reading! Follow my blog for more like this~

  • Emma 엠마

 

Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장) July 13th, 2016

Wednesdays (July 13th, 2016) are always fun since we don’t have any schedules after school. This leaves us with all of wednesday to explore Seoul and all that it has to offer. So I spent this Wednesday with Sura, Cynthia, Abigail, Ashley, and Sofia. For lunch we went to Mom’s Touch (my second time) and I shared a family pack of fried chicken with Sura and Ashley. (we had so many leftovers!)

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After lunch, Sura and Ashley went to the Sookmyung library to pick up Cynthia and Abigail while Sofia and I went to Gongcha and bought bubble tea. (Once again I bought taro bubble tea- definitely my favorite flavor.) We actually ran into our resident director Madeline and fellow Nsliyian Peter at Gongcha. We talked to them while our drinks were being made and then we went on our way to meet up with the rest of the girls at the subway station.

We all made our way to Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장). Namdaemun translates to Great South Gate (남 is south, 대 is big or great, and 문 is door or gate). Basically it is this huge outdoor market filled with street vendors selling clothes (mostly for ahjummas), hats, shoes, souvenirs, and food! We actually came across this shop where everything in the store was only $5 which was a great price for the quality of the clothes inside. One of the funny things that happened today was that Sura went into this shoe store to buy these replica birkenstock shoes. The guy that worked there kept complimenting us on our Korean but kept making fun of Sura saying that she must not study hard. The teasing was really funny but he wasn’t being mean at all. He actually gave her a huge discount on her shoes.

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The coolest part of the Market

After we hung out around the market, we said goodbye to Sofia who was going home early and the rest of us decided to head to Hongdae. (Definitely one of my favorite places in Seoul.) We walked around everywhere and visited certain parts of the area that I had not previously been to. I even went into some real stores (instead of just shopping on the streets) like Forever 21 and Bershka. Luckily, I didn’t buy anything – got to budget more wisely 😉

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More snaps of the streets of Hongdae

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We even came across some street performers (bad quality screenshot from a Snapchat video I took).

Cynthia and Abigail went on to do their own thing while Sura, Ashley, and I went and ate some bingsu at Sulbing! We ordered Mango Cheese Bingsu (만고치즈빙수) and it was very delicious. And since we sat by the window, we decorated our receipt and hung it up.

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The receipt streamers on the wall

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Our Bingsoo

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Let us ignore the fact that I spelled Thank You wrong on the receipt…

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Ashley being all cute

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Our finished receipt! Maybe I will find it again one day? XD

That was my Wednesday! I hope you enjoyed reading my blog post. 감사합니다 (I know how to spell Thank You! XD haha I do not know what happened at the time!). 안녕

And remember! If you want to stay updated on my posts, do not forget to subscribe. All you have to do is plug in your email to the right of this blog post. (If you are on mobile, scroll all the way down to the bottom.) You will receive emails every time I upload.

  • 엠마 (Emma)

 

 

Hongdae Dog Cafe & Best Fried Chicken in Korea! (July 11th, 2016)

Monday (July 11th, 2016) was very fun and I was able to stay out later than usual because I recieved no Korean homework from my teachers (고마워요 선생님들!). Korean class was fun as usual. We reviewed the past grammar points we learned and also were taught a couple new ones. Before school Ariel and I stopped at Gongcha to pick up some bubble tea (She ordered mango and I ordered strawberry bubble tea). So during class we had bubble tea to accompany us which made staying awake and alert that much easier.

Monday was also our Korean resident director JT‘s Birthday, so my Korean Class (나무 반) prepared to sing for him when he came in for attendance and his everyday morning routine of “How is everyone feeling today?” I drew Happy Birthday for JT in Korean on the whiteboard and when he walked in, we all sang Happy Birthday.

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The entire Nsliy8 family also sang to him at the Monday Meeting After School.

