Vietnamese Food in Sinchon and Parent’s Day in Korea (05/06-07/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

05/06/19 Monday

A/N: I am writing about these days quite a bit after they actually happened and my lack of pictures and a photographic memory means that this won’t be the most detailed blog, unfortunately. It’s more of a bummer for me than for you all, though.

Because I had no school today, I was finally able to spend time with my host family during a weekday for breakfast. My host mom made these deliciously healthy omelets and although my younger host sister complained, I found them tasty. I left after breakfast and met up with Katie and Jenna at 이대. We wanted to go out for lunch together and help refrain each other from buying any clothes that we see on the way. We walked around the 이대 area for a little bit and nothing really stood out to us for lunch. Eventually Jenna recommended us a couple places near 연세대 so we made the short trek to the area around that university instead.

Katie brought us Macaroons! ❤

Jenna took us to this Vietnamese place called (Emoi?) which she had been the day previous with her church friends. She promised that the food was so good that she didn’t mind coming with us again. We all ordered the cheapest pho dish on the menu (of course, stipend does not stretch that much!) and some fried roll to share. The service was fast and everything was delicious! The portion was huge so I couldn’t even finish all of my noodles even though I tried my very best. 

After eating, we went over to a cafe in order to get some work done and apparently every other college student in the area had the same idea. We passed by our first choice (Twosome) and there were literally no seats for us. We turned down a few alleys until we stumbled upon a place that was almost hidden and took the last big 4-seater-table. 

Katie and I were still on a 제주도 high so we decided to order a 한라봉 latte because it sounded fancy and I thought it would take us back. I should have taken a guess after seeing the several hundred strawberry lattes that Katie has ordered that this fruity drink would not be an actual latte but alas I was fooled. (spoiler alert: strawberry lattes are just cups of milk with pieces of strawberry in it). So that is what we got: a cup of milk with 한라봉. I was able to be pretty productive for around 2 hours so it was not a waste by any means. Plus, it was nice hanging out with the girls. Especially Jenna, I haven’t really hung out with her that often. 

My host family had eaten by the time I came home so I just had instant black bean noodles and some strawberries to end the night before tucking in to more homework.

5/07/19 Tuesday

Back to School! I don’t remember much of this day… in the morning I had my English conversation period with the three second year girls. Instead of speaking in English about a certain topic chosen beforehand, we ended up just planning out what we would be doing when we met up on Saturday in 홍대. We planned to make perfume or jewelry at this one place that 수빈 found on some list on Naver and we decided to eat at this pretty cheap chicken place—again due to another recommendation from 수빈. (She is definitely the one that plans within the friend group) We also would go to a 노래방 (Karaoke) and buy any street foods that the girls were craving. It looked like it was going to be a really fun day. Jam packed into only 3 hours—the girls had to be back at the school—but fun nonetheless. 

In music class Katie and I finished researching and writing out info for our presentation. We would not have to present them aloud to the class because the entire class was behind (Our teacher did not show up for a class period) so we would just be hanging up our posters in the hallway outside of the classroom. 한국사 (Korean History) was another lecture that I didn’t understand well (Though I also didn’t try hard to pay attention today.. I wanted to do my Korean homework instead…) 

My last class of the day was another English conversation class and the two girls and I just spent the whole time talking about how our class trips went. They all went to different places (강화도 and 부산). And let me just say they got away with a lot! 😉 I will not detail anything else because…a girls gotta have their secrets!

After school was of course Korean class but I don’t remember anything that we did. Since today was Parent’s day, I asked my teacher what to get my host mom and she told me that the most iconic gift for parents is the flower carnation. I realized that she was spot on when I left the center and saw that there were now flower carts on many of the street corners selling little bouquets of carnations. Kaitlyn and I ended up buying just one single carnation flower for our host parents (BIG shoutout to us for being able to use the counter for flowers when asking how much one single flower would cost!) 

After that, June, Kaitlyn, and I went to 노래방. I have been telling everyone that I needed a buddy to go with me as I really needed to sing some old Justin Bieber songs and so we did just that. Do not ask me why I was in the mood to sing such songs… I was just ready to be hit with a wave of nostalgia from middle school. Also, you would have to be lying if you disagreed with and said that Baby is not an iconic karaoke song. Like, come on. And, to top it all off, we were able to snag a score of 100 on Never Say Never by Justin Bieber. We truly sang our little hearts out. 

I went home after the hour of karaoke and had dinner with my host family. My host mom was on the phone for business when I tried to give her the carnation I bought her for Parent’s Day and so I awkwardly stood outside her bedroom door until my younger host sister noticed. They all started shouting at my host mom when I explained to them what the flower was for because they were so touched by my action. They had not even gotten anything for their mother so it was a surprise to see me following tradition for this holiday. My host mom was very grateful for the small act of kindness I showed her and she even set a photo of my carnation as her profile picture on Kakao Talk (The true Medal of Honor).

Well that is all I have for this blog post~~ It is kind of a bit everywhere because I had to combine so many days but it’s my fault for falling behind on writing!! Don’t get your hopes up though… my next post will probably also be a combination of a couple days with photos being few and far between. I’m sorry!! I’m hoping to up the quality of these posts soon but hey, that is life sometimes! I’m having a blast in Korea and the times are busy and hectic so my blog is taking a back seat. Hope you all understand ^^ Thanks for reading !!

  • Emma 엠마

Visiting a Traditional Tea House (찻집) and Funny Phone Cases (04/02-04/03/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/02/19 Tuesday

skool 5

This week I am sporting my school uniform tie! Hehe

School. School. School. School. During my morning English mentorship, the girls and I discussed our respective school cultures and rules and even though I heard most if not all of the things they talked about already, I still enjoyed hearing from them—especially when they talked about the aspects they liked. For example, 수빈 dances for her 1인2기 and so I got to watch one of her videos with a choreographed dance she did to Arianna Grande’s song 7 Rings! It was really really good! They were most excited to hear about prom and school dances from my perspective. (A lot of 하나고 students (and Koreans in general? seem to call Prom “Prom Party” which is interesting because I feel like most American movies just say prom so where they got the added party from beats me…)

During music class, Katie and I just goofed off while trying to work on our music assignment. (I say we but she was the one doing all the work on the song…) Either way, we were not doing what we were supposed to be doing fully. 

During 한국사, I just worked on my Korean homework and only paid enough attention in class to be able to fill out the note sheet along with the rest of the students. But I didn’t even try to learn any of the material that he went over during class. 

Honestly when it comes to my second English mentorship class of the day, I can’t even remember what we talked about. The only thing I remember was this one incident that will forever be recorded because of the photos in my camera roll. One of the girls in my group—서영—has a phone case of some famous rapper in Korea. But his face is plastered on the case in a certain way that if you put the case up to your face, it almost looks as if you are the person. She was demonstrating this to me while 기준 walks into the room and I was able to capture this photo of his face being absolutely confused. (I later sent this photo in our 동아리 group chat for the laughs) 

Skool 2

But what did my group talk about? Beats me… 

For lunch… Katie and I once again yeeted out of 하나고 early and went to 연서시장 to get 분식 for lunch. Now that we are pros at ordering here, we have the whole system down and I bet we impress the Koreans that see us *flashes a sly smile.* Also, the same workers are always there so hopefully they will start to recognize us (if they haven’t already). I know we will start making this place a regular 단골집. Too bad we didn’t find this place before now… before the end if the program became so close…

skool 3

Never said the market looked the fanciest… but the food was always delicious!

