Heyri Art Village (헤이리 마을), Provence Town (프로방스 마을), and other Shenanigans in 파주시 (04/26/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

04/26/19 Friday

Today was the last day that Katie and I would have off for our midterm week and so we had to end off the week with a bang! To do this, we decided to go on a trip to 헤이리 예술 마을 (Heyri Art Village) with some of the 대원외고 students: Jenna, Shada, Josh, Liam, and Harmony. This particular place was not too far from me as I live on the edge of 고양시 in the 일산 neighborhood so if I could drive, it would have been a less than 20 minute drive to the village. I could not for the life of me figure out how to take a bus from my station to one of the gates of the village so I gave up and decided to go the way everyone else was— meeting at 합정역 and from there, transferring onto one of those big buses for an hour or and driving up to 파주시. But even though it was kind of an illogical way for me to travel, I enjoyed the extra time with my friends.

Cool kids at the BACK of the bus! W/ Liam & Harmony

We met early in the morning so that we could get to the village by 10 am in order to have ample time to explore everything. The bus that we rode on was not your usual city bus and more like a type of shuttle bus. One thing that was cool about the bus was that it had a seat counter. Every time someone swiped their card, the seat counter would subtract a seat. I thought this was honestly really innovative so that you could see if there were seats before you got on—especially considering there really wasn’t any room to stand. I sat in the very back of the bus with Harmony and Liam and after about an hour of travel, we made it to 헤이리 예술 마을. 

It was a bit colder than anticipated (and it started to rain) when we arrived so we wanted to hurry and make our way into a cafe or museum but because we had gotten there so early, most things were closed.

We found this one open bakery that was really nice. It had a very warm and rustic atmosphere to it and the pastries all looked delicious (but the prices were not cheap). I ended up buying some chestnut bread that also had raisins and dried cranberries inside. It was the cheapest thing I could find but it was also good nonetheless. We all hung out there for a bit chatting, waiting for some time (and the rain) to pass. 

To be honest…these looked better than they tasted. Should have bought one of those Shrek-lookin gingerbread bears!

I then get a message from 민정쌤 about a missing PowerPoint from 3반 who promised to prepare one for community service event the following day. I told her that we would do it by three as Josh and I expected to go to a cafe after lunch to work on it but 민정쌤 got mad and scolded us for not giving it to her by the deadline. She started saying that she knows we all have things we still want to do in Korea but we can’t ignore our work since this is a scholarship program. It made me feel really bad and guilty that I almost started to cry. Josh realized my feelings and we ended up deciding to finish the presentation right then and there while the others just walked around for a bit until we were done. We made our PowerPoint in record time and then left to explore the village with the rest of the students. 

We went to walk around a park and found this red cherry shaped statue with the phrase “Love’s Fruit” written on one side. I recognized the statue which made me start looking around until I saw the familiar sight of the front of a cafe.

I kept walking closer until I was sure. I started screaming to Katie and I pulled her over to the cafe and pointed at the doorway that had a statue of a creepy doll. It took Katie a few seconds before she realized. We had both been to this cafe before! My host family took us after we had dinner at our favorite 짬뽕 place in 파주시. I couldn’t believe that we had technically come out here and I had no idea! 

Harmony brought her DSLR camera so we took lots of photos in front of the statue and with the scenery surrounding the park. It was a lot of fun! We took some serious, good shots while also sprinkling in ones with ridiculous poses for good measure. I will admit that the 대원외고 kids have mastered the straight face/sexy model poses better then us 하나고 girls… we will have to work on it. 

After taking photos wiped us clean of our energy, we decided to make our way to Provence Town which is a French themed town right next to the art village.

gloomy weather… but it still had its charm

Honestly, I think I liked this area the best! It took us about twenty minutes to walk there and it did start raining while we were on our way, but the effort put forth in trying to find it was definitely worth it. The town had all these beautiful brightly colored buildings and lots and lots of greenery. I don’t know if everything was exactly “French-looking” but it was at least very fairy tale-like if anything.

For lunch we ended up going to this place that had special lunch sets which came with soup, garlic bread, a drink, and then a main course being either pasta or 돈카쓰 (I ended up choosing the latter because it was 3 dollars cheaper—honestly the cost of things really affect what I purchase!) The soup we had was mushroom which I haven’t eaten in so long. And even though the garlic bread was sweet, I enjoyed it nonetheless. The portion sizes were huge so Liam ended up eating a lot of my meal.

 Afterward, we walked around more and enjoyed the views of the area before finding a cafe to chill in for a bit. Harmony and I were going to film a YouTube video on the rooftop of a cafe.

We came to the this particular cafe because the outside was absolutely gorgeous with light blue walls and flowers and ivy growing along the side. I’m not sure if it was because it was Friday (afternoon) or because it’s usually not too packed but no one was there! Literally there was probably one table filled on the first floor and then both the second and third floor were empty. We had the rooftop all to ourselves! It was so nice! 

Laughing Photos ❤

We filmed the video, ate some macaroons, took some artsy photos (You can decide whether you deem the attached photos artsy enough but I believe that they are some museum grade stuff.) After hanging out for a bit, we left and took the bus back to 홍대 this time. The others planned to head to a 찜질방 near 이화 but I was supposed to have dinner with my host sisters so I decided to just head home after getting off at 홍대. 

The bus ride was a lot of fun, though. The hour went by really quickly as we all talked the whole time and spilled some of our most embarrassing moments. (I told them about the day I ran into a glass door during my NSLI-Y summer program—that blog linked here—and a few other things that will not be spoken about on the internet. 

I used slang with my friend 호영 and his reaction killed me. I showed my host sisters his messages during our dinner together and they were so impressed by me 😉 IYKYK

Well, that is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~~ Thanks for reading !! Do not forget to subscribe for more~ I still have some interesting posts to share!

  • Emma 엠마 

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!

Random Class 6

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

TempleStay in South Korea (2 Days & 1 Night) (3/23-24/19) NSLI-Y Korea AY

3/23/19 Saturday 

Katie and I woke up around 8:30 am today to start getting ready to spend the weekend outside of our homes. She ended up basically not packing any clothes so she borrowed a T-shirt, some sweatpants, and even socks from me. (Which, while writing this, have still not been returned to me… Katie!!!!) We had to meet the rest of the NSLI-Y program at the subway station around 12 so we needed up heading to a bakery in the shopping mall next to my train station for some starchy breakfast. I didn’t end up taking a photos of the bread we ended up sharing but here are some really cute croque monsieurs (Shoutout to Kaitlyn for sharing my first one with me a while ago and bestowing upon me knowledge of such a great French carb!) that have heart cut outs in the bread! 

