Monthly Korean Test, Waffle Tradition, and Package from Home! (01/31/19) NSLI-Y Korean AY

01/31/19 Thursday

Today was our monthly test for Korean so you can probably guess what I was doing earlier in the morning: did you guess studying at a cafe? Extra points if you said with Katie!! 

Katie and I met up at Holly’s Cafe at around 9:30 am to study before our big tests. We both were studying as if this was the most important test yet but during our short breaks, we also reassured ourselves that this doesn’t have to be our month… we reassured ourselves that February could! We would get all the bread then !! 

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Drinking a Cafe Mocha (Test days were coffee days for me)

Anyway, at the cafe, I read all the reading passages from both the textbook and workbook as well as writing out a rough sketch/outline for my 자기 소개 (self-introduction) for the OPI. It’s a question that is always asked and I try to always switch up what I say to show off different grammar points and to give my teacher fresh new topics to talk about. 

This past month, my class {3반 with Jacquelyn & Josh} has been having class at the youth center rather than the Better World office—where we had classes from Sept-Dec. The Better World staff members wanted to get the chance to see some other NSLI-Y faces more so they switched our class with 2반 for winter break. {There were talks about having 3반 have their turn there for the spring semester but I talked to 민정쌤 about it and I’m more positive that the current class will stay or we will go back.} Anyways, what a long ramble away from the point I was getting at!! For the monthly test, 2반 and 1반 were switching teachers during the OPI portion due to a disagreement with how students were scored last time as it involved moving students down a level. To make that easier on everyone, those two classes would be taking their tests at the youth center and 3반 returned to Better World. 

I ate a quick 편의점 lunch with some of the other girls before making my way to Better World—I walked by myself with some headphones in. I had made the walk this winter break with Katie to get brunch at flapjack pantry or to get to Better World for our orientation but it felt weird going there again knowing that I would be returning for a Korean purpose (The test!). {Does that make any sense?} 

I ran into 민정쌤 on the way actually and that 5-minute long by chance meet up improved my mood as previous to the encounter, I was practically shaking—not from the cold, but the fact that I would be taking my unit test! 

When we all arrived at the familiar room, my teacher explained the monthly test process once again and we immediately started on our reading test. 

Honestly, when I flipped the last page and was brought back to the cover of the test, I was relieved and happy. It felt like an easy test. Yes, there were questions that I, of course, did not understand whatsoever and I felt really iffy about answering certain questions but overall, I felt good. 

Then came the writing and speaking portion. Our teacher decided that we would do Rock Paper Scissors to decide who would go first for the OPI because no one was sacrificing themselves. I technically hadn’t gone first yet but if I didn’t have to, I wasn’t going to! Unfortunately, however, I lost!! I would be doing first. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t almost start crying because I did not want to go first. My teacher even exclaimed, “Emma it almost looks like you are going to cry.” Little did she know… Why was I being so emotional? For such a trivial concern? I could not tell you…

But honestly, going first wasn’t that bad. I shuffled into the room angrily and let out an exasperated sigh but getting it over with was nice. I didn’t have to wait with the anticipation so that my nerves had time to build up. 

The writing section was okay. It went very very quickly. I didn’t feel the best about it because I knew I didn’t utilize advanced vocab terms or grammar but oh well what is done is done. 

After class, Josh joined me in walking to an after monthly test tradition: waffles! We went to 와플 대학 and met up with Katie, Alix, Hunter, and Shannon to eat waffles but because the walk was so far and our teacher let us out late {she decided to finish the textbook with us that day so we learned 2 new grammar points during the last hour… everyone had to leave as soon as we got there. Katie stayed with us, though~ 

Another thing that happened by surprise today… was that a package from my friend Kara arrived!! When 주연쌤 handed it to me, I was beyond ecstatic!! I got home and happily opened it. She sent me the cutest pig ornament, a book I’ve been meaning to read, and some good old American candy! Oh, and the most heartfelt letter~ Ahh I definitely cried!! 

Also, last week 주연쌤 went to America for a partners workshop with American Councils and she met Emily Matts and Brian Leopold who both said hi to me! Apparently, at the end of the workshop, they had a session on what alumni reps have done and both Jacquelyn and me were included. I was so proud that my legacy could live on to them~~ 주연쌤 said that she believes it’s the first time an AY participant had been an alum rep so she was very proud of the both of us. 

