Archive | September, 2010

korean costco…among other things.

21 Sep

well the past few days have been pretty nice. i keep meaning to blog but then i just tell myself i’ll do it later, then forget immediately.

currently i’m on holidays until monday because it’s chuseok, or korean thanksgiving. i’m not planning on doing much other than lazing around and possibly hiking. oh and going to casey’s grandparents’ house in seoul for chuseok dinner. casey will not be attending. i have some big hopes for this dinner. clearly it’s going to be awesome food, but also a cool chance to get to go into a REAAAAAAAAAAAAL korean house and hang out with people who don’t speak your language (novel!). it’s really nice of them to invite me. well sarah kind of invited me. but anyway, i’m excited. i have spam to bring.

so on the weekend i met sarah and dave at olympic park where dave was going to do some work. what really happened is that we ate some pajeon (sp?): korean friend pancake thing with seafood and chives, magkolli (rice alcohol, gross), naan, chicken curry and samosas. traditional korean food. then we wandered a bit, had soft serve from lotteria (a burger place) and then went to starbucks. eep. whoever came to korea with plans of losing weight is going to be very sad.

after that we went on a “free” tram ride around the park which cost 1,800 won per person (why?) and then laid in some very rough grass while i did a reading of the portrait of dorian grey. the weather was pretty much perfect. as perfect as it could get i think. also there were adorable korean children running around. here are some pics.

after lazing around for awhile, we decided to go for shabu shabu for dinner and met with guiane and joanne. the whole experience was a bit annoying, but delicious. basically shabu shabu is when you get some soup broth and cook thinly sliced meat and vegetables in it. it’s quick and cheap. except when the server provides enough food for 10 people “because most people eat that much”.

not enough for 5 people.

it ended up costing us 17,000 won per person, instead of like 6,000 won. oh but don’t worry…we got a free heart pen. thanks! whatever. it was good.

so today was an interesting change from the perfect weather of saturday. basically it was a torrential downpour/flood for the entire day. ENTIRE DAY. how is that even possible? sarah and i went to itaewon to refill her phone minutes and the streets were flooded. i have a video but i can’t get it to work.

just another day.

pretty nuts. basically we were soaked the entire day. after itaewon we went on the long route to costco in search of cheese. yes, it was wet. yes, it was unpleasant. but it was worth it. we bought brie, cheddar cheese, croissants, crackers, cookies and i bought kashi cereal. so delicious and worth every penny. i’m going to be the weight of a small whale when i’m done it all but whatever. foreigners: costco is your friend. it has a LOT of food that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. like everything they have at a regular costco. so strange. of course this one had floors. bring your own bags! we had to buy a reusable bag, which was fine, but it would have been better if we brought our own.

so there you have it. i guess we shall see what the rest of the week brings.


this should be a medical blog.

16 Sep

well the quest to find out how to cure my carpal tunnel continues.

today sophie asked me if she could take me to get acupuncture for my wrist. of course i accepted. when we got to the random clinic on the second floor of a random building i was informed that there was a better therapy for my problem. it was a clinic with a korean/eastern medicine doctor who was very nice. the second she looked at me she started grabbing at my collarbones, under my armpits and feeling around that general area. sophie translated, “something is wrong with your body.” good!

so after waiting for awhile i was laid on a bed where 6 suctions were placed on my left arm in strategic areas. then they started to pulsate and suck at my arm. then a heat lamp was turned on above my arm and they covered me in a blanket. i promptly fell asleep. maybe 20ish minutes later the doctor woke me up and using these two black stick things started to apply pressure to certain spots on my arms, legs, feet and hands. the machine just beeped loudly and i felt nothing but the point of the strange sticks. later sophie explained that it was some kind of current to “activate the cells or something.”

she then told me (in english) that i had scoliosis. i said yes, i know, small. she said no! no! making the korean no motion with her arms and told me that my scoliosis was actually very bad and that my entire back was out of line and my thoracic vertebrae were also “straight”, whatever that means. apparently it’s bad. sophie’s face during the explanation was pretty much one of horror the entire time and the doctor was very animated about the whole thing. she also told me that my neck around my thyroid looked swollen, and that she thinks i have a thyroid issue and i need to get that looked at. thyroid issues do run in the family, so she probably isn’t wrong. so basically this doctor’s advice was to get an x-ray so she could see what was going on with my back and then she would re-align me chiropractor stylez. sophie told me that she had a thyroid problem too and used traditional korean herb medicine and was cured, so i guess that’s what she wants me to do.

either way sophie said that “we need to think about this” and figure out our next course of action. this “expensive” therapy was only 10,000 won. the doctor expected me to feel zero pain after. i did feel better but of course it’s not cured. she said that basically since my entire back is out of line it’s pinching my nerves and causing me to change my posture and is therefore influencing my carpal tunnel. this sounds pretty realistic to me.

anyway, she put these great stickers on me to heal me. consider me healed! not really. but why did i have to come all the way to korea to find out i have all these terrible ailments?


brace yourselves.

