제주도 수학여행 (School Trip to Jeju Island) Day 2: 승마체험, 성산일출봉과 흑돼지 먹기 (05/02/20) NSLIY Korea AY

Thursday (05/02/20)

Second day of our school trip to Jeju Island!!! (Literally the exclamation points do in fact represent the excitement in my head when I first woke up. I was jumping off the walls with excitement.)

We started the day off having a complimentary breakfast buffet at our hotel which was pretty similar to any other continental breakfast spread at hotels with basic things like waffles, croissants, cereal, eggs, etc but of course since savory “lunch type” foods are completely normal in Korea, there was also fish, popcorn chicken, potato wedges, kimchi, etc. We ate on the lower ground of the hotel which seemed to be reserved for large groups that were staying at the hotel (While we were staying at the hotel, there were two other schools too) and they came down to eat at the same time as well. The large windows around the perimeter of the room showed off some beautiful water views and it was the perfect cherry on top to a nice morning.

Today was our first (and only) full day in Jeju and in order to make the most of it, we had a jam-packed day filled with all sorts of activities, location changes, delicious food, and of course the accompanying long bus rides. However, to be honest, I did not mind the long bus rides as they were sectioned off periods of time when we could all regain our energy by doing what a lot of us did best–nap. 

Our first bus ride brought us to the 1,000 year forest called Bijarim (천년의 숲 비자림) which considered a national monument in Korea. Apparently it is the biggest collection of nutmeg trees in the world and they are all super old. Even though the name of the forest is 1,000 years, the oldest tree in the forest is around 800 years so not quite there… but I guess eventually the name will fit. But then…if you think about it… eventually it will be even older than 1,000 years. Will a name change be necessary then?

The visit to the forest was an extremely nice way to start the morning because it got us all moving as we hiked a forest path and got to take in all that nature had to offer. The forest not only was full of trees but there was a bunch of other foliage and pretty flowers too. More importantly, the walk was a lot of fun because I had the chance to really make conversation with a lot of the girls in my group–not just my main group of friends or Katie. I was able to talk to more classmates of mine that I share time with during class but because we do not eat lunch together, I find that our conversations mainly revolve around school and never get really personal. It was nice to finally have some time to talk with some of my friends like 정윤 or 선민 or 수미. We of course also took lots of photos, especially group photos. (Is it a group excursion if there are no group photos? Better World would say so! And 하나고 follows suit.)

Another bus ride later, we found ourselves at our next destination: Seong Eup Land (성읍랜드) which is a small “amusement” park of sorts which is known for horseback riding and go karts. Horseback riding is one of the common tourist activities to partake in on Jeju–especially if it involves riding horses along the beach like in all of the cheesy, romantic Korean dramas.

I will say that the place we went to was a bit different…? We did ride horses but we were just on a track–no natural path or anything–and we were pulled along the track with our horses by a worker. The horse did get up to the speed of a gallop at one point but the majority of the ride was a slow steady pace. I believe the ride, overall, lasted 5 minutes if that. It was a bit underwhelming as I have ridden a horse through rougher, more exciting terrain but nonetheless, I had fun. I am grateful to have had the experience. For some of the girls, it was their first time riding a horse!

The majority of the location seemed to be comprised of the horse stable, horse-riding path/routes, and the go-kart track. There were also a lot of photo zones as the main building was painted entirely pink and almost every wall was made out to be an especially colorful mural with cute graphics and a lot of famous Jeju-do icons and memorabilia. There was also a little gift shop with cute knick-knacks as well as a little concession stand type area.

Of course, our friend group had to take advantage of all the wonderful backdrops for photos. I think my favorite place within the “park” included this fake pink car. It was a lot of fun being able to pose with the car and we had a lot of fun trying to take some more “serious, vogue-like” pictures but honestly, we looked kind of ridiculous but I would not change anything about these photos! I love them so much :,) 

There was also a really cute mural on one of the walls that had the statement “Meeting you was good luck” in Korean which I thought was utterly adorable! Katie and I were also able to get photos with our old coordinating teacher and my previous homeroom teacher 민정쌤 (not to be confused with our NSLI-Y resident director 민정쌤). And besides all the photo taking, Katie and I ate some ice cream while some of the other girls drove some go-karts (Of course, I would much rather eat my beloved ice cream rather than risking my life in a moving vehicle–low key have a fear of driving…)

After everything, we moseyed on over to our next location for lunch and we were able to try 제주흑돼지구이 (Jeju Black Pork) which is probably the food 제주도 is most known for and may actually be one of the most famous types of meat in Korea. (Think of it as Korea’s version of Japanese Wagyu Beef? Or at least… I make that connection)

DEVOURED that food! Waiting for more >;P

The place that we went to was very large with a lot of long picnic tables but it had a rather close-to-nature type vibe because there was a lot of natural lighting, open windows, and the bathroom was actually not connected to the restaurant–a portable potty moment. The restaurant was also all you can eat so you can bet that the girls and I ordered quite a lot of servings of meat. I cannot remember the exact count but I feel like we went through at least 4-5 servings and we had to go back and refill our lettuce and side dishes quite frequently. Everything was delicious and my mouth is watering right now just looking back and thinking about all the food that we were able to stuff our faces with. 

Once we were full and napped through a food coma on the bus, we arrived at 성산일출봉 (Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak) which is an Unesco World Heritage site. Honestly, when we first got to the naturally made wonder, I assumed it was just this random mountain but it was actually created by an underwater volcano. The views around the peak were spectacular! On one side, the blue waters of the ocean were sparkling in almost a heavenly way as the sun reflected off of it and on the other side, there was a village along the grassy hill with tons of colorful buildings. At the top of the peak, everything looked so tiny and 10x cuter. 

The walk up to the very top of the peak was not too difficult when it comes to difficulties of the hike as it was not too steep and the stairs were wide and there were railings at some points; however, the weather was hot and the breeze only helped so much so we were all rather sweaty by the end of it. Despite everything, the views at the top–of course–made everything worth it. Additionally, the trip upwards was a nice time to talk more with our friends and other classmates too. At one point, I was explaining the entire plot of the Nickelodeon TV show “Avatar the Last Airbender” to 선민 as we discussed our favorite series during our childhoods. I remember this conversation in specific because it was a difficult thing to talk through but I was really proud at the end with everything I was able to say–my vocabulary skills were popping off.

At the top of the peak, Katie, 선민, and 정윤, and I had this idea to take some photos–including a jumping photo. We asked this older man to take the photo for us (Now… I wonder why? We could have asked anyone else… including someone young who most likely had an Instagram.) and it would be an understatement to say that he had a little trouble taking the photo for us. They did not turn out the best but are still funny to look back on. And the collective countdown and jump while holding hands was extremely thrilling. 

When we got back down to the bottom of the peak, Katie, 선민, and I treated ourselves with some unique 한라봉 아이스크림 (Hallabong Ice Cream) and bought some souvenirs for our host families and Korean classmates. Katie and I impressed the lady running one of the shops with our ability to not only speak with her in Korean but also to haggle. I ended up buying a box of chocolates and tarts with some pretty cool, unique to 제주도 flavors like 한라봉, cactus, and 제주 tangerine (감귤).

After getting back on the bus, our homeroom teacher told us that we would be going to a market the following day and we should wait to buy the majority of our souvenirs there because it would be cheaper…I wish we had known earlier! But nevertheless, I felt that we got everything at a good price so I was not upset.


This day is far from being over but I feel like this post is already extremely long and with photos…So I have made the executive decision to split this post up. I will probably include the second half of this day with my third day of the school trip (Unless, that one ends up being too long… we will see I guess!)

I hope these posts are entertaining and I am also trying my best to make them informative at least in some way. Thanks for reading and do not forget to subscribe for more posts. Till next time~

  • Emma 엠마

Outside Class (야외수업), Travel Maker Brunch in Hongdae, and Korean Monthly Exam (04/30/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/30/19 Tuesday

Since Katie and I stayed up really late the previous night studying, we were both practically dead in the morning. We even went to the convenience store to buy coffee before school started because I knew that there was no way I would be able to sit awake during my classes today without some assistance from caffeine.