Apparently when we got to the station, it was raining really hard and only one NSLI-Yian brought an umbrella so 민정쌤 ran out to the closest convenience store and bought us all rain ponchos. All the students were wearing rainbow colored plastic coats that highly resembled gummy bears… you could say we came in an assorted batch of colors and flavors. What made this really funny was that when we made our way outside once the final student was accounted for, it was basically not raining at all—if anything it was just a light drizzle. But hey, at least we looked ridiculous all together! 

We took this one tiny bus where we all almost didn’t even have room to stand let alone breath but after a quick ten minutes, we arrived at the temple: 길상사. We were not allowed to have our phones out during the program because they were locked up during the duration of our stay so the photos that I took last up until this point. (Though I will scatter them throughout this blog post so photos are not only concentrated on one part.) Plus, there was a professional photographer that took photos of us, so I have those shots as well! 

templestay 1

On the walk there, we passed a famous statue of Korean comfort women from the Japanese occupation of the peninsula. The community (?) dressed the women up warmly for the cold winter weather with hats and scarves.

templestay 3

The first order of business was giving up our most worldly possessions (cell phones and wallets) and then we went and changed into our Buddhist attire which consisted of these really baggy sweatpants type bottoms and then a corduroy vest that went over whatever top we were already wearing. 

During the beginning of the templestay, we met the main workers and volunteers for the day and the monk that would be taking us through our journey of experiencing Buddhism. We started off learning about the rules of the temple aka the rules we also must abide by while we are here. Most of them were common knowledge like being respectful, peaceful, no phones, etc but others were new to me. I knew that many Buddhists didn’t eat meat (so we would be eating vegetarian all weekend) but I didn’t know that you were required to finish everything that you put on your plate. Also, during the duration of the stay, we were supposed to try our best to be silent but that didn’t last very long…

We were doing the program along with another group of foreigners (a couple European exchange students from SNU) and then several other native Koreans; although, foreigners definitely outnumbered the Koreans. 

It was at this time that we also learned how to properly bow like a Buddhist would in a temple and also how to create the 합창 pose– which is just the post of putting your hands in a prayer-like formation.

The first activity of the day was to take a tour of the temple grounds. We provided our own interpreter aka 소영쌤 for our programming but for the tour part, we switched her out with one the of the volunteers whose English was fluent and almost 100% natural. She was definitely thankful about that because earlier the Monk was being quite a savage to her when she couldn’t quite translate everything (Especially when Josh would shout things out from the crowd to help her out). The volunteer actually attended 대원외교 and so he bonded over that with the rest of the NSLI-Y kids attending that school. 

templestay 6

One of the more interesting parts of the tour was when we found out that this temple actually started out as a high class restaurant/ alcohol joint for rich men and politicians. There were also usually female performers to entertain the men that came to drink. The lady that ran the place was very rich as the place brought in a lot of revenue but she ended up giving it to one of the monks at the temple, after begging them for years to take the location.

templestay 13

This unique characteristic is why some of the buildings and the makeup of grounds is not exactly representation of most Buddhist temples. When 소영쌤 was translating this fact earlier, she called the place a high-class bar. Everyone was a bit confused so when we actually got to see where people would drink (and where the females would change), the volunteer rephrased the explanation of the place so we wouldn’t be confused. (So, in conclusion, the place was not as seedy as a normal bar.)

templestay 26

We walked around a bit more to see the rooms in which the monks sleep in and mediate in and the main temple where the monks (and visitors to the place) can go and pray. We also were showed two statues that our tour guide really made sure to emphasize that they symbolized religious harmony. One of them was donated by a rich white Christian to the temple while the other depicted Mary. 

templestay 21

After our tour, we learned how to mediate like a monk. This involved a demonstration of hand positions and breathing techniques and then all of us trying out meditation for ourselves. The monk walked around us carrying this large wild stick (Don’t you love my descriptions?) and showed us how he would hit people if they fell asleep during mediation time. He ended up showing off the stick’s power (it sounded like it hurt badly but apparently it was not that hard) on Alix, Jacquelyn (good foreshadowing) and 민정쌤. I am going to be honest, it was really difficult for me not to fall asleep while sitting there. I was tired and toasty from wearing so many layers and so I definitely felt myself nodding off at times. (Luckily, he never caught me) Although I will say even when I wasn’t fighting with sleep, I couldn’t mediate very well.. I kept the thinking of other things—my mind was racing with thoughts about everything and anything. I wouldn’t be a good monk for sure. 

templestay 16

Picture of me meditating…or was I dozing off at this point?

Eventually dinner time rolled around and it was time for us to experience Buddhist food—very simple ingredients, no meat, not much seasoning, and very healthy. In Buddhism there are actually a lot of different words for things that differ from plain-spoken Korean. For example, meal time is called 공약. And like I mentioned previously, the food you take is all the food that you need to eat! Monks do NOT waste food. 

Unfortunately, since there was no cameras or phones allowed, I can’t exactly remember what we were given to eat… what I can remember was that there was soup, different types of 김치 and vegetable 반찬, batter covered mushrooms and other root vegetables, rice, watermelon, and traditional rice cakes. Every single person had to wash their own plate and silverware at the end of the meal. 

After dinner, we had an evening Buddhist service in which we got to bow along with the monks at the temple as they had their nightly pray session. We were given pamphlets to follow along with what they were chanting but regardless of the fact that I can read Korean, I was confused at what page to be looking at. Either way, we all got to participate by bowing along with the monks.

We also did walking meditation after this which although it was very cold, I really enjoyed just mindlessly walking around the temple grounds. Compared to sitting meditation, I was able to let loose of more my thoughts during this exercise—maybe because I wasn’t as tired and because I had just eaten and was in a very calm and satisfied mood. 

We got the chance to talk with a different monk and ask him all his questions during a tea time session. We were given plum tea and a bunch of 약과 and assorted nuts. I was able to understand a lot more of what the monk said (before the volunteer translated) which made me quite proud. I could not imagine how I much I would have understood after only being here for a little while (say back during first semester).

We finished off the night with a movie documentary on a famous monk: 법정스님. It was interesting seeing how he lived his life as a monk. One thing that I thought was interesting was that he was highly judged by his parents. They had paid so much money for him to get a college education (not an easy feat now and not an easy feat then either) and he decided to leave the academic world behind and become a monk. But because of this tension, he did not help his family at all once he started earning money from the royalties off of his bestselling books. He had some ask for help but he basically cut them off completely. Instead, he would donate a lot of money to students who were struggling to pay for their college tuition and were near having to drop out. 

We all got ready ready for bed and slept on mats on top of the heated floor. I was expecting it to be rather uncomfortable but honestly, it was one of the best rests I have had in awhile. I think that sleeping on the floor is really good every once in awhile! I definitely do not mind it. I fell asleep right away and the next thing I knew… it was three in the morning.

