Exploring Korean High School Campus Grounds & Man-Made Waterfall (04/17/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/17/19 Wednesday 

School today was just eh… I did not really have class today… it was mostly just 자습 the whole time which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I got so much Korean studying done! I reviewed all of my recently learned grammar—and three points we have not officially learned yet—and did my workbook pages. I guess days with too much self-study make me lonely since it limits my interactions with the other students because they are also studying as well. Especially in politics class after lunch, I have three good friends in that class so you would expect it to be alright but I felt the most 답답하다 (suffocated/frustrated) in that class for some reason…

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Honestly, my school is so pretty ❤ No matter what season!~ But especially in spring~

But besides actual classes, break times were fun and lunch was really nice! We planned to meet up with our friends to eat lunch at our usual time (12:40 pm) so until that time rolled around, Katie and I walked around the school and explored the grounds. We went on the search for the cherry blossom trees on campus! We found them! The weather was incredibly nice out so we just enjoyed the breeze and chatted before lunch time. 

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Today was another 수다날 otherwise known as 수요일 다 먹는 날 which means that if you eat all of the food on your tray, you get a sticker and usually a prize or a chance to win a prize. Today’s gift was only receivable if your individual home room won by having the most stickers and the prize was highly coveted seeing that they were Ryan (the Kakao character) themed electric tooth brushes! Particularly, this is an amazing gift for high school students because it’s really cute, follows a trend, and if you know anything about Korean high schools, the students always brush their teeth at school—in the morning, after lunch, etc. 

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Also look at those strawberries!! I love fruit! Our school cafeteria feeds us so well! (American high school cafeterias can honestly not even come close…)

I could NOT finish the meal because they were serving these weird cheesy meatballs and I could not get myself to stomach it. I instead ate everything else as the soup, hash browns, and rice with an egg were all very very good. I decided to take one for the team and sacrifice my tray for everyone else that still had stuff on their plates so that they could get the sticker for their respective homerooms. 

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Once the school day was over, Katie and I changed it up with our cafe choice and headed over to 북한산 제빵소 (Bukhansan Atelier is the English name) and tried to be somewhat productive while consuming large amounts of bread that should not have been humanly possible. (I am not kidding, we split a huge baguette type thing! It was so good though… no regrets!) 

The weather was still so nice and it was my first time being back at the cafe when it wasn’t winter and we realized that the bakery has a lot of outdoor space. While walking up to the building, we noticed that the entire front side of the cafe is lined with tables. Once inside, there are open spaces that you can walk through to get to small courtyard-like space with more seating! There’s even space on the third floor to sit outside! 

We ended up sitting inside but only because we desperately needed the WiFi to do work otherwise our butts would have been on some chairs outside. We will have to come back with the only goal of relaxing. Though, at that time, there won’t be any cherry blossoms…

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Enjoy this lovely painting that was in the bathroom of the bakery/cafe. I had a laugh.

After staying at the cafe for about two hours, Katie and I embarked on an endeavor to find the waterfall nearby. There’s a bus stop called 폭포동 (Waterfall Neighborhood) and I’ve seen the waterfall before, so we decided that today would be the day we would get off at that station and explore! 

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Views while waiting for the bus~

Turns out, the waterfall is fully man-made and although I expected that (you would too if you saw it… it is really oddly placed and we are smack dab in the middle of the city. ), it was still interesting to see.

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Another disappointing factor though, was that water only came out of the waterfall twice a day for only one hour each time. One of the times was at night but the first time was from the span of noon to 1 pm. That must have been the time when I’ve seen this waterfall previously because I do have recollection of it having water flowing. I must have seen it on our way to Korean class. Katie and I decided that on a day that we leave 하나고 to have lunch (but don’t have a reason to—like we don’t have to be in 홍대 for class or anything), we will come to the waterfall for a quick sight before going off to get 분식 at the market. 

We got back on the bus to return to the subway station and I only had 400원 on my card so the machine beeped at me. We got off the bus and hadn’t been walking around for more than 30 minutes so we assumed we wouldn’t get charged more for getting on at a different stop on the same line. I ended up just throwing money in the collection bin. However, when I got on the subway to head back home on the 3rd line (after refilling my card), it charged me as a transfer and not as a new trip so I’m not sure what my card was doing—though I was happy about the situation cause I didn’t have to pay more money! 

I arrived to the apartment and no one was home when I first arrived. I closed the door to my room and change into comfier clothes while my host mom returned with Andy. She assumed no one was home but Andy was going crazy in front of the door. She opened the door about to say that no one was there and then she was shocked to see me! Andy knew that I was home! Him and his strong little nose~ 

My host mom later told me that he was going crazy before they even got in the elevator! I don’t know why but the thought of Andy getting all hyper and happy thinking about me being home made me very touched~~ I’m going to really miss this dog! 

For dinner, we went out and tried this new restaurant in the shopping center near our apartment that serves 짬뽕 (Spicy Seafood Noodles) and 탕수육 (Fried Pork). Usually when we want to eat Koreanized Chinese food, we go to 도깨비 (Goblin) in 파주 but this place was a lot better. The noodles were chewier and the broth of the soup was addicting. Plus, the 탕수육 had more of the snack-like crunch that both me and my host sister really enjoyed. Now that we have this place, we may not return to the other one. Thinking about that… is kinda bittersweet, though. 

I spent the rest of the night procrastinating on my Korean homework and my presentation. That night I wrote one on jobs that will mostly likely disappear due to the development of technology! (Robots anyone?) I stayed up till after midnight writing the script because I kept getting distracted… on the bright side, it ended up being one of the presentations I’m the most proud of! I included lots of vocabulary learned in class recently and my grammar points were pretty advanced…if I do say so myself.

That’s all for the blog post~ Although the school day was overall quite underwhelming, I really had a great day today. Made a lot of discoveries, felt closer to both my school community and my host family, and ate some pretty delicious food~ It was a good day indeed. Well, I hope you enjoyed! Do not forget to subscribe to my blog for more posts like this one!

  • Emma 엠마

Making Gingerbread Houses with my Korean Host Family {01/26/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

01/26/19 Saturday

This morning I slept in till 9:30 which was a nice break from waking up before 7:30 on most of the days last week. I also went to bed rather early which meant actually getting 8 hours of sleep! 

