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

03/13/19 Wednesday

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

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


Me feeling dead during my free period…

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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


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


With my host dog Andy~~~

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

  • Emma 엠마 


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

03/07/19 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


My Lovely teacher!

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


Andy is such a mood

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

  • Emma 엠마

Saying Goodbye to My Host Family & Winter Break Orientation {01/02/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

1/02/19 Wednesday

I woke up this morning feeling a bit out of it. I knew as I climbed down the ladder attached to my bed that it would be the last time. I looked over at my desk area and seeing all the pictures and photos gone made me suddenly very very sad. I woke up early that morning and got changed—did some last minute packing too. I also painted my nails with my host sister but did it end up as a mess! This is why I only ever get my nails professionally done—but because that’s expensive and I cannot be bothered half the time—I usually never go.

When my younger host sister woke up, she threw a huge fit because the nail kit was her gift from Santa and no one had asked permission to use it. It got heated pretty quickly as my host sister kept crying and screaming and it was really awkward for me to sit there as I was a reason for the meltdown. Not exactly how I imagined my final morning with my host family to go down. For breakfast, we all ate together around 10 am. Everyone had skipped school so that they could come with me to drop me off. Breakfast was lively and we joked around but there was definitely something different in the air.

After breakfast, I helped my host dad bring down my luggage to the car and I said goodbye to my host mom and brother as they would not be coming with. I tried holding back my tears as I said goodbye—a very difficult task. I got in the car and endured a very silent car ride. Besides a few pictures taken to show off my host sisters and my matching scarves (a scarf I received as a gift that day!), we did not really talk. When we pulled up to the hostel, we had to park a bit farther away and then take all the suitcases to the right place as my host dad found actual parking.

My host dad and sisters stayed with me in the cafe for a little bit—taking lots of pictures. We said our final goodbyes as I watched their car roll away. As they passed by, my sisters waved her hands out the window and screamed my name. When I walked back into the hostel and returned to the group of waiting NSLI-Yians, I couldn’t help but begin to cry. Kaitlyn gave me some tissues and reassured me that we’d meet again and I knew she was right.


Once everyone showed up and dropped off their bags, we all left to go find a place to eat lunch at. We ended up deciding to eat at Little Taiwan. {Kind of a running joke between Josh, Liam, Kaitlyn, and I because Liam always offers this place up as the dinner option and it never has gotten picked.} Honestly, I’m not sure what I ate… it was like country fried chicken if I had to compare it to something American. The seasoning on it was very delicious! Reminded me of my mom’s cooking…

After eating, Kaitlyn and I went to a bakery to buy macaroons for our new host families before heading to Better World for the winter break orientation.


The orientation was a lot like the other ones we have had except we focused a lot on what difficulties we have overcome and ways to try to get past or even deal with the ones that we are still currently experiencing. We started off orientation doing a type of roundtable activity with three tables: Korean class, host high school, and host family. We spent 15 min at each table with one RD and discussed our difficulties and how we were able to solve them or how they can be solved. This activity was really interesting because I was able to see that the other students also were having the same problems as me although, my school difficulties seemed a bit different compared to the other kids. Their problems were sleeping in class or having too much self-study time like… I wish!!

We also created a new Group Working Agreement or contract. We ended up choosing the word Supportive to represent our group’s goal as a whole. We ended up thinking of this as a 약속 or promise which led us to take these really ugly and cringey photos of us doing pinky promises. It was surely interesting.

During the winter break orientation, like the name suggests, we discussed winter break and our plans for it. 소영쌤 enlightened us about the times for our supporter meetings to work on our Cultural Explorers project as well as other volunteer activities and cultural activities that are sprinkled throughout the next two months. We also found out about our groups for the CEP and to no surprise, I was placed with Katie. {Like I have mentioned earlier, we may or may not have purposely chosen the same project topics.}

The last activity of the day was to look back at the boats that we filled out during arrival orientation. On the boat, we wrote our motivations on the wind, our expectations on the sail, and our fears as the base of the boat. The important part of this boat was that all three of these things must be balanced and utilized together in order to move the boat forward—progress. If you have too many fears, the boat sinks and without motivation, the boat will not be able to move forward.


