Starting our English Mentorship Program & Cafe Study Date (03/25-26/2019)

AN: I am writing all of these blog posts almost two weeks after they happened so most of them will just be the bare bones of what I did during the day and a few random really clear and detailed moments. I am kinda upset that I have been slacking on blog posts but hopefully I can catch up more!

03/25/19 Monday

Random Class 12

LoL This sign was on the back of the door of some bathroom stall. It is about not flushing the toilet after you use it

My morning started off with my lovely Politics and Law class which was just consisted of debates for two hours…at first I tried to actually pay attention but then it all became too much and I ended up taking out my workbook and doing that secretly. The teacher might have noticed? But then again, I was not in the mood to feel guilty for doing other work during class. The Korean students were not missing out on much by me not listening to them.

My second (and last) class of the day was English with the third years. Today Andrew was counseling with them about their argumentative essay topics while the rest of the students were put into groups and discussed a chapter out of the book they are reading: They Say I Say. I was put into a group with one girl and guy but I can only remember the guys name– 인규 (I only remember his because I kept saying 인구 at first which is not his name. It instead means population). Because I was in their group, I actually made them talk with me and communicate in order to answer the questions. They were actually both students that never participate in class (or at least not on the days that I am in class with them) so I was half expecting their English to not be very good, but I was wrong. They both spoke very well. I apologized for making them do work because the other groups were practically silent the whole time–not discussing anything– while we were going down the entire list of questions together. It was also just fun chatting with them. From 인규, I learned about the grading system here at 하나고. Like at American schools, teachers do get evaluated by their students’ test scores, class grades, and with random observers that come in during class time but one difference is that at 하나고, the students also get to grade the teacher. They get to anonymously fill out a report on all their teachers and these reports do affect the teachers (income and and what classes they teach, etc). I found this to be really interesting but also somewhat problematic? Wouldn’t the students be quite subjective with their answers and hurt the teacher just because they gave them a bad grade or something? I could imagine that being a case that would occur… Maybe Koreans respect the institution of education or their teachers enough to not partake in any “foul play” if you will–in regards to their evaluations.

I also showed 인규 and the girl my Korean textbook as they were really excited to see how their language would be taught as a foreign language to others. 인규 actually plans on majoring in Korean because he really has pride for the language; he thinks it is very beautiful. Though, he is not quite sure yet on if he wants to study in order to teach a subject like 국어 in the future or if he wants to teach Korean to foreigners.

Random Class 1

Bus Stop Views

I cannot remember what happened during Korean class (yay for writing these posts so late!) but afterwards we had our Bi-weekly meeting which we talked about when our templestay reflections were due as well checking up on our field trip plans for the individual research projects. I believe I will try to interview some employees at a special education school near Gangnam. Now I just have work that out and set up an interview date!

Also, I forgot why Shada and Jenna were being punished by 민정쌤 but they were the only two students that had forgotten to send her something so she made them stand in front of the room during the meeting and in traditional classroom punishment style–they had to raise their arms above their heads. It may not seem like this punishment would be bad but… your arms DO get tired! It is intense.

Random Class 4

Yup… not sure why I have this random photo of Liam and Jacq from our meeting

03/26/19 Tuesday

I was excited to get up early this morning and go to school (what a shocking turn of events!) because I knew that my English mentorship program was starting today! Like last semester, I had it during my first period class, and I would also have another period of it later in the day right before lunch period. 

For my first mentorship 공강, I was with three second year girls: 은서, 수빈, and 지연. This was my first time meeting 지연 but both 은서 and 수빈 were in my politics class so I knew them well. (수빈 was also elected to be the school’s president alongside another second year. He’s in my Economics class) For our first meeting, we just talked about yourselves and did some icebreakers because we really hadn’t had the chance to speak to each other that much before our meeting. They were all at a good enough level of English that conversation was easy. After our long introductions, we started to talk about the topic of the meeting which was food. We started out with Korean food and talked about all the most delicious and famous ones out there. We also discussed what was good around 연신내역 and concluded that we had to make a trip there altogether to eat meat and get some bubble tea! I brought out the google doc that I made last year (for my 공강 with 호영, 근영, and 건우) that had photos of all different kinds of American foods like Thanksgiving foods, biscuits & gravy, Chicago deep dish pizza to things on the sweeter side like funnel cake and S’mores. I also introduced them to Cuban food! (Since that is mostly what I eat at home anyways)

Music class was not the most fun since we spent the whole period making a song on this one computer program. Since I know nothing about music, this assignment was put all on Katie so bless her for 1. Being good at music and 2. Being chill with me literally doing nothing.

Random Class 5

Afterwards, I had my 한국사 class with the third years. I talked a bit to the girl next to me and the usual candy given to the students by the teacher made me enjoy the class more than I would otherwise. I was going to focus during the class content this time but I gave up halfway through and started doing Korean class homework. 

The last class I had for the day before lunch was another English mentorship. In my group I had two second year girls: 세연 (who happens to have been in both my homeroom last year and my current homeroom) and 서영 who is in my AP Economics class! We started off by introducing ourselves and doing some small ice breakers but then we moved to playing games rather than actually having conversations in English. We played “I am Grounded” (in English) which I was very very bad at. I had to play a couple rounds to regain my rhythm and to remember the point of the game. I was not the worst player though! Out of Katie’s two students (first years 민화 and 재훈) 재훈 was terrible. We would give out punishments which involved bending over on the table and then being slapped by everyone else on the back. This punishment was dealt to 재훈 so many times! I felt so bad!

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After playing a few rounds of that, I taught everyone this elephant game that I played in ASL (American Sign Language) often during my senior year of high school. Basically someone stands in the middle of the circle and points to one person. That person has to quickly form an elephant nose with their hands and the two people next to them have to create ears with their hands. Usually you have a big group and you keep going around until the last person not disqualified is standing (you get kicked out for missing your job, being too slow, or making a weird shape) but we only had 6 people so we just kept switching being the person in the middle. It was definitely so much fun!

Katie and I had lunch at school and I am disappointed to admit that they have been serving such good lunches lately probably due to the fact that the Japanese exchange students are visiting. Today we had some really delicious chicken legs and even had a dessert of two cream puffs!

Random Class 7

Korean class was a blur…. I have no idea what we did.. It has been way too long. We were trying to hurry up and finish our last chapter in the fourth textbook of the Ewha University Series so the class was really fast paced for sure. (Though, of course, we did go off on tangents and talk about random things like we always do.)

After class on Tuesday, I had plans to go to a cafe with Shada to study so we ended up heading over to our long time favorite Blanc Bakery (So we could have bread for dinner and so I could buy cake for 혜지 and 도윤…long story short… Katie and I found out at lunch today that it was 혜지s birthday and that 도윤s was Saturday!! No one told us anything!) We bought some tasty savory pastries and studied for about two and half hours–I studied Korean while Shada focused on her online high school math class. I also caught up Shada with how I am doing as of late (and she did the same with me). We have not gotten the chance to just talk lately and I really miss hanging out with her! Shada is the sweetest and is a lot of fun to hang out with so I hope we can continue to hang out more for the rest of the program.

Before I bought the expensive slices of cake, Shada told me about this place that sells full (small but still bigger than a slice) cakes for only 10,000 won (less than $10!) I ended up buying a 10 dollar banana and chocolate cake! I was so excited for the girls to see it tomorrow (and enjoy it!) Of course they would much rather enjoy a full birthday cake than just a slice or two of cakes.

