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

03/09/19 Saturday 

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

IMG_2932 (1)

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


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

03/10/19 Sunday

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

NSLI-Y Korea Summer Graduation Ceremony (August 12th, 2016)

Friday morning (08/12/16) was the fated day… our NSLI-Y Korea Summer Graduation Ceremony. I woke up in the morning feeling something I have never felt before. I sat up in bed and just took in the quietness of the house. There was no clatter coming from the kitchen signifying that food was being made and no sounds of traffic outside my bedroom window. I woke up just a few minutes before my alarm and so I woke up naturally and not forced. I sat in my bed and just felt very aware of my surroundings. I slowly realized that this would be the last time I would wake up in this bed and this room for the summer. I realized that in two short days I would be in my hometown starting my junior year of high school. I didn’t specifically feel sad at this point in time, I just felt connected to everything around me… probably as a distraction from the sadness I would be feeling later in the day… and even later this very morning.


My breakfast plus my snotty tissues. There was even the box of fried chicken we had last night still on the table.


Picture of me from breakfast. (I look like a wet dog XD)

My host mom made me breakfast as usual. She served me a nice plate of eggs, toast, Korean peaches, and a glass of milk. She also took this time to hand me some presents that she had picked out for me as well as a letter she had written to me. We talked for awhile and I couldn’t help but get teary eyed. She started panicking and handed me some tissues trying to make me calm down. Her eyes started getting watery and she excused herself to get ready for the day but I could hear her sniffling in her room. I finished my breakfast quietly with my host dad in the living room. We started talking and had a very heartfelt conversation – in English. My host dad never used English, and I didn’t mind since I was here to learn Korean. But I knew it was because he was embarrassed by his skill level. At that moment, however, the feeling that would usually keep him from speaking English with me had disappeared. He first started to talk about how much I have improved being here with them and how much he really enjoyed having me stay with them. But then he started talking to me about something I never imagined would come out of his mouth. He told me how proud he was of me. He said that he was always rooting me on when he saw me at my desk, studying, till late in the night. He told me that he knew I would do amazing things because I proved to be such a hard worker and never gave up. Hearing those things coming from a man who welcomed me into his home for 6 weeks, could not have made me tear up any more than I did at that moment. He kept laughing throughout this exchange and told me that he was sorry he could not stay at the graduation the entire time since he had to work. He told me that if he didn’t have the opportunity to say goodbye to me at the graduation, that he wanted me to remember him saying this,

Live for you, not others. It is Important.

That morning, when I was making my way to the subway station, I noticed something new. A fence.


And you are probably asking yourself “A fence? What is the big deal about a fence? And why did you take a picture of a metal fence?” Well, it isn’t really a big deal or anything. Every morning, when I would cross the intersection, I did what all the other Koreans did– I jaywalked. Which isn’t exactly allowed, but none of the Koreans would walk in between the lines, they all jaywalked at the corner since it saved time. But today, that was not an option for me as the fence prevented jaywalking. The fence made it so you HAD to walk on the lines. It just made me realize that Korea is always changing. I know I was looking to deep into this whole occurrence but this made me more comfortable for some reason. I realized that change isn’t always a bad thing, and though I knew this already before, this situation comforted me after feeling very emotional towards the goodbyes that would occur that day. I know it sounds ridiculous but it got me through the morning ride to the university.



The last time I walked through this entrance.

The ceremony was a lot of fun surprisingly. My host family came and I felt so happy seeing them in the back watching me. My supporter Sujin also came and I had no idea that she was going to be attending at all. They both acted like my mom by calling my name when I went on stage and taking photos of me. One of the best parts of the ceremony was when our university was awarding a student from every class a “most improved/exceptional achievement” certificate. We had 4 Korean classes and so a student was chosen from every class. And to my surprise, I was awarded the certificate from my teachers. I was so shocked but also overjoyed to know that my teachers could see my immense improvement. My host mom and supporter both took photos of me, they were literally my moms.

The one on the left was taken by my supporter Sujin while the one on the right was taken by my host mom.


Sarah received the award for her beginner class, I received the award for my intermediate class, Angie received the award for her advanced class, and Jessica received the award for her beginner class.

We then had all the culture clubs show off what they did over the summer. The fan dance group performed a really beautiful number. They all had on really long skirts and these huge fans. I have lots of shots from the dance as Casey was in it!


The dance was very pretty~

The taekwondo (태권도) cultural club also did a performance to show off all the new kicks the students learned their ability to break wooden boards. I was so deeply enthralled with the performance that I was not able to take any photos. I was having too much fun laughing and enjoying all their kicks and screams. The traditional music culture club also performed a short song that was really good as well. I couldn’t believe they only spent around 2 hours on it once a week and it sounded like that. I also did not get any pictures because our cooking culture club was going next so we had to wait in the wings until we could go. We just filmed a video with clips of what we did (we can’t exactly cook in front of the whole audience… though that would have been fun) as well as clips of some individuals explaining background information of the food that we made.


Photo from our video (Creds to my supporter). I was explaining Japchae which we made on our second club meeting.


