Escape Room & Cake Cafe with 혜린언니 and Katie (04/04/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/04/19 Thursday

The school day was a blurrrr (If I tried to figure out the most commonly written phrases from my blog, I bet one of them would be calling school or Korean class a “blur.” Along with things like “it was so delicious” and “I had so much fun.”) so I believe that I just tried to pay attention during the lectures at first and then when I got too bored, I took out my own Korean stuff and worked on those things. (I definitely remember trying to memorize my Korean class speech during 한국사.)

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Me and one of the Japanese exchange students!

At one point during class, my 한국사 teacher told me that after meeting the Japanese exchange students, he realized how good I was at Korean because they all literally came with no knowledge (not really even basic knowledge) of the Korean language because they did not take it in school nor did they self study it–like me. He laughed about this, finding his thoughts amusing, and then asked the class if there were any Japanese students present right then and there to hear what he had to say. When he found relief in the fact that there were none, he then made another joke about the fact that even if they were there, they would not have understood what he said. I felt happy that the teacher could see that I am putting in effort to speak Korean but then I felt bad for the Japanese students. They were not here to learn the language, but to just participate in an exchange and that exchange was mostly for culture. It made me think about the other NSLI-Y students who came with a very low level of Korean abilities and if teachers treated them like that at first… I would have been very disappointed.

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One of my classmates in 한국사 gave me this Japanese jelly snack ❤

Anyway, Katie and I left school early before lunch (I needed to memorize my presentation which did not give me time to have lunch at school today) and went to Korean class. Once again, class was a blur. I did present about my favorite Korean expressions which included an expression for laughing (that should ONLY be used between friends) 실실 쪼개다 and 답답하다 which is an expression to use when you feel suffocated and frustrated. 

After class, Katie and I met up with our supporter 혜린 언니 to have a fun night together in 홍대! Since classes on Thursdays end at 6 making it pretty late already (and we had our escape room time reserved for 7 pm) we ended up going to 7-11 for dinner instead of having a full meal…. And by dinner I meant that Katie and I ate ice cream!

We did an escape room at Mystery Room Escape that was themed after this novelist who committed suicide because he failed his book and the point of the escape room was that you were supposed to be trapped with him in his novel. The escape room was all in Korean and if we did not have our supporter with us, I am not confident that we would have even been able to make it past the first room. But besides the added difficulty because of the language barrier, we were all able to work together quite well to solve the puzzles. It was really rewarding to see how we were all able to figure out our own small things that contributed to helping us get farther and farther through the room.

Even though I think we did really well at first, we did get stumped at the last puzzle of the first room which involved placing these phrases in a certain order on the wall according to what was written in a note left by the author. We kept messing up the order and even just started putting random things in order because we could not figure out how to solve the puzzle. This wasted a lot of our time. Eventually, we did actually make it through the door but then we got stuck on the second to last puzzle of the escape room! We were supposed to place one of the items we got out of the drawer in this whole which would show us something that we desperately needed to solve the puzzle but we were just holding the item the entire time, twirling it around without even thinking that we needed to do something with it. When the clock’s time ran out and we heard the deafening alarm that might as well been a voice recorder saying “loser” over and over again to rub in the fact that we could not succeed in our faces. 

When the employee came in and shoved the item in the hole, I wanted to scream. The room lit up, a video started being displayed, and the major KEY for the solving of the puzzle appeared! We all wanted to scream! The guy gave us a chance to solve the puzzle again and when we did, we felt even worse for having messed up doing it ourselves. We left the room and proceeded to get our stuff from our lockers (walking past the group that came in before us while they took their celebratory escape photo was almost torturous) and the other employee came up to us and asked if we succeeded in escaping. I sadly told him no and his eyes immediately widened, you could tell that he was shocked. Yup, you heard it here folks, we could not even escape from the easiest room!! (I may seem very salty but… okay, I am. But we just laugh about it now. Our wounds have healed…)

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We were actually the only ones in the cafe which was really nice! We had the whole place to ourselves! It was cozy and peaceful~ Come here at low-peak time!

After our failed attempt at doing an escape room, we left to chill at a cafe together and just update each other on our lives. We have not seen each other for more than a month! We went from seeing each other multiple times a week for two months and then no in-person contact for a solid month! Katie and I really grew to miss our supporter! I took the girls to this cafe called Caffe Yam which I found from a Youtube video and was hoping that I remembered enough of the way so that we could stumble upon it again. I really hoped that we would be able to order some really adorable sugary drinks (I really wanted to go for the pictures… was not expecting much from the taste).

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We ended up staying at the cafe for only a little bit more than an hour–just chatting and enjoying our unicorn drinks and rainbow cake (literally the cutest things ever!). 혜린언니 was literally our big sister and proceeded to scold us and be happy for us all at the same time as we told her what we had been up to recently. Chatting with her reminds me of how lucky we were to be placed in a group project with her~ And I know wherever we end up in the future, we will always have 언니 to talk to and support us through all of our endeavors.

Well, that is all for this blog post, I hope you enjoyed! Have you ever done an escape room in a foreign country? How was your experience? I actually still have not done one back home in America… but the ones in Korea were just so much fun (and cheaper too…) Until Next time! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

Winter Break Research Project Orientation & First Meeting {01/07-08/19} NSLI-Y Korean AY

01/07/19 Monday

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The walk to the train station (in the morning~)

Monday morning, before our orientation for the Cultural Explorers Project {the name of our winter break project}, Katie and I went to a cafe near Better World to work on our Winter Break work. We went to a cafe called 별빛 (or something or other) which I’ve been to on several occasions with Josh during break times in between Korean class sections. I wanted to go there because it’s adorable, the atmosphere is cute, and they have rainbow cake! Something I’ve been wanting to try~ So with my usual order of a green tea latte, Katie and I shared a slice of rainbow cake.

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At the cafe, I started the longer 쓰기 that made up the writing portion of my practice Topik test. It was about the importance of communication and finding a good method for maintaining relationships, etc. I got more than halfway through it so it was a productive cafe date.

