Foreign Hospitals

(Originally posted in Tickets To: 2014)

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Sometimes, when we move to a new country, we have to get a medical check. Hopefully it’s before. But typically your employer wants to know from a doctor who is native to their country.

So far, I have come to realize. You don’t go to the doctor. You go the hospital. Always the hospital. This makes it sound a lot worse than it is.

In Thailand, we had to go and get some blood work done to make sure we didn’t have some kind of ridiculous disease that I think they made up. I’m that person that passes out from a shot. I need to lay down when getting blood drawn or else the unfortunate person taking my blood (or giving the shot) will have to deal with my unconscious body falling face first onto the floor. So, I’m in a Thai hospital. After filling out paperwork incorrectly twice and waiting for about 30 minutes next to all the people hacking up a lung, I was called back. I explained that I faint. They smiled, nodded and told me to take a seat. I hesitated and had to mime to them that I pass out. They spoke in Thai and laughed at me, but eventually escorted me to a room shared by a guy who had broken limbs. You know that nervous feeling that you may throw up? It’s similar to the feeling of seeing someone with broken limbs and wanting to throw up. They saw my green face and closed the curtain and lay me down. The English speaking doctor (where was she this whole time?!) explained they needed at least two vials of blood. So naturally I covered my eyes and tried not to panic. They did what they had to do, I cried and got dizzy. I sat up and laid back down before almost falling off the gurney. So I stared at the wall while regaining my dignity. And there it was. Blood. On the wall. Blood on the wall. Let me make myself clear: THERE WAS FREAKIN’ BLOOD ON THE WALL. After a few months, I got over it. Because I needed to go to the hospital to get some stuff checked out. And it wasn’t as bad because it didn’t require blood. And interestingly enough, my doctor was my private tutoring student. That was awkward.

Flash forward to August 2013: Korea. The first week here, I needed to get a medical check. When I asked what it consisted of, the manager said ‘Oh normal things.’ So, I went and had my teeth looked at. Even though I had just eaten and hadn’t brushed my teeth, they said I have great teeth. Then I had my hearing tested (3 high pitched notes), an eye test (look at numbers after having a thing pressed against your eye and making vision blurry), a height/weight check (not your business), a urine test (haha! I passed that one!), and the blood test. SCREEECH. What? A blood test. Please stick out your arm. Um.. no I can’t do that. Yes, you have to, Teacher. You didn’t tell me about this! Oh sorry. You will be fine! I pass out. What? I faint. What? I need to lie down. Oh Teacher don’t be silly. No seriously, I need to lie down. Okay. (Insert crying and dizziness). Now please bare your chest so we can awkwardly test your heart beat. Now go upstairs for chest x-ray. Wait patiently while the nurses are distracted by their KakaoStories on their phones. Cough to get their attention. Then straight up say “Hey” and then put your chest against the x-ray machine. Relax. Now push so your shoulders are against the flat board even though you have huge knockers and can’t really be flat against anything. Okay thank you Teacher. You can get dressed now.

Well at least it was over and done with, right? Nope. My manager failed to pick up the documents by the deadline and guess who got to do it ALL OVER AGAIN?! Me.

Then, I got a promotion 6 months later. And last week I got a text message, “Teacher, I will take you to hospital tomorrow.” “Why?” “New contract. New hospital tests.” Le sigh. At least there wasn’t any blood on the wall.

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Obviously there have been some updates since February 2014. I have been in the hospitals for various surgeries as well.. Feel free to read those articles. 

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Champagne Birthdays

(reposted from my original blog entry on Tickets To: originally April 2014)

Golden Birthday. Champagne Birthday. You have my attention

The day when you turn the age of the date of your birth. It’s supposed to be awesome. Of course I didn’t know what that was until about a year ago… but that’s cool. I love champagne so it’s a great excuse for a theme. It’s also a great excuse to drink champagne every day for the week leading up to my birthday.

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On Friday, my coworkers on my floor (there are three floors to my school) surprised me with a classic Korean cake and some streamers.

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On Friday night we had Korean BBQ (beef) and drank soju with pineapple Fanta. Then we went to our local bar and drank a bit. On Saturday I woke up early-ish, pre-cooked some food for my Sunday picnic (visit www.anotherfoodthing.wordpress.com for great recipes!), and made my way to Busan. I met some friends from Seoul and Ulsan there and we drank a bit. The day wasn’t sunny enough for the beach, but it was warm enough to appreciate. We had an amazing BBQ dinner, went to another bar, went ‘clubbing,’ and then, my favorite part, we went to the noraebong and sang our hearts and voices away! Seriously… how much soju and singing can a girl handle? It was fantastic.

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I looked hot in my little black dress with my teal dream shoes (see wittylmt.com for more info on that), I was with great company, I ate and drank well.