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For lunch, Maris, Abbey, Sofia, Rhea, Mckenzie, Teresa, Angie, Jodi, and I headed over to Kimbap Heaven (김밥천국). We pushed some tables together and basically filled up the entire tiny shop. Everyone that came, ate the Cheese Donkatsu (치즈 돈까스) except for Jodi and Angie who both ordered bowls of Mandu Ramen (만두 라면). The lady at the register couldn’t stop laughing because every foreigner that went up to order wanted Donkatsu.

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Donkatsu may not be Korean, but it is delicious nonetheless!~

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Are you hungry yet? XD

Once we finished eating, our huge group split up and went on our separate ways. Maris, Abbey, Mckenzie, Sofia, and I went to Hongdae for some shopping. We found this one street that was full of clothes, bags, baseball hats, and shoes that were all overall pretty cheap. The shops were very tiny but then they had racks of clothes outside the shop. Most of the shops only accept cash so make sure you ask before if you are planning on using a debit card. (I experienced this first hand! haha) We walked down the entire street and then went back to start at the beginning (to make sure we wouldn’t make any rash shopping decisions XD) The overall favorite shop of our group is this one called “Princess” because it has insanely cute Korean style clothes and is still cheap enough for us Nsliyians on a travel budget.

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Hongdae Street

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Racks and racks of clothes

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SHINee cutout at The Saem location in Hongdae

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After shopping around for a bit, we all decided we wanted to go to a dog cafe. Sofia looked one up on her phone and we spent 20 minutes trying to find it. After we realized we were probably walking in the wrong direction, we went to the Hongdae Tourist Information center and asked the workers there. They showed us on the map where the cafe was and once we got that map, we were on our way. The dog cafe was actually really fun! Since all the Nsliyians we were with were beginners (except for Sofia), I was the one who had to speak Korean to the employees running the cafe. The employee at the door explained the whole paying system to us and how we needed to wear slippers to come inside.

It was $3 for admission and you have to buy a drink (the drinks are all $5). I ordered a lemonade but I couldnt even drink it because it was carbonated. Just throwing out a tip, anything on a drinks menu that ends in ade (Lemonade, Orangeade, pomegranateade) will most likely be carbonated.

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The dogs at the cafe were so cute and sweet. They were really active so at times it was hard to pet them for any longer than a minute or two. All of the dogs were small which was great because I am afraid of really big dogs.

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Maris and Woman’s Best Friend

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The beagles were my favorite

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Sofia and I with a puppy

After the dog cafe, we all were very hungry for some dinner. We ended up going to this place called Kyochon Chicken which Sofia said was the best Fried chicken place in Hongdae. (She said she read an article about it.) After eating there, I would have to agree. The chicken there was delicious and I have to say compared to all the fried chicken I have eaten on this trip, it was the best one.

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The restaurant was very very dark. We ordered a Honey Chicken Box for $15 (For 5 people)

The funniest part of the night was that the employees of the restaurant kept watching us. I guess it was granted seeing that once we finished ordering our food. We pulled out our Korean textbooks and turned our table into a portable Korean Language class (Well, Sofia and I had no homework so we just helped the other girls with their work.)

After dinner, Sofia and I dropped the other girls off at the subway station and we continued to walk around Hongdae (we lived closer to Hongdae then they did so we could stay out later and still make it home before curfew). I got home around 8pm which is an hour before curfew. I still made it home before dinner. (since my host family usually eats around 8:30 to 9:00 but I passed on food since I ate so much chicken that night!)

What I Bought Today

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Baseball Hat ($5)

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($10)

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($15)

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($8)

Thanks for Reading and I hope you enjoyed this blog post!~ And remember the 2017-2018 Nsli-y program applications are due today at 4pm (Eastern Time). If you want a chance to learn a language and experience a foreign country over your summer break, make sure yo submit your application before the deadline. To everyone applying, Good Luck!

  • 엠마 (Emma)