Random Class 8

Look! New flavor: Cherry Blossom!!! Will try them later 😛

I got home a little bit later than usual and chilled at home–did some Korean class work for good measure…

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~ Thanks for reading! And also quick note because I have received some confused comments about the timing of my posts. So yes, in accordance to the dates of my blogs, these posts were all written last year. I am not writing these posts now. I wrote all of these blog posts like my own diary in separate Google Docs while I was studying abroad in Korea and then as I have had time (whilst in Korea and as I have been home), I have been editing them (for clarity! My English increasingly worsened while I was in Korea), adding photos, and then posting them. I hope this makes more sense! I definitely could not remember this much stuff in this much detail if I was writing them all present day. Anyways, tangent aside.. Have a great day!

  • Emma 엠마

Korean Classmate’s Birthday and 편의점 아주씨 Makes My Day! {03/12/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

03/12/19 Tuesday

Tuesday was 윤세’s birthday so Katie and I had to casually bring her giant gift into the school without looking too suspicious. While we were trying to accomplish this, we saw Jason쌤 arrive at the front gate of school right before us. We attempted to sneak past him and even walked up the stairs slower than usual so that he would get to his floor on the elevator before us. We saw him walking to his office and thought we made it but then while we were speed-walking to our lockers, we heard a loud voice say, “Hey, you two!” We stopped in our tracks. We turned around slowly to see Jason쌤 walking towards us. We told him that we were not purposely trying to avoid him but that we had some “illegal contraband” in our possession (aka ramen the most sought after outside food at 하나고). It was our little secret that he was now aware of our situation. We were trying to avoid any adult figures…Okay, spy game over. Jason쌤 was cool and laughed at us for trying to be so sneaky about it (“Like they would punish the American students” he said) but in the end, we WERE successful in getting the gift to our lockers without many head turns.

My first class of the day was my English mentorship class but students have still not been chosen yet so I spent the morning just writing a birthday card to 윤세. Second class of the day was music with Katie which ended up being a lot of fun liked I had hoped. During the part of class when the teacher gives instructions, I was completely lost since I cannot read music at all and could not relate the new Korean vocabulary to my existing knowledge of music since I literally have none. I guess the funny thing is now I will only be able to read music and describe it with Korean terms. When the teacher passed out a worksheet for us to fill out, I looked at Katie with such a pouty face because it felt terrible having to participate but not know what to do. Katie, being the doll that she is, helped teach me music intervals and the order of the notes with the letters of the alphabet. I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I was able to get questions right without Katie’s direct assistance. Look mom, not only am I learning Korean on this program, I will come back a music prodigy as well!! (This is major sarcasm for those that cannot tell I am joking).

한국사 was my third period and rather than pull out my Korean homework, I decided to try by best at understanding what was being taught in class. I have this class with third years and was inspired to actually give listening a shot. I really could not understand much but there were words here and there that I was able to pick up which helped me feel like I was somewhat following along. There was one part about education during the Joseon Dynasty that I understood which made me feel proud for the rest of the class–yup, just by understanding one sentence! Fourth period was another English mentorship class which was spent with me sitting on the ground on my knees (There were no free chairs in the discussion room and the librarian had trouble acquiring a chair for me for the longest time…)trying to finish my workbook as fast as humanly possible. I also went a bit crazy adding the words I did not know from the workbook into my Quizlets and ended up with two 100 word Quizlets to memorize for that class period since we were having a quiz in class that very same day! That fact totally slipped my mind until I started completing my workbook so I somehow {somewhat successfully} studied 200 words from lunch till arriving to 홍대. (Though I will say that I had studied both sets {back when they had like 70 words} earlier that week so it wasn’t like all 200 were new words to me.)

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Our 한국사 teacher also always gives each of his students a piece of hard candy halfway through the class period to boost motivation (and keep students from falling asleep…) Such a kind and sweet gesture!

When lunchtime rolled around, we found 윤세 and 혜지 and gave 윤세 her gift but we decided to skeet out of lunch then because the line was unbelievably long. Rather than eat at the cafeteria, we went to the convenience store in the 한옥마을 and ate some kimbap there {We also ate some 호떡 to add some more healthy food to our already nutritious meal…}. We HAD to stop by our favorite 호떡 stand and get some of that goodness! {Dude I’m not kidding… when winter ends and 호떡 is no more… what are Katie and I going to do???} 

Class today wasn’t the most productive… usually on these days, we would have studied three grammar points but last class we did not finish the book work so that bled onto this class. We also spent a lot of time talking about lots of different topics unrelated to what we are currently learning. Although I really enjoy these discussions, I do not participate as much as I should {which I know is my own fault} and so I end up just siting there quiet, shaking my head the whole time and taking notes. It’s not the most helpful to me. 

Our teacher came in late today so we had to start our quiz without her. She actually gave me a folder yesterday with the quizzes inside and told me to bring it to class. I guess this was why, she knew she would be late to class. Although my tactic of cramming 200 words the hour or two before class is definitely not a long term strategy of mine, I did do just fine on the vocab section! I only got .5 points off for not using past tense in one of my answers for a grammar point. Yes!!! I haven’t had a quiz grade this high in awhile… 

We also had a discussion on food combinations that we talked to our friends at school about. There were the expected popular ones like 치맥 {chicken and beer} and seaweed and rice but then there were rather interesting ones like pickles with pizza, jam on grilled cheese, and the worst one: 김치 and ice cream/cake. 

During one of the Korean class breaks, I went to the 편의점 with Shada to buy some snacks. The usual 아주씨 that works there greeted us when we came inside. For the first time since coming to Korea, he told me the price of my items in Korean rather than English! This may seem like the smallest thing ever but I was so happy. Also, after Shada bought her stuff, he gave us a free snack— vitamin (candy) gummies. He was so sweet! 

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Shada and our free gummies!

After class we had our OPIC orientation. The OPIC is basically an OPI but over the computer so there is no real person speaking with you {but it only measures speaking language abilities}. On Saturday, we will be taking it as a way to familiarize ourselves with the post program OPI and to see where we stand according to that measurement right now. 1반’s teacher held the orientation cause she is well informed about the program and explained how to do everything during the test as well as what we should answer for our answers. {Since it is a computer test, there is no person to gauge what things they should talk about with you from your previous answers so there is a survey with topics you choose and those become what you will get asked about during the test.} At one point we were practicing and on the second example question, Shada just throws the mic to me basically and says that Emma will answer. I was so nervous and mad that she did that to me because there was no part of me that wanted to speak Korean in front of everyone. The question was easy—it was was about your experience traveling and what you packed in your bag. I didn’t answer it badly… but I did use the wrong tense. (I answered in future tense when I should of conjugated it in the past tense.) 

Once the orientation was done, I was still figuring out whether or not to return to 하나고 to do a 면접 with my economics club from last year because 지현 had asked me to. However it was after 6 when we finished the orientation and I wouldn’t have been able to get to the school till 7:30 and the thought of having to make two 40 minute commutes overwhelmed me so I ended up going straight home {and having a convenience store dinner cause I told my host mom I would be eating at school.} 

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My new favorite drink! It is an apple and cherry blossom juice from Minute Maid ❤ It is everything!

Well, that’s all for this blog post! I did some work and then I definitely did NOT stay up till midnight (for no reason) to just watch the movie the Last Song on Netflix… yup… Till next time! 