Since I am like a week and a couple days behind on writing blog posts, I don’t remember what we did in Korean class at all.. Didn’t do anything out of the ordinary after class, just went home right afterward. 

For dinner, my host sisters and I went out to the 24 hour restaurant near the apartment and got some 콩나물국밥 (Bean sprout rice porridge) and 야채파전 (Korean vegetable and onion savory pancake). I updated them on all the drama that I knew was happening on the NSLI-Y program.

We also talked about random topics like bitcoin and stocks? My host sister and I discussed how hard it is to make money selling bitcoin and how her boyfriend is doing it. She also kept saying that it was a shame that her family did not invest in stocks or anything of that sort. I told them that at my high school, all the students hypothetically buy and sell stock in this stock market game as a way to sort of dip students’ toes into the territory that is investment (During our required Personal Finance Class). She thought that this class was very useful and wished Korean high schools could be more inclusive to ideas that are beyond plain old test preparation. We walked over and picked up some 죽 (porridge) for my host mom–who is currently sick– and then went home.

04/03/19 Wednesday

skool 8

Today was the last day that the Japanese exchange students would be at 하나고 so in the morning during homeroom, we watched a short little video that included clips of every single exchange student giving thanks to the student body for allowing them to make such good memories during the short two weeks as well as clips from the student helpers (the students that were decent enough at Japanese to help host the students like 서린). It was a really cute little sentimental video and it definitely made me think about my last day at 하나고. Right now I cannot even imagine it but my calendar and the world knows that I literally only have a little bit more than a month left here. 

skool 10

One of my classmates gave me this HUGE golden pig gummy (Because it is the Year of the Pig, there are so many cute pig-themed memorabilia. On the wrapper it roughly says “Dream a pig dream” because Koreans believe dreaming about pigs is lucky. In specific, golden pig dreams mean money!! 

The school day itself was mediocre. There ended up being no seats at the front of the class for 국어 again so I ended up just sitting in the back and nodding off (not trying very hard to pay attention to what the teacher was saying). During 세계사 I just did my writing homework and finished up my workbook pages so that I could spend the rest of the night focusing on my presentation for Thursday’s Korean class. And even though I have three good friends in my politics class, lately we just spend the periods having discussions and then a lecture, so I just kept to myself and did Korean homework. (Wednesdays are actually great because I can be so productive during my classes!)

Katie and I ate lunch with our friends today. Today’s lunch menu was foreign food which consisted of spaghetti, really sweet fries (I am talking potatoes covered in a sticky, sweet sauce), and some chicken wings. Usually Katie and I am disappointed by the meals that are not Korean but this one was okay. I did miss eating pasta and the chicken was really good. (I do still prefer normal fries, however.)

skool 11

Wednesdays after school usually comprise of Katie and me going to a cafe near our school (usually Twosome Place) and studying but this week I made plans with Jessica (NSLI-Y Korea Summer 2016 alumna and current Yonsei full-time student) to go to a cafe together back in 홍대 to just chill and catch up. She had plans with a language exchange partner later in the night (for dinner) so we just planned to hang for a couple hours at a tea shop that she recommended. 

To save time, I did not even change out of my school uniform! Jessica took me to this really cute tea shop that she first stumbled upon when she was going on a date and has come back often because the interior is really pretty and they offer a very large variety of tea served in really pretty cups and tea pots. I ended up ordering a cup of my favorite tea: 유자차 (Citron Tea) and we also shared a side menu item of green tea rice cakes which we dipped in this sweet honey like sauce. It was very delicious! The lady of the place was really nice to us and complimented our Korean which of course brought a smile to our faces.

skool 16

Jessica 언니 ㅎㅎㅎ

The two hours passed really quickly as we just chatted away. I updated her on the start of my new semester and the newfound stresses over test scores and my lack of Korean improvement (and related lack of motivation to study more to fix the issue…) I also talked to her about boy issues. She opened up to me about her recent breakup and how she was trying to date around to find someone new. She literally is living inside of a romantic drama as her love life is very complicated! But I wish her the best with the current boy she is chasing. It seems that he will treat her better than the last one. We finished up our tea talk and headed for our respective plans– mine being a nice dinner with my host family (and studying into the night).

skool 4

Andy ❤

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Do not forget to follow for more!

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Music Class, First 급식 Meal of the Semester and Knowing Nothing! (03/05/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/05/19 Tuesday

Today was technically the second day back at 하나고 for the new semester but it felt more like the first day as yesterday just consisted of the 입학식 (the entrance ceremony for first years) and getting things settled within our homerooms. Today was the first day that we would be following our schedules AKA going to new classes and having to make friends! 

Today was also the first day of my new waking-up-at-five-thirty-in-the-morning-school-life. I woke up this morning and the entire house was dark; I had to pour my cereal using the light from the fridge to guide me because I was afraid of turning on a light and accidentally turning on all of the lights for the house as well (irrational fear? maybe…) I left my house before 6:30 am and jogged my way over to the subway station for my 50-minute commute. It was so early! However, a positive of waking up so early was that the train is not as crowded. I also have planned my train schedule to give me about ten minutes at my transfer station (one with good wifi and benches) so I have time halfway through my commute to communicate with Katie or any other friends. Also, already I am feeling grateful for this long commute in a weird not predicted way and that is because, with this extra time I am forced to commute, I have extra time to study vocabulary on Quizlet or write blog posts. I have only been doing this for three days (while writing this at least) and I have gotten a lot done! We love using our time wisely!

Arriving at school brought an expected wave of nerves as I realized that it was, in fact, our second day of school. Unlike my high school (that had block scheduling) and would only have 2 days with the “first day of school” feeling… our schedule was different for every single day of the week meaning we would be having 5 first days practically!


My first class today was my English Mentorship (or as it is called in Korean– 교환학생 함께하는 공간–free period with an exchange student); however, I ended up sitting in the discussion room in the library for the entire period by myself. The library teacher explained to me that since it is the beginning of the school year, the kids for the class have not been decided yet. So I believe that Katie and I can accept 자습 (self-study) time during all of our scheduled mentorship periods this week (We have more this semester! I believe three instead of two?)

My second class of the day was music with Katie!! One good thing and one bad thing in that sentence, can you guess which is which? I was so happy that 민정쌤 succeeded in getting us a class together even if it’s for a subject I know nothing about! Never took a music class in high school {well I guess… now I can say I have}. 

When we first got to the music room, all the first-year students were waiting outside. When they saw us walking towards them, they started getting loud and obnoxious probably excited and or nervous to interact with us? When we got there they were all saying hi to us in English and then Katie pulled out the “Actually we can speak Korean.” card which caused almost everyone to visibly show surprise on their face and the boys got all loud and rowdy again. They asked us some questions like where we were from {When we said Chicago they kept screaming Simon. Turns out, that’s the English name of the vice-principal who attending graduate school at UChicago.} and our age {When I told them we were 21 Korean age, they all screamed again. I immediately followed up with the fact that they can use 반말 with us and call us 언니 and 누나 if they so please. 

Once we piled in the classroom, Katie and I sat next to each other in the very back. Our music teacher seems really nice and was very enthusiastic about having us introduce our names {though she probably mispronounced Katie’s several times.} There was also this boy in the back that asked his friend to tell Katie that he wanted to be friends with her! It was the cutest and most freshman type thing I’ve ever seen. 

