1:11am Tuesday, August 28, 2012 - Seoul
Today has been a really weird day. Ultimately, I guess, it was good.
Last night I decided to set my alarm for 10am and force myself to sleep until it went off. I wanted to have a lot of sleep to be prepared for my long day at work. Getting used to 1pm-9pm work days is difficult. I have to stay up later to get anything done, and therefore need to sleep a little later to have my full nights sleep.
Well, I woke up around 7:30am, and made myself go back to sleep. Suddenly, I open my eyes and click my iPad and it's already 10:20. Now, this would be okay any other day of the week. But Mondays, teachers have to be in the office at noon, rather than 1pm, to make up for the hour we take off on Friday evenings leaving at 8pm. So, I have 1 hr 20 min before the other teachers come to collect me for our mile trek to school.
I get a shower, but my blow dryer in my motel room is the worst thing known to man. I attempt to dry my hair, but for whatever reason, my hair isn't havin' it. It dries, with absolutely no style or body whatsoever. This can be fixed, with a pony tail... which, I cannot find. I even open my giant suitcase and sift through the tons of clothes and items in there, to no avail. I barely have time to slap on some foundation before I hear a knock on my door. On top of bad hair and no makeup, my attire felt wrong. I think the females reading this know what I mean when you just feel like you look bad. It affects your entire outlook on life.
We start the walk to school and I quickly realize this is going to be bad. It is in the mid-90s with about 90% humidity, and I'm in jeans, sperrys, and a shirt which requires an undershirt. What was I thinking? 20 minutes later I trudge into school looking like I just attempted to try out for the Olympics; sweat drenched and nasty. I find a rubber band (a la 3rd grade) and use it as a pony tail holder. At least it's off my neck...
After a quick meeting with Jackie Teacher (a Monday morning ritual), Maggie Teacher starts prep for the day. We look at the tests we have to give this week and start making copies. Around 1:15pm, Jackie Teacher calls Sean & I over, and explains that originally we were going to get our health checks tomorrow afternoon, but the impending typhoon might interfere. Therefore, we needed to go back to the motel to get our passports so we can go to the hospital today. Great, another mile back to get the bloody passport, and another mile back.
Sean, Jamie, & I all walk back, retrieve our passports (and I change into shorts and a single shirt) and head back. I also take my ginormous bottle of water from my fridge. I'm thankful for the refreshment, but quickly realize carrying the damn bottle back to the school will be a hassle. I need a bag. Something cross-body but large enough for my iPad, a bottle of water, and other things I want to take to work like maybe a lunch one day. (Mental note to add this to my growing list of things I need).
Now, before I go on, is it clear that today is just not going my way? I look gross, I feel gross; you reap what you sew and I was definitely watering the budding negative thoughts. I felt alone and miserable. Every little thing annoyed the hell out of me, and I'm sure I had a look about me that said "Don't even think about speaking to me if you value your life." Is the picture in your mind clear? Okay, great...
One of the Korean "desk teachers" aka admin assistants takes us in a taxi to the Dongdaemun Hospital. On the way, Sean & Jamie are talking about this and that, everything under the sun. I was at a loss; I wanted to jump out of the cab and into oncoming traffic. (Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration, but still).
I couldn't think of anything else to do so I started praying. I told God about my horrible start to my day, and I forced myself to say one positive thing for every negative one. My hair keeps coming out poorly - well, it can be fixed with better shampoo and a nice blow dryer. I'm hot and sweaty - at least I got the chance to change clothes. I was tired from too much sleep - at least I get out of the classroom for a few hours to get the health check. I have to get a flippin' health check - at least I get to sit in an air conditioned building for a few hours. Etc, etc.
This only lasted about 2 minutes, then my mind wandered off and we were at the hospital. We followed the desk teacher in, and sat waiting for them to process our paperwork for about 15 minutes. I noticed that the school actually paid for the health check. I had read online that we needed to fork over the cash for this, but they covered it. Sweet! Another bonus!
The health check went like this: blood pressure machine (76/86... is this bad?), then colorblind test (passed with flying colors, heh heh!), eyesight check (my contacts helped but I still didn't get 20/20...), height/weight measurements (I'm not listing my weight, but when I converted kg to lb, I knew I would be thankful for those mile walks to school when I drop some lbs or kgs or whatever). After this, a lady asked us some questions in moderately decent English. The usual - ever had any XYZ problems? (liver, brain, kidney, etc) No, no, no. Promise I'm healthy!