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Eventually, lunchtime rolled around but we stayed there and ended up not really eating lunch so throughout the orientation, we snacked on the prepared crackers and treats from Better World. Arriving at the presentation room was quite awkward at first, we all stared at the Korean college students and were scared to interact with them so the room was divided in half: one side of the room being NSLI-Y students and the other side was made up of the supporters. This awkward tension was definitely predicted by the Better World Staff as we started the orientation off with some bonding activities. The first thing we did was walk around the room with pieces of paper and gave them to others in order for them to draw our face; however, the catch was that they could only draw one part. For example, Shada drew my hair and then Jack did a whack job drawing my eyes! Luckily, June saved the day and fixed my eyes which was highly appreciated– my drawing actually kinda turned out nice.

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아프로디테 같다 (like Aphrodite) my favorite comment

The next thing we did was walk around and write our first impressions on each others paper. I tried my best to get to talk to the supporters because I wanted to meet them as well as practice my Korean by writing their impressions in Korean. We shared some of them in front of the whole group and 주연쌤 started making fun of something one of the male supporters had on their paper which was what I wrote! I wrote that he seemed to like to travel and she was like How would you know that? I was like his aura!!! Apparently, she did not get the same vibe as me.

We did a few more bonding activities like tongue twisters and getting into groups to copy pictures of people using their bodies to create certain shapes? Hard to explain…. Eventually, we found out which supporter was in our group through a very cheesy introduction center and lots of drum rolls. Katie and I were paired with a female college student named 혜린. She seems so kind and is very adorable! At first, we were all pretty shy together and since Katie and I are so close (and we show it too…) she must have felt a bit awkward. However, as the orientation continued, we seemed to get more comfortable with each other (By the end of this project, I hope we can stay close! Which means… periodically hang out until we go back to America!) Our supporter is an English major so her English is really good. She started speaking to us only in English because she assumed we knew no Korean and since the topic is pretty difficult to communicate in my limited Korean skills, Katie and I responded to her mostly in English. Hopefully, (more hoping) we can use our time together to practice Korean more, too!

After getting in a group with our supporters, we did a few more bonding activities like playing charades (Our theme was sports and we actually won! We answered the most questions correctly… unfortunately, we did not win a prize, though.) as well as making shapes with ribbon while being blindfolded. Yeah, it was as confusing as it sounds. Once the fun icebreakers were finished, we got to work. We all split off into our groups and created a group contract or 약속 that we need to follow during these two months. Our group included going to pretty cafes every meeting, having fun, and putting in our best effort. We also presented to the other groups the topic we are planning on focusing on for this research project which is the quality of life of single mothers in South Korea (especially due to the surrounding stigma). We came up with the group name 독닙여성 which translates to independent women because that is what we are!

Eventually, we all finished up with the mandatory activities and it was time to all have lunch together. We ended up eating 만두전골 at the same restaurant we ate at during the beginning of the program which was really nice. I recognized the food and the area we sat in which brought back the good memories. However, it also reminded me of how much time has passed which brought up some bittersweet emotions to the table. I sat with Katie, 혜린언니, Addie, Jenna, Josh, and Addie & Jenna’s supporter. We just chatted during dinner in a mixture of Korean and English about our majors, our Korean class, favorite foods, etc. It was a nice dinner with delicious food and good company~

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Rather than going home right away, I decided to stay out with a couple more people to enjoy the rest of the night (as well as take advantage of the late curfew). I ended up going to 설빙 and shared a 망고 and 인절미 빙수 with 유빈, June, Kaitlyn, and Josh. Mckenzie and Katie also tagged along to hang out with everyone too. Our little hangout was fun and I got to meet Alix & Jacks supporter 유빈 who was really nice! Kaitlyn, 유빈, and I took photo booth pictures at the machine in the 설빙 and although the pictures were low key not cute, I will forever treasure them! Especially the first picture because josh tried fitting into the booth which did not turn out well but half of his face in the photo really makes it perfect.

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1/08/19 Tuesday

Tuesday was not a super exciting day. Katie and I would be having our first CEP meeting at Blanc Bakery (honestly my favorite place in 홍대 it seems) with our supporter 혜린. I was excited to finally get to start our project because we have only been talking about it for so long, but then again, I was nervous because I knew it was going to be a lot of work and with everything else going on… it would be a struggle!

During this meeting, we munched on pastries while filling out our project proposal which outlines our topic and what we wanted to do for our project and the presentation the next month. 민정쌤 came to hear our ideas but let me just say… that the consultation did not go well. I think it was a mix of us still not having finished our project proposal and knowing the exact details of what we wanted to do and the fact that this topic is both difficult and sensitive to others which caused us to have a pretty tense discussion with 민정쌤. We were feeling anxious and stressed because things did not seem to be going well and after 민정쌤 left our group, we felt a bit dejected about all that we had done. We did our best to finish up for the day and make plans for the next meeting. 혜린언니 and I left Katie at the cafe because she wanted to keep doing homework while we left to go get lunch separately. I ended up grabbing 김밥 from the 편의점 and just ate at CYC while waiting for Korean class to start.

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However, as class time was approaching, I was all confused as to why my teacher hadn’t shown up yet. Then, Kaitlyn informs us that our teacher was going to be an hour late so would be having class from 3-6 pm rather than 2-5pm like normal. We were all really confused because both our teacher and Better World said absolutely NOTHING to us! We were a bit salty because we could all have gone and had a nice lunch together if we had known earlier. We called 소야쌤 and she seemed to have simply forgotten to tell us.

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Grilled Cheese Selfie! #cheesy

In order to pass the newfound time, I went with Josh and Jacquelyn to this tiny little grilled cheese shop owned by a Russian Expat living here in Korea. The prices were very low! Only $2 for a normal grilled cheese! I already had 김밥, so I didn’t get anything… but I know I will be back!

