제주도 수학여행 (Jejudo School Trip) Day 2-Part 2: 이중섭미술관, 삼겹살 맛집과 카페에서 밤 이야기 (05/02/20) NSLI-Y Korea AY

Thursday (05/02/20) – Part 2!

Bus Ride Selfie

After our excursion to 성산일출봉, we got back on the bus and after a while (and a much needed nap), arrived to the final major location for our ~educational~ but fun school trip: an art gallery of Lee Jungseob (이중섭미술관). Lee Jungseob is a very highly praised famous Korean artist when discussing modern Korean art. Although he only lived in Jeju for a rather short period of time, the island held significance to many pieces of his artwork and so the gallery was built in his honor. Additionally, besides visiting the gallery, one can visit the house that Lee Jungseob lived in with his family and walk along a street named after the artist (이중섭거리) which houses a lot of shops selling art, handicrafts, antiques as well as lots of cafes.

I walked around the museum and mostly kept following our former coordinating teacher around (or other classmates of mine) like a lost puppy because nothing in the museum was translated in English. I did put in effort to read a good amount of things myself but I found that I enjoyed hearing about the paintings and their explanations or background from others a lot more. And, through doing that, I actually learned more because 민정쌤 was quite informed on the subject of 이중섭.

To be honest, the life of 이중섭 was nothing near a life of luxury and rather more like the epitome of the struggling, starving artist. In a way, the added pity and sorrow brought even more emotions to his works and maybe even made them more relatable?

The gallery did not just exhibit paintings but there were also just artifacts of his life including letters, drawings, and postcards he sent to his wife and family while they were separated. 이중섭 married a Japanese woman and had two sons but besides the short stay with them when they lived together in their house on Jeju, they were long distance during his entire life. Because of the enduring poverty he had to face, he sent his family to Japan and they lived there while he stayed in Korea–and sent them money when he would earn it. It pained me to look at the evidence of such sacrifice and true love between him and his wife and it made me upset to know that in the end, they were never able to truly reunite as a family before he died. 

Another one of my favorite exhibits within the gallery included the drawings that 이중섭 made on scraps of metal foil from cigarette packs. Apparently, cigarettes were kept in metal tins in the past and while he could not afford actual art supplies, he was able to continue expressing himself and his struggles through scratching in drawings on the foil. 

After we spent some time at both the art gallery and the artist’s home, we were given some free time to explore the lengths of 이중섭거리 and along the road there were a lot of statues that gave homage to the art and style of 이중섭.

In specific, right near the entrance of the street with the sign displaying the name, there was a statue of an Ox (His most famous paintings probably being one of a white ox) and statues of people, depicted in his rudimentary, simple style (like those seen on the metal foil sketches).

Along the street, Katie, 선민, and I met up with our coordinating teacher 민정쌤 and the other homeroom teacher on the trip with us at a cafe and they were kind enough to buy all three of us drinks. Although I do not like coffee, I felt that I needed to take them up on their generosity and so I went ahead and ordered an iced coffee like the other girls. At this specific cafe, they served different types of coffee and you ordered which type you wanted based on the notes of the drink: nutty, fruity, etc. All three of us chose different notes and wow… I could actually not finish my drink. It was so bitter! I actually did not like any of the drinks… but I am not surprised. I am not a coffee person. Tastes like I am just ingesting dirt. Sorry not sorry. But !! I was appreciative and grateful for the gesture by the teachers. It was very sweet of them!

Afterwards, it was time for dinner and as if we had not already consumed enough meat products to last us the entire trip, we were going to eat more meat! But this time we were eating grilled 삼겹살 (grilled pork belly). I ended up at a table with Katie and 선민 this time around and we had an absolute ball grilling the meat, veggies, an kimchi ourselves. 

I am going to be honest..usually when I go out and eat grilled meat at restaurants, I tend to always have the other person grill the meat–both Koreans and foreigners alike. Guilty as charged.. I always allow them to take the rein and I sit back until everything is ready to be eaten. However this time, I actually tried my best to be the one to cook and pay attention and cut the meat too! Although, I was having a hard time figuring out how to properly cut the meat. Maybe I should have not tried using the scissors in my non dominant left hand. One of the workers came over to even help us–and explain how to cook the meat properly. They were properly laughing at us from afar. 

The restaurant was also set up as a buffet so you would order more servings of meat by asking the staff (but, of course, you were expected to eat everything you ordered/took) and then you would go to this long table in the middle that had all the extra goodies: different types of kimchi, side dishes, rice, lettuce, rice cakes, fried chicken, kimbap, etc. 

Katie and I also goofed around with our wraps by trying to feed each other wraps without using our hands? Or I guess…without wrapping everything for the other. This detailed the one that would be eating the wrap holding a lettuce piece in front of the open mouth and the other person placing the meat in the lettuce and pushing that into the mouth. How was that explanation for you? Either way, we did that and it led to some interesting videos. 

Everything was delicious and we were all stuffed beyond belief. There was a nice yard outside of the restaurant so before we got back on to the bus for a very long drive back to our hotel for the night, we all tried to expend our energy (before a food coma hit once we sat on the bus) by running around and being obnoxious teens as usual. Katie and I also picked wild flowers and made bracelets and rings from them. It was cute.

Once we returned to our accommodation, we ended the night spending some much needed ~chill~ time at a cafe! We were told by our coordinating teacher that there was a really cute, aesthetic cafe near the hotel and as long as we made it back in time for curfew, we were allowed to leave the premises. The cafe was called Cafe E.P.L and I am not sure if it was because we visited really late at night on a Thursday, but there was literally no one there. Possibly one other couple sitting inside? But we literally had the entire outdoor space to ourselves–ourselves being Katie, our lunch group at 하나고 (서린, 도윤, 윤세와 혜지) and one other classmate I got to meet/talk to for the first time. 

I vividly remember getting lost on the way to the cafe with the girls because we did not fully remember the directions that 민정쌤 gave us. We also tried using kakao maps to help us find our way but wifi was not adequate for this task. It was pretty dark and being a group of high school girls you might anticipate us being pretty nervous/anxious for safety but honestly we all felt fine–we were all just giggly and enjoying the thrill of being “lost.” We ended up walking in the complete wrong direction down a long main street until we eventually asked a random construction worker that was outside? And he pointed us in the other direction and we were eventually able to make it to the cafe once we found a sign.

The outdoor premises of the cafe honestly felt magical, especially since we were there at night. There were string lights hanging everywhere and tons of patio type seating. I felt like I would see fairies popping out from behind the greenery at any moment. There were lots of flowers everywhere and there was a photo zone consisting of a tent and inside, props were provided (like dried flowers, messages in a bottle, watering can, etc) to add some pizzazz to photos.

There were also these weirdly shaped cone-looking orange chairs that were structured to sit on one small surface area point on the bottom so the chairs would spin around dramatically when used. Honestly, although they were not high off of the ground at all, I literally screamed in complete fear when I first sat in the chair. Goofing off on the chairs was a lot of fun and I hope our shrieks did not annoy the cafe workers (or neighbors to the cafe) all too much.

The prices at the cafe were a tad bit overpriced but I guess that was kind of to be expected because it was the epitome of an insta-worthy cafe. We ended up ordering some drinks and shared some cake as well. Of course Katie and I had to try the oreo cookie monster cake because we are suckrs for any dessert involving chocolate and oreos and just take a look at the presentation of this slice of cake! I needed it. 

And that was the end of day 2 of my school trip to 제주도! We came back to the hotel after the cafe and got ready for bed. I expected us to try to stay up even later but we were so tired from the day’s adventure that we pretty much fell asleep right away. It was probably for the best, though. We would need energy for tomorrow’s plan too!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post! Thanks for reading~ My next post will be day 3…unfortunately, the final day but it will still be a fun read (and a fun walk down memory lane for me!)

  • Emma 엠마

Just An Average Day in the Life of a Korean High School Exchange Student (04/16/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/16/19 Tuesday

My days were really off today (in my mind I mean). While chatting with Katie in the morning, I kept telling her that I was dreading going to 국어 and that Wednesdays were always so long… when it was in fact Tuesday. And then, I kept talking about Topik being on Saturday even though it is on Sunday! You would think that being back in school (and having so many deadlines from Better World to keep track of), I would be better about knowing the date and such but clearly, that is not the case. 

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During my usual English mentorship class today, I just self-studied in the library as midterms are approaching. The actual 하나고 students need to study for those!

Actually half way through the period, two of the girls from my group—은서 and 지연—came into the room apologizing to me as they thought I was waiting for them since they never outright cancelled the meeting with me. It was really sweet to see them thinking about me! 

