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

03/13/19 Wednesday

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

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

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Me feeling dead during my free period…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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With my host dog Andy~~~

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

  • Emma 엠마 

 

Presentations in Public Speaking, Falling in Love with 콩나물국밥, and Free Snacks at our Favorite Cafe?!? {03/08/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/09/19 Friday

I had somewhat gone to bed early on Thursday night seeing that I had no Korean assignments due the following day so I was in a good mood when I woke up this Friday. It was also our first day back to school wearing 생활복 which always means an extra ten minutes of sleep! (Do not underestimate the amount of time a full uniform takes to put on…)

While I was making my normal commute, I looked out the window of the 대곡역 platform and got to watch a really beautiful sunrise. I realized that even though I am annoyed by this commute at times, I’m going to miss it dearly when it is not a part of my daily routine. 

For first period, I had music class with Katie but we soon found out that we were not with the same class we met on Tuesday—but that we were in a different section. This meant that the kids were not the same bubbly group that knew we spoke Korean after interacting with us on the first day. Katie and I sat in between this group of girls and basically kept to ourselves. 

During the second half of class, we began singing this famous Korean song called 아름다운 나라 which is honestly such a bop {but seriously it is a really beautiful song}. I can’t read sheet music so I had no idea how to sing the song, so I just followed what I thought everyone else was doing. I listened to the way they sang and followed closely behind. I got confused every time there was a repeat of a line but soon I realized how to read that symbol {music people must hate me for not knowing any of the names…} Katie and I both had a really fun time singing the song! {So much so that I purchased the song on iTunes so I can listen to it during my morning commute!} I feel like music class is going to be such a fun class—mostly because I’m able to take it with Katie~ 

After music class, I had public speaking with 서린 which would be my first English class of the week and my first class taught by Jason! I walked into class and I sat down next to these two random girls because I couldn’t tell if 서린 had already dropped her bag off or not yet. When she came in to see me sitting by them, she was offended at first. It was pretty funny. 

The girls I sat next to were named 수빈 and 민지. When I first sat down, 민지 told me that she hadn’t gotten the chance to take a class with me yet so she was super excited that she finally was able to. 수빈 also asked me what my age was and mumbled under her breath that “Isn’t Korean age different?” In which I replied “Yes.” She was spooked for a quick bit—forgetting that I did speak Korean in front of her just before then. 

Jason came in and began class with this annoying Metronome ticking and making fun of these two guys in the class. He pointed at them and said that they were allowed to sit wherever they want but if they choose to, they may not see their English skills improve. After he said this, one of the boys turned to the other {in Korean} and asked “Did you understand that?” And the other replied with, “No.” which made the entire class laugh. 

It also may have just been the first day of class, but we were starting off right away with presentations. The topic was “Something that is important to you.” I decided to do mine on memories. 서린, being the lovely person that she is (note the sarcasm), tells Jason that I did speech team in high school?? Thanks for raising his expectations 서린아!!! 

Everyone presented for around 2 minutes about something that was important to them. I realized that a really common term for the presentations was anything revolving time at 하나고, which makes sense… this is their life. But it made me wonder if I would have answered similarly if I had done this topic in my communications class {basically my school’s version of public speaking} during sophomore year. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I would even have mentioned my school’s name. There were quite a few kids that were really good at English which always impressed me beyond no end. 서린, for one, had a really great speech about having confidence to go out of her comfort zone when learning English. She hadn’t lived abroad, traveled intensely in an English speaking country, or gone to an English kindergarten/academy when young, but she was never afraid to speak to foreigners and that is how she improved. Honestly, she’s inspiring.

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One of the kids in the class (기준 is his name if I am correct; he was also in Bisera–economics club–with me last semester) gave a speech on roommates and talked about his last semester roommate who was on the wrestling team and would use him as a punching bag every single day. At this, 서린 turned to me and said that his roommate really did look like a thumb. I was shook because I feel like I would have noticed a walking thumb around the school hallways? But maybe the school uniforms can hide a person’s thumbness? 기준’s speech was exceptionally funny and I couldn’t stop laughing. Jason pointed out at the end that he definitely would have gotten first place and me second but I was not offended! I was never a good speech-giver anyways. 

Eventually, it was finally lunch time and I was ready to eat! The spread today was good as it included chicken and strawberries! Real, raw fruit at lunch? Wow, what a concept! Lunch was fun as we discussed where we wanted to go for the school trip {we decided to vote for 제주도} and then we talked more about the differences between our school systems—like AP classes! I tried to bring up the disparity among different schools in America explaining that private schools usually only have higher class people and are often religiously affiliated. I also brought up Chicago public schools and how the poor students who attend them often don’t have the same resources as other schools. This conversation was brought up when the girls asked Katie and me what AP classes we took and I explained that every school has different classes. 

After lunch, Katie and I hung around the halls to find our lockers because we actually have some this year! And, they actually had our names on them too {On  sticky note paper rather than fancy printed name tags like the other students but I’ll take what I can get!} We had our free period in the library at this time so we just chilled in the study room and did work. I’m pretty sure I spent the whole time editing a blog post and saving photos onto my computer to use for said blog post. 