That is all for this blog post~ I hope you enjoyed. Sorry for the abrupt end to the second day but I ran out of photos from then to jog my memory and since I am writing this post almost two weeks after it happened (because I just have not had the chance to keep up to date with my writing) I have forgotten what I did the rest of the day–including the happenings in Korean class. I cannot remember anything from it… I am going to try really hard from now one to be good about writing! Keeping these logs of my days are really important to me so you heard it here first, keep me accountable? Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마

Korea AY Arrival Orientation at Better World: Survival in Korea! {09/14/18}

Friday 9/14/18

I already knew that I was going to wake up very early this morning. And there were a couple reasons for that, like Jet Lag, the heat, and sheer excitement. I woke up around 5:30 am (after waking up every 30 minutes since 3 am), but luckily was not alone–everyone else in the room was also awake or beginning to stir awake. We all hung out, chatted a bit, and then got ready for breakfast. We found the laundry line on the balcony and hung up our towels. While we were out on the balcony… we also came across some stairs to the roof. Alix, June, Harmony, and I made our way onto the roof and enjoyed the cool weather and the beautiful view of Seoul.

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I studied a bit on the roof too

We had breakfast at the Guesthouse and then made our way to the Better World Office. Apparently, according to 주연쌤, one of the Korean classes will be held there while the others will be held at a youth center in 홍대. We were welcomed to Korea by the Better World staff and listened to a presentation by an embassy worker. We learned about what an embassy provides for the general public and emergency contacts we should familiarize ourselves with.

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After that, we took some more group photos (with the banner as well) and began our next session: the Korean placement test (writing section). Everyone in the room took the same three-page test which included multiple choice, fill in the blank, and choose a word from a word bank type questions. At the end of the exam, there were two short answers. You had to pick one out of the two and answer the three questions.

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I did not think the test was too hard. Honestly, the directions were the hardest part of the test. I could not understand those at all it seemed. I looked at the example to not be completely lost and am forever thankful to those. There were a few words I did not know but sometimes context clues turned out to be my life saver. Though I am very mad! I could not remember how to say to smoke cigarettes. All I could think of was 담배 and not the actual verb to go with it so my answer ended up just being 담배를 하지마세요. ㅎㅎㅎ

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Kaitlyn and I ❤

After stressing over the test (I trust NSLI-Y! Wherever they place me is fine. I should not stress… easier said than done, though), we left the office for lunch! We ate 버섯샤부샤부 (mushroom shabu shabu) at this restaurant that required us to take off our shoes before entering the eating space. I know this is pretty common in certain restaurants, but it was the first time I ate at one in Korea! I spent 6 weeks here two years ago, but never went to one. This was a great experience. We even sat on the floor with mats!

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Mushroom Shabu Shabu

Once lunch was eaten (we were all settling into a food coma), we had to take part 2 of our placement test. This was the interview portion. Each student, alphabetically, was called upstairs to speak to two Korean teachers for no more than 5 minutes. This was honestly an excruciating process because those at the end of the alphabet had to wait about an hour before they could test, which lets the nerves build up! While trying to pass the time, a large group of us played UNO. (Thank you Kaitlyn! That was such a good idea!) We played a couple rounds (just going to brag and say I never was last to get UNO). We even got 주연쌤 to play a game, and she won! The very first time playing UNO. Some people truly have skills…

Eventually, it was time for me to do an interview. I was so very very nervous but luckily 민정쌤 helped calm me down before. The Korean teachers were so sweet and asked good questions. I was able to answer and go in a direction that I knew I could handle well. I think I used a few good grammar points and vocabulary words. At the end, they asked me what my OPI score which threw me off a little. I asked around and they did not seem to ask anyone else that besides one other person. (The conspiracist in me wonders why!)

After everyone finished the test, we began the Survival in Korea session which consists of groups of students completing missions around Seoul with a supporter (Korean college student or recent graduate– around that age). I was in a group with June, Harmony, Liam, Kaitlyn, and Addie. Our supporter 성욱 took us to 동대문 for our mission. We had to practice using subway travel phrases and asking questions to strangers (and videos were recorded!). It was pretty awkward, to be honest. Some were friendly than others…

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Learning about our mission~

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Chenggyecheon Stream (청계천)

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We ate some street chicken (wait that sounds weird… we ate some street food– spicy chicken. Before we sat down, the lady running the stall kept yelling “빨리 와요! 예쁘네요!” They were trying to get us to come over… and calling us pretty seemed to be the strategy. It worked, though!

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After chicken, we did not have enough– clearly. We ate Bingsu. We ordered three and shared it amongst a pair of us. Kaitlyn and I shared a Mango Bingsu (망고빙수). While eating, June, Liam, and I practiced Korean by having a conversation. It was quite fun! Here is an excerpt from a funny moment:

저: 난 커피를 별로 안 좋아해. (I do not particularly like coffee)

준: 왜요? (why?)

저: 그냥… tastes like dirt. (it just…)

Obviously, we erupted in a burst of laughter after that.

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We returned to the guest house around 7:30 beat from all the walking around and Korean practice. It was very tiring, to say the least. I tried to stay up and play a card game with everyone, but I was just not able to. Sometimes it is okay to not socialize and get some rest instead. I hung out in Katie’s room with Kaitlyn, June, and Shada. We had a good time too— just chilling.

And that is all for Friday! Thank you for reading this blog post. Stay tuned for more! Also on the day I post this, it is 추석 in Korea! (Most Americans call it the Korean Thanksgiving…) I am spending all my time with my host family as we partake in Chuseok celebrations~ I cannot wait to experience it~

  • Emma 엠마

All About Supporter Groups (Korean Summer NSLI-Y Program)

Though everything from my summer in Seoul, South Korea with NSLI-Y was amazing, the friendships I fostered within my supporter group and the memories we made with each other were nothing short of being on the top of the list of my favorite things from the program.

The name “supporter” is pretty unique to the NSLI-Y Korea program. From the conversations I have had with other alumni, most programs have peers that help the students with their language learning by tutoring; however, supporters and supporter groups are really only found on the Korea program.