우리 요리 동아리 !~

We also had the talent show portion of the ceremony where we had lots of acts from different individuals in the program. We had a fashion show of different Korean styles, lots of dances, some singing, and my class’ talent show performance.

Angie, Tess, and Vinzent danced to Pick Me by I.O.I (아이오아이) and they did so well. Everyone was jamming along in their seats and the dance moves were great!

The talent show was also super fun to watch. Casey acted as the host/narrator and a bunch of different students from all of the Korean classes sported different Korean fashion styles. They had categories such as Work & Play, Seoul Food, Cutesy/Girly, Hip Hop, Clothes that are geared towards foreigners, and couple outfits.

My class 나무반’s talent show performance was also super fun. Most of us were not good at singing whatsoever but we still had a great time singing along to our video and music. It took a lot of time for me to edit it but I was glad to see it being so worth it.

The rest of the graduation ceremony was spent taking group photos (of supporter groups, Korean classes, and host families) and obtaining all of our certificates of completion, Korean class grades, and photos from our photographer. The ceremony was also spent saying a lot of goodbyes. My host mom had to leave with my host brothers early because she had to go to work. Most families took the students back after the ceremony to finish the day together and have dinner but mine couldn’t. That made my goodbye so much harder and I cried a lot after we said it. While my host mom and brothers were leaving through the doors, Sujin comforted me and I still couldn’t stop crying. (Even when we were taking our class photos, I was all teary-eyed and Jodi had to comfort me.)


Class Photo (Angle #1)


나무반!~ ❤ (Angle #2)


Showing off our RINGS~ ❤


My Resident Directors and I


Me, My Host Mom, and My Youngest Host Brother


My Host Brothers and I

And that was my NSLI-Y Summer Graduation Ceremony. I will be making a separate post about the rest of the day as this post has become very very very long. This day was very emotional as it marked the ending of such an amazing summer. Even though that was the case, it was also a very happy day as it reminded me how much love I have received from so many new people as well as all the relationships I have formed. I will always have these amazing memories and I wouldn’t exchange them for anything in the world, even if they caused a few crying sessions. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this post! 🙂 Do not forget to subscribe~

PS: Today, of last year, I received my NSLI-Y Korea Summer finalist notification. I want to congratulate everyone that was given a scholarship for this upcoming summer. And if you didn’t, please re-apply and give it another go! CLS is also an option if you will be entering university. Also, for the new finalists, I will be on iEARN’s Korea Summer Finalist Call as an alum to answer you or your parents’ questions! I will also be continuing making informational posts for supporter groups, my packing list, culture clubs, etc. Stay Tuned!

Also, if you care about programs such as NSLI-Y and want to keep them going for as long as possible, in order to give equal opportunities to citizens from all around the world, you might want to sign this petition regarding the new U.S. budget plan that could defund the Department of States ECE programs (such as NSLI-Y, CLS, CBYX, etc). Please take a few extra minutes out of your day to support this cause. The link will be linked here.

  • Emma (엠마)


Korean War Memorial, Studio Ghibli Store, and Karaoke (August 10th, 2016)

Wednesday (08/10/16) was one of the last (free) days we had in Korea because we there was a supporter meeting the following day and Friday would be our graduation ceremony. Wednesday was also our Korean Finals which I stayed up until one in the morning the previous night to study for. The final was in two parts. The first was the grammar/writing part and the second was the conversational part where we had a one on one conversation with our listening and speaking teacher. I think I did really well on it seeing that I studied so much. I have improved exponentially during this summer and the final was definitely a way to showcase that to my teachers. I won’t find out my grade until tomorrow but either way, I was proud of myself for working so hard on a goal and I knew I achieved it no matter what!

I spent the first half of the day reflecting on my summer which you can say made me very emotional and feeling very sentimental towards all the memories I had made. I decided to take video of my entire walk to the subway station from my host family’s house in order to remember the walk I took every single day. I took some screenshots of the videos (because my blog does not support videos) and I will upload them here.


My breakfast today. Some kind of spicy meat dish, white rice (as per usual), eggs, my host family’s version of bacon, and some other side dishes that included pickled vegetables of some kind.



The entrance I have started using ever since I changed my route to be half subway and half bus.

Madeline shirt day was also planned for this Wednesday. To elaborate, I noticed that my RD Madeline wore this black shirt with a deep plunging collar that reminded me of a sailor on one of the first days of our program in Korea. Ever since then, whenever I see a shirt that even vaguely resembles it, I have called it a Madeline shirt. This type of shirt is actually very popular in Korea and you can find them basically anywhere (in lots of different colors too!) I let everyone in our program know about the plans in our Kakao group chat. (Unfortunately, some of the girls on my program wore their shirts earlier in the week so they missed out on our group picture.)