Anyways, that was my Thursday~ I came home and just literally spent the rest of the night in my room exhausted. Although the days leading up to the monthly exams are so stressful, the weekend afterward is always the best because we have no work to do!!! {Even though this time my teacher gave us another practice Topik test to do… but that is break homework rather than actual homework… I’ll tell that to myself to make me feel better!} 

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Also meanwhile… It snowed like three times in Korea during the winter… while it was negative 50 in Chicago!

I was going to add this post to tomorrow’s post because I figured it would be short and boring but instead, it’s long and boring! Stay tuned for the next post that will hopefully be more interesting: delivering coal community service activity and a trip to a traditional market! 

Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마

Research Project Interview, Community Service, and (Real?) Tacos in Korea {01/23/19} NSLIY Korea AY

01/23/19 Wednesday

We needed to record our interview today with KUMFA {한국미혼모가족협회} for our research project but we were not given a camera. To add on to that, the tripod that 더나은세상 gave us wasn’t compatible with our phones. Later, 혜린언니 found us one that she had at her home but it only filmed things vertically which made the videos not come out so nice… therefore, Katie and I went on a hunt to buy binder clips and rubber bands to somehow attach her phone to the borrowed tripod—horizontally. While we were at Morning Glory trying to search for some thick rubber bands, I found this weird phone mount for a table top which led us to find the actual tripods! They were kind of expensive but Katie took one for the team and used her parent’s credit card to pay for it. 필요한 것이라서 괜찮은 것 같은데요 ㅋㅋ

While we were messing with the tripod, Katie accidentally left her wallet on the bench we were sitting at. She didn’t realize until we were at a 편의점 about an 8 min walk away. We hurried back and returned to the same bench to see no wallet. I noticed some guys surrounding the area and saw one holding a wallet that seemed pretty similar to Katie’s—as you guessed it, it was hers! Those men were just holding it and waiting for her to return and were leaving the area as we approached. They were so kind to wait and we got there at a good time because who knows where they would have brought it. After that, we went to meet our supporter at the subway exit to head over to the location of our interview. We took a quick bus ride and then waited at a Paris Baguette. There, we practiced our interview questions and bought a cake for the workers at KUMFA. 

The office was on the 5th floor of this building and they were getting a lot of shipments the day we were there so there were boxes everywhere. We were taken to the children’s playroom in order to conduct the interview because there was no free room anywhere else. We were allowed to record ourselves and the content of the interview but we were not allowed to record the face of the man we were interviewing. 

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Fun Storytime: We got to the interview location early so we just waited in the elevator on the 5th floor for several minutes. Until we saw a delivery man try to use the elevator and then we scrammed.

The interview ended up being almost an hour long! We had 52 minutes of footage! And I did understand the vast majority of what was said; I will admit! I also kept getting distracted with other things in my mind because I couldn’t always understand him… the content was quite difficult. We left after the interview and giving the present. He asked us how much the cake was and I was so confused??? 혜린언니 later told me that government officials {I think?} aren’t allowed to receive gifts from the public that are more than $10 or something along the lines of that. It was pretty interesting.

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Also…take a look here! Better World used a picture of me and my former two host sisters for host family recruitment!

After the interview, we ran to find a place to have lunch because I needed to use the bathroom so badly—plus we were hungry. So, we ended up at Burger King, with some delicious chicken tenders & fries. 

We separated at this point with 혜린언니 going home and Katie going to meet Josh at a cafe. I was heading over to 마포구어린이수련관 early because Kaitlyn had gotten out of community service and wanted someone to chill with her until we both did the nighttime community service. June and Jacquelyn {and Shada} eventually joined us so we all hung out at a Twosome Place for a little more than an hour. We also ordered three pieces of cake because we wanted to live it big!!! Not mad about it…

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Out of the three cake slices, the raspberry cheesecake was the best!

I tried doing some studying at the cafe… but that did not go too well if I am being honest… but anyway, eventually 6 pm rolled around and we met the director of the center to hear about what we had to do for the community service. We were just going to go get the food for the dinner, set it up on this table outside of the classroom, eat with the kids, and then lastly, clean up. It was fun serving the children {I was on rice duty} although I was pretty bad at giving them all a good amount of rice. We ended up not eating with them because I had plans with Kaitlyn to get pasta after the service so we just sat in the rooms and tried to speak with the children… they were shy so it was a lot of silent whispers and awkward conversations. Hopefully, next time {when we actually eat with them} it will be less weird? I do think it will get better! 