In music class, our teacher explained to us this project that we will be doing. We were supposed to start it last week but the teacher was absent the whole week because of the flu, so we were starting it late. But this in the end had a positive, we were not going to have to present anything! The other students were put into random groups and then allowed to pick their topics from a list (a list that she created from topics that we included in our survey about music from the first day of class back in March) based on the number of their group (also chosen randomly). Because Katie and I were in two different sections of this music class, the teacher told us that we can just work as partners and she picked our topic for us: Arirang.

I honestly find it really heartwarming that she always thinks about what we will be doing in class. Like the other day, she gave us chords to work with for our song because she thought that we might have been having trouble. The fact that she prepares stuff outside of class for us rather than forgetting we are a part of the class (and even with small things like calling our names for attendance)… most teachers don’t do even that. It feels good to be included. 

During 한국사, our teacher lectured the whole time but that did not stop me from just doing my own Korean work in class. Before class started, I noticed that 동철 was still in the class, getting ready to leave. I wanted to say hi but I worried that he might be busy so I just sat down. He actually ended up coming over to me and asking how I was and we quickly talked about midterms, third year life, and so on. At one point, he pointed out his good friend (Both 동철 and his friend took AP world history with me last year) and asked him why he wasn’t sitting next to me. He pointed out that I had no one sitting next to me on one side, so he could just plop his stuff down on that desk. His friend was laughing along but you could tell he felt really awkward and uncomfortable. Then 동철 continues on and tells me to just go move over to him. It was funny that he wanted to make me feel more included within the class but I was not about to sit next to someone who clearly wasn’t up for the interaction. It was a nice gesture, though. 

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Today was also the 5th year anniversary of the 세월호 침몰 사고 (Sewol Ferry Incident) in which a ferry carrying mostly high school students on their school trips sank–killing many. In Korea to this day, this is a sore subject and is seemingly continuously present in the collective Korean psyche. To represent this event, many people wear a yellow ribbon. (Translation of the banner: “The 5th Spring, We Will Not Forget”)

Katie and I had another mentorship class before lunch so we just did some self-studying in the special room on the third floor—it’s for meetings I believe? But there are couches! And less fitting… a BMI scale? Students kept coming into the room to use it… I originally planned on sleeping during that period but instead I went hard on the study grind. 

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For lunch, we decided to actually just eat at 하나고 early for once. This entire second semester, we have not eaten at the school cafeteria (without our group of friends) at all—not even one time under our belt. Today we just went for it and honestly, it was not bad at all. In fact, it was quite nice because there was no line and lots and lots of seats. It was also quieter and easier to talk because there were less students. 

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Of course, stopped by to get 녹차호떡 on our way to Korean class. (Gotta get our fixings in before the weather gets too warm and they stop being sold–since it is more commonly eaten during cold weather),:

Korean class today was really entertaining. We learned two new grammar points but besides that, we talked a lot about new-age technology and the advancements that humans have made. One of the readings we looked over was about new inventions involving technology that can be commonly found in the home—making people’s lives easier. One of these inventions included refrigerators with touch screens or smart screens. At first, I thought this was extra but then I realized how handy it could be… until I read the description for it in the excerpt. It literally said that “by using the smart screen on the door, you can check where the items in your fridge are placed.” I immediately called this out to my teacher. 윤아 tried defending the idea saying that you could see what was inside (or how much you had) without opening the door and though I find that somewhat valid, that’s not what the article said. It literally said you can check where the items themselves are placed. We all started erupting in laughter as I kept questioning “Why can’t you just open the door of the fridge?” 

Our teacher gave the argument that finding things in the fridge can be difficult and then josh retorts back “Not if the fridge is organized.” He then goes through his own American fridge’s organizational state–meat drawer and all. This made me laugh so hard that tears almost left my eyes. Koreans already often have another fridge for their 김치 and 반찬! They also need a fancy fridge with a screen? Our teacher asked us if our host family’s fridges are organized and we all looked at each before simultaneously saying no. We all laughed at this point and our teacher kept saying that that was why—Koreans don’t really organize their refrigerators like Americans apparently. It was a funny conversation. 

We also read a blurb of an article predicting that there would be humans marrying robots in the near future and our teacher goes “Probably from Japan! That’s a very fun country…” and then she goes on to bring up the anime girlfriend pillows. It was pretty funny. 

After class, I wasn’t in the mood to go home. In fact, I was in the complete opposite mood. I wanted to go to a 노래방 (once again) and sing some old Justin Bieber songs like Baby, One Time, One Less Lonely Girl, etc. (But only for a short period at a coin 노래방, I wanted to be home for dinner.) 

So June took Kaitlyn and I to her favorite place and we spent about half an hour there. We sang a whole slew of oldies that included Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack, Taylor Swift’s Our Song and of course we sang Let it Go—the crowd favorite. 

I went home after that and I was told by my host mom that I would be eating alone tonight because my host sisters were so hungry that they already ate ramen at the 학원. She asked me what I wanted to eat and gave me three options that included 물냉면 so of course I went for that—one of my all time favorites. Eventually, my host sisters came home and they didn’t just bring themselves. They also brought back cartons upon cartons of strawberries (I’m talking at least 10) and three jars of Nutella. 

They had a cooking class at the 학원 today and the students got to eat fruit crepes. She showed me the pictures and wow did they look delicious! But it also looked like a lot of work. Nonetheless, the strawberries were delicious with the Nutella. I could have eaten that forever for sure. 

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

  • Emma 엠마 

Being Late to School, After Class Karaoke, and Korean Food Market (04/15/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/15/19 Monday

I started my Monday morning off on the complete wrong side of the bed. I woke up to the sound of my program phone ringing rather than my alarm, and when I alarmingly got up to answer my phone—hoping that it wasn’t loud enough to wake up my host family—I noticed that it was Katie calling me. I answered the phone and I could hear the worry in her voice. I looked at my phone at that moment and saw that the time written across the screen was in fact 7:25 am. I almost swore in that moment and refrained myself and quickly explained to Katie that in my tired daze last night, I accidentally set my alarm for 6 pm rather than 6 am.

I looked at the time and figured out that I could take a train at 7:47 am and make it to the train station by 8:30 meaning that I could get to school around 8:45 am if the buses decided to play their route to my favor today. This would make me only 45 min late to the school day—and only 25 min late to first period in theory. 

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Documenting my lateness with a hurried selfie to my Snapchat streaks

I texted 민정쌤 about my situation and all morning I worried about what kind of scolding I would get. I made it to school around the time that I expected myself to but when I finally found my first class (The teacher decided to switch classrooms for some reason?), my teacher was lecturing at the front of the class and because I did not want to interrupt her, I hid in the bathroom until the first break—so only for like 20 minutes. (Hiding from my problems? Possibly… yes…)

late 2

When the bell finally rang and I was free from hiding in one of the bathroom stalls, I went to class and very awkwardly greeted the teacher. Because my luck is just so great, I entered the room and there were no open desks—not. one. Single. Desk. So I was not only late to class (and everyone noticed), but I also had to go two doors down to our old classroom and move a desk from that room all the way to ours. The desks are very loud and drag on the floor and my desk would not go through the door smoothly so I definitely made a small scene pushing my desk into the room. 

The teacher didn’t really acknowledge my presence—or the previous lack of—so I just kept to myself during her remaining lecture. I didn’t do any self study but I also didn’t take notes while she was talking. I just existed in my seat. 

My last class of the day was English and while I walked with Katie to our next period, I ran into my homeroom teacher who had no idea that I was not coming to school. (민정쌤 never read my messages about being late to school… by the time I messaged her telling her that I had arrived, she still hadn’t seen it. I never contacted our 하나고 coordinating teacher (because I was in such a rush) and so my homeroom teacher had no idea. I felt bad for not messaging her earlier (I did tell her when I arrived… half an hour later) and she definitely scolded me during that quick hallway interaction. 

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Katie went to the 편의점 before school and bought me food for breakfast: yogurt, a granola bar, and coffee. She knew I would not have had the time to eat breakfast so she prepared everything for me. I was incredibly touched by such a kind gesture! I don’t deserve a best friend like her! 

English class today was actually really really fun. We spent the first period of class just talking about unpopular opinions. We all wrote three down in our notebook at the start of class and then we went around the room and each shared one. It was really interesting to hear everyone’s weird unpopular opinions. Andrew had some really interesting ones like the fact that he thinks that anything that combines both salty and sweet (salted caramel/chocolate was his example) is disgusting. This blew my mind because it could not be more wrong like hello, one of the best food combinations is French fries and milkshakes for a reason! He also thinks that besides in pie, fruit should not be heated up or cooked (This I agree with. We said this against the case of pineapple pizza.) and that cherry blossoms are overrated—like popcorn (This I completely and utterly disagree with!) 