Me, Ava, Sofia, Abby, and Madeline in our Madeline shirts~

Anyway, after our finals, Sofia and I have been wanting to go to the Korean War Memorial ever since we saw photos of it on Instagram. I never learned much about the Korean War in school, it is called the Forgotten War for a reason, and so I thought visiting the museum would be such a great experience. We also wanted to do some other activities too since our time in Korea was coming to an end shortly. Casey, Sofia, Abby, and I also planned to go to the Studio Ghibli Store as well as do some Karaoke later in the night. But first, we headed to the Korean War Memorial. I got some directions online but they were very hard to follow (as they were in Korean… I was trying to practice my skills!) but eventually, we found the memorial after passing so many Korean police officers. (I have never seen so many in Korea… well, besides the time they were everywhere near Gyeongbokgung that one weekend.)




Korean War (1950-1953)

The War Memorial of Korea is a really big museum with photos, maps, and artifacts from the Korean War. The outside of the memorial has lots of very deep sculptures as well as military tanks, missiles, planes, and so on. We didn’t have that much time to walk around and so we decided to just go on inside just covering the basics of the outside area.



We went on inside and explored some parts of the museum. (like I mentioned before it is pretty big and we didn’t have time to see everything. I would love to come back and spend a couple more hours there, to be honest.)


I have so many photos from the museum. (I basically took a photo of everything I saw.) I will end my spam of photos here and maybe I will upload a separate post with more later. I have a lot more things to write about for the rest of this day and If I put all my Korean War photos here, this post would take 10 minutes to read.

After the Korean War Museum, Sofia and I met up with Casey and Abby at Hongdae Station in order to go find the Studio Ghibli Store. Studio Ghibli is this Japanese animation studio that is internationally distributed by Disney. I love all of their films. They have made really famous animated movies such as Spirited Away (2001 ), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), and Ponyo (2008). So when I found out there was a store located in Hongdae that sold merchandise (I can not find any back where I live.), I had to go! And… It was magical!~


All of my favorite animations are by Studio Ghibli and they include Spirited Away (2001), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and When Marnie Was There (2014). The store was quite expensive and because it was the end of the trip, I was very mindful of my spending. I ended up buying 6 folders for about two dollars each of some of my favorite Studio Ghibli movies. They also had a life size Totoro and a Cat Bus you could take a photo in. My childhood dream had finally come true!




After the Studio Ghibli Store, we headed to sing some songs at a 노래방! (Karaoke Room). This one was really good as they had free refreshments and some snacks and it wasn’t even pricey. They had tambourines for us to play and even lights that flashed around the room. ( I mean all rooms do but I can never figure out how to turn them on but this room had the lights automatically turned on.) Karaoke in Korea just gets better and better because every time I go, I learn what songs are the best Karaoke songs and I gain more confidence to shout loudly. I literally mean shout, I can’t sing. haha

We sang soooo many songs. We sang Taeyang’s 눈 코 입, Let it Go from Frozen, Cnblue’s 외톨이야, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, BTS’ I Need You, and (of course) SHINee songs like Hello and Sherlock. We had such a good playlist and even earned scores of 100 like five times! (In Korean Karaoke rooms, each song performed is ranked. I personally think the key to a really high score is simply singing (or screaming) really loud.)


Our playlist at the end of the hour. We did pretty well. Karaoke rooms have such good song choices that include more than just Korean songs. But if you want to sing a Korean song, you must be able to read Hangul because there is no romanization.

That was my Wednesday! It was honestly action packed and I did so many things I have been wanting to do. It was a lot of fun too~ I am gonna miss being able to sing at the top of my lungs in 노래방s whenever I please… Thanks for reading~ Don’t forget to subscribe! 안녕 친구들~

  • Emma (엠마)

Birthday Party in Seoul, South Korea!!!!!!(August 2nd, 2016)

For about the past week, all our RDs have been talking about is the “NSLI-Y Talent Show” this and the “NSLI-Y Talent Show” that. For our end of the program ceremony there will be a part after the presentations from the culture clubs for us Nsliyians to show off our “talents.” I wasn’t planning on doing anything for it since I am absent of any entertaining talent like singing or dancing and I was not going to embarrass myself in front of all the supporters and host families that would be attending. However today (8/2/16) was a very interesting Korean class. I can not remember why we started singing it but all of a sudden, during one of our ten minute breaks, everyone in my class started singing the theme song to Phineas and Ferb. We probably started singing it since it is about making the most out of the summer and blah blah blah. We were having so much fun singing it and basically everyone already knew the lyrics that Tucker requested that our class enter the talent show and sing this theme song. Everyone was feeling the idea but then Sofia and I recommended that the performance would be a lot more meaningful if we changed the lyrics to pertain more to our NSLI-Y summer. Sofia, Tucker, and I planned to meet at our favorite cafe in Edae (백설공주 The World Dessert Cafe) to write the lyrics for the song since Madeline wanted us to fill out this outline for our performance by Friday. I also planned to edit a video with pictures, from everyone’s experiences, and the lyrics so while we performed, others could sing along too.

But before any of that happened, supporter meetings were after school as usual. Casey’s birthday was July 31st. (Same birthday as Harry Potter.) Therefore Sujin planned a little birthday party for Casey with a cake and candles from this Korean bakery called Tous les Jours. Everything in the bakery is French inspired but with a Korean twist like sweet pastries with a hotdog inside. (Don’t knock it till you try it. It is pretty good.)