I ate breakfast with my host family before getting ready and leaving the house to meet up with my old host family. The subway ride was only 20 min which isn’t far at all. I had to transfer at 대곡 which was definitely a transfer down memory lane {I’m sorry I thought that would be funny…}. Actually, the subway seemed a little different because it was so bright! Usually, when I did transfer there, it was early in the morning or late at night and I guess I never got to see it at its brightest during midday. 

Walking from 화정역 to my host family’s apartment felt welcoming and yet strange at the same time. I looked at around at the streets I walked down so many times and immediately thought “This was such a great place.” I passed by the Daiso (Basically a dollar store/Five Below but with better stuff and 5 times cuter.) I always bought last minute things at, the Olive Young I frequented for hair conditioner, the one drug store that sold Goldfish and Milano Cookies, the Macaroon place with the cheapest Macaroons which I bought as gifts for my Korean classmates, and the 편의점 I ate dinner at with Katie after a long study grind at our favorite cafe. I really wanted to visit my cafe again; it had been almost a month since the last time I went! But, I decided to come back another day, with Katie or another friend. 

I walked the familiar path to my host family’s home and upon arriving at their house, I realized that I no longer remembered their door passcode. I pressed the doorbell and waited for my host sisters to open the door. It was so weird seeing them when they opened the door. They ran up to me and we started talking immediately. I joked around asking the younger one if she had grown taller and she replied telling me that my hair got longer. They brought out the packages from my mom and seeing all the wrapped Christmas presents made me so happy! I took out the two big boxes— knowing they were gingerbread houses. My host sisters had never made them before so they were super excited to be able to have the experience, and I was excited to have the opportunity to share something I did around Christmas with them. 


My Christmas Package

We warmed up the frosting packs with our hands and got to work assembling the houses. Unfortunately, because of shipping, a lot of the pieces kept breaking and collapsing in on themselves so actually building the structures proved to be quite difficult. Nonetheless, the girls had a lot of fun decorating all the pieces and simultaneously eating all the candy that came along with the kits.


My adorable host sisters~

We tried standing up one of the houses three times but each attempt ended in all four walls caving in and a collapsed roof. We gave up and decided to just eat the gingerbread and the candy with the leftover icing. We decorated little pieces of broken walls and roofs and ate those. I also pulled out a bag of off-brand Puppy Chow {Chex Mix with powdered sugar and peanut butter–called Muddy Mix at Aldi} and we added that to the mix of treats. It was all very delicious. 


They had to hold up the house for the photos… xD

Eventually, my previous host mom returned with my host brother and host father and so it really became a reunion! Everyone looked pretty much the same {except the fact that my host dad had a different hair style} but it still felt like it had been quite a while. While my host mom was preparing lunch, I hung out at the table with my host siblings and watched them run around and be crazy. My host mom made a comment about me probably not missing the noise and I laughed. It was quieter at my new home but my host sister loves music too so that is sometimes blaring from computer speakers. 


My host brother also loved the gingerbread cookies~

For lunch we had 갈국수 and it felt so comfortable sitting at the table again with everyone. I sat at the same spot and I even drank out of the same cup. The eldest host sister even pointed it out earlier and said: “This is Emma 언니’s cup right?”


I told them a lot about what I had been doing during break and I even introduced my topic of single mothers. I showed them my new room and my host dog. We also talked about my new host family for a bit. I thought it would be awkward to bring them up after my host family asked about them but it seemed that they were simply curious—and wanted to make sure I was doing well and happy.

After dinner, I talked more with my host mom and shared some tea and cheesecake. While she began washing the dishes, she told me that she got an email from Better World about hosting again for the spring semester. She told me that she would call Better World about it and if I wanted to, I could move back with them. I was really grateful to hear that proposal. The fact that they liked me so much and truly did want me to stay with them earlier but couldn’t keep me because of their schedule… meant so much to me. My host mom told me how much my siblings missed me. I mean, I had been living with the family for 3 months. 

However, unlike how I figured I would react to hearing her asking me that, I didn’t know what to say. She told me to think about it a bit more before deciding. This made me feel more at ease; I hoped they would not care whichever answer I gave. But I wasn’t immediately down with the idea of moving back in with them. 

Don’t get me wrong, I loved living with that family. I loved my host siblings and my host parents make me feel like a real part of the family. But I’m not sure if I would want to move back? I also am really enjoying the time with my current host family. We have made a lot of fun memories together already and I really enjoy our conversations together. I don’t know if I would be okay with only staying with them for the 2 months of winter break {a duration only a little bit longer than the summer program}. It was a lot to take in at once and I didn’t know what to think. 


After playing with clay with my host siblings for a bit, I decided it was time to go back home so I could get home by 7pm for dinner. My host mom was out of the house with her own plans so I ate with my two host sisters. The eldest one prepared some meat for us and so we all sat around the table enjoying the lettuce wraps. After dinner, we tried feeding Andy a lemon for the first time and to our surprise, he did not hate it! Like he would recoil after licking the lemon but rather than stop eating it, he would come closer and try to lick it some more! It was honestly the cutest thing, and I got it on video!


Babys first Lemon!! ❤

Well that is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed! Thanks for reading.

  • 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

The second Day of Korean Classes: Anxious, Stressed, yet Hopeful {9/18/18} NSLI-Y AY


This morning, I was left alone for about three hours in the apartment as my host dad left for the library, my host sisters went to school, and my host mom and host brother left to complete their daily routine. I really enjoyed this time, however. I finally had some personal, private time. Something I’ve been lacking since I got off the plane in New York.

I got ready for class and even got the chance to video call my mom. I updated her on how I was doing and what was planned ahead. I cleaned my room a bit and studied vocab I learned yesterday.

My host dad came back home around 12. We had curry together for lunch. It was awkward at first but then we began to make conversation. As the meal continued, I started feeling more comfortable as well so I just started telling him about my first day of Korean class the previous night. He told me he was studying to get a certificate for his job, so he is on a break from work this week. He said this all in Korean… and I understood! But, I wouldn’t be able to relay this information back to you. Though I did learn the word for certification during this chat: 자격증

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Me feeling emo before class started

Immediately after lunch I left for school and got to the station with the perfect amount of time to walk to the Better World Office and have time for speaking with 민정쌤 beforehand; however, 민정쌤 hadn’t arrived at the offices yet. She was still in 인천 with the girls attending 문일. I got the WiFi of the office from 솔지쌤 and realized that 민정쌤 messaged me. We would talk after the first hour of class— during break time.

