I like how people here like signing me up for things without truly asking for my opinion. (If you didn’t catch it, as it’s hard to through mere text, there’s a sarcastic tone present.) Sure, they may ask, but I think they just do it to be polite if they do. One such instance was for Hermes Camp. Now that I think about it, they didn’t even ask – my Co had volunteered me for it. I’m not exaggerating; she was at the meeting and she raised up her hand for me. Thanks for that. I don’t particularly hold it against her, but still!
Well, this habit appears to be a characteristic of Koreans, or so it seems. My taekwondo instructor mentioned this marathon to me a month before. Next thing I know, he goes, “Iris, you go, yes?” Uh… how about “no, I’d rather not”? It’s just that I’m not really into running; I have a sense of self-preservation left in me. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because what I say doesn’t really hold, because three days before (the same day he tells me about the belt test two days later), my instructor excitedly calls me into the office to show me my running number.
Along with the stereotype of how Asians are good at studying – I’m beginning to see why and how this came about, living and teaching here – Asians also tend to need visual correction. I, myself, needed the aid of glasses to see perfectly in the third grade. I got my first pair of contacts in the sixth grade because I got tired of my glasses slipping down or needing to take them off or put them on while changing for gym. Approximately 87% of my coworkers that I share a room with need glasses as well, but most opt for the visually-pleasing contacts.
With Halloween coming up, I wanted to dress up but since I’m the school’s first foreign teacher from North America, I’m the first one to bring up what they plan on doing for Halloween. It seems like they never had this happen before as their previous native teachers were from New Zealand and South Africa, respectively. Apparently, Halloween isn’t very big in either of those countries. Either way, I’m American and I like Halloween. The fact that I get some fun out of this doesn’t hurt, either. 😉 However, since this is somewhat of a new concept – though the after school department at my school’s also trying to do a little Halloween celebration – I decided to tone down my dress a little and so I wanted a little something extra to spice up my lack of festive clothing: colored contacts.
Today, I took a trip to the local optometrist to get my first pair of colored contacts. This was what I got (just guess how much I paid for it):
Today, I took my first ever sick day ever since I arrived in Korea. 🙂
This may seem like such a small matter – you’re sick, you take a sick day, period – but not here. I also addressed this previously, as I’ve gone through this dilemma of whether or not I should take advantage of the handful of sick days I’m privileged to because the truth is that people here don’t really have this luxury. I’m sure they might, but so far, the only time I’ve seen a teacher absent is if they’re on official business or they’re on pregnant leave. Teachers here generally don’t have substitute teachers and on top of that, there’s this idea of showing to everyone else what a hard worker you are. Hence, after you see your Coteachers so sick that they don’t put on make up (trust me, this is a big thing) or come to school after they sliced open their thumb and got stitches at the nearby hospital, you begin to feel bad for taking a sick day because you’re sick.
It still baffles my mind but the truth is that my body cannot deal with this. I usually only get sick once a year, but in Korea, it’s as if I get sick once every two to three months. It’s ridiculous but the truth and I don’t think my body can undergo this constant beating against my immune system for much longer without a proper day of rest and low-key activities. As a result, I told myself regardless of how bad I would feel for taking advantage of my sick day (as odd as that sounds), I would take it because I didn’t want it to draw out an additional week or two.
The title is a bit of a lie. Obviously, everyone gets sick at one point in their lives. It doesn’t matter when or if you only get sick once – you will get sick. This applies to Koreans, as well. However, it’s their attitude towards it that’s strikingly different and it’s something that really gets in the way between the Native teacher and the Korean teacher. On the surface, it’s fairly simple though with slight differences.
A day's dosage.
When you get sick, you can go to several places. There’s the pharmacy where you go to the counter, tell the pharmacist your symptoms, and they prescribe whatever they see fit. As you can see, this can be a problem if you don’t know much Korean. Luckily, when you’re sick, the symptoms tend to be obvious. These “over-the-counter” medications are usually in packets or in boxes, looking somewhat similar to the over-the-counter boxes of Tylenol, Advil, and other medications you can find in the States. They’re good for a beginning onslaught of some ailment.
Then, if you’re up to it or feeling a bit worse, you can visit a doctor at a clinic. Usually, the clinics tends to be grouped in the same building or area with a pharmacy located somewhere at the bottom. This requires a little more talking and they also ask for your ARC (Alien Registration Card) or ID for insurance in addition to other things like birth date and phone number. Then you see the doctor for a one-on-one consultation and here’s the catch – some may know a little bit of English, but they usually don’t. However, if you feel like you’re sick enough to merit a trip to the doctor, he might be able to tell. There’s the usual looking at the back of the throat and even a nice nostril cleaning that I had when I went to a clinic specialising in Nose, Ears, and Throat last semester. The end of this meeting results in a prescription which you will, once again, bring to the pharmacy. This time, they give you a series of individual, wax paper packets, each filled with pills and tablets of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It’s usually only enough for a couple of days (up to around five from what I’ve seen). They tell you when to take it, how, and anything else they’d like you to know, but I have no clue with the bright yellow and red pill does and that interesting triangular one boggles the mind.
I hate being sick. Ever since I got sick two weeks before my departure date for Korea, I actually don’t think I’ve ever not been sick. Granted, I just coughed on and off for a bit and everything else had died, but now, my sniffles have returned in addition to my on-and-off cough. Really? So I find myself completely drained every morning even when I do attempt to sleep early. I even took a nap earlier today after eating cereal for breakfast, which was what delayed my grocery shopping. I hate it. It’s not that I haven’t been taking my medicine, because I have, but my coughs never truly seem to go away until several months later and my sniffles – well, I don’t know what’s up with them.
I just want to go outside and enjoy the cool Korean weather before it starts turning warm. Like today was warm. There was a high of 60. I came back from my grocery run and I took off my sweater and long-sleeved shirt thing to only walk around in a tank top and I was still warm. Then I resorted to opening the windows and then I felt pleasantly warm. /facepalm Now I really can’t enjoy the winter weather with clear nasal passages. Sadness.
On the plus side, I made jjajangmyeon!