The Cake!~

Sujin, Jodi, and I showed up a few minutes earlier than planned to surprise Casey with the cake and treats. We actually ended up lighting the candles for Casey and singing Happy Birthday to her in Korean in the cafe. (We had our meeting at Cafe Areca as usual.)


Sujin lighting the candles.

I was kinda surprised that we were allowed to do that but the worker was pretty chill and didn’t even look weirdly at us while we were celebrating her birthday. Casey did not see the celebration coming at all and so she could not stop smiling and was so shy throughout the singing.


Casey and Her Cake



Casey is such a cutie! 🙂

We were clapping and chanting once she blew her candles out and Casey got so embarrassed! However, I know she was super grateful for our awesome party.

I think the funniest part of the meeting was that we were also sitting next to another supporter group made up of Jun (준 the supporter), Yves, Ariel, and Peter which are my classmates. They choose the perfect day to sit next to our group (note the sarcasm). I guess Jun felt bad that we were eating cake and his group wasn’t (lack of summer birthdays in his group) and so he actually bought slices of cake for his group from Cafe Areca. (They did not only have drinks, but they also had cake too.) We made fun of Jun when we noticed, and all he could do was smile shyly as he said he was just feeling cake today! XD

Because of our celebration, none of us were feeling our supporter meeting. Sujin was trying to reel us back in but we kept goofing off and getting off topic.


Jodi was especially not feeling the meeting today after all of the cake!

Eventually we pulled ourselves together and finished the meeting by doing all of our recordings and role plays in record time actually! We really wanted to finish early to have time to just hang out so we got all serious and practiced the grammar points and recorded our answers. They were not goofy ones this time so we didn’t have to pause the recording after every answer to limit the amount of laughs in the recording.

After the supporter meeting I took the subway to Edae to meet Sofia and Tucker at 백설공주 (Snow White) The World Dessert Cafe to write the lyrics to our Talent Show Song. Sofia and I were the first ones there and Tucker arrived around 15 minutes later. I love this cafe so much and on this day I appreciated it even more because I finally figured out how to use the bathroom. The bathroom in the building is on the same floor as the cafe. It has a lock and passcode which is printed on the receipt after you buy something. I could never open the door and today I could not ignore my urges… so I asked the lady working there and she explained to me that I needed to press the “star” symbol. After a few trials and error I figured out that the “star” symbol was an asterisk! I felt accomplished when the door beeped and I made it to the bathroom stall. I just seem to have an issue with korean doors… it is a reoccurring theme apparently… XD

At the cafe I ordered a Taro Latte and I can honestly say I loved it soooo much! It was very sweet but not overwhelming whatsoever. It was better than any other latte I have ever tried previously. Sofia ordered a hot chocolate.


Look At The Heart!~

We worked really hard on the lyrics of the song and we finished it in about an hour. We kept repeating the song and trying to match our words to it so it didn’t sound awkward. We knew the Koreans probably wouldn’t understand the reference but we were sure that the Nsliyians would appreciate the authenticity. When I came home from the cafe, I stayed up till 2 in the morning editing the video for the performance. I also stalked everyone on my programs instagrams and asked them to send me some photos that matched the lyrics so I could put it in the video and so it would be meaningful to everyone, not just my class or just Sofia, tucker, and I.

Lyrics To Our “Talent Show” Song

By Sofia and Emma With Some Input From Tucker XD

(Sung to the rhythm of the Phineas and Ferb Theme Song)

There were 45 days of our NSLI-Y adventure and school comes along just to end it

So the biggest problem for NSLI-Y8 was finding a good way to spend it…

Like Maybe…

Building friendships or fighting the heat or climbing up to Namsan Tower

Discovering something that doesn’t exist {In America! – Jesse}

Or giving our culture club submissions

Surfing through the crowds, creating memories,

or locating Hongdae Station (It is Line #2 – Tucker)

Finding some Patbingsu, painting calligraphy,

or driving the RDs Insane (JT! – Emma, Madeline! – Sofia)

As you can see there was Seoul much stuff to do before we go back home (가지마 – Casey)

A big thanks from 나무반 to all of you in Seoul

A big thanks from NSLI-Y8 to all of you in Seoul!

{Better World! 나무반 is getting all sentimental! – Jodi}

If you would like to watch the video that I edited, click here

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to read more posts about Korea and NSLI-Y!~ Thanks for reading! 안녕~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Sinchon Water Gun Festival (물총축제) July 10th, 2016

The plan for Sunday (July 10th, 2016) was originally to go to this really cool board game cafe in Sinchon (신촌) with Sofia. However, the place must have been shut down because we walked around forever trying to find it. Eventually we gave up and ended up finding a bubble tea place called Bubble King. Sofia doesn’t like tapioca pearls so she ordered her drink without them. I ordered a taro bubble tea with tapioca pearls once again. (My favorite flavor.) I think Bubble King is one of the best places to get Bubble tea in Seoul. (Gongcha will always be number one though!)


