Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Survival Tip #3: Being Sick

Let me preface this post by saying this: YOU WILL GET SICK HERE!

Even if you rarely got sick in your home country germs on this side of the planet are just different and your body will not know how to defend you from them ruining your everything. My first month here my gastrointestinal system freaked out because I had never eaten this kind of food before. It was severely unpleasant, but eventually everything settled down.
Posts about pooping? Wow, FANTASTIC BABY!
There is also a wealth of new plants that will make you go from "I don't have any allergies" to "DEAR GOD WHAT'S HAPPENING TO MY EYES/NOSE/THROAT/BRAIN." 

Many people will go the easy route and just say "when you are packing for your year in Korean make sure to pack over-the-counter drugs such as x, y, and z," but this isn't a blog about being lazy in Korea, this is a blog about LIVING here.
Though I do readily admit that I had my mom mail me NyQuil and TUMS, sorry Korea!


Ok, you don't NEED Korean friends in order to go to the doctor, there are a good number of international clinics around Seoul, but if you, like me, do not live that close to one of these clinics, having a Korean who is willing to accompany you is invaluable. I was sick this week, violently so, I had a bad fever, was vomitting, had the chills, and could barely lift myself up because the room was spinning so badly. I didn't want to drag myself all the way to one of the international clinics, so I asked one of my colleagues to go with me. She came along after school and translated everything for me. She then went to the pharmacy and translated for me there. It was super awesome. So yeah, having a fried or colleague who is willing to help you out will easily be the best way to go to any clinic.


There are a lot of these around Seoul. The website Korea4Expats has an excellent list of locations and even what to say to a taxi driver here. I have only been to the Seoul National University Hospital International Clinic but, I have to say, I would recommend this place to anyone in a HEARTBEAT! I have been told that it's a little more expensive than other clinics, but their customer service was worth it. You should make an appointment through their website first, but I don't think they're opposed to walk-ins. I had to see a few specialists throughout the hospital so the clinic sent a translator around with me, even though there were English-speakers in most of these offices. At one point they thought I was going to need surgery and my translator actually did a great job calming me down and taking my mind off things.


I really cannot tell you how many times I have sent a text to one of my colleagues or my Korean friends saying "Can you translate this into Korean so I can show a pharmacist?" Every time they have responded pretty quickly with a translation and a "get well soon." However, not everyone's colleagues are as super extra awesome as mine. If not, don't be afraid, most Korean pharmacists speak at least "I'm sick please help me" English. But, if you are SUPER unlucky be ready to use your phone's English-Korean dictionary a LOT. Pharmacists will normally be very patient with you because they understand that you didn't go there to waste their time, you're there because you really need to be and because you need their help. If you can, try to at least write down your symptoms in Korean before going or have screen-shots of each of your translated symptoms from the dictionary.


Korea really wants you to feel better VERY quickly, so here are some easy methods for getting rid of simple illnesses without having to go to the pharmacy and/or doctor:

1) Korean Vitamin Drinks: These are sold anywhere any other drinks are sold and are AMAZING. My favorite is the Vitamin C drink in the orange bottle. When I have a slight cold or a nagging sore throat I down these like crazy. They turn your pee orange, but they also make the hatred go away.
Mmmm, delicious non-death
2) Korean Hangover Drinks: Again, sold everywhere, because Koreans get hangovers everywhere I have found these mildly effective, but , when hungover, mildly effective is a blessing. I haven't tried many of these and the one that I have used tastes pretty terrible but hey, it tastes better than vomiting in a trashcan on the sidewalk.
Embiggened for your benefit
3) Congee: AKA Korean porridge. This stuff tastes like bland oatmeal because... well... it kinda is except with rice rather than oats. Like I said earlier this week I'm suffering from a pretty hardcore stomach bug. SeungHyun made me a batch of this last night and it's the only thing I've been able to keep down. When your missing your Saltines and Ginger Ale this is a pretty decent substitute. There are congee restaurants around, but I think you can also find an instant version in any supermarket.
Mmmm, deliciously bland

1 comment:

  1. I have a tiny, tiny bit of Nyquil left! I had to ration it the last time I was sick!