A supporter is a Korean college age student that acts as a tutor, a tour guide, and if you can successfully build a relationship — a lifelong friend. Supporter groups are made up of your Korean supporter and usually one or two other students. (Usually, these students are from your own Korean class since you will have a similar language level to them.) We found out our supporter groups when we received a text from our supporter on our program phone. I found out the other members of my group by comparing texts with my classmates on the following day during Korean class. On the Korean summer program, we had supporter meetings twice a week: Tuesday and Thursday. The meeting was about two hours long and there were two types of meetings.

 

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My Lovely Supporter Group (Left to right: Jodi, Casey, Sujin, and I)

 

The Academic Supporter Meeting

During the average supporter meetings (which I will call an “academic supporter meeting”), our supporters acted like our Korean language tutors. Supporters usually meet at cafes and sometimes restaurants if they have planned to have lunch with their “students” before the actual studying part of the meeting. They are given stipends to use to buy any food, snacks, or drinks from the cafe; therefore, this is a great way to try out many Korean treats and cafes as a matter of fact. My supporter meeting was at the same cafe every time (with one or two exceptions when we, instead, went to 설빙 and Blind Alley) but many supporter groups changed up their meeting locations every meeting. They would have their supporter text them the location/map before every meeting. During this kind of supporter meeting, we would study Korean using this little booklet that went along with what we covered in class. (And a little more vocabulary words for good measure.)

We would go over vocab words as well as grammar points. Our supporter would make sure that we knew how to utilize the new knowledge effectively before asking us questions in which we could practice using them. After everyone had studied the vocab and grammar points, we would record our answers to more questions that our supporter asked us. (This sometimes took awhile due to many BAD mess ups as well as too much laughing in the background of the recordings.)

Cultural Excursion Supporter Meeting

The second type of supporter meetings were cultural excursions. Our supporters acted as tour guides by taking us around Seoul to famous historical sites. My supporter group had two cultural excursions throughout the duration of the program. We had one at Gyeongbokgung (경복궁) and at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자).

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The cultural excursions were a great way to learn more about Korean history (and more modern aspects of the culture) which we did not get much of during class. They were also great for bonding. Through these excursions, I was able to get close with more of my classmates as well as make some Korean friends. We also got to try a lot of delicious Korean desserts during our cultural excursions and actually… they were all bingsu desserts haha

And that is everything I have to say about supporter groups! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and hopefully it is informative to all the future NSLI-Y scholars. Supporter groups can truly make the program that much better! The next informational post I will be writing will be about culture clubs for the Korea summer program in Seoul. Look out for that!~

안녕 친구들~ ❤

  • Emma (엠마)

Last Korean Class and Supporter Meeting (August 11th, 2016)

Thursday was a day of many lasts… :,( I woke up feeling excited about school but I was also feeling sadness due to the fact that I knew I wouldn’t be waking up for Korean class anymore. I also woke up pretty late today because I accidently set my alarm for 6:30 pm rather than 6:30 in the morning. Even though I woke up late, I still had an amazing breakfast made for me by my host mom.

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One important thing to know about Korean breakfasts is that they are pretty much like any other Korean meal in a day. Usually, there is rice, 반찬 (side dishes), maybe a soup of some kind, and a meat dish. I am pretty sure Koreans usually don’t eat Tonkatsu for breakfast but my host mom made it once in awhile (usually on the weekend).

Korean class was a lot of fun today. (I mean, it usually is but today was extra fun!) The first part of the class was our teacher just rushing through the grammar points we couldn’t finish before the final. We didn’t spend too much time on each one but it was still nice to be able to get through the summary of them with our Korean teachers. Also, before class started that day, Sofia and I visited the Morning Glory (a stationary shop) near Sookmyung to buy something to give to our teachers from all of their students. Sofia and I found these really cute apple notebooks and we figured that they would appreciate receiving a little book with letters from all of us. We bought the notebooks and then during every 10-minute break we had, we passed the books to everyone and had them write a short little letter to them in Korean. We eventually finished all the letters at the end of the school day and planned to give it to them during our graduation ceremony the next day.

During the second part of our Korean class, we played a few fun games. My favorite game was this one where we picked one person from our team (We split our class up in half depending on where we were sitting in the class. My team was Nicole, Jodi, Casey, Jesse, and me while the other team was Sofia, Cynthia, Yves, Tucker, Peter, Ariel, and Anna-Kate.) and they were sent to stand in the front of the class. Our Korean teacher would write a word on the whiteboard and then the other team members, the ones sitting down, would try to get the person standing up to say the word. It is basically like the game called hedbanz or the app called Heads Up except nothing is on your head. I got a video of the game and it was so hilarious watching the video back and seeing us struggle with some of the words that were chosen. We had to explain it to them in Korean only and we were not allowed to use gestures (which was hard for me since I always talk with my hands). We played two rounds of this game and the first one up was Jodi for my team and Tucker for the other.

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The word was 울다 (To Cry)

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Such a simple game that results in sooo many laughs~

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Things got a little heated when Peter used English to get Tucker to say the word.

Our teacher just flipped through our textbook and picked random words that we covered. She picked ones from the very beginning of the summer and mostly words that she knew we had trouble with.

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Casey was up next and she dominated!

We also had to break ties quite often because the people up front would not always listen to their team and therefore say the words at the same time. During this round, the word was 특별하다 (To be special) and they both said the word after Jesse made it super obvious by repeating one of the sentences from our textbook dialogues.

After our game, we had another activity where we each got a colored piece of paper with our Korean name written on it. (Some of the kids in the class had a Korean name – like Casey, Yves, and Cynthia – but most of us just had our English names written in Hangul.) We passed the sheets of paper around the class and had everyone sign our paper and write a little message on it. The room was so quiet while we did this and it was really sad as we knew this would be our last day in this very classroom.

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우리 선생님은 너무 귀여워요!~ ❤

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My last 바나나 우유 (Banana Milk) during our class break.

