The Best KBBQ To Ever Bless Korea (+ More Bomb Places)

The “Here 4 The Education” Group (aka me, Jenny, Ellie, and Jade) had BOMB all-you-can-eat KBBQ AND RAMEN for only $10 (₩10,900 to be specific) at a very special place in our heart in Insadong. The cute waiter was a plus.

It was so important for me to remember this place that I sent my location to myself the last time I went!

So here I am sharing this valuable information to make this your next favorite place as well HAHAHA

The coordinates are 37.569179,126.986598!

Also, if you’re going to eat bingsu, go to Sulbing! I remember being so disappointed in the first patbingsu I got, and I was like, damn, after all the years of dreaming?? Turns out, I was just at the wrong place. SULBING IS THE WAY TO GO. CHOCO BROWNIE SULBING IS THE WAY TO GO.

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If you live in Incheon and you can’t afford to go to Seoul but crave that Seoul city-esque feel, there’s a place in Namgu that feels very similar to the streets of Insadong!

Here are the coordinates: 37.45210,126.657637!

There’s a lot (a lot) of cute college students in this area because it’s in front of Inha University (100 Inha-ro, Yonghyeon 1(il).4(sa)-dong, Nam-gu, Incheon, South Korea)! But also, it has a lot of things to do, and my host sister told me that she goes here a lot with her friends after school!

 

hehe the more you know

 

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Culture Shock in Korea

*sneeze*

*waits*

NOTHING. LMAO.

People always talk about culture shock and all that when you’re traveling to a different country. I know about that, and I’ve watched hundreds of videos about culture shock in Korea. The bowing, the formalities, the lack of personal space on buses, the restrooms, the quietness on subways… I thought I knew everything, but nope! Here are some things I’ve faced:

#1 People don’t say bless you (or anything after someone sneezes).

It felt so awkward for me to just see no one acknowledge when others would sneeze… I had to force myself back from saying “Bless you!” whenever someone did. And whenever someone blessed me, I would be like “!!!! YOU BLESSED ME !!!” inside.

#2 Most people put their utensils on the table when they’re not using it during a meal.

I couldn’t get used to this at all. You know when you’re eating, and you stop to talk or something. You just leave your spoon in your bowl or your fork on your plate, you know? However, in Korea, whenever they stop eating, they just place it on the table! This made me so uncomfortable because I felt like I was getting their table dirty, but no one seemed to care about that! I tried doing it in the last few weeks, but it was so hard to get used to ;-;

#3 The smoking “culture” is big.

I knew there were a lot of smokers, but the extent of it was far more than I imagined. People are smoking everywhere and at all times of the day too. Cool thing is that in Korea, a lot of the cigarette packs have pictures of the consequences… For example,

#4 People walk so close to cars, and cars drive so close to people.

I felt so scared seeing cars go through this tiny, tiny alleyway AND PEOPLE WOULD JUST WALK AS NORMAL. The car is literally an inch away from them, and they’re just so casual about it. Pedestrians and cars share the same streets, and while I’m over here dodging left and right, Koreans just continue as they please hahahah wild

 

I’m sure I had a lot more, but that’s all I can think of right now! Just know, if you’re going somewhere new, there’s a lot to be unexpected and learning about it will be all the fun!

Let’s Talk… Girl Talk on NSLI-Y

One of my biggest concerns on the trip was… what happens when I get my period? Do I just throw away my pads in their restroom? Is it weird? Do I take out the trash myself? What happens if I leak?

First off, you’re going to have your period at least once on the trip, and it’s basically inevitable (unless you’re super irregular hahah).

Don’t worry too much!

First off, I do recommend you bringing your own panty liners, tampons, and/or pads. You will have a hard time finding tampons in Korea because they’re a more conservative country, so bring lots. Though they do sell pads here, I hear they are a bit different, so I would just recommend you bring it from home as well.