13 Sep

well hello!

lots has probably happened since i last posted. i believe it’s been a week. this hopefully will become more regular when i get myself in gear.

what has happened here? well…

changdeok palace


seoul museum of art

of course LOTS of this

subway riding.seoul FC

this just once

seoul FC

and some other stuff but i’m tired of uploading pics.

the biggest news is probably that i have some sort of medium stage carpal tunnel. pretty great! after going to gangdong hospital with my co-worker, sophie, they informed me that i could possibly need surgery. well i paid $7 to see the doctor (outrageous! from canada) so i’d be paying 50% of that surgery too. no thanks! my parents and i decided that i’d do the tests in canada when i go back in the winter and then take it from there. sophie’s husband does acupuncture so i will try him out i think. i am currently wearing a brace typing this. very difficult and i purchased a baguette shaped keyboard pad thing to protect my wrists. only in korea.

in terms of how i’m feeeeeeeeeeling about being here…well i feel alright! i am definitely enjoying myself here. it’s exciting to go to new places and eat new food (honestly a reason to come here in itself), plus there are just so many ridiculous things to see and do. like a 4D experience called max rider in hyehwah. 3,000 won for the ride of your life. worth it. my only concern is that i still feel like i should be seeing more people. it’s just a bit difficult as not too many people live right around here. i guess we all have to travel.

my mother suggested that i may need to leave to do surgery in canada if the problem is actually serious and i was surprised to find myself saying that i didn’t want to leave. i’m not sure if that was because i’m loving life (which i do seem to be) or because i just don’t want to back out of a new situation. i guess we’ll see how things are in a few months.


what is going on?

6 Sep

obviously the #1 most frustrating thing that every expat goes through who lives in korea is that they have no idea what the eff is going on at any point in time.

this happens often. at school during the staff meetings i attend every monday in which i understand nothing, and when i ask after if anything important was said, am told no. this happens at restaurants when you can’t read the menus in hangul, in cabs when the driver cannot understand you saying your subway station despite trying 100 different intonations, pronunciations and whatever else you can do to make him get it. this also happens when people talk to me in stores, on the street, in my classroom. it happened today when my landlady, liz, took me to buy a cellphone and plan.

i am very grateful for liz’s help. she speaks some english and really is a very nice person. however, i have no idea what just happened in the cell phone store. i have a phone. it’s mostly in english, except for texting which is in korean. i have figured out how to make the actual message in english, but all of the settings remain in korean. i have no idea what my plan is. as far as i can tell it’s somewhere around $40 a month for the first three months and then after that you can change it. i suppose i don’t need to worry too much about it yet because i can change it after that time period, but i don’t even know how many minutes i have. if i have any text messages. can i go on the internet? i don’t want to but am i paying for it? why did i get an antennae to watch tv? i don’t want to watch tv. all i wanted was a phone that can call and text. this was not easy to explain and of course never was accomplished. it would be a lot more helpful if my co-teacher would come along with me to do these things, but she has both of her parents in the hospital right now and therefore is very busy. i do understand, but it can make you feel pretty helpless sometimes. most times, really.

well i guess i’ll just hope that my phone bill doesn’t turn out to be like 100,000 won a month or something and that it really only is $40. everyone says that asia has the best cell phone plans. i guess i will see. the best isn’t necessarily what i want. i want the poor student’s deal. unfortunately liz did not seem to grasp why that was and so i fear i am stuck with something i cannot undo.

during the weeks i mostly just go out for dinner with sarah and dave as they live very close to me. on the weekends we have done touristy things (like we went to changdeok palace on saturday). i want to experience as much as i can while i’m here, but part of me is so tired that i have to drag myself out of my bed/room to do anything. i always am happy i did, but it’s that initial getting out part which takes a bit of effort. now that i have a cellphone i hope i do see other people too.

alright well i’m going to go for indian so i will hopefully write more later.