Katie and I left 하나고 early so we wouldn’t have to eat alone (surprise surprise) and so I could memorize my speech for today’s Korean class and pick up stipend at Better World.

late 1

Took a photo of this junkyard for cars (all of a sudden… forgetting the English name…) because we learned this word in Korean class the other week and I was happy to spot it in public!

Korean class today was a lot of fun. We learned one new grammar point today that is actually really similar to one we already learned and if you asked to me to explain to you the difference… I would not be able to do that just yet. The point is not in our grammar book and Internet forums were not helpful at all!! So that was a bit frustrating. Other than that, we learned a lot of fun words.

late 4

We started a unit on science and technology and futuristic things. We talked about endangered animals for a bit which was quite difficult seeing that our animal vocabulary is a bit lacking.. we started naming animals that were extinct from the ice age which led 윤아 to start describing Sid the dumb sloth from the Ice Age movie but our teacher wasn’t getting it. She proceeded to draw her rendition of him on the board… it was pretty hilarious. Please, take in this masterpiece for all it is worth: 

late 3

After class, I went with Katie to a coin 노래방 so we could sing some songs because during our cafe date on Wednesday from the previous week, I basically danced to old Taylor Swift songs in my seat while working on my presentation. I really wanted to sing Love Story with an actual microphone and in a private space so I could scream my lungs out. We sang Taylor Swift, Let it Go, Avril Lavigne, Les Miserables, and we ended it all with Ailee’s 보여줄게—the classic. 

late 5

We sang our hearts out and worked up quite an appetite so we went to Katie’s home station and ate 분식 for dinner: 떡볶이 and  튀김. 윤아 also came out of her apartment (both their host families live in the same complex!) and joined us for some food before having dinner with her host mom. It was fun just chilling with the girls—talking—under a gazebo type thing while chowing down on rice cakes and fried sweet potato. 

I came home afterward and finished my homework before I let myself fully go and put on another Netflix movie. (Not proud of this one… I watched Confessions of a Shopaholic…) And that was my night! 

Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope you enjoyed hearing about my day~~ Whether it was a mess or not! Well, until next time! 

  • Emma 엠마

Han River Park Picnic & Cherry Blossom Viewing (04/13-04/14/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/13/19 Saturday

So although the doctor ordered me to rest all weekend (and when I say doctor I mean my host family and myself), I was the one that organized this big picnic with the majority of the NSLI-Yians so how could I miss my own event??? I thought that this would be a fun activity in order to not only to hang out (because we haven’t all done that in awhile—I think the last time was Tacos after the OPIC) but also to celebrate Shada and Shannon’s birthday! So I planned a little 한강 picnic from 11 am to 3 pm-ish at the 여의나루 river park. 

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Katie surprised me with a macaroon at the subway station!! ❤ :,)

I was planning on taking lots of pictures in front of the remaining cherry blossom trees (literally there were like 3 left—no joke… the rain washed them all away…) so June and I decided to both wear our matching dresses to the picnic. We got some really cute couple photos out of it! 

We got to the park pretty early so although there was a good amount of people already there, it definitely got more crowded as it became later in the afternoon. 윤아 brought a picnic blanket and I brought two (actually they were 가희’s birthday gifts… from back in Feb…) but because we were also having 11 people in total coming, we had to rent two 돗자리 as well. Because I had done it on Sunday, I was confident that I would be able to do it again. Katie and I found a nice lady and when I asked for two of them, she of course was shocked at my abilities and then complimented my Korean. (한국어를 잘하시네요~~~) She explained that we would pay four dollars up front and then receive two dollars back when we return the blankets and I was able to understand every bit of it which made me proud. (Not that it was insanely hard Korean or anything…still.. little accomplishments)

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It is VERY difficult to fit everyone in one single selfie!

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Once we got our spot and the picnic blankets all laid out, it was time to figure out the most important thing of the day: picnic food. While making our way out of the subway station, 윤아 grabbed one fried chicken flyer from an 아줌마 and then all the other ones around us spotted that and started throwing flyers at her. It was honestly one of the most hilarious things I had seen that week. 윤아 kept shrieking as they kept piling on the flyers. She had so many in her arms that she could barely see before she rearranged them.

We planned to order fried chicken and pizza but needed to use three phones for the order because we wanted to use coupons for free side menu items with our pizza but of course they had a one-order-one-coupon policy so I was stuck ordering one of the pizzas. I was so nervous about ordering it that I was shaking! I listened to 윤아 order first and then I left the group and ordered by myself using my program phone. Even though I was really nervous about it, everything turned out perfectly fine! I was able to successfully order the pepperoni pizza and use the coupon for free chicken. I almost started freaking out when he asked me where to drop it off at but after thinking for one more second I understood what he said and replied ‘delivery zone 2’ with not too much hesitation (or fear in my voice). 

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Jumping over the small stream to get to our FOOD!!!

After waiting an hour, all our food arrived and we picked it up at the designated zones. Delivery is on a whole other level here in Korea. All the nearby places will deliver to basically any part of the huge river park and there are special places along the stretch of it that are designated for food pick up.

The food potions were definitely kind of small compared to how many people there were so we ate all of the food very very quickly. Even though we were a little hungry afterwards, we were able to curb that by eating some ice cream for dessert from the 편의점 (convenience store). We spent the rest of the time together just chilling, talking, even played a game of spoon that left Katie with an injured pinky finger. 

When it got close to 3 pm, we cleaned up our area and left to take some group pictures before separating for the rest of the day. I ended up buying a $5 flower shaped cotton candy because I was feeling in the mood to waste my remaining money (stipend was on Monday and I would not be able to leave my house for the rest of the weekend) and so I chose to do that on cotton candy. Shada came with me and the vendor actually messed up the first one so he gave it to us for free, so Shada also got some cotton candy of her own.

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The cotton candy actually looked really pretty and I could tell it was a flower but only from looking at it from an overhead angle. From the side… it looked pretty strange so in pictures… I don’t even know if I can say what I think it looks like. But I will give the guy some credit, it looked really cute from above!

 

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Also June showed off her amazing singing voice!! She was so good!

After parting ways, I just went straight home from the long day and just rested/did homework for the rest of the day. Nothing too special. 

04/14/19 Sunday

I literally have no pictures from this day… oh well. I slept in till late and ate breakfast with my host family which included 미역국 (seaweed soup) and 김치전 (savory kimchi pancake). I lounged around in the morning until Katie told me that she would come to my station so that we could go to a cafe together—we planned to be productive and study (and write blog posts) but also Katie wanted to gossip. I needed to hear about what she got up to on Saturday cause everyone else went out and had fun after the picnic. 

We went to our usual Breadworks Bakery and bought some bread to snack on while we worked. We were there for probably almost 4 full hours and although we were there for a very extended amount of time, I can not really say much about all the work we got done…I did write quite a few blog posts though and am slowly catching up! (Actually after this post, I’m only like two days behind which I can deal with!) 

After Katie left around 4 pm, I went back home and had a very late lunch/early dinner with my host family before continuing studying. 

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When Andy falls asleep while you are busy studying!!!

We had our program reflection due that night as well and because I’m a perfectionist (while also being a procrastinator), I did not go to sleep till 2:30 am because that is when I finished my reflection. Not the best plan by any means… did I forget that you should sleep to stay healthy and get over sickness??? 

But that was my Sunday! Thanks for reading this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed it~

  • Emma 엠마 

Sinchon Study Cafe, Express Bus Terminal Shopping, and Cherry Blossom Viewing (04/06-07/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/06/19 Saturday

Katie and I met up early Saturday morning at a study cafe in 신촌 that I found by scrolling through blog upon blog on Naver trying to find a cafe with a nice atmosphere to study at (besides the main cafe chains). Katie and I both wanted to explore more cute cafes as well but at the same time, the goal this morning was to focus more on being productive rather than the aestheticism of our chosen cafe. In the end, we ultimately decided to leave the cute cafe exploration for a later date. Also, I had never been to a proper study cafe so this would be an arguably exciting endeavor.

We came to this cafe called Meeple Cafe (I went to a board game cafe the other day which also utilized the word ‘meeple’ in the name…what is the background for this word? I am confusion.} that actually has more than one floor so it is quite large. The facility also offers multiple rooms that can be rented for study groups or meetings if reserved before hand. (Actually, apparently, as long as you order a drink that is more than $3, you can rent a small room for a couple hours for free.) I ordered 유자차 (Citron tea) and got straight to work.