In terms of disposal of feminine hygiene products, I actually discussed this with the other girls! A few of them actually kept a separate trash bag in their room, and they would bring it to school to throw it away!

I actually tried this, but one day after school, I came back to my room, AND IT WAS GONE. I’m pretty sure my host mom threw it away for me HAHA, so from then on, I just threw it away in their trashcan. But I did note where they threw away pads, which was not in the bathroom but in a specific trash bag outside (Koreans are keen are separating their trash, so pay attention!). And it was fine! Periods are natural, and your host family will understand.

Leaking. Personally, I leaked only once (because the rest of the times, I was afraid so I made sure I was well-… umm… well-protected? and changed often!!). I just washed my shorts/underwear in the bathroom with regular shampoo, and then I put it on a hanger in my room to dry. Once it dried, I just put it in the regular wash! No big deal!

 

Extra Period Story:

My host mom noticed I wasn’t eating as much as usual, I guess, and she asked me if I was okay. I wasn’t sure if I should mention that I was on period (because I don’t even tell my own family that hahah), but I didn’t want her to think that I didn’t like the food or anything. And so, I ended up telling my host mom that I was on my period, and SHE WAS SO SWEET. She was like, “Aww, does your stomach hurt?” and I just said “A little, but it’s okay.”  Later that night, she knocked on my door, showed me her phone that said “I always give this to my daughter when she’s on her period,” and lifted up the heating pad that was wrapped in a towel. ;____; What did I do to deserve such a loving host family?

Communicating with your Host Family…. and Translation Errors 

2018-2019 NSLI-Y APPLICATIONS JUST OPENED. I’m making video on the whole application/interview process + my tips, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask on ask.fm/imnhadang and I’ll answer it in the video ^^

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Many people are afraid of being able to communicate with their host family, but don’t be! Chances are they’re afraid too. It’ll become a mutual thing, where you’ll be able to scope how much English they know, and they’ll see how much of the target language you know, and you’ll be able to find a common ground (where you speak in a mixture of both hahaha)!

Some host families speak a lot of English, some speak almost none! Mine didn’t speak that much English, but I was still able to get really close to them!

Though I encourage you to speak as much of the target language as you can, it may be difficult especially in the first few weeks.

That being said, many (if not all) of us on our program ended up using Naver or Google Translate, and our host family would too. So, for example, I would type in English and translate it to Korean, and my host family would type in Korean and translate it to English. We would go back and forth like that showing each other our phones, but you know, with translate apps comes with translation errors…

Here’s some I kept track of:

1. Nha: my 13 year old host brother wrote “theres so many things i want to do to you” but it was supposed to say “theres so many things the family wants to do with you”

2. Thao: so my host mom meant to say to me “are you still going?” but she mistyped into google translate and for the first time i got asked “are you still a whore?”

3. Jade: my host dad wanted to know if there is a difference between “idc and suit yourself” But instead he said “idc or shoot yourself”

4. Thao: so I was talking to my host mom about how I liked the flute/sax guys and their vibrato techniques so I meant to say “I also like to listen to and play with vibrato” except my dumbass self got played by autocorrect and now she thinks I like to listen to and play with vibrators 😳

… but in the end, you’ll laugh about it all! Don’t worry too much about communication because you’ll realize on the trip that communication comes in more forms than speaking (expect a lot of charades). However, do use the barrier to motivate you to learn the language quicker and do try your best to slowly stray from translation apps… you may be able to avoid the awkward translation errors!

 

The Unfamiliar: Emotions | Leaving Korea

**I sucked at updating my blog so watch my vlogs for daily activities!! However, I will be using this blog to talk more about other things I experienced in Korea!**

With Senior Year, I thought it would be hard to say goodbye to many “lasts.” It wasn’t. I easily left my school, my clubs, and my friends with a single wave and a couple of hugs. I didn’t cry; I was mostly happy it was all over.

I’ve always been like this—unable to express any emotions or portray a certain feeling. If you know me, you know.

