Visiting 애니골 Cafe Village, Eating Octopus, & Going to a 맛집 with my Host Family {01/12-13/19} NSLI- Y AY

01/12/19 Saturday

Now, the Korea AY program has a 고양시 Gang {Goyangsi Gang} that is made up of three individuals: Josh, June, and me. Last semester, I was the only one living in 고양시 {which is a 근교 or a city right outside of 서울} but now two very lucky individuals have joined me! {Although, June technically lives in 파주시 but we still include her cause she’s on our same subway line and is only two stops away from me.}

Living in 고양시 means that we have a farther commute from 홍대 than some, but it also means we have an entire another city to explore—things that 서울 simply doesn’t have. Prices here are oftentimes lower, there are way fewer tourists, and there are more big open spaces and farms too. The gang has been wanting to explore together since we have gotten here and we decided to try to visit this area termed the 애니골 cafe village in order to study at a cozy cafe and then grab some lunch at one of the nearby restaurants. So the three of us met up at 풍산역 to try our luck at finding a cute cafe.

Exiting from the station, I could tell we were not in 서울. There were only two exits and the buildings outside were pretty far apart but mostly very big. Josh navigated us down this road to the cafe village and it soon became very very village and farm-like. The road was just gravel and the restaurants had large parking spaces and were pretty sparse. We passed by one cafe but it was obvious that it was not open yet. Reading the signs and seeing all the traditional places to eat was really fun. I don’t have many experiences being in a more rural area like the one we were at {In America & Korea} so it was definitely something different. As we kept walking, we found a sign advertising a cafe that was about 500 meters away. The cafe was 연꽃정원뒤뜰 (Something like lotus flower back garden) which immediately intrigued us as a place that would be good. We followed the signs which took us closer to the farmlands {literally there was a field next to the parking lot}. We walked up to the cafe and immediately saw this really pretty lake? Pond? {What is the difference between a lake and a pond?} All around it was benches and tables and lots of places to take pictures. It was all very very pretty. Too bad it was too cold to sit outside.


This cafe was then dubbed the glacier cafe by us for…ovious reasons

There was one strange thing about the lake; there was a giant glacier fountain. Josh, June and I debated about it for quite a few minutes because we could not decide if it was real or not. It looked pretty realistic and we figured it would have been a weird thing to want in the water {in comparison to just buying a traditionally pretty fountain}. The kicker was the fountain was still on! There was water spraying from the top the whole time we were there. I guess people don’t usually use fountains in the winter because it can freeze over… but like that? I’m confused! Another thing, it was cold but it didn’t seem cold enough for ice to stay frozen like that… honestly, this whole place was a mystery.

When we walked into the cafe, it was prettier than I imagined! It smelled exactly like a campfire as they were burning a real fire for warmth which made the whole place feel ten times cozier. The menu had a lot of more unique items that you wouldn’t find at a normal cafe {like lotus root tea} but I still stuck with my green tea latte. Though the cafe did have it written as 제주그린티라떼 (Green tea from Jeju Island) so maybe it was inherently a bit fancier than all the others I have drunk.


They also gave us free nuts! With a nutcracker!

The cafe has a really pretty interior with wooden walls and floors and tables with colorful marble designs that reminded me of a lot of Mexican Art. However, the best part of the cafe where the little private comfy rooms they had on the floor as well as up in a lofted area. These areas were places you could lie on the floor around a small table and pillows and just chill~ We ended up not going to sit there just because we needed to get work done, which meant sitting at an actual table.

And we were kinda productive… I ended taking notes for only two grammar points and completing one page of my workbook but with all the talking we did, I would have expected to finish less! The Cafe has no WiFi which is kind of a bummer but it’s definitely a cafe for the experience—not to study.