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Our deserted classroom during break time. Except for Cynthia who is sleeping on her desk. This was very common, though, she is in her natural state~ haha

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The Selfie Squad of 나무반

During this last day of school, we also voted on some projects that some of the other classes did. The advanced class made posters for a cool after school club they would have if they had the opportunity to make one. We watched them present them and then voted for our favorites by placing stickers on them. We also did the same thing for one of the beginner classes but I can’t remember what it was for. (It was not for a club though.) I voted for the lovely poster that had a drawing of 김수현 (Kim Soo Hyun) by the lovely Jessica.

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Look how good this is!! ❤ 제시카는 정말 좋은 예술가예요. 김수현은 너무 멋있고 잘 생겼어요~ ❤

After school, we had our last supporter meeting of the program as well as a rehearsal/practice for our graduation ceremony that was going to be held Friday morning. For lunch, Sofia, Angie, and I were feeling some Bingsu. Our diets were made up of Bingsu during the whole summer and we had to eat it as much as we could before we wouldn’t be having it for awhile. So that was why we were being so unhealthy eating bingsu for lunch. (hey, at least our bingsu had fruit on it!)

If you asked me what my favorite bingsu was at the beginning of the summer, I would have told you Injeolmi Bingsu (인절미 빙수). But now that melon bingsu has graced my tongue, I will now say that I understand why all the Koreans were ordering this flavor this summer. Melon Bingsu (메론빙수) is the best bingsu!~

After having our “lunch,” we all split up and went to our meeting spots for our last supporter meeting. I believe Sofia was meeting our supporters at Cafe Areca and I told her how jealous I was! For my last meeting, we were meeting my supporter at our school’s front gate and then we would walk to the cafe together.

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We went to Blind Alley which took a lot of convincing since my supporter Sujin is afraid of dogs and this cafe always has a dog running around. It also has… raccoons!~

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This cafe is very popular for its raccoons. When we went there, there were a lot of Koreans but also another group of foreigners.

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The day was very fun as we spent the meeting just hanging out, talking, and laughing the entire time. We did go over vocab and our recordings which are our requirements but we also had a lot of fun as well. One of the funniest parts of the meeting was Sujin periodically screaming every time Cookie, the puppy, kept coming close to us and running under our table.

I have no idea how my supporter could even be afraid of this puppy. It is the cutest! For our meal, we originally ordered bingsu (haha XD) but the machine ended up being broken so we just ordered and ate honey bread as well as this grilled cheese bagel type thing.

And then… we experienced the raccoons. One of the workers at the cafe went into the room with the raccoons and started playing with them. He then takes the dark-colored one and put it on his shoulder and walked around the cafe allowing everyone to pet it. And then we think he is putting it back into the room (we were sitting right next to the raccoon room) but then he passes our table and places the raccoon on my shoulder. I started “whisper screaming” as he put some feed into my hand and the raccoon started eating out of my palm. After a few seconds, I got used to the creature and just smiled the whole time. It was so fun to be able to hold a raccoon and feed it.

Then throughout the time we were there, he was putting the raccoon on other customers and eventually Jodi, Casey, and even Sujin.

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Sujin only kept the raccoon on her shoulder for a few seconds but we were glad she had even done it at all. When the worker was coming closer to her to put it on her shoulder, she knew what he had in mind and started standing up so he couldn’t do anything. He then tried to reassure her by saying if it bit her, they would give her a free drink. This made Sujin scream even louder and it was too funny for us not to laugh at.

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The lady in the back smiling and laughing at Sujin.

Then, while we were at the counter putting sanitizer on our hands before leaving. A woman, who I presume was the owner, walked in. She was really loud, putting her bag on the counter and then went to go grab the raccoons. Jodi and I were waiting for Casey and Sujin to finish up, the lady put this white raccoon on my shoulder. This raccoon was so hyper and jumpy and I was silently freaking out while it walked down my arm. Then it jumped on Jodi while she was trying to put it back on my shoulder. It was such an interesting but also terrifying experience and we felt so much better when the lady took the raccoon off of us.

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I quickly snapped a photo of Jodi with the raccoon.

After our supporter meeting, we went back to school and had our rehearsal for our graduation ceremony. All the culture clubs practiced what they were gonna do and so did all the talent show acts (including my class doing our parody of Phineas and Ferb). It was not too long and I was able to get home early and have dinner with my host family.

It would be my last dinner with my host family and so we had a very special one. We all ate cold water noodles (물냉면) as well as honey chicken from Kyochon Chicken. This summer I didn’t do too much with my family, activities wise because my host parents were always working and I had school so it was difficult to find time. My host brother was also always doing something with soccer so that made planning things difficult as well. But one thing I will always cherish, however, was all the dinners I ate with my host family. Eating with them and just talking about our days was what I wanted the most from my host family experience.

And that was my LAST Thursday in Korea… my last supporter meeting, my last Korean class, and my last dinner with my host family. But everything made for such great memories and I couldn’t have asked for better last experiences 🙂 Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed~ ^^ 안녕~

엠마 (Emma)

 

Supporter Birthday Party & Din Tai Fung in Myeongdong (명동) August 9th, 2016

In Korean class today (08/09/16), we were reading dialogues in our textbooks. I noticed that the girl in the dialogue was named Sujin (수진) which is my supporter’s name and I crossed out part of the boy’s name out so it would spell Jun (준). Jun is the supporter of Ariel, Yves, and Peter from my Korean class and we usually have supporter meetings in the same location. I showed Jodi and Casey and we laughed and mocked our supporter’s voices while reading the dialogue.

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Casey and I in class (we are actually seatmates!)

Sujin’s birthday was the other day and since she turned one of our meetings into a birthday party for Casey, we had to do the same for her. Better yet, it would be a surprise party! My supporter group (Jodi and Casey) decided to buy her an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins (which I have also never had before). We learned from one of the first supporter meetings that Sujin loves cherry ice cream (because she picked it out when we took the photo for our first weekly photo challenge) and so we had to pick out a cake with cherry ice cream.