Morning selfie before we have to be in our homerooms

During first period, I had my English conversation class with three 2nd year students and instead of having any conversation on intellectual topics, we rather planned what we would be do in two weeks time when meeting up in 홍대 to hang out! The girls were going to be able to get permission to leave school to hang with me for a couple hours, so we spent our hour in the library picking where to eat and deciding what we could do to fill up the time. 수빈 recommended this really good (and cheap) chicken place that she had been to in 부산 (it was a chain) so were going to eat there and then most likely go to 노래방 (karaoke) and make perfume or macaroons or something crafty–we wanted to do something hands on! It was a lot of fun planning out our day!

My 한국사 (Korean History) teacher switched things up for today’s class and allowed us to have class outside which we call 야외수업! We left the classroom and walked down this really nice, scenic path past the 한옥 (Korean traditional house) museum and neighborhood almost towards the nearby Buddhist temple.

On our way there, we passed by these birds fighting on the sidewalk and one of the birds became injured and was struggling to flap its wings while it was down on the ground. A lot of the girls were scared of it although it was harmless so they kept shrieking every time it gained enough momentum to get a little bit off the ground. It was really sad to see it in so much pain, struggling to survive and get back up. One of the students called someone (maybe some type of Animal control?) so when we did walk back to the school, that bird was gone.

The teacher talked to us a little bit about the history of the area before letting us go free and visit either the Twosome Place Cafe or the convenience store. (He turned a blind eye away from those students who were buying ramen to stockpile reserves in the dorm.) During the entire duration of our outdoor class, I hung out and chatted with my friend 정민. She actually is close friends with my other third year friends (세림, 지은, and 지연) but this was the first class I was able to have with her.

She was so sweet with me that she even bought me a drink from the cafe–an iced chocolate (basically just the cold version of the hot chocolate). We talked all about our school lives and a bit about our past. Apparently, 정민 spent some time in America when she was young because her aunt lives in the US. That was interesting to hear about.

After Katie and I finished our second exchange student conversation class of the day before lunch time, we immediately booked it off of school grounds to try to get to 홍대 as fast as we possibly could. All the other NSLI-Y students had no school today so they planned to all go out for a traditional American brunch at a famous place in 홍대 called Travel Maker.

Katie and I were able to make it to the restaurant just around the time that everyone else was receiving their food. We were able to just sneak into the booths they were already at and order some pancakes. Luckily, even though we did have school, we were able to make in enough time to eat with everyone for a little while. After we finished eating, we wanted to take a group photo so I (with some random confidence) ran up to a complete stranger walking in the park across the street and asked them to take a photo for us. I was glad that we were able to put this little brunch date together!

Blueberry Pancakes ❤ My favorite food = pancakes

Afterward, we all had to go and take our monthly tests for April… what a downer to a great first half of the day. I walked to the Better World Office with Josh and Jacquelyn and we passed by his cafe that day and there was a really cute sign out front. It made me smile.

Translation: Difficult days also pass by. Waiting for a happy tomorrow.

Our test this month was extremely difficult. We expected it, though. Our teacher warned us about it. The passages in this test seemed a lot more complicated than the ones in past tests and they were so much longer too! I barely had enough time to read through all of the reading passages and answer all the questions. I had to pick my best guess for a couple questions. I was also super tired from staying up late studying (and the coffee in the morning already wore off), so I started nodding off during the test too which is never good! After we all finished the reading test, we made a stop at the closest convenience store during break time to pick up some pick-me-ups including coffee and gummy geckos.

Usually my blog posts about the unit/monthly tests tend to be a bit more negative because more often than not I feel mildly incompetent after taking each and every test. Luckily, because I am writing this so much later, I do not have those negative thoughts floating around in my head. Looking back at this test and my OPI, I feel like I did pretty well. Comparing it to my march speaking test which involved me crying while on the phone with my teacher, this one went a lot smoother. She actually asked me to describe the movie plot of one of my favorite movies so I went on and described the basic plot of Hello Ghost which involves suicide and ghosts and although the subject matter was heavy, I was able to explain it all better than I originally assumed I would be able to. (Actually, I feel like that answer was probably one of the biggest reasons for why I was able to move up a level that month.) The writing test for this month was writing about our individual projects and I felt prepared to discuss my topic, but I still struggled with vocabulary. Even though I had to substitute some desired words for ones that I did know, I felt that I explained everything I wanted to discuss in my paper quite well.

After the monthly test, Josh and I walked to 와플대학 to meet some of the other NSLI-Y students (Alix, Hunter, Katie, etc) for our after-test-tradition of waffles. I had dinner plans with a friend after the test so I ended up not ordering my own and just stealing some bites from Katie. We talked about our tests and ranted for a bit before I left for 신촌.

In 신촌 we went to a meat restaurant and had barbecue for dinner while chatting about a lot of different topics. I learned that the tape and arrows on the roads and alleyways pointing to certain restaurants were a part of events that the university students hold. Apparently like a fundraiser type thing? Or they are ways to try to raise membership for clubs and such. When we first got to the restaurant, we watched some female students putting the yellow tape on the road and as it got darker, we noticed people directing others to follow the tape to the final destination. 

Yonsei at Night

After eating we walked around the 연세 campus which was honestly the first time I really was able to walk around a large majority of the campus. Previously, I had only walked up the large drive (lawn maybe is a better term?) with Addie and Jessica on two separate occasions. My friend was not a student there or anything but we still walked around the different buildings anyways.

We ended the night just chilling at a cafe to talk. Cafe Pascucci was the name of the cafe and it was my first time there! We just got our drinks and relaxed on one of the sofa seats on the second floor and talked until I had to go because of curfew. It was a nice way to unwind after the stressful days leading up to the test day.

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

  • Emma 엠마

Kakao Friends Cafe and Japanese Dinner with my Host Sister (04/29/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

Author’s Note: Unfortunately, the last month of my NSLI-Y program was very very hectic. I was unable to dedicate time to write daily blog posts let alone upload already edited posts. Because of this, I am now writing these posts nearly a month later (already back at home in America). Many of these next few posts are going to be quite short and brief because I forgot a lot of what happened… I now only have photos to jog my memory of the days’ activities. It is unfortunate that posts cannot be as detailed as my previous ones but I will still continue to write them regardless! I do still want to document my exchange year via this blog. This is enough of a blurb from me! Let us get on with the actual blog post content:

4/29/19 Monday

My politics and law class was a total blur but my advanced English class was a lot of fun today. Throughout this semester, we have been analyzing different types of writing as well as good traits in writing that the students should try to follow within their own writings. In class today we were wrapping up the argumentative essay portion of the class by reading one final argumentative essay on punishing children physically (ie. spanking). Before reading that piece, we went around the room and talked about our unpopular opinions. It was really interesting to see what all the students had to say. Our teacher Andrew started the conversation off with the fact that he does not understand sweet and salty combinations like fries and milkshakes (Not a Korean thing but a combination that is legendary nonetheless!) or salted caramel, for example. Some of the students brought up their dislike towards fishing, dogs, cherry blossom hype (not over-hyped but I digress), superhero movies, chocolate, and so on. 서연 chose me to share my unpopular opinion and I talked about the fact that I believe that naps do not work. I always feel way more tired after taking naps and so I feel like they are honestly a waste. The 하나고 students (who are constantly sleeping during breaks–or during class for that matter) quickly came to attack me and told me that power naps (less than 20 minutes) were truly great. I will stick to my unpopular opinion!

After school, Katie and I went to 연서시장 (the market near the closest subway station to 하나고) to have some 떡볶이 (Ddeokbokki- spicy rice cakes) and 튀김 (assorted fried foods) for lunch. We did not know it then but it ended up being the last time we ever had lunch at that market. When we got there to order, the lady in charge of the front immediately smiled at us as she recognized us from the previous times we have visited. The employees are always the same. This time, she did not even explain the fact that the food would be brought out to us or that we could fill up cups with 오뎅국물–because she knew that we were already aware of what we are doing. We are market pros! 

Today’s Korean class was the final class before our April monthly test. We did not learn any new grammar points but instead tried to quickly finish up the reading and listening dialogues for the last chapter we were working on because recently, we have been going on too many tangents during class.

