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STUDY ABROAD DIARY: Seoul, South Korea

Well, after I booked my flight I realized that I'll actually be in Korea for 50 days but I had already set up my URL and it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? :D
I will be a sophomore at Rice University this fall. This will be my second time studying in Seoul! I came last summer as a part of the NSLI-Y program. If you have any questions about that program or about study abroad in Korea, feel free to ask me!

I will use this blog to document my studies at Yonsei University and all my adventures this summer. Last summer was the time of my life; I hope this one tops it! The journey starts June 18th! ^^

cupcakemaster512 asked: Alrighty, my name is Blanca, I'm from Austin, TX and an entering freshman in The University of Texas in San Antonio this upcoming fall 2012. So I have a series of questions about the Yonsei University International Summer School. 1)Is it a competitive program to get into? 2)What was the best part of your trip? 3)I am bilingual, as in I'm fluent in Spanish and English, but would you recommend I learn some Korean before the program starts? 4)Is it more useful to learn Chinese than Korean? Thanks:)


Answer:

Hello Blanca! I’m so glad that my study abroad blog can be a resource for you even a year after I finished the blog. To answer your questions:

1. I don’t believe YISS to be a very competitive program. I could be wrong but I don’t you should have any problem getting in.

2. Best part of the trip is definitely the people you meet. Definitely live in the dorms on campus even though it can be a bit costly. I went through CIEE, which provided me with a smaller group of friends that I am still very close with. If you can find anything like that, I would definitely recommend it! YISS is huge and it can hard to find a friend group to plug into. :/

3. No Korean knowledge is required before the program! If you’re planning to take a Korean language course, Yonsei has courses ranging from beginner I to advanced III, so no worries. But if you are a quick learner and want to get the most out of your summer, it might be worth your while to learn the Korean alphabet and some basic vocabulary. The beginner classes spend a lot of time on alphabet and basic vocab/sentence structure (stuff I think you can pick up easily on your own).

4. I’m not sure I understand the question. If you mean in order to learn Korean, then Chinese is definitely useful but it’ll take you longer to learn Chinese than Korean so there’s really no point. If you meant in general, Chinese is an increasingly important language in the world so it would be good to know if you want to go into anything international after college. If you were going to learn both anyway, I’d go with Chinese first :P but honestly, if you don’t have interest/passion for it, it’ll be hard to really learn a language well. So I say go with what you’re more interested in!

Hope that helped, feel free to ask me more questions! :)

— 1 year ago with 1 note
#cupcakemaster512  #south korea  #study abroad  #faq  #questions  #korea  #summer  #yonsei 

2011 Yonsei International Summer School (YISS)

Camera guy loved following me and my friends around so I see myself quite a lot in this video actually. LOL Lots of good memories <3

— 2 years ago with 8 notes
#yonsei  #yonsei international summer school  #ciee  #study abroad  #seoul  #south korea 
This is exactly how ramen gets made at my host family&#8217;s house. Exact same stove, exact same pot. 

This is exactly how ramen gets made at my host family’s house. Exact same stove, exact same pot. 

(Source: aegyobitch, via unicornofthesea)

— 2 years ago with 8226 notes
#study abroad  #Korea  #south korea  #seoul  #host family  #ramen 
Me in front of the part of Yonsei University that was used to film the Korean drama IRIS! 

Me in front of the part of Yonsei University that was used to film the Korean drama IRIS! 

— 2 years ago with 10 notes
#study abroad  #seoul  #Korea  #yonsei  #yonsei university 
Day 50: Power shopping and departure!

So nothing much happened the last day except shopping. I went to Myeongdong twice to buy masks for my mom and then went to Edeh (I think this romanization looks so weird but I guess Idae looks even weirder) to shop around and bought a shirt and then went back to Myeongdong and got a purse for my mom. I was pretty tired by the time I got home so I made dinner and packed some more and just skyped my mom before I slept. 