  • Emma 엠마

 

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

03/09/19 Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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View from the school!!~

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

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

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

Running in to a Youtuber, Visiting a Shelter for Single Mothers in Korea, and Studying at a Comic Book Cafe (01/24-25/19) NSLI-Y AY

01/24/19 Thursday

We had no project meeting today, so the morning was free for every NSLI-Yian to spend it however they liked it. I decided to wake up early and work on my presentation for Korean class at a cafe, so I ended up at The Coffee Bean (and Tea Leaf). To be honest, I really dislike going to cafes alone; I really do prefer being able to study with friends! Though this is the case, I will say that I got a lot done at the cafe by myself! I was able to make my powerpoint for the presentation and memorize all my lines. Usually–because of a lack time–I only memorize lines well enough to recite some off the top of my head and the rest come to me after reading the first couple of words on my presentation slides. But this time, I was able to memorize it fully. I also think that it helped that I knew exactly what I was saying. I used complex grammar and advanced vocabulary but I made sure I knew how to use them rather than just writing things that would sound good to my teacher. While I was at the cafe, a YouTuber named Sissel (A model from Denmark) showed up. At first, I did not notice it was her. I was very concentrated on what I was doing, so I never looked up from my laptop. The thing that made me finally look in her direction was when I heard her open her mouth– her lovely accent gave her away! She was there meeting someone and I did not want to be rude so I did not approach her to say hi. I will say she is far prettier in person! I don’t even know why… but I was starstruck! (I later DMd her on Instagram to tell her that I saw her at the cafe and she responded telling me that she also noticed me because of my hair. It was a sweet interaction). I literally watched one of her videos the day prior, so running into her was such a coincidence.

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Anyway, after finishing up my presentation (and memorizing a new chapter of vocab words on Quizlet) I went to the center where my classes are held and grabbed some lunch from the 편의점 with Shada and Kaitlyn (That 김밥 life though…) I just chilled there and reviewed some grammar while Kaitlyn taught Shada a dance to some Jay Park. It was really funny to watch. (Though, they were actually pretty good! Especially Kaitlyn, she is actually a dancer.)

Korean class went really well today. We had four hours today so we were able to learn two grammar points and do some reading and listening passages in our textbook. The grammar points were really not that difficult and I can see myself using them frequently which makes me happy. But, I think the best part of the class was the presentations for this week. I did a really great job presenting. I did not forget anything that I was supposed to say and I kept a good pace and even did a good job with inflections and expressing emotions. At the end of my presentation, we had a short discussion on the topic: lookism. It was really interesting to hear from the teacher and what she thought about everything.

After class, I just came home right away and had dinner with my host family– black bean noodles were on the menu. I did not do too much homework because I was tired and since tomorrow was Friday, I knew there was no rush to finish anything. 

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But looooook at this! When I got out of the bathroom after taking a shower, my host dog Andy was waiting for me!! This was too adorable for me not to take a photo of! Anyway…

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01/25/19 Friday

Katie and I met up early at 홍대 with the goal of withdrawing some money because we both have officially accepted the fact that it is winter break and we will have to spend more money than our stipend no matter how much it hurts our cheap hearts. Katie met up with me a little late so we did not have time to take our usual 10 ish minute trek to the Citibank ATM. Instead, we wandered around hoping to see a non-sketchy looking ATM closer to the subway station and we did! This whole time there has been a 신한은행 (Shinhan Bank, my favorite bank might I add…sorry 하나은행… I have no experience with your ATMs so….) right by exit 3! And we had no idea! Well, next time, we will know! Now we can more easily get cash to feed our poor spending habits.

Anyway, we met up with our supporter 혜린언니 and walked to the Hmart Express near the Better World office in order to buy daily supplies for the single mothers and children we would be visiting at the shelter the very same day. We ended up buying two shampoo bottles, six adult tubes of toothpaste, 3 children tubes of toothpaste, and a couple bars of soap. After purchasing everything, we left to go have lunch at this ramen place we tried going to the other day when Josh joined us for lunch.

Luckily, this time, it was open! We all ordered the same thing and got to enjoy some really high-quality ramen while enjoying each other’s company. Katie and I have been speaking more Korean with our supporter which is always good. This lunch was a really good example of it because I noticed the times when Katie and I would switch back and forth between the two languages depending on the subject at hand. I also found myself saying some things just to be able to use recently studied grammar points so go me for putting what I learn into my daily conversations!

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We walked from the ramen shop to the shelter for single mothers which was only a 10-minute walk from exit 4 of the subway station. We originally planned to do some actual volunteering there but that is going to be rescheduled for another day and possibly a different shelter that needs more help. At this place, we were just brought into the office by one of the women that ran the shelter and we had a casual interview type conversation about single mothers in Korea and their lives. She basically restated many of the same points that our interviewee on Wednesday said but with a bit more detail on different subjects (Also, her Korean was a bit more manageable to understand I will say). One thing that she talked about more was the psychological support the women and children get at the shelter which really interested me because I also know that mental health can be a bit of a taboo and really personal topic in Korea (while it feels a bit more accepted by western countries specifically America).

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We were then given a tour of the shelter and I was a bit surprised by how nice it was. It kind of reminded me of a college dorm with a common eating area, shared bathrooms on each floor, and separate single rooms for the mothers and their children. There is a kitchen but meals are not provided at the shelter. The moms are given that space to cook for themselves and their children with the food they purchase with their own working money. While we were there, most of the single moms were at work or out while the kids were at 학원 or daycare (어린이집). There was one mother and daughter who popped their heads out of their doorways and said hello to us. The daughter was not feeling well so they stayed home that day. At this shelter, the maximum amount of time they can stay is one year.

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After our visit concluded, Katie and I said goodbye to 혜린언니 and went to go hang out at this book/cartoon cafe that I found on a Youtube video. The place is called 놀숲 (I guess it kind of translates to “play forest”) and you pay by the hour to stay and the drink is included in the price. Katie and I both paid for 3 hours (and a drink) which came out to be about 10 dollars per person. The place is really cute because there are cubbies with blankets and pillows and even tents up on this lofted area. Around the bookcases, there are also normal desks with comfy seats in case you want to read or study (sitting up). The place also sells snacks (like chips, candy, etc) and actual food (떡볶이, 라면, 파스타, etc) and has a PC room in the back– which I would prob never use but it is cool that this place offers so much!

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We were productive with our time for almost two hours and then we started watching a very interesting movie… we had to shut it off about 50 minutes in because it was too much for one sitting aha maybe we will finish it another day? We walked around 홍대 for a bit (Katie and I shared some of those candied strawberries. They seem to be very popular lately! I guess strawberries are in season now~). Also, something a bit strange happened. These guys stopped us both and asked if they could interview us about cultural differences between America and Korea. We concluded that they were not a part of a cult so we went for it; it was a good experience to practice Korean at least.

I came home early to have dinner with my host family and we talked about some pretty serious topics? It was pretty interesting… For example, my host sister was showing me the world map they have in the living room with stickers and writing on places that they have been to and want to go to. They have written the names of people they have met on their respective hometowns too which was really cute. After showing me everything, my older host sister even put my name up on the map! She circled Chicago and wrote my hometown–Lemont– on it and my name with a heart next to it ❤ When we were looking at the American part of the map, my host sister told me she wanted to go to the Grand Canyon but is scared to go because of the recent news. I was shocked and was like “What news?” 

Apparently, there was a Korean exchange student that went to the Grand Canyon and actually fell off. He did not die but is only alive due to life support–brain dead. He broke like almost all of his limbs and the fact that he is staying in an American hospital for an extended period of time means that his family is racking up the medical bills…. I can imagine how crazy the costs seem to Koreans because people literally go to hospitals here for the common cold (I am not kidding) and the costs for visiting a doctor are next to nothing (in comparison to American healthcare). This family needs to pay about 3,000,000,000 dollars to be able to bring their son back to South Korea from America… you can see how that is not an easy thing to do. There is also a lot of controversy about this situation in the nation because the family is trying to raise money to bring their son back home. My host sister told me that some people believe that it was the boy’s fault for taking that risk to go to such a ‘dangerous’ place.

We also talked about allergies and the deaths that have come about because of that (I know… some very strange things to bring up in a conversation during/after dinner.) My host sisters found it pretty funny that I had a lot of experiences having certain nuts for the first time here in Korea because both my mom and twin brother are allergic (very badly) to all nuts. So I was never exposed to them at home (and did not really have any desire to eat them outside).

