Pre-departure Orientation: Day 2

So there was definitely a lot more that happened today!

Most of the day was presentations about topics like being a citizen ambassador, being safe in Korea, being an active language learner, being a good host student, etc. While I was slightly tired by the end of it all, I didn’t hate listening to people speak about the program for hours. If anything, it just reaffirmed my passion and reason for wanting to join NSLI-Y in the first place. Continue reading

Goals for My Time in Korea



Our implementing organization, iEARN, emailed us all a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Relevant, Time-bound) goal setting worksheet to complete by Pre-departure Orientation. They had us list out a language learning goal, a goal for building cultural understanding, and how exactly we plan to achieve these goals. They weren’t exactly all that interesting (viewable through this link), but they got me thinking about what my personal goals are for the six weeks I’ll be spending in Korea. Continue reading

Pre-departure Thoughts + RDs + OPI

18 days left!

The moment we entered June, I began freaking out. I can’t believe it’s so close. I swear it was just a few days ago that we were counting down from sixty days in our group chat…

Needless to say, I’m the most excited I’ve ever been in my life. But it’d be a lie if I said that I’m not nervous. I’ve never been away from home so long, and I have a pretty justified fear of getting lost. It’s so much worse than whatever you’re thinking. I get lost within buildings. Within hallways…that I’ve been in before…

And the thought of navigating my way in a foreign country where I need to coherently articulate myself in Korean if I end up getting lost is just a tad bit overwhelming.

But hey! There’s so much more to look forward to, and even I can’t get lost every day.

I think.

It also occurred to me that there’s a lot I meant to write about in this past month. To any prospective NSLI-Y students, know that the months after you’re accepted leading up to your departure are filled up with preparation.

There’s video conferences where you meet your residence directors, your oral proficiency interview (if you have prior knowledge of the language), A LOT OF FORMS TO FILL OUT, pre-program language preparation, thinking about what gifts to bring your host family (which I’ve kind of done), and thinking about what to pack in general (which I haven’t done at all).

So this isn’t actually all that much. It’s just that balancing all of this with the last few weeks of school (A.K.A last-minute finals cramming) can make you feel a bit stressed out. But now that school’s finally out, everything’s so much easier to deal with it. I don’t know how the kids getting out a few days before departure are staying sane.

So, I want to go more in depth about some of what I’ve mentioned above, but it’s not super exciting. Read on if you’re curious, but you won’t hurt my feelings if you couldn’t care less. Continue reading

Weeks Three and Four of Korean Challenge + Final Thoughts

So I did it! I studied Korean every single day for thirty days. As someone who struggles with procrastination and creating structured study plans, I was really happy with the consistency I achieved through this challenge.

My attempted weekly blogging schedule, on the other hand, wasn’t as successful…

In this post, you will find:

  • A dreadfully late recap on the last two weeks of this challenge
  • Details on how exactly I studied
  • A video I recorded of myself speaking about the challenge in Korean!

Continue reading

Thirty-day Korean Language Challenge: Week One Reflections

What challenge?

I took up a challenge to study Korean for thirty days while setting goals and logging  hours. The overall goal is to experiment with different studying techniques and create a sustainable daily routine that I’ll eventually be able to stick to and use each day, even after the challenge has ended. At the end of the thirty days, I’ll create a video of myself talking about the challenge in Korean.

Today, I wanted to write a bit about how I’ve studied this past week and what I’ve gained from it. Continue reading

NSLI-Y Acceptance!

Acceptance emailIt’s been quite a while since I’ve updated my blog, and I thought several times about posting but could never get beyond a few mediocre drafts. My problem might be that I think too much about how my writing sounds and eventually get annoyed before I can ever post anything…

I haven’t written about it here yet, but for some time now I’ve been self-studying Korean alongside Japanese.

Anyone who knows me is aware of my interest in Korean pop culture, but might only associate my passion for language with Japanese.

I actually hesitated a lot to learn two languages at once because I was afraid that it would slow down my growth in Japanese and that I would end up mixing up them up. It turns out that these were both very valid concerns. Japanese and Korean share practically identical grammar and several cognates, which makes it all too easy to begin sentences in one language and end them in the other. As such, I don’t even touch Japanese when studying Korean and vice versa. Naturally, my Japanese isn’t in its best condition.

But I don’t regret my decision at all. I’ve fallen so deeply in love with the logic and sound of the Korean language that I’m more regretful about not trying to learn it earlier.

Around this time last year, I discovered the existence of a program called NSLI-Y through a serendipitous Google search for exchange programs to Japan. To put it briefly, NSLI-Y (National Security Language Initiative for Youth) is a scholarship that’s funded by the government and sends high school students to foreign countries to study languages critical to national security.

It just so happened that I’d be eligible during the next applicant cycle and that one of the countries offered was South Korea. I then took the dive into the painfully long application process that I’ll have to discuss some other time.

And just a few days ago, on March 30 at 1:37 P.M.,  while sitting at my kitchen dining table anxiously drinking water and refreshing my email repeatedly, I received a finalist notification for the Korean summer program!

I don’t fully believe it at the moment, but I will be studying Korean in Seoul from June 28th to August 12th! This opportunity is so meaningful to me, as my dream since middle school has been to study abroad and I can’t remember ever wanting something more than this scholarship.

So the point of this post is that for the thousandth time, I have decided to blog at somewhat consistent intervals. I’ll have so much to write about this summer that might actually be of interest to others interested in the program or simply in Korea, and I feel like it’s important to document my experience. That being said, I don’t have the most committed relationship with blogging and despite trying several times with the best intentions, it’s never really worked out.

But I really do want to try again. Blogs about NSLI-Y kept me sane and hopeful while waiting for my notification, and I’d love for my posts to do the same for someone else.

I think it’s safe to anticipate a few more posts before I leave for Korea, so thank you for reading, and please do check back!