The last period of the week for me was 미시경제학 (Microeconomics) with 서린 and the same teacher that I had last semester. When she walked in and saw me, she greeted me and welcomed me back. She also asked 서린 if she would be able to help me during class which made me feel bad… like a burden to 서린. I hope she doesn’t start regretting having so many classes with me… 

Our teacher started the class off with talk about what we were going to do for the semester before handing out a sheet of paper to all of us that included a brain map and questions to fill in.

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At the end of the class period, we started playing this economics game that showcased how supply and demand and luck plays an influence in farming. This was a game I would expect in an American class too except the food we grew emphasized the fact that we were in Korea. The vegetables chosen were 배추 (lettuce), 무 (radish), and 고구마 (sweet potato). In American classrooms, we definitely would have used corn. At least, in my class back in the Midwest. 

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View from the school!!~

After school, Katie and I yeeted out of the school after speaking with some of our friends for a bit because we were planning to go back to our favorite cafe to study. Shada was coming too so that Katie could help her with SAT math problems. It had probably been almost half a month since the last time we were there, so it was nice having the owner remember and acknowledge us and how long it’s been. 

I was feeling some sort of random wave of confidence when I went up to order so I told her that I wanted to try out a new drink as she knows I always just get a hot green tea latte. I asked her what was good on the menu and she helped me narrow it down to a fruit smoothie of some kind, I went with strawberry. Also, while we were hard at work, she brought us a little tray of free nuts which was really nice of her~ Free snacks!! I wish I could only come here more often… now that I don’t live at this station, there’s really no reason for Katie and me to meet there when we can just go to each other’s stations. 

I left the cafe after an hour and a half or so and went back home to have dinner with my host family. We ended up going out to eat at a well-known place called 남도복국 out in 파주시 right near where June used to live! It was a place that was open 24 hours and my host sisters told me that it got really popular because taxi drivers would eat there and the food they served was built for the taste palettes of 아주씨s (Older Korean men) if you will. However, the food they served here was also just good in general {to the general public} so it became known as a 맛집 (highly delicious restaurant!)

We ended up eating 콩나물국밥 (Bean Sprout Rice Porridge) with a side order of 생선과 감자 튀김 (fish and fried potato) which was all very very delicious. While we were there, they asked me if there were any 24 hour places in America besides fast food chains. This led me to describe diners and the cozy, homey feel they have. I also tried my best to explain comfort food… This talk made me really miss the local diner by me that served the best chocolate chip pancakes. The first thing I get home {when I’m still getting over being jet lagged} is go to that dinner at 2 am and order the biggest stack of these pancakes! 

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I spent the rest of the night just chilling in my room watching this Korean Web Series. You could kind of call that productive? Well that’s all for this blog post! Till next time~ 

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

03/07/19 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Lovely teacher!

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

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Andy is such a mood

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

  • 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!

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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? 

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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. 

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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: 

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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

 

익선동: Hot Spot for Locals in Korea & Last Weekend of Winter Break {03/01-03/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

03/01/19 Friday

Katie and I planned to hang out all day {and the subsequent night} doing something fun but new as it seems we have been getting in a winter break routine of sorts: study at a cafe and then Korean class. That is all. We wanted to do more with our last few days of winter break. The night before, I found this YouTube video on a recently popularized “hot place” in Korea for locals— 익선동 (Ikseondong). This place isn’t as touristy and modernized/globalized as much as the nearby 인사동 (Insadong). Basically, it’s a smaller neighborhood with beautiful 한옥 (Traditional Korean Houses–Hanok) architecture and a lot of aesthetic cafes and restaurants {Though the majority are on the pricy side}. I watched a lot of the cafe walk-throughs and read a lot of reviews on blogs but the ones we wanted to go to were a bit too expensive for our running-out-of-stipend-brand and or had huge lines! For instance, there was this really gorgeous flower cafe with actual flowers lining the tables and basically every inch of the place but of course, there were no seats. However, I should have expected that. We may have been the only foreigners there {literally did not see another 외국인 during the entire time we were there} but all the Koreans know about this neighborhood. Additionally, it was a Friday {And all the students have yet to go back to school} so it was only inevitable that things would be busy. 

Our first stop of the day was to try some street food. I really wanted to try the irregular shaped 호떡s (Korean Style Sweet Pancakes) because I saw them in the same YouTube video mentioned above and my friend 연우 works there on the weekends as her part-time job {only Saturdays and Sundays though.. so we could not have seen her anyway.} but with our bad luck, the place was closed until later on in the day. Instead, we got some delicious churros for $2!

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We ended up going to this cafe called Uncle Video Town which actually was on the YouTube video I watched. The interior isn’t really anything special but you are able to rent private rooms to watch movies! We didn’t do that as we were not in the mood. We just ordered some drinks {iced green tea latte— one of the best ones I’ve had in awhile} and chatted. 

We also found ourselves in trouble as we went into the many cute jewelry and clothing shops in the area. I bought a cute pair of unique earrings and a necklace at this boutique {there was a sale for paying in cash… that’s my excuse…} and Katie and I both got a clothing item from this other shop. She bought a floral lace top while I bought one of those long tulle skirts that a lot of Korean girls wear. I’m probably too short for a maxi skirt but I wanted to try the fashion trend! I was feeling a sort of way that day—trying to get out of my comfort zone! 