After staying at the cafe for a couple hours, we left to look for a place to get lunch. Josh wanted to get traditional Korean food where they give you the large spread of 반찬 {side dishes} or duck but I was not feeling either of those {and neither was June so we ended up just picking a random restaurant to go to based on some of the random dishes and prices they were advertising outside of it. The building was huge which is not usual in Korea so I was excited to eat at a place like that. We ended up all sharing two orders of 쭈꾸미 볶음 (Fried Octopus Stir Fry) and 체육 볶음 (Fried Pork Stir Fry) which were both a little spicy and very very delicious. The best part of the meal was when June ordered, however. She looked at the lady and asked for 뿌꾸미 죾음 and Josh and I couldn’t help but laugh. We got everything cleared up and now this mistake will just live forever on this post. (Sorry June, you were really cute! Do not worry I embarrass myself every single time I post a blog post with too much information…)

After we wrapped up with lunch, we all went our separate ways. I ended up going to a Twosome Place close to the subway station nearest to my house because I actually wanted to be more productive and do some work before I arrived home– seeing that I knew I would get distracted for one reason or another if I returned home too early. My older host sister and host mom had plans so they were not home for dinner so my younger host sister ordered us burgers (from Burger King) and we ate that together at the kitchen table. The rest of the night was spent doing my workbook and I pushed off vocab, my listening Topik mock test, as well as my writing assignment for Sunday. (Might not have been the right move but what would my life be if I never procrastinated???)


01/13/19 Sunday

Sundays, for me, (like they probably are for most people) are my rest/finish-the-rest-of-my-remaining-homework-and-studying day, so I tend to not to schedule anything for the day. However, I do like going out, so I might find myself hopping over to a cafe near my apartment complex to do some work. Today, I decided to just stay home because I had a lot to do and I also did not have the money to drop on a cafe drink (mostly because I went to two cafes yesterday… that was my limit for cafes for the weekend!). I spent the whole day slaving away with my Korean class homework. I had 50 listening questions for my mock Topik Test to do and those were honestly painful. The first 30 or so were really easy and I found myself feeling confident with my answers. But as the practice went on, I realized I was understanding less and less until finally I literally listened to the two-minute recordings and understood NOTHING.

My eldest host sister and host mom went out for a bit so my host sister and I had lunch at home by ourselves again; we ate subway sandwiches at around 5 pm. (Which is definitely very late but we also had breakfast really late.) For my writing assignment for Korean class, I had to write about a day that I will never forget, a day that will forever remain in my memory because it was so memorable: a 기억에 남는 날. I needed to pick something that went well with the newly learned grammar points so I wrote about my first Friendsgiving with my friend group (back in 2017) and how they surprised me and turned that into a surprise 18th birthday party for me!

When the rest of my host family came home, we decided to go out for dinner– get some Chinese food at this really nice 맛집 that is apparently really popular. We had to call ahead of time to make sure that there would be space for us but since it was Sunday night, it seemed that we would not have a problem getting a table.


The place we went to was 도깨비 탕수육. 탕수육 is like fried sweet and sour pork while 도깨비 translates to goblin. We shared an order of 탕수육 as well as 짬뽕 or spicy seafood soup. Eating dinner out of the house was a nice new change for us. I really enjoyed the evening with them~ Actually, the restaurant was in 파주시 around where June lives!

That is all for this blog post! I hope you enjoyed reading it and stay tuned for more posts about my days studying abroad in South Korea. Until next time~

  • Emma 엠마,

Rose Ice Cream, Myeongdong 맛집, and Dongdaemun Night Market {10/20/18} NSLI-Y Korea AY

10/20/18 Saturday

Since coming to Korea, I’ve done a really good job at budgeting money {unlike my time here in the summer… we will leave it at that.} I have been able to make all the stipend handouts last two weeks, and I haven’t used any of the money I saved up from working a part-time job all summer yet. So I decided to treat myself this lovely Saturday afternoon by going shopping with Kaitlyn. In specific, I wanted to go to this shop called 6ixty 8eight because I knew their stuff was cute and affordable from watching YouTube videos on it. And so we did~ They were having a sale on summer clothing so Kaitlyn went crazy with that while I was really set on buying a sweater or cardigan. I ended up buying this really pretty mustard yellow/gold sweater and a striped summer dress since it was more than 50% off. It was a good day of shopping I would say. I spent under $35 so don’t come for me !!! We also went to H&M to see if I could find a fall coat that I like {My winter coat is too heavy and large for the current weather.} but alas I wasn’t mentally prepared to be able to spend all that money… yikes. (It got cold pretty quickly though so high key happy I did not buy another coat!)