After class, I was not in the mood to go home right away so I decided to shop around with Kaitlyn as she wanted to get a head start on finishing a list of things she needed to buy before leaving Korea. Originally, we planned to just visit those roadshop beauty stores and then get bubble tea at Gongcha but then randomly I convinced Kaitlyn to go to the Kakao Friends Store Cafe with me because I had yet to visit it. Actually, it was my first time ever walking into the store. I had not gotten the chance to go in during the past 8 months. (And the last time I was in Korea, there was no store in 홍대. I had only been to the pop-up one in the 신촌 subway station!)

Anyways, I caved in and bought an overpriced chocolate cupcake just because it had Ryan–my favorite Kakao character–’s face on it while Kaitlyn ordered some milk ice cream, milk flavored ice cream… I know a bit strange because well isn’t ice cream usually made with milk?

Kaitlyn and I just chatted for a bit and I enjoyed catching up with her. We used to hang out a lot more and do more cafe dates in the past but for some reason those became lesser and lesser. I was happy to start hanging out with her more! I really do love Kaitlyn ❤ 

I came home to find out that my eldest host sister and host mom had plans for the night so I would just be having dinner with my younger host sister. We decided to go out to eat for the night (which took a while to decide because we are both very very indecisive) at some Japanese restaurant. The dinner was actually really great because we got the chance to talk more (just us) and it was definitely less awkward than the first few times we hung out when I first moved in with this family. The food was delicious too! I had a bowl of udon noodles (thick wheat flour noodles) with donkatsu (pork cutlet).

For the rest of the night, I just hardcore studied for my Korean test because I really wanted to show some improvement during this month. 

Also LOOK! I am on a flyer for host family outreach! (Upper left corner–my host sisters and me)

Well, that is all for this blog post! I love that I said that these upcoming posts would not be detailed and then I explain everything with the utmost detail. It is weird. I cannot remember the entire outline of the day but my brain tends to remember certain parts of my day very vividly–no matter how insignificant those moments are. Anyways, till next time~ Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

Global Youth Service Day: Making Korean Masks at Youth Center & Eating REAL Pie (04/27-04/28/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/27/19 Saturday 

Today was Global Youth Service Day! And if you don’t know what that is, it is an international day recognizing youths’ contribution to their communities. It calls upon the youth of the world to also complete community service on the day in honor of what it stands for. Because of this, Better World organized us to do an extra community service event at the youth center in 마포구 which I did service at throughout the duration of our winter break. 

Today we prepared presentations for the children on Korean traditional mask dance (since we did see one in 안동, we are basically experts—just joking…) Each Korean class had a more specific topic under the branch if mask dance to focus on and present about. My class focused on the history although in my part, I talked about the present usage/application of mask dances (tourism mostly) and then ended off the presentation with a cheesy “If you get the chance to see a mask dance, don’t miss the opportunity and make sure to grab it.” Everyone loved it, though!

After our presentation, we all got matched up with one Korean student (well except me and Addie but we ended up stealing other people’s kids instead) and we made Korean masks! We were given a plain white shell/mold of one of two types traditional masks (One was the bride and the other was the nobleman I believe? Or maybe the fool?) Then to decorate them, we had this textured puffy/slime colored clay? I really don’t know how to describe it! It was like using textured foam and clay at the same time! We used that to cover our masks and decorate them. 

Making the masks was actually fun and kind of calming, stress-relieving even. It was also really nice getting to talk to the kids about a lot of things from their trials making homemade slime to BTS—a room favorite it seemed. We also ate lunch with the kids. Better World and the youth center bought us all burgers from McDonald’s.

This was my first time ever having a shrimp burger!! I remember opening the wrapping and expecting to see a beef patty (as I did not read the label when grabbing my food) and was extremely shook to see a pretty much pink/beige patty. It was good though. I will admit.

We ended off the event by all cleaning up together, taking a group photo, and dancing? We played this one girl group song which has a pretty provocative dance and these two little boys danced along with it so well! I haven’t seen the original but I would bet tons of money that it is definitely not as entertaining as the version we saw today. 

Afterward, I didn’t want to go home right away, so Kaitlyn and I made plans to visit a cafe together and get some work done (Korean studies or our individual research projects). It was kind of a last minute decision to go so I just hopped on Mango plate and looked for a cafe that seemed pretty and I found this one that seemed to serve real, authentic looking pie! Most places in Korea that claim to sell pie really just sell fruit tarts. (This was first learned when searching for pie to eat on pie day last month…)

The name of the cafe was 오늘의 위로

But these looked like the real deal. Real slices of American-style pie! I pulled it up on Kakao maps and somehow, with my mediocre navigational skills in tow, we were able to find the cafe! It was actually extremely small with only about 4 tables to sit at so we decided not to stay that long as courtesy to the other guests that would want to eat here. We left after a short line formed outside. Kaitlyn ordered a strawberry cake while I went for a slice of warm apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream–which was extra but worth it. It was honestly so delicious! Tasted like Thanksgiving! I was in love! (And in addition to the amazing taste, everything looked so aesthetically pleasing!)

We were pretty productive in between the random spurts of us just having fun conversation. We left the cafe before dinner time, both returning to our respective homes for the night. Originally I wanted to go out but since I had already done the most this midterms week (basically going out and having fun every single day for the whole week), I needed some rest. 

Lazy Dinner = Ramen

4/28/19 Sunday

Today was a very chill Sunday. I did nothing. I stayed at home all day and worked on my Korean homework and created the outline for my individual project (which was due at 11:59 pm that night).

앤디야~ 왤케 귀여워??

I’m also writing this blog post more than two weeks after this day happened so a lot has left my memory unfortunately… additionally, the lack of pictures does not help but I am assuming it wasn’t too eventful. 

Sometime in the afternoon, my host mom bought croquettes from the little shop within the train station that sells them for like 1,000 to 2,000 won or less. I had never really eaten a croquette before (or the particular ones at that shop although I pass it every time I use the subway and usually always consider buying something but talk myself out of it every time). For those who don’t know what a croquette is, it is basically a fried pastry (kinda like a fritter type thing?) filled with something.

The ones my host mom bought were filled with vegetables, sweet potato, cream cheese, and red bean. (There was one with corn salad but y’all know I did NOT touch that beast…) My favorite ones from the bunch were the 찹쌀도넛 which were these circular donuts (honestly like munchkins) that were filled with red bean and had mochi-like texture. They differ from traditional donut holes;however, because they are made with rice flour rather than being yeast donuts. It was chewy and soft at the same time!! My host mom and I just ate them and talked for a bit before I returned to my room to attempt to be more productive. (I do believe I finished a movie on Netflix this day as well…) 

I was doing homework and then got so confused by this passage. We are currently learning about recent innovations and high-tech products and this particular line brings up a fridge with a screen that allows for its users to check where certain things are inside. I was like what? Are we really becoming this dependent on technology? We can just OPEN the door!

Well that is all for this blog post~~ I hope you enjoyed reading! I’m really behind on these posts but life has gotten so hectic here since it is the end of my time in Korea (10 days left exactly!) so I’m trying to make the most of everything and that does not mean spending hours on my computer writing and editing blog posts…only downside is I forget a lot when I don’t write them soon after… *sigh* Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마 

Heyri Art Village (헤이리 마을), Provence Town (프로방스 마을), and other Shenanigans in 파주시 (04/26/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/26/19 Friday

Today was the last day that Katie and I would have off for our midterm week and so we had to end off the week with a bang! To do this, we decided to go on a trip to 헤이리 예술 마을 (Heyri Art Village) with some of the 대원외고 students: Jenna, Shada, Josh, Liam, and Harmony. This particular place was not too far from me as I live on the edge of 고양시 in the 일산 neighborhood so if I could drive, it would have been a less than 20 minute drive to the village. I could not for the life of me figure out how to take a bus from my station to one of the gates of the village so I gave up and decided to go the way everyone else was— meeting at 합정역 and from there, transferring onto one of those big buses for an hour or and driving up to 파주시. But even though it was kind of an illogical way for me to travel, I enjoyed the extra time with my friends.