 

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Said Weekly Challenge Photo

 

They were selling a really cute cake based on the Kakao characters. They even had an ice cream cake of a Ryan head! They were adorable but the one with all the characters was too big (and really expensive) and the Ryan one wasn’t cherry. We ended up purchasing this cake with pastel hearts which reminded us of Sujin perfectly! We also got a Kakao friends fold out chair which worked great as a gift.

 

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KakaoTalk is a Korean messaging app. The app also has little characters unique to it known as Kakao friends.

 

Casey let me hold the cake (after a lot of promising that I would not drop it) as we walked back up to the entrance of Sookmyung Women’s University and wow was it heavy! We were meeting Sujin at the entrance since she planned to meet at a different cafe for our meeting. However, the girls and I have established a bond with Cafe Areca and we really love the cafe! So when we met up with Sujin and surprised her with the birthday cake, we begged her to let us go back to our home. She texted JT letting him know our change in plans and then we returned to Cafe Areca which would be our last meeting there since our next one (which would be our last supporter meeting EVER) would be at Blind Alley. (It is the cafe known for having raccoons.) So we held our birthday party for Sujin at Cafe Areca.

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The Cake We Picked Out! BTW the pink part of the cake is Cherry!

 

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My Supporter is SOOO Cute ❤

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Supporter Selfie – WE CUTE 😉

We still did our normal studying session but we sped it up and went through the vocab words pretty fast since we spent so much time eating the cake and we had already covered the words in class. The cake was pretty expensive therefore we had to eat all of it before it melted. My favorite part of the ice cream cake were the slices made up of blueberry ice cream and cookies and cream. The cotton candy hearts on the top weren’t too bad either~ This was gonna be our last supporter meeting at Cafe Areca which was very sad. I got used to coming to this cafe so much that I knew where the napkins were, and where to get water, and I felt confident grabbing the bathroom key to head to the bathroom without even having to ask the owner. (I was this confident even after hitting my head on the glass door…) All of this may seem really trivial to any average person but when you are in a foreign country that is so different from your own home, the familiar things can really make you feel at peace and happy. I felt like I belonged in that cafe… if that makes any sense. I really grew to love the cafe so much and I know I will visit it again in the future. I follow the cafe’s owner on Instagram and I always like all their new drinks and pastries that they post about. I already have a list of what I will try next 😉 I have some photos of the cafe just so I wouldn’t forget what it looked like. It was the headquarter for my supporter group for so long ^^

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The chairs do not match whatsoever but… I think that is what gives this cafe its character.

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I miss this cafe already :,(

After the supporter meeting, Jodi, Casey, and I met up with Sofia at the Sookmyung subway station. We decided to head on over to Myeongdong and walk around and hang out there for possibly the last time this summer.

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On The Subway

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Myeongdong (명동)

We walked around, did some window shopping (we all know I can no longer afford to shop!), and ate some street food. Eventually, it started getting dark and we wanted to get some dinner. Sofia recommended that we go to Din Tai Fung which she had been to earlier this month. We had some trouble finding the restaurant at first, but eventually we came across it and Sofia was so proud of herself for remembering the location. However, she also forgot that she had made us go down this sketchy alleyway that was really dark and creepy before realizing we had to go towards the opposite direction. It ended up alright though seeing that the food at Din Tai Fung was phenomenal. Really amazing!

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Look at this cute little steamed dumpling!~

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We ordered an assortment of steamed dumplings. My favorite ones were the shrimp dumplings. They were delicious and I have never had steamed dumplings (xiaolongbao) before. The biggest struggle was not popping them while taking them out of the container. (Something Sofia could not get the hang of.) XD

And that was my Tuesday!~ I hope you enjoyed reading and thank you for reading! Do not forget to subscribe if you enjoy these posts about Korea and are interested in more posts on the subject and on travel in general. 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

 

Best Supporter Meeting Ever! (July 28th, 2016)

This Thursday’s Supporter Meeting was one of the best ones yet. I think I can say this due to all the goofing off we did. We still got everything we had to do done like going over the meeting vocab and recording our answers to the questions, but we had even more fun doing it since we were joking around with our answers. For example, we were asked about our future plans and Jodi’s whole spiel was about how she is going to marry Jonghyun from SHINee. Her and I are in love with SM Entertainment’s boy group named SHINee. My favorite member is Key while hers is Jonghyun. It was hilarious seeing our supporter Sujin’s face while she was trying not to laugh while recording Jodi’s answers. I had to get up from the table and move away since I felt like I was gonna explode with laughter. Moments like these are why I really appreciate my supporter group. I love that we all take our Korean study seriously but we can still have fun with everything. The only ones I felt bad for was the other supporter groups in the cafe because we were pretty loud at times. And the owner of the cafe, he seemed to be amused with our conversation as well since I would look up at him making drinks and he was chuckling under his breath. That was pretty funny too.

For our meeting, like usual, we went to Cafe Areca which is hands down my favorite cafe in Seoul and I know if I get the chance to come back to Seoul in the future, I will definitely come back to this cafe and order my favorite drinks. This time, I ordered a green tea latte which came with this really cute stirring spoon. This cute picture came out of it as well.

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My adorable, good-looking green tea latte ft Jodi ❤

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Favorite Cafe: Cafe Areca

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When I first came in, the cafe was pretty empty. It was usually never filled. I liked it that way.

During the supporter meeting we also had to take our weekly challenge photo for our resident directors JT and Madeline. This week’s theme was Hot Summer and once again the only rule was that everyone had to be in the picture. We finished everything earlier than planned so then we sat around trying to figure out what we should so. Sujin had to be somewhere after the meeting so we needed to make sure it could be taken in the cafe. Jodi, Casey, and I really wanted to win this week’s challenge as we were second last week. Finally, Jodi took out her really cool sunglasses that were reflective so you could see yourself in her glasses. These sunglasses sparked an idea. We all decided to take a photo of two people and then the other two in our supporter group would be in the reflection of the glasses. We took turns taking different pictures and trying different poses until we finally settled on the perfect photo.

