Here I am on a Friday night, home alone, as the clock sounds unusually loud in our cosy little apartment…on the tenth floor. Why? Because yet again I am sick with something, most definitely not the same bug as I had last week…or the week before that. The downside of moving to the opposite side of the planet is that the germs are different here; and we became teachers…so we’re exposed to three times as many of these ‘new’ germs than your average ‘John Smith’ strolling down the street.
Yes, Derik and I have been sick for a little over three weeks straight, which can get very tiring. You can’t buy medicine at the grocery store like back in the US, you actually have to go into a pharmacy, try to act out using hand gestures and sounds what’s going on, and they give you medicine you cannot even read the label on. It’s quite thrilling actually. I think today marks the forth different type of cold medicine we’ve gotten at the same place. Haha. They’re probably just giving us vitamins for all we know. Thankfully medication here is cheap. The average price we spend is about 2,000 won a package (about 1.90 bucks).
Derik had to go to the doctor the other day for a sinus infection…and without insurance the visit cost a whopping $12 dollars, and medication (5 pills a dose, 3 times a day, for 3 days) cost $11. It’s pretty sweet. Although, it is worrisome, we’ve heard quite a few stories on misdiagnosis issues…including our friend Chelsea. Chelsea was doing a routine physical for her new school, and found out she had ‘kidney disease.’ Yes. Kidney disease. As far as she was concerned her kidneys were working just fine. She went back again for testing, paid $20 bucks only for the doctors to tell her there was an error in the initial diagnosis. She was fine. Please don’t worry, there really are fine doctors around, we’d just be better going to Busan or Seoul for any major heath issues.
Another recurring issue is mold. Mold, mold, mold. You think you have it bad in humid Missouri? Just try Korea! It’s literally everywhere. Growing on walls, doors, and any nook and cranny it can find. Koreans consider it ‘common mold’ and we’re told it doesn’t affect the health, but…we’re not so sure about that yet.
Here’s a pic of OUR mold problem…second bedroom ceiling. Don’t freak out too much.
Besides health problems and mold, everything else on Geoje has been fantastic. We are learning our way around the area, figuring out where the best places are to eat, and buy groceries. You’d be shocked how much it is to buy ‘American’ food around here. I small tub of margerine costs about$4 dollars…and it’s only about a cup and a half of butter. Cheddar cheese is found at the foreigner’s mart…and it costs a whopping $14 dollars a block. Avocados, my staple food back home, tragically cost around $3.50 each here. I splurge and only buy two a week now. Taco seasoning is also ridiculous at $2.00 a packet, but thanks to my Dad, he set us up with taco sauce for the next six months! Whoop whoop! Tofu, rice, noodles, local fruit and veggies stay very cheap. It’s just hard adjusting to that lifestyle when, quite honestly, a lot of the food around here is not something I’d want to eat everyday. Dried fish (think whole fish with eyes, skin, bones…where did the meat go?), fresh eels, fish, squid, octopus (they have tanks everywhere…sitting outside a lot of stores) are among the selection of seafood. Or maybe IS the selection of seafood.
I am not complaining in the least, moving here and learning what to eat has opened my eyes and also prompted my creativity when it comes to making something to eat each day. I’ve resorted to a lot of baking, and made from scratch cooking. No more of this boxed, bagged, frozen stuff. It’s all made from a recipe folks! :) Last night I made 7 dozen cookies for my students at school. Yes, you read right. Seven dozen. Maybe more, I just stopped counting. What took me hours to make where gone in a matter of minutes, but i’m pretty sure I scored brownie points with most of the kids.
Speaking of kids, they are, for the most part, fantastic. It’s really tough though,trying to make them like you, understand you, and want to be taught by you, yet respect you. The English schooling is optional, so if the students aren’t having a good time they can drop out. The older students are a little bit more challenging than the rest, it’s harder to drag them out of their chair and set them in the corner. (Picture me doing this to a 14 year old.) My kindi students have their days, but I have to remember they’re only 2-4 years old…it’s hard for them to sit in a chair that long!
Daniel and Tim…always excited about everything!
I really love my students. March 14 marked the celebration of a new holiday for me: White Day. I am 100% a huge fan of this holiday; boys buy girls candy and chocolate. Yes, you heard right…how could I NOT like this holiday?! First thing in the afternoon, one of my little kindi troublemakers comes up to me with a box of chocolate toffee. I was so touched at his willingness (at 4) to give it to me.
Throughout the day I was showered with lollipops, hard candy, and chocolate. It was at the end of that day I realized I love my job. Ok, maybe I already knew this…but now I REALLY love it. Here I am trying to make a difference in my student’s lives, trying to teach them how to speak English, and they are looking up to me as a role model. Scary, but true.
The celebration of national holidays continued today. Our school is very dedicated to teaching traditions and customs that many English speaking countries take part in…so of course we were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The teachers even phoned the parents to have the kindergarten students wear green clothes. We had a huge party for the kindi students playing games, making badges, watching movies, and eating cookies. I’m pretty sure everyone had a blast. I personally have never celebrated St Patty’s Day in such grandeur as we did today. Quite fun actually. And I get paid to do this?
Derik teaching some of the students a game (with co-teacher Trenton).
This guy (Eric-3 yrs old)melts my heart every time he speaks to me.
Tom (2 or 3 yrs old) (always always moving…troublemaker in class) and Kevin (3 yrs old/Henry)
Yesterday I attempted to cut Derik’s hair. This is the FIRST time i’ve ever done this, and he kept telling me it’s just like trimming a hedge. A hedge? Oh yeah, I trim those all the time. We used scissors first…I was about to the point of crying…I didn’t want to be the one to singlehandedly ruin my husbands hair. The blades were so dull I didn’t get very far. To my relief we went out and purchased a trimmer. He is (mostly) responsible for his new stylings.
What do you think? Ok ok, maybe we fixed it up a little bit past this point, but it was fun while it lasted.
That’s about all I have for now, except if you read my post: ‘About Henry’ in the Things Kids Say section…Henry changed his name to Kevin. It happens sometimes that we will name students, and they go home tell their parents, and their parents prefer a different name. Kevin is still my little sweetheart, ever so willing to repeat everything I say.
Have a great weekend, and please pray for our heath!