After Kaitlyn and I shopped around for a bit, we planned to meet Josh at this famous traditional Korean restaurant called 명동교자. We wound up stumbling upon two of their locations while shopping and let Josh know which one had the shorter line. The line went out the door but the wait actually went by pretty quickly as the staff working there were really good at serving food and cleaning up tables before you’ve even gotten up from your seat!!

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We ended up ordering the traditional noodle dish they served (갈국수–Wheat Noodle Soup) as well as 비빔국수(Spicy Noodles) and an order of 만두 (Dumplings). I definitely have to come back and eat there again; the food was just too good not to come back! Kaitlyn, Josh, and I stuffed our faces and had great conversation. We talked about so many things and I truly really enjoy spending time with the two of them. We never run out of things to say {or eat apparently…} The moment that Josh put his chopsticks down and swallowed his last mouthful of the spicy noodles, one of the ladies working swoops in and starts clearing our table before we’ve had a chance to eat our mint/gum things. {You swallow it as if it was a mint but you chew it while it’s in your mouth…like gum.}

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Our lunch spread!~

We should have been done eating for the next few hours {or maybe days!!!} but we decided to check some cool ice cream off of our bucket list: rose shaped ice cream & honeycomb ice cream. I was being cheap and bought the discounted cone which was strawberry and yogurt ice cream. Though they also have versions with chocolate and green tea ice cream and some have three flavors rather than two. Josh and Kaitlyn, on the other hand, got honey comb ice cream which was just vanilla soft serve in a cup drizzled with honey and a physical honey comb piece. Both were okay but definitely made more for the aesthetic than the taste. Many convenience store ice creams taste better in my opinion. We walked over to the famous cathedral and enjoyed our ice cream in front of the beautiful architecture and autumn foliage. This Korean man walked right up to Josh and just stood there for a good 10 seconds. Then, he said “pretty.” He said it one more time before turning to me and saying it once again: “pretty” {in Korean of course.} I mumbled out a thank you and he replied with “Your Korean is so good.” At that time we all bowed to him and ran off in a laughing fit. That was a really weird encounter.

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I came home a bit before 4 pm and chilled in my room—studying— until all my host family came home. We planned to go to a night market in 동대문 along that the 청계천stream.

The night market was more modern than I imagined. For some reason, I thought we were going to a traditional market sort of place like 남대문시장 or 연시내시장. Along the stream were little stalls selling mostly crafty things: handmade jewelry, bags, dog accessories, caricatures, stationery, trinkets, etc. on the other side of the road we’re street vendors but not like the ones you see selling street food around 홍대 or 명동. These were full on food trucks with security and line attendees to take the orders and relay them back to the cooks.

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Massive Food Trucks

For dinner, we had some spicy chicken on a stick and beef sushi {what it sounds like, steak pieces laid upon rice}. It was all very delicious. We ate on some steps while enjoying a street performance. Later, my host sister made some really pretty clip-on earrings at this stall. As service, the woman running it allowed my host mom to also make a bracelet. She decided that she would give it to me~ I ended up receiving a black rubber bracelet with a black and gold charm with a letter E on it. It was such a nice gesture and I will definitely wear it often.

We also stopped by a book store for around an hour. We all picked up some books and read them in this seating area. I looked at this poetry book that my host mother showed me, and I have decided that I really want to be able to read this book! I was able to understand some sentences here and there (and looking back at the screenshots I took, I understand more now than I did back then!) which made me feel more confident. I will definitely buy this book soon!

We got home pretty late and because I was so exhausted from a busy day, I basically went right to sleep.