During class, we filled out this music pretest of sorts which I literally failed! I was able to guess some notes correctly but I knew none of the symbols for rests in music. She also played two pieces of music that we had to try and identify. There was nothing filled in for that section! Overall music class was chill. She explained the rules of the classroom, using the instruments, and practice room etiquette. At one point she warned the boys from doing any roughhousing near the ceiling speakers because they would break. She called them out; it was pretty funny. 

After that class, I had 한국사 which was supposed to be with first-year students and on the fourth floor but when I arrived at the classroom, I was greeted by no one. I will say that I am pretty happy with how I handled the situation! Rather than freaking out, I went to the next class over and asked what class it was (in hopes that maybe the one written on my schedule was wrong). Unfortunately, they were still a first-year class and not the one I was looking for (영미문학 instead) and since this was only their second day of school, they had no good advice to give me. Actually, before answering my question, they exclaimed that my Korean was good and then asked if I was an exchange student. One of the girls just told me to wait in the room until someone showed up… I did for like 5 seconds and then I walked outside to find a teacher. One teacher passed by me and greeted me and I immediately ran up to him to explain my situation. It turned out that he was actually my teacher! And I was actually taking the class with third years instead so our classroom was on the 5th floor. I followed him up there and got to walk in after the teacher which was only a little bit embarrassing… 

These two girls recognized me and called me over to sit with them which was relieving. I avoided having to panic over where I should sit for this class period at least. This teacher seemed really nice and actually acknowledged my existence which isn’t always the case for my teachers… He had me introduce myself to the class even though most of them probably know of me by now since I was with them last year. In class, we just went over the syllabus, teacher expectations, and then got started with a little bit of the class. I was able to follow along just slightly by being able to connect the dots with the random vocab words that I did understand. I think this class will be okay!

Finally, it was lunchtime and we were going to be able to eat with our friends for the first time in a while! We all met up at 12:20 pm {the time 2nd graders are allowed to start eating} but there was already such a huge line! The food we had today was so good! There was 자짱밥 (black bean rice), 해물만둣국 (seafood dumpling soup), and 탕수육 (sweet and sour pork). Unfortunately, Katie and I had to rush out of there to get to Korean class on time but nonetheless, catching up with our friends was fun. On our way out, we all ran into 규원, 주연, and 지은 {the girls from my mentorship class last year} and we talked to them on the hallway a bit! We promised to definitely have lunch together sometime next week! I miss them so much!! 

(Since the freshman students are still new to eating in the cafeteria, there are still signs up explaining how to dispose of bones and clean up your tray at the end of the period because the lines are still super long due to the first years not exactly knowing what to do.)

Korean class was… average. Nothing too exciting. I didn’t feel very good about my speaking or participation this day but I also didn’t want to cry during the breaks so that’s a plus? Actually, I did forget the word for river… I looked to Josh and tried to explain the word with “a thing bigger than a lake…” Yeah… so maybe yesterday was not my day? 


After Korean class, I went straight home so I had an hour to kill before dinner. This precious hour was spent lying on the floor in my room so my priorities are quite clear if you ask me. My host mom went all out for dinner with a lovely assortment of 반찬 (side dishes), fish, 된장찌개 (soybean paste stew) as well as my favorite Korean dish ever: 잡채 (sweet potato glass noodles)! It was all very tasty. 


I told them about me coming out in the school’s newspaper! {Did I mention that in yesterday’s blog post? We did an interview a while ago and we just got the paper!} Here’s a pic: 


After dinner, I went hard at work and studied the new grammar point from today and I made a new Quizlet. I have a lot of work cut out for me tomorrow since I let myself go to bed at 11:30… but you know, you win some you lose some. 

That’s all for this blog post! I know it’s another long one~~ I just feel the need to explain every last detail right now!! Besides probably not being able to finish this monster of a post… I hope you enjoyed anyways. Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마


Monthly Korean Test & Post-Test Waffle Tradition (02/26/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/26/19 Tuesday

Tuesday was D-Day (Monthly Test Day!) and I clearly did not study enough the night before because my motivation was severely lacking so I met up with Katie at our cramming cafe: Holly’s Cafe. We both ordered the same coffee drink to give us that extra boost to conquer the day! At the cafe, I read over all the textbook reading passages/dialogues as well as studied more vocab. I spent the last half hour writing a new self-introduction to use for the OPI (I make a new one each time so that it can reflect the improvement I have made over the past month–aka shoving grammar points and fancy words in my introduction.)


After 4 hours or so of cramming, we left to head back to our respective testing locations (Although 2반 takes classes at the Better World Office, 3반 goes there to take our monthly test while 2반 moves back to the youth center.) Walking back into the Better World Office after a long while felt kind of strange and awkward… 민정쌤 started talking to me (as I ran into her on the way there) but for some reason, I felt so awkward? I did not want to make a mistake while speaking with her so I began to get nervous for no reason… Maybe it was a result of test anxiety.

Eventually, the others showed up and we just silently sat in the classroom anxiously waiting for our teacher to come in. 민정쌤 also gave us a container of strawberries all the way from 부산! They were very delicious! I love strawberry season in Korea!~ 

Our teacher came in and let us know that we were starting to do our OPIs over the phone to mirror the exact situation we would find ourselves in early June when we take the post-OPI. I was terrified of this! I thought that it might go better because I would not be able to see her but you know me and change… I have a difficult time welcoming any form of it! I offered to go first for the OPI because I thought that it would be better for my nerves to go first because I would not have to write my essays with the constant worry of how my OPI would go in the back of my head.

I got into the room and when the phone rang I did a little jog in place to relieve my nerves and then I picked up the phone. I could not have done worse when it came to my OPI! I felt so ashamed afterward. I recited my self-introduction and messed up on the literal second sentence–one of the simplest sentences! Then, my teacher asked me the first question: Describe your apartment complex. I blanked. I had no idea what to say. It was only the first question and probably the easiest one at that and I could not do it. Because she was not there, I felt all my emotions overwhelming me and I even almost cried pacing back and forth in that break room. After I mentioned that there was a very large park, she asked me what one could do there and once again, I blanked. I stood there on the phone saying nothing for several seconds. My teacher even had to help me by saying the word exercise very silently which then prompted me to start the conversation again and I talked about the large fields that kids play sports in and the ahjumma exercise machines, etc. I was able to pick things back up again but I felt ashamed for having such a bad beginning. 

She also never really asked me any difficult questions… every time I hear about 2반 and even at times 1반 OPI question topics, I get jealous and feel bad about mine because my teacher never tests my limits it seems… The others get asked about climate change and even reunification (topics that would be hard for me to talk about but I have some vocabulary to explain myself–vocabulary that I studied in class!) while for me, she asks me to compare New York and Korea or what I would bring in my bag when I go on vacation. My role-play was that I ordered a camera and it arrived broke so I had a phone conversation with an employee about getting a refund which was probably the best part of my entire OPI (but it was not (really) good by any means, however).

I left the OPI feeling dejected and went and rushed through my writing section. I took one look at the grammar section and could only answer one question just with a first glance. I quickly passed over the part and began with the essays. The prompt was easy (positive and negative effects of social media) and yet I still could not figure out what to write/ how to organize the writing. I planned out everything so horribly that I had no conclusion and I only answered the last question of the prompt with about three sentences. It did not go well.