After Katie and I studied for a couple hours, we were about to leave and just walk around 신촌 for a bit to enjoy the beautiful weather and the pretty cherry blossom trees until we saw a random sign for macaroons at the entrance way of the study cafe. The sign had nothing but an arrow pointing down some pretty sketchy hallway and so…of course, we followed it.

After a few twists and turns, we came across this tiny tiny little shop selling even smaller macaroons. (I guess their size matched quite well with where they were being sold.) We opened the door to enter the store and both Katie and I could barely stand in the room together at one time. Katie was so sweet and bought me a macaroon which was called ‘Elder Flower,’ do not ask me what that flavor is…it was just unique so I wanted to try it…it tasted like grape. Kind of anticlimactic but they were really cute. My eyes were satisfied.

I walked around with Katie for awhile before eating some street food (We tried those peanut/walnut shaped breads at one of the many vendors near the subway station) and dropping her off at another cafe as she was meeting someone else for a late lunch. I left to meet up with June (and eventually Kaitlyn) at the Express Bus Terminal for some shopping. My morning was productive and then my afternoon/evening was planned to be fun! It was the weekend after all.

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View from the subway as we crossed the river. Kinda gloomy outside today

I met up with June and we did the usual walk through all the shopping stalls/stores once before making selections and going back to our favorite places to buy those items. (This is the strategy we have come up with to make sure that we are sure to snag those deals and not make any mistakes in regards to multiple vendors selling the same things for varying prices.) While we were doing the first glance through everything, I hear someone call my name and I turn around to see 윤지!  One of the girls that I met at the 한미 camp with the all female Korean high school students back in December. We got pretty close at the event (she was my partner!) and we have hung out two or three times since that day–with the rest of our group too! We talked really quickly then and promised to meet up once more before Kaitlyn and I leave for America–Once the girls finish their midterms, we will meet up once again!

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Kaitlyn eventually arrived and once we fueled up on energy from bubble tea (Of course, Gongcha for the win!), we went back to shopping–searching for the best, cheap deals. I planned to go to a cherry blossom festival viewing on Sunday so I wanted to buy a spring outfit that would look good in pictures with all the cherry blossoms. I ended up buying some beige strappy shoes, three pairs of earrings, and a white floral blouse. The shops were very very crowded since it was the weekend but even though that was the case, I enjoyed being almost trampled over multiple time with both June and Kaitlyn. We also had really fun conversations which is always a must for a good shopping buddy. June and I also bought matching dresses (in two different colors) which we will be wearing together soon!

We ended up all leaving early so that we could get to our night plans or for me, head back home (It takes me almost an hour and a half to get home from the Express Bus Terminal since it is so close to 강남.) for dinner with my host family. I knew all of my siblings and my host mom would be present for our dinner and I did not not want to miss out on such a rare event (especially on the weekend!) 

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Fried Chicken and Cheese Balls? (후라이 치킨과 치즈볼) The cheese balls were kind of how I expected? I believe macaroni cheese bites are better!

I came home and had a little fashion show in my room with all my new pieces before eating fried chicken with my host family and calling it a night after I finished my remaining homework. I wanted to have a free and relaxing Sunday with no homework so I finished it all Saturday night. So would you take a look at that, my day started and ended in a good amount of productivity!

04/07/19 Sunday

On Sunday I met up with a Korean friend to attend a cherry blossom festival close to 국회의사당 (Korea National Assembly Proceeding Hall) so we got off at that station and walked around this very long road that was lined with cherry blossom trees. There were also many vendors selling cherry blossom memorabilia like hair pins, flower crowns,  and even caricatures with cherry blossom backgrounds. There were also professional photo taking zones with cherry blossom picture frames! This festival was no joke for sure.

We walked around enjoying the cherry blossoms and took some photos of ourselves before leaving and heading over to the 한강 river park to just lay out on the grass for a bit. We rented a 돗자리 (a type of picnic blanket) and spent a couple hours talking about everything and anything. At first, we went to a special store that sold tents and things but apparently, on the weekend, those things are important to reserve beforehand! There was a huge line to get inside but everything had basically already been rented.

The weather was really nice and although there were a lot of people, we were able to find a nice place to sit that was not too close to the water so that it would be too cold and we were not directly in the sun either so it was perfect! We also stopped at the convenience store on the way there to pick up some cola and kimbap just to tie us over.

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Eventually, we got too hungry and headed back to 홍대 to find something to eat. My friend had a couple of restaurants in mind so we tried a couple only to see that there were long wait times so we kept searching for a place to eat at until we finally stumbled upon a place called 국제시장 which was a barbecue place named after the Korean movie with the same name. (We–the NSLI-Y cohort and I– watched it at our spring orientation! I was excited to have understood the connection and I immediately let my friend know that very fact.) We ordered a set of different meats and a side of 김치찌개 and although there was a lot of food, we were able to finish everything. It was all very delicious!

(Also, I suck at grilling meat. I am always happier to go to barbecue places with people that enjoy taking charge of the meat grilling. Maybe it is because I am (secretly) lazy? I guess that is why I tend not to suggest to eat at these places on a regular basis in the first place. 

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We ended the night going to a 노래방. We sang some of my usual go to songs by Ailee and from the Frozen soundtrack but then we also sang some old school Korean rap songs and ballads which definitely switched things up but in a really fun way. So even though I did not know every song, I had fun learning!

I do not understand how some people will refuse to sing songs in karaoke that they do not know well. I am always like… there are lyrics for a reason! Just follow along! Even if I do not know the song in its entirety–melody too–I follow along and eventually I get it. Songs are repetitive for a reason. I just think it makes it more fun for everyone. And it always everyone to sing their favorite songs despite not everyone in the room knowing them. (It also helps prevent that awkward silence when choosing songs) We also were really feeling girl groups songs because we sang quite a few Miss A and Apink songs (This is not me complaining though! I love their songs.) I can always get down to cheery girl-group tracks.

Well, that is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to my blog by plugging in your email to the right side of this post. Thanks for reading~ Till next time.

  • Emma 엠마

Visiting 숙명여대, Cute Cafe Find, and Curbing my 떡볶이 Craving {03/09-10/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/09/19 Saturday 

Katie and I talked a lot at the cafe last night trying to make plans to spend our weekends doing new things—spending the time we have left wisely! We were against going to any area we have been to on multiple occasions **cough cough basically 홍대** cough cough. 

I threw out the idea of having Katie visit the university I took NSLI-Y summer class at: 숙대여자대학교, which she was down for! I figured we could go there and walk around (I could show her all my 단골집s) and the school itself. After a short tour, we would study at a cute cafe before going to a cute restaurant that was the first place I ate out at in Korea—with my host mom. 

To get to 숙대, I ended up using the same route I used during the summer program {before Tucker showed me the ways of Seoul buses} which mustered up some nostalgic memories. I even took photos of the ugly station because I wanted to remember it… walking out into the actual station, I immediately remembered the exit I would take. Last time I was here, with Addie, we went out a different exit but this time I was taking Katie the way that was so familiar to me.

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We walked up the large hill to the university and I pointed out everything that was of importance to me during that summer: 오빠’s 계란빵 (older brother’s egg bread) shop with the inflatable egg on the roof, my go to place for bubble tea, the random pink Waffle House that popped up our last week, the frequently visited 김밥천국 (kimbap heaven), the cafe where I would eat waffles instead of real food, the hello kitty restaurant, the school book store, and even the pharmacy I bought slippers at when my socks got soaked from the monsoon. So much has changed, but so much was the same as well. 

We went to the top of the hill to see the school but because of the construction they did during the fall, the front looked completely different. Before there was a huge staircase leading up to an open courtyard of sorts that led to one of the buildings {these stairs were a real pain to climb…}; however, now there was a huge glass building acting as a lobby perhaps at the front of the school. That part was completely different so I instead had Katie take photos in front of the big sign of the school to commemorate my return. 

After that we kept walking along the street to find a cafe to go to and study at. A part of me would have taken her to one I’d been to before but instead, I wanted to find someplace new and cute! While we were walking, we passed by this small little sign advertising a cake cafe with the cutest decorations on the drinks. We decided to try it out even though the fact that it was on the third floor of some building really intimidated me at first. We went up and soon realized that it was a cafe that works a lot like 놀숲 in the fact that you take your shoes off and get to enjoy your drinks and private little spaces or cubbies. The sign actually said that children under 13 where not allowed inside. I guess they are really trying to upkeep a chill atmosphere. 