Cool kids at the BACK of the bus! W/ Liam & Harmony

We met early in the morning so that we could get to the village by 10 am in order to have ample time to explore everything. The bus that we rode on was not your usual city bus and more like a type of shuttle bus. One thing that was cool about the bus was that it had a seat counter. Every time someone swiped their card, the seat counter would subtract a seat. I thought this was honestly really innovative so that you could see if there were seats before you got on—especially considering there really wasn’t any room to stand. I sat in the very back of the bus with Harmony and Liam and after about an hour of travel, we made it to 헤이리 예술 마을. 

It was a bit colder than anticipated (and it started to rain) when we arrived so we wanted to hurry and make our way into a cafe or museum but because we had gotten there so early, most things were closed.

We found this one open bakery that was really nice. It had a very warm and rustic atmosphere to it and the pastries all looked delicious (but the prices were not cheap). I ended up buying some chestnut bread that also had raisins and dried cranberries inside. It was the cheapest thing I could find but it was also good nonetheless. We all hung out there for a bit chatting, waiting for some time (and the rain) to pass. 

To be honest…these looked better than they tasted. Should have bought one of those Shrek-lookin gingerbread bears!

I then get a message from 민정쌤 about a missing PowerPoint from 3반 who promised to prepare one for community service event the following day. I told her that we would do it by three as Josh and I expected to go to a cafe after lunch to work on it but 민정쌤 got mad and scolded us for not giving it to her by the deadline. She started saying that she knows we all have things we still want to do in Korea but we can’t ignore our work since this is a scholarship program. It made me feel really bad and guilty that I almost started to cry. Josh realized my feelings and we ended up deciding to finish the presentation right then and there while the others just walked around for a bit until we were done. We made our PowerPoint in record time and then left to explore the village with the rest of the students. 

We went to walk around a park and found this red cherry shaped statue with the phrase “Love’s Fruit” written on one side. I recognized the statue which made me start looking around until I saw the familiar sight of the front of a cafe.

I kept walking closer until I was sure. I started screaming to Katie and I pulled her over to the cafe and pointed at the doorway that had a statue of a creepy doll. It took Katie a few seconds before she realized. We had both been to this cafe before! My host family took us after we had dinner at our favorite 짬뽕 place in 파주시. I couldn’t believe that we had technically come out here and I had no idea! 

Harmony brought her DSLR camera so we took lots of photos in front of the statue and with the scenery surrounding the park. It was a lot of fun! We took some serious, good shots while also sprinkling in ones with ridiculous poses for good measure. I will admit that the 대원외고 kids have mastered the straight face/sexy model poses better then us 하나고 girls… we will have to work on it. 

After taking photos wiped us clean of our energy, we decided to make our way to Provence Town which is a French themed town right next to the art village.

gloomy weather… but it still had its charm

Honestly, I think I liked this area the best! It took us about twenty minutes to walk there and it did start raining while we were on our way, but the effort put forth in trying to find it was definitely worth it. The town had all these beautiful brightly colored buildings and lots and lots of greenery. I don’t know if everything was exactly “French-looking” but it was at least very fairy tale-like if anything.

For lunch we ended up going to this place that had special lunch sets which came with soup, garlic bread, a drink, and then a main course being either pasta or 돈카쓰 (I ended up choosing the latter because it was 3 dollars cheaper—honestly the cost of things really affect what I purchase!) The soup we had was mushroom which I haven’t eaten in so long. And even though the garlic bread was sweet, I enjoyed it nonetheless. The portion sizes were huge so Liam ended up eating a lot of my meal.

 Afterward, we walked around more and enjoyed the views of the area before finding a cafe to chill in for a bit. Harmony and I were going to film a YouTube video on the rooftop of a cafe.

We came to the this particular cafe because the outside was absolutely gorgeous with light blue walls and flowers and ivy growing along the side. I’m not sure if it was because it was Friday (afternoon) or because it’s usually not too packed but no one was there! Literally there was probably one table filled on the first floor and then both the second and third floor were empty. We had the rooftop all to ourselves! It was so nice! 

Laughing Photos ❤

We filmed the video, ate some macaroons, took some artsy photos (You can decide whether you deem the attached photos artsy enough but I believe that they are some museum grade stuff.) After hanging out for a bit, we left and took the bus back to 홍대 this time. The others planned to head to a 찜질방 near 이화 but I was supposed to have dinner with my host sisters so I decided to just head home after getting off at 홍대. 

The bus ride was a lot of fun, though. The hour went by really quickly as we all talked the whole time and spilled some of our most embarrassing moments. (I told them about the day I ran into a glass door during my NSLI-Y summer program—that blog linked here—and a few other things that will not be spoken about on the internet. 

I used slang with my friend 호영 and his reaction killed me. I showed my host sisters his messages during our dinner together and they were so impressed by me 😉 IYKYK

Well, that is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~~ Thanks for reading !! Do not forget to subscribe for more~ I still have some interesting posts to share!

  • Emma 엠마 

Ikseon-dong {익선동}, Flower Cafe, and First Korean Convenience Store Ramen (04/25/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/25/19 Thursday 

Our plan to make the most of our days off was to return to 익선동 on a day in which there would be little to no crowds (AKA today) because the first time we visited back in March—on a Friday—there were so many people that walking through the narrow streets and alleyways between the closely packed buildings was extremely difficult. We decided then that it would have to be an excursion we take again during our midterm break. We decided to return to 익선동 to do some more shopping (for clothes, jewelry, whatever else) and also go to this cute flower cafe that we kept passing by the last time we went. 

Most cafes in Korea tend to open pretty late in the morning (11 am is a pretty average opening hour for most cafes here in Seoul) but this one was open from 7:30 am! Unfortunately, it’s not a study cafe though… so I wouldn’t know why anyone would come this early but I guess for those who want to peacefully take pictures undisturbed, they can do that super early in the morning. 

Although the cafe was obviously not meant for studying and more here for aesthetic reasons, Katie and I studied there anyway. I ended up ordering a rose latte (because I wanted something unique!) and Katie got her usual recent favorite—strawberry latte (which in Korea is just milk with strawberries… literally.) We were not being too productive as I kept getting distracted by our plans for our trip to 파주시 for the following day with the 대원외고 students.

We left the cafe earlier than planned and just did some strolling around the area. A lot of things were still closed which was a shame. Most of the cafes and food stalls don’t seem to open until 1 or 2 so although coming in the morning is a great way to beat the crowds, it may not always be the best decision either. (As an example, the jewelry shop that I bought earrings and a necklace from last time was closed unfortunately.. and no churros or 호떡 for us either! But maybe this curse was disguised as a blessing because it kept me from spending money!)

For lunch, we ended up just buying ramen from the convenience store near the youth center where I take Korean classes and eating it in the lobby of the fourth floor. We used the hot water from the water filter/dispenser and cooked the ramen that way.  (My first time not boiling water the traditional way–on a stove-top) It was actually also my first time buying ramen from the convenience store! But I still have yet to buy it, cook it, and eat it at the convenience store. I really want to have this inherent “Korean” experience but I just have not had the chance yet! That is still on my bucket list!! Although I will say, I am not the biggest fan of ramen so maybe that is why I have not instantly jumped at the prospect of completing this one.

It was sooo spicy yet so good! (I will have to bring some of these back with me to America…;)

However, this ramen was so good? The one Katie and I bought came with a packet of kimchi to mix in with the ramen because it was 김치찌개 (kimchi stew) flavored which only added to its deliciousness!

Josh’s dumpling-looking crab

During Korean class today, we did not get through much of anything that we needed to get through. We kept on getting off track by telling stories about things that somewhat related to the chapter?? When we went over the vocab words for the chapter, we discussed this proverb: 개자는 게 편이다 which basically has the same meaning of the English saying birds of a feather flock together. And I guess because of this proverb, Josh drew this very very weird looking crab on the board. It highly resembled a 만두 (dumpling). Our teacher showed him up thereafter though! She drew the cutest crab! I love her drawings~

After class, I went with Jacquelyn to walk around the main streets of 홍대 in search of some cute unique earrings because she was going out to dinner but did not bring any to class. I tagged along because I did not want to go home just yet but of course, I ended up buying some earrings as well–two pairs for only 5 dollars! We ran into Addie and Katie while walking back to the subway station and I decided to go with Katie to try to find something to buy to wear tomorrow. We walked around and ended up in one of our favorite stores (Lucky Factory)… I bought a dress for tomorrow–on sale–so I do not feel that bad for spending something extra on myself. I went home after that and chilled with my host mom, ate dinner, and did…some homework.