After service ended, Kaitlyn and I headed back to 홍대 to visit this restaurant known for really pretty pasta ice cream??? {Don’t worry it’s real pasta and fake ice cream!} Unfortunately, with our luck, it ended up being closed. Apparently, on weekdays the place closes at 6 pm while it stays open to 8 pm on the weekends. We were there at around 7:30… it was quite sad. We decided, instead, that we would go either after class on Monday or before community service on Wednesday. 

Instead, we went on a hunt for tacos! Kaitlyn found this one place on the main bustling street on her phone maps but we could not actually find it. We walked down the street twice before she finally accepted the fact that it no longer exists! I remembered seeing a place near exit three that Liam pointed out a while ago and we were able to successfully find that and eat there. 

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We shared a plate of nachos and I ate quesadillas! I was so happy to have somewhat of a familiar taste of Hispanic food! Like there was salsa! I haven’t had salsa since America and I love salsa! It was pretty pricey not gonna lie but definitely worth it. 

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We ate too many of the nachos before I was able to snap a picture…

I came home pretty late and immediately got on the grind because I had a presentation to do for Thursday!!! And I hadn’t even decided on a topic yet!!! Our teacher told us to do cultural differences between America and Korea but I really wanted to try something else so… I decided to be wild and do the concept of Lookism—the obsession of physical beauty or discrimination against others for the way they look {these two definitions exist}.

I spent so much time researching the topic because I knew it was sensitive and I wanted to represent it correctly. Since it took a lot of research time, it also took a long time to write. I finished writing the script— getting it to three minutes— at 2 am! But it was okay, I did this to myself~ I had time to start it earlier… I just didn’t. I planned to get up early and go to a cafe to make my PowerPoint. And that was the end of my day~ 

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My host mom brought strawberries to my room~ ❤

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Till the next one~~ 

  • Emma 엠마

Birthday Treats, Candy Corn, and 떡볶이 Jelly {11/05-11/07/2018} NSLI-Y Korean AY

11/05/18 Monday

This is going to be a combined post because I am very behind on my daily blogging and in order to catch up, I have to limit the things I talk about {Though I’ve also forgotten some things, too} Well, anyway, let’s get started.

nov 16

Monday was 서린’s birthday, so Katie and I planned to give her a gift at lunch. We got it prepared over the weekend but put it together when we got to school on Monday morning. We found our locker once again {still need a lock…} and stashed the gift and wrapping in there till we were ready. I bought a penguin stuffed animal for 서린 while Katie contributed 4 nicely wrapped macaroons.

nov 1

Lunch was delicious! So much so that I already started eating before realizing I needed to snap a picture…

Lunch with the girls was fun as always. The others were going to surprise 서린 at dinner so it was just us that wished her a happy birthday with a gift. Though, 지연 came over to me and gave me a plastic bag filled with snacks as a late birthday gift. She even wrote me a cute little note on an instant fish cake soup container. It was really sweet~ She didn’t have to get me anything!

 

One of the things she bought was 떠볶이 jelly. I wonder if she enjoys them or if she wanted to have me try them because they are so “Korean” if you will. Katie and I tried them at the bus stop while heading to our Korean class. Let’s just say they are very interesting— and yes, actually spicy.

nov 2

When I got to class, I made everyone try one and even walked around the Better World Office offering them out. Watching the reactions of the people eating them was hilarious! They are honestly really bad. Who would eat them?!?

Class was probably okay… don’t remember at all {con of blogging almost 5 days late :/ } But after class, we had our biweekly meeting with 민정쌤 which is always a fun time. Because our classes aren’t in the same building as the other two classes, we often aren’t together as a big group of 16! So it’s nice to see everyone~ We got to meet a new resident director who is joining us and “specializing” {I know it’s not the right word…} in host families. Her name is 소영 I believe and her English name is Soya. She seems really sweet but timid at the same time. At the end of the meeting, I passed around the bag of 떡볶이 jelly to all the unassuming NSLIYians. I finally got to meet someone who enjoyed them: McKenzie

nov 5

After the meeting, I went with Katie to 공덕역 and we studied at a cafe for a bit before having a little picnic under a bridge with convenience store food. We talked a lot and got really personal with each other. I haven’t been able to be that open with someone in a long time. And I told her things that my family and even some close friends don’t know. I just felt that we have gotten so close and she really empathizes with me and understands me.