Monday morning I got up and packed and skyped my parents again since my dad just got back from China. I went to Apgujeong to eat some Ox Tail Soup for my last meal in Korea and bought a card for my host family. I tried to leave earlier but it ended up not happening because… well, it’s me. But since I planned to leave earlier than I was suppose to, I wasn’t late at all. I had to walk to the bus stop with my luggage in the rain though, since I didn’t have any open hands to hold my umbrella with. Sat at the bus stop for a while and stood up every time I saw an airport bus (LOL I felt like an idiot but I was really nervous about missing the bus) until finally mine came. Loaded my luggage onto the bus and slept most of the way to the airport after the scenery got kind of bland. 

The plane ride was not that bad actually. I sat next to a senior from U of H who had been studying abroad in Beijing for the summer. He was pretty nice but I slept through most of the flight and only woke up for the meals and towards the end when it was like 1pm in LA so I decided I shouldn’t sleep anymore. 

Coming back to LA this time wasn’t as bad as last time. Last time was harder for certain reasons but also I think because it was right after senior year, I still wanted to spend more time abroad. But this time after a whole year away, I just really wanted to go home already. Sure, I’ll miss Korea and everything but I’m sure I’ll be back again in the next few years, even if it’s only for a week or two. 

So this concludes my experience abroad. Thank you to everyone who has followed me through my journey! I hope that my blog has perhaps motivated you to study abroad yourself. It truly is an extremely life changing and rewarding experience. I might continue to post some pictures if I want to share them, but this concludes most of what this blog was for. If you would like, you can follow me at my personal blog: abovethecloudss.

— 2 years ago with 2 notes
#study abroad  #seoul  #Korea  #end of the journey  #last post :( 
Day 47-49: Last few days…

So the last few days of the program. School ended on Thursday, we took our finals, and everyone began leaving. This is the part I hate, the goodbyes. I am too sentimental for this. My host family left today for Thailand, I’m not really sure what they are doing there because it doesn’t sound like simple vacation. Whatever, even though they are ditching me and making me go to the airport by myself and not really spending any time with me after all my studying is over, I still sort of teared up when they left. 

And today some of my friends left, in the next few hours more are leaving. I don’t feel super super close to anyone, not as close as I feel to people back home but I have made some really good friends here. Unlike my friends back home, I might not see some of these people ever again. Because we’re not so close as to go out of our way to see each other again. It’s these friendships that I find to be pitiful. If I lived on campus, perhaps I would have formed stronger bonds with some of these people but there are only one or two people that I really identify with.

Anyway, moving on from that mushy stuff. I am sleeping over tonight in my friend’s room as I did last night. Last night I had a farewell dinner with my CIEE group. I left earlier, right after dinner, so that I could come back and hang out with people that were leaving. We had bbq buffet and unlimited wine and beer. Apparently, Sean got really drunk at the dinner and was just once again, one hot mess. Not even a hot mess, just one huge mess. Somehow I feel embarrassed for him. He called me when I was out with my friends, claiming that he was bored and yelling at me for not hanging out with him as much as we had talked about. I couldn’t really tell he was drunk until I said that he should have called me first and that whenever I asked him to hangout he said that he had to study, this was when he started cussing and I immediately knew that he was drunk. This morning I had lunch with some of the CIEE kids but Sean was MIA so the other kids were telling me about how drunk Sean was (apparently when he called me, he wasn’t as drunk as he ended up being). He really wanted to go clubbing (and had told me that he was going with some “Rice friends”—which apparently is a group that I do not belong to— but David told me this morning that he ended up going by himself. -__- I just don’t know what to say about Sean anymore. We weren’t super close, I didn’t know that much about him outside of fellowship, but I think this summer has made us even more distant than before.

Whatever. Then I went home before my host family left for Thailand so I could say goodbye. After taking a shower and cooking dinner, I met up with my friends since more people were leaving tonight/tmr. We sent Anthony off at 4:46am and by then I could barely stay awake. It is now almost 7am and I am freezing, I think I am getting sick.

— 2 years ago with 2 notes
#study abroad  #seoul  #Korea  #south korea  #goodbyes  #friendship  #Summer 
Day 44: Best day ever.

So day 44 was a while ago, Sunday to be exact, and also when I went to Inkigayo. Again. A very very important day. 