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Waiting for everyone in our makeshift classroom

The first hour of class actually went really well. I was feeling slightly more confident and began to ask questions and speak more in class. I even answered the teacher’s questions with words we learned yesterday to show her that I knew what I was doing, that I studied hard to prove to her that I could be in her class.

During break time, 민정쌤 pulled me away to her desk and we talked about my place in the class. I told her that the grammar wasn’t what was giving me trouble… it was the vocabulary, the conversations we would have in class. Josh and Jacquelyn knew soooo much more than me that I could hear multiple sentences and not understand. And I couldn’t have her explain… I didn’t want to keep them back from learning new things if I kept struggling with what we were being taught. 민정쌤 reassured me by saying that I shouldn’t worry. If grammar was what was difficult, I may have to rethink my place; however, vocab is something you can catch up on and study very hard to memorize. She told me that our 선생님 talked to her after the first day and told her that I belonged in her class and that I would stay there till the end of the program. Hearing that made me feel really good. I kept thinking that every mistake I was making was causing the teacher to regret placing me in this class. Though the class was making me feel very frustrated, I did want to stay in it. I knew that it would help me learn quickly, and that was exactly what I wanted. If I moved to the class below me, I wouldn’t be learning too much new grammar. There would also be no one to push me to do my best— because I might have been the best? {I promise I don’t mean to brag.}

After the talk, the class went by pretty quickly. I had the expected moments of not understanding and just nodding along but this time, when those moments occurred, I made sure to remind myself that I am still learning— it’s okay to not understand everything. If I did, I wouldn’t be improving!


After class, I went straight home. Our homework consisted of workbook pages, and writing a paragraph on our 이상형 {ideal type}, and studying for our quiz the following day. I wanted to show the teacher I could keep myself above the water. Maybe not more than half of my face but still, I wasn’t submerged— that was the goal.

My host sisters helped me with studying again. While doing workbook pages, I would circle my answer and they would shake their head in agreement or disagreement. It was nice to have a living, breathing answer key but it also made me very self-conscious about my mistakes. I liked that they were so invested in my learning, though.

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열공 (Studying Hard)

And tonight, I got to return the favor, I helped my eldest host sister with her English writing. She has an assignment to write about an animal family; she chose rabbits. I helped her come up with the contents of her essay by asking her simple questions and allowed her to phrase the sentences herself. Then, I checked for spelling or grammar mistakes.

I went to bed pretty late. I stayed up making Quizlets to do in the morning. I also had a lot of nerves for school orientation the next day. But that was my day, I’m assuming this is what my daily routine will be like for a while. It’s very different than the summer. I was constantly busy then— always having plans, always going out. This is different… but in a good way.

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

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Korea Summer 2018 Pre-Departure Orientation {Alumni Leader – Part 2}

안녕하세요 여러분~

Tuesday 06/26

The first full day of PDO (at least for the New NSLI-Yians) started bright and early. After breakfast, presentations of all different types were scheduled from 9 am onward.



Ready for a long day of presentations!!!

The day started off with a video call presentation by the Department of State’s Christopher Schwab. He talked about the Department of States expectations for NSLI-Y and its programs as well as the importance of each and every program. (He also talked at length about the geopolitics concerning the US and North and South Korea.)

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After the presentation from the Department of State, we began a session called “The Intentional Language Learner” which focused on how to set goals, manage expectations, as well as general NSLI-Y goals regarding language acquisition.


The students shared their “Smart” Goals which were prepped before they arrived at PDO. They were told to try to make goals for their program that followed the SMART acronym.

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Achievable

R = Relevant

T = Time-bound


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OPI Scale (Novice Low to Distinguished)

Ligaya then went over the OPI scale. Before we headed out for lunch, the students were allowed to check their OPI scores with their resident director Minjeong. iEarn discussed reasonable expectations for language skill improvement. According to iEarn, a student that began at novice low succeeded in reaching the program’s expectations if they were able to reach novice high– anything above that was surpassing expectations. They also made sure to let students know that the higher a student places on the OPI scale pre-program, the fewer levels they will probably move up/ are expected to move up.

The second session of the day was “The Flexible & Open-Minded Cultural Explorer” Minjeong went over culture shock and how to deal with it as well as Mental Health while abroad.

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We liked to call this the Stress Tornado

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Shown in the picture above is the NSLI-Y students playing this game that I really can only describe as a demonstration of differing perspectives and cultures. Each student was given a slip of paper and on that paper, there was a statement that revealed a pet peeve or something the individual should now consider disrespectful. For example, some slips of paper may have said “Not making eye contact” or “fidgeting” or “interrupting.” Each student was also given a pile of toothpicks to hand out to the other students they interact with if they do anything that does against the statement on their slip of paper.

The NSLI-Y students walked around having conversations and handed out toothpicks to their partners. Each individual was supposed to try to figure out what the other partner had as their “pet peeve.” Some were easier to guess than others–especially when there were certain statements that were about such subtle, natural things like fidgeting or playing with one’s hair. This activity was done to showcase and highlight the subtleties of different cultures and interactions between people in different societies. It made the students more aware of themselves within a larger entity.

After this activity, we moved on to lunch and the final three sessions of the presentation day: The Model Citizen Ambassador, The Safe & Savy Traveler, and The Thoughtful & Engaged Host Student.

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I love Kahoot! We did not play this during my PDO 😛

Alicia (American RD) went over the program rules, expectations, as well as how communication will work during the program. After we discussed everything about safety and security, we played a Kahoot game. It was actually really fun seeing everyone being so competitive in order to win. (Dio also took out his phone to play… but let us just say we probably disappointed the iEarn staff with our low place… XD )

One thing that I thought went really well was the conversation the staff led about preventing sexual abuse and harassment. They went through a presentation slideshow on signs of sexual abuse (what is okay or not okay) as well as ways to report it.

We also discussed being homosexual in Korea and the stigma that can revolve around that. I know during my summer PDO, we glossed over this topic. We only had a small booklet about it that was given to us before the program.

