Now I understand….

So, when looking up blogs and such before coming to Korea, I often was confused why people suddenly would fall off the edge of the blogging world…. I mean, how difficult can it be to update once a week even?

Well, now I understand.  =D  If this is a completely new experience for someone, it can be overwhelming at times.  At least, it has been for me.  Trying to continue classes for a master’s program, learn to navigate a country where I don’t speak the language, learn to teach and work in a new environment, and then coming down with some nasty sickness on top of it all… wow- updating the blog was bottom of the list of things to do!

I’ll try to catch up a little here and am making some adjustments to my life so maybe I can update more often from now on.

Since it is foremost in my mind at the moment, let me tell you about my experiences with illness and medication in South Korea.

For some bizarre reason my super-duper-knock-em-out drugs from the U.S. were not working.  Like, at all.  Seriously, Mucinex DM is some pretty strong stuff (and expensive!!!) but for the crud I came down with here?  Useless.  Alka-Seltzer Cold Plus worked a little at first but pretty soon, it also became ineffective.  Generic sinus relief from the states…again, like taking sugar pills.  What the !@$#!

I struggled for 3 weeks with a 24-hour cough (worse at night- and I live in a dorm….I really need to give my neighbors ‘I’m so sorry!’ gifts!) and severe sinus issues.  Nasty.  Nasty nasty.  Carry-a-roll-of-toilet-paper-wherever-I-go kind of nasty stuff was oozing from my face 24/7.

SO, I finally took my 1 precious sick day and took the shuttle in to Chilgok to visit the hospital.  Let me recommend the Chilgok Catholic Hospital if you ever are in the vicinity.  It’s a big brick building with FANTASTIC staff.  There is always someone who speaks English and even if the majority of your Korean language skills are geared toward ordering food… you WILL get help!  My initial health check was at this hospital so I did know where the ticket machine was to get my number for the help desk (that may seem small potatoes but believe me, when you are sick and feverish and miserable… just knowing that one little thing was a HUGE relief!).

The nurses speak anywhere from a little to a lot of English and if you aren’t too shy to use charades, it’s easy to communicate your symptoms.  ;o)

They sent me first to internal medicine and then switched me to the ENT on the 3rd floor.  The ENT was fabulous.  So friendly, incredibly helpful, and perhaps most importantly- gentle with the camera that goes up your nose…

And YAY national healthcare!  That ENT visit cost just under 14,000 won or a little less than $14 USD.  What?!?!?!?!  Yep.

The pharmacy is outside the hospital but right next door.  There is an assistant there that will greet you if you look lost.  =D  Yes, I looked lost, that’s how I know that.  haha  She helped me get my prescription and within 10 minutes I was on my way only about 9,000 won out of pocket.

Simon and Martina did a video on medications in Korea that explains them well- but in a nutshell you are given individual packets with all the pills you need to take and are told when to take them.  Easy.  Okay, so you may not know exactly what all you are taking but if you are sick and desperate you will just nod your head and say, “Kahnsamnidah!” (yes, that’s phonetic- but close enough).

Also, I had been told that the doctors only want to give you a 3-day supply of meds at a time but the ENT gave me 5 full days and asked me come back then she switched my meds and gave me another weeks worth after my second check up.  Because of my work schedule I can only go back on Fridays and they were very helpful with making me an appointment that worked for me.  Oh, and the follow up visit cost me…0. Nothing. Nada.  The meds were again about 9,000 won for a week.

ALSO, if you are in Korea and come down with the bad cold/cough that’s going around but don’t have time to go to the hospital clinic then visit a pharmacy (one or two on every block it seems like…) and ask for HANSCOL CAPS.  They work better than the U.S. meds I brought with me, although the prescription meds worked the best overall.  Seriously- I will not be without a box or two of the Hanscol Caps ever again.  Only 3,000 won for 12 caps/6 doses and they last about 3-4 hours before wearing off.

Not all pharmacies carry this exact medicine but it’s worth a look around to find one that does.

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On the teaching side of things- DGEV is fantastic.  Very unique.  Even though some days I would wake up thinking I just was too sick to make it through a full day of classes, it helped to remember that these kids will remember this English camp for the rest of their lives.  Maybe they will only remember one moment, maybe they will remember the entire week… but I never wanted them to feel let down or disappointed because their teacher didn’t quite feel up to snuff that day.  That helped motivate me to try harder, be more energetic, “fake it til you make it!” and so on.

No super-original-and-unbelievably-fantastic pictures for this post, but I will share two great places to rest your weary bones:

Coffee Mama near the Chilgok Hyanggyo.  I’ve had both the mango bubble tea (shown) and the blueberry bubble tea- which are more like a milkshake than tea- and both were equally delicious.  The staff are very friendly and patient with my terrible Korean language skills.

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Also, the new branch of Holly’s Coffee near the Bukgu Culture & Arts Center, Daegu.  Friendly staff, delicious berry tea, and fantastic cafe latte’s:

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I hope it’s okay that I put this picture up.  I suppose I can always take it down if it’s not.  =)  But the staff at Holly’s are well-trained and very helpful.  =)

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2 thoughts on “Now I understand….

  1. Excellent update, Cam. I check every so often just to see if there’s anything new and enjoy what I read. What you’re documenting has to be a great help to anyone thinking about doing what you are. I didn’t realize that it’s considered a ‘camp.’ How long is each child there?

    1. Usually, 5 days and 4 nights. The kindergarten is just day program and there are schools that come just for one day here and there (for example, a Saturday-only program). It’s fun but by the 5th day the kids are exhausted (and sometimes they aren’t the only ones…haha) but it’s a fantastic experience for most of them.

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