nov 6

nov 7

I got home after our lovely night of good Korean snacks and deep conversations to talk with my host sisters for a bit while I worked on homework. I went to bed pretty late but hanging out with Katie was worth it. ❤

11/06/18 Tuesday

Tuesday’s morning started off on a good note. I had my English Mentorship period with three second-year students. I gave them each a bag of candy corn so that they could try the most unique American Halloween candy there is. They all pretty much had mediocre reactions and 건우 even said that they were really not that good. They all didn’t seem to be impressed but then they still kept eating them. {Let me add that it was only like 9 in the morning so they even ate it that early while saying “they didn’t like it.” Honestly, some boys will eat anything!} During our period, we played this game called GeoGuesser I think? The website would show you a street view of a random place and you had to figure out where in the world it was by clicking a spot on the map. The closest you were to the location, the more points you win. I was with 호영 and the bet was that the losing team would buy the winning team Peppero since Peppero day was Sunday. Of course, 호영 and I won because of our exceptional geographic skills! Just kidding, we just got lucky. Our first turn, I just told him to pick Washington State cause of the tall trees and we happened to be right. The second time, I could tell the language was close to Spanish so I told him to pick Italy or Portugal {it turned out to be an island of Italy}. The third time we were very off. It was Greece but we picked Ukraine. Lastly, the location was Romania but we cheated because there was actually graffiti on a building that said Romania in Romanian. I’m just excited for Peppero on Tuesday ^^

After school, Katie and I skipped lunch at 하나고 and had waffles nearby Korean classes. Was it the healthiest thing?? Nope, not at all but we wanted waffles.

nov 10

During Korean class, we got our tests back and I didn’t do that bad?!? Like I’m pretty proud of myself! I think I got a high B on the reading portion and a mid-ranged A in writing. We didn’t discuss our OPI scores so that is something for another day it seems~ I didn’t think I did too bad on the test so I’m happy that my intuition wasn’t completely off.

After class, I went home right away. I had dinner with my host family and I stayed at the dinner table longer than normal speaking with my host mom. She gave me some traditional Korean dessert which was rice cake with a sugary filling. It was like a mix of 송편 (Filled rice cake eaten during 추석–Chuseok) and 호떡 (Pancake type pastry with a sweet filling often eaten as street food). I spent the rest of the night working on Korean homework, making a Quizlet {but not working on it} and answering emails.

nov 13

11/07/18 Wednesday

Wednesday was a blur for me… I don’t really remember what I did in school? I studied Korean in 한국사 {my teacher saw me and didn’t say anything so I will continue doing that… he did come up to me though and told me to memorize my example phrases and replace the nouns and words to sound really good.} and I tried very hard not to fall asleep during Economics… it proved to be very difficult. I fell FULLY asleep during the break time. Statistics was a lot of formulas and notations that I did not know so my notes were pretty bad… but during the second half, our teacher talked about college and admissions the entire time so I slept on and off during that.

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Before lunch, Katie and I were starving so we went to the 매점 and bought some snacks. We sat outside on some benches in front of fall foliage and enjoyed the views {while they lasted… almost all the leaves fell off by the end of the week}. We tried to be artsy and take photos but … I definitely was not photogenic that day. Katie and I ate lunch with our usual group of friends. I passed out a little goody bag filled with candy corn to all of them—excited to see their reaction. Honestly, I can’t stand them but I wanted to see if maybe Koreans would like them. Pretty much all the girls except 지연 didn’t like them. They all tried to pawn them off to Katie. When I asked to take a photo of all the girls, 도윤 started passing out pieces of her candy corn to the other girls so they could hold it in the picture… but we knew the real reason she was doing that! To get rid of her stash!

nov 17

서린 said that it tasted like cookie dough which is what 세림 said too and I highly disagree. I would love them if that was the case!!

After school Wednesday was my first club meeting! I’m in a club called BISERA {I think} and it’s a business and economics club. I really didn’t know what to expect… I was told the meeting time earlier in the day and so I went there after my statistics class. Luckily, I already knew some people in the club. 동철 from 영미문학, 지현 from homeroom, 다연 from 통합사회, and a couple familiar faces that I knew were in some of my classes but I never learned their names or have ever talked to them. We were apparently going to work on presentations during the meeting but because it was the first time I joined them, 주호 {the leader of the club and the one who helped me “pick” my club} said we could just talk and get to each other which is what we did. We talked in a mix of both English and Korean though at times conversing was frustrating because if I didn’t respond right away, they would assume I didn’t understand and start translating in English. Though it is quite annoying, I can see where they are coming from—they just want to make sure I’m comfortable. I’ll just have to improve so they don’t feel like they have to resort to English!!