Our Bubble Tea

While walking around Sinchon we ran into something pretty exciting- The Sinchon Water Gun Festival (also known as just the Sinchon Water Festival). We didn’t actually participate in the festival since we brought our backpacks and had nowhere to store them and they couldn’t get wet. However, just watching a dance performance by pirates was pretty cool (yes, you read that correctly.) Basically there was a fire truck and this huge pirate ship that was blasting water into the crowd. (All this was happening on the streets. You could still walk around on the sidewalks without getting wet.) Everyone was running around the streets with water guns squirting each other with water. (There were refill stations on every corner that people could use to fill up their water guns.)



The pirate ship in the middle of the street

After that, Sofia and I got really hungry so we walked around until we saw something that looked good. We decided to get Korean Barbeque because Sofia hadn’t eaten it yet.


Our rib (?) meat

We had no clue what we were doing. However, the employees were super nice and showed us how to eat everything correctly. (after staring at us doing it wrong for 10 minutes.) The meal was $10 for the both of us and we were stuffed by the end of it. It was very worth it.


While walking around Sinchon, we also found some cute wall art. I asked a random couple if they would take a picture of us and they gladly agreed! It was a pretty funny encounter because I asked them in Korean but then when the guy showed us the pictures, he asked us if we liked them in English. What a language exchange XD haha



After the excursion in Sinchon, we headed back down to the subway station in search of the KakaoTalk Store (KakaoTalk is a free Korean messaging app that all Nsliyians use).


Spotting Jonghyun in the subway was a highlight of my day haha


Apeach is my favorite KakaoTalk Character. (In second place is Ryan.)

The KakaoTalk store has really cute merchandise of all the characters. You can find notebooks, folders, stickers, dolls, mugs, toothbrushes, and even shoes.

What I Bought at The KakaoTalk Store


Muji Notebook ($4)


Tube Stickers ($2)


Frodo T-money (subway) card ($3)

Thank you for reading my blog post and I hope you enjoyed!

Reminder!!! Nsli-y Applications are due very soon! On October 27th, 2016 at 4pm Eastern time to be exact! So if you guys would like to learn another language and experience life in a foreign country, then apply to Nsli-y. I would love to help anyone who has any questions or anyone who wants me to read their essays! 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)


Going to a Korean Soccer Game at The Seoul World Cup Stadium (서울월드컵경기장) July 9th, 2016

On Saturday (July 9th 2016) I went to my youngest host brothers soccer practice for The Future of Seoul once again. I am used to going to soccer games/practices because I actually have a twin brother who plays soccer back home. However, I still found the practice very boring and it was super super hot outside! I almost fell asleep too! Luckily, I was able to talk to my host mom throughout the duration of the Soccer practice which made it more fun and definitely more memorable.


After his practice, I was introduced to friends of the family. They were all very sweet when talking to me even though they underestimated my Korean skills {I soon proved them wrong 🙂 }. It was a nice meeting and I got even happier when my host mom introduced me to them as her daughter. It really made me feel like part of the family. We went out to eat together at this really fancy Italian restaurant in this shopping center like structure underneath/next to the stadium (It is VERY confusing to explain… You might just have to check it out for yourself ^^). I ordered this olive oil pasta and even though it was Italian, it was probably the spiciest pasta I had ever eaten. You would have thought I ordered Kimchi noodles. I refilled my water cup so many times! haha

After dinner I went with my youngest host brother, his two friends, and the husbands of my host mom’s friends to the World Cup Stadium to watch a soccer game! When my host mom started talking about going to the game that was happening tonight, I got super excited. She told me that I could stay and hang out with the mothers at a cafe if I didn’t want to go. I reassured her that I really wanted to watch the game. It was a great opportunity!


Outside the Stadium



Seoul VS Ulsan (서울 VS 울산)


The soccer game started promptly at 7pm and the whole experience was very interesting. This was my first time being at a professional soccer game so I can’t really compare it to anything else in my past but I did make a lot of observations. And Korean soccer games are definitely different than professional baseball or hockey games that I have been to.



Look at how small the Ulsan section is compared to the Seoul side XD


PC: Host mom’s family friends high quality camera

One thing about Korean soccer games that I thought was very interesting was that they all seem to have memorized these fan chants. There are like 3 different ones and they shout them during certain times throughout the game. There were also songs that everyone would sing and clap along to.

There were also these annoying, loud horn type things. I believe they are called “Vuvuzelas” and they are said to have originated in South Africa and that is where their name comes from (the original creator, according to my research, is hard to pinpoint). Koreans LOVE to use them and they were constantly being blown at the game. The tv screens actually show images of the horns when they want the audience to use them.


Picture of a Vuvuzela from Google

There was also a part of the game where everyone held up their phone with the flashlight on and sang this song that was playing through the speakers. Luckily for me, the lyrics were flashing across the screen so I was able to participate with my phone and sing too!

The game was overall really fun and I am very fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to do something like that. It was also really fun to experience the game with my host brother as sometimes I find it hard to get close to him as our interests are very different. But we bonded a lot that day, especially sharing snacks! XD haha

The only downside was that no one won! The game was very action packed but it still ended in a tie 0 – 0 !!!