3/24/19 Sunday

The lights slowly turned on and a bell began to sound. I looked around the room and watched everyone stir awake. No one had their phones so we could not tell that it was 3 in the morning but our bodies definitely were aware of this fact. We got up, changed, washed up a little, and then headed out for the early morning Buddhist service in the temple. Like the evening service, we got our own mats at the side of the temples and were given pamphlets to follow along with the monks. We finished off the service with another round of walking meditation around the temple grounds. This one, in comparison to the last, was actually very relaxing for me. Maybe it had to do with the fact that it was the morning and I was too tired to think of anything else but I was able to just watch my feet while I walked and forget about the world around me. It was very nice.

The next program on our schedule had been highly anticipated since the beginning. We would be doing 108 prostrations or bows. This involved bowing in the right way that was taught to us during the temple etiquette presentation and with every time we came down to the floor, we strung a brown bead (handmade, completely unique bead! You cannot find them/buy them anywhere else. You can only obtain them by doing a templestay!) on a string that would later become a necklace. We were told that with every bead strung onto the string, we were saying goodbye to a temptation, something bad in our lives, worries, etc. I found this activity very peaceful and I actually enjoyed being able to count out everything that had been consuming my mind recently. I metaphorically imagined myself saying goodbye to all my worries: not reaching my desired Korean level, confidence issues, not making friends in college, struggling with grades in college, homesickness, trust issues, my friends moving on without me in their lives, not being able to find true love, negative body image, missing out on a dream job of mine, etc. (Was that information too intimate? Oh well…)

It felt good feeling like I was releasing them into something else. I also figured that the 108 bows would be more tiresome than they were. I felt wobbly by the end (my legs) for sure but I did not really break a sweat. By the end of the activity, I was able to look at my necklace, and its 108 beads, with pride. I had done that. I had made this with my own hands and it definitely was not easy. When I got home, I hung it on my vanity mirror and I cannot help but smile when I look at it every day.

templestay 12

The finished product!~

We had breakfast after which consisted of 죽 (porridge), 잡체, spicy tofu, salad, lots of 반찬, and apples. It was all very clean tasting~ The next activity of the day was community work. For this part of the morning, we returned to the temple that we prayed at earlier and “cleaned” the mats that you kneel on while bowing. This process involved taking the mats out of the temple (assembly line style) and patting/smacking the dust off of them outside and then placing them back into stacks inside the temple against the wall. 

templestay 24

Smiling faces after accomplishing the task!

To work off some of the breakfast, we did temple yoga next which was not exactly like my yoga classes in high school; this yoga was definitely centered more on stretching and breathing. It  was a nice final session to end this program before we wrote our reflections and got ready to leave the temple. 

templestay 25

Last Photo of our TempleStay experience!

Katie and I went back to my house together so that she could pick up her bags. We ate lunch together at the shopping mall near my apartment– at 홍익 돈까스 to be exact, sharing 돈까스 and tomato pasta.

We also dropped by a cafe where I bought Katie bread for getting into UCLA!!! Congratulations Katie! ❤ We hung out there to study and chat for a bit before we both returned to our respective homes for dinner.

templestay 9

This bread’s name was 남편보다 더 달콤한 빵 (Sweeter than your husband bread)

My host mom was not feeling well and my sisters were out so I ended up eating dinner by myself in my room that night while I was studying. It was a very chill Sunday night. Although I did no actual work or studying during the templestay, it was still quite draining yet rejuvenating at the same time. Probably one of the biggest examples of something contradicting itself but hey that is how the world works sometimes!

templestay 10

That is all for this blog post! It is a very long one… more than 2,500 words yikes! If you got through all of it then… thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it! I really had an amazing experience doing the templestay. I am so glad that we were able to get approved by Better World as it truly was such a unique and eye-opening experience. Especially because a lot of Buddhist values can be seen in aspects of the Korean culture even to this day! 여러분 기회가 있으시면 꼭 템플스테이를 해보세용~ Alright BYE!

  • Emma 엠마

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

03/07/19 Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Lovely teacher!

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

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Andy is such a mood

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

02/22/19 Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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02/23/19 Saturday

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

Last Supporter Meeting, 미소국수, Research Project Presentation, and Night Out in Hongdae with the Supporters (02/14-02/15/19) NSLI-Y AY

02/14/19 Thursday

Thursday was our very last supporter meeting before our project presentation happening the very next day. We had to have our PowerPoint slides and video done by that afternoon, so as one might guess, it was a very hectic morning at Holly’s Cafe. I stayed up really late the night before editing the video to the point where I could edit no more {because I was lacking in audio recordings from Katie} so I actually had actual coffee at the cafe—yes a surprise. No Green Tea Lattes today, no sir. 

The two hours of the meeting went by really fast as we were busy working the whole time. I was able to finish our video and although it is no professional YouTube quality video, it was good enough for us! We also put the final touches on our presentation and split up the speaking points—timing everything to make sure it was under 10 minutes. 

At the end of the meeting, 혜린언니 surprised Katie and me with little gift bags she prepared. They each included a little pig keychain {she did not know this at the time but my favorite animals are pigs!}, a mirror, and a little handwritten letter. It was the sweetest gesture and at the time I felt extremely guilty for not having anything prepared for her. But Katie and I planned to meet early the following morning to get her a gift! 

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We ended up not having the chance to get lunch together because I had to finish writing an essay for Korean class {which ended up not being due then… but the following class period…ugh} and Katie wanted to cram more for her vocab test so we promised each other to grab lunch before the presentation day! 

I have literally no recollection of Korean class today and I ended up going straight home after class too {Oh I just realized… it was Valentine’s Day this day… well, no surprise… no dates for me.} So the rest of the night was just spent having dinner with my host family and studying Korean. I also took a quick run to Artbox {bless it only being a 5-minute walk from my apartment complex} to buy 언니 a letter set. I planned to get up early and go to a cafe before meeting Katie to write everything down. 

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02/15/19 Friday

On the subway ride to 홍대, I typed out what I wanted to write to 혜린언니 out on a Google Doc and hastily wrote it all out at Holly’s. Katie and I met up with each other about an hour later and went around buying stuff for her gift. We settled on a blind box of this one naked baby angel toy called Sonny Angel {We chose it because she always is calling us her babies since she is older than us.} as well as a strawberry tart from Blanc bakery because she as always mentioning wanting to try one of their cakes but never got the chance. We didn’t buy a cake cause it looked too sweet for her, but we did think that a fruit tart would please her. 

We met up with 혜린언니 at the subway station and we all walked together to get lunch at this restaurant called 미소 국수 {smile noodles} and I had really good 만둣국수. It was nice to hang out and finally feel relieved—as if a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders—since the project was now officially over. No more due dates! Just showtime during the presentation.