Some people get it though~ 지현 would only ever speak to me in Korean which was nice {even though her English is amazing!} Our conversations consisted of them trying to get to know me and more about America. I tried speaking in only Korean which made my answers lack in detail… I also don’t really like Kpop or dramas which is what they expect. But we did have fun discussing things nonetheless. I asked 동철 why I see some students standing outside the teachers’ office staring at the wall. It reminded me of speech team members practicing their speeches to the wall, but I knew they were not doing that. He goes on to explain to me that it’s a form of punishment {mostly for eating in the dorms or sleeping in class} from this one teacher. Except, instead of saying punishment, he called it public execution which is definitely not the right word for it but its usage showed me how strongly he feels towards it.

I’m pretty sure everyone in the club is either a first year or a second year which makes me wonder if third years do clubs? Or do they just study because of the 수능 (college entrance exam)? I still have things to learn about this school.

After my club finished up, I met up with Katie quickly to say goodbye. She was staying after school a bit longer to help some classmates with an English project. I went home right away because my resident director host family check-in was scheduled for 6.

nov 18

I was feeling moody and tired today apparently…

At 6 pm, both 민정쌤 and the new host family director 소야쌤 showed up at our door and it was so awkward! I don’t really know why… maybe because I didn’t think these “two worlds” would meet. My host mom made 김밥 while we all talked at the kitchen table. My host brother had a friend over, so the screams of little children filled our awkward silences. The whole conversation was in Korean and she asked my host mom if she had problems with me, if I was respecting the rules, coming home before curfew, etc. They then talked about how I’m studying and my improvement in Korean. They were both complimenting me for how hard I study which was nice to hear~~ {Though I just sat there and smiled awkwardly as they said those things} 민정쌤 brought up my unit test {I forgot to tell my host mom about the results} and my host mom seemed happy to hear that I did pretty well. After my mom forced the two to eat some 김밥, they left and I ate dinner with my host family.

The rest of Wednesday night was spent interviewing Katie for my presentation about an NSLI-Y Student as well as us applying to take over the NSLI-Y Instagram together. Eventually, I had to go to sleep but hadn’t finished my homework just yet. I hoped to have time tomorrow during school to finish it.

That’s all for this blog post~ It is quite long because I combined three days… and there aren’t many photos. Sorry about that! I need to be conscious and try to take more but it’s the routine really…

  • Emma 엠마

 

Eating Waffles to Deal With My Emotions (10/23/18) NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/23/18

I had to run back to my host family’s apartment in the morning because I was having a left-my-wallet-in-my-room-and-literally-realized-I-forgot-it-when-I-was-right-outside-of-the-subway-exit-3-minutes-until-my-train-arrives kind of day. I met up with Katie at the subway station about 14 minutes later than I usually do, which freaked both her and me out. Fortunately, we arrived with 5 minutes to get to our homerooms before the bell (or music melody technically…) started.

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My first period was the English mentoring program with these three second-year students. We had some really fun conversations. I first showed them pictures of some famous American and Cuban foods because we talked about Korean food last time; however, I had no pictures prepared or WiFi to look things up for them with. They seemed to get the most excited when I showed them Chicago deep dish pizza and the Philly Cheese Steaks. After that, they wanted to do this game where they would play a  Korean song and I would need to say the lyrics that I heard. This immediately scared me because my listening comprehension is… nonexistent. (Especially because I can never understand songs anyways.) We tried Twice’s TT song at first… but no, it was too fast. We then did the three little bears song, which I did just fine on thank you very much, but it was deemed too easy for me so we tried this song about Mothers. I could understand parts but I did not want to be wrong, so I simply said I did not understand. We quickly threw away that idea and just talked about random topics– mostly comparing American high school with Korean high school but also everyday life. I talked about suburbs for a bit and told them that yes, a good majority of Americans actually live in houses; they are not just in movies. Korea actually does not really have suburbs. 호영 compared suburbs to apartment complexes– just that houses are replaced with large apartments. We also talked about general school rules. I explained that in America (unlike Korea) only private or religious schools wear uniforms. Most public schools allow students to wear whatever they want (while following a dress code of course). We also talked about 하나고 rules like no relationships, no eating ramen, etc. The conversation was very interesting and I enjoyed speaking with the guys.