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What was this pastry my host mom gave me? I have no idea…

After dinner, I worked on my workbook and wrote some blog posts. I gave up on doing any other studying to allow myself some time to relax and binge watch tons of Youtube videos. I had plans to visit my old host family the next day so I went to bed early to have the energy to deal with my energetic siblings!

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

Teaching Korean Highschoolers American Slang & Exploring Hanok Cafes (10/10/18) NSLI-Y Korean AY

10/10/18

I woke up this morning feeling very groggy and wishing that I didn’t have to wake up at 6 am for school. It was cold in my room because I left my window open and the last thing I wanted to do was slip out of my comfy pajamas into tights, a skirt, and a button-down dress shirt— not the desired fit.

I was halfway to the station when I realized that I forgot the umbrella Katie and I borrowed from one of the teachers. I ran back silently cursing my life to grab the umbrella. When I came back inside the house, my mom was shocked again and said “What?!?” I quickly explained about the umbrella and said goodbye to her for the second time that morning. I missed the earlier train and took the next outbound train that came less than 10 minutes later. I felt bad for making Katie wait but she promised it wasn’t a big deal. I was able to get WiFi and text her at the station so she knew I was going to be late.

She also had a very rough morning that consisted of her losing the bow to our uniform at the convenience store. It was definitely a day… if that makes any sense to anyone.

School itself wasn’t bad. I made it out to seem very difficult today but academically, we did basically nothing. Because their midterms are so soon, most classes are either reviewing or allowing students to 자습 or self-study. My first period was economics and when I first walked in, there was a coat next to my friend 세림 {one of the only “friend” friends I’ve made so far} and I got sad. I assumed that I would just sit next to someone random—have no interaction because they would be studying or sleeping—and call it a day. However, 세림 called over to me and showed me that she put her jacket there to save me a spot! I couldn’t have felt more grateful at that moment.

During class, she studied economics while I self-studied Korean. She would whisper some things now and then to me and during the break, we talked for a bit. Just about my Korean studies and her feelings towards 하나고 and the exams closely approaching.

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I self-studied the previous 이화 textbook in order to catch up to my classmates since I skipped learning most of those grammar points.

After economics, I had Korean history. Because we didn’t have school last Wednesday, it was my first time having the class! In the class, I sat down next to a girl from my homeroom {I need to get her name again~ I have her Kakao talk but her name isn’t attached to it!} and my teacher asked me a couple questions. He told me that they were gonna review for the first half of class so I was free to study Korean. And I’m so glad he said that because it gave me something to do because I knew I would understand nothing in that class. Mostly because that teacher talks so fast! Faster than anyone I’ve ever met! Including me, my mom, and my Abuelo and we are Cuban! He was like speaking at Auctioneer speed; it was crazy. {I also had no book so how could I follow along?}

During the break time, I met up with Katie because we wanted to visit the 매점 together but when we got there it was soooo crowded so we got overwhelmed and just left empty handed. We will try {and succeed} another time. Also, while I returned to my seat and continued studying Korean, my Korean history teacher complimented my Korean handwriting saying it was pretty. I was like no way and then he proceeds to say that it is better than many in the class, I laughed.

Katie and I met up for lunch together but we didn’t know if we should ask 서린 and 도윤 to eat lunch with us. We didn’t want them to feel burdened to have to eat with us, so we were going to go to lunch by ourselves but then 서린 ran up to us and asked to eat lunch together. She also let us know that she had other friends who wanted to eat lunch with us/meet us. So Katie and I were introduced to more friends: 지연, 연세, and 혜지.

Before lunch, 도윤 had to finish up something so she couldn’t meet us for lunch until 20 minutes in, so Katie, 서린, and I stole a practice room near the music classroom to just goof off in. Katie {who is actually musically talented} played the piano and sang to us for a bit. I also told them about my run-in with a cult {and that’s where I actually learned the word 사이비.} The rest of the time was spent with us laughing, being awkward, and listening to the boys scream-singing in the practice room next to us. Good times indeed.

During lunch, we taught each other slang. Katie and I tried to explain Lit and Yeet but the girls had trouble pronouncing it and understanding the meanings. I feel like a lot of American slang is just hard to explain {especially in Korean} and that’s why when parents try to use, it is so awkward because they simply don’t know the situations that they apply to. They also taught us some Korean slang but because they were not written down, I forgot all of them but 띠용 which they told me meant awkward but my host mom later said it meant surprise? It’s like the noise that happens when a cartoon character’s eyes pop out? I’m not sure… I’ll have to look into that.

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Either way, lunch was a lot of fun! And the food was very delicious. I had AP Stats next And was dreading the class. I hated Stats in America and nothing has changed since landing in Korea. But I was looking forward to being able to talk to 세림 again~ When I sat down next to her after lunch, I told her I learned about 띠용 and she laughed. She said that if I used it with other people, they would be really surprised. {I know I would too if I heard a Korean high school student saying yeet or lit in the hallways.} During class, our teacher reviewed the concept of hypothesis tests which again, is not a new thing to me but I don’t remember everything and sometimes the different Korean notation throws me off. Additionally, we were learned about a type of test and I thought it was something I had never seen before; however, turns out that it was just called something different in the States.

During the break time, my teacher came over to me to explain that I needed a textbook and that soon we would be using these three computer programs {I only recognized Java I think?} so I needed to hurry up and get the required class materials. I was just a bit disappointed that my teacher was actually going to make me do work… oh boy. Time to email my old AP Stats teacher.

On Wednesdays, of certain weeks, our last period class consists of our mandatory club. (At 하나고 students are required to partake in one mandatory club during school hours and then they are allowed to have a maximum of two other clubs.) However, because it is Midterm season, club activities will not resume until next month. I have yet to know what clubs I will be joining but as soon as I find out, I will share~ I met up with Katie after this class and told her that we could go, that the school day was over. We walked around the school for a bit wondering if we should leave or not and instead of being smart and asking our coordinator teacher, we just left. I trusted 세림 who asked me if I was going home now and all the kids seemed like they were done for the day–if that makes any sense. They were eating ice cream! Who would do that between classes? Why ruin the taste of perfectly sweet ice cream with having to hurry off to class? That would leave a bad taste in my mouth for sure. So we left school.

We walked across the street to a Twosome Cafe and spent about an hour and a half chilling, studying, drinking lattes, and enjoying a cake? (I use the question mark because it really was not a cake but a cream souffle looking thing… I forgot the name but it was delicious!) When we ordered our drinks, a different staff member helped us out. She took one look at us in our uniforms and asked us if we were 하나고 students. She proceeds to tell us that we speak Korean well. They were really nice and maybe since we will be regulars (Katie and I are going to make this cafe-meeting-to-eat-cake-and-reflect/rant-about-our-week a regular thing), we can get to know them more? That would be cool.

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After the cafe, I went home and ate dinner with my host family. I studied vocab words from my textbook and then words I was simply curious about or heard in class but I did not know the meaning of at the time. I talked with my host mom for a while after dinner which is honestly one of the best parts of the day. It allows me to reflect, practice my Korean with my family, and overall bond more with them. That is why I think that coming home for dinner is so important!

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You know it is a good day when your mom sends you a pack of Kakao emojis as a gift!!!~ ❤ 

I have been trying to not eat out with friends too often because I value dinner time~ I am going to aim for eating dinner out 3 times a week or less! (Though more often than not it will be less because school and Korean class will only continue to be exhausting and difficult physically and mentally.)

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

  • Emma 엠마

 

My NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview Experience

안녕하세요 여러분! In this blog post, I will be writing about my experience interviewing for the NSLI-Y Academic Year Program in South Korea. This interview was my third (and last) interview for NSLI-Y.