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After strolling around 익선동 for a while, we headed back to 홍대 and went to 놀숲 for a couple hours to just hang out and chill. I bought 김밥 from the convenience store for our dinner and we were lucky enough to get a cubby in the back to allow for us to eat our kimbap secretly. Katie also played around with my makeup while we were there. It was a fun night spent together.

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03/02/19 Saturday 

I literally have no pictures from this day besides selfies but it was still such a fun day~~ One of the best of the week hands down! Today Katie came over to my house again to hang out and most importantly, straighten and cut my hair! I haven’t cut my hair since late Spring and the ends of my hair are all dead and gross. Katie has been nagging me to cut my hair for the longest time now! So much so that all our friends know how badly she wants to cut my hair. 

Before Katie came over, I was able to Skype my friends—Kara & Grace— from back home for a little bit which was so nice! We got to catch up and I heard some tea. Most importantly, I just missed talking to them! 

We spent the first couple hours of our hang out playing Katie’s hair shop. I sat in my desk chair while Katie stood over me like a professional hairdresser to straighten all of my hair. When it was done, I was shocked once again—feeling like a completely different person. I don’t straighten my hair often at all so when I do, I always become obsessed with stroking my straight hair for a while. Once I got over myself, Katie began cutting my hair. We took a quick trip to Olive Young to buy hair cutting scissors and laid out a towel on my floor to catch all the hair. We were going all out for this trim. Katie cut about 4-5 inches maybe? Honestly, I could not really tell all that much with my straight hair but once my hair returned to its natural curly form, I could tell right away. In the shower too, I was able to notice the difference due to how different it felt to wash my hair. 

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I feel like a new person! Maybe one day I will have enough courage to cut my hair majorly but until then… this will have to do. I would be fresh and new for the upcoming school semester! 

My host sister brought Katie and I snacks from the convenience store and Katie bought bread from a nearby bakery so we enjoyed those things while watching a very depressing episode of Black Mirror. 

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By the time dinner rolled around, my host mom gave me money to have dinner with Katie outside of the house so we went out together and got food {and ice cream} which we ate at these tables set up in the mall. While we were walking with our food, this woman almost bumped into us and she exclaimed: “Oh my, I didn’t see the foreigners.” to her partner. At the time I didn’t see anything wrong with that statement and I still don’t but it did make me feel a little disappointed. There was no reason for her to point out our differences like that. A sorry would have sufficed or even just “I did not see them.” Especially since her comment was not directed towards us… It’s not a big deal but… it can get pretty tiring feeling like an outsider every single day of your life. Number one reason I could never live in Korea permanently or very long term. 

The rest of my Saturday was really chill. I watched a movie on Netflix which I haven’t done in so long~~ but it was really nice! I tried doing some work but I was getting too easily distracted. I organized my room a bit more and did a fashion show using my straight hair as the focal point of each outfit {If you think I am kidding…think again}. 

03/03/19 Sunday

Like mentioned previously, I had no plans to really spend this last weekend “living it up” if you will. I wanted to rest! So Sunday was spent chilling in my room {often in bed all day} either writing blog posts, watching YouTube, or working on my Korean homework {We got assigned another TOPIK practice test to do over the weekend.} I kept putting off the test because the number of things I couldn’t understand {especially vocab} within the reading and listening sections always overwhelm me and make me feel utterly incompetent. I tend to always do the writing first and put off everything else till the last possible second {which meant till like 1 in the morning this night…oops} But yeah if I sum it up, that was my Sunday. 

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That’s all for this blog post, I hope you enjoyed! If this one was kinda slow… I apologize! Maybe starting school will bring in some interesting content! That’s all for now! 

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Spring Orientation: Free Gifts, Classic Korean Movie, & Hostel in Hongdae (02/27-28/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/27/19 Wednesday

Wednesday marked the first day of the spring semester and simultaneously the beginning of our last few days of freedom before school started back up again on Monday. Since I was not moving host families this time, I did not have to show up to the Better World office until 1:45 pm. So, instead, I met up with Katie beforehand and we went to the cafe that has been deemed Josh’s cafe (by me). We were greeted very warmly by the baristas and they asked us if we were doing another lunch with the workers today. The younger worker also asked me if my hair was natural or a perm which made me laugh. I always forget that most (Korean) people, when they see my hair, assume it’s a perm because natural curly hair isn’t that common here. Katie and I both ordered the same drinks and when the owner brought them out to us, she also asked us if we needed notebooks. We told her that we really didn’t need any. She replied that she had these extra notebooks and wanted to give them as a gift to us because we were so pretty. This was the cutest thing so we immediately told her that actually, we did need notebooks! 

 

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Tapioca Nut Lattes ❤

We did work at the cafe for a couple hours. I say work but I was mostly just doing blog posts—no actual Korean studying was done. When we gave her our empty cups and left to buy some bread for lunch, she praised us for being such hard workers and studying so much! We laughed at this remark and explained that we were really not working that hard. 

We met up with Alix on the way to our favorite cheap bakery and then bought some basil cheese bread. This place on the way to Better World sells these little small specialty loaves for about $3 each. I know… I know you can get a whole loaf of normal bread for less than that but these are the perfect price for a small thing of bread when you are feeling the carb craving. Plus, they had special flavors!! You can not easily find basil-flavored things in Korea!