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I got back to the motel at 5 am and was sleeping by 6am. I left at 10:30am and was back in Ulsan by 12:30pm. I had a party starting at 2pm I had to get ready for. Because the weather was questionable my outdoor picnic became an indoor picnic: blankets on the floor, drawn park on my whiteboard, paper plates, etc. The good people showed up and brought many bottles of bubbly. We drank mimosas and sangria for a few hours and chatted merrily. A few gal pals stayed after everyone left and we chatted and watched Bad Teacher (excellent sitcom. Get on it). Today, I came to work and the teachers on the 6th floor bought me a Larva cake.  I will go home and drink more champagne since I now have 5 more bottles and chillax on my patio smoking hookah. All in all…it was a great birthday.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

This is a scary thought:

 

For the first time since high school (ten years!) I will be staying at a job for longer than a year. The last job that I stayed at (that was actual 30+hours/week) for longer than a year was … working at a country club? I think. I may not have even actually been there for a full year, come to think of it. It’s not that I don’t like commitment, it’s just that I like to move to new places. I spent a year working in Orlando in my senior year of high school. Lived in Tallahassee for a year and worked at two different places during that time. Moved to Gainesville for a year for massage school and worked at another country club. After that I was in Orlando for about a year (working at a couple of different restaurants in the Disney area) before moving to Hawai’i. I worked at another restaurant for close to a year before transferring to their sister restaurant. When I came back from traveling I started working for a massage place. Within a year from that I moved back to Florida. I worked for a chiropractor for a few hellish months, worked for an off-property massage company, switched to on-property company. Soon, I quit that shit and moved to Tampa to work for a casino. After about 9 months there I moved to Thailand for a year. Then back to Florida for a few months, then out to Korea. And here I am.. signing another year with the same school!! 

Thanks to my friend Ben (whom I’ve known since kindergarten) I came to work for Wharton. The staff has been very friendly, the foreigner teachers have been pretty good, and the students are fairly smart. This new contract though came with a lot of changes. And I hope I don’t regret my decision to stay. I started by teaching 4th graders through middle school. After 6 months I was promoted to Head Teacher for Foreign staff (aka – she does what we ask in a super timely manner) and moved to the advanced floor teaching 7 classes: 2 5th grades, 2 6th grades, and 3 middle school classes. They were advanced. Seriously. We were discussing stuff like “What’s more detrimental: an oilspill or the declining population of honeybees?” WHAT?! Amazing – super great classes. They wrote creative stories on what would happen if they were the last people on Earth. They wrote mystery stories. They wrote intellectual-ish essays on the Syrian war and Korean education. 

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 The new semester started 4 days ago. I was switched….downgraded…punished? I now teach 2nd grade – 6th grade. Not advanced.  Before, we could post our homework during the class or toward the end. Now, we have to post our homework before class starts. ((how the heck do I know what they should have for homework already!?)) Before, I could ask the students to prepare a debate on whether elementary school students should have cell phones. Now, I ask “What is this? It’s a pencil.” Before, I was improving grammar. Now, I’m teaching it. With books that have so many errors in it. (ie: I have ever been to Jeju many times. – – oO)    Before, I got to school at 3pm to start class at 4:10. Now, I get to school at 1:30 and hope to be ready by 2:30pm. Before, I had 3-4 ‘prep’ periods lasting 40 minutes each. Now I teach from 2:30-7:38p with about allegedly 10 minutes break every other class. But the students come in and want to copy their homework down and want me to check their homework. ON THE BREAK!?  My ‘long’ break has been reduced to about 35 minutes. I don’t even have time to pee. 

Yes, I’m whining and complaining about getting paid well enough to save with an apartment that’s paid for in a country that has a lower cost of living than back home while teachers back in the US pay for their own supplies and bring their work home and grade essays during dinner. But I’m not a US teacher. I never will be and I never want to be. 

Yup. I’m done complaining. I’ve been stressed about this change. Mentally and emotionally. This vacation to Boracay is welcome. 😉

Bye Bye Baby: Part 2

For the last 10 years I’ve had a hernia about an inch or two above my belly button. Check out ByeByeBaby for more information on that. 

Well, the surgery is done. It has been just about 3 weeks since I had it taken care of. 

I heard a lot of ‘Wow. You’re brave for getting surgery in a foreign country’ and ‘I hope you didn’t contract anything in that Korean hospital’ – – – Let me tell you something right here, right now. Korean healthcare may not be what us “Westerners” are used to… but I would be in massive debt right now if I had this surgery in the US. My school provides insurance and perhaps that covered a good chunk of it, but I was not insured in the US. The last time I went to the hospital in the US was for a kidney stone that I couldn’t tolerate anymore. that cost nearly $10k. I was in an emergency room for 3 hours maybe? I had blood work done and possibly an xray? or ctscan? Frankly, I can’t remember. The medication cost well over $100 that day as well. 