  • I interviewed with NSLI-Y, previously, during my freshman year of high school (January 2015) and during my sophomore year of high school (January 2016).

I have already written a blog post about my last two interview experiences as well as a post about tips and advice! I will link those here and here, respectively. I may do an updated blog post about tips in the near future; I feel that I can refine some of my tips and write more about what I have realized NSLI-Y is looking for. (Maybe when I have extra time this winter break?) But anyway, let’s get into my interview experience!~

NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview

Date: 01/13/18        Time: 12 pm (Noon)

I found out that I became a semi-finalist for NSLI-Y on the 1st of December at exactly 2:30 pm; however, I did not check my email until a little bit after 5:30 pm. I had speech practice until 5 pm and because of past NSLI-Y application timelines, I was already expecting the email in my inbox. (I could have checked my email at school… but in case it was going to turn out to be bad news, I refrained until I was back in my room–alone.) I actually got a really exciting college email before I opened my NSLI-Y notification, so when I saw “congratulations” at the top of the email, I started crying even louder! What was different this year in comparison to the previous times I have been interviewed was the location of the interview, the date of the interview as well as when I was informed about the details regarding my interview. So… basically, everything changed from the last two times!

Previously, many of the Greater Chicago area interviews were held at this one church; however, this year it was located at a high school. Also, the Greater Chicago area interviews were usually held on the first Sunday of the year– while this year it was the second Saturday of the month. (Which actually turned out to be better for me because this allowed me to still be present for the Alumni Representative Workshop which was during the first weekend of the year.) Additionally, I found out about the interview location and date on the 30th of December while in previous years, I found out around the middle of December.

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This building of the school was very beautiful! ❤

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What I wore to my interview: red sweater dress, black tights, and simple (short) black heels.

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My interview was at noon, but I arrived at the school with my mother around 11: 15 am. We waited around in the parking lot for almost 20 minutes and then she dropped me off at the door. The “waiting room” and the interview rooms were up a flight of stairs and down a very long hallway with a couple of turns. Fortunately, there were lots of signs posted so it would have been very difficult to get lost. When I arrived early, there were three other applicants in the room. I was going to join in on this one small discussion but then I noticed a girl sitting in the back of the room with her mom. It was my friend Citlali from Startalk! We had studied Chinese together!~

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Seeing her in the room made me so much more comfortable, and I was super excited that she had made semis! (Though, I was also really salty that she (and my other fellow classmate Bruce) did not tell me that they made it! He, unfortunately, had an earlier interview time, so I missed him at the high school.

Eventually, noon rolled around and my interviewer pulled me out of the room. She was the sweetest lady ever! She made me feel very comfortable, and she was such a good listener with a very friendly face. She was an AFS volunteer and had taken a gap year with AFS in Uruguay. Additionally, her daughter was currently on a gap year with AFS in Paraguay, and she had also participated in the NSLI-Y China Summer program.

The interview questions were very similar to my last interview (and when I mean similar, there were only 2 questions that were new/different). Therefore, I was never really caught off guard with too many questions. I was able to smoothly answer all the questions with ease (mostly because I prepared for them). I was also able to engage the interviewer in conversation, and she told me stories from her and her daughter’s gap year and answered all my questions about my possible gap year in South Korea.

I came out of the interview feeling very confident in all of my answers and what I had to say. I was proud of myself for being so calm during it and being able to think on my feet for all the interview questions.

One thing I wanted to mention was something that my interviewer told me before the interview which helped ease my nerves just a little bit. She told me that her position was to be an advocate for my application. She was not going to judge my experiences as there were no right or wrong answers. She was only there to pass on as much information about me to the evaluators to aid my application. So to anyone fretting about their interview, this is something important to know!!!!

And, that is all for this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed reading it and to all the NSLI-Y applicants or semi-finalists out there, I hope this gave you some insight on the NSLI-Y interview process~ There are a lot of people that ask me what questions were given at the interview and I am sorry, but I do not think I can share that information. I wish everyone the best of luck on their interviews!! 화이팅! 친구들 다음에 봐요~~ ❤ 고마워요!

If I can, I will write an updated application blog post upload it next year when it becomes relevant once again~ I hope that my subscribers are enjoying reading what I am up on my gap year thus far (though I am about two months behind… I am sorry! Editing posts takes some time…)

  • Emma 엠마

 

 

Startalk: Chinese Class Reunion Celebrating Chinese New Year (Feb 17th, 2018)

February 17th, 2018

你好!My Startalk Chinese class came back together today in order to celebrate Chinese New Year~ I carpooled with my friend Becca, and we were both super excited to see our classmates again. The director of the Startalk program planned this reunion at a Chinese Restaurant about 30 minutes from where I live. And, wow, it was so crowded. There were so many families and couples there. The line was out the door! I guess this place is a crowd favorite for ringing in the New Year!~

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10/10 I would definitely recommend!

Becca and I were the first people to arrive so we met 胡老師 and her husband at the front of the restaurant until they could clear a table for us.

We started off the afternoon with a little test. Our director gave us four slips of paper and we were told to write down four characters to then be placed in a box. The director would pull random slips out throughout the lunch, and the winners would receive small prizes: candies and pastries. Then, before we started eating, 胡老師 taught us how to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese.

新年快樂
Xīn-nián-kuài-lè
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Becca, Citlali, Adrienne, and I

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Citlali, Adrienne, Elaina, Bruce, and Magalie

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我的朋友!

We also learned a lot about Chinese New Year. This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 16th which officially begins the year of the dog! (My zodiac sign is a rabbit~) Many people ring in the new year by cleaning their entire house and by decorating it with lanterns, calligraphy, and posters with poetic verses. Homes are filled with a lot of red! And on New Year’s Eve, families have reunion dinners– kind of like the one we were all having together!

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Such delicious food!!!

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For dessert, we had these pastries with filling that was made partially from egg yolks

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After eating, we played a couple of more games to try to earn points for prizes. We were taught the characters for Happy New Year and then we were given them, shuffled, and had to put the characters in order the fastest. We also played this game that involved our director holding up a piece of paper with a number (in Chinese characters of course) and then we had to quickly write a sentence in Chinese with the same number of characters. It was intense!

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Prizes for winning the games!

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Our director gave us training chopsticks shaped like ninjas. XD She told us that her 20 year old son can’t even use chopsticks! Fortunately, I do not need them, but they are adorable!

Lastly, 胡老師 talked to us about red envelopes during Chinese New Year. They are red packets filled with money given to kids, family members, friends, and coworkers to wish them a good new year and lots of luck. It is custom that once you get married, you should start giving out red envelopes. Our director all gave us “symbolic” red envelopes each holding one dollar. She explained to us that the tradition started off with small amounts of money but now, the custom has become more costly for the givers. (Especially when it comes to family members having to give money to the children in the family.)

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1. Accept the envelope with both hands 2. Give a greeting and express thanks 3. DON’T open the envelope in front of the giver!

At the end of the reunion, we took some group photos together and the individuals with the most points were able to choose a prize. There were so many prizes: Chinese coin purses, t-shirts, Chinese candy, chopstick sets, etc. I picked out this gorgeous set with 4 chopsticks and 4 chopstick rests~

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The Startalk Director (and my Chinese professor) with Becca and me~ ❤

And that was all for our reunion! It was a lot of fun being able to see all my classmates again (and eat some really delicious foods). Today has really motivated me to get back into my Chinese studies! It was nice being able to use it with everybody. Currently, I’m hoping to be a student helper alongside my director during this summer’s Startalk program! (Because I am too old to actually partake in it once again) I also found out that Lewis University’s Startalk is adding Russian this summer! How cool is that?!?! We will see how my summer plans work out 😉 Thank you for reading! 謝謝!再見!