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We came in and immediately started freaking out over the cuteness of the entire place. The grass carpet, the cute stuffed animals, the swinging stairs, the colorful pillows, and the sparkly (tinsel?) curtains were too adorable. Unlike 놀숲, this place just required you order a drink and you do not have to pay by how long you spend there. I ordered a toffee nut latte as I really wanted to switch things up since this cafe was a new experience! 

At the cafe, we took advantage of the really good lighting and took lots of pics before getting back on that study grind. I was able to review two grammar points as well as edit a blog post so it was pretty productive. After our two-three hours at the cafe, we left to have a late lunch at this restaurant called Best Friends with the best set lunches {with 떡볶이, 라면, 만두, etc} and very cute Hello Kitty decor. Unfortunately, we went there and realized that was some bad news written on the door: Saturdays are off days. I was upset at the fact that I couldn’t take her to this place but because we loved the cafe so much, I knew we would we back at least once more time and would then get the opportunity to try out the restaurant together! 

Instead of that, we went to a cafeteria style restaurant that was actually my last meal out in Korea during the summer program! I ate there after our graduation ceremony with some other NSLI-Yians and supporters because my host family had to work and couldn’t spend the rest of the day with me. They had really good food and it was cheap too so I knew it would be a good place for us. 

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Katie had some meat and rice dish while I ordered a bowl of 떡볶이 because I’ve been craving the spice!! And it did not disappoint! There was so much food for only $5 so I didn’t even end up finishing it! 

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We went our separate ways after having lunch together (and after getting in trouble at a drug store… money is a bit lacking now…) and at home… I just did more studying and writing of blog posts… nothing exciting at all for my Saturday night! 

03/10/19 Sunday

Also Sunday… it was not an eventful day whatsoever. Originally, I planned to visit Katie at her station and study at a cafe together but I didn’t have money to spend on that and I needed to do a writing assignment which is always best done alone. I hung out in bed with Andy and even watched a movie on Netflix~ It was a really nice chill Sunday at home, not much to document. 

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

  • Emma 엠마

Lunch with a Better World Staff Member & Dinga Cake House in Hongdae {02/18-19/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/18/19 Monday 

Tuesday would be our February Monthly test {It seemed like it had barely been three weeks since our last test! How could it almost be the start of the March already??} and by the time Monday rolled around, I did not feel ready at all. I have had trouble keeping motivation as of late and did not study nearly as hard as I did for the previous tests. Katie and I decided to meet at Coffee Slob to study for a bit before class with some cheap drinks and cookies to accompany us. I did get some stuff done but overall, I have not been productive lately!! 

For lunch, I decided to use the time I could be spending studying… to instead go out for lunch with some of the other NSLI-Y students: Liam, June, and Alix. We ordered two pizzas for ourselves at Pizza School. One was some cream carbonara pizza {It literally had noodles on it!} while the other one was some type of spicy chicken pizza that had tons and tons of corn on it! It was literally the worst pizza we could have picked! Luckily, the others were so kind as to allow me to eat more slices from the other pizza so I wouldn’t have to suffer and pick all the corn off the pizza. 

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Alix & Liam w/ a drawing that Alix bought at a concert for him. I believe she is an idol singer.

Korean class was a huge blur… I really cannot remember what we did.. I believe it was a grammar point and vocab day so we went over the new chapter’s three grammar points and the new vocabulary from the workbook. We also took our first quiz since 설날 which consisted of three chapters from the textbook rather than the usual two. Let’s just say… I hardcore failed that quiz!!! I did so bad… it was quite embarrassing…. 

(These two photos showcase a scene during one of our breaks between class periods…I do not know what we are doing… my teacher walked passed us and gave us the weirdest face and once she fully left, we all burst into laughter. The one covered in the scarf is Kaitlyn, btw.)

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After class, I wasn’t feeling the head-straight-home thing so I decided to spend an hour with Kaitlyn and June finally trying out Dinga Cake House! The legendary place! We got there and was worried that it would be rented out, or closed, or that there would be no seats cause we have been waiting to try that place out for what seems forever now and something has always seemed to stop us! The world did not want us to go! However, we were in luck today!

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We each ordered a slice of cake around $6 which wouldn’t have been the expensive thing in the world but you were also required to order a drink along with the cake… and so the already pricy cake added up with the pricy drink. But nonetheless, for our hungry hearts (and for the cute cakes!), we all made sure to order different flavors of cake so that we could try each other’s choices. I ordered this red velvet cake with some crazy rainbow icing. But it looked like actual buttercream frosting and not that weird cream stuff {생크림 they call it in Korean} that is on almost every cake here. (As you can tell I do not like this type of frosting.) Kaitlyn got carrot cake dressed up as a hamburger with frosting while June got a caramel Biscoff cookie cake. Everything was literally so delicious! But not only was the dessert impeccable, but the cafe itself also had a really cozy and homey atmosphere which made me enjoy being there with the others. It truly felt like I had walked into an American home! It was too cute~

I came home and had dinner with my host family and spent the rest of the night trying to study and finish my homework but my motivation was severely lacking and so I slacked off quite a bit… Tomorrow is a new day!

02/19/19 Tuesday 

Tuesday would usually just be another day with Korean class but it was not an ordinary Tuesday at all. For lunch today, we got the opportunity to eat with one of the Better World staff members. This meant getting to know more of the people that work behind the scenes for all of the things that Better World does for us as well as getting free food and getting the chance to practice our Korean with a native speaker—and before we met them, a stranger at that!

Before we were scheduled to meet at the Better World office by 11:30 am, I went to a cafe for almost two hours with Kaitlyn. We went to the 달빛 cafe near Better World to get some work done but I could not get off of my phone it seemed! I was able to review some grammar and retake some notes but most of the time was spent talking to Kaitlyn too. She tried to finish some homework but her attempt was also in vain. 

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My favorite chocolate banana smoothie!

Originally, I was going to have lunch with 민정쌤 as she picked me; however, Addie witnessed an accident on the way to Better World which was quite shocking and pretty traumatizing. Because of that 민정쌤 decided it was best to stay with her so I ended up eating with the person that chose Addie for the draw. When 주연쌤 explained this to me, I, of course, understood the reasoning behind the switch and only wanted the best for Addie at that time. However, I was also upset thinking why me? I didn’t want to eat with a stranger! I felt so anxious! 주연쌤 introduced me to 혜진쌤 in the office so that when it was time to leave, I would know who to go with. 주연쌤 told her that I was good at Korean so I should not worry– it would be very comfortable she said.

We ended up going to a famous 돈까스집 (a restaurant that sells pork cutlets). 혜진쌤 had heard about it being a 맛집 (trendy eatery) and wanted to try it out. Walking to the place was a bit awkward at first. I was really nervous to speak Korean to her especially because I knew we were going to be together for such a prolonged time at lunch. As we walked, she used her umbrella to also protect me from the snow, it was a very kind gesture. (Also, yes, interesting fact: many Koreans use umbrellas when it snows.)

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At the restaurant, we ordered this fancy platter of 5 different meat cuts of 돈까스. Like there were pieces from the back meat, tenderloin, etc. There was even an order to eat them {in the most delicious way} which the waitress explained to us before we started eating. I could not follow her explanation whatsoever and when I looked over at 쌤 for some help, she also let me know that she did not know herself. We laughed about this and from then, I felt a bit more comfortable. Some of my stress was released. 

The food was really delicious. It was definitely the fanciest 돈까스 I’ve ever eaten for sure. (I am used to cheap $5 cuts) We also had some lovely 반찬 (side dishes) and such which were match appreciated and matched the meat well. But of course, the best part of the lunch was the conversations I was able to have with 혜진쌤. I thought it would be hard to talk with her but it proved to be easier than I first thought. 

We talked about the basic topics like where we were both from, our families, and of course, she asked me a lot of questions on my future university major, my interest in Korean, and how I feel life here is like. One of the things I’m most grateful for since coming to Korea is being able to feel moments that tangibly showcase {to myself mostly} that I’ve improved. This was one of those times. 

We started getting into the topic of the education system in Korea and comparing it to that of America’s. 혜진쌤 brought up the fact that our previous president Obama even said in a speech that America’s system should try to take note from Korea’s; however, she disagrees. We talked about the fact that Korea is considered to have one of the best education systems just because of high test scores which really isn’t the most valid indicator of a good education. Through this, we talked about students basically having no life when it comes to having to attend 학원 (academy) outside of school. I brought up my friend 서린 who told us that during winter break, she spends about 8 hours a day at 학원 learning math. She gets breaks… but because the other girls are so competitive and study through the breaks, she is forced to do the same. 