Walking up to the 7th floor and into the showcase room is honestly starting to feel so familiar as we have been there so often during these past two months. When I walked into the room, I noticed a sleeping man in a makeshift bed and I literally almost screamed because I was so shocked to see the figure. After a minute of staring, I realized that it was indeed Josh! 

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Apparently, Josh stayed up veryyy late the previous night packing because he is switching host families.

Unlike our last few meetings or orientations, I didn’t take quite as many photos this time so I am trying to piece together what we did with my memory to the best of my abilities. I believe we started out the day discussing host families as about half the group was switching for the spring semester. Our first activity was to get into groups and use our own problems to create host family case studies that we saw plenty of during the beginning of the program. I was in a group with Shada, Harmony, and June and we ended up writing about a NSLI-Y student named Nelly who had been going out a lot with friends to distract her from bad news that she received from back in America which made her host family think that she didn’t want to spend time with them. We solved this problem with the answer to almost all misunderstandings: communication! 

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After discussing host families for a bit, we brought up the elephant in the room… the impending sense of doom we were all feeling about going back to high school. 민정쌤 flashed up on the board all of our new homeroom assignments and where we needed to be on the first day of school which immediately made me feel anxious. I cannot believe that winter break is already over! It was very long I do admit… but it also felt like it just zoomed on by… 

We got into groups based on where we go to school {so you can probably guess who was my partner…} and we discussed our feelings about going back. Let’s just say that besides our happiness for being able to see our friends again, we were not ready to go back to 하나고 whatsoever. 

Our next session was information on the OPI and TOPIK which we will be taking in April {We are also taking an online version of the OPI in mid-March. 주연쎔 explained to us a bit more about the OPI which I thought I had known plenty about but I guess I was pretty wrong. Apparently, the text examiner uses the first 5 minutes of the test to prob you with questions to see what level you are at which means that your self-introduction actually does have a lot of weight on your exam!}

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Let me explain this in a bit more detail. Say you have given your self-introduction and have answered a couple of the questions that were asked in the beginning, at that point, the examiner decided that you are an intermediate speaker. From then on, no matter what you say, you will be placed at the intermediate level. From then on, the interviewer will ask you questions ranging from an intermediate-low level to an intermediate-high level to see where they should place you. If they make a mistake at the beginning about your level, they will continue to go with it because saying that they were wrong is difficult as that involves canceling the test right there and having to administer a new one as it was an examiner error. What complications does this have? Well, for example, this could mean that even if you are at an intermediate-high level but make the proctor think you are advanced which then causes him to probe you with advanced questions which you couldn’t handle, you would be stuck with an advanced score. If they didn’t cancel your test, you would be given Advanced Low even if that’s not where you belong. At the time of explanation, I felt that this method was kind of strange? I wonder if mistakes are made often… probably not, though. 

The rest of the sessions included talking about our independent research project and a few of the other activities planned for the rest of the year. {I would like to point out that my constant nagging has granted my cohort the opportunity to do a temple stay! And an overnight one at that!} We also talked about the newly implemented lunch and dinner dates with the 쌤s starting in the spring semester. From now on we can go out for lunch or dinner (one on one) with food being paid for by Better World. The only catch is that we have to only speak Korean with the teachers! It will be a great way to practice some Korean~ I’m excited. 

Finally, orientation was over and we all went out for dinner at the first restaurant we ever ate at as a big group! This time around, we ate 부대찌개 which I talked about in one of my posts from a little while ago {click here to read about the origins of this Korean stew}. It wasn’t as good as the one I had in 파주시 but the broth was excellent!  

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After dinner, everyone went out around 홍대 to hang out but I left my program phone at home which 민정쌤 needed the following day for OPIK registration so I had to spend almost an hour and a half on public transport to go back home to fetch my phone. By the time I came back, it was already 9 {our curfew was extended till 10} and so I just walked the 홍대 streets with Katie for a little bit. We tried going down some unfamiliar streets in case we stumbled upon something new which was kind of exciting. I liked seeing that there was still so much of this part of the city that I have yet to explore!

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On our way back to the guest house, we stopped at a convenience store and bought some ice cream and Oreos to share with the other girls in our room {McKenzie and Jacquelyn}. 

I stayed up very late this night doing nothing. Scrolled through Instagram and texted friends for hours~ Also chatted with Katie for a bit later in the night when she returned to the room from hanging out with some of the other students. It was a relaxing evening.

02/28/19 Thursday

Orientation today was really not an orientation? We bought bread from Paris Baguette the night before and so we quietly ate bread in our rooms for breakfast while getting ready. After breakfast, all that was planned for us was to watch a Korean movie. {The 쌤s also prepared popcorn!! It was like watching a real movie!} We watched the Korean movie 국제시장 {Directly translates to the international market but its English title is actually Ode to My Father}. 