After the test, I was ready to rant to the others and use waffles to ease my worries. I met up with Katie and we took a short little walk around the forest park near exit 3. We talked about our tests before heading over to get waffles. There were some other girls already there but we wanted to just be alone so we came after they ended up finishing. We discussed our plans for hanging out this weekend (We are visiting a current Hot Place in Korea if you will (익선동) and Katie is cutting and straightening my hair at my house!) to try to lighten up the mood after our long rants. Once our waffles were quickly eaten, we sat outside of KFC and talked some more until June, Josh, and Kaitlyn finished up eating. I planned to go home together with both Josh and June tonight (as it would be our last time ever). We rode the train together and had a good time. I am truly going to miss going home with them from now on. Before, I had more time to write blog posts or do Quizlet when they did not; however, our train rides made us closer. I felt that they helped us form our friendships~ I will always be grateful for them (And I know that they will eventually come back and visit me in 고양시 soon!)

That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! Sorry for being so negative lately! But that is how it be sometimes! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

Escape Room and Karaoke in Hongdae (홍대) with Korean High School Friend {02/21/19} NSLIY Korea AY

02/21/19 Thursday

For the past couple of days, 호영 {one of the boys from my mentoring program at 하나고} and I have been Insta DMing back and forth trying to figure out a plan to hang out with Katie before going back to school. We decided on the date rather early but figuring out what we were going to to do took a little more time. We kept going back and forth saying everything was good. At one point, I brought up 노래방 because I know that he likes music and this boy had the audacity to ask me how I remembered this?? Hello? Cause we once talked regularly! It made me laugh. 

Eventually, we decided to try and do an escape room. I warned him that if it was in Korean, we might have a difficult time helping out. I looked back at my experience doing it with my host sister and it was very very difficult! The puzzles relied a lot on explanations and listening/reading Korean so I was not the most helpful. I temporarily forgot that he’s good at English so with that in mind we decided to just go for it and do an escape room. 

Before that, I met up with Katie in the morning to go to a cafe. I had a presentation in Korean class today on mass media. {I decided to do mine on the adverse effects and positive effects of social media—called SNS in Korea} so I needed to memorize it before class. Within an hour at the cafe (the other hour was spent goofing off with Katie and doing mindless scrolling on my phone), I was able to memorize the whole thing. Once that was accomplished, I left to meet up with Kaitlyn who wanted to go to Daiso to buy some essentials and then walk around the main shopping streets in search of some luggage to buy since she is moving host families. However… while we were walking around, we started to fight about something pretty trivial. I was getting really upset and was practically yelling while walking around with Kaitlyn. I got so mad that I stormed away from her at one point and returned to the youth center by myself. It was definitely not a proud moment of mine. It put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

During Korean class, we covered all the readings and dialogues in the textbook and learned three new grammar points (though like I said… I feel like it is always so rushed nowadays…) We ended up running out of time (even though we did have a four-hour class today) and so I was the only one that was able to present. My presentation ended up going well. I messed up only minor parts when it came to the memorization and my teacher did not have much to fix content/grammar wise. During the class breaks, I was busy talking with 호영 about our plans after class. It was quite stressful as we were both not being decisive and spotty center wifi did not help the situation.

After class ended, I met up with Katie and we made our way to the subway station continuously texting 호영 who was on his way. I was also chugging a bottle of Starbucks coffee that I bought from the convenience store because it took a lot out of me to try to stay awake during class today. We were both so nervous while waiting for him at the right exit. We kept texting him as he was making his way towards us and at one point we were talking about going to a cafe before heading to the escape room since our room would not be ready till 20 minutes after the time we booked it. At one point he messaged with 낫어 레스토랑? We were both confused and thought he was asking to go to some kind of restaurant. When we let him know that we were not understanding, he explained that 레스토랑 was a restaurant but with Korean pronunciation. We both died laughing at this joke because that was not the problem whatsoever. It was the word before it! 

As 호영 approached us, he waved from behind the huge crowds of Koreans and when we finally found each other–there was a little bit of an awkward silence. I told 호영 that he seemed to have gotten taller but I probably just felt that way because I have not seen him for almost three months. We decided to head to 설빙 and share some 빙수 before firing up our brain cells to hopefully be successful with our escape room game! While walking there, we found out that 호영 had only been to 홍대 one time before today which was really shocking! I mean he is Korean! And, he has lived in Seoul for a long while! The conversation went more smoothly than I expected. Katie and I are able to hold our own with our Korean skills now even though we made plenty of jokes about not understanding 호영 before meeting up with him and because he speaks English pretty well too, we were able to casually flip back and forth if needed. I do believe that speaking Korean as much as I can while here is important but also, I think that being able to code-switch is a nice skill to have too–plus, it makes everything more comfortable. 호영 treated Katie and me at 설빙 because he got some money for the new year. We ended up splitting a strawberry and chocolate brownie 빙수.


Eventually, it was time to head to the escape room! While we were walking there, 호영 literally almost got hit by a car or motorcycle about two to three times. At one point, I had to grab his arm and pull him to the side because he was cutting it so close. We made jokes about him dying before even being able to attempt to escape a room! We chose to do the easiest room at the place and it was about 12,000 won per person which is such a good price! Most places are 20,000 won per person and in comparison to American escape rooms with prices as high as 30 dollars or more, it was such a good price.

The escape room was such a good time! We were given a maximum of 4 hints and we did use them all; however, that does not matter. We were still able to escape with about 10 minutes left on the clock! Most of the escape room was actually in English as the puzzles only included numbers and riddles in English, so honestly, it would have been easier for us being the Native English speakers in the room. It was the first time both Katie and 호영 had done an escape room (Katie and I did do a virtual one together, though) but we were so successful with our teamwork! Each of us had a little moment to shine where we were able to figure out different puzzles to help us continue along until we were finally able to escape. In one of the rooms, there was even a fake turd in a toilet! It was hilarious when we forced 호영 to pick it up cause we knew it would be a clue. All in all, this escape room was a lot of fun! When we finally made it out of the room, we were so ecstatic and couldn’t help but high five (and I might have been jumping up and down and not able to stop smiling.)


We finished off the night by getting some sticker photos done at this place that I seem to frequent now (literally though… I am looking at all the photos I have on my vanity right now in my host family’s home… and a good amount are from there.) We then headed to a coin 노래방. We played about 8 songs including Bohemian Rhapsody, Let it Go, 보여줄게, Love is an Open Door, 사랑했지만, Just the Way You Are, and even What Does the Fox Say. The last one was completely 호영’s decision but we all enjoyed screaming the absurd sounds and lyrics in the small room. We went all out–especially me–not caring and just screaming. I may not be able to sing well but screaming is definitely my talent. And it showed! We got our highest scores from singing really loud! We did get up to 98 and 99! 

Well, that is all for this blog post! We ended up separating after getting to the subway station. 호영 rode the subway with me for a couple stops before transferring and then I made my way home to be greeted with my host mom and sisters installing a pole in our living room!! I came in and heard yelling and was greeted by them all as they stood on chairs and tables with different heights screwing in the metal pole to the ceiling. I knew my host mom was considering installing one after she started pole dancing classes but this made me want to laugh out loud. That was all for my Thursday night! I hope you enjoyed this blog post!