I had 국어 next and boy… it was interesting? I did not really understand anything that happened in the class except for this one story: a story about a goat. (Or at least I think I understood? I might be wrong?) The teacher literally said that when he was young, he heard that if you poured water in a goat’s ear, they would die. His mom confirmed this thought and said that she heard it from her grandfather. He later tries to pour water in a goat’s ear with his friends and they are surprised when it does not die. That was it. Or at least I think that was the end of that…there seemed to be no moral to the story. It was funny, nonetheless. Also in that class, I sat next to 윤세 (We went to 스포츠 몬스터 together!) and we got to talk a bit. I am glad that I now have a friend in that class!

My last class of the day was World History–I prepared myself to not understand anything that would be said in class. I sat next to my friend 지은 and we talked a bit about her tests. She was mad because she spelled something wrong on the World History test. Our notes today were in Korean so it was harder for me to follow along. I also was very tired, and so I kept nodding off at some points. (I was grateful for the fact that we screamed that independence song during this period of the class because that helped me stay awake!) I ended up running off to meet Katie during the break time because I needed someone to talk to.

Lunchtime eventually rolled around and I never know what we eat, to be honest… I should probably start paying attention to the menu that they always have up near the start of the lunch line. Today we had some beef in spicy sauce, rice, mushrooms, kimchi, and these noodles that looked similar to ramen but after eating them, you could tell they definitely were not. We were leaving school early today, so we arrived at 홍대 a bit earlier than usual. I hung out at the Youth Center for a bit to talk with the other NSLI-Yians. I lost track of time and had to run a little bit to get to the Better World Office on time.

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I’m going to be honest, class was really rough today. We started off the class reading this Korean story that Josh found online. I don’t know where he found it but it said level 3 on the top left corner and I have since come to the conclusion that I am not deserving to be at level three. I had no clue what was going on. Want to know the story plot? Sorry, but I can’t tell you. I got literally nothing from that story. The teacher explained the difficult and new vocabulary but I still didn’t know what was going on. I annotated the first couple of pages but then after a while, I gave up. I wasn’t understanding it whatsoever. The grammar, the vocab, all of it. We spent almost an hour and a half on this story which directly correlates to me spending almost an hour and a half in Korean class comprehending nothing. The words were also not very widely used so writing them down almost served no purpose as I would rarely see them used in real conversations. After reading the story, our teacher asked how we felt about it and both Josh and Jacquelyn thought it was a fun read though Jacquelyn had a bit of trouble staying awake. I just sat in silence feeling completely and utterly incompetent.

Afterward, I figured we would learn some new grammar points {we have one chapter left of our text book} but that did not happen… our teacher closed the book and we just talked about a variety of things. Nothing of too much use, though. The conversation was fun but I felt that I had wasted this class because I didn’t feel that I got much out of it. I was disappointed with the class as well as my performance in it. At the end of class, our teacher talked to us about switching the books we use in class. Possibly ditching the 이화 books and using the grammar book. This made me pretty upset. The grammar book was great and I had been using it to support my studying but I wanted to stay on the path that everyone else was on too. However, Josh and Jacquelyn seemed pretty fond of the idea??? This just made me feel like more of a burden in the class. I don’t want to keep them from learning and I do agree that I should be struggling a bit to grow, but I don’t want to spend most of the class being confused and not knowing anything. Additionally, my comfort with using some of the “beginner” or “basic” grammar points is kind of shaky because I was put into the “intermediate” class at 숙대 and I had to teach myself some concepts and I had to do the same thing this time around because I was placed in the advanced class… I don’t know these are my thoughts and I know they are pretty negative but I needed to get them out there. I’m really struggling in Korean class with this placement. It just seems that with every stride in the right direction, something pulls me back—making me feel inadequate. I know everyone struggles with their language journey… but sometimes it’s hard to focus on the improvement instead of the distance left to go.

After class, I stayed behind to talk to 민정쌤 but she didn’t seem to have gotten the fact that I wanted to let off some steam so I shortly left for the subway by myself. While I was walking back, I ran into Katie who stayed to talk to me—see if I was alright. What did I do to deserve such a good best friend?!? We walked down the nature path near exit three of the subway station and let each other complain and rant. It was nice to be able to put everything in words and hear some encouragement from Katie. We are not in the same situation but knowing that someone else is struggling too, makes the whole thing feel a bit more comforting. After that, we decided to split a waffle. We went to this one place called 와플 대학 (Waffle University) that had self-order machines. Luckily, we were able to deal with that just fine! We ordered a cheesecake Nutella waffle which consisted of what it sounds like: Nutella, cheesecake bites, and vanilla gelato. So good!