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Her reaction to our gift was the cutest!~

Listening to everyone’s presentations was actually really interesting. I was excited to see what they all ended up coming up with as their final work and some of them were so creative in how they delivered the information. For example, Pansori Vs. Kpop group {Hunter, Kaitlyn, and Shannon} had this really nicely edited video with clips of performances, interviews, news shows, etc. Honestly, at first, it seemed to be a real documentary on Korean music: old and new. Also, the group that had plastic surgery {Liam & Harmony} actually had them giving their supporter a fake double eyelid surgery in the video with scrubs, medical masks, and even tools! It was so realistic and I could not stop laughing at Doctor Harmony asking Liam for the scalpel. 

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Harmony thought it was hilarious to play with my hair and put it in pigtails!!

I think that my group did such a great job on our presentation! I believe that it was really informative and was able to shed light on a topic that many aren’t really aware regarding Korean society. My edited video could not compare to Hunter’s masterpiece but hey it did the job! And I think everyone liked the images and political cartoons I included from Korean sources. I will admit that adding the English subtitles gave me more work; however, I believe it was worth it! I think that everything was able to hit harder because all the American students were able to understand. 

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I won Playdoh for answering a question right and Katie made a pretty rose out of the clay!

After all the presentation were over, the Better World staff members gave out awards for each of the groups. They said that the awards weren’t really serious… that they were funny awards. Well, I will let you decide what you think about the awards: rough patch, book worm, tried their best, etc. My group 독립여성 {Independent ladies} got the award for … beautiful face {아름다운 면상}. I mean I’m flattered they think we are pretty but… this would have been more clever with the plastic surgery group. I don’t know… I thought we would get an award that really related to our topic/effort put in…

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Besides awards, we also received our certificates of achievement {for successfully completing the research project} which consisted of us coming on stage and presenting the certificate to one other person in our group and saying a few words {we did it first and said it all in Korean}. We also had time to write out reflections and a few extra things for a booklet that would be made to include all of our presentations. 

Once the final commencement was made, we all went to have dinner together at this chicken place near the Better World office where we ate chicken and 떡볶이. A big group of girls {Katie, 혜린언니, 유빈언니, Harmony, 은하언니, Shannon} and I went to a 노래방 and then got sticker photos done. It was a lot of fun! The place we went to for the karaoke was one of those fancy buildings on the Main Street of 홍대 that you can look into and see all the people dancing and singing sound in the large plush rooms with velvet couches! It was my first time being at anything like that before. 

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After saying goodbye to everyone, 혜린언니, Katie, and I headed to the hot chocolate cafe to just chat some more before having to go home to be back in time for curfew. I figured that since I was out for the night {and since I rarely stay out till curfew on weekends}, that I was gonna stay out as long as possible! 

And that is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed~~ This was my third to last week of winter break! Oh, how time has just continued to fly on by! I hope you enjoyed this post. Till next time~ 

  • Emma 엠마

Day in the Life: NSLI-Y Korea Academic Year Student (Gap Year) 2018-2019 Edition

Due to the popularity of this same type of post that I made for my experiences from the Korea Summer Program (Day in the Life: Korea Summer Edition Linked Here~~~) and the immense amount of questions I have gotten from friends, family members, and prospective applicants, I have decided to once again try my hand at making a Day-in-the-Life blog post for the Academic Year NSLI-Y Program.

Disclaimer: There is NO average day on the NSLI-Y program. And with me in Korea, there were 15 other students on the program and not one of them probably had my exact same routine (or the rough schedule my more ‘average’ days seemed to follow). An average day honestly depends on your host family (their lifestyle, schedule, etc), location (some students end up being placed in 인천 or 고양시– not 서울), host school (Whether you have a more specialized host school or one that is more similar to an average Korean high school), the time of year (weather, holidays, etc), program activities (cultural excursions, obligations, etc) and also how you are feeling!! Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this blog post… and I will just get on with my average day!!^^


6:00-6:30 am – Every single weekday I woke up at 6:00-6:30am in order to get ready for the school day ahead. During the NSLI-Y AY program, I attended a Korean high school Monday-Friday (but left early on days that I had Korean class). My wake up time highly depended on how tired I was, whether or not I was wearing my full uniform that day (or the casual sweatpants that were basically pajamas), my desire to eat breakfast, and the location of my host family.

With my first host family, my host mother woke up extra early every morning to get breakfast ready for me which usually consisted of rice, some type of soup, and side dishes. (By the end of the fall semester I ended up just warming up my breakfast myself to allow her to catch some more Zs.) When I stayed with my second host family, I would usually have a bowl of cereal every morning with the occasional addition of fruit or yogurt since my host family had a later schedule.

 

6:38-6:53 am – Around this time I would be scrambling out of my house after rushing to finish my breakfast without choking (or burning my tongue…rip my love for hot soup paired with my utter lack of patience) to the subway station. To be honest, although I would have appreciated more stress-free strolls to the subway station (one thing to look forward to on the weekend), I loved the walk–or the light paced jog–in the morning because I always would wonder what the new day would bring me. Also, one plus of having to leave so early for school was that the sunrise would also greet me every morning!

 

When I lived with my first host family, I took a regular train at around 7 am with an 8-minute walk to the station. When I lived with my second host family, I took an express train at 6:42 am (if not…I would have to take a normal train at 6:27 am!!) and transfer once (at the dreaded 대곡역… war flashbacks…) with a 3-minute walk to the subway.

7:20-7:30 am – Katie and I usually met up at 7:20 every morning to take a 15-ish minute long bus ride to our high school. We liked arriving at our high school by 7:40 to 7:50 because that allowed us time to sit and chill in the hallways before homeroom. (Sometimes to rant or freak out too if we had nerves or complaints about whatever.) Though occasionally we missed our ‘early’ trains and ended up meeting at 7:30 am.

 

8 am – At our Korean high school, homeroom started at 8 am and lasted for around 10 minutes though sometimes homeroom teachers would let us head to our first class early if there were not any announcements (Unlike most Korean high schools, the students at our school would switch classrooms every period rather than having teachers come to each individual homeroom). Our teacher would usually update students on any upcoming events, or things to turn in, or information on examination periods. She also often would give pep talks to the students to encourage them to keep studying hard! Sometimes we would watch a broadcast video that was run by actual students that would show the daily meals, any special info on the school day, and even the weather. (But more often than not the projector seemed to not be working so our teacher would just do the talking.)

 

8:20-12:10 pm – The first 4 periods of Korean high school classes in the morning.

Each period lasted for 50 minutes and then there was a 10 minute passing period or 쉬는 시간 (break time/resting time). Most of the classes I took were lecture-based, usually involving students taking notes or reading straight from the textbook. (I want to make a post more specific to my experience at 하나고. When that is finally written, I will link that right here~~ This post will discuss the classes I took and go into more details on the Korean education system: or at least a side of it that I was able to partake in at my host high school.)