We filled out new ones which ended up being a really nice exercise. I realized that some of my fears were the same while others were conquered {while new ones were added…}. My expectations changed a little bit but my motivations were still as strong as ever. It was a nice activity to take a step back and see how far we have all come during these past 3 months.

We had dinner afterward at Flapjack Pantry. Pancakes were not on the menu Better World gave us but if I had known we would be eating there… pancakes for dinner! I ended up getting a Cajun Salad which was honestly really good~ I would eat it again for sure.


After dinner, we all returned to the guest house in order to get assigned our rooms and hear information about the rest of the morning and the next day as well. {Well, actually they let us choose what rooms we wanted to be in. I wanted to be on the 4th floor again with the loft so I stayed with Addie, Katie, McKenzie, and Jacquelyn. The s were kind enough to extend curfew till 10 pm today {rather than our usual 9:30 on weekdays} and allowed us to leave the guest house to do whatever we pleased. A big group of us {Jack, Katie, Jenna, Josh, and Liam} decided to hit up this cafe called Dinga Cake House which looked so pretty. The Cafe literally looked like one of those American homes in the rich gated communities and the Christmas decorations were still up making the place look so magical! However, unfortunately for us the only seats still open were two-seaters and we had 6 people so we spent the next 20 minutes or so walking around trying to find another cafe to chill in. We ended up picking this place called 17 degrees because it looked pretty much empty and they had plenty of seats. Their tag line was “the perfect temperature for chocolate bonbons” or something like that but the place was TOO expensive. Especially considering that I would be splurging on coin-sized chocolate and not even a piece of cake or something. They had really great hot chocolate, though.


Yikes bad quality photo…

At the cafe, we just talked and laughed the whole time while enjoying our drinks. We discussed the new year and our plans while also just being weird like deciding whether everyone was either a fork, spoon, or knife or placing each other on a scale of 0– is not chaotic at all–to 10–full on Chaotic energy. It was a lot of fun.


Before heading back to the hostel, I bought this big tub of vanilla ice cream at GS25 because McKenzie mentioned wanting ice cream and I was always down for that. So after we arrived back, we all sat on the floor around Jacquelyn’s bed and ate vanilla ice cream with plastic spoons. When 민정쌤 came in to check up on us for the night, she immediately made a face when she saw what we were doing. She was just clearly jealous!!

The rest of the night we just stayed up talking. Well, particularly Katie and me. Everyone fell asleep basically by midnight but not us. We stayed up to just talk and dish out all of our emotions and expose pretty much everything personal about us. Wholesome fun. What’s a sleepover without deep talks at 2 am? Exactly!

And that was this blog post! I hope you enjoyed! I’ll keep you updated on what’s to come~ Tomorrow I meet my new host family! I’m so excited yet nervous. I could honestly start bouncing off the walls right now or puke out all my insides. Or both? Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

Trick Eye Museum, Dynamic Maze, and Osulloc Tea Cafe {12/29/18} NSLI-Y AY

12/29/18 Saturday

The night before, I was wallowing in my own boredom as I realized I had no plans for the weekend. Rather than let the night go by without making any plans, I hopped into our AY group chat and asked if anyone wanted to hang out. Besides for Katie responding (like she normally would have), I got no response. Great. Then a few minutes later, Josh privately messaged me saying that he was down to do something too. Then Jacquelyn eventually said that she was free. We had a solid group of 4 wanting to do something but with nothing to do… I tried researching the best things to do in Seoul during the winter but the majority involved going outside to ice skate or ski and we knew that was not going to be an option.

I ended up finding this Trick Eye Museum located in 인사동 called The Alive Museum and attached to it was this maze sort of adventure called The Dynamic Maze. Everyone seemed super excited to try it out–especially because Katie and Josh had never been to a Trick Eye Museum (This surprised me seeing that the one in 홍대 is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area! I went during the summer program with Sofia. Here is that blog post!) and the maze seemed really fun with ropes to climb and tunnels to crawl through and puzzles to solve; therefore, I reserved tickets online early for the three of us. (Jacquelyn was going to join us for lunch but not for our activity because she was still not feeling well.)