This post is extremely short! I would combine it with tomorrow but I know it is going to be super long and I do not want to post something that is too painfully long… so this is all for now. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed anyways!

  • Emma 엠마

Asia Philanthropy Awards & Hanging Out with Korean Friend in 서촌 (04/24/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/24/19 Wednesday 

My school uniform had to go and mess up my plans for this morning. I was originally planning on going to 경복궁 with Katie this morning to wear pastel colored premium 한복 (Korean traditional dress) and take photos but my uniform (or the lack of one) stopped me from following through on that plan. After 경복궁, we had to meet at 을지로입구역 at 12:05 pm to attend a mandatory NSLI-Y obligation, so we were only going to be walking around the palace grounds for about an hour and a half.

I woke up at 7 am and got ready by 8 am because it takes me about an hour to get to 경복궁 from where I currently live (west side of 고양시). While getting ready, I proceed to pack my bag with my school uniform (We had to wear our high school uniforms to the event– It was mandatory), only to realize that everything was in the wash.

Because I was not attending school this week, I put all of my uniform in my hamper to be washed without even considering the fact that it would not be dry in time for Wednesday. I started to freak out but I assumed I could just dress formally–in a dress– and then wear my school blazer (the one part of my school uniform, besides my bow or tie, that was not in the wash). I texted 소영쌤 about the situation and assumed that it was already solved and that this would be the end of that but… unfortunately, I was wrong. I was on the train–about 30 minutes from my house– and 소영쌤 tells me that I need to wear my uniform no matter what. Even if it is just my skirt and blazer but with a different top. But she stressed that I needed my skirt.

So I had to turn around to get home and wait an hour until my host mom woke up so that I could ask her to get my uniform (because it was hanging up to dry on the balcony attached to her room). My vest and dress shirt were soaked so I ditched those and just wore my wet skirt to appease 소영쌤 and the other 쌤s. I was back on the train before I knew it on the way to the ceremony…low key wishing that I did have the chance to go to 경복궁 with Katie.

I ended up getting to the meeting location about 20 minutes early and so did Alice so we ended up just walking around the area nearby. It reminded me of the main shopping streets of 명동 but way less touristy. It was definitely a place I could see a lot of college students going. Alix and I stumbled upon an earring shop with a lot of sales so we looked around and both bought something. (Since coming to Korea, I have fallen in love with earrings! I used to wear the same earrings every single day for basically all of high school.)

Eventually, we all met up with each other and made our way to the banquet hall that would be holding the APA: Asian Philanthropy Awards. (Did I mention earlier that this was what we would be doing?) Our group included all of the 대원외고 students, Katie and me, and the couple of others who wanted to skip school to attend this event: Hunter, Alix, June, and Jacquelyn. 

We ate some 김밥 that they prepared for us for lunch and then we pretty much sat there for the next hour. Jacquelyn was the only one really doing stuff as she had to practice for her co-host position. (She translated what the host said into English throughout the award ceremony. She was given a script before the event.)

Look at us ❤

About an hour before the start of the awards, June and I were delegated the task of standing in front of the second set of elevators (and the bathroom) to direct people coming off of the elevators to the check-in as well as direct people looking for the bathroom in the right direction. So we stood near the doors awkwardly yet boldly telling people where to go with Korean phrases we practiced with each other several times before we got the first chance to use them. Some people were really impressed with us and I really appreciated the people that would still greet us and ask us questions in Korean, it was validating. There were plenty of people that tried to shake our hands and only greeted us with “Hello” did it for us, but I tried my best to not take the comfortable route and go along with the ‘foreigner’ treatment. (plus I speak Korean so !! it was strange to suddenly switch to English.)

As expected… the group photo! 역시 그룹 사진을 찍었죸ㅋㅋ

The awards started at 2 pm and you best know that I raided the dessert and refreshment table before it began—one plastic cup filled with butter cookies and chocolate wafers. The people winning awards were from all around Asia including a Vietnamese Non-Profit Organization, a Japanese businessman, and an Indian man who won philanthropist of the year. There was also an award that went out to this high school student for developing music therapy programs at her school and others in the nearby area. She actually goes to an international school here in Korea and speaks perfect English! 

They even had a performance! This group did a lively tap dance routine!

Once the award ceremony was over, Katie, Mackenzie, and I convinced 주연쌤 and 소영쌤 to have individual meetings with us so we could talk about our stresses and how we are feeling about the end of the program being so soon. (This involved convincing them not to return to the Better World Office after the event).

❤ 우리 사랑하는 소영쌤과 주연쌤 ❤
벚꽃아이스크림

They said yes and so we went to a cafe and all had ice cream! Most of us tried their seasonal flavor of cherry blossom but honestly the flavor was really weak, which actually turned out to be a good thing since the after taste was reminiscent of cherry kid’s cough medicine. But still, I ate all of it and felt very grateful to 주연쌤 for buying it all for us! ❤

After that, Katie and I made our way to the 서촌 area near 경복궁 (made it here eventually ;”) in order to meet our supporter 혜린언니 for dinner and a cafe date! She had finished midterms that day (and had stayed up all night to study), so she ended up falling asleep right before we met up and woke up right at our meeting time. We waited about half an hour for her to arrive and she could not stop apologizing to us! But we wholeheartedly understood! We had no problem waiting for one of our favorite people! 

Two of my favorite things in this one photo: 혜린언니 & 떡볶이! hehe

For dinner, we decided to go to 통인시장 but by the time we got there, pretty much every stall was closed or starting to close so our options were very limited. We found this one small place that had some indoor seating near the exit of the market and we shared some 떡볶이 (spicy rice cakes), 순대 (blood sausage), and 튀김 (fried veggies like sweet potato and seaweed). 혜린언니 did not think the food tasted that good and wished we could have ate something better but Katie and I kept reassuring her that we enjoyed the meal! And regardless of the taste, we were not here for the food but for her! It really touches me that she cares so much about us. How did we get so lucky to have been basically placed with the best supporter?

We went to a cute cafe after dinner and shared a lava cake and a strawberry and blueberry late which were way too expensive but nonetheless very delicious! We spent the next couple of hours just talking and laughing the night away. The previous times we have met, we talked in a lot of mixed English and Korean but this time it was almost all in Korean! I could not believe how much we have improved to talk about all that we did! A lot of dating talk went down? Comparing relationships in America and Korea. It was quite fun. We also high key talked about people and things they do that annoy us– AKA pet peeves!

I really enjoyed this night with 혜린언니 and Katie and my heart truly aches when I think about our last meeting before we return to America (because this will not be our last!) I am going to miss her so much! It has been great having an older sister that I am so close with! Luckily, I know she will always be here for me to hang out whenever I do return. For that, I am grateful!

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Class Hangout, Pasta Dinner with Resident Director, and Mailing Packages Back to America (04/23/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

4/23/19 Tuesday 

Katie and I met up at 홍익 station at around 10:30 am so that we would have ample time to walk to the post office (about a 20 ish minute walk—but it felt like years carrying all of our bags) to mail some packages back to America. Because the program is coming to an end, we are beginning to worry about the whole packing situation: overweight bags or not having enough space at the end is not an option! With all our bags in tow, we made the walk in the heat to mail our things. I brought a lot to mail! So much.. in fact, I couldn’t even mail everything in the one box I chose… I’ll have to come back if worse comes to worse…

I packed up and sent all of my finished Korean workbooks, unused notebooks, stationary, Korean notebooks, books, stuffed animals, two winter coats, and a couple random things like a music box, party hat, etc. 

Boxes fully packed!

Katie and I were experts this time around and were able to pack our things into the boxes and fill out the mailing form with only a couple mistakes. Mine ended up being about $40 by boat for like 17 pounds? Possibly… I’m not sure how their scale worked.