 

 

During break time, most students would run and buy snacks at the 매점 (or school store) or just take naps. At first, I did not understand how they could sleep for such a short amount of time but by the end of the semester, I too was also sleeping during breaks.

 

12:10-1:00 pm –  We were allotted around 50 minutes for lunch (including the ten minute passing period) However, there was kind of a hierarchy based on your school year that determined when you could go into the lunchroom. I am not sure if this was exactly monitored or simply done out of respect of the older kids, but the younger students adhered to it pretty well. Third years (seniors) were allowed to start their lunchtime first while second years had to wait till 12:20–at least–and first years were not allowed to enter the 급식실 (cafeteria) until 12:30 pm.

 

If Katie and I had Korean class (Monday, Tuesday or Thursday) we would have to leave our high school around 12:40 so that we could catch the right buses and subways to make it to class on time. If we ate with our friends, we would end up scarfing our food down fast (with little time for conversation). Or, we would just leave school right after 4th period and get lunch at the convenience store or local street market. (Also on certain special days, we would get 녹차호떡 (green tea pancakes) from our favorite street vendor.

 

 

On Wednesdays and Fridays, we were able to stay for the entire lunch period and take our time eating. Honestly, school meals often get a bad reputation but that clearly does not apply to our Korean high school because most of the time the food was delicious! (Minus a couple of times that they would serve weird meat patties and fries with a sweet glaze to pass off as a foreign meal if you will…I shudder at the memory.)

 

2:00-5:00/6:00 pm – Our Korean classes were on Monday and Tuesday from 2 pm until 5 pm and on Thursdays, we had an extra hour till 6 pm.

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If we did not have class, we would stay at school for the remaining 3-4 periods until 3 or 4 pm. (On Wednesdays, school got out an hour earlier because some weeks club meetings would be held on those days. I participated in an Economics & Business centered club called BSRA: Business Strategy Research Association.)

Sometimes after Korean high school, Katie and I would go to a nearby cafe and study together (We had our two favorites: one near my home station and the 한옥 Twosome Place across the street from our high school). We were usually very tired after the long days of Korean high school and would tend to go home right after studying. (This definitely applied more to the first semester, however.) Occasionally, we would also go out (Always bringing a change of clothes because wearing our uniforms in public was not our favorite look when not in school…)

 

I also would like to do a more detailed blog post on my Korean classes for the year program because they were a tad bit different in comparison to my summer class (So when that is published, I will link it here~~). Our class periods were 50 minutes and we had 10-minute breaks in between them. I was in 3반 (Third Class) which was the highest level class and also the smallest with only three students. (The other two being Jacquelyn & Josh). We had one teacher and used the Ehwa Korean language textbooks.

 

7:00-7:30 pm – After class ended, we were off from any obligations from the program (usually). Every other Monday we would have Bi-weekly meetings which meant meeting at the youth center to hear updates and announcements from 민정쌤 our resident director.

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If I decided to go home right away, I would usually end up getting back to my host family’s home by 7:00-7:30 and that is around the time I would have dinner with my host family. I was lucky enough to have two amazing host families that really took the time to make sure that I was able to eat dinner with the whole family (or at least with someone if there were other plans). My first host family had young children so it was a bit easier to sit down with everyone but even with my second host family, the dinners I would have with my sisters and with my host mom were always wonderful. (Both my host mothers–and even my older host sisters and first host dad–were amazing cooks! I was very spoiled and I grew to have favorite dishes from each family.)

(For example, while living with my host family, I loved 김밥 (seaweed rolls), 김치지깨 (kimchi stew), 볶음밥과 계란 (fried rice with eggs) and 잡채 (sweet potato glass noodles). With my second host family, I came to love 콩나물국밥 (bean sprout porridge?), 해물파전 (seafood pancake), 순두부지깨 (tofu stew), and 짬뽕 (spicy seafood (Chinese style) noodles.)

 

8:00-9:30 pm – If I stayed out with NSLI-Y friends or in-country friends on the weekdays, It would usually involve just grabbing a simple dinner or going to a cafe (maybe a trip to a 노래방–karaoke–to let off some steam or bottled up energy). Curfew was 9:30 pm so I would promptly always be home by then~

 

If I was not out and about exploring what Korea had to offer, I was most likely home on that study grind: working on homework, presentations, memorizing vocabulary, etc. When I was not studying, (because let us be real… I practiced self-care on the program!) I was most likely on my phone, writing my blog entries, chilling watching Disney shows with my younger siblings, playing board games, playing with Andy (my host dog), or watching Netflix or Youtube.

 

11:30 pm-12:00 am – I would say I definitely did not go to bed as late as I often did in high school because I always just felt so much more tired in Korea. (Probably cause learning another language and being immersed in said language is a lot for anyone). So I would try to get in my bed as early as I could and to be honest when I had no plans on the weekends (or no Korean class the following day)… I would even go to sleep as early as 9 pm!

(I would say this post is more of an average (week)day in my life as an AY NSLI-Y student in Korea because there really are not any average weekend days.)


Alright, that is the end of this here blog post! I hope that it was very informative and hopefully entertaining to read through. I tried to add relevant photos throughout to keep things interesting. (Some being never-before-seen photos as they have yet to debut on my blog!) I also have plans to make another version of this post for winter break because the research project and community service really shake things up then, and I think it would be interesting to talk about that as well! Our winter break followed more of the Summer program schedule I would say.

Well, I hope you enjoyed (once again!) Thanks for reading. If you have any questions for me at all, feel free to comment or email me. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Thank You! Until next time!~

  • 엠마 (Emma)

Emart Adventures & A Fancy Dinner: Sushi and Oreo Cereal (01/18/19) NSLI-Y Korean AY

01/18/19 Friday

I had no plans for Friday but I really wanted to make it a very productive day (for both my Korean studies and for my blog) so I ended up going over to 공덕역 to hang out at a cafe with Katie. We went to a Tous Les Jours (French-inspired bakery) cafe and studied there for about 3 hours. We both bought a Garlic Naan for lunch (which was a little sweet–like most bread in Korea–but nonetheless, it was delicious.

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I also gave Katie her very very late Christmas gift (part 2) which consisted of a rainbow dream catcher, dolphin name stickers, Instagram photo printouts, and candy (Strawberry Tiramisu Kit Kats and a Cookies & Cream Hershey Bar). At the cafe, I started on my workbook work and tried catching up on blog posts (because I was several days late). I enjoyed hanging out with Katie while also getting some work done. We may not have talked a whole lot but it is just nice being in each others company when we are trying to be productive.