But you know what was hard to say goodbye to? You know what I cried so much for? Leaving Korea. 

I honestly didn’t think I was going to get attached. It was just going to be a couple weeks with a family who decided to give me a place to stay and classes with a few other students. It was going to be normal, and we would say the “I miss you”s but never talk to one another again afterwards.

However, when I woke up on the morning of August 2nd, I could feel the emptiness as I knew this would be a day of lasts.

As I walked out the door, I heard the every day “Good Morning!” from my brother. Tears began to form as I knew this familiar sound would not follow me to America. Gotta blast to the bathroom before I get more feeLERS.

When I sat down to eat breakfast, he again approached me and said “See you again! Goodbye…” He had to go to school, and man, I was so freaking sad. I didn’t know he would be leaving so early.

We took a picture, and when he walked out the door, I ate breakfast really fast and ran into my room as to not show to my host sister and mom that I was literally on the brink of bawling.

I got into my room and man, the waterfalls. I heard a knock at my door, and I was like, shoot. Gotta not look like a mess. I told them to wait a little, and five minutes later, I opened the door.

They handed me a present, and THEY MADE ME A SCRAPBOOK. It had all our pictures in chronological order, and they gave me a bag full of gifts… They bought me two more fans, and they got me lots of snacks. I guess the day before they saw my star earrings, and so they got me a star/moon necklace and a star bracelet…

It was so thoughtful, and I bawled some more—just not in front of them. Can’t show that you have emotions, ya know? #justnhathings

When we left, I don’t know if they did this on purpose OR WHAT, BUT THE CAR RIDE WAS FILLED WITH DEPRESSO MUSIC. So here I am, pretending that this tears are just from yawning and that I just have a running nose.

Literally, in my head, I was thinking “Jenny looks like an egg an egg an egg and egg,” so that I wouldn’t feel sad.

When we got out of the car, I saw the other students, and I felt less sad because it was casual. We were just all talking and taking pictures.

But when Sora was finally like, “Everyone, it’s time to get on the bus.” I turned to hug my mom, and she started crying. Then, I started crying. And then, I hugged my sister, and then I started bawling.

And I can’t even express how grateful I am for them in Korean, so here I am crying saying “Thank you” about 403583845x.

I’m going to miss them so much.

I got on the bus, and I kept getting waves of feeLERS, and I would just randomly start crying. Ad then Kyuhee kept coming up and being like “Don’t cry!” which made me crY EVEN MORE.

And on the flight, I put my eye mask on to sleep, BUT SILENCE AND DARKNESS MAKES ME THINK. AND I WAS JUST THINKING OF EVERYTHING AND FREAKING CRYING ONCE MORE.

I was and am an emotional wreck. But you know, it made me realize exactly how important this trip was for me.

I was angry a lot of the time and bothered by the rules and the assignments and the homework and the tests, but man, I learned a lot, and I loved a lot.

I was surrounded by people who were so wholesome and surrounded by people who expressed their love plenty and surrounded by people who made me feel like I was truly family.

I may be crying, but I’m so happy—so, so freaking happy—to have had this experience.

 

 

 

 

First Week in Korea

Can I just start off by saying I love my host family?

June 24th-25th: First Weekend w/ Host Family 

In the morning, I went to barista training with my host mom, and I really enjoyed it! I don’t like coffee myself, but it was actually really interesting to see how they made it. My mom kept asking if it was boring, but it wasn’t!! I just like spending time with her even if I can’t talk much Korean.

Afterwards, I went to McDonalds with my host mom, brother, and sister! I got a bulgogi burger there, and it was good!

Then, we went to this awards ceremony for their volunteer group, and there was an intense cheerleading (?) team! It was cool because I saw them in vaseeka’s NSLI-Y vlogs 2 years ago, and now I got to see it for myself!

There, I finally met my host dad! He was so nice and funny, and he brought me flowers! We all went to get Korean BBQ after that, and it was so good. I was stuffed and in love with pork.