We left the post office feeling accomplished and then stopped by a nearby convenience store for ice cream because after this whole ordeal we were sweaty—and felt that we deserved the sweet treat. We scarfed those down pretty quickly and recharged for a couple minutes before heading back to Better World to meet up with 소영쌤 and 주연쌤 for lunch. While we were walking back; however, Katie began doubting my navigational skills—convinced that I took the wrong turn. I kept telling her that I knew what I was doing but low key I did just make the turn at that moment because it felt like the right moment to turn. So I was also worried that I made a mistake. Eventually, we saw some familiar places and knew that we were on the right path. I was proud that my ‘traveler intuition’ if you will did not steer me wrong. It also made me happy to realize how well I have adjusted to the area–it does feel so familiar and comfortable.

When we got to Better World, 주연쌤 asked me what I wanted to eat and I said pasta which blew a fuse with 주연쌤 because she and Katie were planning on going to a pasta place too. She assumed that we did that on purpose to eat together. (Though I was the first one to tell Katie that I wanted to have pasta!) They took us to this little joint down an alleyway from the office and we even passed this ‘quirky’ cafe. Upon seeing the name, both me and Katie read it aloud: Cafe Urp, saying the last word like the urp in burp. 주연쌤 laughed and corrected us by informing us that you are supposed to say each of the letters of the name individually. She mentioned that last year’s group did the same thing! It’s just the cafe’s name, not us! (Apparently, last year’s program’s students loved this place. It is so interesting to see how each cohort is so different.)

Look at this complimentary bread! It was black! (Because it was infused with squid ink! So cool)

Lunch with 소영쌤 was really great! I ordered a carbonara pasta and it was one of the best pasta dishes I have probably had in Korea? I loved that it was a cream pasta but that the cream wasn’t overwhelming. Plus the mushrooms were perfectly cooked! It was kind of expensive for 13,000-15,000 Won for a plate of pasta but that’s normal for Italian food here; we cannot complain about that price point. I’ve felt like I haven’t gotten the chance to get really close with 소영쌤 (Maybe because she came a little bit later into the program? She joined the office back in mid-late November. But honestly, I forget that she has not been with us since the beginning often! That is a good sign I believe.) After talking with her a lot during my host family check-In meeting, I wanted the chance to talk to her more. 

I’ve never been prouder of my Korean skills than I was during this lunch. I honestly surprised myself with the things I was able to say— the grammar points and vocab words used. But most importantly, I was proud of myself for figuring out how to explain my thoughts properly and for talking around things when I was missing vocab word knowledge. For example, at one point, we discussed my individual research project which is about Korean society’s perception of the disabled—with a main focus on those with mental disabilities rather than physical. I wanted to explain that some families will go to the great length of convincing the doctors to misdiagnose their patients in order to not receive a diagnosis of Autism. I didn’t know the word for diagnose and I sat there for a couple seconds becoming really frustrated with myself because I could only think of the word for “to prescribe” which I knew wasn’t right. I began to think about how to say the word in English but I couldn’t even think of that. And then suddenly, I just started talking around the subject and giving an example to 소영쌤 for her to tell me the word for ‘to diagnose’ (it is 지단하다 by the way) and from there, I was able to explain my thoughts. This may seem like something small but often times when I can’t figure out how to say something, I give up and just say anything but what was originally intended. I filter my own thoughts due to these ‘word barriers.’ This lunch showed me that I can overcome the bad habit of planning out what I want to say in my head before saying it. I can make sense if I just let myself speak! 

We had such great conversation! I talked all about my project and we discussed the possible sources of the difference in perception of disabilities between America and Korea. We also talked about the burning sun controversy, drug related arrests, drug searches/investigations, the Topik test, technology causing a disappearance of jobs, the difficulty of getting a job after college, teachers at 하나고, and finding a roommate for college! It was a really nice lunch~~ I hope I can do something like this with her again once last time before we leave—even if it’s just a little cafe date. 

After lunch, Katie and I walked back to the youth center and just hung out with all the other students for a bit. I ended up taking a walk with Shada and then stopping at Dari Cafe together just to chat—while I was multitasking by studying both my vocab words on Quizlet and talking to Shada. 

Class today was very rushed as we are currently a bit behind when it comes to our schedule. Today we ended up having to present our technology presentations which were supposed to originally have been given last week Thursday. We also took a quiz that was supposed to be taken then too. This time, our teacher made our tests harder by increasing the amount of vocab questions (as well as the amount of words in the word bank) and adding more questions that included answers that were proverbs or commonly used phrases. There were word banks (or should I say phrase banks?) for the proverbs but questions for the phrases gave nothing. 

Lately, I haven’t been doing my best on these quizzes. Usually it’s a mix of mostly me not understanding the actual question (like the overal meaning or random vocab words in it) and then sometimes me generally not knowing a word in the word bank. This time, though, I surprised myself. On the hardest quiz we have probably had yet, (Also, we are on textbook 5! This is like Topik Level 5 advanced vocab !!) I got 100%!! Nothing wrong!! I haven’t gotten an 100 on a quiz in what seems like forever. I couldn’t stop smiling. I’ve been getting back to studying the amount that I need to do well and the effort is already starting to show itself~ 

Once class was over, Jacquelyn, Josh, and I left to have our very first class dinner—of just the three of us—for the first time this entire program. While we were walking to the destination, we tried coming up with times we met up and ate together but there was always one other person with us. I brought up our one short trip to the grilled cheese place but I didn’t eat anything when we went so Jacquelyn ruled that out and said it doesn’t count. 

We ate here~

So we had our first class dinner at this Japanese restaurant. I am not too familiar with Japanese food so I was happy to try something that I usually don’t eat—especially something that I wouldn’t leave my comfort zone to try if I was by myself. I ate 사계동 (or something like that?) It was basically just a bowl of rice topped with raw salmon, veggies, and soy sauce—very tasty though! The fish was very fresh. 

During dinner we talked a lot about how far we’ve come throughout the program, our relationships with the others, how we have changed during program (growing to really love 김치 being one common thread that I had with Josh), worries about college, our plans for what to study in college, plans to meet up in Virginia and go to Betty’s Azalea Ranch (an inside joke within my class), as well as plans to go to 노량진시장 together once more before leaving Korea! 

It was still really early when we finished our dinner since we did get to the restaurant only a bit after 5:30 pm so we decided to get some dessert at a cute cafe.

Of course, Jacquelyn pulled out Mango Plate and was able to find a place selling chocolate lava cake. It was a bit pricey—6,500 Won (probably a little less than $6) but it was worth it! The cafe was decorated gorgeously and the atmosphere was so comfortable. Additionally, once this couple before us left, we had the whole cafe to ourselves for about two hours. No one came in during the duration that we were there. That probably isn’t the case on non weekday nights but I liked that it wasn’t crazy loud or busy or anything like that. 

Our cafe conversation was fun as well. We have fun in class too with stories and such but it felt different to be out of the classroom environment and in a more chill one with the both of them. It was really enjoyable and it made me wish that we had done this more often—from the beginning. We always said we would…

We even ate the lava cakes with these cute little wooden spoons! Adorable!

At one point, Jacquelyn brought up a fact that she doesn’t really hang out with this one NSLI-Yian anymore after they moved away from 홍대 and how the distance kept their relationship from getting closer. Josh added to this to say that he used hang out with a girl named “Emma” (literally not subtle at all) a lot when he lived in 고양시 and since then, they haven’t hung out often. I felt sorely attacked by this but I mean he wasn’t wrong. We did kinda drift a part after he moved away due to the distance as well as some misunderstandings within our cohort. But we have been hanging out more lately it seems! And I will continue to make plans with Josh because I really do treasure his friendship~ 

사랑하는 3반친구들

Josh and I ran into Jack at the subway station and he told us about his master plan to order pizza before class the next day and then asking to pick it up during one of the class breaks so that he and Liam could eat pizza during class. I found this plan very funny and exactly something they would do for sure. I went home after that, arriving at about 8:30 pm ish. Rather than studying Korean, I stayed up late figuring out financial things for college and filling out my housing application. Everything is so complicated and I am out of the loop… I know no one from my ‘new’ class and I’m nervous about that. I’m also not a apart of the new QB (my scholarship) chat so… that’s concerning. I need to figure out how to join. I also did research on where to rent 한복 near 경복궁 but that proved to be preparation in vain..you’ll find out why in the next blog post. 