We all met up at 종각역 which actually had some cheap underground shopping. Katie and I promised to come back and shop around because the sweaters were really cute. We walked out of the station and pretty quickly were able to find the place (a recommendation found by Jacqulyn #mangoplatemaster). We went to this place called 청진식당 as it was one of the best-reviewed places nearby for less than ten dollars per person. We ordered two servings of 불고기 and 오징어볶음 and it was utterly delicious. So much food for only 8 dollars a person! I left the restaurant so full from everything. I would highly recommend anyone to eat there if you find yourself in the area. Even for picky eaters, the 불고기 would be something good to introduce to someone who is trying Korean food for the first time. If my family ever came to Korea, I would take them here for sure!


After lunch, we parted ways with Jaquelyn and made our way towards 인사동 to find 박물관은 살아있다 or the Alive Museum. We passed by this massive building that Josh said was the right place. I kept telling him that there was no way it was inside of there, “Where are all the signs?” I said. So we kept walking, in the freezing cold, all the way down to the other side of the street realizing that we still had not found the right place. We turned all the way back and returned to the huge building that Josh pointed out at first. We read all the Korean on the floor markers and could not find anything that said The Alive Museum. We walked out and returned realizing that the museum’s name was not 아라이브 박물관 and tried to find it again. On the B2 sign, it said something about a dark room which seemed to be another part of the museum, so we decided to try our luck with that and go there.

When we got into the elevator, we realized that there was literally no button for B2. Literally, there was even a blank button in between B1 and B3 that you could not press. We decided to just get off at B3 and figure out what to do there. We were the only ones getting off there and were shocked to see nothing expect concrete walls and doors with vague electrical signs. We quickly found the staircase and rushed up to the B2 level. We looked around and realized that we had just found ourselves in the middle of the museum. We walked for a bit {seeing all the photo opportunities} and realized we needed to find the entrance because we were basically entering without paying. I found this guy next to the VR area and told me that we bought tickets online but we didn’t know where the entrance to the museum was. He told us to take the elevator up one floor but when we did that, we were still right smack dab in the middle of the museum. Josh decided to take lead and told us to just walk through the whole thing. If we kept going straight, we would eventually get to the entrance—and he was right. When we ran through the last curtain, we laughed looking at the line at the ticket stand. I immediately went outside to see where we were supposed to enter and found an outdoor entrance with stairs on either side. I climbed them and discovered that the entrance was next to the huge building we entered. There was a massive sign {in English} noting the location of the museum. I ran back inside and laughed with the others. Only we would miss the ginormous sign, proceed to read the Korean on the floor map and enter the museum in the middle. I got us our tickets and after playing with the lockers for a bit, we just decided to go in with our coats in hand.

We had a blast on the museum—playing with the props and posing in so many different ways. We spent almost two hours taking in everything {and we didn’t even take shots at every single location!}. By the end of it, we were so tired of taking photos but I was still able to convince everyone to take sticker photos with me. I just like having the physical memories! Plus, today was a day to remember! It was so much fun!

After finishing up and returning to the lobby, we got in line for the Dynamic Maze. Though we hadn’t even waited for a full minute before the employee told us that it would be a 2-hour wait. We looked at each other in shock… we wanted to make it home in time for dinner so we ended up skipping out on the maze even though it looked like so much fun! Maybe next time? {Though I felt so bad because I had already bought the tickets and they were going to have to pay me back even though we didn’t get to do the maze… what a waste of money…}

We didn’t want to leave just yet so we walked around looking for a cafe that wasn’t too expensive {Though I will just say is pretty impossible in 인사동!} We ended up going to 오설록 tea cafe or something like that? They are famous for all their teas {especially 녹차} from 제주도.