Basically, we got to the SBS station about 11am but we could only see a crap load of middle school girls lining the streets, which we later discovered were all Teen Top fan girls. I didn’t really think they were that popular but it was a humongous line of fangirls that stretched across the intersection. Anyway, plan was to queue with the T-ara fanclub since my friend Rita and Ali got in with them last week to Music Core. So we ran around for a while trying to find the fanclub and finally we find someone and ask and they tell us that T-ara isn’t prerecording so the fanclub will probably get there around 1. We get food because we are all starving and then Ali runs around with me in the rain trying to find a place to buy a T-ara album (you need one to get in with the fanclub) because I didn’t have one. That was unsuccessful but we ended up getting in anyway. There were 6 of us and the rest of them had CDs and because we were foreigners, they didn’t check up very carefully and made up 1st priority fans. :) 

So we got our tickets and basically saw EVERYONE. Remember how I said that when I went last week, Gikwang wasn’t there? But THIS WEEK HE WAS! I lost my voice from screaming at him but he waved at me so it was all very veryyy worth it. <3 

A lot of the groups that pre-recorded last week (and thus, we didn’t get to see) did live this week. So I got to see um… MBLAQ, 2NE1, miss A, T-ara (obviously), After School Red and Blue, Infinite, Boyfriend, Hyunah, Teen Top, and a bunch of other people that I can’t remember right now. We sat with the T-ara fanclub in our own area and because we were higher up, we could see behind the backdrops, so when the idols got off stage and walked to the backstage door (which was on our side), I’d wave to them and if they saw they would wave back! ^^ So much fun!! 

A very memorable day indeed. I love Korea so much~

— 2 years ago with 3 notes
#study abroad  #Korea  #seoul  #sbs  #Inkigayo  #gikwang  #T-ara  #kpop 
Host family drank my coffee.

It was a bad idea to leave one of them in the fridge. It’s not that I really care that they drank my coffee, it’s more that there is no other coffee in the house and I kind of need it to study efficiently… -sigh- Maybe I’ll just sleep earlier and wake up earlier and go out and get some coffee. Yes, that sounds like a good plan. 

Edit: Screw it. I can stay awake right? I’m like almost fricking nocturnal anyway.

— 2 years ago with 2 notes
#study abroad  #stress stress stress  #coffee  #caffeine  #korea  #seoul 
Day 45-46: I am so sick and tired of studying.

I hate doing film notes. They are the worst things ever. I am falling asleep on this cafe’s couch right now. 

I had my listening and writing final for Korean today, and I’d kind of like to say that I beasted it. I didn’t really study that much since I was doing film notes last night. I only really copied down the grammar and tried to cram them into my head on the subway. Didn’t go over any vocab but somehow I made it through the test without being stumped on anything, not that that means I didn’t get anything wrong. But I don’t even want to think about it since we get our test results in two days anyway. 

I have reading and speaking tomorrow. Speaking is an interview and there is really no way to prepare for it. I’m not very good at speaking; when I get nervous, random grammar just comes out of my mouth and sometimes it doesn’t make any sense at all. So I am just going to bank on the fact that I ace my listening, writing, and reading and hopefully, overall it averages out to be an A. 

Cinema professor told us today that the test was going to be 50 MC questions. Doesn’t sound too hard, so I’ll just go over my readings and film notes after Korean final part 2 tomorrow. Hopefully, I can get an A in that class despite my horrible participation and my inactivity on our wiki. I don’t really think that many people have been posting on the wiki like she wanted so hopefully she doesn’t fail us all in that area. 

— 2 years ago
#study abroad  #finals week  #seoul  #Korea  #yonsei  #korean language  #korean cinema 
Because I like my new shirt and you can see part of my classroom. :) 
This summer has been a lot more work than I expected but I think it has been a very good and necessary experience. I think for once, I feel like a normal college student. Taking notes in class, going to lectures, doing my homework, studying with friends, hanging out on the weekends. There is no architecture or studio to worry about. Something I&#8217;m not going to experience again after this summer probably. 