After the game was over, my host mom, my youngest host brother, and I visited HomePlus (the supermarket underneath/next to the stadium. I went there last weekend too!) We shopped around for the upcoming weeks groceries (I helped my host brother out and convinced my host mom to buy chocolate milk for him and I but in reality, it was all for him. I don’t like chocolate milk). My host brother and I also both ate some waffles for dessert! He ordered a waffle filled with strawberry cream while mine was vanilla cream.


It was VERY delicious!~


My host brother enjoying his waffle

We got home around midnight (past curfew omg! haha). It was all okay because I was with my host family 😉 During the car ride back home, my brother and I bonded over kpop groups. His favorite is CNBLUE. I was offended he didn’t know SHINee!

Hope you enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe by adding your email to the right side of this post (or all the way at the bottom of my posts if you are on mobile). 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)



Lunch Around 숙대 With Friends & Meeting My Host Grandparents (07/07/16)

Thursday (July 7th, 2016) was another day at school where we played some fun games and discussed a lot of words that I did not know. haha After class, we had an hour and 40 minutes to have lunch around 숙대 (SookDae – Combination of Sookmyung and the word for university 대학교. It is the slang all the young people use! XD). After lunch we had to go back to school for a meeting with Better World to discuss how we were adjusting with our host families and let them know if we had any issues with the family.

So, I went with Yves, Anna-Kate, Ariel (All 나무 반 classmates) to find a cool lunch place to eat. We had no idea what we wanted to eat so we just walked around until we stumbled upon a place that had pictures of really delicious looking food plastered on the windows. The funniest part about our pick was that 10 minutes later, another group of nsliyians showed up at the exact restaurant. An example that great minds think alike. haha


I had a lovely Cream Ramen with Shrimp and Vegetables

After lunch we stopped by this cafe near Sookmyung for some bubble tea. Bubble tea is an Asian specialty drink containing flavored tea and tapioca balls usually called pearls. I love bubble tea so much. Back in the states, there are no shops near me! Since I am in Korea, I am taking advantage of all the opportunities to drink, eat, and sleep bubble tea. haha 🙂


I ordered a caramel bubble tea and Yves ordered a taro bubble tea



Group Selfie! (Ariel, Yves, Anna-Kate, and Me)


The cafe was very small but cutely decorated

I ended up leaving my new umbrella at the cafe (I just bought it the day before for $4). However, the employee was super nice and he actually stuck his head out the door and yelled “우산!” (우산 is umbrella). Luckily, I knew what the word was since it was one of the first Korean words I learned (Thank you Integrated Korean Beginner 1 Textbook). I obviously rushed back and thanked him.

After a little bubble tea break, we had to go to the meeting at the school. It wasn’t all too interesting. We looked over the Nsli-y terms and conditions (the things we signed when applying) as well as solving some host family cases from previous years.

After the meeting, I went to the convenience store with Yves and we each bought two different types of pepero to share during Korean class breaks the next day. I purchased cookies and cream pepero and blueberry pocky. Korean convenience stores are literally the greatest things ever! (A separate post about that soon).


Stock Photo


Stock Photo

Dinner was one of the best dinners I have had so far. I had dinner with my entire host family (My host mom, host dad, both host siblings, and my host grandparents from my host mother’s side). We had Korean pizza and Korean fried chicken. The food tasted great (even though my pizza had a cream sauce rather than a tomato sauce) but the best part of the dinner was the conversation that I had with my host parents and host grandparents. That dinner was what I really needed to feel fully invested in the family. I had so much fun laughing with them all. Even though my host grandmother didn’t speak a lick of English, the jokes transcended the language barrier and we both shared a couple of laughs. I learned that the family has quite a few family members that live in America and English speaking countries (Australia and New Zealand). I also learned that my host dad really liked Western cowboy movies. Luckily, I had watched his favorite in my cinema class Freshman year. I was able to talk to him about it (He was a wee bit drunk which made him talk to me a lot more since he was not afraid of making mistakes in English. He talked to me more when he was drunk than any other time). The most memorable part of the night  was when my host grandmother was trying to tell me about the American actresses she knew of. She kept telling me “Marina Mondue” (I was so confused and kept looking at everyone with such a puzzled look). Finally, I got the hint that she was talking about Marilyn Monroe and when I said her name out loud, my host parents erupted in laughter. They kept telling me to repeat her name (in an American accent of course) and wouldn’t stop laughing because of the difference. It was really funny.


The pizza we ate. It was actually pretty normal according to standard Korean pizzas

Hope you enjoyed reading about my day in Korea!~ Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to come back soon for another update (it would be easier if you simply subscribed ^^).