혜진쌤 actually has two children so we also talked about hem for a bit. She told me that she too finds Korean age confusing as her child is only about 3 years old {if you count months} but according to Korean age, she’s 5 years old. We also discussed the problems she finds with kids cafes. She said that she originally thought that they were a good environment for kids to play at (in order to have a change of pace) but after going, she finds that the order of how the kid should play limits imagination and creativity. 

We discussed the fact that if there is a manner in which you are supposed to play, it’s really not playing. If you have to schedule in playtime into your planner, it’s really not playing. {I’m using the word ‘play’ here because in the Korean language, when you want to express going out and doing something fun, hanging out with friends, etc you use the verb 놀다 which literally means to play}. I thought back to my junior year of high school {particularly my life during winter break} as that would likely most resemble the current situation of the rising third years at 하나고 (My Korean high school). During my junior year, I was studying for the SAT. A couple hours every other day or so. I took a couple practice tests but honestly, that’s more than a lot of people seemed to do. Most of them truly used winter break as a time to rest and others didn’t start studying cause they just didn’t need to. (** cough cough my twin brother -_- **cough cough) I ended up not doing well on the test and taking it a couple more times and still not using those scores ever {Ending up taking the ACT once and using that score for applications} but it was okay because I didn’t allow it to consume me. In America, our college entrance exams don’t consume our lives. They are important but not everything. And you CAN retake them. It is not a one and done deal. You can get a perfect score and get rejected from top schools. You can get a mediocre score and get accepted into a top-ranking institution or thrive at a state school—it’s not all about going to the top schools. But in Korea, it is like that. In fact, a good amount of students will repeat their third year of high school just to have another chance to take their entrance exam (수능) and hopefully get a higher score to get into their university of choice.

 It was a really interesting conversation and I heavily enjoyed being able to talk about a rather complicated topic. 

After our lunch, she wanted to recommend me a latte from a cafe near Better World because I told her I didn’t like coffee but we both bonded over the fact that we like going to cafes and being productive {studying, reading, etc}. She ended up taking me to the 달빛별빛 cafe which I was at with Kaitlyn earlier that day. Explaining that, and greeting the store owner again was fun. When we arrived, Shannon, Josh, 주연쌤, and another Better World staff member {loofy was his name maybe?} were there already chilling.

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 혜진쌤 ordered some tapioca nut lattes {I think that’s what they were} for us and we talked some more at the cafe. She told me that she heard about me from 민정쌤 the night before because 민정쌤 mentioned she had me at work but she didn’t know who that was until she met me. She told me that from now on, I have to make sure to say hi to her when I visit the office and I, of course, assured her I would. 

She kept asking me if I was hungry and we laughed about Koreans’ obsession with food. Well, it’s not really an obsession but used as an endearing action— an expression of love and care. Koreans will often always ask if you have eaten or what you have eaten upon seeing you after awhile. But even if they ask you what did you eat, sometimes (based on the tone of their question) they are not actually wondering what you ate. A simple expression of ‘yes’ will suffice. I learned this in Korean class and it literally blew my mind. And it is not just with this expression but it applies to others too: like ‘Where are you going?’

She was worried that she had me talk too much during lunch and so I didn’t eat enough. I assured her that I was good and that I would just buy convenience store snacks during the break if I got hungry. Before leaving the cafe, she bought me a basil scone which was delicious! I haven’t tasted basil flavor in so long!! It was really nice of her~ She said that I should eat it instead of spending money on 삼각김밥. (She listens well!)

After my meeting with her ended, Josh and I walked back to class together. I can’t remember much of class today besides our many discussions on tv. We discussed the adverse effects and positive effects of watching tv as well as our favorite shows to watch. Apparently, it seems that I really like watching medical shows even though I would never want to be a doctor. I exposed myself to watching countless medical documentaries on YouTube and regularly listening to podcasts and YouTube videos by doctors about health. Also, I told them that my favorite Korean drama was The Good Doctor {and I also thoroughly enjoyed the first season of the American version}. I usually feel like I do a really bad job at participating during class—using my voice. I always make sure to take notes, follow along, listen intently but taking part using my voice is another story… but today! I did well! I am proud!

I came home right away and took the train home with Josh. Honestly, I’ve been spoiled being able to go home with him and June after class. Now that they are moving after winter break (because their commutes to school would be crazy from where they live now–especially Josh), we won’t have that opportunity much longer. It’s sad because it has definitely made us closer… it’s a shame. I know for sure; I wouldn’t have gotten as close to June as I had if it weren’t for her moving to 파주시. I know it may not seem like the biggest deal but I truly value it—having people living so close. It makes me feel less lonely… I’m gonna miss it. (I am the student living in 고양시 (Not Seoul) for the entire program!)

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed. This week is gonna be crazy busy since it’s cultural activity week but that’s okay, I’m ready for the hectic schedule!! See you all then~

  • Emma 엠마

학원 House Party, Sledding, and Vicious Live Octopus?? {01/19/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

01/19/19 Saturday 

Before I even met my host family, I knew about the party and the trip to go sledding planned on this day. When messaging my older host sister over Instagram, she invited me to come with if I liked to sled/had no other scheduled program activities that day. Luckily, we had nothing planned~ 

Early in the morning, you could feel the stress and worry in the air as everyone hurried to get ready and prepare for the big day ahead. Although I could feel this negative energy around me, I also could feel a ton of excitement. My two host sisters left to go pick up the kids from the 학원 to bring them back to the house to play for a bit and to have lunch. 

I was studying in my room when my host mom showed up at my door holding Andy and telling me that the kids arrived and that we should come out to greet them. She also mentioned that Andy will behave better {less to no barks} if he can enter the house with guests rather than have all the guest pile in suddenly when he’s unaware. We went down to the lobby and waited to the door until we saw a swarm of Korean elementary to middle school students coming towards us. I was shocked. I knew that it was a party but I did not imagine that there would be so many!! There had to be close to or more than 30. As they all piled into the building, many of them waved and said “hello” to me in English which was so cute. 

When we got inside the house, it was so overwhelming!! Luckily my host family’s apartment is pretty spacious for a Korean apartment but even with that, the number of kids there made it seem quite small. For about an hour or so the kids just played around—talking, on their phones, playing board games, or petting Andy. At one point, I was on Andy duty which meant I sat with the kids on the bed with Andy and watched them. It was probably less because they didn’t trust the kids handling the dog but more because many of them were scared of the dog and I was there to make the dog feel more comfortable around all the unfamiliar faces. 

For lunch, my host mom cooked up the meat medley that we bought at Emart the previous night. She just went around to the kids and passed out bowls of the meat. Bowls that included one sausage, a strip of bacon, fried shrimp, and two pieces of 삼겹살. Definitely a cholesterol raiser but very delicious nonetheless.

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After lunch, everyone put on their coats and we got ready to leave for the 눈썰매장(sledding hill). I accidentally left my wallet in my room and began to fear for my life as I realized I didn’t have my card to pay for the bus fare, but my younger host sister reassured me that it was okay… since they rented a huge bus! A party bus if you will! 

We drove off to 하피랜드 which is an amusement park in 파주시 {the city next to 고양시} and while we were driving there, we really saw the 시골!! We passed by tons of farms and fields and saw stray dogs running around. My host sister pointed out these round cylinder things that looked like huge marshmallows and told the kids sitting across from us that that was how they made marshmallows— they just cut it down into the shape that you normally see them in. None of them believed the tall tale but it was still funny to listen to.

We arrived and were greeted by two large hills covered in (real) snow for sledding. One hill was made for kids (think bunny hill) which had these circular swimming float type sleds while the bigger hill had plastic sleds (two different types). We spent about a little more than 2 hours at the sled park. I started off the day by sledding down the big hill with my older host sister and a couple of the students which was very thrilling! I am not the thrill-seeking type of person, so even just this (which many kids did fine) was a lot for me! I will also mention that steering sleds is so difficult! Part of the thrill of going down the hill was trying not to hit anyone! (Almost crashed into a mother and her child not gonna lie…)

 I honestly cannot remember the last time I really went sledding, so doing this was a lot of fun! Back home, winter does not really bring any new, fun activities for me–but this was something I never knew I could actually look forward to! However, one of the 학원 students recommended to my older host sister and me to switch our sleds for this sleeker shaped one because it went faster. We agreed to do so and really had no reservations about it but after going down that hill with that demon sled, I was done with that hill! It was a lot of fun do not get me wrong… but that sled really did make me go faster and I actually also could not stay on the sled while it was moving. Half of my body kept coming off and so my pants and arm kept getting wet from the snow. I got to the bottom and needed to take a break–and my host sister felt the same way. We decided to give the child hill a try which was a great decision since it was ten times better. I went down with my host sister while holding hands and then with a group of the students which was better since I did not have to do down by myself. The best part of it would be when our sleds would turn around and we would go down BACKWARDS! What a day!!