After going to the cafe with Katie, I made sure to be able to come home on time for dinner with my host family. My host sisters came back from their 학원 around 7 pm and then we left to go to Emart to buy some food in preparation for a party tomorrow. (My host sisters planned a party with their 학원 students. They would be coming over to play, hang out, have lunch and then they would take them all to go sledding! I would be coming with too!) Emart is basically like the Korean Costco (that was how my older sister explained it anyhow) and I agree with it. The set up of the store was like a Costco or Sam’s Club and there were plenty of free samples of things like shrimp, breaded hot dogs, fish cake soup, etc.

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At the store, we ended up buying lots and lots of meat for the kids! I am talking slabs of 삼겹살, sausages, bacon, and fried shrimp. Actually, the bacon was something that shocked me. Usually, when you order things with bacon in it in Korea, you will instead receive some kind of chopped up ham/spam situation rather than real American bacon that probably comes to mind. At this store, they had the real same-branded bacon you can find in American grocery stores but it was so expensive! Like $15 a pack! I am not sure exactly how much bacon costs in the states but I assume it is not even close to being that high… We also bought some fruit and dinner for ourselves which included sushi and raw fish. When we went by the cereal aisle to pick up some more cereal for breakfast, my older host sister asked me if I had ever eaten Oreo O’s or the Oreo cereal that is only available in Korea. I, of course, have not so we picked up quite a large box in order for me to try it out. However, I do believe that my host sisters like the sugary cereal too.

The ride back home from Emart was one of the funniest car rides of my life! We played would you rather with some hilarious questions and honestly, they were so difficult to answer at times! For example, one of the questions was “Would you rather be bald and have a pretty face (and be good at makeup) or would you rather have your hair but have an ugly face and bad skin?” It took a lot of thinking but I decided that I would have the latter and both my sisters agreed. They told me that if I were bald in Korea, I would constantly be mocked. They said that a common nickname for bald people was 타코야끼 (fried balls usually filled with octopus). There were also questions about which button you would press that tested if you were a risk taker and what kind of man we would want. (Super super tall vs. Super super short & A man who is super attractive and can’t cook vs. A man who looked like Thomas Edison (or 문재인–Koreas President) but can cook amazing foods. It was a lot of fun just hanging out with my host sisters and although the conversation seemed to not be that deep, I felt like it brought us closer.

We got home and were able to eat the sushi and raw fish that we bought for dinner. We were all hungry so the thought of food made our mouths literally water. To be honest, I haven’t gotten the chance to really have sushi besides a couple pieces here and there from buffets. This was my first time having sushi of different types of fish in one setting and let me tell you, it was really delicious!

At dinner, I also got to try the famous Oreo O’s cereal and watch my host dog Andy try a lemon for the first time. I was super surprised by his reaction because although he did step back when he first licked the lemon, he kept going back to it and even tried to bite it. It seemed that he liked the sourness!! It was the cutest thing.

I planned to do some more work after dinner but I was so tired from the day and had no motivation to do anything else. So like always, I put off homework and studying for later this weekend. Oh well! Anyways, that is all for this blog post. I hope you enjoyed~

  • Emma 엠마

American Pizza in Itaewon with my Host Sisters (01/15/19) NSLI-Y Korean AY

01/15/19 Tuesday

I woke up bright and early on Tuesday for another project meeting. The air was once again really really bad. In Korea, they have really bad dust pollution that can’t be seen by the naked eye, which mostly blows over the country from China. This is called 미세먼지. It’s honestly really harmful to your body and once it gets in your lungs—it never leaves! According to Katie… so not sure how accurate this is! {Sorry Katie! :P} Today the app said “Deadly” and “Never go Outside” which meant I could not leave the house without a mask. In Korea, people can wear special pollution masks to protect themselves from the bad air. As I walked outside to head to the subway, the sky looked so foggy. But don’t be mistaken, that’s not natural—it’s just dust.

For this supporter meeting, we met at a new cafe called 1984 rather than the Blanc Bakery. It was actually really close to our Korean classes but the drinks were too expensive for their size… highly disappointed. But, I guess the low key cool vibe of the place was nice. We were very very productive during this meeting. We went over all the research we did as homework from the last meeting and we also researched possible locations to go to for our field trip. We ended up choosing to interview and volunteer at KUMFA– the first organization we found (Korea Unwed Mothers Families Association). For our second option, we thought we could just volunteer at a shelter for single mothers as well as donate some daily necessities like toilet paper or laundry detergent. However, we hope to be able to do both because we want to volunteer as much as we can!

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During this meeting, Katie and I kinda butted heads a little bit… probably because we were both stressed about things and were not in the best moods but at times, we were kinda tense during our meeting. At the end of it, we were packing up to leave and Katie decided to just study at a cafe before Korean class rather than get lunch with me which made me a bit disappointed. We just silently packed up. I went to return our cups to the counter and while I was doing this, Katie just left, without a goodbye–so we did not walk together. This made me kind of angry but I figured she needed space. (We had a low key argument and we both could tell the other was feeling off.) We talked it out later that night and are fine now~ One reason that I love Katie, we both are so considerate of the other and will not let anyone stay angry for very long. We talked it out and honestly, these little bumps make our relationship stronger! Love you Katie!~ ❤

Korean class was normal. Nothing too special happened. Honestly, often times I speak negatively of Korean class so at least nothing during class today made me feel that way. For one hour of the class, rather than doing normal textbook work, we started doing weekly debates. Like a presentation, one of us (my classmates… if that is not obvious) picks a topic and leads a discussion on that. Jacquelyn went today and talked about 미세먼지. (Relations with China because of it, causes, possible solutions, etc.) I was able to understand more than I thought but it really was not a debate? Instead… it seemed like just a conversation she had between the teacher and herself? I did add something to the conversation. I tried to explain that if the Korean government keeps putting blame on China then they will not see their own harmful actions–and I spouted some percentage nonsense I read in an article earlier in the day.

After class, I was almost bouncing off the walls from excitement. I would be meeting my host sisters at 홍익역 to take the train together to 이태원 (the foreigner) district in Seoul in order to eat at this pretty famous pizza place. They were showing up a bit after 5:30 pm so I first went to the bookstore connected to the station with Josh and Alix. I wanted to see if I could find a book to help me with the Topik Test (the Korean ability level test) that we will be taking in April, but no luck in finding anything. We did find all the books and workbooks we currently use in Korean class–including the grammar books! I will have to return to buy the advanced grammar book because I want to be able to write in it and fill it out as I go through the points. (In the one we received from Better World, we are not allowed to do that.) Also, while at the bookstore, we stumbled across these tiny books. They were tiny little books in Korean (or English) of classic literature pieces like Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Little Prince, etc. I wanted to buy several but for now, I just bought The Little Prince for less than $5. I tried reading it while waiting for my host sisters but it is still too difficult for me! (One day…)

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I met up with my host sisters by getting on the same train car they were currently on and we rode the train together till 녹사평역 which is where we got off. At the station (It was huge! Multiple stories too), they had this little machine called a memory exchange machine. The directions were as follows: Write a memory about the area you are in, put it in the machine, and then take one of the memory cards from someone else (one that was put in earlier). We all wrote our memories (although, I had to write one in a different place–I chose the day I went to 신촌 with 연우, 윤지, and Kaitlyn–since I had never been to this area before) and put them in the machine. For some reason, no memories came out for us to read? I assume it is probably because there are not enough? This could be a fairly new machine… or it is broken–who knows.