It was such a good movie! I cried several times because of how emotional this movie was! It pulled on every single one of my heartstrings—strumming them all with no consideration for my overstimulated eye ducts! The story took place during the Korean War and illustrated the life of one family who was torn apart by the devastating war. The main character was the eldest son of a family that lost their father/husband while trying to seek refuge from North Korea to South Korea. The movie tells his story through a lot of flashbacks from different parts of his life. The story follows a man who had to make lots of sacrifices and do the absolute most for his family’s wellbeing—often negating his own health and or desires. The part that made the movie the saddest or what really drove it home for me was the message of the gap between generations. The main character {an old man with grandchildren in present day} is continually misunderstood by his family members for being irrationally angry or unnecessarily attached to their small shop in the market. The final scene really got me… and besides the plot and content being extremely well done, the filming itself was great. I took a half-semester of cinema studies during my freshman year of high school so I feel utterly qualified when I watch movies to pick up on the different camera angles and such. Honestly, this might beat out Hello Ghost for my favorite Korean movie! 

After the movie, we went to have lunch all together before some of the NSLI-Yians would leave to meet their new host families. We ate 된장찌개 (Soybean Paste Stew) and 오징어볶음 (Stir-Fried Squid).

 

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Once lunch was all finished up and greetings were said, Katie and I decided to go to a cafe for a couple hours or so to do work or just chill and chat. We ended up going to a Twosome Place cafe with a rooftop that we had never seen before! Turns out…there was a reason for that! It was just built! Today was actually the opening day! 

The cafe still smelled a little like paint {especially on the 2nd floor} but the environment was chic and all the tables had very comfortable chairs. I spent the time researching a popular neighborhood in Seoul that Katie and I planned to go to the following day {익선동} and then editing a blog post and publishing it that very same afternoon {mostly for Katie’s sake as she wanted to read another one.} This whole time, Katie was playing the new Club Penguin because it is back online! 

 

I ate dinner with my host family and just relaxed the rest of the night. I was excited for the last weekend before school because I planned on spending it well. I was also thankful to have this time with a host family I was comfortable with. I thought about how the first day of school would be if I also had to deal with switching my host family… 

Thanks for reading this blog post! It’s kind of on the longer side but I didn’t think that it needed to be split it up. Plus, it is nice to have orientation be all on one post! I hope you enjoyed! 

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Cooking Class, Making Kimbap, and Playing 장구 (Jangu–Traditional Korean Instrument) 02/22-23/19 (NSLI-Y Korea AY)

02/22/19 Friday

Friday was our last day of “Culture Week” if you will. We would be doing two cultural activities: making kimbap (김밥) and playing Jangu (장구). We ended up taking the cooking class at the same location that I had Korean cooking club during the summer program for six weeks back in 2016. We met up at the station together (It was at this point in time that I spotted a pig cupcake in a display case at this cafe and I made the very bad decision of spending my stipend on a cupcake at 10 in the morning. No regrets though! It was delicious!) and then walked to the Food and Culture Academy. The walk was so familiar as we passed by the side street that I walked down with 수진언니 when I met up with her back in November (That blog post here~) and 통인시장 (Tongin Market).

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I was happy that we were being taught how to make kimbap (김밥–rice, veggies, and sometimes meat and egg wrapped in dried seaweed) because I never learned how to make it during 요리동아리 (cooking club). I eat 김밥 so often when I do not want to spend money on real food, so it will be nice to know how to make it when I go back to America. I can easily whip up some rolls when I am missing Korean food and this is something simple I can do for my friends and family back home. Cooking the kimbap was a lot of fun because I was able to joke around about my cooking skills with June and Josh who were at the cooking stations near me. We all struggled to roll our seaweed correctly to make sure that things would not unravel during the cutting process–which they still…kinda did. But regardless, all of our rolls ended up being delicious even if they were not the prettiest!

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We got to enjoy our kimbap rolls with some nice warm egg soup. We received some certificates too for completing the cooking course~

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After having our lunch, we made our way to have our 장구 (Jangu) playing lessons at the National Center of Traditional Korean Music. I have never been musically talented which has led me to not play any instruments throughout my life. Unless you count playing the recorder in the fourth grade. I did DO that recorder competition with the different colored strings that you would wrap around the bottom of the instrument as if they were karate belts. (Who else relates?) The teacher was really patient with us as she understood that everything we were doing was quite new! I struggled a lot trying to figure out how to hold the drumsticks correctly as well as keeping in pace with everyone else. It seemed as if I had one good run through with the music, the next one would have to be a fail to even things out. There was one point where I messed up the order of when to strike one half of the drum and I just put my hands up in defeat and stopped playing because I could not continue on with the others because I lost my spot. However, what made me more embarrassed was that when this happened… I made eye contact with the teacher! I felt ashamed for not being able to keep up. Even though I was not the best at it, I really enjoyed playing the instrument. While we were playing the music, I immediately felt rewarded hearing everyone playing together and when I did follow along matching the beat, I also felt good! I can see how doing this would also become calming once you get in the zone and just following the rhythm however you like.

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After music class, a big group of the NSLI-Yians went to a 찜질방 (sauna/public bath) to celebrate Josh and Kaitlyn’s birthday which was today! (They share the same birthday but were born in different years!) I ended up just going home to have dinner with my host family when a different plan fell through. It was nice spending a chill Friday night in. My host sisters ate 회 together and since coming to live with them, I have become more accustomed to eating raw fish! And I actually do think it is good now! 