This ordeal included a CT scan, blood work, urine test, chest xray, 2 ultrasounds, the surgery itself, 2 nights stay in the hospital (shared with one person and had a bathroom), included meals and medicine, plus the medicine after I left the hospital, 2 follow up visits, and a minor surgery to remove excess fluid from the treated area. 

           The total cost: ~600,000won – – – less than $600USD. Even if I hadn’t had insurance this wouldn’t have cost more than $1,500USD.  

So what was the experience like? It was fine. The doctor, Dr. Im, was fantastic. He had a light sense of humor and spoke decent enough English. When he didn’t know a word, he’d look it up or just draw the surgical process. He joked that US doctors couldn’t do the surgery because of their fat fingers – “Asian doctors? We have small hands. Good for small surgery.” 

They briefed me on my pre-surgery do’s and don’t’s. I checked in and had an ultrasound to properly locate the affected area. Then waited in my room for a bit. They stuck an IV in my arm and wheeled me to the surgery room. They gas-masked me and eventually I fell asleep. I dreamed that I had slept too long so when they woke me up, I tried to sit up in a start. Note to self: NEVER SIT UP AFTER SURGERY ON YOUR STOMACH. It was incredibly painful. They brought me back to my room where a friend had been waiting for me. She helped me back into the bed and then I spent a few days in a bed. No, the hospital room wasn’t as accommodating as US hospitals maybe. The bed was hand-crank and I had to get up and do it myself. The phone and help button were on a table that was just out of my reach, so I had to stumble out of bed when I needed help. The IV was put in at an awkward angle and filled my elbow and upper arm with fluid to the point that I couldn’t move my arm. Then they put it in my hand and the same thing happened, and then they put it in my other arm. Luckily before that could do damage, it was time to leave. Each morning, afternoon, and evening they brought Korean food and medicine. The nurses were too afraid to speak English so they just spoke Korean at me and laughed and walked away before I could try and explain my pain levels. That was honestly the worst part – – the lack of English communication by the nurses. They apparently knew basic medical English but were too shy to use it. 

Anyway, 3 weeks later, I’m allowed to ride a bike and clean my apartment and do normal life activities. It still hurts if I eat too much or when I’m bloated.. And when the occasional fuck-face pokes, rubs, or hits my stomach. Otherwise, I’m doing okay, and I look forward to dropping some weight. 

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This is what the waiting list looked like. I was 06. it reads ‘swha-noen’ – – Shannon.

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Breakfast and lunch. IMG_20140801_183719    

 Scar after the stitches were removed and the healing process has begun.   IMG_20140811_093228  

Committed

For the first time in my life, I will be staying at a job for longer than 1 year.

… Reading that helps me realize that I may come across as an unreliable worker. In my defense, I move a lot. I like to see the world and sometimes that’s for a year at a time. Sometimes, the job just doesn’t work out. As a massage therapist, you have to choose your battles and workplaces wisely. Interestingly enough, the two jobs that I had more than a year experience with were part time: 1. Dancing for an entertainment company (noooo not the stripper kind – think ‘hype man’) 2. serving/bev cart at a local country club.

 

I have decided to stay in Korea for one more year. I am not staying to spite my family (although some family members may feel differently). I am not staying because I love Korea (I haven’t even tried to learn the language). I am not staying because there are not other jobs.

I am staying because I’m finally comfortable enough in a place to stay. I have a large studio apartment furnished with a nice 3D tv, a double/queen bed, a vanity, a hammock, and a kitchen most tenants wish they had.

I have a job teaching advanced students (age 12-16) and I’m the only foreign teacher on this level. I work with 10 other foreign teachers at my school and most of us get along REALLY well. My managers respect me and my opinion. They listen to me when I have a problem and work with me to solve it. They promoted me to ‘head teacher’… which wasn’t even a position that existed before. They want to revamp the AMS (advanced middle school) program and look for my advice on the curriculum. They haven’t fired me even after a few students quit (unofficially because of me… I assume. G-d forbid the students should do homework for a change).

I have a group of friends that I generally like. I have no clue if they like me that much.. and most of them are only staying until March 2015. But I have people to hang out with. And if that stops, well i have a 3D tv and some paint supplies to entertain me.

I have certain conveniences. I have a Costco nearby and a motorbike to get me around town. Yes I hate the winter, but tough. No, I can’t find pants or bras that fit me, but that’s more encouragement to lose weight.

I’ll be making money.. and I’ll be able to save it for once. Not only will I leave with a few Gs in my pocket, but I make a few bucks doing massage as well. I have a steady clientele building up here and at my SERIOUSLY DISCOUNTED rates, I can keep them around.

