Back at it Again!

Hello Friends,

Due to some confusion on my part, I accidentally completed my Post Reflection prompt in my last post in August. So, in this blog, I’ll just be explaining how it feels since starting up school again.

It’s been about a month since I started my junior year and I can honestly say that I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. Junior year has been treating me well, but it has been quite an adjustment since life in Korea. My program ended about two months ago, but it feels like I’ve been gone for much longer than that. I miss my friends, for the most part, I miss our group dinners, I miss complaining about walking up the hill to get to our dorm, and I miss going to class at Yonsei’s Korean Language Institute. My time in Korea was absolutely amazing, and the memories that I made there will honestly stay with me forever.

Since starting Second Year Korean 1, I feel a little more confident in my abilities. I feel that my writing has improved a lot since my time in Korea, but learning Korean at Notre Dame is more challenging than learning it in the KLI program. In Korea, I had more time to focus solely on learning the language. My class would last for four hours, and then I would have the whole day to study and review. At Notre Dame, the classes are much more condensed, which challenges me to learn at a quicker pace. While at school, I also have to juggle studying Korean with my four other classes.  It’s been harder to devote my time to practicing Korean, but I am still motivated to learn the language.

In the spring semester, I’ll get to go back to Korea. Being back in Korea will definitely help me to improve my Korean. I’ll be there longer, 4 months instead of 5 weeks, so I’ll learn more. I honestly can’t wait to go back to Korea! Once again, I am so grateful for the opportunity I had this summer to go study in Korea. It was a rewarding experience that I can’t wait to replicate once I return to Korea.

Until Next Time,

Sydney Porter 

Goodbye…For Now!

Hello again,

My program is officially over. my five weeks in Korea has truly gone by in a flash. I remember the first week seemed to go by so slowly, but now it is officially over.

Graduation Day!!!

Reflecting on my time spent in Korea learning the language, I have come to realize that my journey in learning Korean will not be a sprint but a marathon, I must be in it for the long haul. Coming into this trip, I expected to be placed into a level where I would be learning all new things.

Instead, I was placed at a lower level, that ended up being a combination of material I had already learned, and some new material. At first, I was a little upset about not placing as high as I thought I would, but then I realized that I needed a stronger foundation to build my Korea upon. Although I had already “learned” some of the material back at Notre Dame, I wasn’t comfortable with it. Thankfully over the course of this summer, I have grown a little closer to the language and I’ve been able to achieve the goals I set for the summer. My goals this summer were about getting more comfortable with using the language while also learning more about Korean culture and history. By being in Korea for a month, I was able to achieve this goal by learning through my friends, my teachers, and from the locals that I met.

My time abroad this summer has been a fun and productive time. I was initially a little worried about traveling to Korea for the summer. The language barrier, navigating the city, and the fact that I would be alone for the summer was scary. However, all these worries dissipated overtime once I realized that life in Korea wasn’t as hard as I thought it was, Thankfully, I fell into a good group of friends to help make my summer journey not only bearable but very memorable.

My First K-Pop Concert!!

I’m thankful that I got to spend my summer in Seoul and I’m also thankful that I will be returning in the Spring semester to experience more of South Korea. Once I get back to Notre Dame, I will continue studying and applying myself in Korean and hopefully, by graduation, I will have taken multiple steps forward in my journey of learning Korean.

Until Next Time, 안녕!!

시험이 긑났어!

Hello Again,

Exams are officially over!! I can’t believe that I’ve done it, but I have finished my summer program in Korea. I technically have class on Monday and Tuesday, but we will be taking it easy on those days because Tuesday is also our graduation.

We Survived Finals!!

After spending the past week preparing for my exams, I’m glad to say that they weren’t as difficult as I thought they’d be. The exam was split into 5 different sections: listening, reading, writing, speaking, and pronunciation. The most challenging part of the exam was the writing and speaking section. The speaking section consisted of a conversation with the teacher, and the writing section included a mini-essay. I made some minor errors during my conversation, but I corrected myself whenever I made a mistake. The writing section took me the longest out of all the sections, but I feel that I properly used the grammar points that were required.

Celebratory Drinks!