  • Emma (敏娜)

2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 2 (Jan 6th, 2018)

안녕하세요 여러분!

On our full day of the Alumni Rep Workshop (01/06/18), we would be having a majority of the presentations American Councils planned for us as well as learning about our planning expectations and requirements. (A lot of things would be repeated from last year, but I needed to hear more about in-person planning as I did not really pay attention to that aspect last year–because it wasn’t my role.)

We had breakfast at the hotel starting from 7:30 am until 8:30 am. I got up an hour earlier to take a shower and get dressed and my roommate Selin and I headed down for breakfast at 7:45 am. During breakfast, I sat with Jacquelyn, Shraddha, and Selin and was able to hear more about their experiences with NSLI-Y and their daily life in wherever they lived in America. The breakfast was really delicious! I usually never eat breakfast (and if I do it is a granola bar), so the spread for breakfast seemed so glamorous and luxurious! There were chefs who would make you a personal omelette with whatever you wanted!

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My roommate Selin and Shraddha at breakfast

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I took advantage of this breakfast by getting a lot of things: waffles, southern style potatoes, bacon, eggs, fruit, and a chocolate muffin

After breakfast, we walked to American Councils (except for Dean who took a couple people with him in an Uber because of his injury. If only AC knew that he crutched all the way to the Lincoln memorial the previous night… haha). When we first made it back to the American Councils Office,  we did some icebreakers to learn more about each other. We all made two circles (an inner and an outer) to talk about some highlights of our NSLI-Y experience, goals for the alumni rep role, etc.

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Walking to American Councils Saturday morning~

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Nicole ❤

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Ready for a long day of presentations!~

Then, like last year, we had presentations on our virtual presence on social media, in-person event planning, planning logistics, different types of events, and we were introduced to some resources we can access from the US Government.

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Like last year, American Councils gave out prizes to the reps that could answer some NSLI-Y/Alumni Association “trivia” questions. Shraddha and I both picked out some pretty cool merchandise. Can’t wait to use my thermos!!!

One difference between this year and last year was that American Councils had some of the alumni representatives (renewed and new) give presentations on the different types of events. First, we skyped past NSLI-Y Alum rep for Philadelphia (Mid-Atlantic Region) Andy Nguyen! Ahhhh it was so great to see him again. Before the video was set up completely, Nicole and I chatted with him for a bit telling him how much we miss him. He did a presentation on all of his events (which were EXTREMELY successful) and his tips for planning events and getting a good turn-out.

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Andy about to present to us

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haha PC: Nicole’s Snapchat // I do not remember what I was looking out but this is hilarious!

Then some of the other alumni reps presented about their experience with one of the types of events (+ tips and advice). For example, I had a presentation on my experience having a virtual Serve event. (I hosted a webinar with Youth Service America for Global Youth Service Day in April.) Jeremy (Virtual Engagement) presented about virtual events, Rahul (Virtual Engagement) presented about Outreach events, Jacquelyn (Midwest- Louisville, KY) presented about Learn events, etc.

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Deni presenting about his Grow (in-person in Boston) alum events from last year.

After what seemed like an endless amount of hours spent on presentations and note-taking, we had lunch!

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My lunch consisted of a roast beef sandwich, salsa sun chips, and a brownie cookie.

After lunch, we got into small groups to plan out some events for the year. (As an alum rep, we are required to organize and host at least three events: two in-person or virtual events and one outreach event.) Since I will be attending university in NYC next fall, I will have to host all my events before I move. Josh was in the same situation as me, so we focused on planning all our desired events during the late winter, spring, and summer months. I am really excited to meet and hang out more with the NSLI-Y Chicago alumni!~

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My small group for the event-planning activity!! I worked with Paula (Northeast — NYC), Josh (Southwest — Dallas), and Rowan (West Coast — LA).

Also, before today’s segment of the workshop, we were told to take a survey to asses our leadership style. After adding up all my points, I had more or less a leadership style known as East–Vision. We got into groups based on our leadership style (I was placed with Rowan, Lila, and Justin), and wrote out a poster on tips we would give others to work with us.

Main Points of the East-Vision Leadership

  • Visionary who sees the big picture
  • Likes to experiment and explore
  • Looks for overarching themes and ideas
  • Generative and creative thinker; able to think outside the box
  • very idea-oriented; focuses on future thought

Then, we were getting ready to end the workshop activities for the day. Brian gave a debriefing and told us all the housekeeping rules for the night. We got reimbursed for transportation to get to the airport (to and back) from yesterday, and we also took some time to take photos in front of the iconic American Councils wall (It was in the room we stayed in last year!)

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They decorated for Christmas!~ So adorable!!! 🙂

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Front: Paula, Me, Jacquelyn, and Shraddha              Back: Jeremy, Dean, and Nicole

With Old Friends!~

With New Friends!~

American Councils would be taking us out to dinner at Bangkok Joe’s in Georgetown. We would also be given time to walk around Georgetown and experience Georgetown Glow (An outdoor light exhibit). We all walked back to the hotel, got changed and dressed for dinner (For me, this meant putting on more layers. It was so cold!). We took taxis to the same restaurant we ate at last year.

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I ordered General Tso’s Stir-fried Lomein with Fried Shrimp

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Alumni Representative Dinner! (Left to Right: Josh, Justin, Jacquelyn, Dean, Selin, Deni, and Caroline)

After dinner, we split off with Brian to find the Georgetown Glow exhibits and just hang out in Georgetown. (Many of us, including me, wanted to stop by Georgetown Cupcake and then sit down and chill in a fun cafe.) The light exhibits were not close at all. The first one was right in front of the restaurant and Washington Harbor, but the other ones were scattered all around.

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When I first saw it, I thought they just wrapped some pretty, glow-in-the-dark ribbon around the trees. XD

The second light exhibit consisted of light up floor “tiles” on the ground. When you step on them, they change from their normally blue color to either a purplish-pink color or a reddish-yellow color. It was a lot of fun to run around on them!

The third one was more of a trek away– and up a hill! And though it was very very cold, I got to talk to Nicole, Shraddha, and Jeremy more. I talked to Nicole about her first semester at Harvard, Shraddha’s experience helping out at a refugee center, and Jeremy and I bonded over our NSLI-Y Korea summer experiences.

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This gave me Olympics and Sonic the Hedgehog Vibes. Anyone else? No? ….

After walking for awhile, we made it to Georgetown Cupcake! I, and a couple other reps in the group, stopped by to buy cupcakes. The line was so long! I was surprised… but I still waited in line! XD I ended up getting a Happy New Year cupcake (chocolate) and a gluten-free peanut butter cupcake (chocolate).

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

We then walked over to the cafe right across the street to hang out, eat our cupcakes, and some of the reps ordered coffee or hot chocolate. We lost track of time, and I had to remind Brian what time it was. (We were late to the meeting spot but… it was worth it! haha)

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Cafe Aesthetic!~ ❤

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All the alumni reps took over the second floor! haha XD

We arrived back at the hotel, in taxis, around 8:30 pm. We messaged back and forth on our group chat to figure out whose room we should hang out in, but we decided to just all hang out in the lounge area on the first floor of the hotel (close to where we ate breakfast in the morning). A lot of the reps were doing homework or writing essays for some programs so there was a multitude of laptops out. (I had mine, but it took me about half an hour to get it connected to the internet. Thanks to Anjali for helping me figure it out!)

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The qualityyyyy (Jeremy, Deni, and I)

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I stayed up till 2 in the morning talking with the alumni reps! Till 1 am, Jeremy, Dean, and I talked about our NSLI-Y Korea Summer experiences. It was super interesting to hear about Dean’s experience because his was the most recent and he had gone to Jeonju (전주) instead of Seoul (서울). They took Korean classes at a high school instead of a university like Jeremy and I had. (Additionally, he was quite popular at his school. The girls were head over heels for him! XD)

Then From 1 to 2 am, Dean, Justin, Lila, and I just talked about who knows what. We moved from the tables to some couches and got into some deep stuff. (Except when Dean starts telling us what our animal selves would be– apparently I am a golden retriever and Lila is a turtle… weird haha) So a mix of deep stuff and stuff that you can only talk about when it is two in the morning.