I’ll be contributing some of my food ideas to the monthly foreigner market. Maybe, just maybe, I can start a mini pickling business and sell the delicious food I make. I can start trying out my bestie’s recipes from http://www.anotherfoodthing.wordpress.com and wowing the people of this city.

I’ll get a two week vacation at some point and maybe my family will come visit me finally.

September 2015… it’s not THAT far off, right?IMG_3305

They like me! They ACTUALLY Like me!

I can’t believe how different it is teaching at Wharton now than it was when I first started. In the beginning I was questioning myself as a teacher: Was I too strict? Did I give unfair homework? Should I allow the students youtube time?
I was a nervous wreck. Students were quitting my class and complaining that I was too strict. But then, they started to come around. They did their homework, they tried harder to speak in English, and students were saying Hi to me outside of the classroom. When the semester was ending, my manager informed me that the majority of my students were requesting to have me teach them again.

A few of them got their wish, but with my promotion, I was brought upstairs to the Scholars (slightly more advanced) program. I saw some old faces (some of my favorites) and many new faces. Some had heard of me and some were unfortunate enough to have NEVER heard of me.

I have been revamping the Guru (library) program and helping the school director develop a new literature class. In Korea, middle school students may miss up to a month of class due to exams (similar to SATs… it helps them get into HIGH SCHOOL!? whoa). This past week, two of my students (favorites, ahem ahem) came in. I jokingly said ‘Oh I missed you boys!’ and they responded ‘We are so happy to be back, Teacher!’ ‘Yea! We missed you too! There’s much to talk about!’ I was shocked. ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘You actually missed me?’ They nodded and responded ‘Of course!’  — Wow. I was floored. So we sat and caught up a bit on the few weeks they missed. And since only two (of 5) showed up, we started to plan our monthly essay topic. This particular class offers incredible insight to controversial topics (see Alex’s essay). After a few minutes of topic ideas, we decided to write about a major event that occurred recently in Korea: the sinking of the Sewol ship. If you’re unsure of this news story, please consider moving out from your rock… google it – it’s a seriously horrible tragedy. —Topic: Following the tragic sinking of the Sewol ship, many Korean festivals and activities were cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives. Do you think, two weeks later, plans should still be cancelled or postponed (out of respect)? Support your opinion with reasons, details, and examples. ***Example, a Korean government worker was asked to cancel his family vacation two days before his departure (and two weeks after the sinking) to show the people of Korea that the government is paying respect to those lost*** — This is a serious topic and I only trust this class to handle the seriousness of it. I’m excited to read what they have to say.

Anyway – this week, my manager informed me that I would be taking over another middle school Scholars class. When I asked why, she replied that several students wanted to transfer into my class but couldn’t due to scheduling. Therefore, I get the entire class. Students are actually ASKING to be in my class? This is still flooring me.

And to boot – tomorrow is Teacher’s Day and one of my students just walked in and handed me a gift. 😀 I suspect this year ‘Teacher’s Day’ in Korea will be nothing like Wai Kru day (Teacher Respect day) in Thailand – where the students crawl on their hands and knees to present me with flowers.

I guess they like me here.

Kreative Koreans

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My students have to read nonfiction books. Then they have to write a creative story integrating the topic into the story. For example, Topic: Grand Canyon… so the setting is in the Grand Canyon. Tell a creative story and use some facts about what you read in the story.

 

K – Topic: Benjamin Franklin

Story Summary – “Benjamin Franklin is a very naughty boy.” (Whoa good start) He often gets into trouble for buying games without his parents permission. He tries to fight the biggest guy in school and loses, so of course they become best friends. Oscar, the big guy, wants to kill everyone at school except himself and Ben. So they build a bomb. But the teacher sees it and gets rid of it (somehow). The next day, she puts sleeping medicine in their lunch and slits their throats. Also… this book is not recommended by K because it is boring and Benjamin Franklin looks boring.

o.O  ?????

 

M – Topic: World Atlas

Story Summary – The air goes on an adventure around the world and sees cool sights. Being the air, it goes for free and flies around the world. It also manages to switch the time on Big Ben and confuse people until the top of the tower hits it and it gets hurt. Then it breaks off the nose of the Sphinx in Egypt. It is hurt again because “those rocks are really big.” So it goes home and tells of its adventures to its friend, the air (same name, no relation), and they decide to do it all over again even though it is dangerous to travel.

 

J – Topic: Motorcycles (((ps this is a girl who chose to write about motorcycles.. sweet)))

Story Summary – A racer buys an expensive motorbike and wants to race another racer. So the racer sees the other racer’s bike and is nervous because one bike goes 305 km/h and the other goes 306 km/h. HUGE difference. So number 03 and number 04 race and number 04 is winning until number 03 comes through and wins.

—-I have no idea which racer was which. She refused to name them or identify their numbers—-

 

 

 

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