At 4 pm, all the students gathered back near the entrance and we returned to the bus to go back to the 학원 to drop all the kids off. From there, I visited my host sister’s 학원 for a quick bit and it was the cutest thing. All around the room where cute decorations, American memorabilia, and lots and lots of signs. I could see how this would be a really great environment to study English. 

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My Older Host Sister & Me

After we got home, we just chilled for a little bit before leaving to go to a seafood restaurant near the apartment complex/subway station which my host mom kept telling me was a 맛집 (A very delicious restaurant that is well known in the area– usually chain restaurants cannot be considered a 맛집– 맛 is taste and 집 is house (or place). For dinner, we had this large seafood soup/stew set that included a lot of seafood: crab, shrimp, clams, octopus, etc. We also ate 해물파전 (seafood savory pancake… which I have made before! During my cooking class in Korea two years ago!) as well as some spicy rice with what my sister told me was cockle? She translated the Korean word on Naver and that was what came out. I never really ate seafood in the States so I am not sure what that exactly is but… we ate it, and it was delicious! However, the highlight of the dinner was not the delicious food or the good conversation with my host family (although of course, those were all good things). The best part of the dinner made me laugh for several minutes straight… and that was the live octopus in the pot escaping through the lid and scaring my host mom so much that she screamed. I heard her cry and saw tentacles coming out of the side of the pot and I couldn’t help but laugh. Everyone in the restaurant turned to look at us as anyone would have if someone suddenly screamed in a somewhat quiet public place. A nearby waiter came by and put the octopus back in and shut the lid but my host mom was still freaking out so she switched seats with my older host sister who then held down the lid until the octopus stopped moving.

At one point, the waitress serving us finally asked my host mom about me and she told her that I can speak Korean so might as well just ask me directly. She then proceeded to ask me where I was from but she used extremely formal Korean which caught me off guard for a hot second and I was chewing tough octopus at the same time so I tried swallowing as fast as I could to tell her I was from America.

Dinner was delicious and a great end to such a busy but fun day. We came home quite early as it was only 8 pm. We just relaxed for the rest of the night which was much needed~

Thanks for reading! This is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Today officially marks halfway through my AY program… starting tomorrow, there will be more days behind us then there are in front of us which is honestly very very very bittersweet to me. I must make these last few months truly count! Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Christmas Party at Youth Hostel in Seoul (12/24/18) NSLI-Y Korean AY

12/24/18 Monday

Emotionally, I knew that Christmas Eve was going to be a very difficult time for me–the holidays (when you are away from your family and friends) are always difficult. However, the morning was quite busy so I was pretty distracted for most of it. I needed to finish buying gifts for the Better World Staff/my resident directors (주연쌤, 소야쌤, and 민정쌤) as well as my Korean teacher so after taking a shower, getting my presents in order, and packing things for our Christmas party, I went to 홍대 to complete my Christmas shopping.

I wanted to buy macaroons from Blanc Bakery, but when I got there, they were literally out of every single flavor except for passion fruit I think? So I skipped out on that bakery and went to Daiso to buy dry erase markers for my Korean teacher. (I wanted to get her a variety of colors to use during class.) And eventually, I ended up walking several blocks to a Tous Les Jours to find macaroons for everyone (green tea, lemon, and grape flavors). A bit before noon, I was able to meet up with Katie at a cafe where I wrapped my gifts and memorized my Korean class presentation while Katie worked on letters for her teacher and then later did a part of her homework too.

During Korean class, we just reviewed most of the new grammar points that would be appearing on our monthly test. We mostly just went through the points and created example sentences to go along with them. My teacher seemed to really like the thoughtfulness of the gift (Though I know they are not the best quality seeing that they were only 1,000 Won dry erase markers from Daiso). She also said that my card was really well written! I did upload it on HelloTalk to have it edited… but most of it was written by me without any translating it! So I was happy to know that I did pretty well–especially with using formal language.

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I also gave my gifts to the other Better World 쌤s (which included tissues, hand sanitizers, and hot/cold packs along with a macaroon) and they seemed to really like the letters too. 주연쌤 and 민정쌤 gave me some of the warmest hugs which made me feel very happy–I needed a hug at that moment!

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Once class was over, we were on our way to begin celebrating Christmas with a Christmas party at a hostel with the rest of the NSLI-Y students. Josh, Jacquelyn, and I walked with 소야쌤 to the subway station and from there we went to the hostel we would be spending the night at. We had to all anxiously wait in the lobby for awhile because Kaitlyn, Harmony, and Hunter were decorating the room with Christmas decorations.

When we finally got to go up to the room, we were all beyond amazed at the decorations; they had done an amazing job turning the room into a Christmas wonderland. They used garlands and string lights to make a tree on the wall that looked so pretty~ We all placed our presents under the makeshift tree which made it look that much more real. (It eventually fell off the wall about 40 minutes into the party but it was nice while it lasted!) They also made stockings for every single person and hung them (along with garland) along the windowsill. (There was also a photo opportunity made with wrapping paper and red and green balloons.) They definitely worked so hard in preparing the decorations (and all the games) and I could not thank those three enough for making our Christmas special!

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We were all told to bring some snacks to the party so we had so much food to go around (including the pizza and fried chicken that 민정쌤 ordered for us). They also bought hot chocolate packs so that we could make some later in the night. Luckily, there was a water dispenser that had both hot and cold water at the hostel so during the middle of the night we all went out into the hallway carrying our cups and packets in order to make hot chocolate.

We dug into the food first because we were all so hungry after Korean class. After eating, we did our secret Santa gift exchange. We started off with Katie who gave her gift to Harmony and then from there, we all passed out our gifts until the circle finally ended up coming back around to Katie with a gift from Mckenzie.

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My secret Santa was June and she got me some of the best gifts ever! She must have asked around about my likes because she was able to figure out that my favorite animals are pigs and bought me pig-themed items from Daiso and Butter. I received a pair of pig slippers, a pig coin purse, and this big round pig stuffed animal. (Katie actually gave me the same pig stuffed animal but in a mini size for my birthday.) They were all very cute–Thank you June! After I got my gift, I gave my secret Santa present to Jack after explaining that it was based on an inside joke. When he opened the gift and pulled out the bigfoot plush, everyone started laughing and asking what the joke was which led Katie and me to explain the joke to the group. He passed around the stuffed animal to others in the group and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. I know Jack will not really use it? But I hope he appreciates the effort I put into the gift and the thought that went into it!

But also I need to bring up the fact that Josh and Liam came to the Christmas party and changed into fuzzy pink pajamas made for females. It was so funny seeing them looking so ridiculous. I could not take them seriously. Especially, when I looked at how short the pajama pants were. They are always pulling something crazy! (민정쌤 definitely enjoyed taking photos of them!)

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After the gift exchange, we began to play the Christmas version of Hot Potato (All planned out and prepared by Harmony). It involved passing around this huge present in a circle and whenever the music stopped and it landed in the hands of one of the NSLI-Y students, they would have to unwrap a layer. Each layer had little notes of what the person needed to do (both good and bad things). So the present started off as this huge box and then with each unwrapping it got smaller and smaller until it ended up being an ornament filled with candy. This game was so much fun and the tasks were really funny too. Here are some examples:

Say Ho Ho Ho after every sentence for the rest of the game

Wear this Christmas Head Accessory for the rest of the game

Wrap someone up as a present (anyone of your choosing)

Get wrapped up like a snowman by the person on your right

Get fed something by the person on your left (while blindfolded)

Sing a Christmas song (song choice by the person on your right)

Call your Mom sing Silent Night to her (no context)

Create and perform a 12 Days of NSLI-Y Christmas

Etc etc etc

The best moments of the game were definitely when Shada wrapped up 민정쌤 as a present (and even added a bow to the top of her head– the one from my present to Jack), Kaitlyn turning Katie into a snowman with a roll of toilet paper, and last but not least, June calling her mom back in America (it was probably like 5 am on the East Coast) to sing Silent Night. I was so surprised that her mom picked up and her grogginess and delirious responses just added to the whole moment. (We all also tried so hard to keep our composure and not make too much noise by laughing.) What a great game!