That’s all for this blog post! Did you enjoy it? Thanks for reading~

  • Emma 엠마

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

안녕하세요 여러분!~

06/24 (Sunday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Campus Tour courtesy of Tierney

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


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Tierney & Dio ❤

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

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


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Seattle Views ❤


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Gas Works

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

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Views from the top of the hill~

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

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

6/25 (Monday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tierney came back out to help us!!~

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I love these two!~ ❤

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2: Coming soon

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

  • Emma 엠마




2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop PT. 3 (Jan 7th, 2018)

The last day of the 2018 NSLI-Y Alumni Representative Workshop proved to be a very fun (yet emotional) day. I was very excited to be spending more time with the people I had been chatting with over Facebook and Instagram for many months leading up to this workshop; however, I was also very sad to think that I had to leave them only having just met them. This would also be my last time as a NSLI-Y Alumni representative as you can only renew the position for one year. I better make the most out of this year and these friendships! 😉

We started off the day eating breakfast at the hotel buffet like previously. This day I ended up sitting with my roommate Selin, Deni, Remi, and Jeremy. I got to hear more about their respective experiences and all about Remi’s adult life– he is the only alumni representative who is out of college with a career.

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Selin, Deni,  & Jeremy (Remi is MIA because he had gotten up to get a second helping.) ^^

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A filling, “healthy” breakfast with a lot of variety: scrambled eggs, Frosted Flakes cereal, fruit, chocolate muffin, and potatoes.

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I also took a picture of my girls Anjali, Paula, and Shraddha because they were looking extra cute this morning! ❤ I’m going to miss them a lot!!~

After breakfast, we got down to business and headed to a small conference room on the first floor of the hotel. At this time, we discussed what characteristics make a good speaker as well as tips for commanding a room and not letting a fear of public speaking take over one’s presentation. We did this practice activity called giving “elevator speeches.” Basically, the premise was that you should be able to introduce yourself and state your purpose/goal all while being on a quick elevator ride. This was deemed to be about a minute of speaking. (And it is a lot harder than it sounds, trust me!) I partnered up with Shraddha and we practiced giving our speeches. We both had to restart many many times but eventually we made it through. And, the jokes and laughter just added to the learning process. This was honestly the same exact thing we did last year at the representative workshop; however, I needed it again because I never ended up having to use my “elevator speech” last year. As a virtual rep who really only hosted/partook in webinars, I had all the time I needed to introduce myself and my role. So, I appreciated this repetition.

After the public speaking session, we all practiced answering common questions about NSLI-Y the “right way,” meaning the way that NSLI-Y would want us to answer. (This does not mean we would lie or not give personal experiences, we just had to make sure we did not guarantee things that the program doesn’t promise as well as remind the applicants about the true purpose of the program.) These questions included:

  • “How safe are the NSLI-Y countries?”
  • “Is previous language study required?”
  • “Will there be a lot of free time during the program?”
  • “How hard are language classes?”
  • “What type of person is NSLI-Y looking for?”

We then chose partners to hold us accountable for hosting our requirement of three events (2 in-person/virtual and 1 outreach event). I partnered up with Lila (West Coast – San Francisco) and Josh (Southwest – Dallas, TX).

After everything, it was almost 11 am. Some of the alum reps had to start calling taxis and departing to the airport for their flights back home. Luckily, my flight was not till 2:30 (and then later, it was even delayed!), so I could stay with everyone for a bit longer.

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Had to get a picture with Emily and Kate before I left!! 🙂

A group of us decided to go out and explore DC some more. Paula wanted to go and get a picture in front of the famous Department of State sign, so Paula, Dean, Deni, Nicole, and I went on a journey to the State Department. At first we were following Paula’s Google maps which got us lost… very very lost. We ending up walking so far (and in the wrong direction). Eventually Nicole and I saw some landmarks that looked familiar, and we tried to redirect the group in the right direction. Though we may all be bad at directions (in the US and Abroad), we did find the building and the sign!

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Look at us go! ❤

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Before we found the Department of State, we stumbled upon the United States Diplomacy Center. It was quite a chic building!