Thanks for reading~ Till next time! Subscribe to stay in the loop for more updates! Bye!~

  • Emma 엠마

The Weather Has Warmed Up in Korea! Picnic at Seoul Forest {04/20/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

4/20/19 Saturday 

Saturday was in fact the day before the Topik test (Korean proficiency test) so I was aware of the fact that I wanted to (and probably needed to) study a bit more before taking it (looking over grammar and studying more vocabulary etc) and despite this realization, I decided to still go out and have some fun with Katie and Josh during the afternoon (But who can blame me for taking advantage of the beautiful weather?)

seoul forest 14

Andy always keeps me company when I am getting ready

I got to wake up late today and sleep in because Katie and I mutually decided that we needed to better our sleep schedules so we ultimately decided against getting up and meeting early. I was able to have a relaxing morning, chilling in and lazing around my room and got to eat breakfast with my host family. (I usually leave the house before them on weekends–and during the school week–so we do not often get to have breakfast together besides for Sundays.) We ate 순두부찌개 (Tofu Stew), 오뎅 (Fishcake), and some 반찬 (Various Side Dishes) along with rice of course! It was a nice morning because I got to chat a lot with my host mom and host sister and hear about a recent scandal in Korea! 

Apparently there are (the past conjugation ‘were’ should be placed there now but…) about two main milk brands in Korea that compete against each other. However, my host sister told me that most people even switch off with which one they buy—it’s not a big deal. Most people tend not to be too loyal to a brand for milk. But recently, a lot came out about one of the brands and since then, their sales have dropped dramatically because people refuse to buy their products. She told me the actual figures for this decrease but I cannot reliably do any calculations above 100,000 in Korean… you lose me once there are 6 zeroes. But from her expression and her tone of voice, I could tell that whatever she said had a pretty significant difference. Apparently at the company, there were a lot of sexual discrimination cases against female workers and one person in particular talked about everything that went on there while she was working (she has since left the company) and posted it on an online forum. Not only that, but the granddaughter of the CEO of the company was involved in the Burning Sun controversy (scandal involving Big Bang’s 승리 and drugs and prostitutes at his many clubs) so those two things combined have made people stop buying their milk as a boycott—including our older host sister. I might not have added too much to the conversation but being able to practically understand all that my host sister said made me really proud! 

I met up with Katie at her station at around 12:30 pm and we took the train together to 서울숲 (Seoul Forest) to get there by 1 pm. Katie bought bread from a bakery near her house and I bought us some 김밥 and drinks from a convenience store right outside of the exit. I didn’t look up how to get into the park but I figured I’d be able to do it with whatever was left of my memory from visiting three years ago—I felt like it was still pretty clear in my mind. 

seoul forest 1

I successfully got us to the right place and we ended up finding a seat on these raised planks of wood near the entrance (meant for picnics) and we camped out there and ate our food until Josh arrived. We talked about a lot of stuff including our worries about going to college and leaving Korea all behind. It got pretty emotional at times and then next think you know, I was cracking a hard boiled egg on Josh’s head!

seoul forest 2

He first actually handed it to Katie and asked her to open it because he can’t (He really can’t though! He always wastes so much of the egg white when he opens it by himself. I assist him during Korean class) but then she looks at him and goes “Dude How Would I Know How to Do That?” He asked the girl that doesn’t eat eggs to open an egg??? 

After finishing up our food, we left to find the deer corral as well as just take in the beautiful scenery that the forest had to offer. It is truly crazy how big the park is and how it can make you feel like you are not in the middle of a city.

But apparently, they have stopped allowing you to feed deer? When I went before with Sofia, we were able to buy deer food and feed the deer through the fence.

This time there was a sign on the feed vending machine saying that in order to not spread infectious diseases, you could no longer feed the deer. This was pretty unfortunate but we just decided to keep walking about and chatting. We did end up going inside the animal/plant conservatory! There was also an event going on so there were photo zones set up throughout the place for that very purpose. 

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We ended our trip there with some ice cream from the small convenience store and enjoyed that on some benches. After josh left for church, Katie and I walked around the area a bit more—ran into a festival—and found a cafe to sit in and do some actual homework for a little more than an hour (I spent the whole time learning vocab words on Quizlet.) 

I got home right in time for dinner so I ended up eating 냉면 (for me, it was 물냉면) with my younger host sister and mother. We ate and talked a bit at the table afterwards. 

I spent the rest of the night doing Quizlet sets and reading over example sentences of practically every grammar point I’ve learned this year. Luckily, Topik has no speaking portion so I’m just gonna hope that the readings and audio recordings and writing topics aren’t too difficult! 

That’s all for this blog post! It’s gone on long enough~ Thanks for reading! I hope this was entertaining enough… Till next time~ 

  • Emma 엠마

Laughing Fits in Korean Class & Easter Celebrations at my Korean High School (04/18-04/19/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/18/19 Thursday 

This morning, for some reason, I really had an eye out for nature. Maybe because I didn’t have to sprint to the train station like I usually do?… But when I was walking there, I noticed that this one cherry blossom tree beautifully lined up with the sunrise. I took a snapshot to capture this moment. 

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(I looked at the same tree today as I was heading out—I’m writing this about three days later—and the majority of the pink petals had fallen off and only green leaves remained. It made me sad that the cherry blossoms were gone so fast. But, I also found comfort in the fact that they left behind a different kind of beauty in their wake: a green spring. As cheesy as it sounds, I related it to my experience here in Korea. I would be leaving something great and of course that is a shame, but hopefully this chapter of my life that I end will allow me to start a new one—renewal is what I’d like to think it is. Sorry for this long tangent! But future me will feel grateful that I wrote this. I know this for sure.) :”)

Also, while walking up to 하나고 this morning with Katie, I took a photo of a cherry blossom tree that perfectly lined up under the logo of the school on the side of the building. Wow, my school really is so beautiful.

School today was really uneventful. I literally just self-studied the entire day! During economics, I spent the first period reviewing grammar from the grammar book (ones we learned & a couple ones I’ve been interested about). Then during the second period, I did Quizlet. I mean, I did get lots of work done but I also spent quite a bit of time just silently dancing in my seat and mouthing words to old pop songs—I have suddenly got in the kick of listening to music!! Podcasts are out and music is in! 

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During 한국사, I switched between studying vocab words on Quizlet and memorizing my presentation for today’s class. While I was memorizing the script, the teacher came by and gave me a weird look for silently whispering something and I explained that I was memorizing. He wished me luck and told me to keep studying hard. Seeing him be so supportive really makes me want to try harder in paying attention to his class rather than doing my own work… when I get back after Midterm week, I will make sure to memorize my scripts in Economics (or on Wednesday like a good student would) so I can pay attention to his lectures. 

Instead of going the 편의점 (convenience store) route for lunch today, Katie and I decided to get 만두 with Jenna before class at this place the other students frequent but I have yet to go to! Jenna was kind enough to buy our food while she was there earlier in the afternoon and then we met up with her on her way back to the youth center we have classes at. Katie and I got into a little fight on the way to class over something really silly which made us not speak for the rest of the time that we were physically together. I also refrained from texting her that night until I really had to regarding plans for tomorrow. She texted back and seemed like she had gotten over it or forgiven me. I was still mad about it but there was no way I was gonna not forgive her—I can’t go a whole day without talking to her, no way. She is my best friend. We were both probably stressed and we just let those emotions get the best of us.

Korean class today went by so fast even though we didn’t get much done. We just kept talking and talking which made us waste time. We didn’t even get through all the words in the workbook—we had to skip three and all the idioms. We hurried along and learned one grammar point but we had no time to do any of our presentations which if I am being honest, was relieving. I was fully prepared and had it memorized.. yes, but I still did not want to present. (When do I ever though?) 