Because I like my new shirt and you can see part of my classroom. :) 

This summer has been a lot more work than I expected but I think it has been a very good and necessary experience. I think for once, I feel like a normal college student. Taking notes in class, going to lectures, doing my homework, studying with friends, hanging out on the weekends. There is no architecture or studio to worry about. Something I’m not going to experience again after this summer probably. 

— 2 years ago with 6 notes
#study abroad  #seoul  #Korea  #shopping  #class  #new shirt  #clothes  #fashion 
I leave my room to use the bathroom…

And I see my host dad knocked out with his head on the table. His friends are eating the noodles that my host mom made. She has so much patience. I would hate to cook at like 1am for my husband’s drunk friends while my husband is passed out. My host brother is still awake because sadly he sleeps outside and doesn’t have to wake up tomorrow morning. Host sister is trying to sleep in the master bedroom but I doubt to any avail because I can hear them over my movie. o__o 

On the other hand, host mom gave me some noodles! I guess I am now obligated to stay up a little later. Haha, but ehhh, these film notes are killing me. I hate doing them. 

— 2 years ago
#study abroad  #seoul  #south korea  #Korea  #film notes are a pain in the behinddd 
Wow, just this morning, I was telling my mom about how I think my host dad has a high alcohol tolerance.

How I think he probably has to do 회식 (AKA go drinking with his co-workers) often, but I’ve never really seen him drunk. Just now, he comes home with his two “best friends” and they smell of alcohol and asks me to talk to them. One of them ran away to the couch saying it was weird and the other one rambled to me in pretty decent English and showed me his itinerary for his trip to LA in September. When he found out I was not Korean, he started speaking Chinese to me. I bet he can drink a lot because he wasn’t out of it at all. 

But oh my gosh, so fricking weird. Thank goodness my host sister was like Abba, Jessica needs to study! After I was excused to go back to studying, I saw my host dad bring out the bottles of soju, beer, and chinese liquor from the refrigerator. Now they are drinking in the living room I am sure… I guess I won’t be sleeping early like I planned. 

Oh, host mom just got back with host brother! It’s midnight. o__o But whatever, at least it’s not two girls and three drunk guys in the house. At least now they probably won’t get too crazy. I think they’re back because my host sister went into the room and called her mom (I think she was just as weirded out as I was). 

LOLOL Host mom just opened my door and mouthed to me “WTF is this?” in Korean. LOLOLOL This is going to be a very interesting night…

— 2 years ago
#study abroad  #seoul  #Korea  #south korea  #drinking  #korean drinking culture 
Day 42-43: HONGDAE CLUBDAY<3 

So Friday was a very very memorable day. 7.29.2011 - Jessica lost her clubbing virginity, with great pleasure. 

I was suppose to go to Lotte World with Stephanie but I found out in the morning, when I was already running late that Nayeon didn’t want to go anymore and I didn’t really know anyone else that was going. Also heard that Stephanie arranged this whole thing so she could hang out with this cute guy from her Korean class… typical Stephanie. Therefore, Nayeon and I decided to just study together instead of going. Lotte World, to me, is sort of a you-have-to-go-at-least-once sort of deal but nothing really makes me want to go twice. I’d rather save my money for Disneyland. 

Didn’t get much studying done but the whole day was in anticipation of clubbing at night. I ended staying in Nayeon and Christine’s room instead of Stephanie’s because I realized that if I didn’t go to Lotte World with her, she’d probably get mad at me and not go clubbing and sleeping in her room would just be awkward. While we were studying though, the cafe played club music and eventually I managed to convince Christine (she goes to MIT!) to go clubbing with me. 

It was Jon’s birthday so people got kind of wild and Jon, of course, got pretty drunk. There were a bunch of people I didn’t know, people that I would have really not cared to have known, but I guess, it is better to go clubbing with people that party and truly enjoy it. Met the skanky Nayeon from Bus C, the one that I blogged about previously, except I didn’t know her name was Nayeon. There was also Rachel, who I think was the other girl raving about that guy’s arm muscles with Nayeon at Jeju. She was nice though and she didn’t drink. A little crazy and loud but really nice. I guess I was too quick to judge. :/ SORRY RACHELLE. But Nayeon is one crazy girl, I think she ended up leaving with some random guy she met… scary and dangerous but she disappeared before anyone could do anything about it. And from her friends’ reactions, this isn’t the first time. 

