After School Express Bus Terminal Shopping with Friends (04/08-04/09/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/08/19 Monday

Our politics teacher literally showed up 30 minutes late to class today! We also had to switch classrooms after waiting in the wrong one for 20 minutes (a random teacher came into our room and told us to move classrooms and that our teacher would be with us shortly). I was really surprised to see that the teacher being late was not treated as a big deal… we did not even have a substitute teacher to watch us during that time for anything. That would never happen in an American high school…or at least… good ones? There always had to be an adult in the room; students were not trusted.

april 6

Quick shout out to Korean high school’s school stores and their amazingness! Literally a 7/11 on premises. Shelves and shelves of snacks and drinks and there are freezer sections for frozen food and ice cream.

april 5

Today I tried this carrot juice… and it was… very carrot-like. I mean, I expected it! Mostly bought it for the packaging–love this bunny guy~

During English class, we went through common mistakes that Andrew saw in the students’ argumentative essay rough drafts and then read an example essay on the issue of punishing children with physical punishments like spanking. It was an interesting read and I agreed with a lot of it. As learned from my Hispanic mother, fear can be a good way to discipline but it is not the most effective way. 

The 한옥마을 surrounding the school is now decorated with these rainbow colored lanterns and I believe they may have been put up for Buddha’s Birthday which is next month. I know it is a little bit of a ways away but maybe they wanted to get ready for it a bit earlier to celebrate for longer? (This is my reasoning for it at least!) We were originally planning on eating with our friends at the cafeteria today but they could not eat early enough so we ended up having a 편의점 lunch instead so we would not be late to Korean class.

We had a quiz today in Korean class… and I did not realize that we were having one until about an hour before class started so even though I was able to cram some vocabulary on the train ride to 홍대 from school, I still ended up doing really bad on the quiz… I got a C… a high 70 percent on the quiz. I got all of the questions in the grammar section correct but my lack of knowledge on the vocab section really hurt me. And it was not even at the fault of me not knowing the vocab! I knew the vocab but if I did not understand the contents of the example sentence, I could not pick the right word to fit in the blank… I was really disappointed to see all the red marks on my paper…

After class, we had a bi-weekly meeting where 민정쌤 told us all the due dates for the current week. Our field learning reflections were due on Wednesday (though mine was not due till Sunday because I was not going to be doing my project interview until Friday morning) and then we had our program reflections (rough draft #1) due Sunday night. 

april 10

Liam made a joke after 민정쌤 asked us when the reflection draft due date was (to make sure we were paying attention and did not need further clarification) which consisted of him replying with “tomorrow.” 민정쌤 took the joke and ran with it. She retorted back with “Alright then for Liam, it will be due tomorrow!” and proceeded to write his new deadline on the board. We all could not help but erupt in laughter as his face drew blush.

april 4

Enjoy this cute photo of Liam & Josh

I went home right after the bi-weekly meeting and ate dinner with my host family. I did Korean homework as well as some Topik practice tests (not a full test… I was only able to complete a listening test). I tried my best to be productive but my urges to sleep early took over! It was an early night.

04/09/19 Tuesday

School today followed the normal routine basically. I had my English mentorship class in the morning and we talked about globalization (세계화 in Korean). We discussed ways in which American culture has influenced Korea and ways that Korean culture has influenced America (skin care, fashion, new music show called the masked singer, etc) I also talked to them about cultural appropriation after we watched the new Blank Pink music video that includes Lisa wearing dreadlocks in one scene. It was interesting to hear what they thought about it because they all just saw her wearing the hairstyle as being influenced by hip hop and nothing else; however, many people in America would not see it as such a harmless move. Especially seeing that Lisa is not an average person but an idol in a group making a profit culturally appropriating black culture (even though that may not be the main intent.) Korea, of course, does not have the same deep history regarding this subject as America which makes its perspective quite unique. Although this is the case, this does not mean that such things do not occur or cannot occur in Korea or by Koreans. Ignorance like malicious intentions can also be used as fuel for the fire…

Moving on!

Our music teacher did not show up today so Katie and I just studied in the library. (Another example of what I was saying earlier! If the teacher is absent… thus far based on my experiences, we have yet to have a substitute teacher).

한국사 was just another lecture as expected so it wasn’t too interesting in that regard but it ended up being a lot of fun because of the third year I sat next to—민지. When I sat down next to her, she immediately started talking to me like she knew me for years but at the same time didn’t as she asked me many many questions. I asked her how she felt about the mock exam day tomorrow and she had totally forgotten it was next day! We talked about both English & Korean language learning and I showed her my current workbook (level 5). We also brought 민우 into the conversation who was sitting in front of us (He was in one of Katie’s mentorship groups last semester and was in my economics class last year.) We kept talking throughout the class period which was really nice~ Usually, I end up keeping to myself during this class, so this was a nice change. She even gave me the candy that the teacher gave her because she didn’t like any of the flavors! I hope I can sit next to her again. I definitely enjoyed the class more since she was there to keep me company. 