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02/23/19 Saturday

I literally have no pictures from this day because I was not feeling well today. I woke up with a bad headache and my stomach was aching severely so I spent the whole day just laying around in bed doing no work whatsoever. I may have written some blog posts or something? But more likely than not I was just watching Youtube the whole time. At around 8 pm, I ended up meeting up with Josh. He was so kind as to come visit me and we went to a cafe near the subway station in the mall. We stayed there for about three hours trying to focus and do some work. Josh worked on workbook homework while I did Quizlet before quickly giving up and resorting to writing blog posts. 

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One funny thing that happened while we were at the cafe was that after we put our stuff down and approached the counter to order, we were being instantly stared at by the worker at the register and the owner (or higher positioned worker…) of the cafe. They were looking at us and watching us discuss what we wanted to order (in English). They seemed almost…nervous. I went up and asked for a hot green tea latte and as soon as those words left my mouth (in Korean if that was not obvious) the male worker smiled and the female worker signed in relief and remarked that she thought that she was going to have to speak in English. I did order in Korean; however, the worker continued to switch between Korean and English while taking my order. I just thought it was so funny to see them, at first, so visibly nervous to have us order and then feel so much relief when we proved them wrong–AKA show them that we could speak Korean. This area really does not get many foreigners.

Well, that is all for this post! I hope you enjoyed~ Thanks for reading~ I hope the next blog post can be more interesting than this one~ Sorry, things were pretty hard to describe and I did not take a lot of photos so…. this is what you are stuck with for today :p

  • Emma 엠마

After Class Karaoke, Supporter Meeting, & Dinner with Yonsei Students (02/11-13/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/11/19 Monday

I am so utterly behind on blog posts… so these combined blog posts are going to be quite all over the place because my mind can only patch together the days’ activities. Especially for the days when I barely took any photos… Well, enough of that, let us get on with this blog post!

On Monday, I went to a cafe in the morning by myself–just to do some studying before class because I was not being productive at home at all. I ended up going to a bakery with Kaitlyn for lunch rather than getting our usual 편의점 lunch… just to shake things up! I ate a Croque monsieur or something like that? Some fancy french sandwich of some kind which Kaitlyn made me feel bad for not knowing the name! 

After Korean class (look at me high key ignoring what happened during class since I cannot remember), I went to a 노래방 for about an hour with Liam, Kaitlyn, and Josh which was super fun. I will never truly learn to appreciate the amazing feeling it is to sing your heart out (good mood, bad mood, frustrations, worries, anything) with your favorite songs. I know I am probably the worst singer on this planet! Regardless, I still enjoy singing karaoke. After that, I went to some interesting language exchange group meeting… would not recommend. I am all for language exchange so maybe I will try again another time but right now, not for me.

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02/12/19 Tuesday

Tuesday was our second to last supporter meeting before the big Cultural Explorers Presentation on Friday! There was a lot to get done! We met up at Blanc (the OG meeting spot) and just focused on preparing for the presentation. I edited the video for the presentation (which included all the statistics and background information of the financial situation and government policies regarding single mothers.)

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The BEST Supporter Group!<3

Korean class was pretty chill today. The break times between classes were a lot of fun as the 1반 students kept coming into our classroom to hang out and chat with our teacher which was fun. At one point, Kaitlyn and June kept making fun of Josh for walking like the walking man emoji? Josh actually became worried after this–worried about his posture. It was also McKenzie’s birthday so I bought her some jelly beans with adorable pig wrapping because well, that is my brand. Our teacher had us sing to her when she entered our room after I made it known that it was, in fact, her birthday.

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Today we finally learned the rules for how to pronounce 의. There are situations in which you can pronounce it in three different ways: 의, 이, and 에.

I went home right after class today because I knew the rest of the week would be a lot of late nights–definitely fun nights but nights without a lot of interaction with my host family in turn. I had a delicious dinner with my host family and then I also went on a walk with my older host sister and Andy. We just walked around the mall connected to the subway station for a while and talked about a lot of things. One thing was going back to school… oh, how I am dreading that… Especially now that I have a longer commute! Oh well, that cannot be helped. I guess I will just have to become a normal person and develop healthy sleeping habits! What a concept!

02/13/19 Wednesday

Wednesday was a jam-packed day indeed! It felt like at every moment I was busy doing something or on my way to get to the next thing. I started off the morning visiting my old subway station 화정역 with Katie. We walked around and reminisced together and I realized how much I missed the area near the station! It is so lively~ We ate at our usual 편의점, bought some really cheap macaroons at my favorite place next to Daiso, and then just strolled around until it was time to meet Josh at the station. I, of course, took them to my favorite cafe near the station called Dodori Cafe! We ended up studying there for 4 hours together! And I will say that it was pretty much all productive work time with a few chatty distractions. Practically the whole time I was editing the video for our presentation on Friday rather than doing any actual Korean studying. I forgot how tedious video editing can be! And I am not even any good at it~ All my edits were beginner level (this-would-never-actually-look-professional-type edits) but hey, I was trying! 

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One of my favorite pictures I found about single mothers while editing the video. Translation: Going out into the world is scary. Clearly, it would be painful. However, for the child, (she) must face it (stand it).

Seeing the owner of the cafe was nice~ She seemed happy to see us and said that it had been a long time since we last came in and it definitely had! I believe the last time I was there was when I went by myself on a Friday. But that was back with my old family, I have now been moved in with this one for more than a month! Oh, how time flies! I ordered my usual green tea latte and we all split one of the delicious (and cheap) chocolate muffins too. 