Despite the slight difficulty, my classmates and I made it through the exams. We’ll find out officially how we did on Monday. In the meantime, to celebrate the end of exams, my friends and I are headed off to a K-Pop concert tomorrow. I am more than excited to be going to my first K- Pop concert, and to have it be in Korea is even better. There will be multiple artists at the concert, but I’m most excited to see Pentagon and BTOB. I’ve recently started stanning Pentagon, and seeing them live tomorrow will probably be one of the highlights of my summer.

Until next time, 안녕!!


Winding Down in Seoul

Hello Again,

I can’t believe it’s true, but week 4 in Korea has been completed. The time has really flown by and now I have one week left in Korea. Taking it from the title, the time has really wound down and so has my activities. I’ve been taking it easy for the past week, outside of going to classes and getting meals with friends, I haven’t done too much sightseeing.

Cheap Eats!

Seeing that it is the second to last week everyone has been studying and hunkering down to prepare for finals. Our class review sessions will begin at the beginning of the week, while our two-day exam period will be on Thursday and Friday. I’m excited to see how all my studying and hard work will pay off. I am not worried like I usually am at Notre Dame when finals come around, but instead, I feel that I will be able to do well on my examinations.

I haven’t gone out too much in the past week, I have been staying close to Sinchon, the city that has been hosting me the past month.  Sinchon has become like a second home to me because it is only about a 10-minute walk from my dorm. While preparing for finals, I have been spending most of my time in Sinchon, where many eateries, cafes, and stores are located.

A night out with friends in 신촌 (Sinchon)

My favorite places to go in Sinchon would be to the many cafes they have dotting the streets. Cafes and cafe-culture is a big thing in Korea. There are archery cafes, raccoon cafes, cat cafes, meerkat cafes and many more themed cafes throughout the city. For studying purposes, I try not to go to the themed cafes, but instead, I stick to the ones that strictly serve a nice cup of coffee or pastry.

Rooftop view!


I’ve had a very relaxing week and I am very excited about my last week in Korea. Hopefully, I do well on my exams which will allow me to spend my last days in Seoul with my friends.

Until next time, 안녕!!


Good Vibes in Seoul

Hello again,

Week 3 in Seoul is now complete! The past week has been crazy. I’ve had the most fun exploring the city the past couple of days.  In my last blog I mentioned about going to Gyeongbokgung Palace, and thankfully, I was able to complete that last weekend. Exploring the palace grounds, getting lost in the old architecture was truly a refreshing experience that reminded me why I was so blessed to be in Seoul.




Last week’s classes ended up going well. My classmates and I had to film a video and take lots of pictures in Yonsei’s campus for our program. It was very nerve-wracking and at the same time a very fun experience. We had to do our introductions and our video messages all in Korean. Everyone in my class was dreading this moment because no one had prepared (we were initially told that the video was optional). However, the videos didn’t turn out that bad, and it was quite fun to watch my classmates film their cute and cheesy videos.

I am truly thankful for the good group of students participating in the program this year. We all understand that we’re at different levels of learning Korean, so none of us are condescending. Instead, everyone is usually modest and very willing to help. This is a very good learning environment for me to be studying the language because I have so many people to learn from.

Looking back on my weeks’ worth of growth, and evident in my Korean cooking

Unrelated coffee pic because its cute!

class, I am pleased to say that my comprehension skills are better than I thought. Today was the first day of my cooking class and my teacher explained everything in Korean. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to me since I’m in Korea learning Korean, but usually the afternoon activities are relaxed compared to my morning class. My first afternoon-activity was pottery, and my teacher often explained things in English when he realized that half the class had blank stares on their faces. But my cooking teacher is different. I’m not sure if it’s because of her gesturing, or from the help of my classmates, but I understood what she was talking about, jokes included.

Since being here, I’ve realized that I’m too hard on myself when I learn new languages. I initially felt that because I didn’t understand every word that I wasn’t improving, but I have realized that progress and growth don’t happen overnight. I’ve made friends here whose Korean skills are much more advanced than mine, and I often look at them and wonder why I am not at that point. I know these are foolish thoughts because what I fail to realize is all the work they’ve put into their journey. I’m halfway finished completing my Korean minor, but since being on this trip, I now know that complete proficiency will probably happen long after I get my degree from Notre Dame. And although I’m not speaking with much confidence yet, with patience and determination, I know that I will improve.