My last class of the day was my second English mentorship class. For today’s discussion, we talked about school culture so like with the other girls last week, I talked a lot about prom and showed them all pictures. We also talked a lot about couple culture and the “no dating” rule at 하나고. The girls told me that even if the teachers just see a boy and a girl alone somewhere secretive (even if they aren’t even touching or anything of the sort), they will call out the students and might even tell their parents. They said that the only good times for couples to meet are right before room check and snack time. But the teachers at 하나고 literally have no chill when it comes to enforcing the no dating rule. 서영 told me that the teachers go the extent of even looking at the seating reservations at the library! If they see that a boy and a girl are constantly signing up for seats next to each other for a period of time, they call them out on it!! Like who even first thought of checking up on that?? It’s really intense…

Today’s lunch menu was 삼겹살 (pork belly) and Katie and I wanted to eat it so much that we did consider eating at the school by ourselves and then heading to Korean class. That was how badly we wanted to eat it! But when we got to the cafeteria, the line was literally so long and we needed to leave for Korean class so we ended up just eating at the 편의점 again like the barbarians we are. 

I literally remember nothing from Korean class today… we learned a grammar point and crammed the vocab words from the workbook. Korean class is starting to feel very difficult once again… I don’t know why but this book seemed to really leap in difficulty from the level of the last one. I’m understanding less of the readings in it, the vocab is all really complex, and the grammar can only be used in very specific situations; therefore, I don’t find learning them as applicable as the previous grammar points (which I mean is a given seeing that my level should be getting higher as well…) 

After Korean class, a big group of us NSLI-Y girls decided to go shopping at the Express Bus Terminal just for fun! We usually do not often have “big” group outings like this after the school day but today we were feeling spontaneous. Originally, it was just going to be me and Katie but then as we told the plans to the other girls, more and more of them decided to tag along!

april 9

Basic photo of the scenery of crossing the river! But also…can you see the slight gap in the subway car doors?

Now that the weather was getting warmer, we wanted to ditch our heavy sweaters and pick some up cute, cheap spring clothes! So Shada, Alix, Harmony, Jenna, Katie, and I went to go shopping! I gave myself a budget and I’m proud to say that I was able to almost stick with it perfectly… it could have been worse! I’m happy with everything I got! 

We ended up eating some 분식 (street food/snack food) at this small place inside the shopping area. I have eaten at a small cafe in that area with Kaitlyn but I never got a chance to try out the actual restaurants. The food was so cheap! I would definitely eat there next time too. I got a set (made for one person) for about $5 that came with 떡볶이 (spicy rice cakes), 김마리 (fried seaweed), and 오뎅 (fish cake). I couldn’t finish everything cause there was so much food! I definitely could have shared with someone and been satisfied (or shared with someone and also gotten something off the side menu.)

Katie and I ended up leaving the other girls to continue shopping at about 7:45 pm because we wanted to get a head start on studying. She ended up taking the longer way home so that we could stay together as long as possible~ Since we were getting on the 경의중앙 line at an unpopular station (and the fact that it was Tuesday night probably helped), we got to have seats! The whole time! Once she got off at 공덕역, I was able to sleep all the way up to my home station. 

That’s all for this blog post!! I hope you enjoyed~~ I cannot believe time is going by so fast… it’s really scary! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마 

Gangnam Cafe, Indian Food Birthday Dinner, & Having a Friend Over (02/08-10/19) NSLI-Y Korea

02/08/19 Friday

I did not have any big, exciting plans for Friday. I texted some of the students on NSLI-Y too see if anyone was free and wanted to hang out (I did not want to stay home on a Friday–at least not all day). Harmony invited me to come over to Gangnam so she could show me around but we ended up actually going to this really cute cafe nearby rather than roaming the streets. This cafe was called Emma & Lia which peaked my interests when she first told me about it because I mean… look at the name! 

The cafe had a baked goods section so instead of ordering the overpriced drinks, we indulged in some overpriced food. Harmony bought a sandwich for lunch while we shared this croissant-like pastry that was shaped in a dome. I also had this chocolate pastry which was literally a chocolate cake that was filled with straight-up chocolate–like a lava cake I would say! It was all very delicious! We hurried and finished our food before actually starting our work. We stayed at the cafe for a couple hours working on our CEP research project as well as class homework (lots of grammar review!) This was the first time I had hung out with Harmony–just the two us. We have been together in other group activities before but hanging out at the cafe was good for us to just talk and get to know each other better.