For dinner, we went to this pizza place called Motor City (Detroit Pizza!) which was recommended by my elder host sister as she had been there twice with friends. We ended up ordering a four cheese pizza with tomatoes and spinach, a garlic shrimp cream pasta, and a drink to share. Before we started eating, there were not enough forks on the table so my older host sister asked the waitress for more and she only brought one which she handed to me. Then, the pasta arrived and she asked again if we could have one more fork. But it seemed as if the lady forgot as no fork was ever brought back to our table until finally, we called over a different waiter. This was funny because as my younger host sister was waiting for the fork, my old host sister kept teasing her about not being able to eat the delicious food.

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Our conversation during dinner was a lot of fun– the times we were talking and not silently stuffing our faces with food. We talked about my younger host sisters obsession with Japan (called her an Otaku), though I believe she really is not that obsessed. We talked about spinach for a bit because I missed it and the fact that it was on this pizza… I brought up the children’s cartoon Popeyes (the sailor man) and how I used to eat spinach straight out of the can because of that man. My host sisters agreed that they liked it; however, they found it not tasty in Korean food. I also told them more about myself including what I plan on majoring in college, my brothers, and such. It was a really nice dinner.

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Rather than going home right away, we decided to hang out in a cafe for awhile so we ordered tea and hot chocolate and just talked. The place was pretty crowded for a Tuesday night but then again the place was quite small too. The first floor was just the counter and then there were stairs that led to a second floor with only a few places to sit. When we arrived there; however, every single table but one was being used (mostly by couples too…) At the cafe, one thing that we talked about were puppy mills here in Korea as well as families who buy puppies but then throw them away once they get older. It was a very sad topic… I told them about PetSmart and other businesses where you can bring your dog to the store with you. I also told them about the many animal shelters there are in America and the growing movement of people trying to adopt rather than buying straight from breeders.

We rode the train back home and got back at 9 pm. The trip back up to 고양시 was smooth although there were more people taking the train than we expected (worse than it can sometimes be during rush hour–in less frequently used subway cars. It definitely is way worse in the front/middle cars during rush hour.) Again, while riding the train, we talked some more and made jokes. My younger host sister put her face mask over her entire face and that just led me and my older host sister to die from laughter.

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On a more serious note, we discussed some problems in Korea such as perverts on trains and spy cameras in public women restrooms. Definitely not a lighthearted topic but it was interesting hearing their opinion on it.

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Also, I found out from my host sisters that Namsan Tower (남산 타워) will light up in certain colors to show the condition of the air. When it is red (like in this photo), the air quality is bad and you should wear a mask. Other times, it is green for good air!

That is all for this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed~ Keep up to date with my life by subscribing to this blog! Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

Overnight Trip to Andong {안동} 11/17/18 {NSLI-Y Korea AY}

11/17/18 Saturday

I dreaded having to wake up at 6:15 am to get ready to report to the Better World Office at 8:30 am. But when I actually did wake up, my tiredness quickly turned into excitement and anticipation. I was ready to take our first ever weekend trip with my NSLI-Y cohort: this was going to be so much fun!

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I got to the subway station around 8 am to meet with Kaitlyn to buy snacks for the two-day adventure. We bought so many things: chips, cookies, bread, drinks—the works basically. When we got to Better World, we were the first ones there… we even beat our RD 민정쌤! We hung out there for a while until everyone finally arrived. Also, many of the other students brought lots of snacks to share… but it turns out that we didn’t need any of that! 민정쌤 and 소영쌤 brought out this HUGE box filled to the top with snacks! They even had this huge bag of bread to give us for breakfast. It was crazy! We knew we would be eating well during these two days!

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We set out on the bus a little after 9 am. We got to take a big party-like shuttle bus (similar to the one we used when coming from the airport to our guesthouse on the very first day in Korea). It will probably be the same type of bus we will be taking back to the airport on our last day in Korea… BUT LET’S NOT THINK ABOUT THAT!} I sat at the very back of the bus with Jenna and Katie. The ride to the village was three hours. For the first two hours or so, I worked on my blog posts—trying to catch up with all this extra time! I also played this really fun game with several other NSLI-Yians: Josh, Jack, Liam, Harmony, Katie, and Jenna. The game was called Contact and Katie introduced it to us. Basically, it was a mix of the game Taboo and simply trying to think of the same word as someone else? I don’t know… it’s complicated to explain the rules in person let alone through writing. While we were on our way to 안동, we stopped at a rest stop to use the facilities and such. I think I tried sleeping after we made this stop? I’m not sure. The bus was really comfortable, though. You could recline the seats all the way back which made it seem like you were sleeping in a bed.

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Katie & Me ❤

Eventually, we arrived and it was nearing lunch time so we ate at a restaurant right outside of the village. For lunch, we had fish {mackerel???} and a variety of side dishes. I ate a fish eyeball !!! Yes, I did. Honestly, there was no taste. The texture was very hard at first like I was biting into a marble but then it turned squishy like the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. That’s what it felt like I was eating… a weird small egg. But the actual fish itself was delicious! And there was no lack of 멸치 (Anchovy) as a side dish so I was very happy.

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The  진수성찬 (Feast)

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Do you see that eyeball?

After we finished up lunch together, we took a bus into 하회마을 {Hahoe Traditional Village} to watch a 탈춤 {Mask Dance Performance}. 민정쌤 gave us these handouts so that we could read up on the performance and the scenes of the story because it would all be in Korean— with some “old timey” language and accents at that. The performance had this huge screen which displayed subtitles in English, Chinese, and Japanese which was nice. Sometimes the translations were very wrong and confusing, but they did help me follow along with the story pretty well.

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The play was a bit strange in some aspects… kind of suggestive in a way at the time too… especially since kids were there… I felt awkward. But since it was a display of traditional history, it needs to be showcased in its true form. I’m glad there were no major alterations to the storyline because that’s what makes the story what it is! Though, watching the monk sniff a pee puddle was a bit much… I found the bull peeing on the audience really funny!!!