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Casey and I Before Our Weekly Challenge Photoshoot

 

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Casey and I Looking Forever Moody

 

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The Picture Jodi Edited And Ended Up Submitting

After the Supporter Meeting, Jodi and I went to a mall of sorts but I have no idea where we went. She just wanted me to come with her for an hour or two before she left to go meet up with a Korean friend who goes to her school but was in Seoul for the summer. We walked around this mall and went to the many floors. Most of the stores there were designer clothes, handbags, and makeup. Jodi and I kept making jokes about how awkward it was walking around with our obvious Hongdae get up.

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One of the Stores I am Talking About

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Jodi Found this Picture of Minho from SHINee and I Had to Take a Photo

Not only that, but at around 9:30 we had a curfew check. So I had never heard of curfew checks before this day and so it was a big surprise when I received the message from our RD JT. All the Nsliyians on my program are on a Kakao group chat with our two RDs and some IEarn staff. The Kakao chat is used by the RDs to message us important information, meeting times for activities and so on. Randomly at 9:30pm, I received a message from JT. At the time, I was studying for my Korean test the next day since it was Thursday night. (We always had tests on Fridays.) I had just eaten dinner and I was just about to get back into the studying zone until I received the message.

So in order for us to be in the clear for this curfew check, we had to take a photo of ourselves in the kitchen with a ladle. For our NSLI-Y program curfew was 9pm on weekdays and so we were expected to be at home at that time. I left my room and tried to explain to my host dad in very awful Korean that I needed to take a photo with them. They immediately said okay but then I had to explain the ladle part of the requirement. I looked up ladle in Korean and now I will never forget it. (And for anyone who is curious… Ladle is 국자 in Korean. Pronounced gook-ja.)

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I was able to get this cute picture out of the curfew check and I was able to take it and send it in the ten minutes JT was allowing us. If we didn’t send it, we would be given a consequence the following day of school (which turned out to just be a stern talking to by JT).

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The funniest part of this photo was my youngest host brother took it as an opportunity to play on the Tablet XD

The curfew check was hilarious as we got to see pictures from so many of the Nsliyians with their host family and their ladles (or rice paddles or normal spoons). It was also super funny when JT would message the people who were not following the exact instructions like Kyle who sent a photo of him in his bed and Joy who sent photos of her host siblings in a restaurant. I spent the next 20 minutes simply laughing at all the photos and messages from everybody. Curfew check definitely distracted me from studying for my tests but it was so worth it to me. I honestly really like this photo of my host family and I and it is the only one I have with my entire host family. (They were not too big on taking photos.)

And that was the curfew check and my Thursday Supporter Meeting! My supporter meeting was a lot of fun and I love learning Korean with my supporter group. They never fail to make me laugh uncontrollably (and the curfew check photos also did not fail to make me laugh at 9:30pm ! )

Thanks for reading this blog post. I hope you enjoyed and if you did, please subscribe to my blog~ 안녕!!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Supporter Group Meeting & Bonding With My Host Brother (July 14, 2016)

Thursday (July 14th, 2016) started off very well! For breakfast I got to try a cool array of fruits that I have never eaten in the United States before.

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I got to try Golden Kiwi and Korean Melon with a side of Honey toast from Paris Baguette.

Class was pretty jam-packed as we would be having our second Korean test the following day. I was assigned two dialogues to read and an entire lesson in my workbook (as well as study for the grammar points that would be on the test). I was feeling kind of stressed so knowing that today was also my first real supporter meeting, was super exciting! I was excited to study Korean with Sujin as well as the other Nsliyians in my group Casey and Jodi.

After class ended, I went out to lunch with Maris, Grace, Teresa, Mckenzie, Rhea, and Sofia. We all went to Waffle House. I ordered a honey and cinnamon waffle for only $2. It was definitely the perfect size to fill me up until dinner.

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After lunch, I met up with Casey and we walked to the meeting place. The cafe where we would be having all of our meetings was Cafe Areca (카페 아레카). When we got there, Sujin hadn’t arrived yet but Jun, another supporter, was already there waiting for his group. Eventually Sujin got there and Jodi was like five minutes late XD This time Casey and I ordered vanilla milk shakes. (They were delicious by the way!) Every Time we had a meeting, there was always only one guy working there. I am assuming he was the owner. He took a long time to make all the drinks but it was worth it. They were very well made.

The meeting was very fun and I think I understood everything very well. But then again, I didn’t understand a lot either! I would always tell Sujin that I understood her and then I would whisper to Casey and ask her what had just happened. It soon became a running joke throughout the meeting. We went through some new vocabulary and grammar points and I even knew most of the grammar. Sujin was really impressed. (Especially because of the many times I couldn’t understand her XD)

Then at the end of the meeting… something stupid, bad, and embarrassing happened. While I was heading to the bathroom, (the bathroom of the cafe was next door on the second floor. You also needed a key to get inside) I ran into the glass door – hard. I literally ran into the door. It made such a loud noise and everyone stared at me at the time it happened. I went through the door and ran up to the bathroom and laughed my head off. I profusely rubbed it like crazy because I did not want a bump on my forehead. To this day, I have never heard the end of it from Casey and Jodi. I messaged them that night with a picture of my bump (which I will not be posting because of its grotesqueness).

After our meeting, we all took our icebreaker photo. (During our Monday meeting earlier that week, our RDs proposed a weekly photo challenge. This week’s theme was Icebreaker. That was the only guideline we recieved. The only rule we had to oblige by was the fact that everyone in our group had to be in the picture.) We bought cherry ice cream from Baskin Robbins for Sujin which is her favorite flavor. Basically, we just took the photo in front of the Baskin Robbins store (we made sure to get Song Joong Ki in the picture). It ended up looking very cute.

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Our Weekly Challenge Photo

I went home right away since I needed to do my homework and study for my tests tomorrow. I ended up getting home around 5:30pm. I got home a little bit later than usual because I took the long way walking home from school so I could look around my neighborhood for a bit. It really amuses me that walking down one street I was passing by very small, family owned restaurants and then one more turn and I was walking past lots of chains like Paris Baguette (Korean Bakery) and even foreign stores like Krispy Kreme.

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Look at all those clouds!