  • Emma 엠마

Outdoor Korean Mall, Escape Room, and Bonding With My Host Sister {02/03/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/03/19 Sunday

Today I spent the day with my host sister walking around this outdoor mall area called Lafesta. Apparently, it is a really popular hangout place in Ilsan, Goyang-si. We went on a Sunday afternoon and since it was raining, there were not too many people (which was honestly better for us. Crowds are never fun!) but I realized quickly that I had been to the area before with my last host family. We walked around the area on Christmas and watched the Disney Nutcracker movie at the theater that is located there. When we first arrived, nothing looked familiar at all but as we kept walking through the street, I recognized the placement of the Artbox, the book store, and the outdoor arcade.


With my host sister, our first stop was to get her ears pierced! We found this one little shop and waited for a little while as there was already a woman there getting her ears pierced and a couple other girls in line to go next. There were so many really pretty earrings and it took my host sister quite a bit of time to pick out the earring she wanted. She ended up getting her ears pierced in two different places: on her earlobe and then on the outside cartilage of her ear (I do not know the official name for that placement on the ear.) At the time, I kind of wanted to get my doubles pierced but piercing is not allowed on the NSLI-Y Program!

After she got her ears pierced, we continued walking around the outdoor mall and stumbled upon this little cafe that allows you to decorate phone cases. There was a large counter with a bunch of small dishes filled with gems, character molds, and other little plastic pieces that resembled cute foods, flowers, hearts, and unique designs. We got to walk around, pick what which ones we wanted to use, and then glue them onto our individual phone cases. They also gave us free drinks as they were included in the cost of making the phone which I thought was interesting, but looking back… I guess it makes sense since it was advertising itself as a phone case making cafe–so drinks were to be expected. 


We were ready to eat by the time we finished up our cases and they dried, so we went to this one well-known restaurant that my host sister recommended. It was a seafood restaurant that was known for its good quality salmon. We ordered some salmon rice bowls (연어덮밥) and a kimchi seafood crispy pancake (해물김치전). When we ordered, they needed to make more rice which was going to take 20 minutes, so they apologized by giving us some 연어회 (raw salmon) as service. Because of the extra food and our pancake appetizer, we barely had any room left in our stomachs to eat the salmon rice bowls! When the waiter brought out the raw salmon for free because our food was going to take a long time, my host sister brought up the fact that sometimes foreigners (especially white foreigners) get special treatment and she believed that this was one of those occasions. She also gave me other general examples and one about her sister’s American friend.

After lunch, we went to finally try doing an escape room! I have never done one before (well I mean… maybe you can count the one made for children that I did with my last host family but… I will not.) and neither had my host sister, so it was a first experience for the both of us!! We ended up picking one of the hardest rooms that the place offered just because the room looked pretty (well we did not outright say that but I believe it was both of our motivations–Also, maybe we both believed that we could do well at the hard room.) The worker told us that we had three clues and we definitely used all of them and then some! We started off in a room with lots of really pretty paintings (like a gallery or exhibition or something). We were able to get halfway with a lot of tricks. We could tell what we needed to do in some way but exactly how to execute it was the issue we came across often. It was most difficult for me because I could not understand the Korean throughout the room. Most of the paintings had little descriptions that hid clues to solve the problems and I had trouble catching what was said through the recordings because my listening comprehension is horrible! The room was a lot of fun though because paintings would like pop out of the wall or doors would swing open which added to the experience. We made it to the second room but struggled so much trying to figure out how to start that the worker actually called our room to give us a hint! I could not help but laugh at the fact that he had been watching on the cameras and felt pity for us, so he gave us another hint to help us out. 

There was one point where I figured out how to solve the next step but when I tried executing this idea, nothing happened–I was wrong. My host sister went to call for a hint and it turns out I had been doing it right the whole time! I must have just made a small mistake because when we tried again, it worked and the secret door opened. That was a bit frustrating! Eventually, the hour was up and we did not make it out of the escape room. We made it to the final area but did not even get the chance to start any of the puzzles. The worker came to get us when the time was out and he showed us how to solve the remaining couple of puzzles and escape the room. Even though we did not make it out by ourselves, I think we did a pretty good job for our first time. Especially regarding me and my participation, I think I did a pretty good job for not speaking the language that literally everything in the escape room was written in (except the one lock that used the English alphabet.) There was one point where we were looking at this one sheet of paper and on it were three bolded words in Korean and I was able to point that out to my host sister! Small things like that made me feel like I was helping so that made a difference to me, in my opinion at least!

We left the place with a good attitude about what we did and a free drink in hand. We took a taxi back home and just relaxed for the rest of the night. My older host sister ended up coming home later at night from her trip to Japan so we all welcomed her back.


Well, that is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed what I have to share with you all today! Thanks for reading~ Til next time!!!

  • Emma 엠마

Incheon Chinatown (October 28th, 2018) NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/28/18 Sunday

Unfortunately, I lost the blog post for one of my favorite days on this NSLI-Y Program thus far. That day is the day I am currently writing about: the day I went to Incheon Chinatown (인천차이나타운) with Josh, Jacquelyn, and Kaitlyn. As you can tell, I am a bit salty because today was such a fun day and I wanted to remember every last detail! Also, we did so much, there is no way I will be able to write about everything again. Even though this is the case, I will try my best to recollect my memories with the pictures I still have~ Enjoy this blog post!

We decided to meet up at 인천차이나타운 at 11:30 am. It took me about 2 hours to go from 고양시 to 인천 which is a city outside of Seoul–actually, it is the only other city (besides my home city of 고양시) that we are allowed to take individual trips to visit (without our host family). I have been talking about coming here with Josh during our Korean class breaks and so I was really excited to finally make our plans a reality!

When we first got to China Town, we walked around and just did some sightseeing before decided what to do first. One thing that was a little bit strange was that there was a lack of Chinese people here? I figured that this may have been a community in 인천 full with native Chinese people kind of like Chinese neighborhoods in America (like the China Town in Chicago) but we really only saw Koreans– and tourists, too.

While walking around we passed by a lot of pretty murals, parks, and architecture, so we did not pass up any of those opportunities to take photos!



For lunch, we decided to get the dish that China Town is most famous for… 짜장면 (Korean style Chinese noodles with a black bean savory sauce)!! I also got to try 탕수육 (a Koreanized Chinese pork dish with a sweet and sour sauce) for the first time and although it was a bit pricy, It was definitely very very delicious!


You can honestly sum up this day we spent together as a day of eating because that is what we did throughout the entire day. We just kept eating, never stopping. Even after having lunch, we just kept on walking and buying snacks and treats from the street vendors. Since we knew that we would not be back in a long time (if we come back at all), we tried our best to try everything!


I do not remember where Josh got this map but his face made for the perfect picture! XD


Our Egg Tarts! From the Tart King!

We walked around this mural village and park with a bunch of animal statues for a bit before the sky started to get really dark and the rain came pouring down. We found refuge in this cafe near the main plaza of the China Town. I cannot remember exactly what it was called but it was a Spanish name. Something about amigos? While it was pouring, we watched people out the window struggling with their umbrellas against the harsh winds. There were even signs flying off buildings! It was a pretty bad storm.