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The Sun was in my eyes! haha During our walk, I got to hear A LOT of stories about Harvard from Deni and Nicole.


Eventually, we had to make our way back to the hotel. Paula and I would be going back on the same flight while Nicole stayed till Monday for some presentations. Deni’s flight got delayed by quite a few hours but Dean was out with us later than he was supposed to be. Emily kept messaging us asking if Dean had left yet and though we reassured her, Dean was still scrambling to get an Uber. He eventually had to cancel cause the Uber passed our location! He expressed his anger on the Facebook group later when he was charged a cancellation fee. XD

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Dean calling his Uber. (Yes he walked all the way to the State Department on crutches.)

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Crossing the street trying to get a taxi

When Paula and I got back to the hotel, we had to say our final goodbyes~ I was not ready to leave everyone!

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My faves Jeremy and Nicole~ ❤

At the airport, Paula and I grabbed lunch and we talked some more. Before we knew it, we were back at O’Hare International Airport. On the plane ride home, I was feeling really grateful that I got the chance to renew as a rep as well as visit DC once more. I love the city so much!~ ❤ NSLI-Y has granted me so many opportunities as an alumni, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!!!

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O’Hare decorated for Christmas!

That is all for this blog post (and this series about the 2018 Alumni Representative Workshop!). I hope you enjoyed reading, and I hope that this post can inspire NSLI-Y alumni (or future NSLI-Y alumni) to apply to be an alum rep! You will not regret it! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out~ I will be hosting my first event as an alum rep late this month. I am so excited for it! I will definitely write a blog post about it~ Stay tuned! 고마워요! 다음에 봐요!~

  • Emma 엠마

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

안녕하세요 여러분!

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

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

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My roommate Selin and Shraddha at breakfast

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

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

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Walking to American Councils Saturday morning~

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Nicole ❤

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Ready for a long day of presentations!~

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

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

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

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Andy about to present to us

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Main Points of the East-Vision Leadership

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

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

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

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

With Old Friends!~

With New Friends!~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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

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Cafe Aesthetic!~ ❤

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

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

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The qualityyyyy (Jeremy, Deni, and I)

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our amazing hotel: Embassy Suites



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


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


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

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

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

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


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Everything was very delicious!!! ❤ ❤ ❤


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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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Such a nice (cold) night!~

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

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

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Deni & Selin!~

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

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

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Lila and Nicole

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

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

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

  • Emma 엠마



Diversity & Inclusion Fly-in Program at George Washington University (11/09-11/10/17)

Thursday November 9th, 2017

GW (George Washington University) has always been on my college list, and to be frank, I did not really know why. I knew I had put it on there because it was located in DC and offered International Relations. But other than that, it just took up space. While researching other programs, I discovered the ‘amazingness’ that is fly-in or fly-away programs at universities. Fly-in programs give students the opportunity to thoroughly explore and get to know a university. (Typically these students are underrepresented on their college campus.) While scrolling through a list, I came across GW. And, I was excited to see their application was still open– although the deadline was in three days. I filled out the application, wrote the essay, and the following week I received an email affirming my acceptance to the program– with all expenses paid. I was ecstatic.

I flew independently to GW, but this was nothing new to me. I had flown alone to Seattle because of NSLI-Y as well as to DC previously due to my position as a NSLI-Y Alumni Representative; therefore, I was not nervous about the flying aspect … just the “Will I like this school or will I forever not know where I want to go to college” aspect.

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O’Hare International Airport –> Reagan National Airport

I arrived with a couple other students on the program around 4 pm-ish. Luckily, I immediately met my roommate Payton and our friendship formed just as quick. We met our student host Ana as we took a taxi from the Reagan National Airport to the Marvin center– a building on campus. We dropped off our luggage in the room we would be eating dinner in– Continental Ballroom– and then had Ana show us around campus a little bit. We also got to take a quick jog down to see the White House. Last time when I was in DC (Jan 2017), the front of the White House was closed and so this was my first time being able to see it from the front. First Observation: It was smaller than I expected.