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After the waffle break, we both headed home for the night. I ate dinner with my host family before playing a board game with one of my host sisters. The rest of the night was spent writing a blog post and creating Quizlet sets. I planned to go to bed early… but instead, I stayed up watching Youtube videos. I fell asleep a bit before 11:30 pm. That was my day… there was a lot to it– both good and bad. Right now life is a bit tough; however, I know I can get through it and persevere! Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more (hopefully less negative/emotional in comparison to this one! But who knows what this year will bring. I can still say this because it is the beginning of my exchange… I do not even know how it will feel when I am already halfway done… Ew let us not think that far in the future!)

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Authors Note: That is the end of this blog post! I just wanted to say (mostly so I do not get an abundance of worried texts from my family and close friends) that I do not feel so negative towards Korean class anymore! This was not even a month into the program, so me struggling was pretty inevitable. I still have my bad days (which will be evident in future blog posts) but I also have many good days! Okay, that is all. Thanks for reading!~

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Alumni Bubble Tea Social w/ Midwest DIR: Melissa Martinez {06/01/18}

On the first of June, I was able to partake in my second NSLI-Y alumni event! As an alumni representative for the Great Lakes (Chicago) region, I am expected to organize and carry out such events for the NSLI-Y Alumni, and so I arranged a NSLI-Y Alumni Bubble Tea Social with the Midwest DIR: Melissa Martinez to kick off summer in Chi-town.

The event was scheduled to begin at 2 pm; however, I made my way to Chinatown about an hour and a half earlier in order to meet up with two of my StarTalk classmates Citlali and Bruce (and now NSLI-Y Finalists! They will be going to China this summer!) for lunch. We went to Joy Yee and indulged in Teriyaki Chicken and dumplings. (Didn’t get any pictures though… because we were too busy eating and catching up!)

During the event, NSLI-Y alumni were afforded the opportunity to converse with Melissa Martinez and ask her questions all while enjoying delicious bubble tea. We had deep, engaging discussions that covered topics such as team management, government jobs, Department of State internships, government fellowships, culture shock, being flexible and adaptable, diplomatic experiences, sexism abroad/ in the foreign service, etc.

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At the end of the event, we obviously took some group pictures and then, many of the alumni hung around Chinatown Square to talk. We took some selfies, exchanged social media, and talked about future plans to meet up. It was very fun to be able to meet another handful of alumni in the Chicago area! Especially, Korean Summer 2017 alum Katie because she will be heading to Korea with me in the Fall~ It was great to be able to meet the person I have been messaging on KakaoTalk (and have a 35-day SnapChat streak with…as of now).

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(Back: Citlali & Kristin // Front: Me, Katie, Sydney, Bruce)

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Look at all those countries being represented!!~ (And Melissa could have soooo many flags!)

And that is all for this blog post! This event was very fun and I really enjoyed having a guest speaker and being able to host an event in a more informal environment. Hopefully, I can organize one more event before I leave for Korea! And, maybe I will blog about my outreach at my local StarTalk program– we will see if I have enough to share! Thanks for reading~ I hope you enjoyed!

P.S. NSLI-Y Alumni, make sure you are a part of your regional alumni FB group! This is where you will hear about events such as these~ I hope turnout can continually go up as it has so far! 😉

  • Emma 엠마

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

안녕하세요 여러분!

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

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

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My roommate Selin and Shraddha at breakfast

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

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

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Walking to American Councils Saturday morning~

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Nicole ❤

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Ready for a long day of presentations!~

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

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

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

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Andy about to present to us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main Points of the East-Vision Leadership

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

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

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

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

With Old Friends!~

With New Friends!~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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

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Cafe Aesthetic!~ ❤

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

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

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The qualityyyyy (Jeremy, Deni, and I)

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our amazing hotel: Embassy Suites

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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Everything was very delicious!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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Such a nice (cold) night!~

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

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

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Deni & Selin!~

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

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

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Lila and Nicole

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

 

NSLI-Y Application Tips

It is October. What does that mean? Well, besides the obvious (Halloween) it is also the month where NSLI-Y applications for the 2017-2018 programs are due. (October 27th to be more exact) And even though they are due very very soon, I thought I would write a post to help out anyone with any questions about the NSLI-Y application. I have already recieved a lot of questions through this blog, my instagram, and emails. Since most of the questions are very similar, I thought I could answer them all here in a blog post. This post will only be about the application. Questions about the interview, what do when accepted, OPI, packing, etc will be answered in separate posts closer to when they will be the most applicable.