At the Cafe~ Kaitlyn and I bought matching red heart hair pins~


Look at that RAINBOW! ❤

After the rain cleared up, we kept walking around and ended up visiting two different museums that had entrance fees of less than one dollar! It was like 70 cents for each ticket. We visited the 짜장면 Museum as well as a Korean-Chinese Culture Museum.


The Culture Museum


짱장면 throughout the years! Did you know that 짜장면 used to be called 짜짱면? The museum had a little section explaining how the name changed.

When we went to the second museum, we got to see an added art exhibition by Korean artists (that may have some ethnic Chinese background? Or maybe they had nothing to do with the museum…). Also, there was a really fun tile/puzzle game (made for children) that kept us entertained for a while. And I am going, to be honest, one of the rounds took me a lot longer than I am proud to admit!

After getting the education part of our trip out of the way (haha just kidding we all really wanted to visit these museums!), we kept walking around and stuffed our bellies full of street food!

While walking around, we went to the rooftop of one of these buildings and got to watch the sunset. It was very pretty~ When I looked up at the sky, I could not help but feel so grateful for being there at the moment with such great friends. Josh also took us through this really sketchy alleyway to find the culture museum so this is a picture of that:


Bad quality but do you see… his small head haha

We also stopped by a dragon beard candy vendor to pick up a box for our host families. The guy that was heading the cart was very very sassy and sarcastic and we talked a lot in Korean about what we were doing in Korea. He was impressed by our Korean skills which made us all feel good. While we were talking about random topics, he showed us how to make the candies (stretching the honey into a million tiny strings) and told both Josh and me that we were pretty. He then made a comment to Jacquelyn and apologized for not calling her pretty which made us all laugh. However, Jacquelyn then tells the guy “You should see this other guy on our program named Liam, he is much better looking” or something along the lines of that which made Josh quite upset for a bit. Kaitlyn and I just could not help but laugh at the entire conversation. It was all for laughs though; no one took it too seriously!


The pastries in the above pictures were very delicious! We each got a different flavor (green tea, cream cheese, mango, and chocolate) after waiting more than ten minutes in line for them. They were very popular and apparently were showcased on several travel shows it seemed. (Also, there were signatures of celebrities that had eaten at that certain stall.) Because we had eaten so much throughout the day, we decided to just get some lamb meat on a skewer for our dinner.


And that was my day in Incheon Chinatown! I assumed that rewriting this blog post would be really difficult but the sheer amount of photos I had from this day definitely helped~ Though I know for sure, I left some things out. I believe I got home around 7 pm and just relaxed in my room until it was time to go to sleep. This weekend left me exhausted… and no part of me wanted to return to school the following day.

Thanks for reading this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Until next time!

  • Emma 엠마

Wearing Hanbok at Gyeongbokgung, Tongin Market, and Playing Board Games {10/13/18} NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/13/18 Saturday

The first cultural activity/excursion of the NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year 2018-2019 Program! I had been looking forward to this day for so long because it was rescheduled about three times. Originally, we were supposed to have this excursion back in September; however, I am happier that it was put off till now because the weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold. It was a perfect day to be walking around the palace grounds wearing hanbok.

We all met at 경복궁역 early in the morning around 9 am. I did not have time to eat breakfast because my host family was still sleeping by the time I left the house and I decided to prioritize sleep over giving myself time to buy some breakfast on the way to the palace. When I got to the meeting place, 민정쌤 said I had 3 minutes to go by something. I ran down the stairs with Josh and Jack (as they wanted to buy coffee) but I decided to give up as I saw nothing in the direction they were running towards. As I was about to return to the group, I saw this small bakery around the corner and I went to scout out what I could buy for breakfast there. At first, all I saw were cupcakes but then I saw a 치즈크림번 (Cream Cheese Bun) and I ended up ordering that. I was technically one minute late when I returned with breakfast in hand, but the 인천 girls still had not arrived yet so it was not a big deal. Jack and Josh returned with no coffee and I told them I found a place selling coffee so they left to get some.

All 16 of us piled into the 한복 rental place and basically filled up the entire room. We put all our belongings into lockers and then got to pick out the skirts and tops we wanted to wear. We were picking from the traditional 한복 rather than the premium (more modern) dresses. Though, I definitely want to return to 경복궁 and the 인사동 area to take photos wearing those types of 한복. (Maybe during the spring? I would wear a brighter color like pink or blue~)

gyeongbokgung 28

At the Hanbok Rental Place

I really wanted to wear a red 한복 to match the architectural aesthetic of the palace and so I picked out this red skirt with some flowers lining the bottom. At first, I imagined a white/gold top to match with it but the lady that was assisting me picked out a dark emerald green top instead. I loved these two colors paired together. I was worried it would remind me too much of Christmas… but I thought that it was too pretty and very traditional. Later, Kaitlyn told me that I looked like a “cute little tomato” which I took offense at first. But honestly, I rocked that tomato look!

gyeongbokgung 13

Happy Laughing Tomato

gyeongbokgung 41

We took so many photos! I would not be surprised if our resident director 민정쌤 took several hundred photos. We took several group photos with and without our NSLI-Y banner. Not only would our RD have tons of photos just because of the sheer of amount of locations we posed at, but because she would also take photos by holding down on the button so that she took photos in bursts. We could hear the insane amount of shutter sounds and could not help but laugh.


NSLI-Y AY 2018-2019

gyeongbokgung 42

One thing that I still find so weird when visiting such touristy places is how some of the other tourists react to seeing other foreigners– specifically some of the Chinese tourists. While we were posing for group photos or individual shots, many of them would come up behind our RD or whoever was snapping the picture to take photos of us. I was so confused as to why they were taking our photos– especially without asking. At one point, while I was walking around the palace with a group of NSLI-Yians, this one Chinese man came up to us and tried to take a selfie with us girls without even asking! He just came up to us and put his arm and phone in front of our faces. I quickly ducked and ran under his arm away from the group with Liam and Josh. I turned around to see him walking towards another student and getting her to take a photo with him. I do not know exactly why but this makes me feel so uncomfortable. Maybe I am over the honeymoon phase where pictures and stares are not a big deal– the attention might be liked; however, I do not think like that. I find this treatment utterly comfortable.

gyeongbokgung 8

3반 – Jacquelyn & Josh & Me! (My Korean Class)

Walking around the palace in 한복 was such a fun experience~ I got to hang out more with NSLI-Y students I do not see as often due to our different locations, host schools, and language classes and talk about how we have been. But also, just walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the architecture and feeling like I was transported back in time was amazing. I did not get a chance to do this during the summer program, so I was happy to have the experience today~

gyeongbokgung 1

Follow me around the Palace Grounds!~ ❤

gyeongbokgung 5

After we finished up our two-hour rental with the 한복s, we walked over to 통인시장 (Tongin Market) for lunch. I visited 통인시장 with my Korean class during my participation in the NSLI-Y summer program in 2016 and loved every moment of it: ordering food using traditional money, eating the delicious food, and being able to walk around and see everything the stalls have to offer. We were given 10 엽전 (Korean brass coins — an old form of currency) pronounced yeop-jeon which is the equivalent of 5,000 won or about $5. We were set loose to get whatever food we wanted and boy, did I get so much food. I tried to get a good variety that was different than what I ate last time. I think I succeeded!