After dropping off Katie at the train station (Josh and I decided to study a bit more) this group of male high school students stopped me and asked if I could take a survey. The survey was targeted to only foreigners living in 고양시. The boys were from the foreign language high school nearby. I answered the questions that just asked about the beauty of 고양, the people, and the smoking on the street. The last question asked about working conditions so I told them that I was a student. I also talked to them for a little bit about how many foreigners they were able to find for the survey. I was not surprised that I was their first one of the day. I’ve definitely seen foreigners around the train station but I can definitely count those experiences on just one of my hands. 

By 6 pm, I made my way to the youth community center in 마포 for 급식 봉사 활동 (Community service serving meals). As always, although I don’t feel that we are the most needed when we are there, it was still some good fun: interacting with the kids and of course, being a part of the best 급식 gang {Shada & Kaitlyn!} 

After finishing up community service a bit after 7 pm, I made my way over to 신촌 to meet up with Jessica! {Korea Summer 2016 alumna and current student at 연세대학교} We were originally just meeting to have dinner and spill some tea at a cafe but she ended up inviting me to hang out with all of her friends?!? First, while she found me on the road, she was like “My friends are here and they want to meet you.” I assumed they were foreigners as exchange students that come to Korea usually have bad luck with making actual Korean friends. But then a part of my mind had this -it-is-Jessica-so-these-friends-may-be-Korean feeling so I asked… if you could see the look on my face when she told me that they were indeed Korean and from her unification club at school. Once I greeted them and we all relished in the awkward atmosphere for a while, she asked me if we wanted to all go and have dinner together—and that is what we ended up doing! 

We went out to this Indian restaurant which made my second time having Indian food that week! {Which is crazy seeing that before Sunday, I had never eaten Indian food before!} Conversation with everyone was really awkward at first… they all expected me to just be confident and really good at Korean because of what Jessica told them. They had a lot of questions for me—mostly about the fact that I’m attending a Korean high school right now. I spoke Korean to all of them while Jessica and I would talk to the side in English. It was an interesting night … I was glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to have dinner with strangers and use my Korean skills. {Also found out that Jessica and I were born in the same year! I was so shook! I always thought that she seemed so much older than me! Her friends made jokes about us not really being friends since we did not know we were born in the same year but in America, it’s not like that—age really isn’t important in relationships.}

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Once dinner was finished, Jessica took me to this cafe called Pie Hole which is a pretty trendy place in 신촌. We just hung out and shared a slice of pie {though I ate most of it} while updating each other on what has been happening. Jessica had just come back from her winter break in America and I was telling her about our research projects, any NSLI-Y tea I had to spill, and how I felt about the impending doom of returning to high school in March!! Looking back, I still had so much time left on this day. As I’m writing this now {… two weeks later… I only have 4 days left of freedom!!} 

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ I definitely did! It was such a jam-packed day! I did so much! This is the kind of day I really enjoy~ Everything is chill cause nothing is really mandatory or holding any weight (since it is winter break) but I am still busy doing fun things! Till next time!

  • Emma 엠마

연탄 {Coal} Community Service, Korean Movie Theater, & 잊지마 식당 {02/01-02/19} NSLI-Y Korea AY

02/01/19 Friday 

Friday was our second big community service activity as one cohort. This activity consisted of delivering cylinders of coal to mostly poor elderly homes that did not have electric heating. They counted on the coal to heat their houses during the winter. We were brought to the area surrounding 영등포시장 (yeong-deung-po market) which is known for having a large elderly population. We met the man in charge of the community service activity and he prepared us by explaining directions and handing out materials that we would need: gloves, aprons, etc. 

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Shada & Me

2 hours were designated for this activity but because we were so productive, we ended up finishing in 1.5 hours! For the first “shift” or “session” if you will, I was in a group of 4 with Shada, Jenna, and June and we moved a stack of the coal to a little storage area near the side of a house. The other 12 students did a separate house and that had a farther distance between the coal drop off and the destination which is why they needed more people for the assembly line.

After we finished those two houses, we moved onto the last one which involved carrying the coal through a narrow alleyway. All 16 of us did this one but rather than doing an assembly line, we just had each individual take a cylinder of coal to the storage area while the boys stacked them with help of the director or leader of the service activity. It was difficult labor as the coal came with a lot of powder and sometimes the dust was too much. Additionally, the cylinders were quite heavy. Moving them from one place to another wasn’t too hard but when I had to pick them up from off the floor to hand them to the next person {2 each} my back started hurting. 

But before we knew it, we had finished! It was a nice little rewarding experience. We didn’t get to meet any of the people we were actually helping which was kind of disappointing. I think it would have been better if we got to see the people that would be using the coal.

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We also got to take home keychains that were mini coal blocks with faces on them!

After the community service, a big group of us decided to go to the market and have lunch there. It was literally huge! Much larger than 통인시징 (Tongin Market) but then again that’s probably why it has its own station! Katie, Alix, and I got these really delicious huge 호떡 (Korean pancakes sold as street food)! They were of the thicker variety of the pastry known as 찰호떡. They were a dollar each and 100% worth it. In fact, I was pretty full from just eating that!! We kept walking around and we ran into Shada who showed us this really good place to buy 만두 for cheap {only 2천원 = a little less than 2 dollars}. That was my lunch~ Because my commute was over an hour-long due to me having to wait 20 minutes at 공덕역 {The next train didn’t go all way to my train station so I had to wait for the following one}, I ended up eating my dumplings while sitting on a bench inside the station. But honestly, it was really good so I didn’t mind the interesting circumstances. 