The next part of the exam, I wish I hadn't taken out my camera to make room in my purse for a brush! We had to give a urine sample, and I came into proximity (not contact) with my first real Korean toilet. This amounts to a hole in the ground. I could see how it was supposed to work, but getting my drawers down and aiming correctly seemed to be mutually exclusive. I am ashamed to say that, instead of figuring out the physics of peeing in a hole while squatting and keeping my pants on, I just took my pants off. Somehow I got them off while keeping my shoes on (thank goodness I got out of the jeans and into shorts at my room earlier), and proceeded to make efficient use of the toilet.
That was a somewhat traumatizing experience; I wish I'd had a camera to show you how odd this looked in a modern hospital! I'm posting another blogger's photo of a Korean toilet that is pretty much exactly what this one looked like...
Anyway! Moving on... next was the blood! I was nervous for this part; everyone had told me that they take a lot. Not as much as donating, but a fair amount. I've had blood drawn plenty in my life, but never an obscene amount, and never as a donation. Therefore, I had no idea what to expect from what I was told would be "a lot!" I gave up my arm (surprisingly my right arm, not my left like usual) and averted my eyes. Before I got my head turned around, I saw the viles he would be filling. There was only 3! And one was smaller than the other two. I felt much better about this. He was done in a minute, and I was totally fine. :)
Last part was a chest x-ray and dental exam that were less than 15 seconds each. That is not an exaggeration. All in all, the health exam was basic and quick. Nothing painful or terribly time consuming. Literally, I didn't even sit down for the dental exam; the lady just told me to open my mouth and looked in. She said they looked good and booted me out. Hey, I'm not complaining!
By the time the health exam was done, I realized that I was in a better mood! I could attribute it to the air conditioned building, but I think it was a God thing. ;)
When we got back to the school, I had a bowl of rice with egg drop soup on top. I think the soup had tofu in it, but I didn't even care. I was so hungry by that point. Hunger is a feeling I'm becoming much more accustomed to...
I went with Maggie Teacher to the last 3.5 classes and took rigorous notes. In the first full class I was in with her, she had to step into the hall at one point. We were 5 minutes behind, so she asked me to do the next exercise with the kids on the board. The sudden pressure was on! I got up and just "winged it" ("wung it?"). Maggie Teacher came back in halfway through, but I continued the exercise with the kids.
After I was done with the page, she resumed control of the class, but told me I did good. In fact, after introducing the next topic and doing the first exercise, she invited me to lead another exercise. I think I did okay! The kids giggled a little, but at least they understood and got the questions right. :) It was a bit scary, but I know I'll be okay once I get the hang of things.
Before our last class of the day, we had a 10 minute break and I got to meet the new Korean teacher, Michelle. She will sit right behind me in our offices. She learned her English in Australia where she lived and studied for 9 years. She was so incredibly sweet. It was really cool to meet another newbie, but one on the "other" side of things (Korean side). She shadowed the last class with me, I was so excited! I really want to try to become friends with her outside of work. I need a Korean! And she seems absolutely awesome! That definitely lifted my spirits! I was already feeling better, but that was a great pick-me-up. And the best part, our conversation all started when I complimented her Louis Vuitton handbag. Looks like my time in sorority recruitment practice paid off ;)
During the break when I met Michelle I also found out that our school decided to follow the lead of every single public school in Korea: closing on Tuesday for Typhoon Bolaven. The school is more of a business, and close very rarely. I think this storm is supposed to be pretty bad, if they made the decision to close! But, that gave me another thing to smile about - a day to recuperate from my terrible hair day!
I decided that if I was going to be stuck indoors all day tomorrow, and if I didn't want to end up with the same hair on Wednesday morning as this morning, I should head to a store and get some Dove Shampoo and check out the hair dryers. One of the other English teachers took Sean & I to HomePlus, which is basically Korean Target (win!!!). I got my favorite shampoo and conditioner, some crackers and other nibbles for the day tomorrow.
Taxi home and that's about it to my day. It was an extremely long and emotionally exhausting day. Typhoon day tomorrow!! I'm mixed excited and scared... Pray for everyone's safety, but I'm also thanking God for the day off! ;)