Three Months Later

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. Continue reading

NSLI-Y Application Tips

I’ve been back in America for about two weeks now! I have so much to write about and share, but as application season has just begun, I wanted to give whatever advice I can to this year’s applicants.

It’s strange to think that I’ll have the opportunity to write a blog similar to the ones I pored over for hours on end while waiting for my notification. I don’t plan on going too much into depth on the application process, as several others have done a great job covering the topic already, but I’ll definitely provide any tips I can think of 🙂 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

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!