The Essays

The biggest part of the NSLI-Y application is the essays. The essays are the things that will set you apart from all the other applicants. So it is very important that you make sure that the essays show exactly what you want. However, this does not mean that you lie in your essay or act like someone you aren’t. It is important that you are honest because it is very easy to see through words that don’t actually have any passion behind them. It is also important to not try to be someone else. If you can’t easily put a big word in a sentence and make it sound natural, don’t use that word just because someone else does. An SAT vocab word is not going to help you get picked. If you can’t easily put humor in your essay, then don’t force it. Be who you are. It is less about your writing style and precise word choice and more about what the essay says about you. Dont focus on using an extreme attention getter, use those words to talk about you. Do not focus on using tricks to make you sound more interesting.

Now for the Dos for the essays

  • Do sound mature and professional (only enough to still allow your own personality to shine. NSLI-Y knows their applicants are high school students, they don’t except perfection).
  • Do have adults/English teachers/Alumni read your essays (It is good to get feedback from other people that aren’t as connected to your essay as you probably are. It is also a good idea to hit up an alumni since they have been there done that).
  • Do talk about negative experiences that have shaped you positively (NSLI-Y can prove to be very hard at times. If you show to be resilient and able to problem solve, you will showcase your ability to handle any stress in a foreign country.
  • Do talk about how you will use the language in the future (NSLI-Y wants to know how you will use this opportunity. You don’t have to want to be a diplomat, be real about what you want and not what you think they want to hear).
  • Do read your essay multiple times! (it is good to step away from your essay so you can return to it with a fresh mind).

Host Family Letter

I feel like this part of the applications is where most people get the wrong idea. Many of the host family letters I have read from new applicants (and old ones that didn’t make it) have missed the true point of these letters. This letter is to showcase who you are. That is why you are prompted to write about where you are from, your hobbies, your family life, what your friends think about you, etc. It is important to focus less on making yourself look good and more on showing off your personality.

Also, there is a chance that your actual host family will read your letter. In many programs before mine, the alumni had told me that their families never read their essays. However, for my program, some of the host families went to an orientation of sorts before we arrived and the ones that went, were given the letters to read (my family told me that they read my letter). So use the letter wisely. Make it about you and your interest with the host family’s culture. It is also important that the letter is written formally. Make sure you say thank you for allowing them to open up their home to you.

Teacher Recommendation

All I can say about the teacher recommendation is that you should make sure that the teacher you pick knows you well. That they will be able to describe you and be able to talk about your good characteristics. Therefore, your teacher doesn’t have to be a language teacher. If you didn’t take a language in the past year or you simply aren’t close with a language teacher, don’t ask for their help. It is better to ask someone who can write about you then picking a language teacher because you think that is what NSLI-Y wants.

 Language Experience

Do not lie about your language experience on your application. If you have never studied the language previously, then write that. It doesn’t mean you have less passion than someone who has studied in a formal class for 2 years. NSLI-Y accepts all language levels into their program (I would probably say that the majority of people on my program had no language experience or a very limited of knowledge of only basic words/the alphabet). So be honest, it won’t hurt you.

 Final Tip & Pep Talk

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE submit your application early! Even submitting it two days before is better. It will give you less stress if your computer isn’t working or if the site is experiencing too much traffic, you won’t be left for dead on the due date.

Finally, don’t be too upset if you don’t make semifinalist status. That decision does not mean you aren’t worthy of the scholarship. This is a very competitive program and sometimes even the good ones don’t always make it. There were plenty of people on my program that didn’t make it to semi the first time applying, and then when they applied the second time, they made it all the way. So do not give up. Try again! Because you will never make it, if you don’t keep giving yourself a chance to.

Good luck to all of you applying for NSLI-Y, I wish the best for all of you~ If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or email me at (emmap@oakstreetadvisors.com). I would love to answer any further questions!~ 안녕!!

  • Emma (엠마) Seoul Summer 2016 Alum