gyeongbokgung 39

엽전 (Korean brass coins — an old form of currency)

gyeongbokgung 24

Left to Right: Alix, Josh, Jack, & Kaitlyn

gyeongbokgung 25

Spicy Chicken, 잡채 (Sweet Potato Noodles), 만두 (Korean dumplings), some kind of 전 (Korean style fried savory pancake)

Our cultural activity officially finished after lunch, so we were let loose to do whatever we wanted (while abiding by program rules of course!) I texted my host mom asking her if they had any plans for today because I did want to stay out a little bit longer. She let me know that there was nothing planned and that I could come home whenever was comfortable for me. I ended up going to 이대 (the area around 이화여자대학교– Ewha Woman’s University). We went to this cafe that doubles as a study cafe (there is another room on second floor that is completely quiet for studying purposes) called Waffle It Up. We ended up staying there for about two hours talking and playing card games. We played Go Fish and Flip (A new card game I never knew about previously: Jacquelyn taught it to us.) while enjoying our cafe orders. Katie and I shared some waffles and a scoop of gelato which was not badly priced at all! (It was about $7!)

gyeongbokgung 21


We walked from that Cafe in 이대 to 신촌 just to walk around for a bit as we had some energy left. While we were there, there happened to be this battle game championship in the streets, a market festival type thing, and live music. It was very interesting. We then walked from 신촌 to 홍대 where we split up. Jacquelyn, Liam, Josh, and Jack decided to keep walking around while Katie and I decided to go home. I was tired and thought I had been out long enough while Katie wanted to do college applications and study math. Before we separated to go on our respective train lines, I found a phone in the bathroom. I brought it to the station info center and asked this worker where the lost and found center was. At that moment, someone called the phone, so I gave him the phone to deal with it. I felt bad for leaving him with this problem but I was not about to answer that phone and possibly talk to the owner. I already had trouble explaining the original situation to the worker. I hope that person found their phone alright!

gyeongbokgung 18

I got home a bit before 5 pm and spent the rest of the evening catching up on blog posts (I finally caught up! I am back on track~) and bonding with my host family. For dinner, we ate fish that my host dad and host brother caught that morning! I guess it was their attempt to redeem themselves from catching nothing when we all went to 강화도. We also ate 회 or raw fish which was tasty when I wrapped it with lettuce and put some sauce and garlic on top. Later that evening, I played a board game with my host sisters and host dad that very strongly resembles Monopoly. It was called the Blue Marble Game (부루마불게임) which is called Blue Marble (even though blue marbles are never used in the actual game) because the Earth is kind of like a Blue Marble? To be honest, I have never heard of the Earth being referred to as that but you live and you learn I guess~ Basically, the board game had many famous cities from all over the world and you have to buy them for their property value in order to earn lots of money to by building hotels and such. The game was fun but confusing at the same time because I kept landing on spaces that required me to draw cards but most of the time I could not read the card. Additionally, Korean money over 5만원 (~$50) confuses me so much so this game helped me feel more comfortable saying and figuring out larger amounts of money in Korean currency. My host sister ended up winning while my host dad had to sell all his cities and became bankrupt. I guess that meant I got second place? It was a very fun game and I would love to see how it would be different to play once my Korean improves more.

That is all for this blog post!~ It is a long one because of how much I wrote (we did a lot okay!!) and because of all the photos I have added to it. Nonetheless, if you got through it all, thanks~ I hope you enjoyed~

And Happy New Year! I am posting this on Jan 1st in both Korean and America on purpose– just so I could say Happy New Year and genuinely mean it!~ I hope 2019 is filled with plenty of happiness and good people for both you and me! I have some goals that I want to accomplish regarding my time here and my language progress, so hopefully, those resolutions (if you will) will actually be completed!

  • Emma 엠마

Riding Bikes around Chuncheon (춘천) with my Host Family {09/26/18} NSLI-Y AY


I woke up this morning naturally– no alarm clock or loud noise jolting me awake. It was so nice to sleep in once again. My eldest host sister and I were the first ones to wake up so we hung out together in the living room area until everyone stirred awake.

chuncheon 17

Early in the morning~ Looking like an egg ❤

After breakfast, my host mom wanted my eldest host sister and me to hang out around the resort and spend 30 minutes speaking only in English. We went outside to an open field and played badminton for a while (The wind was so strong, so we kept missing so often). Then we walked down this path which had such beautiful trees that were already changing colors. Seeing the red, yellow, orange leaves on the trees made me so excited for fall! (It is my favorite season~) There were also these nice lakes (with huge fish in them!) that also had fountains. I walked around my host sister and we chatted (mostly in Korean at first) and took lots of photos. While walking back to the building, I started asking my host sister questions in English as she got more comfortable speaking it around me. I learned a lot of things about her (which I noted in my mind in case I need to know them later) and I shared things about myself too.

When we got back to the room, we checked out of our room and proceeded to hang out around the resort. My host dad and brother wanted to hike some trails and catch bugs, but all the girls were tired so we walked back to the lake I walked to earlier with my host sister to relax on the benches and feed the fish. I am pretty sure that what we were doing was wrong but there was no sign? I feel like in America there would definitely be a sign. We fed them chocolate chip cookies… yup perfect for their diet!

chuncheon 10

chuncheon 9

While we were waiting for my host dad and brother to return, my host sisters proceeded to interview me with super formal Korean and I am proud to say that I did pretty well in understanding them and answering. I talked to them about my high school in America and the differences I have observed already between my school and Korean school life. It was a fun conversation and I ended up laughing so much as they shoved candy containers near my face to act as microphones and pretended to take photos of me like paparazzi.

When the guys returned, we left the resort to get some lunch. We ordered a hefty lunch of 콩나물국밥 (Bean Sprout Porridge), 비빔밥 (Bibimbap – mixed rice and vegetables), and 막국수 (buckwheat noodles). The noodles were buckwheat noodles that were cold and spicy once you added 고추장 to it. To me, it was like 물냉면 (Cold Water Noodles) without all the water and mustardy/vinegary taste. The 쿵나물국밥 was delicious. It had the texture of porridge but it was like porridge mixed with rice? I feel like that would be the best thing to eat when you are sick. I think the 비빔밥 was the best dish even though sometimes I find it boring. At this restaurant, it was delicious! 10/10 would recommend~

After lunch, we planned to rent bikes and ATVs to ride around the river and mountain trails with. My host mom took my host brother on the ATV trails while I rode a tandem bicycle with my eldest host sister. {And my host dad rode on a tandem bicycle with my younger host sister.}

chuncheon 3

Riding the bikes was honestly very tiring—especially when going up a hill. I was in the front so I had to steer and pull most of the weight. Though my legs definitely hurt afterward and when I got off the bike I wobbled at first, it was so much fun. I love riding bikes and going around the park near my host family’s apartment complex just wasn’t giving it total justice. These were real trails surrounded by nature: water, trees, mountains! It was so relaxing to take everything in and to ride till my legs wanted to fall off. I also had a blast chatting with my host sister. I felt really comfortable at that moment so my Korean just came out naturally— I wasn’t overthinking or preplanning what I wanted to say. It was a lot of fun, lots of laughs included.

After riding our vehicles, we walked over to the river because my host brother wanted to catch some fish. I was too tired to participate so I just laid down on the rocks in the middle of the river and chatted with my host sisters. They continued the interview questions from earlier.

chuncheon 4

Once the fish was caught and we were all tuckered out, we began the 1.5-hour drive back home. I slept during most of it because I was so physically exhausted.