They accommodate so much for me, and I am eternally appreciative. They give me the only room with a fan, and they bought me so many extra mini fans to bring to school! They keep feeding me so much, and they always wait for me to eat before they start (which I know I should wait for the oldest, but they really insist I eat first). Whenever I eat something new, they always watch me take my first bite and ask me “Is it delicious?” They’re just so cute, and they make me feel so welcome in their home.

On Sunday, I was really confused because my host dad told me to go, and I thought he was going to show me the way to the convenience store so I didn’t bring anything, but TURNS OUT, WE WERE GOING TO CHINA TOWN. It was so nice though (even though I didn’t have my camera to prove that ;__;).

It was so cute; they recreated a picture of my host mom by a statue from 12 years ago. Then, we went to the culture center with my host mom and brother, and we met up with almost all the other NSLI-Yians.

We painted fans and made these bowl-like things, and we watched this show. I was really tired by then and falling asleep, but it was really fun meeting up with everyone!

Afterwards, I ate fried chicken with Miguel and Caleb’s family, and it was so good. I love Korean fried chicken. It’s nice not to be in a big group sometimes because I got to know them a little more through this!

June 26th: Seoul Tour 

Seoul consisted a lot of cancelled plans, but, nevertheless, it was super fun!

We first went to the U.S. embassy, so they could go over what to do if anything happened to us in Korea and things like that. It was a short presentation, but it was refreshing to see other “foreigners.”

Then, we went to eat some spicy pork and more, and we’re all shocked at how it was only $9 and fed 5 people! Then, we got some bingsu!

We were supposed to go to the Hangul Museum, but we found it was closed on Mondays, so we went to the National Museum of Contemporary History. It was actually pretty interesting, and this is coming from a person who doesn’t like history (hehe).

After, we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace, and we took a buncha pictures! It was so pretty, and it’s cool seeing how preserved this place is.

We were allowed to roam around for awhile, so I went with Anand and Jenny to wander. We ended up eating ramen and taking even more pictures.

It started raining, so the TA’s and our RD decided it would be best if we stayed indoors, so we went to a noraebang (karaoke), and it was so fun! The TA’s are so energetic, and everyone was so lively.

I love the nightlife in Seoul (esp the cute street performers).

June 27th: Homeplus + Convenience Store Adventures

Homeplus is like, home to everything. I was finally able to get a straightener, and I bought so many snacks!

Afterwards, Ellie and I thought it would be cool to just have a kdrama-type experience, so we headed to the convenience store! I’m pretty sure the cashier was lowkey judging us because we bought ramen, kimbap, and milk then went back for some more ice cream. I was so stuffed, but it was so fun!

June 30th: Hongdae 

After school on Friday, a group of us decided to go to Hongdae to explore! It’s such a nice place, and it’s overwhelmed with so many restaurants and stores.

We first ate KBBQ, which was really little but it was good. And then, we went to the Meerkat Cafe!! Can I just say that I’ve never been more happy?? The meerkats are in this little pen, and a group of 5 is allowed at a time. At first, we were sitting, and they didn’t go up to us that much. Like if anything, one would come up then leave. But then, one just went into my lap, and it stayed there for a really long time. Then, all of them just kept coming on my lap, and then I had like 8 of them, and they were all sleeping. I was just petting them and trying not to scream out of happiness. I love meerkats.

We then just wandered for awhile, and some people got mandu (dumplings) and ice cream.

Then, home we went!

 

Arrival in Korea + Stay at SUNY

June 20th: Flight

We woke up at 5:30AM, and once we got ready, we brought our luggage down and checked out.

We got this party bus thing that looked like a limo on the inside! The ride to the airport was like, 1.5 hours, but we just all talked!

Once we got to the airport, we just sat around until our zone was called. Then, it was off to Detroit! I slept the entire time that flight which was pretty nice.