We also talked about race in Korea. We discussed Korean beauty standards that praise pale skin and how that can cause stigma against darker skin tones. These discussions were very compelling to be a part of, and I was happy that the RDs took the time to bring awareness to these taboo topics rather than push it under the rug for the students to figure out along the way on the program.


My Presentation ❤

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Example Slide~

The last session of the day was a presentation that I made about living with a host family! I presented about common host family issues (and how to solve them), tips for living with a host family, as well as useful phrases to use with your host family. I also shared plenty of stories about my host family to the students. (Glad I got them to laugh at my failures and my host brothers’ shenanigans.)


After all the presentations, it was 5pm which means dinner time! I ended up going with Dio to take a group of students to the University District so that they could grab some food (Though I went with Alice and Calista back to the university to eat dinner at the cafeteria because it was free!)


Dinner with Alice!~


The view from the cafeteria! Wowww

After dinner, Alice and I walked around campus and got some more ice cream because why not! We saved money on our dinner 😉


Another amazing view!!~ ❤


Alicia (the resident director) decided that the students would spend their final night at PDO watching a Korean drama together! She hooked up her laptop to the TV in the lounge and played the first episode of a really old Korean drama that was not popular– but it was hilarious! We all sat on the floor or couches wearing our pajamas enjoying this show. I thought it was such a cute bonding gesture between the RD and her students. It was a nice way to end the night!


After the drama, Dio and I did some room checks which meant making sure everyone was in their designated room by 10 pm. I checked about 12 rooms for the girls while Dio checked all the boys’ rooms. Dio joked about him being really good at room checks and that it was a sign that he would be a good resident director too. I laughed at the idea (jk I love you Dio ❤ haha)

Wednesday 06/27

Today was the day the NSLI-Y Summer 10 kids would be flying off to Seoul, South Korea! In the morning we were to meet in the lobby right after breakfast at 8 am; however, we ended up counting the group several times because a couple of people were missing. They were three of the NSLI-Y students and Dio. By 8:15 am Minjeong is getting upset and asking me where Dio was. I messaged him on KakaoTalk and I was like “Dio, where are you?” And he all casually goes “In my room… why?”

But do not worry, he made it down with the other boys in less than 5 minutes. I just laughed at the thought of him being a resident director that is always late.

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They were so excited!!~

We took a large shuttle bus to the airport (all 55 of us) and arrived about 3ish hours earlier than the flight just because getting a large group through an airport and security can be tough. It also gave the students enough time to grab some snacks or an early lunch at the airport if they so chose to.

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I sat by Dio and we talked the entire way~

We played games to pass the time and I talked to a lot of the students (especially Alice and Dio because I am going to miss them!)

Eventually, it was time to say Goodbye to the students as they embarked on their journey!

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Honestly, seeing them all file into the plane was pretty bittersweet (there were tears! From me!) This sight reminded me so much of my NSLI-Y experience and I could not help but think back to the feelings I had when I was traveling to Korea. This reminded me of how fulfilled I felt getting on the plane after grueling over the application and waiting to apply since I was in the 7th grade and first discovered NSLI-Y. Luckily, I could remind myself of the fact that I will return to South Korea, in September even.

After the students left, I hung out with Signe, Ligaya, and Dio until it was time for me to hop on a plane back to Chicago. We got dinner at the airport and just chatted about all sorts of things. We (Dio and I) also tried to teach Signe and Ligaya some letters of the Korean alphabet. They learned pretty fast! And I hope one day they learn Hangul completely.

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Back to Chicago!

This actually has nothing to do with this post but when I arrived back home, I had a lovely package waiting for me from American Councils:

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NSLI-Y Merch !!! ❤

Back in May, Shraddha (NSLI-Y Alum Rep –> Here is her Blog) held a NSLI-Y trivia competition through Kahoot for NSLI-Y alumni and finalists. I, of course, had to participate (rather than study for AP Gov test the following day). But also, I asked her if I could participate so it was not unfair~ And, by some stroke of luck, I ended up winning! So as my prize, I got a NSLI-Y waterbottle (a nice addition to my thermos ^^)


And that is all for this blog post! My next few blog posts will most likely be about information regarding my NSLI-Y AY program (host school and host family announcements) as well as my last couple events as an alumni representative. Look forward to those! Until next time~ 다음에 봐요!

  • Emma (엠마)


Being an Alumni Leader at the Korea Summer 2018 Pre-Departure Orientation {Part 1)

안녕하세요 여러분!~

06/24 (Sunday)

I had a very fun little trip back at the end of June. iEarn flew me out to Seattle, Washington to serve as an alumni leader for their Korea (Seoul) Summer 2018 PDO (alongside fellow alum Dio). I was super excited when I discovered I had been afforded this opportunity~ I tried really hard on the application, so I am glad it worked out!

This year’s program PDO was scheduled for Monday (06/25) to Wednesday (06/27) with the students flying out to Korea late Wednesday morning. However, I and the other staff members and alumni leader arrived in Seattle a day earlier. I thought it was for setting up purposes, but honestly, Sunday turned out to be a very chill, free day.

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On the 4-hour plane ride to Seattle, I decided to study Korean. I wanted to review lots of things as a refresher.

When I arrived at the airport, I was greeted at baggage claim by both Signe (a staff member at iEarn that is one of the individuals in charge of the NSLI-Y programs) and Dio. I have talked to Dio previously but only to congratulate him on also getting into Columbia through Questbridge (You heard that right; We will be going to the same university!), and that was about it. It was really nice to finally get to meet him (in person) and become fast friends!! {You know Dio is going to give me a tour of Columbia later this summer!! ;D }

Our shuttle ride to the airport comprised of Dio and I just sharing stories and our experiences in Korea. We even had an impromptu conversation (all in Korean) about what we did on the plane ride. My Korean was very rusty!!!! But, it was all in good fun and helped me get more comfortable to speak in Korean later that day (and later during this trip).