Katie and I ended up buying some green tea ice cream and a roll cake. {Don’t worry we fed some to Josh too!}


We sat at the cafe just chilling and chatting for about an hour. We also looked through all the photos from the museum and laughed at all the golden shots! Photos of Josh making creepy faces, Katie not being lucky with lighting, and me crying like a baby. It was a lot of fun (and the cafe eats only added to the experience)

That is all for this blog post! I had so much fun today~ It will definitely always be a day that I remember~ A good memory with great friends, conversations, and food! I hope you enjoyed. Follow for more content like this! 5 months left in Korea… wow, does time fly!

  • Emma 엠마

Halloween in South Korea {October 31st, 2018} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/31/18 Wednesday

Halloween isn’t that big of a holiday (in comparison to others); however, I knew I was going to miss it all the same. My mom always decorates the house all spooky {I am not kidding! She goes all out} and I love being surrounded by that kind of atmosphere. I knew it wasn’t going to be the same in Korea this year. Halloween is not a thing here— just a gimmick that can make more profit as people sell themed decorations, products, etc. The day after Halloween was also our big unit test so there wasn’t even time to just relax and eat overpriced American candy.

halloween 4

Bad quality photo but Photo Zone Sign!

At school, I was shocked to see black and orange balloons spelling out Happy Halloween in front of the cafeteria and a long photo background hanging on the wall. Teachers were giving out balloons, tattoos, and candy while students dressed up in props and took photos at the photo zone. I was so happy to see all of that because honestly, it was more than my school ever prepared. I was happy to be able to experience some part of Halloween— and with my 하나고 friends too!

halloween 17

School lunch today!~

After we ate, I got to take some photos with Katie, 도윤, 윤세, and 지연. We all got our own silly Halloween themed Kakao tattoos on the back of our hands and some balloons. The teachers took lots of pictures of us and I’m scared knowing that those pictures will definitely end up somewhere…

halloween 11

School ended earlier than usual because it was also 한나고’s 개교기념일 (Anniversary of the creation of the school! 새림 taught me this word~). They were having an event at the end of the day in the Art Center {which I have yet to visit} but Katie and I figured that we didn’t really need to be there so we went over to the Twosome Place Cafe across the street to study for a bit and enjoy Halloween together.

halloween 10

I ate dinner with my host family and I told them that I really wanted to watch a Halloween movie with them. I couldn’t find HalloweenTown {a MUST see} on Netflix but I was able to find it online streaming {How did I find it using Korea’s internet? I don’t know!} My host mom worried about me not having enough time to study but I assured her that I wanted to do this!

halloween 13

HalloweenTown on my Laptop!

So my youngest host sister made these fake movie tickets and we planned to watch it in my room at 8 pm on my laptop. We stuffed our faces with candy and enjoyed the movie. I think my siblings really liked it. They hadn’t seen it before. I was happy to have seen it this year and that I had the chance to share it with them. It made me feel a little less sad about not being able to have a Halloween movie marathon with my mom or spend the night watching something scary with my friends.

halloween 14

The rest of the night was spent with me studying hardcore for my test. I went over every single grammar point in my book and made at least two new sentences using the point to make sure that I remembered how to use it {not that I just understood the meaning behind the point}. I also went over 4 Quizlets and studied the words in my textbook that I was still iffy on. I definitely wanted to do more {like practice OPI type questions and read the textbook passages again} but it got really late and I very much did need the sleep. I also had to write a presentation for art class… so that took some time out of my night too…

But that was my Halloween~ It wasn’t spookily good but it was just chilling enough~ {Pun lovers here?} I would normally add another day to this post since it’s on the shorter side but I figured Halloween Day should have its own post right? I hope everyone had a great Halloween or just a good October 31st~

  • Emma 엠마

Seodaemun Prison Excursion & Volunteering at a Halloween Festival {10/27/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/27/18 Saturday

This Saturday Morning was our cultural activity for the month~ We technically had two this month, but that was because the September one was rescheduled so many times due to the rain—usually, we will only have one cultural activity every month. This cultural activity was one based on Korean history as we would be visiting 서대문감옥 (Seodaemun Prison) to learn more about the Japanese Occupation of Korea.