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After playing hot present (would that be the name of the game?), we started a blindfolded cookie decorating contest. There were two rounds of 4 people and at the end of the contest, Addie and Jenna proved to be tied as the winners. During this time, Kaitlyn and I discovered that the lighting in the bathroom was perfect for selfies so it is safe to assume that we took advantage (because yes, yes we did).

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Eventually, it got close to 9 pm and so the 쌤s were getting ready to leave us for the rest of night after giving us instructions for tonight as well as tomorrow morning. She brought back 닭발 (chicken feet) and other foods that are commonly eaten with it as well as a light up Christmas cake (This was her Christmas gift to us~) Mckenzie, Katie, Shada, and I cut the cake after we sang happy birthday but switching out the words “happy birthday” for “Merry Christmas.” I recently got to try chicken feet when we had the exchange day camp with the all-girls tourism high school and besides the weird texture of the cartilage, it really was not bad at all. But for some reason, these were literally the spiciest things I have ever eaten. Even though I am not Korean, I consider myself someone who can eat spicy food well. I really love 김치찌개 for example. Though that is the case, this one piece (this one foot of a chicken) burned my mouth for about 15 minutes after I ate it. I literally almost drank an entire water bottle trying to calm my mouth down because it was literally burning and my eyes teared up so badly. Yeah, I will say that my experiences with 닭발 have really not been too good to me.

Once we stuffed ourselves with more food, snacks, and cake, we ended up splitting up into the two hostel rooms (one was for those who planned to stay up late while the other one was going to be for those that plan on actually getting some sleep). The party room (AKA the #teamnosleep room) consisted of Harmony, Shada, Jenna, Josh, Liam, Jacquelyn, Addie, Jack, Hunter, and me. At first, we all just hung out, sitting in a circle–mostly on our phones–chatting about all sorts of stuff. This also ended up turning into a limbo contest somehow?  Either Hunter or Josh won; I can not remember exactly.

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Eventually, Home Alone was turned on and having seen it the day prior with my host family, I left with Josh to visit the girls in the other room. They were all chilling in this lounge area (as Jacquelyn and Mckenzie went to bed early) making ramen (which they purchased from the vending machine). I did not eat ramen (too much cake I tell you!) but I did share banana milk with Kaitlyn. For some reason, the quiet and calm atmosphere made me start thinking about the fact that it was Christmas (it was past midnight at this point) and that I was not with my family–my first Christmas away from family. This made me start crying so Kaitlyn and I hurried over to the stairwell before anyone else could notice and I started balling my eyes out. Kaitlyn never properly celebrated Christmas but she could still understand my feelings and helped comfort me. (Thank you for the hug Kaitlyn; I am definitely a hugger <3) I was crying and crying standing in that stairwell at 3 am. I eventually stopped crying and turned to laughter when I looked out the window to see that the roads were still filled with cars at 3 in the morning on Christmas day. Kaitlyn thought I was going crazy as I explained that it was funny to see that Seoulites really do not sleep. This led us to talk about the fact that they stay up late but sleep in (a lot of places do not open till 10 or 11 am– even breakfast places sometimes) which distracted me for the moment from all my emotions.

Then, maybe because we were deliriously tired, a big group of us decided to go outside and do a cinnamon roll hug like the one we did in 안동 as well as just huddle together and talk for a while. It was so very cold outside but we still decided to hang out there for quite a while? Yeah, I do not know what was going through our minds either.

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Jack Gives Liam a Piggy Back Ride

Eventually, it was 4:30 am and we laid out all the futons on the floor and got ready for bed. Luckily, we did not have to get up until around 8:30 am so we would not completely be lacking sleep tomorrow morning but… it definitely was not the doctor recommended 8 hours of sleep. But I was happy. Although, I missed my mother extremely and the traditions that we had (that I knew would not be completed the following day…) but I was happy to be surrounded by all these amazing individuals that genuinely made me feel supported and happy. This was not a typical Christmas Eve; it was my first Christmas Eve away from family and my first one abroad–in Korea. However, it will be one to remember~

That is all for this blog post~ I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and spent it with ones you love (even if it that does not include your family). I hope that you surrounded yourself with people that will always love and support you this Christmas~ Thank you for reading~ Till next time.

  • Emma 엠마

 

School, Korean Classes… Repeat? {11/19-11/20/18} NSLI-Y AY

11/19/18  Monday

I took barely any photos these two days; therefore, I can’t remember much of what I did looking back. School was okay. I was able to survive another period of AP Statistics {the only period I would have this week because our Wednesday class schedule was being moved to Tuesday… And because we leave school early for Korean classes on Tuesdays… No Statistics for me!} English was spent reading an excerpt once again, nothing too noteworthy to be honest.

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Katie and I ate lunch by ourselves {cue the sound of a sad violin playing} but it was fine because lunch was delicious and we had some fun conversations~ I can’t really remember Korean class… so then it must have been okay then? I think I goofed around with Josh and 민정쌤 during every single break which was definitely time well spent between Korean class periods.

Monday after Korean class was our bi-weekly meeting~ Jacquelyn, Josh, and I made our way over to CYC once class finished up. We received a lot of information about things to turn in or think about or prepare. We have our last excursion reflection due, a presentation to make when we meet Korean high schoolers for another 한미 camp of sorts next month, and a Christmas party to start planning for! We are having an overnight Christmas party at a hostel from December 24th to 25th~ Unfortunately, the majority of NSLI-Yians have school on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas; however, Katie and I do not! All the other schools are taking finals in the middle of December for a week and then have school until the 30th or 31st {with Christmas off}. At 하나고, finals week is the week before Christmas and they get the rest of the month off which means Katie and I get such a nice break!!! I’m so happy!!! I’m counting down the days! 3 weeks to go!

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I came home from Korean class after the meeting and worked on homework for basically the entirety of the night. I ate dinner with my host family and hung out for a bit, but I did spend most of the night in my room studying.

11/20/18  Tuesday

Tuesday wasn’t too eventful~ It was a good day but like I said before, nothing too special. It was, however, a perfect day for showcasing my daily routine in Korea {or “normal days” should I say}. I’m sorry for uploading such a boring blog— feel free to skip ahead.

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The school schedule for today was special as we were having our Wednesday classes instead which meant I had 경제학 (Economics) and 한국사 (Korean History). In economics, we did actual learning during the first period but the second period was spent simply watching a documentary {which I actually thoroughly enjoyed}. I did pay attention to a good amount of it… when I was not working on Korean homework. 한국사 was nice because it’s the one class I know I can do work in~ Two hours of focused study time is actually what I needed to get my huge plate of work done for Thursday’s class. I was so productive that I almost finished two whole chapters of my workbook! After the first break, the teacher noticed that I was using Naver to translate some words on my page {okay let’s be honest, I knew practically none of the vocabulary words in the fill-in-the-blank section!} He told me that when I needed help I could and should ask the people sitting next to me~ It was really sweet of him. But…. I wasn’t going to have my clubmate {is that a word? How does one refer to someone who is in the same club as you? EDIT: Wow, I re-read this to edit it and I can’t believe how stupid I was being… club member. Emma, that is the word you were looking for.} translate things to me. The thought was appreciated, though!

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Our school is putting on some type of event? Like a play perhaps?

Katie and I ate lunch with our friends today {which we usually never do due to Korean class} but we had lots of questions about the event tomorrow that needed to be answered. While eating, Katie and I really lost track of time talking to everyone about tomorrow’s plans and chatting to 도윤 about slang and the NSLI-Y guys?!? Don’t ask! At one point, Katie checked her phone and it was 12:55! We’ve never left that late before, so we both freaked out— I almost swore. We quickly threw away our leftovers and returned our dishes and literally RAN to the bus stop. We were not going to miss the bus this time.

Even though our actions deserved some amount of freakout, we actually end up not getting there too late. I walked with a purpose from the subway exit to BetterWorld and only ran for a short distance at the end, and I only ended up being exactly one minute late! {If I had run more, I definitely could have been on time.}

Class was fine~ I honestly don’t remember too much. I didn’t really understand one of the grammar points in class very well but I was able to fake it till I went home and got the chance to look it up. We had some fun conversations and I felt like I performed pretty well {I could always participate more, though…} After class, I went home right away. I didn’t study too much as I was really tired and wanted to go to sleep early… but I did do the rest of my workbook to get it out of the way. I ate with my host family and spent a lot of time talking with my host mom after dinner. I helped my eldest host sister with her English work for a bit while enjoying some Honey tea and snacks my host mother prepared. It was a nice night~  {It was even better because I knew I could sleep in the next day!}

That’s all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! Follow my blog for more content like this. I’m so behind on uploading these posts… so there’s plenty more where this came from~

  • Emma 엠마