At the airport, I also got to meet 민정쌤 (Minjeong) who is the Korean RD for the summer 2018 students (She has also been the Korean RD for the summer 2017 students as well as the AY 2017-2018 students.) This was a very exciting meeting because 민정쌤 will be my RD for my gap year abroad in South Korea. I have already had some really great RDs during my NSLI-Y summer program (JT하고 메들린쌤 사랑해요~~), so I was hoping that 민정쌤 would be a great addition. (And, I think this wish is on its way to becoming reality~) I am just glad to have met her early, and I hope we can get close in Korea ❤ ❤ ❤

When we arrived at the University of Washington, the staff members (now joined by Ligaya from iEarn and the American RD Alicia (so sweet as well! She did CLS and Fullbright in Korea!) wanted to have dinner by themselves (they missed out honestly XD Dio and I are greatttt company!) We decided to meet up with another Korea (Seoul) Summer 2017 alum Tierney and get some dinner at the University District. We walked around a bit contemplating what we wanted to eat but eventually, as expected, we settled for some Korean food. (Don’t act like it is a surprise~)

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Campus Tour courtesy of Tierney

We ate at a restaurant called Seoul Tofu House. Tierney swore by its charm and the tastiness of its food. When we entered the restaurant, it was packed full. Luckily, there was only a small table open… just for us it seemed~


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Tierney & Dio ❤

I ordered 잡채 (Sweet Potato Noodles) and it was honestly the best one I have had (in America). Dio had 해물파전 (Seafood Pancake) while Tierney ate 갈비탕 (Short Rib Soup).

After our very filling dinner (but kinda lunch???), Tierney made us walk off all our food by taking us off campus to explore a bit. We went to this park called Gas Works. Tierney (our awesome Seattle tour guide– though, she is from Colorado) told us that it used to be a Gas plant of some sort; however, the area was refurbished to be a nice place to relax. It had amazing views! And the bike trail to the park was really nice too! Made me want to go biking (and enabled me to find out that Dio cannot bike nor swim! Columbia will teach him the latter one (or he can’t graduate XD) but I want to teach him how to bike!


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Seattle Views ❤


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Gas Works

At that park, they also had a silent DJ party which comprised of lots of young adults dancing around on a large grassy hill with black headphones on–no music playing aloud. It reminded me of those silent dances that some high schools have to be inclusive to those individuals on the autism spectrum or others who struggle to deal with loud noises. Though, I believe this was just an initiative to get people outside and moving. (Apparently, they were continuing throughout the summer–every Sunday– and the cost of being a part of it was $5)

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Views from the top of the hill~

We also walked along the water for a bit; the views of the city skyline were gorgeous! We also stumbled upon an engagement photo shoot (Tierney thought it was her English teacher…) and the best thing I saw all day: a photo shoot of a dog dressed up as a sailor.

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After our very long excursion, we returned to the university to see all the staff members on their computers doing work. We chilled in the lobby together for the rest of the night chatting about everything and anything. Dio and I showed Ligaya, Signe, and Minjeong some wholesome memes from the NSLI-Y Meme Facebook page (unofficial). There was a lot of laughter that night.

6/25 (Monday)

Today was the day! The day that the new NSLI-Y Summer students were flying into Seattle! I was so excited to be able to meet all of them~

Dio and I finally got the chance to help out this morning. We set up the tables where the NSLI-Yians would be greeted at. We laid out the 49 name tags onto one table while we folded the many NSLI-Y t-shirts and placed them on the other. Once we got the two tables ready and organized, we did the most intern-like thing possible: we got Minjeong and Signe coffee. iEarn sent us off to pick up chart paper and stickers from Office Max and  Vanilla Lattes from Starbucks.

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I couldn’t wait to welcome the new NSLI-Y students!!!~

Dio’s Google Map skills are decent at best, so it took us a little while to find Home Depot. And afterward, on the way to Starbucks, we forgot whether the staff wanted hot or iced lattes, so Dio texted our PDO group chat asking “Do you want a cold or cold latte?” We didn’t realize that this was the case until Minjeong pointed it out to us… but don’t worry, we ended up getting their HOT vanilla lattes to them as they wished~

When we returned to the UW campus, some NSLI-Y students started to arrive. Dio and I took a few of the recent arrivals out to lunch because they were all hungry as they had some really early flights– with no lunch. Because they were with us, we were allowed to go off campus. After a lot of back and forth on what to eat (we had to convince them not to get Korean food… they were super excited, but we wanted them to cherish their last meals in America!), we decided to get some Vietnamese food.

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This is where we ate! Such a cute little restaurant and the owner was the sweetest!~

We spent a little bit too long enjoying our lunch, so we had to rush back to campus in order to allow Signe and Ligaya to take lunch. Minjeong eventually went to her room to pass out because of the time zone change, so Alicia was the only one with Dio and me as the rest of the students came in.

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Tierney came back out to help us!!~

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I love these two!~ ❤

Alicia focused on getting the students checked into the university’s front desk and bringing them up to their rooms while Dio, Tierney, and I took charge of the tables in the lobby. Tierney handed out name tags while Dio collected their passports and marked them off on the RD’s chart. I gave out the NSLI-Y T-shirts, collected the students’ luggage receipts, and handed out stipends (and luggage reimbursement to those in which it applied).

Eventually, evening rolled around and it was dinner time. Two NSLI-Y students still had not arrived yet because their flights had been delayed by a lengthy amount of time, but dinner and a short segment of PDO went on as planned. We ate pizza out on the patio before beginning the first round of icebreakers. We played a bingo game where each square had a statement (in Korean and English) like 매운 음식을 잘 먹을 수 있어요. (Can eat spicy food well) Then, the point of the game was to find someone who fits that statement and have them sign their name in the square. Afterward, we had to all fit ourselves in a map of the United States based on where we live– without talking! Our map turned out alright… Texas was a bit too close to Florida but heyyy, we tried!

After dinner and a couple icebreakers, Dio and I took a group of the students to get ice cream at the University District, and I finally got some time to hang out with Alice! Alice lives near Chicago (like me) and we met up the week prior in Chinatown. We only met up for a couple of hours, but we were already fast friends!