At our stop in Detroit, we had a 2-3 hour layover, so we got lunch at Popeyes (our last official meal in America).

Then, it’s off to Incheon! It’s a 12 hour flight, and I just slept for an hour. They served us bibimbap (not sure if this too counts as a last meal in America but not really, ya know)!

I ended up just editing vlogs, and I watched Beauty and the Beast and Moana.

June 21st: Arrival

We arrived on June 21st, and, surprisingly, I was okay! It was 6PM, and we took a party (?) bus to SUNY.

We put our stuff into our rooms, and we went to Homeplus to buy anything we needed.I ended up buying a towel (which was kinda expensive so I do recommend you just bring one at home) and a notebook. We also got our first meal in Korea, and I ordered spicy pork! Then, back to the room to rest!


My roommate was Cassi, and it was fun! It did weird me out that there wasn’t a day on the shower though, but it was okay; we just worked ways to sit so that we wouldn’t be staring directly into the shower when one of us was in there. BUT we couldn’t change the water temperature??? It was just super hot, so I ended up showering in the sink HAHA

June 22nd: First Class

We had our first class, and the teachers are so nice! The class also passes by really quick, so it’s super fun. Not much to say about the classes, but I’m super excited to continue learning.

If you’re planning to go to Korea on NSLI-Y, they move pretty fast through Hangul, so it’ll be much easier if you learn it at home and just reinforce your pronunciation here.

We get a lot of breaks in between classes, and this is us after lunch!

We also went on an IFEZ (International Free Economic Zone) tour and learned about how this city was built in a little over 10 years!! 

It was a lot of tours and walking, and I definitely wore the wrong shoes HAHA We also took a ferry, and it was nice! (KEEPING COUNT: Ice Cream #1)

We got back to the SUNY, and we got delivery! We split into three groups: Fried Chicken, Korean-Chinese food, and Kimbap. I chose fried chicken, and it definitely lived up to its hype.

Our curfew was 12AM this day, so I went with Cassi and Ellie to Homeplus, but we got lost and ended up eating patbingsu! (KEEPING COUNT: Patbingsu #1)

Friday: Host Family

Oo, the day has come.

After class, we ran to our rooms and got all our stuff down to meet our host families.

Only my host mom came, but it was really awkward at first because we quickly realized how little we talk in one another’s language HAHA

But in the car ride, she was trying really hard to use her translator app and IT WAS SO CUTE.

There was a translation error though, and she wrote “It’s all over now.” AND I WAS SO CONFUSED. Turns out, she was trying to say “We’re almost home.” LOL

They gave me the only room with A/C, and I could see them sitting around in the other room with a fan ;-; I felt so bad.

I met my host sister, who’s 16, and my host brother, who’s 13!

I think my host brother was scared to meet me at first because he was shaking LOL But I think he quickly settled because he came up to me and asked “Do you like pizza?” SO CUTE.

My host sister had to go to the academy (she has exams in 2 weeks), so my host mom and brother ate dinner with me.

We ate bulgogi, and she told me that she wanted to make a traditional Korean dinner for my first night there.

We also ended up taking a walk with my host mom and brother and going around the traditional markets. She bought me hoddeok and sikhye, and I felt so stuffed, but I don’t know how to refuse HAHA Then, we went to this place, and she bought MORE food (pork mandu)! My host brother always watches me when I take my first bite, and then he asks “Is it delicious? Korea’s famous!”

We waited for my host sister to finish class, and we walked around some more. It was so cute because she said, “When I finish my exams, lets go to noraebang!”

Initial thoughts: Though we can’t communicate through words a lot, they really are trying their best to accommodate for me, and I love them so much! They always talk amongst each other and try to figure out the correct English words to talk to me, and they make me want to learn Korean even faster. I posted like 52395274529 snaps about them because I can’t get over how great they are.

Excited for what is to come!

