Just over three months have passed since I left the beautiful city of Seoul, and a considerably hectic schedule has defeated my earnest attempts at posting consistently on this blog. I’m currently in the midst of applying to be an alumni representative (!) for the Dallas area, and I was revisiting some of my posts for some essay inspiration.
Just in case any applicants out there waiting for their semi-finalist notifications are binging blogs like I did last year, I thought I’d write a quick update on what I’ve been up to since NSLI-Y.
Staying in Touch
To my delight, I’ve maintained contact with quite a few of the people I met in Seoul. I talk with my host parents, my supporter, and other groups’ supporters pretty frequently! As someone whose strong suit has never been staying in touch, I’ve come to really appreciate how often Korean people reach out through social media or just text me out of the blue and ask how I’m doing. It’s so touching, and I’m so happy that the relationships I started in Korea are actually long-lasting. In fact, my supporter group has Skyped nearly every weekend since the end of the program! I think it’s a decent accomplishment considering how busy we all are.
As for people from my program, I’ve kept in touch with many of them too! I talk with my friend from the same supporter group just about every day and met up with a friend from my class while I was in LA this week on vacation. It’s really nice to have a group of people I know I can always reach out to comfortably and talk with about pretty much anything.
Yeah, I’ve totally retained all the Korean I learned on program.
So unfortunately, I haven’t done the best job of studying Korean frequently, but I have a legitimate excuse for it this time! Whenever I get free time, I’ve been studying Japanese for an exam called the JLPT that I’m taking next weekend. As soon as that’s over with, I’m planning on resuming studies of both languages.
While I haven’t learned much Korean as of late, I have been reviewing everything I’ve learned through talking with my supporter and host parents. Even though I can feel myself getting rusty (which has also been pointed out to me on more than one occasion), I’m still interacting with the language a lot and have no worries about relearning everything I’ve forgotten. It turns out that there’s a lot of truth in the saying “Use it or lose it” when it comes to studying a language, so talking and texting with native speakers is super important.
I genuinely think that my confidence and ability to adapt has improved from being put in challenging situations throughout NSLI-Y. Living away from home from some time was really beneficial for me, since I ended up learning how to take things in stride and connect with people in an environment where nothing is familiar. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m a totally changed person or something of a similarly dramatic effect, but I am less likely to get stressed out as soon as something seems uncomfortable.
TL;DR: Studying abroad builds life skills, which I’m sure you already knew.
Did I Meet My Goals?
It’s been so long that I almost forgot about the goals I’d set prior to the program!
- Blogging every day: A definitive failure
At some point, I began to realize that posting a thoughtful reflection of each day was a lofty goal that I wasn’t likely to achieve while so actively engaged in my surroundings and so thoroughly exhausted by the time I got home. That being said, I did post a substantial amount. And there are daily journal entries I wrote in the notes on my phone whenever I was riding the subway. I never did get around to sharing them, but I may or may not post condensed versions of them when I get the chance.
- Pushing myself: Check!
As you’ve probably gathered from the rest of this post, I did in fact socialize, learn, and keep in touch with the people I met. I’d consider this goal a pretty solid success. 🙂
- Eating everything: Too much of a success
I. ATE. SO. MUCH. And it was 100% worth it, so I’m not really bothered by it. I miss 빙수 and spicy 떡볶이 to the point where it’s kind of concerning.
- Going to a lot of places and seeking out new experiences: Check!
I explored the city so frequently that I very rarely had a chance to rest, but it was incredibly fulfilling and I don’t regret it one bit. Every time I found myself idle, I had a gnawing fear that I’d miss out on a cool experience and ended up doing something whenever I could.
So Much Nostalgia
It might not be evident from how inactive this blog is, but I think about NSLI-Y every single day and miss it dearly. I’m also really eager to spread the program to other people and be involved in the community, which is why I’m aiming to be an alumni representative. 😀 Basically, I want an excuse to continue telling everyone I meet about NSLI-Y and how great it is.
As soon as I post this, I’m going to get back to writing my essays and will hopefully be able to report back with good news on December 7th when results come out.
Wish me luck!
And good luck to everyone waiting on semi-finalist notifications!
P.S. Check out the article I wrote for NSLI-Y Interactive a while back 😀