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Shada being handed the bulls…private part…

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Also, during one of the scenes, they picked a woman from the crowd and had her pick two guys? She ended up choosing westerners and the actor was like “don’t mess anything up for the westerners.” She picked our lovely friend Liam!!! It was so funny seeing her pull him up out of the crowd. If we were not already recording the performance then, we definitely were now. Everyone pulled out their phone to record this interaction. Another foreign guy was pulled out of the crowd and they were both asked where they were from. The other guy replied with “USA” while Liam said 미국. We all cheered! He’s repping NSLI-Y with those language skills!!! Then, music started playing and they all started dancing. Watching Liam’s lanky body trying to dance in a somewhat “traditional” way with flowy/breezy body movements made me laugh–I could not help it.

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Liam is the one in the yellow sweatshirt!

Once the performance was over, we took a group photo and left the area for our tour of the 한옥마을. We had a tour guide walk us around with some microphone audio set and he told us all about the most famous places. He described to us the architecture of the houses as well as the social classes that lived in each one. We got lucky because one house was recently moved out of so we were free to look inside! We took many photos in front of the beautiful scenery and the houses. Every time we took out our large banner, everyone’s eyes turned towards us as they stared and read what the banner said: it was quite embarrassing at times.

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Traditional Korean Snacks: 한과

There was also this large tree that we got to tie a white ribbon around. On the ribbon, we wrote a wish we wanted to come true~

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Our Resident Directors~ ❤

At the end of the tour, we found these three large rope swings and took turns swinging on them. At first, I was really afraid because it went really high up and my stomach already cannot handle normal swings… but I sucked it up for the experience. {and the cute pictures~}

We also found this cliff off of a river and took some photos there. Everyone kept pretending to fall off which made 민정쌤’s face red every single time. It was priceless.

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The last thing on the agenda was visiting a mask museum that was also on the site of the traditional village. The mask museum not only featured Korean made masks but traditional masks from all over the world! I’m serious; every continent was covered and there were a lot of countries represented: Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, The Congo, etc. They had American masks too. This included both Native American masks and … Halloween masks. I’m not kidding. They had werewolves, goblins, zombies, etc.

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After the mask museum, we were all hungry and ready for a delicious dinner of an 안동 specialty: 찜닭! Ooooo boy was it delicious. While eating I sat with 민정쌤, Liam, Harmony, and Katie, and we talked about our thoughts on the trip so far but to be honest because we were so hungry, we were pretty quiet while scarfing down the food. At the end of our meal, we started talking about the differences between Korean and American education systems which was interesting because we got to hear from 민정쌤 about her experience. {Especially seeing that she has studied in both Korea and America.} She talked a bit about low-income students at the school she attended and how they are treated in Korea which made me feel quite sad… understanding what it’s like to be in their position. On a lighter note, we found out that Harmony is the best at (fake) reading palms. She can’t actually do it but wow is it believable when she tries!

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Me full beyond belief!

Dinner made us all so very sleepy. Our bus ride to our accommodation felt so short as we all fell asleep. 민정쌤 screaming “얘들아! Wake up!” was the lovely way in which we all awoke from our slumber. The walk from our bus to the traditional house was quite sketchy. It was already 7 pm so everything was dark and because we were also in the countryside, there were no street lamps to be seen.

The traditional house was just what I expected. When you walked through the main gate or front door, you were still outside. There was a little courtyard in the middle of the house and all the rooms surrounding it. There were a lot of sliding doors and windows to keep the house cool in the summer; however, they definitely keep the house colder in the winter. How did the Koreans combat this? With floor heating known as Ondol (온돌). Underneath the house, there were places for coal which would burn and keep the floors nice and toasty. At first, I doubted how warm this would keep us but it got so hot! Even before we were sleeping, the room was pretty warm. If I stayed on an uncovered part of the floor for too long, I would literally get hot and feel slight burning sensations. Besides my makeshift pillow {a combination of my NSLI-Y jacket and my winter hat}, I slept like a baby.

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When we first got to the house, we split everyone up into their rooms. I would be staying with Jacquelyn, Jenna, Katie, June, and Shada in the biggest room {with a connected bathroom}. Then we all piled into our room to have a discussion on today’s occurrences. We had slips of paper with discussion questions and we just answered them one by one hearing from the individuals in the group that had things to share.

Eventually, it was 8:30 and they let us go. But before we did our own things {like stay up all night}, the 아줌마 of the 한옥 wanted our help in preparing food for tomorrow’s breakfast. We all came out to this room on the edge of the courtyard. Those that were participating sat on these little mats and we were given the job of ripping the flesh off of dry fish skin. {that’s the best way I can possibly describe it} It was quite cold outside too so we drank some tea while doing the peeling. {I’m not sure what type of tea… but to me, it tasted like uncooked popcorn kernels.} The 아줌마 told us that she would use what we prepared just then for breakfast the next morning. She finely shredded the fish with a food processor and that was somehow going to end up in our breakfast? I was excited to see what would come out of it!

The rest of the night was just a bunch of shenanigans {and a lot of shushing because the walls are PAPER thin}. We played a couple rounds of Uno, Spot it, and this game called SpyFall online. We also just talked and chilled and got to hang out with each other because for many of us, our daily routine limits who we get to see on a daily or frequent basis. At one point in the night, Kaitlyn, Josh, and I got bored so we decided to literally leave the house and walk around. I’m not sure if we were told not to do that… but we only walked down to where the bus dropped us off and back. We found out that there were chickens on the property too! We tried walking up a bit behind the house but there was this dog that started going crazy which freaked everyone out. When we were walking by this stream, we saw an animal get startled and run away. We were shocked because it wasn’t obvious what the animal was right away. I thought it was the size of a cat but pranced like a deer, so for the rest of the night, we called that mysterious creature a deer cat.

It was like a giant sleepover for the rest of the night. I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. Although I was trying to live in the moment, it was so easy for my mind to wander and think about the end of the program. How am I going to survive without my fellow NSLI-Yians? My literal soul mate Katie? Kaitlyn who literally never fails to make me laugh? The fearless Shada? Harmony who gives the best hugs? Liam whom, although I can practically never understand him, is such a good person to be around? Josh who if it were not for him in my Korean class I would die!!?? Jenna the little savage? And Jacquelyn who’s laugh makes my day? This isn’t everyone but they are the ones that really stick out in my brain when I think of this particular trip. I’m so thankful for them!! Maybe since it’s so close to Thanksgiving… that I feel like I need to share all my emotions!!! 

I drifted off to sleep a bit after 12:30. It was easier than I expected. Don’t knock using an 온돌 instead of normal heating until you try it! Seriously!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the first day of our first overnight trip together~ I hope there’s more where that came from~ Thanks for reading!

  • Emma 엠마