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Before heading to the prison and learning more about the events and things that occurred there, we sat in the Freedom Park and discussed what we already knew about that time period and what we learned from asking our host families or our high school friends. Everyone’s answers were pretty similar. We all mentioned that we all heavily learned about World War II but not much about Japan and the countries it occupied. There was maybe a sentence in our textbooks at most.

We then talked about Koreans’ attitudes toward Japanese people. Katie and I, during our conversation class, asked our friends and they seemed to agree that Koreans don’t hate the Japanese. They said if there are any hostile views or thoughts present today, it is mostly toward the government and how they handled the situation rather than on an individual level. Most people don’t showcase negative attitudes when connecting with Japanese people on an intrapersonal level; however, they did bring up that the same thing really can’t be said about the older generation—the people that lived through the time period. The students mentioned that because the event wasn’t that long ago, there are many people still alive who hold very negative and distasteful opinions on the Japanese and sometimes they pass that down. Though this is the case, the younger generation {as it often appears} is often more open-minded than the older generation.

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What a BEAUTIFUL Fall Day with Kaitlyn, Josh, & Jack

We talked about that for a bit, hearing from a bunch of different people, before heading into the museum. I didn’t take too many pictures because I really tried to read everything that was there and I also followed 주연쌤 and 민정쌤 around because they had more information to share about the many things we viewed.

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One thing that I thought was interesting was that they created new words in the Korean language that were given as titles to certain figures during the resistance. For example, There was a female student who was also the youngest female participating in the resistance. Because of everything she did, they added a title to her name. Her full name is Yu GwanSun (유관선) but she is often referred to as 유관순 열사.

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Photos of Fallen Resistors

Reading about all the torture methods was honestly really difficult but I do agree that it gives me more of a perspective of the atrocities that were committed then. I know wars always come with violence but knowing this, helped me see the occupation on another level. I won’t go into detail with those here because they are honestly quite disturbing; you can do some research if you’d like.

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We got to walk through the jail corridors and could even go inside many of the cells. We walked around the training fields and got to see where the prisoners would be executed. I learned from 민정쌤 that the training field was built in a fan shape to allow for there to be only one guard on duty and yet he would be able to see what every single prisoner is doing.

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There was also this really large tree right next to the execution building that was coined as a wailing tree because as the resistors would be dragged to their death by the Japanese guards, many of them would hold onto the tree and say their final goodbyes to the world. It was surreal to be able to stand in front of this tree.


After we finished walking around, learning more about Korea’s history, and taking some group photos, we went to have lunch together. We had 전주비빔밥 (Jeonju Bibimbap — very famous bibimbap–mixed rice with vegetables and beef!) in a stone pot. It was utterly delicious! I know some people can get sick of 비빔밥 when they come to Korea but I could never—but I also don’t eat it too often.


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Our official cultural activity was over once the last person put down their spoon. After that, we were free for the rest of the day. I signed up to do a volunteer activity with 5 other NSLI-Yians at this Halloween Festival put on by Mapo-gu Youth Center. I was very very surprised when we got there; I was expecting this small, little festival with a couple of tents and some good decorations but it was way more than I could have asked for. The only thing it lacked was true American Halloween Candy and everyone wearing costumes.


We arrived an hour early so before heading straight to the festival, we killed some time at Ediya’s Coffee to just chat, drink some warm lattes, and study a bit of Korean. When 3 pm rolled around, I called the woman in charge and tried to communicate to her where we were but it was so very difficult. My listening skills were not helping me out and talking on the phone in any language is hard when the reception isn’t good… eventually, she found us after a really awkward description by me about where we were.