Harmony had community service at the youth center this night so we ended up riding the subway up together which was nice seeing that it took me out about an hour and 20 minutes to get back to my home station. Because she came with me for half the journey, I only had to take the train by myself for 40 minutes. (Oh the struggles of living so far…)

I came home and ate dinner with my host sisters and we had some really fun and interesting conversations. I really enjoy just sitting at the kitchen table together and talking. We discussed our types for guys which were interesting. Once again, my older host sister brought up the Would You Rather question about dating a hot guy with some lacking personality or Edison with perfect traits except his looks… of course, I laughed enough to avoid answering this question.

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02/09/19 Saturday

On Saturday, my favorite person on the NSLI-Y Program (Katie <3) came to visit me at 탄현역 and she even came to my host family’s house! When she first came, I showed her a tour around the three-story mall type building connected to the station. (Again how do I describe this?? From now on, I will call it a mall!) We eventually decided to go to a bakery so that we could eat some delicious bread while studying. Besides the Twosome Cafe outside and the one travel-themed cafe I went to with Josh, I have not been to many of the cute cafes or bakeries in the mall, so I was happy to try a new one with Katie. (Mostly because I am too anxious to explore by myself all too much!) One of the small, sweet bread loaves that we ended up sharing was called “남편보다 더 달콤하다” (or sweeter than your husband). Fitting.

We studied at the bakery for a couple hours before heading back to the apartment. Katie met my host mom and younger sister and of course ANDY! We immediately headed into my room and just laid on my bed together and chatted for the rest of the afternoon. Andy is such a player (a play puppy if you will) and wanted to get close to Katie right away–never leaving her side.

It was nice hanging out with her in my room because it reminded me of just hanging out casually with my friends at my house back in the states– just chatting. I have not had that since coming to Korea so I really appreciated this moment with her~

After Katie left, I just worked on Korean homework for the rest of the night and ate dinner at home. It was a very chill and relaxing Saturday night. 

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02/10/19 Sunday

Sunday is usually my do-all-your-Korean-homework-last-minute-and-also-relax-and-prepare-your-mind-for-classes-starting-back-up-on-Monday day but I actually had plans today at night! Today was Jenna’s 19th birthday, so she planned a little get together with all the NSLI-Y girls to go to an Indian restaurant. We almost got all of the girls to go but unfortunately, Shannon and Mckenzie ended up not coming.

Anyway, in the morning after breakfast, I got to try this new fruit called Hallabong (한라봉) which is a type of fruit under the umbrella that is mandarin oranges named after a mountain from 제주도 (Jeju-do). The fruit itself tasted just like a tangerine except for the fact that the size was bigger. (It also looks incredibly cute! I mean look at the shape and the cute little leaf~ I love it!) 

After breakfast, I got ready for the day (or should I say for the night?) which included buying a gift for Jenna. I decided to finally visit the Artbox on the lower level of the mall connected to my subway station. I had avoided going in for so long because I love anything cute… and I especially love cute stationery so for me to go to Artbox with those traits in mind… it is always a bad idea. Some people cannot leave Target without buying things they do not need AKA leaving with their cart full although they only came with a shopping list of three items. I cannot leave Artbox without cute but insanely useless or unnecessary items.

This Artbox was the biggest one I have ever been to! It was definitely at least three times as big as the one in 홍대. There was even a space for taking photos with the characters that act as mascots for Artbox. I ended up buying a pack of colored pens, a couple of mechanical pencils, and a card and a bag for Jenna. I ended up reading the price of the pencils wrong so pencils that I thought cost less than 2 dollars… ended up being 4 dollars and 50 cents each! I love stationery but I am not crazy! I love Jenna but I was not planning to break the bank with her gift.

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Eventually, I left my house and rode the train for about an hour to meet up with the rest of the girls to have a nice dinner. When we arrived at the Indian restaurant, there was literally no one there besides the family running the restaurant. We got to sit at this really long table all together while we ate which was nice since we were not separated into groups which usually happens when we hang in large numbers. I ended up getting Chicken Makhani (I think that is the spelling?) with some garlic naan which was delicious! After dinner, we went to Baskin Robbins to grab some dessert and talk more.

I was tired by the end of the night–especially knowing that I still had homework to complete once I arrived home; however, I had a lot of fun so I would not have changed anything about the night! I enjoyed being able to hang out with all the girls and although we all have our own busy schedules, it was nice to come together for one dinner like this. I hope we can do something like this again.

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed this combined post of my weekend! Thanks for reading and until next time~

  • Emma 엠마