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Afterwards, we had a delicious dinner. The mashed potatoes were to die for! And the chocolate cake for dessert… let’s just say I took two slices! XD

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I finally got to see the true nature of the GW students when the director said that you could go back to the buffet for second helpings, all the student hosts ran up to the buffet with their Ziploc bags and plastic sandwich containers. It was hilarious.

After dinner, there was a student performance showcase where we got to see a lot of organizations on campus, in their element, showing off their talents.

We watched a few A Capella groups such as the Troopadors (Co-ed) and The Sirens (All Girls) who sang some really great renditions of songs such as Toxic, Crazy, Praying, It’s Raining Men, and Somebody to Love. We got to hear GW’s band play the Fight Song and other classics like One Direction’s You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful XD There was also a performance by GW’s K District (Kpop Dance Group) and Raas (Indian Dance Group), and some performances by Spotify artists like Blink and Plantain Poppy.

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Group Photo of everyone that was a part of Your GW (prospective applicants as well as student hosts)

After the performances, we went to the MSSC (Multicultural Student Services Center) on campus and had some Hot Chocolate while meeting with the director and other students who who just chill in the lounges. Once Payton, Ana, and I were equipped with our cup of hot chocolate, we went out to see as many monuments as possible. (I had seen them all during my last trip to DC, but I love walking around DC so the exploration was much appreciated). We left the bigger group around midnight because we were so exhausted and headed back to Ana’s Dorm. She showed us a tour of her floor and we got to meet some of her roommates. She lived with 5 other roommates so the room was quite full but also spacious. Not only that, but they had their own private bathroom and full-sized fridge. It was all pretty neat! Payton and I both slept on the floor, but honestly, it was not all that bad.

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Payton and I at the Lincoln Memorial

Friday November 10th, 2017

We woke up bright and early for breakfast in the same building. Once again there was a buffet with a TON of food: scrambled eggs, waffles, bagels, fruit, bacon, french toast, and potatoes (Southern… I think?) And like expected, GW students ran to the buffet when second helpings were called with all of their containers.

After filling my belly with the best potatoes ever, it was time for a campus tour of Foggy Bottom (the name of the campus). We had an official tour guide and a student who was training to be a tour guide take us around campus to see some important buildings, statues, and places. They also explained the food plan for freshman and I loved it! So, GW does not have any dining halls. Instead, you get points on your ID card. These points can be used at local restaurants and grocery stores, so you can eat out or buy food to cook at home in your dorm. I thought that this was pretty food. You literally have control what you eat and you do not have to be in a routine if you do not want to.

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Ready for a tour of GW!


Then, we watched this really great documentary that was truly eye-opening. The documentary was called “Hands Up” and it was directed by Zinhle Essamuah. The majority of the documentary was filmed in Ferguson Missouri and focused on the Black Lives Matter Movement. It was beautifully filmed and tragically sad. What a great piece. (We also ate lunch during the viewing.)

The last two events of the day were visiting the MSSC once again and getting to ask questions to some regional admission officers from GW. The visit to the MSSC involved getting more information on how it supports students, and we also participated in these activities called “round tables” which were very similar to icebreakers. We did a bingo sheet, a discussion on our future fears, and a discussion of “Where are you from?” and “Where are you from from?” The question session was not too helpful. We read through a GW application– but they refused to tell us if the individual got in or not (Then how was that supposed to help us?). I also already knew most of the answers from my extensive research on the college admission process through YouTube, mostly.

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And that was my fly-in experience at GW (Nov 2017)!~ It was a really fun experience, and it truly made me  love GW and DC, in general. GW is the best! Who knows… I could possibly end up here!

  • Emma 엠마

Alumni Representative Workshop Pt. 2 (Jan 7th – Jan 8th, 2017)

Saturday (Jan 7th, 2017) was the first (and only) full day of our Alumni Representative Workshop. I woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready and showered before breakfast at the hotel at 7:30am. After breakfast, all the Alumni Representatives and I got right down to business as we had to prepare ourselves for a long day of presentations at American Councils.