Then at around 8:30pm, I got a call from my host mom. She was telling me to go down to the basement level of the apartment building since I was going out for dinner with my host dad and my youngest host brother. We went out for 삼겹살 (Pork Belly – Korean Barbeque). It was also very tasty! Everyone was staring at me at the restaurant (for the reason that there aren’t many foreigners in the area) but after awhile everyone got used to me.

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The food was good and I had a few things for the first time too! This time I got to try eating the meat with radish. When I first saw it, I thought it was a thinly sliced melon and it tasted like it too. The radish was thin, cool, kinda sweet, and very juicy. It wasn’t till my host dad told me what I was eating when I learned otherwise (Luckily I knew what he said because the word for radish – 무 – is one of the first food vocab I learned. Thank you Korean travel phrasebook! XD haha)

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This is from Google, but the circular green vegetable is the Radish!

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But I mostly ate the meat with simply lettuce.

After eating, my host dad, my youngest host brother, and I walked along this river (maybe?) close to the restaurant. My host dad drove back home while my youngest host brother and I decided to walk back to the apartment (it wasn’t too far at all). It was actually really nice because the weather was cool and it was fun walking along the river. We didn’t talk too much because my Korean skills weren’t very good yet. I talked to him about his hobbies (which we had learned on the first day) and why he liked playing soccer. He asked me about my dream but I could not say what I wanted to do since I didn’t know the word for diplomat at the time even though Sujin told me what it was during our supporter meeting >~< (I know it now though! Diplomat – 외교관). I spend more time with my younger host brother (just because the older brother is never home and on the weekends he always goes to the PC 방 – Computer Room. You go in, pay for how long you will be there, and then play video games all day).

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Stock Photo of a PC 방

The only time I really spend with the older host brother is welcoming him home or waving goodbye when he leaves the house and vice versa. (He does the same for me)

After the walk with my youngest host brother, I rushed back to the desk in my room and continued to study for my test the next day. I ended up staying up till 1am that night. And that was my Thursday in Korea! My first supporter meeting, my first time opening up towards my host brother, and my first time eating 무 with 삼겹살 XD It was great!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Check back soon for another~ Do not forget to follow my blog if you do not want to miss out on my future posts! 안녕!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

 

 

 

First Supporter Group Meeting! (July 12th, 2016)

Tuesday (July 12, 2016) was a really fun day because I met my college student supporter! I would be hanging out with her and two other Nsliyians twice a week for the next 5 weeks. (I will make a post solely about supporter groups in the future.) I was excited to meet my supporter and hang out more with the Nsliyians in my group (Jodi & Casey) because I really hadn’t gotten any chances to hang out with them yet. Especially Casey.

I was very tired at school because I stayed up till midnight the night before writing in my journal. We also got assigned a lot of homework so I was feeling the stress >~< haha    After school, I went out for lunch with Casey, Jodi, and Jane. We went to 김밥천국 (Kimbap Heaven) once again. I have literally been to that restaurant three times already. It is a crowd favorite in my program because the food is delicious and the prices can not be beat! That day I ordered the 계란김밥 (Egg Kimbap). Casey and Jodi ordered Mandu Ramen (만두 라면). Jane ordered a cheese donkatsu but instead they gave her this noodle soup type thing. She was too shy to correct them so she just ate it unhappily (Jane really really wanted to try 치즈 돈까스).

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Egg Kimbap (계란 김밥)

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Casey & Jodi with their Mandu Ramen (만두 라면) & Beef Kimbap (소고기 김밥)

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Jane is a bit washed out haha

After lunch, we started heading back to the school which was the meeting spot for today because our supporter wanted to make sure that we would be able to find the cafe (smart move, I would have probably gotten lost XD). While we were walking we passed by this 7/11 in which I spotted the carp bread ice cream in the freezers outside. We decided to buy ice cream for dessert and I even bought a vanilla cone to give to 수진 (Sujin – our supporter) when we finally met up with her. We were meeting her at the school at 2:40pm. When we first met her, it was very awkward. Everyone was nervous, even chatty Jodi! haha However, I think the ice cream was a good way to break the ice.

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My delicious ice cream!

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Our meeting spot in front of the school

We all walked to this Cafe for our meeting. The name of the cafe was Cafe Areca and it had a really good atmosphere.

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Storefront

Our first meeting was just going over the schedule for the next few weeks. Sujin also showed us the layout of each of the meetings where we would be studying Korean. Once that was done, our supporter bought us drinks from the cafe (they get a stipend to spend on food and drinks for the meetings). I ordered a banana chocolate smoothie. Eventually we pushed some tables together in the cafe and formed a huge group with my supporter group (수진, jodi, Casey, and I), and two other supporter groups (준 (Jun) with Peter, Ariel, Yves & 다영 (Dayoung) with Mckenzie & Sarah). Jun’s group was made up of my 나무 반 classmates while Dayoung’s group was made up of Nsliyians from one of the beginner Korean classes.  Once they joined us, we played some icebreaker games. We shared our name, hometown, and one of our hobbies. We also played this name memorization game which was very similar to the picnic game where you have to remember what everyone brought to the picnic. Then we played Never Have I Ever and I lost one of the games so my supporter Sujin had to flick me in the forehead (classic Korean punishment). However, she didn’t do it hard at all which was good for my forehead. I also flicked Yves in the head as one of his punishments since he picked me to the deliver the pain. (mwahahahaha!)

After the supporter meeting I took a different route home on the subway line so I could spend some more time with Casey but It ended up taking me a lot longer to get home. I ended up going home right after the meeting since I had so much homework to do for the next day and it wouldn’t hurt me to study some more. I ate dinner with my host family as usual and then went to bed after writing in my journal.

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Cool staircase with Hangul in the Subway

Even though today was awkward at times, I had a lot of fun meeting my supporter. I am really excited to improve my Korean and be able to have more meaningful conversations with her. I can totally see us really getting close and I hope we do! I can’t wait for Thursday!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed!~ 안녕!!!

  • 엠마 (Emma)