She took us inside the center and explained to us what we would be doing: playing Go-Fish with kids and switching groups every 30 minutes. She also bought us Subway Sandwiches but we already ate so I felt bad for having them go to waste. Before we started the volunteering, we had our faces painted! We all got wounds (special effects makeup) put on our faces! It was fun having the prosthetic put on although my conversation with the guy doing my face was an EPIC fail. He asked me where I wanted the makeup and all I heard was where so as the self-conceited person I am, I assumed he was asking where we were from. I told him America before he said it again during which I realized how much of a fool I am! There was another incident shortly after with another face paint artist asking Shada to show her the stamp she got {guarantees payment} and then she tried to tell her she needs a stamp while we both thought she was asking if she wanted a stamp. {Granted this was a bit more understandable because we didn’t know how the “stamp system” worked here.} Eventually, I realized what they were getting it and I said that we were here today to volunteer and both her face painter and mine went “Ahhhhhhhh,” and that was the end of that conversation.

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Face Painting!


Jacquelyn, McKenzie, and Shada took the first shift so Harmony, Kaitlyn, and I just got to walk around and explore the booths. They had lots of food, face painting, nail painting, Halloween crafts, book readings, and this huge stage that was having a fashion show of all different types of costumes! It was so cool to see authentic Halloween costumes in Korea. We also found a booth selling Pickachu 돈까스 which was a bit frightening.


There were these two clowns on {those raised sticks? I cannot remember what they are called…} who were making balloons and I ran over to one and he immediately said I was pretty. I started to tell him that I wanted a balloon animal too but before I could finish my sentence, he shouted that he was surprised by how good I am at Korean. He let me cut the line {a big apology to those people waiting in line}, and he made me this yellow balloon flower rather than an animal. When being a foreigner gives you perks!


Eventually, Harmony, Kaitlyn, and I started our shift of board game playing with the little kids. Harmony held up a sign and would shout “play a board game” in Korean while Kaitlyn and I supervised or played with the kids. It was hard at first because I didn’t know how to explain the board game in Korean but eventually, I figured out which things made sense to the kids and what didn’t. A lot of them had trouble understanding when to say “Go Fish” so some of them would just say it during every turn—this was really cute!

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It got so cold that I was glad that the tent was blocking some of the wind. Later during the shift, my host family showed up to play some games. I told them about the festival the previous night and they really wanted to come! I got to teach my host sisters how to play Go-Fish and they were happy to receive prizes after winning.

When our volunteering shifts came to an end, the youth center coordinator had us come to the stage to watch some performances. It was so cold by this time that we were all cuddling trying to stay warm. Harmony’s arms made a nice scarf! We watched this hip hop performance that was pretty much boys against girls in the beginning and then at the end they joined together for an epic finale. The next performance {which the coordinator told us was somehow related to Better World} was these two groups of girls that did a cheerleading/Poms Routine? I’m not quite sure. The younger girls were dressed in sporty wear while the older ones looked like pirates? They were very fun though! I found myself bopping around and clapping along to the music.

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I was living for the gash on the side of my face!

After the festival, Kaitlyn and I got rid of our wounds in the subway’s bathroom {There was nooo way that we would ride the subway looking like that.} and went to 홍대 for dinner. We had 겨촌치킨. The original honey flavor~ It was delicious but we had a lot of leftovers.

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The rest of the night with Kaitlyn was spent walking around the streets populated by Buskers. They were all wearing Halloween costumes which were so nice to see! There was at least some Halloween spirit going on there. We eventually found this one group whose costumes were pretty lacking but their dancing was incredible. Though Kaitlyn and I found what happened surrounding the group the best part! Oh, who does not like people watching?

First, there was a guy wearing a long black padded coat and a mask dancing along awkwardly to the songs right next to the group. He was so funny and honestly more entertaining than the other dancers. Then, there were these two older ladies that screamed when one of the guys came over to her and she did this really ridiculous dance as a kind of dance face-off type thing—but it was great. She had some moves! Lastly, when these two girls danced, they pulled this really tall foreign guy into the circle and danced with him {in a pretty sexy way}. At first, he just stood there awkwardly but after the chorus played for a bit, he copied their movements and squatted on the ground with them. That was surely a sight to witness: I will say that.

After watching the Buskers for a bit, Kaitlyn and I went our separate ways to go home. I know when I came home I talked to my host family for a bit, but I don’t think I studied much if anything at all. I put on a Halloween movie and went to bed pretty early.

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed~ Stay tuned for more!

  • Emma 엠마