We had presentations on our virtual presence on social media as alumni representatives, in-person event planning, the different types of in-person events, goal setting, and virtual events (the one I was most looking forwards to since I needed more information on what I could do being a virtual engagement alumni.)dc-50 dc-45

We also were given some time (in groups) to plan out what events we wanted to hold, figuring out what time we need to start preparing, and what things would need to be prepared. During this time of the workshop, I came up with 4 ideas of events I wanted to hold ( 3 virtual events. Two for every alumni and one just for Korean alumni.) but If you want to know about those… follow the NSLI-Y Alumni Facebook pages and make sure you also follow NSLI-Y’s social media because my events could turn up there ^^

NSLI-Y Social Media


Twitter: NSLIY

During the middle of all of the presentations, we got to take a short walk around the building. It was super cold outside and it was snowing a lot. It was nice because for the students whom had never seen snow before (like Angela (NSLI-Y Chinese Summer 2015 Alum – Southeast/Orlando Alumni Representative) and the walk was just what we needed to get all of our energy out before some more sitting.


The president of American Councils also showed up and talked to us for a bit about languages, being a cultural ambassadors, etc. It was really interesting to hear what he had to say, especially when he started talking about the Department of State and his language skills (He speaks Russian (A NSLI-Y Language fluently!) We also took a lot of photos with each other in front of the American Council’s “photo” area.


He is looking at me! haha




The two Korean reps for 2017!~ ❤

After all of our presentations, we all split up into taxis to head to dinner at Georgetown. We ate at this restaurant called Bangkok Joe’s (and it serves what you think – Thai food). I ended up only ordering a small plate of shrimp dumplings because I wasn’t feeling too well and I knew eating a lot wouldn’t help the situation.


Everything was so fancy! 0_0


After dinner, some of the reps went ice skating at Washington Harbor. I would have loved to participate in that activity but I was way too cold and like I mentioned earlier – I was not feeling good that evening. I ended up going with another group of reps to walk around Georgetown and find a place to sit in for an hour or so. We ended up deciding to try and find cupcakes (more specifically Georgetown Cupcake). After walking for what seemed like the longest time, we found the cupcakes. I had seen episodes of the show and I was really excited to try out the famous desserts!~





The line was not bad at all which was fortunate



Jaime (NSLI-Y Chinese Summer 2016 Alum – Seattle Alumni Representative) and I


Nicole (NSLI-Y Russian Summer Alum – Chicago Alumni Representative) and I


7 days late but Happy New Year ❤ !!!


Jeremy (Korean Summer 2015 Alum), Charlotte (Arabic Summer 2016 Alum), Nicole (Russian Summer 2016 Alum), Andy (Chinese Summer 2015 Alum), Me, and half of Elizabeth’s face (Arabic Summer 2013 Alum).

We got back to the hotel around 9pm. Most of us reps were hanging out in the lobby when someone (I think Ben ?) brought up the idea of having a pasta party. Everyone took it very seriously. Nicole also wanted to buy a Department of State Hoodie that she had seen vendors selling in D.C. before and Jeremy mentioned how certain stores, like CVS, sometimes carry merchandise like that. So a group of us (Andy, Jeremy, Nicole, Jaime, James, Alisa, and I) went off to CVS to allow Nicole to buy her sweatshirt but also to buy some pasta and tomato sauce for our pasta party. Nicole could not find what she was looking for but most of us bought some D.C. souvenirs. (I bought postcards and a couple of shot glasses for my parents and their collection.)


Donald Trump Merchandise >~<


Passed by George Washington University

After a lot of arguing… the party was decided to be held in Andy, Deni, and Jeremy’s room (I believe I got the roommates right… ? haha). The cooks of the night were Alisa and Andy who made some pretty bomb pasta. The hotel room did not have enough bowls for us so we ended up having to serve some pasta in wine glasses. I was all for eating pasta out of wine glasses – It was definitely an experience.