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We love hipster ice cream! My flavor was called “Dough or Die” !! haha

And that was my first two days in Seattle (including the first day of the Korea Summer 2018 PDO)!!~ This post will HAVE to be in two parts because I am already at 1,600 words and I still have two more days to write about… So until I post the next one 다음에 봐요 친구들!~

Part 2: Coming soon

PS. I also got some more information about my academic year in Korea! I cannot wait to share about that too~ But I think I will wait off on that until I finish posting about PDO~

  • Emma 엠마




Pre-departure Orientation (June 27th-June 28th)

{So… I have been back in America for more than a month now and I never posted while I was in Korea. Not even one measly post. However, I did start some entries and I kept a journal so for the next few months I will be uploading posts about my time and some informational posts too like my favorite cafes, food, what I packed etc. This first post will be about PDO in washington.}

On June 27th, 2016, I found myself up at 7am all excited about the adventure that awaited me. (Well, once I made it to the airport and flew to Seattle). Going through the airport is so different when you are by yourself. I’ve only ever flown with my mother and siblings so going through security by myself and finding my gate by myself made me feel very independent. Security was a breeze (Especially because I got to keep my sneakers on). My gate was all the way on the other side of the airport from my security checkpoint so I had a long way to walk. As I approached my gate, I scanned the crowd trying to look for the familiar faces of the other Nsliyans on the same flight as me. It wasn’t till I heard quiet shouts screaming “Emma” when I finally found Angie and Jesse. There was an hour until boarding time so we just hung out and talked until it was time. We also met up with Kyle who showed up a little bit before our flight was scheduled to take off. The 4 hour plane was ride was really hard for me. For some reason I was really restless and my plane was super hot. I just couldn’t find any position that made it comfortable to sleep. After a super long shuttle ride, all the O’hare airport kids and LAX kids made it to the University of Washington. We got to the school around 3:30 or so and were greeted by our resident director and a couple of other IEarn program coordinators. There were two long, plastic tables that had Nsli-y Korea taped onto them.


Our AWESOME Welcome to Seattle, Washington {Picture Credit @ Hailey}

When we got to the university, we received a lanyard with our name on it and a bag with goodies such as snacks and pens. After we collected our things, we got our room assignments and tried to figure out how the wifi worked (No wifi in the dorms. Only in the lounge area).


My cozy.. and quaint little dorm room.

Everyone hung out in this lounge area that had a pool table, ping pong table, and a piano. I hung around with my really good friend Angie (my plane buddy) since she was the only one I was close with at that point in time. While we were there, the university had some Japanese exchange students as well. Some of the kids in my program spoke Japanese as well so it was really funny seeing them interact with the other students there.


Angie and I snapchatting all the Nsliyians surrounding the Japanese kids like they were a zoo exhibit.

At around 6ish we finally got dinner which was an all American food- pizza! Dinner was very fun because I got to hang out with and talk to people that I hadn’t had much time with since I arrived. Angie and I sat down with Vinzent, Ava, and Adilene and they continued to prove to me that Nsli-y scholars are amazing people.


We talked about our Korean studies and what we were most looking forward to in South Korea. At this time, I also met my Korean Resident Director. Our first conversation together was about Korean dramas. It was a good one.

After dinner was when the fun began… ICEBREAKERS. Well, I know many people wouldn’t call it that but I found it really enjoyable. From all the blogs I read about PDO, I was excited for all the awkwardness! We did a lot of things on the first night. We had to line up by date of birth (Without talking)


Our birth line (It was not by year only month and day)

and then when we were in that line, we stated our name, our birthday, and a fun fact (my fun fact was that the knuckles on my ring fingers are basically nonexistent). Then we did a game of human bingo and this weird hand clap game that I couldn’t do and I also dont remember it. We wrote a constitution for our Nsli-y program and lastly (THE BEST ONE) we did Karaoke! That night we found out who the singers were on our program. We sang BTS, Apink, Taeyang, and Exo. It was a great way to end the night.


Angie & Tise Dancing to BANG BANG BANG by Big Bang


Trudi singing Save Me by BTS

The next day (June 28th) I woke up at the crack of dawn to take a shower and get ready for breakfast which was at 8am. After a lovely breakfast of waffles and fruit, we had lots and lots of presentations. These included presentations on culture shock, language learning, basic rules, program safety, and the experience of the two alumni (Zhuhur – Summer 2014 & Ben – Summer 2015} that were there with us. Dinner was at 5:30pm and I ate with all these girls and all we talked about was our excitement for the next day since we would be hopping on a plane! The dinner was also pretty funny because when I was in line getting my serving of pasta, these Japanese exchange students behind me said my hair looked like ramen (It was funny retelling the story to everyone at the table).

After dinner, a group of girls (Sofia, Rhea, Mckenzie, Teresa, Jane, Abigail, Cynthia, and Sura) and I went down to this lake on campus.

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The day couldn’t be complete without a selfie of some sort.

It was a pretty long walk and on a hill too! We just hung out on the dock talking while sticking our feet in the water. The dock was fun to sit on as the waves from the boats would move the dock up and down.


Try to convince me that this isn’t beautiful.


Top Right: Cynthia, Abigail, Sura, Jane, Rhea, & Mckenzie                                                        Bottom Right: Theresa, Me, and Sofia

We even asked a random stranger to take our picture. (He then jumped into the water which boggled my mind since it was literally ice cold!) It was a fun excursion (even though Sura almost got us lost on the way home).

We got home and I just hung out with my roommate Cynthia and Sura in my room and we just talked (Are you sensing a trend?). At night all the Nsli-y kids had to write their goals, a letter to themselves, and take a survey before the end of the night and at 10pm (curfew) the RDs came and collected everything.


View looking out from the balcony of the lounge area

And that was my PDO experience. I can’t wait to be posting more about my time in Korea and I hope everyone liked reading this post! I will update soon. (HAH)

Emma  엠마

The best journeys answer questions, that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.  – Jeff Johnson

Host Family Information

An underlying theme in both my Nsliy application essays as well as my interview was my excitement for my host family. I can definitely say that having a host family is a great plus to this program. I would have still applied if we lived in dorms like some of the other countries, but I am glad that I’ll be able to have the experience in Korea with another family. I’m not new to the whole “hosting” world as my aunt herself owns a homestay in New York where she hosts students from all over the world. I’ve met countless people from countless countries through staying with her every summer (unfortunately, I will not get a chance this summer but my time in Korea is something I’m super grateful for). Her business was one of the many starting points of my curiosity for other cultures and languages. But back to the original point of this post, I’m happy to share that on June 21st (Tuesday) I recieved my host family information by email. I will not be sharing everything (for privacy reasons) but I will share as much as I deem suitable.

