America needs an overhaul.

Good evening/day/morning,

It’s approximately 11:30pm.  I am tired, worn out, sick, and yet very content.  The past few weeks have been quite a lot to deal with.  I am not sure why, but even my coworkers seem to be frazzled.  There are days when I either don’t know what day it is, or what date it is.

I have bronchitis/sinusitis crap going on and I can’t seem to shake it.  I’ve gone to the pharmacy a couple times and each time it has cost me TOPS 5.0w ($5).  The medicine I would get in the US: a box of 100 Mucinex capsules costs $50.  If you multiply out the amount I am spending to equate my 10 Korean pills to 100 Mucinex, the cost is ROUGHLY the same, but alas it is cheaper.  Even more impressive was my experience today.  During my break at work I went to ask the front desk teachers what sinus was in Korean.  From what I found online 부비강 (boo-bee-gang) ((yes, I chuckled too – boobie)).  They looked confused, so I assumed I was off.  They say ‘Go to the hospital’ and I say ‘Class starts in 40 minutes, I don’t have time.’ ‘Yes, go go go!’ So one of the other teachers, Mia, takes me.  Start a stopwatch.  Walk in, walk to the desk, sign in, get my Alien Registration number, write it down, sit down, stand up, it’s the wrong number, we call the desk teacher, get the right number, sit down, stand up, meet the doctor, I say “Sinus pressure, throat, lungs, about 2 weeks” in reply to his broken English (THANK GOD HE KNEW ANY), Mia is sitting, he looks in my nose, throat, eyes, a 40 second process, he says ‘Bronchitis/Sinusitis’, I say ‘네’ (yes) because this is how I felt last year as well, he sits down at his computer, starts typing, talking to Mia, I’m checking out the nurse (duh), 20 seconds later stand up, walk out of room, I say to Mia ‘Uhhh no way’ ‘What, Nick?’ ‘Like…we’re done?’ ‘Uhhh yes?’ ‘Wow’, I pay for my copay FOUR THOUSAND WON, FOUR DOLLARS, we walk out, go downstairs, there’s a pharmacy, hand prescription, get antibiotics and a nose spray – the spray was 10.0w expensive….BUT it’s better than any nose spray I’ve ever had in the US, 3 minutes later they hand me a bag, I pay 15.5w, we still have twenty minutes before class.  So we walk to grab some food and make it back with time to warm up and eat before class.

Now, let’s recap really quickly.  On average, my copay’s at home would be either $15, $30, or maybe more – thank God we have a decent plan.  Other people pay much, much more.  I just paid less than the price of my favorite Taco Bell combo.

Mind blowing.

Today, I woke up really late because my alarm didn’t go off.  As I jump out of bed, I throw on a sweater, pants, jacket and my hat and run outside.  The sun is shining, but the ground is all wet like someone washed it off.  I’m so late I grab a taxi, but no taxi drives past.  I am frantic right now, but I notice the ground is still wet – is it monthly cleaning day or something?  As I look for a taxi, cars are driving by and I stop in my tracks.  On some of the vehicles passing by was a familiar white substance, no not meth – IT WAS SNOW.  It snowed!!!!!!!!! The whole taxi ride to work I was mesmerized.  Apparently the kids had a delay for school, and this doesn’t affect me in any way, BUT this means that MORE snow could occur down the line.  And it just made me so happy – but then I remembered it was 1:50 and I had to be at work at 1.  No harm, no foul because class doesn’t start until 2:40, I only get there at 1 o’clock for prepping and printing quizzes.

This past weekend John and I joined one of the Korean teachers at our hagwon for dinner and drinks in Busan.  He brought two of his Korean teacher friends who had very decent English and it was quite an enjoyable evening.  We went to a 갈비 (rib) restaurant.  Now, John and I go out to eat fairly often, it’s just quick, easy and roughly the same price of what we would make at home – except a restaurant’s food is way better.  The restaurant we dined at was the equivalent of say, Mussels and Burger Bar or Hammerheads.  A nice restaurant you go to on special occasions.  Except in Korea, these restaurants are along the price of Morton’s or Ruth Chris dot dot dot dot……… We ate like kings, and it was a blast.  Discussion ranged from our time in Korea, abroad, life in the states, stereotypes of different parts of the US, tv, movies, actors, and various phrases that the gentlemen had issues with.  These Korean men were very polite and a lot of fun to hang out with.  After dinner we went to a nice quiet bar, I couldn’t tell you where.  We sit down and say we prefer whiskey, so one of the guys orders whiskey for us and beers for him and the other.  Our Korean teacher friend was our dd – God bless him.  The waiter comes over and sets down a handle of Devil’s Share, a white whiskey from San Diego.  I look at John as though we were dead where we sat.  Bottles of alcohol in Korea are VASTLY overpriced.  But, we didn’t say anything.  To make a quick comparison for those of you who have tried soju, soju is very …unrefined, the alcohol we enjoy in the US is VERY refined.  This whiskey, was middle of the road refined, and it hurt.  I have no idea how long we sat there, but after we finished that bottle the 아저씨 (polite way of referring to an older man) decides we need a bottle of Jack Daniels.  I have a little bit, but I can’t handle it.  Around this point, I can’t remember…. I see glimpses of the rest of the night, and the best part was crashing onto my bed.  When I woke up I realized I had no phone, yet I had my credit card, bus pass and some other cards from my phone case.  An image flashed through my mind because the 아저씨 was making fun of my phone case.  So I took out all of my stuff and handed it to him trying to get him to get rid of it – I don’t like it either, it’s supposed to be red, but when I took it out of the box it was rose/pink… Yes, I get made fun of.  It turns out I left it in Mr. Kim’s car – and I got it at work today.  That was an awkward exchange.  Pretty awesome weekend, nonetheless.

Hopefully, this new medicine bounces me back to normal quick – I really want to get back in the gym.

Every where I go, I see or hear Christmas music. Now, don’t get me wrong – obviously, I am going to miss being home for Christmas, ESPECIALLY because the fam is going to Miami. Sorry, if that’s a surprise or something and I just blew it, but whatever. But, aside from the obvious, I am really excited to experience a Christmas on my own. I was thinking earlier today how I can go to church and then go to work (yes, I have work on Christmas), but I’ll also be playing Santa Claus at work. It’s going to be an exciting day, and quite a bit different than usual. It’ll be more fun to actually go GIVE Christmas cheer to my students and anyone who sees me on the street. The amount of Christmas music playing from stores is perfect – not too much, not too little, and it’s almost ALL holiday music I have never heard. Same text, different music. I like it!I continue to try and meet people, but the success rate is few and far between.

If I can find the time, more so the willpower to not indulge in video games, I’m going to be watching more Korean movies and maybe some TV dramas. If you have the chance, you should watch The Chaser. You can find it on YouTube with subtitles. It’s pretty intense and similar to something like The Fugitive or Lincoln Lawyer. Very neat!

I have a new affinity for Korean music, and oh my gosh, I’m in love with so many different singers.  I can’t say that I am understanding more Korean, but I am definitely recognizing sounds and words/phrases.  And that makes me really excited.  I hope I can start to really focus on that aspect of this experience.  There’s just so much to do, and only so much time!  It’s almost been four months and it feels like a couple weeks.I hope you all have a fantastic couple weeks of finals, school or whatever you might be up to!  I’ll probably write again in a week or two.  잘자~~ (Good night !)

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