  • Emma (엠마)

First Day of Korean Class & Visiting the National Museum of Korea and The Hangul Museum (07/05/16)

Tuesday (July 5th, 2016) was the first day of classes at Sookmyung. I was super excited to attend a real Korean class (I have only self-studied it in the past) and see where I was placed regarding my skill level. However, getting to school wasn’t exactly easy since it was raining super super hard in the morning and when I was riding the subway to school (at 용산역) the lights of the train turned off and it stopped moving for around 5 minutes. I called JT and told him that I would be late getting to school (this phone call was really awkward as the train was silent and the only one talking was me and the fact that it was in English made me stand out even more). When I finally arrived to the station, I met up with Saha and Sarah who were also late getting to school. We went out exit #10 and began to walk up the huge hill to get to school. We literally had to walk up a river. There was so much rain that the sidewalks were flooded. When we finally got up the stairs of the university, the drainage on the tiles were stopped up and so there was a huge pool of water. Of course I didn’t see it so I put both my feet into the pool of water. My sandals got so soaked! (I later took my shoes off in the classroom and set them on the air vents to air dry).

When I got to the right floor, there was a long list hanging up next to the stairwell with the four different Korean classes and all the names of who was in which class. For this years program, we were split up into 4 different classes. The first two classes were beginner classes. The only difference between the classes was that one class learned the alphabet on the first day while the other class simply reviewed it and then started learning other things. The third class was called the intermediate class (it wasn’t intermediate level but from the kids in our program, it was considered the intermediate class) and finally, the last class was the advanced class (again the students in the class weren’t advanced speakers of Korean. I would classify them as intermediate at the beginning of the summer. They were just the advanced students in comparison to everyone on the program).


우리 나무 반 (Our Tree Class)

I was pleased to find out that I was placed in the intermediate class. Our class’ name was 나무 반 which translates to tree class (it was a great fit since my classmate Yves’ Korean name is 나무). The only bad thing about my placement was that a majority of the students in my class were way more advanced than me. They could easily conjugate verbs and I still hadn’t learned future tense yet. The problem must have been that I couldn’t be placed in beginner (because I was passed that) but I wasn’t exactly at the same level everyone else in my class had been at in the beginning of the summer. The first class was spent receiving our textbooks (we had a textbook and a workbook) and of course introducing ourselves to our two teachers. It was a lot of fun and it was nowhere near being the same as my Spanish language classes back at home. For three big reasons;

(1. Everyone WANTED to be there

(2. They wanted to actually Learn and Study Korean

(3. Everyone gave their best effort


My classmates Jesse, Cynthia, and Yves (Not pictured: Sofia, Peter, Tucker, Nicole, Jodi, Casey, Ariel, Anna-Kate, and Me)

After class ended at 1pm, we only had 30 minutes for lunch because we had to be at 이촌역 (Ichon Station) at 1:40pm. For lunch I went to 김밥천국 (Kimbap Heaven) with a lot of the Nsliyians but I sat at a table with Yves and Ariel (two of my 나무 반 classmates). We ordered three rolls of Kimbap and they were around $2 each (such a good deal). We ordered 소고기 김밥 (Beef Kimbap) , 계란 김밥 (Egg Kimbap), and 누드 김밥 (Nude Kimbap. Normal Kimbap but with no seaweed wrapped around the rice).


My Egg Kimbap (We shared all the rolls though)

We took a little too long eating lunch so we ended up showing up late to the meeting spot which made our resident directors pretty mad but we apologized profusely and at least we weren’t the last ones to show up (they were over 10 minutes late. We were only a couple minutes late).

First, we went to the Hangul Museum.


It was raining as usual


Hangul Museum

We watched a few videos on King Sejong and how he was able to create Hangul, an alphabet easy enough for the common people to learn. We also watched clips of indigenous cultures from Africa and parts of Asia that adopted Hangul as their writing system in order to preserve their languages (this was very interesting to me as I had never heard of anything like that before).


Then we learned all about Korean holidays such as New Years. We learned about Hanbok (Korean Traditional Clothing) and 세배 (Korean New Year Bow).



Nyslians Tucker, Nicole, Margo, and Kyle demonstrated the 세배

세배 (romanized as sebae) is a deep formal bow that younger members of the family perform to the older members of the family to show respect. On New Years, a well-performed Sebae will result in the older family members giving gifts or money to the younger members of the family.

Then we watched a video on the King Seongdeok Bell (and how it is the best bell in the world) and a video about modern advancements Korea has made since the Korean War.

Our little presentation ended with some traditional Korean treats/desserts. We were given slices of Korean Pear, Korean rice cakes, and some fruity tea/juice.


Selfie w/ Sofia (ft Grace)

Then we headed on over to the National Museum of Korea where we were split up into two groups and had a tour guide take us around the museum and give us talks on the things that we saw. My favorite room was the ones with all the buddhist statues. I just find them very beautiful.



The details on everything were very beautiful.