During the pasta party I was putting some finishing touches on this application I was working on while hanging out with all the Alumni Reps and listening to their stories. Most of the night was spent sharing funny stories and mostly talking about our time in our host country among other things.


Essays and Pasta in a Wine Glass


We obviously had to do a cheers with our pasta (Jeremy, Alisa, Andy and I) and it is honestly my favorite picture of the trip XD

We hung out in the hotel room for the longest time because it was our last night together. I ended up getting back up to my room with my roommate Jaime at 1:00am. We both still had to pack as we would be needing to check out of our rooms in the late morning. We packed that night but we also talked for a long time. We ended up staying up until 2:30 “packing” but mostly talking about who knows what. It was really nice getting so close to the Alumni Reps. They are honestly such AMAZING people~ (and so talented too! I am jealous XD)

The next morning (01/08/17) we had breakfast at the hotel again and had our last presentation on public speaking at the hotel rather than walking to American Councils.


The coolest part of Sunday was being interviewed for the Department of State’s Snapchat! On their snapchat they were going to have a segment on us, NSLI-Y Alumni Representatives, and our experiences (since the Department of State funds NSLI-Y). It was very fun to see everyone else get interviewed because I got to hear everyone else speak their target language and hear their favorite parts of their own program. I was also interviewed as the Korean summer alumni. I said (In english) that my favorite part of my study abroad experience was the language exchange camp (한미 캠프) with a bunch of Korean teenagers. (I would have said my host family but Elise had said that and I did not want to repeat anything.) The funniest part of the interview was when we found out that Ryan, Chinese Fall Semester 2011 Alum, had actually met the president of China. After he translated what he had said, we all screamed and demanded the story. It was hilarious! (It was kind of a “you have to be there” type moment)


Screenshot of what I said in Korean (I look lovely here XD )


Top to bottom, left to right: Deni, Charlotte, Elise, Ben, Jeremy, Ryan, James, Me, Angela, Jaime, Alisa, Nicole, and Andy (taking the photo).




Jaime, James, Me, and Angela (Selfie Squad XD)

After the interview, Alisha, Nicole, and I had to leave in a taxi to the airport shortly. We quickly grabbed some lunch at this vegetarian place that was only a 5 minute walk from our hotel.



I got a Beet Burger~ It was actually really great!~ ❤ Thanks for the recommendation Alisa!

When we came back, we had to say goodbye to everyone and take our last selfies together (To the west coast kids (whose flights were later in the evening) and to the 4 kids who were staying an extra day). A great part of this workshop was being able to meet so many other alumni from across the country. I can now basically go anywhere in the U.S. and have a friend to possibly meet up with. (And another fellow Chicagoan to hang out with!) I am so happy to be able to have these connections because of my NSLI-Y experience. It was really sad saying goodbye to everyone (even if we had only known each other for a weekend) but I can not wait to see all the pictures of what we alumni end up doing with our events. We will meet up eventually~ 😉



Final Moments in D.C.

I want to say a big thanks to NSLI-Y, American Councils, and The Department of State for making this weekend possible and I am so grateful to have been able to experience this workshop with some amazing alumni and better yet, be an alumni representative for this year 2017! I can not wait to hold events and do my best in this position that I have been given. Thanks for reading this blog post and I hope you enjoyed. Part 1 of this weekend will be posted here if you have not already read it and do not forget to subscribe to my blog in order to read up on more posts about South Korea, Studying Abroad, and Alumni Opportunities (as I am one now ^^) Thanks again!~

  • Emma (엠마)

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

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

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


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

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


My cozy.. and quaint little dorm room.

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


Angie & Tise Dancing to BANG BANG BANG by Big Bang


Trudi singing Save Me by BTS

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

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

nsliy 12.png

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

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


Try to convince me that this isn’t beautiful.


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

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

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


View looking out from the balcony of the lounge area

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

Emma  엠마

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

Flight Itineraries are Here!

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

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

Basic Itinerary:

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

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

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

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

Thanks for Reading. 안녕!~

“To Travel is to Live.”   Hans Christian Anderson