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Seodaemun District (Seodaemun-gu)

I will be living in an apartment located in Seodaemun Gu (서대문구). This part of Seoul is where Yonsei University is located (A prestigious university in Korea) as well as Sogang university which is where previous Seoul Summer Korean classes have been held (Last year was the first year the program moved to Sookmyung Women’s University). Sinchon (신촌) is also a neighborhood in Seodaemun Gu which is known for it’s many shops and lively night time crowds. I will be living in an apartment with a mother and father who are both managers at an educational institute. I’m assuming this means that they work as managers at a hagwon (학원). Hagwon is the Korean word for a private academy or cram school that prepares students for the college entrance exam (대학수학능력시험). However, I’m not 100% sure. As for host siblings, I will have two younger brothers (Just like I do now). One is 14 years of age and the other is 11. It will take less than an hour to get to Sookmyung by subway which makes me happy since I would rather not have to wake up so early in the morning just for my long commute. Our curfew for Nsliy is also very very generous (at least to me it is). Our curfew for weekdays is 9pm and the curfew for weekends is 11pm. Both times are very manageable.

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Sinchon During the Day

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Sinchon At Night

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That’s all for today folks. Sunday (6/26/16) is my last full day in my hometown. These past few days have been spent cramming in last minute hang outs with my friends at the movies and downtown, as well as my mom making me all my favorite foods (I’m going to miss Cuban food so much when I’m gone. Tostones and Flan are my guilty pleasures). I’m still not packed yet but it’s supposed to rain on Sunday (tomorrow) so I can always do that then. Thanks for reading this post and don’t forget to subscribe!~ 안녕!!!

Emma 엠마

Flight Itineraries are Here!

I think it is safe to say that I am psychic. On June 13th, 2016 (Monday) I uploaded a blog post about how I am preparing for Korea. In that blog post, I mentioned that it was a very special day because that day was exactly 2 weeks away from the departure date to Seattle. To my surprise, Monday was a special day for one more reason… I got my flight itineraries! (For both my domestic and international flights). I would have posted sooner but I did just upload a post on Monday and I’ve been so busy trying to finish my summer homework before I leave that I couldn’t find time until today to write and upload a blog post. Nonetheless, I am here with some exciting news as I’ve been waiting for this information for awhile now! (In the past years, flight information was given out in May so everyone in my group has been anxious).

I want to start off by saying that NSLI-Y8 (NSLI-Y8 = 8th round of Seoul Summer NSLI-Y finalists) is such an amazing group of people. During the acceptance period, we made a Kakao Group Chat (KakaoTalk is a Korean messaging app that offers free texting, calling, and video chat). We have been talking throughout this whole waiting period and I can’t wait to meet them all in person! One of the amazing girls from our chat, (Her blog can be found here) formated a Google Doc so that we could put our flight information in one place. She did an amazing job! Now we all can figure out who will be on our domestic flights, as well who we will be sitting next to on our way to and from South Korea by looking at organized charts with some memes for good measure.

Basic Itinerary:

On June 27th, I will be heading to O’hare International Airport for my flight that leaves for Seattle (and I don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. Though I’ll probably still wake up way too early because of all the excitement). As of right now, I already know of one other girl, from our Kakao chat, who is on my flight so I won’t have to go this 4 hour flight alone! We will be arriving in Seattle in the early afternoon (From the looks of it, some people are arriving as early as 10am and others won’t be in Seattle until 7pm. So there will be a pretty long waiting period before everyone arrives).

We will be having our Pre-Departure Orientation at The University of Washington. On June 29th all the NSLI-Yians will be leaving Seattle and landing in Korea in the late afternoon (but it will be the next day in Korea). I’ve never experienced any sort of jet lag (Because the farthest place I’ve flown is New York and that’s only a one hour time difference) so I’m kinda excited (If that’s the right word…) to see what that has in store for me. Who knows, my group has already talked about staying up all night the day before our flight anyways (and we will be having a Smash tournament during the plane ride with our DS’s – I did mention they are the best people ever right?).

I have no clue where I’ll be sitting when it comes to my domestic flight from Chicago to Seattle but on my international flights (Seattle->Korea & Korea->Seattle) I have aisle seats for both durations which makes me super happy because I don’t want to be that annoying passenger when they need to go to the bathroom. I’d rather be woken up then be the one doing the waking up.

Now that I think about it, I’m kinda happy that all this flight business was late because I think the excitement would have been too much if I still had to wait a month knowing all this information.

Thanks for Reading. 안녕!~

“To Travel is to Live.”   Hans Christian Anderson



How I’m Studying Korean (Digital + Physical Resources)

Today is a very special day. It’s a special day because today marks only 14 days left until I hop onto a plane for my Pre Departure Orientation in Seattle. There’s only two weeks left till I potentially leave for Korea and this honestly boggles my mind (Well, 14 days till Seattle and 16 till Korea). Again, I remember when there were 70 days left and now there’s only 14! It’s crazy how fast the days go by (I mean, I expected this… but still). Now, I don’t have anything too exciting to post about my trip yet, (as I am still waiting for my flight and host family information) but I did want to dedicate a blog post to how I am preparing for my six weeks in South Korea (Beware!~ This will be a very long post).

Obviously, I am preparing for this trip by studying Korean. Is it hard to stay in during beautiful summer days to study a foreign language? It is, and it isn’t. I have a lot of fun studying Korean as seeing any sort of growth or success in my studies can make me happy for the entire day (literally). For instance, yesterday I was able to have a full Korean conversation with my Korean friend over Kakao Talk and I only needed to look up one word (French fries). Granted, our conversation was about food so it wasn’t too difficult, but the achievement definitely made me happy.  But I do have to be honest, it is hard to plan out a certain time of the day and actually sit down and begin studying (because it is still studying- during the summer). However, I know I will appreciate my hard work when I’m over in Seoul and that is PLENTY of motivation.

Physical Resources

So as a part of our PPLP, (Pre Program Language Preparation) we were given a textbook to study from as well as weekly assignments that we are expected to complete and email to our Resident Director every Friday by midnight. So far, I haven’t used my textbook in correlation to the worksheets all too much, but I have been studying the textbook by myself (Though I am in the advanced group and i’ve heard that the basic/beginner group uses the textbook a lot). The textbook we were given is the Integrated Korean: Beginning 1, 2nd Edition (Purchase It Here).