And that was the second day of the Alumni Representative Workshop! Usually, (well at least last year) I combined the second and third day of the workshop together; however, this post is getting so extremely long! This post is already getting up to 1,700 words!!! I had a ton of fun getting to know the reps more and learning more about what I can do as the Chicago Representative this year. I am so excited!! Hopefully, I can post a (rather short) blog post about the third day sometime soon~ Hope you enjoyed! 고마워요 여러분! 다음에 봐요!~ 🙂 Do not forget to subscribe!!!~

  • Emma 엠마

2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 1 (Jan 5th, 2018)

안녕하세요 여러분!~ I am back with yet another blog post about the NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop!~ I have been granted the amazing opportunity to renew as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative! So Alumni Representatives (shorthand = alum reps) are given the chance to renew their position for a second year if they successfully completed their events and fulfilled the requirements of the role. Last year, I was a NSLI-Y Alum Rep for Virtual Engagement; however, this year I am in the role of the Chicago/Great Lakes Region Alum Rep (Nicole had this position last year, and this year she is a virtual engagement rep. So, we switched positions! haha). If you want to read my posts from last year, I will link them here and here!~ ❤

So the Alumni Association is a network of exchange alumni which focuses on engaging alumni to continue language learning, promote the NSLI-Y Program, perform community service, connect with other alumni, as well as network and attend events geared towards professional development. The role of a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative is to engage the alumni in their respective region with events that help to fulfill the mission of the Alumni Association. (These goals being learning, growing, connecting, and serving.) Along with this responsibility, NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives are required to attend a 3-day workshop in Washington DC coordinated by American Councils. (One of the many implementing organizations of the NSLI-Y Programs.) Therefore, I flew to DC with 16 other Alum Reps  to attend this workshop–once again.

(To learn more about the NSLI-Y Alumni Association, check out the alumni tab on the NSLI-Y website HERE. You can also view the profiles of the new NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives.)

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Waiting at the gate~~~ Anticipating the fun that awaits in Washington DC

On Friday (Jan 5th, 2018) I flew to Washington DC with Paula Zhang (Yes the infamous #NSLIYQueen) as well as Shraddha Joshi. Paula is from Chicago, so you would think we would have met up by now… but this was our first time meeting and she is incredible! Such a lovely person~ And Shraddha is a Virtual Engagement Alum Rep this year, so we talked a bit before because she had some questions about her position. (Just like I did! XD) Shraddha is so sweet, and she has a blog too! I will link it here~ FOLLOW HER!

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Paula (Northeast/New York Alum Rep), Shraddha (Virtual Engagement), and me.

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These biscuit cookies are the best airplane snack. Nope, pretzels DO NOT compete!!!

We then met Brian (The new American Councils NSLI-Y Alum Rep coordinator as our last year coordinator, Tyler, took a position at a University) at the airport after our plane landed. We were going downstairs to baggage claim, totally passed by Brian though he literally had a NSLI-Y sign in his hand! haha We talked to Brian for a bit while Shraddha got her bag. He did Peace Corps in Armenia! So a fellow world traveler~

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Our amazing hotel: Embassy Suites

 

 

We got to our hotel at around 2 pm and we were supposed to meet in the hotel lobby at 5:30 in order to walk to American Councils to start the Alum Rep Workshop; therefore, we had some to kill before things truly got started. (Reps would be arriving anywhere from 1-5 pm– but poor Lila missed her connecting flight.) So, a group of us (Me, Josh, Shraddha, Dean, Deni, and Selin) walked around the hotel to look for a coffee shop (that was not Starbucks). We ended up going to this Cafe called Illy. Dean kept pointing out that the logo for Illy was very similar to this Korean song (???). Apparently, it used a very similar graphic.

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The Illy Cafe in DC (PC: Google). The next two pictures are screenshot from the Korean Music video “Iffy” sung by Jay Park, SiK-K, and pH-1.

 

At Illy, some of the alum reps got coffee, and we all just hung out in this seating area talking and getting to know each other better. I just love connecting with alumni at this workshop– hearing about their experience and talking about our shared interests.

Selin (NSLI-Y Alum Rep for the Austin, TX/Southwest Region) turned out to be my roommate, and we got ready for the workshop together. We, once again, had to dress Business Casual on the first night for pictures and to meet with staff from the Department of State.

We walked to American Councils and as we arrived (perfect timing), our dinner had just gotten there. We were given a NSLI-Y folder full of contents for the workshop: a list of the Alum reps, an agenda, a scavenger hunt, a calendar, brochures, etc. We ate Mediterranean foods in one of the conference rooms before we started presentations.

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We got his really nice NSLI-Y Notebook and Pen too~ As well as a name-tag (but we learned everyone’s name pretty quickly.)

 

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Everything was very delicious!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

 

After we had dinner, we had a welcome and introduction from some of the American Councils staff: Emily Matts Henry, Kate Elci, and Brian Leopold. Then, we met Chris Schwab and Megan Huber from the Department of State who talked to us about resources that were available to us as a part of the International Exchange Alumni. We learned about grants, other scholarships, internship position listing, databases– basically how to use the website for whatever we were looking for. (This was very similar to last year’s presentation.)

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A short weekend with a lot of presentations was in our future~

 

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I am so excited that NSLI-Y has added Indonesian! I definitely want to try learning the language in the future~

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Some of the Alumni Reps stayed till Monday to present at the Department of State. And Look! This is our group picture from last year~

At around 8:30 pm we finished up the day’s session and were informed about the activities planned for tomorrow and the rules for the night (house-keeping, rules if we went out, and our curfew of 11 pm). We also took some photos before walking back to the hotel from American Councils.

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2018 Renewed NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives! (Jeremy-Virtual Engagement, Nicole-Virtual Engagement, Me, and Deni-Boston/Northeast Region)

A group of us (Jeremy, Deni, Nicole, Justin, Selin, Dean, Lila, Caroline, Josh, and me) decided to walk around DC and visit the Lincoln Memorial and the State Department (even though it was really cold!). Luckily, we had Jeremy as our tour guide as he attends George Washington University, so we did not get lost on the way to the memorial.

 

 

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Loved being back in DC with Nicole!~ I have missed her! ❤

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Justin and Josh called this the #SlavSquat ??? I think… I do not the significance but hey, this photo makes me laugh! haha

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Such a nice (cold) night!~

After we visited the Lincoln Memorial (and after Justin almost “tried” standing on the ice over the reflecting pool XD), we made our way back to Burger, Tap, and Shake. The same restaurant we ate at last year after that monument tour! It was so nostalgic~

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Hanging out and having a good time!~ (Me, Nicole, Justin (Portland/West Coast Alum Rep), Deni, Lila (San Francisco/West Coast Alum Rep), and Jeremy

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Deni & Selin!~

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I got my table fries to share. The hot fries helped us deal with the cold (Though even inside Caroline was shaking! It was a big change from North Carolina weather.)

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Caroline (Chapel Hill, NC/Southeast Alum Rep) and Jeremy

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Lila and Nicole

And that the first day of the 2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop!! I am so grateful that I am able to experience this workshop twice in order to continue planning and organizing events for my local alumni as well as meet and become friends with so many alumni that I may not have met otherwise (I would have just kept stalking their Instagram as usual…. just me? XD) This post has gotten extremely long so I will post blog posts about the workshop in parts. (Hopefully two but we will see what happens…)

Thank you so much for reading this blog post! (And for once, this blog post is going up a decent amount of days after the event– not almost two months later like my last post haha) All NSLI-Y Alumni! If you have not signed up for the Alumni Association or if you have not joined the Alumni Facebook pages or your respective region page please do so! If you want to attend events and receive these resources, this is a must-do!