At home, my host mom quickly prepared dinner and we devoured that. We had 잡채 (Japchae — stir-fried glass noodles), 갈비 (ribs), 미역국 (seaweed soup), 밥 (rice), and of course various other 반찬 (side dishes)

After dinner, I retreated back to my room to start my homework because I refused to do it over the 추석 Break. I did study a bit from my textbook and go over vocab words, but I refrained from completing any actual assigned homework.

I had to write a diary entry about what I did during the 추석 break. We used the special grid paper and were required to write one page or one-page front and back. I only ended up writing about my Monday because took up an entire page and a quarter. I also liked that I wrote too much for that day because I had learned vocab to describe what we did but the other two days would have required a lot of Naver Dictionary…

I finished my writing pretty early and then studied vocab on Quizlet for a bit. After all my academic priorities were taken care of, I just relaxed in bed catching up on YouTube subscriptions.

And that was the final day of my 추석 break! These three days have been action packed and I have enjoyed all these moments. If I haven’t mentioned already, I am so very grateful to my host family {and NSLI-Y might I add} for giving me all these amazing memories. Thanks for reading!~

  • Emma 엠마

Celebrating Chuseok (추석) in Korea with my Host Family {09/24/18} NSLI-Y AY


I woke up this morning bright and early— if you can even call it that since I was up before the sun. I woke up at 5 am to leave for my host family’s relatives’ house at 6 am.

My host family decided it would be best to drop me off at the house of my host grandmother {mom’s side} for a few hours while the family visited the dad’s relatives. I didn’t really understand the explanation on why I wasn’t going but I think it was mostly because I wouldn’t understand all of them? My host mom said I could I could watch my host grandmother prepare and perform 차례 {ancestral rites} and then sleep a bit more as they have an empty room.

They dropped me off at 7 am and I was quite awkward with my host grandmother at first. She gave me some 식혜 {traditional Korean rice drink} while she finished cooking some of the food being offered to the ancestors. I also helped! She took out these round dishes and I plated them with a variety of things: 대추 (Jujube), 약과 (fried pastry), 성편 (filled rice cake), and other things I didn’t know the name of…

chuseok 16

식혜: traditional Korean sweet rice beverage

I watched as my host grandmother, host grandfather, and host uncle {I believe? He didn’t talk much. Stayed in his room mostly} bowed as they performed 차례.

chuseok 1

Afterward, I also helped clean up by putting the food back in their original bags and wiping down any of the wet dishes.

I ate breakfast with my host grandfather and grandmother. We ate 갈비탕 (short rib soup) and lots of 반찬 (side dishes) like 오이 김치 (cucumber kimchi), 전 {소고기, 김치, etc} (Korean style fried pancakes– beef, kimchi, etc), 생선 (fish). And to my surprise, I could actually hold a conversation with them despite my lack of Korean skills. They did not even use English at all! They asked me lots of questions about my life in America and why I wanted to come to Korea. My host grandmother also asked me what my favorite Korean food was. This is always a hard question to answer but I went with 잡채, a forever favorite. She told me that she would teach me how to make it later and I wanted to cry at how sweet that sentiment was. I also got to try 송편 finally! Ever since I learned about it in class (and did more research when creating my 추석 project, I have been yearning to try it! I had a yellow one and it had 팥 (red bean) inside. Very delicious!

chuseok 13

Rice cakes filled with a variety of fillings: red bean, sesame, chestnut, etc.

After breakfast, my host grandmother made me a place to crash in the empty storage room and I slept there for about 2 hours. I woke up to see my host grandmother preparing what seemed like 잡채. There was a large bowl on the floor with mixed vegetables inside. My host grandmother then poured see-through glass noodles into the bowl. It was around 11:30 am now and while she was cooking, my host family arrived. My host sisters, host mother, and I sat on the kitchen floor while my host grandmother mixed the 잡채 together. We used our hands to grab some noodles and veggies to eat. My host grandmother then grabbed a handful and fed it to my eldest host sister. The next thing that happened, which also took me by surprise, was that she did the very same thing to me! She grabbed a handful and told me to tilt my head back as she dropped the noodles into my mouth. At this moment, I felt so very grateful to this family for treating me like on their own (as best as they possibly can). I was so happy to be welcomed with open arms (or should I say with mouthfuls of noodles– and lots of other foods). But also at this moment, I felt a slight feeling of sadness. All I could think about was my mother and how much I missed her– her hugs, her comfort, her cooking, her presence, etc.

Shortly after my host family arrived, we sat down in the living room and ate a big lunch. My host dad taught me a fancy word to use for this meal: 진수성찬 (translates to a sumptuous feast). After dinner, all the kids now had tons of energy and we needed to burn it off somehow so we took a little walk! (But beforehand, we stopped at a shop near the apartment complex to pick up snacks. I just got the same chocolate bar my host sisters were getting.) While getting to the store, my eldest host sister and I missed the elevator. The others would not wait for us! Instead of waiting for it to go down and back up 20 something floors, we decided to run down the stairs. Wow, was I dizzy afterward. And then, as we walked to the store, my host sister and I walked with our arms hooked and we skipped a bit. This may sound silly, but it truly made me feel like a big sister~

chuseok 4

Our 추석 feast!

chuseok 6

The said chocolate bar– it tasted like a Crunch Bar

I know that I was in 서울, but to be honest I do not know where. But near where my host grandparents lived, there was a large river park. Along the river, there were walking and bicycle paths, basketball courts, and lots of open spaces. Across the river, there were stones so that you could walk across them. The weather was not too cold or too hot and the wind blowing off the water felt so good. I could have stayed there for hours.

chuseok 8

On our way back, we also took some time to play on the exercise machines. This park area had a bigger variety in comparison to the ones close to my host family’s home. It was entertaining to try out all the new structures. (And it was even funnier to watch my host brother be tilted to upside down. He was having a blast, though.)

chuseok 11

Upon returning back to the apartment, my host grandmother was already preparing bowls of 시계 for everyone. I sat at the kitchen table with my host mother and host grandmother and enjoyed the cooling effects of the sweet 시계 and some more 송편. We talked some more which was fun (and good practice for me).

chuseok 12

For dinner, we had 김치찌개 (kimchi stew), 잔치국수 (party noodles) and all the 반찬 (side dishes) from the previous meals. It was all very delicious. We all ate in the living room once again on the foldable table. And this time, my host uncle (possibly?) joined us, too. I do not know how every dish was able to fit on the table; it will forever be a mystery to me.

After dinner, we relaxed some more: watched tv, read books, studied a bit. When it was time to go, we all took a quick look outside to see the full moon from the balcony. It is part of a 추석 tradition to make a wish on the full moon (and I knew this from my Korean class!) I made a wish with my youngest host sister, and then we began the hour drive back home.

chuseok 14

Cannot tell you my wish or it will not come true!~

That is all for this blog post! This day was a really special day to me and I really hoped that it has helped me move along the relationship I have with my host family. Additionally, in my NSLI-Y essays, I wrote about getting to experience more of Korean culture and society, like through their holidays. I could not have asked for a better day. I am so thankful. Also, this is my 100th blog post! I cannot believe I have written that many… I wonder how many words that comes out to be?

오늘 저는 제 호스트 가족들이랑 추석 잘 보내니까 너무 감사했어요~

  • Emma 엠마