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What The Textbook Looks Like

I already had the textbook so now I have two copies. Personally, I think the textbook is really helpful because it explains topics pretty well. It provides questions to help further your understanding and places for you to put forth the grammar skills learned (there are even cultural tidbits at the end of each chapter). 

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Cultural Tidbit About Greeting With Bows

There’s also NO romanization in the textbook which is great for getting better at reading hangul (Korean Alphabet/Written Language) because it does not allow you to use the crutch which is romanization. The only downside I have is that the textbook was created for classroom environments so you will come across sections that ask you to discuss with classmates and there are some questions that involve responses from other people (I just made things up in these circumstances so it’s not that big of a deal). Also, it is a textbook so it won’t help with pronunciation but that can easily be taken care of with another Korean language resource.

Besides my textbook, I only have two other physical Korean Language resources and they are both dictionaries of some sort. The first one I have is Korean Phrase Book and Dictionary by Berlitz Publishing (Purchase It Here).

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You Can Tell It’s Well Loved By The Bottom Right Corner

The phrases in this book are actually quite useful and it is split up into categories like Arrival and Departure, Shopping, Sightseeing, Eating Out, Business Travel etc. Everything is pretty easy to find as all the phrases are put in organized sections. The Phrase sections show the phrase in English and to the right it has the phrase written in Hangul. Underneath the Hangul, the romanization for the phrase is also displayed (Though I don’t really pay much attention to romanization, this is a handy feature for tourists that don’t plan on learning Korean). phrase book example .jpg

Lastly, the book also has a small English-Korean dictionary as well as a Korean-English dictionary. I’ve actually used this book quite often when it comes to its dictionary. When I need to look up a word for my homework, I use this since Google Translate can’t always be trusted. The book is also quite small, so it’s the perfect size to just throw in your bag when you are going to class or around town. The only thing I don’t like about this book is that most of the phrases (98%) are very very very formal. It’s pretty easy to change many of the phrases by just altering the endings but how to do that isn’t exactly shown in the book so that knowledge will need to be found elsewhere (which is understandable since this was created for tourists and not specifically for language learning but still, I’m going to critique it how I deem fit).

Next up, is another dictionary! This one is titled McGraw-Hill’s Korean Illustrated Dictionary (Purchase It Here). Dictionary

This isn’t any plain old dictionary. Why? Well because it has pictures to go along with the words inside!~ So like the phrasebook this dictionary is split up into sections like In the Bathroom, People, At the Restaurant, Transportation etc. The dictionary displays the word in Hangul as well as an illustration to match that word. The word is then shown with it’s romanization and it’s English Translation of that word. dictionary example

The dictionary also has an index in the back of the book so if you are looking for a word in particular, it is easy to find. Not only that, but the dictionary also comes with a CD with the pronunciation of every single word in the book so you can put it on your computer/phone/mp3 or whatever you use and listen to it when you feel like it (I personally haven’t touched the CD… but hey it will be there when I need it). 

Digital/Online Resources

Here I’m going to link my favorite websites for learning Korean as well as a list of the names of apps that I use. Depending on the resource, I may give a brief description or some information but I won’t be too in depth as it is very easy to just click on the link and check everything out.

(1. TalkToMeInKorean

  • A very popular Korean learning resource (that also has a Youtube Channel to aid lessons). The website also has free lessons as well as things that need to be paid for (I definitely don’t use this website all too much but I did use it to learn hangul).

(2. HowToStudyKorean

  • A very guided Korean language learning resource. It starts off really slow with hangul and works it’s way up in difficulty. (For example, this website introduces the conjugation of verbs in later chapters.) This website has recorded pronunciation of the words introduced in each chapter and it also includes free word searches that go along with the vocab learned in each chapter (Pretty much free but has workbooks to go along with the chapters that can be purchased). I also use this online resource the most out of all three mentioned.

(3. WordReference

  • Dictionary (For all languages. Works for English-Korean and Korean-English).



(1. Memrise 

  • Vocabulary app (You can download the vocabulary from lessons/chapters from many Korean language resources such as TalkToMeInKorean, HowToStudyKorean, and the Integrated Korean Textbook).

(2. Quizlet

  • Online Flashcards (Also has games to help memorize vocabulary).

(3. HiNative

  • Language Learning Community (You can ask questions about grammar and pronunciation and get answers from native speakers).


Lastly, I want to talk about Pimsleur (Purchase It Here). I personally have the CDs for the Basic Korean Pimsleur Program which can be found here.

So I purchased this program after watching Pimsleur’s youtube video about this product. It seemed like a very good buy especially since Rosetta Stone was way out of my budget. Fortunately, this program is not that expensive (at least for the Basic Programs) as I was able to get this program for around $25 (I did buy this awhile back and I’ve actually been able to find it for cheaper lately). So this program is solely an auditory language learning experience. The Basic Korean Program comes with 5 discs with an hour of conversational Korean on each disc. pimsleur cds

It really helps with pronunciation as you are hearing Korean being spoken by native Korean speakers. It helps you adjust to the pace and speed of native Koreans which is really nice. I also like that the lessons are split up by 30 minutes because it makes sitting down and scheduling time for studying a lot easier. Also, each CD reviews what has been taught previously so you won’t have to go back and listen to a CD again when you need extra help with a phrase or question. Obviously, the only problem with this program is that it is solely based on auditory learning so you need to find resources to accompany it if you want to learn how to write. Not only that, but the program does not introduce Hangul at all. If you don’t have knowledge about the Korean alphabet, these discs can prove to be difficult as you have the possibility of not knowing how to pronounce many of the words/phrases. I would suggest knowing the sounds of the Korean alphabet so that following along with the discs is easier.

And that is everything! This was quite a long post and it won’t be very interesting to people who are not studying Korean but if you are looking for more Korean language learning resources to add to your collection, I hope this list helps you with your language journey as they are definitely helping me with my studies! My next post will either be my packing list or my flight/host family information so look out for another post sometime next week. Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed, don’t forget to subscribe!~

“Don’t study hard, study smart.” – Amy Lucas