After the museum, I went home on the subway right away. Some people went out but I was tired and I had to study really hard that night if I didn’t want to be behind (because my classmates were so good). I stopped at the convenience store on my way home, picked up some banana milk and I got home just in time to have dinner with my host mother and siblings. And that was my Tuesday in Korea!~


When the rain seemed to stop just so I could take this photo 🙂

Thanks for Reading! I hope you enjoyed! Don’t forget to subscribe~ 안녕!!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

First Day at Sookmyung Women’s University! (Placement Tests Galore!) July 4th, 2016

Monday (July 4th, 2016) was the fourth of july which is a pretty important holiday to my family. We always celebrate it with lots of family and friends and of course a barbeque. However, in Korea it was just a normal day so I just wore red shorts and a blue t-shirt (I was trying to be a bit festive). Monday was also my first day at Sookmyung Women’s University. Well, it technically wasn’t the first day of classes… we were only going to take a placement test to see what class we should get placed into.

My host mom woke up early with me and made me a lovely breakfast of toast and eggs. During the car ride on the way back from the hostel, she had asked me what I usually ate for breakfast and I told her toast and eggs. It was super nice because Koreans eat a lot of meat, fish, and vegetables for breakfast and I was glad she was going to ease me into that (though I was excited to eat a real Korean breakfast in the future).


My Breakfast

After breakfast I had to ride the subway to Sookmyung by myself for the first time ever (It was also the first time I rode the subway by myself anywhere). To get to the closest subway station to my apartment, I had to walk for around 8 minutes so it wasn’t bad at all. It was raining (drizzling) so instead of going the way my host mom took me, I ended up taking this shortcut which cut the trip in half (it was less modern looking though).




Super blurry pictures but it is SUPER hard to take good quality pictures when you are walking and trying not to be late for school.

Many of the Nsliyians I talked to didn’t really like the subway (because it was so crowded especially in the morning) but I honestly love the subway. It is so easy to learn how to use and it makes traveling anywhere so convenient. The subway made me feel so independent and I honestly loved the 35 minutes I had to spend on the subway that morning. It could get kinda awkward at times because literally all the Koreans on the train are on their phones. They are either messaging people, watching variety shows or Korean dramas, or playing apps. I never had wifi on the subway (there is wifi but you need to have an account) so I always just stare out the window. It would get really awkward when I would get stuck in the middle of people because there would be no where to look! (I also would get stares on the subway because I was so obviously a foreigner).

Anyway, the subway ride proved to very fun because at the stop right before Sookmyung Women’s University, I ran into Yves and his host mom (do you realize that meeting him on the subway had to be like a 1/100,000,000,000,000 chance of happening? haha) Yves and I got to the station at 8:35am. After waiting for everyone to show up, the RDs and some staff from Better World walked us to the university and showed us how to get there from exit #8 (my host mom showed me how to get to the school from exit #10).

At the university we took our placement test for the Korean classes. The test was mostly multiple choice but there were a few questions where you needed to write in the correct word. There were a few passages you had to read in order to answer the following questions and then the last question had you format the words into a coherent sentence. I felt pretty good about the test. All of the NSLI-Y8 kids finished the test really quickly. The Korean teachers assumed that we thought the test was too easy… boy, were they wrong. What it really meant was that most people didn’t know what they were doing so they guessed on most of the answers. We were moved to another room where we took a second placement test. I am not kidding, I guessed on every single question. I understood none of that test. It was so bad.

We then had to take a speaking/listening test which was an interview in a tiny, tiny room with one of the Korean teachers. I felt fairly good about how mine went. I was able to answer every question though I did ask her to repeat a few of the questions. My interviewer was so sweet and she encouraged me with every answer I gave her. She also would make this “hmm mm ” sound when I would give an answer. It is really hard to explain nonverbally but it was a really cute sound that made me more at ease with my Korean skills.

After our tests we were given water and a bag of snacks to eat (since the orientation of the school was running through lunch) and we sat through an orientation of the school, learned about when it was founded, the cool people that graduated from the school, and we got to meet all of the Korean language teachers.



The bag of snacks


Sofia stole my phone during the orientation and took like 200 selfies. I bet she regrets it now XD

Then we split up into 2 groups of 25 kids and toured the school. This lady showed us around the library and the study rooms in case we wanted to take advantage of those things when studying Korean in the future.

Then our RD JT took us to the nearest bank where we could exchange money and take out money from our debit cards whenever we needed to (The bank everyone used was called Shinhan Bank).

Then we had a tiny meeting to explain the plans for tomorrow. We would be going to the National Museum of Korea and the Hangul Museum after classes and lunch.


After everything was over, it was already 4pm and it was still raining. Most of the Nsliyians took a trip to Hongdae but because it was so late I decided to eat dinner near Sookmyung with a couple other girls (Sofia, Rhea, Teresa, and Mckenzie). We went to this Japanese restaurant near exit #8 and it was actually really delicious. I got an omurice (A japanese dish that consisted of an omelet over fried rice). The other girls ordered Cheese Tonkatsu (Japanese fried pork cutlet). We spent a couple hours at the restaurant just eating and talking


Teresa, Mckenzie, and Sofia


My omurice

I got home around 7pm and ate a small dinner with my host family (I was not hungry but I ate with them anyway). We ate some chicken dish I don’t know the name of.

And that was my first day at Sookmyung Women’s University (well not the first day of classes but still a first day of something). I hope you enjoyed reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. Thanks for reading~ 안녕!

  • 엠마 (Emma)