I came home from community service and relaxed for a bit—watching YouTube, writing blog posts, etc. Eventually, I even fell asleep and took a nap for a couple hours. My host mom and host sister had dinner during that time so when I woke up, I ate some 돈까스 that they brought back for me. And my night basically ended like that! 

02/02/19 Saturday 

Lately, I’ve been coming home early on both Friday and Saturday night just because I don’t make all day plans. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this but sometimes 9 pm rolls around and I’m lying in my bed thinking “I could be out and about playing right now!” This could be because I’m bored or because my feelings of loneliness tend to skyrocket when I’m alone in my room at night. For the first time in a while, I made some plans for all day Saturday with some pretty cool people: Shannon, Josh, and Harmony. 

Our day mostly revolved around seeing the movie Unbreakable from that director M. Night Shyamalan. The night before we had tried ordering the tickets online {to make sure we got seats next to each other because literally the theater we found was the ONLY theater in Seoul playing this movie and there was only one showtime!} but because of our lack of Korean credit cards or Korean bank accounts in general, this attempt failed. Instead, we planned to go to the movie theater several hours before the movie started and reserve our seats ourselves. 

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So Harmony, Shannon, and I met up at 충무로역 at around 1 pm and tried to find our way to the theater using Harmony’s map. Actually, the theater ended up being almost right next to the station but we passed it as we were too busy talking about the abundance of pet stores in the area rather than looking for our destination. We turned down some random street and ended up seeing the theater from the back. When we got to the theater we texted Josh to see if he still had plans to come and he was like the “moment of truth” which was so unclear. we were just standing in the theater being anxious and trying to figure out what to do with our boy Josh. He ended up telling us that yes he would come so we went up to the electronic self-checkout machine to order our tickets. We were determined to figure out how to buy the tickets without talking to any alive tellers—and we did! Plugging in our information and payment was a bit confusing but we managed. It honestly felt so good to have done it by ourselves {never changing the language to English}. It was definitely nothing besides a really simple accomplishment but in this household, we appreciate all.

After buying the movie tickets, Harmony, Shannon, and I went and had lunch at Popeyes which I had been craving for quite a while now. I really wanted their chicken tenders! Now, the Korean Popeyes does not have my favorite Cajun rice but the recipe for the biscuits was not that far off from the ones back in America; they were just a bit sweeter {but that is to be expected when it comes to bread in Korea.}

We hung out at this cafe called People’s Cafe {which also has a logo that resembles 나쁜여자 (bad woman) bar in 홍대 (Hongdae) which made us all laugh (Disclaimer: I have not been but it is an iconic landmark so it became an inside joke! Do not come for me Better World!) Besides the interesting choice of outside signage, the place was nice. Not too busy, WiFi was good, and the drinks were actually pretty cheap! Josh met up with us eventually and we went to see Unbreakable at the theater. 

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The movie itself was interesting and it kept me entertained for the duration of it because of its absurdity and the many surprises. Would I watch it again? No. Would I recommend it to anyone else? No. But the experience was one! We decided to sneak in snacks from the Emart right next to the theater like everyone does in America which was a great decision on our part! (Do Koreans do this too? Or were we really foreigners overstepping our boundaries?)

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Sketchy?

After the movie, Harmony left to go home for dinner while Josh, Shannon, and I decided to eat dinner out because, by the time we got home to our families, it would be passed dinner time anyway. We walked down this long sketchy alleyway of really traditional ma&pa Korean restaurants that really made me anxious. I guess it was just the dim lighting and the quiet empty atmosphere that really freaked me out. We ended up stumbling upon this 24 hour operated restaurant called 잊지마 식당 {Don’t Forget Restaurant is how you would directly translate it.} 

We ordered three portions of meat and 김치찌개 and ate all of it. However, although the food was very delicious, that was not what made this eating experience unforgettable… it was the lady serving us. In all honesty, I couldn’t really understand her Korean, but Josh had no trouble answering all her questions so he just went on with talking with her. After all our food came out, she prepared to show me how to make a lettuce wrap with the meat and the 반찬 with all our food. I was confused as to why she was doing this {mostly because we knew what to do} but it was a nice gesture by nature. Then, she took the lettuce wrap and fed it to me by putting it in my mouth for me. I was shook and had to try hard not to laugh or I would have choked on my lettuce wrap. She did the same thing to Shannon so I was not alone! 

We had a nice dinner and then separated with Shannon. Josh and I spent another hour and a half at a cafe—I wrote a blog post while he worked on some scholarships. And that was all for my night! It was a lot of fun~ I feel like I haven’t gone out and done things outside of my comfort zone {getting movie tickets and eating at that type of restaurant} or out of routine {going somewhere that’s not Hongdae and hanging out with people other than Katie}. It was a nice change of pace! 

That’s all for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed~ 

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

01/31/19 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading! 

  • Emma 엠마