But class was also A LOT of fun as we got into this laughing fit because of Josh’s facial hair. Finally, the guy shaved his beard—we had all been pressuring him for awhile now. He came into class today and the teacher was shocked to see Josh looking so different. But it’s so true; he almost looks like a different person—he seriously gains back several years once he shaves his beard. Also, while he was in the process of doing that, he took a photo when the only hair on his face was a mustache and goatee. He literally looked crazy. He showed 민정쌤 before class started and she couldn’t stop laughing. She even took a photo of his phone! Our teacher also had such a hilarious reaction to that style. 

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Josh hates his face bare because he wants to look older even though everyone around him tells him that he looks better with no facial hair. Our teacher said that she doesn’t think he looks like an adult with the beard. She still thinks that he looks around his age. But she made a point to say that without his beard, he looks young and fresh like a high school or middle school student. Jacquelyn and I lost it at this point. Josh just sat in his chair looking dejected over being told he looks so young and says with no energy or emotion in his voice “수업 합시다” (Let’s start class). It was definitely a you-had-to-have-been-there-moment.

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After class instead of going home right away, McKenzie came with me to buy macaroons for my close group of 하나고 friends as a gift for their midterm studying and to bribe them to keep liking me… that’s a joke! I was feeling all confident all of a sudden when I was ordering so I asked the employee how many macaroons were in his smallest set and when he told me 6, I was like perfect, I’ll take it! Then, he told me that actually he only had boxes for 8, so would that be okay and because of who I am as a person, I did not decline and just spent more money on macaroons I didn’t need! (Also my favorite macaroons are still the ones from Blanc Bakery; however, the ones here were only 1,000 won each–less than one dollar–so they are better for buying in bulk.)

I spent the rest of the night studying vocabulary (in preparation for the Topik test on Sunday) and just relaxing. I ended up going to bed early for the first time in awhile. It felt good. 

4/19/19 Friday

Friday morning, Katie and I snuck around the 5th floor (the grades are separated by floors so the 5th floor is reserved for the third years and their classes and lockers) trying to find my friend 세림’s locker. We literally had nothing to go by, not even the location of her homeroom. We just walked down both of the hallways scanning the names on the lockers for hers. Luckily her name isn’t common and because I knew her last name, we were able to successfully find her locker. I wrote her a quick note and then put two macaroons (the extra ones I bought from yesterday) in a little baggy and put them in her locker. (For those avid readers, 세림 was one of my first friends at 하나고–in my AP Stats and AP Economics class the previous semester)

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Like yesterday, since all classes are basically 자습 (self-study) this week, there really wasn’t much to do. However in music class, Katie and I were given a project on 아리랑 (Arirang) to do during the two periods. We are expected to go all out and even make a poster!! Although we had no motivation to do any work, we were quite productive and were able to do all the research we needed and translate all of that into Korean. It took a lot of effort I will say! 

In Public Speaking, we just had self-study time so I literally just memorized words on Quizlet for two hours—with the occasional break to check Kakao messages and what not. (Also to check in on 서린 sitting next to me who was switching between manic episodes of sighing and sleeping)

Lunch was fun today even though we failed to get everyone to come today (there’s always someone missing because they didn’t do their homework, they have a meeting, or they have to study for some test etc…) I had to give 혜지 her macaroon early because she was doing homework in one of the 움파s (the little pods in the hallways with tables) instead of coming to lunch. 

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Also, outside of the cafeteria today, there were a group of students (They seemed to be mostly third year students from the looks of it) singing with our coordinating teacher 경훈쌤. They were also passing out hard boiled eggs with religious phrases and sayings on them around to the students. I realized that they had set this all up because it was Easter on Sunday and that meant that today was Good Friday. I assume that maybe the songs they were singing had some religious undertones to them? It was nice to see them all singing though~ It made me really happy just to see that. Our teacher was also playing the guitar!

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Translation: The Joy of Resurrection Jesus!

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But of course…because we are in Korea, lunch includes rice, too

Lunch today was really delicious! They served tomato soup, a chicken leg, eggplant Parmesan, and sticks of garlic bread (Although, the garlic bread had sugar on it which was not the move…Why is Korean garlic bread always sweet???). And of course, all our friends got to have macaroons! 

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Do not worry! I also got Katie a macaroon ❤

After lunch, Katie and I planned out what we were going to do all the following week for midterm week. We were of course going to schedule out some time to study but more importantly, we wanted to really use the time we had left in Korea to the best of our abilities and if that means playing rather than studying as much as we have been studying (and that’s a lot trust me) then so be it! This is a rough outline of our schedule: 

Monday – 

Morning: Brunch in 홍대 (At Flapjack Pantry ❤ The OG) 

Before Class: Black & White Cartoon Cafe (Study Time) 

Lunch: (if hungry) Convenience Store Ramen

———————

After Class:

Dinner: With Host Family

Tuesday – 

Morning: Mail Package (by boat) Back to America (Post Office in 홍대)

Before Class: Josh’s Cafe Near Better World (To Study)

Lunch: Katie w/ 주연쌤 and Me w/ 소영쌤 (Being treated by our Resident Directors <3)

———————-

After Class: 

Dinner: Class Dinner with Josh and Jacquelyn

Wednesday –

Morning: Wear Spring 한복 at 경복궁

Lunch: Food at 통인시장 

Afternoon: APA awards Event 

———————

Dinner: Meet up with 혜린 언니 to have Dinner and Hang Out~ 

Thursday – 

Morning: Cafe at 익선동 & Shopping

Before class: Above Continued

Lunch: Street Food (Something Easy)

————————

After Class:

Dinner: With Host Family

Friday – 

인천 Island Trip with the 대원 students!!!

(ALL DAY) 


Our economics teacher didn’t show up to class today so we ended up all having to go to the library and study there. I tried studying for the entire first period—I did like one grammar point and I studied some vocab but by break time… I got so tired. So during the second period… I just slept the entire time in the library. I had no shame (but neither did many of the other students there so it is what it is!)

After school, Katie and I were so elated at the fact that it was now the weekend and… we would be off for the next week from school!! (Because the 하나고 students would be taking midterms then) We were practically screaming while leaving the school building! (The security guards at the gate probably thought we were so weird…)

We went to a Paris Baguette near the subway station and shared a strawberry cream croissant and did our makeup (And when I say that I mean Katie did my makeup and her own!) 

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I had plans to hangout with a Korean friend in 홍대 afterwards while Katie was hanging out with some NSLI-Y friends around 마포구 as well. 

Friday night was really nice~ The weather was so nice so I really enjoyed walking around the streets of 홍대, getting more of the inside scoop of the place from a local (because although I am here AT LEAST three times a week, I still seem to go to the same old couple of places and I don’t just explore random alley ways).

We walked around the 홍익대 (Hongik University) campus too which I had never actually seen. Mostly because I had no need to go up to their campus—I don’t know any students there—but it was interesting to see that Korean colleges looked really similar to American ones. They did have a smoking room which I thought was interesting. And, one of there streets was called “와우” street (Wow street) which made my day.

There is this place in 홍대 that once had this huge playground (according to my friend) but now it’s just an open area with a brick path that has a lot of benches (and I guess sometimes performers too?) People still call it 놀이터 (playground), however. Now, many people use it as a meeting spot. Though I heard it’s not the best place to go at night because of the bars and clubs that are such a close proximity—weird people fill up that area fast (again…according to my local friend).

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For dinner we got pasta at this really small joint called Pasta Rico and we shared two plates of pasta. It was all really delicious! And the prices were not bad for pasta! My seafood tomato dish was less than $8–like would you look at that! 

We went to a 노래방 (karaoke) after that and sang several songs—really off key and we even mumbled lyrics we didn’t know but it was fun nonetheless. I have realized that I will never be good at Korean rap, no matter how much effort I put in.

We finished off the night just going to a cafe to just chill and chat. We talked a lot and besides having a friend to hang out with, our friendship is truly helping me get better at Korean no doubt. Just tonight, we discussed Korea’s convoluted and tough-to-break-into job market and competition with college entrance exams and such. (Shoutout to my Korean class for making it possible for me discuss such complicated topics! Moments like these remind me how far I have come!)

Wow did not expect to make 2,000 words…let alone almost hitting 2,500. Sorry about that! I hope you enjoyed this exceptionally long blog post anyways! Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마