Follow my blog if you enjoyed~ I will be posting the next part(s) soon as well as posts about the events I organize as an Alumni Rep! Stay tuned! 고마워요 여러분! 다음에 봐요!~

  • Emma 엠마

 

 

Startalk: Last Week of Chinese Classes & Graduation {July 17th – 21st, 2017}

你好!~ It is time to talk about the last week of Startalk :,( I had been putting this blog post off for quite awhile because looking through these pictures, especially the graduation pictures, makes me feel very nostalgic! I want to go back! I need to get back on the Chinese grind!

Monday (July 17th, 2017)

This week we continued learning vocabulary words about the weather and we expanded on that theme by learning how to describe the temperature/highs and lows. We also learned more hobbies and how to describe peoples’ physical appearances.

We also had our last calligraphy class which was low key a blessing because I was really bad at calligraphy and I would get so stressed when our director would call a minute left and I still had to complete the assignment given. This class was really fun; however, because we also got to make our own bookmarks. Our director was trying to give us ideas on what to paint and she suggested writing “I love Alfred.” She was kidding… but everyone took that and ran with it XD Basically everyone used one of their bookmarks to write “I love Alfred.” (AN: Alfred is the name of our TA)

At the end of the calligraphy session, our director picked the three best pieces to win a calligraphy brush and to my surprise, I was chosen as the third winner! (Honestly, I do not think I deserved it whatsoever… but I kept asking her for help throughout the session and so it might have been a pity prize XD ) I will probably not continue practicing calligraphy on my own time but the next time I go to China Town, I will definitely buy a bottle of ink or an ink stick so I can paint when I am in the mood.

 

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I got Alfred to write my Chinese name (吳敏娜) in calligraphy. He did so much better than I could ever have done! 😛

 

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我們愛我們的小老師。謝謝Alfred.

Tuesday-Thursday (July 18th-20th, 2017)

The rest of the week, minus Friday, was spent learning the last few things on the curriculum and working on our Final project, extra credit assignments, and other assignments that were due before the final on Thursday. Our final project was to pick a Taiwanese celebrity and introduce them with a video. I did mine on Aaron Yan or 炎亞綸. (I chose him because not only did I really enjoy his acting and singing in “Fall in Love with Me,” but also because Sydney and I did a project on him last week as one of our tasks. Take a look:

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Nothing too fancy… and I am currently cringing at my handwriting!!!

For extra credit, we had to watch a video on the Chinese language and radicals/characters and answer some questions. This week we also got to watch the entirety of a Taiwanese movie. It was called “Eat Drink Man Woman” or “飲食男女.” We got plenty of time to work on all these assignments during class as tasks stopped this week; however, I mostly used this time to goof off with all my classmates because we did not have that much time left together!

Highlights:

  • We had to rap a song about weather. We discovered that Ricky has a hidden talent in rapping. Someone sign him please !!! XD
  • Conversations about memes with Jada, Bruce, and Cetlali
  • Alfred roasting us as per usual
  • Teaching our 老師 what “twinning” means
  • Singing Kpop in the car with Becca
  • Embarrassing Jada with our singing skills when singing her Happy Birthday in the cafeteria- in front of everyone
  • The cafeteria CHURROS
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#bestlunchever #很好吃

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Photoshopped Kameron into our last lunch photo. Can you tell? XD

Friday (July 21st, 2017) – Startalk Graduation Ceremony

Oh, this day was filled with the feels! It was a really nice day though~

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Becca and I waiting to go inside. (We did not want to be too early…)

We started off the day viewing final projects. It was pretty awkward and embarrassing because I hate how my voice sounds over recordings and I was nervous that others would judge my pronunciation. Everyone felt the same as me, however, so it was not too bad. After our projects, we played a few rounds of this new vocab game (it has something to do with the wind… I wish I remembered its Chinese name!) and just talk with each other until it was time to take a class photo and make our way to the room where our graduation would be held.

 

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Last selfie in our Chinese class!!~

The graduation ceremony was in the same room we had orientation in which was an interesting feeling because our time in Startalk felt like it went full-circle. The ceremony started with the director talking about the program and what exactly it entailed (for all parents in attendance). We also had a few messages from our teachers. Next, they did something unexpected… they started playing my final project video! I almost fell out of my chair! I was surprised and my face immediately became red. Our director said that she wanted the parents to hear more of what the students had learned and so she had the teacher of each class pick the best final project. My 老師 picked mine! I was honestly very proud of myself, but I still could not help cringe at my voice XD We then got to watch a compilation of photos from throughout the program with some upbeat background music – it was really cute and I literally teared up.

Then, it was time to get our certificates. We started with my class and we all lined up like practiced (one of the things we did this week in preparation for graduation). We went down the line translating the Chinese sentence said before us and then saying a sentence in Chinese of our own choice. Afterward, the teachers called each student, one by one, to shake hands and accept their certificate of completion. The other class went after.

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My Class ❤

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Congratulations to me!~

And as I predicted, after the Director called everyone out to the hallway for photos and light refreshments, I started literally crying. My friends were gathering around me trying to comfort me and so I quickly stopped. I never thought that I would be getting so emotional. The program was less than 4 weeks but I still had a blast learning Chinese and I bonded a lot with my class mates. I could not imagine starting my senior year of high school and not going to Chinese class. Everything just blew up in my face at that point. However, I quickly got over it and a smile returned to my face~ Which was good because there were so many pictures afterward!! Prepare for a spam…

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Sabrina, me, Jada, Daina, and Adrienne with our Certificates of Completion

 

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The “Yeah Boi” Squad!!

 

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Becca did not get the “wear a yellow dress” memo

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The best people you will ever meet

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Me with my 小老師

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Had to snap a picture with my teacher and director~

After the ceremony, I had planned a lunch outing with anyone from my class that could attend at a Chinese restaurant in Bolingbrook called “Gong Ho.” Not everyone could make it… but a good amount did! I am so glad that we got to celebrate altogether outside of school~ We plan to hang out and eat food at least once a month or once every two months~ I really want us all to keep in touch even if we do not see each other a lot.

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Reflection: Startalk was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only did it allow me to stay productive through the summer, it gave me a kick start on learning Chinese which I might not have gotten from anything else. I made a lot of really great friends and I am now inspired to not only gain fluency in the Korean language but also the Chinese language. Lewis University was very kind; they gave us Startalk students the opportunity to continue our Chinese learning journey with a second semester online Chinese course. If we got an A in the summer course, we would be allowed to enroll in the online Chinese class for free! (Which was super nice because it would have been so expensive if I had to pay for it!)

  • I found out my grade from the class a couple weeks after the graduation ceremony- while I was in NY visiting family. I got an A and I am happy to say that I will be continuing Chinese with Lewis University this fall! Classes start on August 28th. I will have 3 assignments per week up until December. I will be meeting, through video call, with my professor (otherwise known as my director from Startalk) once every two weeks. We will also be doing handwritten assignments and we will also be taking tests. I can not wait to improve so much during this semester!! (Hopefully, I can handle it with my 5 AP classes… wish me luck! haha)

If you ever get the chance to participate in a Startalk program, please do! You will have a lot of fun and learn so much! If only I could apply next year, I would do it in a heartbeat~ Thanks for reading and do not forget to subscribe to my blog! More posts to come on traveling, NSLI-Y stuff, and learning Korean and Chinese. 謝謝! 再見!~

- Emma 吳敏娜