This past weekend was again filled with lots of fun experiences. Our entire program went to The Demilitarized Zone and the War Memorial of Korea. Going to the DMZ was quite an experience.

Within the DMZ
Views of North Korea

With all the positive headlines between North and South Korea in the past year that talked of reunification and denuclearization, it was quite strange to stand in a place that symbolizes the clear separation between the countries. Looking out over the wall into North Korea with the flag looming high, it didn’t look that different from where I was standing. But the history, the scars, and the tensions between the two Koreas tell a different story. I learned a little more about the history between South and North Korea while visiting the War Memorial of Korea. It was a sobering experience seeing the names of all the fallen soldiers, but it was an important experience to have.

Until next time, 안녕!!

Week 2: Taking it Easy

Hello Again,

Week 2 in Seoul is complete. I’m so surprised at how fast time is moving here.

Highlight from week 1.

The first week felt like it went on forever, but the second week went by so quickly. I can attribute the tiredness of my first week to the fact that my new-found friends and I went out exploring every day. Our bank accounts and our sanity realized that could not go on forever, hence, my second week has been more chill compared to the first one, which allows me to more time to properly study.

At the beginning of my program, I was afraid that the pace of the class was going too slow, but all my worries have been put to rest. The pace of the class is now moving very quickly. I still find myself getting confused by a few words here and there, but for the most part, my comprehension has gotten better in class. I’m no longer completely confused by my teacher’s instructions and I find myself being able to answer questions easier than before. I also have seen my language skills improve in my day-to-day interactions with people. Now, conversations with bus drivers, baristas, and waiters seem easier.

Unrelated to the post, but it looked cool.

One thing that I really enjoy about the Summer Special Program at Yonsei University is the emphasis they place on speaking. We still have assignments to complete in our workbooks, but during class, we mainly practice speaking in Korean. I find the emphasis on improving pronunciation helpful because I am not that confident in my speaking abilities and usually rely on my reading skills. I have also been able to practice my speaking skills with the friends that I made during the first week. I honestly think that getting lost on that shuttle bus was fate because the friends I’ve made from it have really made my first two weeks very memorable.

More unrelated cool vibes!

Since the Summer Special Program focuses on non-native Korean speakers, the friends I’ve made are from all around the world. They come from places such as Sydney, Hong Kong, Cypress, Czech Republic, the UK, and Columbia. These guys are all very eager and willing to help me practice my Korean. One of my favorite things in the past two weeks has been getting to know these people and understanding a little bit more about where they come from. It’s been so rewarding to learn about other countries and customs and just the differences between the US and other places. Things that I found ordinary and commonplace in my life is completely foreign to someone else. Thankfully, my worldview has been expanded since coming here.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll get to explore some more of Korea with my friends and learn more about the historical and cultural side of Korea, rather than just the nightlife. I will be visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace and hopefully will be able to get in for free if I manage to find a Hanbok shop nearby. I’m really looking forward to the trip and hopefully, I’ll be able to post photos in my next blog. Until next time, 안녕!!

Week 1: 만나서 반갑습니다

Hello from Korea!!! It’s been a week since I have landed in Seoul, South Korea, and my time here has been very rewarding. It feels as if this week has lasted forever because I have done so much since being here. The class I am taking has plenty of free time built into the schedule because class only lasts for 4 hours. So because of this, I have gotten to see a lot of the city. Thankfully, I met some really cool people on the first day because we all got on the wrong shuttle headed to class. Ever since then, we’ve all been hanging out and studying together.

We have spent most of our time exploring 신촌 and 홍대. Highlights from this past week include exploring Ewha’s and Yonsei’s campus, visiting SM Town in 강남, and of course the food.


View from the top.


Classes have been going well so far. I’ve been placed in level 1.5. The pace is starting off a bit slow, but I think it is because it was the first week. Hopefully next week we can really dive into our materials.

All in all, it’s been a crazy fun week. I’ve gotten to know my classmates, I’ve made some friends from across the world, and my Korean class went well for the first week. I’m very excited for the next couple of weeks in Korea!