Anyway, it was Club Day so $20 for all the participating clubs in Hongdae. We went to Barfly in Sinchon first. I am amazed at the fact that girls get in free while guys have to pay $5. And they give everyone free drink coupons. I tried to give my free drink coupons to the birthday boy but he was too busy downing drinks to take them. -__- Anyway, on to Hongdae, we went to NB2 first, then Harlem, then NB1. NB2 was fun and Harlem was pretty good. NB2 had good music and Harlem was fun too. They played some kpop but had a lot more techno (which wasn’t as much fun because I like dancing more to songs with words). By the time we got out of Harlem, it was like 2am I think and we just sat outside for a bit, while all the people that needed to pee, peed and all the people that needed to puke, puked. NB1 was way too crowded. I was smashed up against a speaker box with Kevin and Christine for about 5 minutes before I said, okay, this is stupid, let’s leave. We sat outside talking for a while and at 3am, we decided to call cabs and leave. Took a taxi with Kevin (Kevin is from UCI, Tgu!), Anthony, and Christine that was only $5. Awesomeness. 

Went back to Christine and Nayeon’s (nice Nayeon) room and took a shower and stuff. Nayeon wasn’t there at first and wouldn’t pick up her phone. Eventually she texts back saying she’s with Budi (they like each other and are going on a date tomorrow… SO CUTE) and she brings back ice cream and Budi. There are supposedly very strict rules that guests cannot visit without signing in and cannot stay overnight. There are even stricter rules about how boys are not suppose to be on girl floors and vice versa. So me sleeping over and Budi coming into their room was some serious rule breaking for one night. LOL But yeah, we just talked while Christine skyped her MIT, white boyfriend (he is just as funny as she is and they talk about things like planned parenthood like it’s no big deal). Lots of fun but wahh, ended up sleeping at like 5:56am. Slept until 1pm. 

I woke up earlier but couldn’t really do anything since they were both sleeping. But not long after I washed up, Stephanie calls and reminds Nayeon that they were suppose to go to KBS today. Thing is Stephanie holds a grudge and she is still mad at both Nayeon and me. I don’t even know why Steph wanted Nayeon to go. She brought her other friend and when we were walking to the subway/on the subway, she didn’t acknowledge us at all. Nayeon didn’t really want to go but was too scared of Steph to ditch her twice in a row. As Christine put it, Steph would have probably chopped off Nayeon’s head if she did. 

So I ate lunch with Nayeon, Christine, and Anthony (whom wasn’t going to go to KBS but Nayeon convinced to go so she’d have someone to talk to while Stephanie ignores her), and took the subway with them since we were going the same way. Got home and the internet wasn’t working too well so I decided to go to the Holly’s Coffee in my area and connect to a shady network called dlink. Hope I didn’t get hacked. 

I was suppose to go out with Andrea to Banpo Bridge and shop at Dongdaemun tonight but it ended up being a big group and because they had to wait for everyone, they were like an hour late. I decided that there was no point for me to go if I could only shop for an hour before the subway closes and I have to head back. I’ve already seen the rainbow fountain at Banpo Bridge last year so I’ll just find someone more reliable to go to Dongdaemun with. Or fuck it, I’ll just go by myself. I’m sort of pissed because I had specifically told her that we shouldn’t wait for people, that if they were already out, they should just meet us at Banpo because then we wouldn’t make the show or have enough time to shop. UGH. 

Anyway, this is a really long post. I am going to go study now. On a positive note, I got an email back from my professor saying that my film notes were awesome and that I get an A! YESSSSSS<3 She’s still a crazy psycho though. Anyone from UCI, never take class from Michelle Cho. 

— 2 years ago
#study abroad  #seoul  #south korea  #Korea  #clubbing  #hongdae  #club hopping  #rule breaking rebels  #oh yeahhh  #dongdaemun fail