 

PDO (Pre-Departure Orientation)

Sunday, June 18 

6AM: Airport

I’m currently sitting in LAX, and I just said bye to mi parentals. My mom cried (hi mom!), but little does she know, she doesn’t have to yell at anyone anymore for the next 6 weeks.

It’s my first international flight since I was 2, and my first flight by myself!

It’s just so crazy to even be here. I keep thinking that it’s going to be a scam and that it’s too good to be true, but I’m really here. I can’t wait to meet all the other participants, my host family, and all the professors/RDs.

5PM: In Flight

My flight was supposed to be at JFK at 3:54PM and it’s 5:23PM right now ;-; I feel so bad for Ellie who’s taking the taxi with me to Stonybrook because I can’t tell her that my flight is late! I don’t think we’re going to get there until 6:30 to 7PM ahh

9PM: Arrival

My taxi driver, Greg, was so fun to talk to for the entire ride up here! He was so nice, and he just made the whole beginning of the trip great.

I checked in, and then I met up with the rest of the participants in a room. We ended up playing mafia, attempting to watch kdrama/a scary movie, and just talking. Ooo, also, my roommate’s Ellie! Everyone’s so nice, and I know it’s going to be a wild, fun next 6.5 weeks 😭

Monday, June 19

8AM

We got up at around 7AM, and we went to go breakfast with the rest of the participants. After that, we walked over to Stony Brook University from the Hilton to begin our official orientation. She went through all of these topics:

and it got us all prepped on what to expect when we went get to Korea!

We also got into groups and wrote down common expressions and did this kinda drawing-guessing game.

It was around 5:30PM when we finished up, and we got Italian for dinner! We were free to rest after, so we can took a few “group” (not group bc not everyone saw the group pic message ;__;) pictures hehe

PLANE TO SOUTH KOREA TOMORROW. CRAZY. WILD.

Host Family Information + Gifts (T-1 Day ’til PDO)

안녕하세요 (Hello)!

On June 14, I woke up to this email, which is super exciting! homestay info

I’m going to be living in Namgu, Incheon City, which is around a 45 minutes bus ride to SUNY Stony Brook. Luckily, I’ll be living around 3-5 other participants, so we can all meet up to commute together.

I emailed my host mom immediately after seeing that email, and I was really scared because she didn’t reply, and I really needed to get my host family gifts. However, I ended up messaging her on Kakao Talk on June 16th, and she replied to me today, June 17!

I’m going to have a sister and a brother, which is really exciting. I’m not sure their ages, but my host mom sent me a picture, and they look around the same age as me!

As for host family gifts, I got them a lot of American candy, Takis, vitamins, and California t-shirts! I hope they like it!

I also finished packing today. I’m taking one check-in, one carry-on, and one small backpack as my personal item!

I’m leaving tomorrow, and that’s absolutely insane. I still remember when I discovered this program in 7th grade, and I’m finally going to be able to live it rather than just read about it.

I’ll be making weekly vlogs, so you can follow along through the “Youtube” link on the top of the blog as well!!

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곧 만나요 (See you soon) ♡

T-10 Days Til Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO)

안녕하세요 (Hello)! Man, it’s just getting closer, and I’m getting more excited.

On June 1st, we got the rest of our flight information, and we’re going to be so jet lagged when we get to Korea. We’re leaving at 11AM New York time and arriving at 3AM New York time (6PM Korean time). I’m sure the adrenaline from just being there will keep us awake though. It just feels more real seeing the details for the actual flight.

Screenshot at Jun 09 00-16-19.png

When I get to New York, I’ll be taking a taxi to Stony Brook University with another participant named Ellie! There’s four different groups, so we’ll all be arriving at different times.

So that’s all about Korea for now! They did note that we will be receiving our host family information “soon.”

On a different note, I have one more week left of school! Since I’m not going to graduation, my friend will be reading my valedictorian speech on my behalf, so that’s exciting too! I’ll be getting updates while on my flight to New York hehe

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곧 만나요 (See you soon) ♡