Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winter Woes Part 1

I'm sure that the harsh, cold, dry Winter will bring many woes upon my Southern heart this year. The past 7 years living in Houston where temperatures in the 40s induce panic and unending Facebook statuses remarking on how frigid it is will certainly make living through a South Korean Winter verrrry interesting.

So far, it's been about 3 weeks where the weather has been cold. Well, my kids say "cool, not cold!" and that scares me. During the day its in the upper 40s to mid 50s, and at night (when I walk home from work) its usually in the lower 40s, even upper 30s on occasion. I haven't had to bust out my winter coat yet (ordered from Lands End 40% off hehe), but I definitely bundle up in my fall wool peacoat with a big fluffy scarf and gloves.

My body is starting to feel the effects of the abrupt and harsh weather change. My skin has been extremely dry and I keep a pump bottle of olive oil body lotion by my bed. My arms and legs are suffering the most right now, and I am hoping my mom arrives with my night-time moisturizing serum before the dryness starts affecting my face. However, the lack of moisture in air, paired with the bad air quality here in Seoul, has begun taking a toll on my health.

Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat. Not completely unusual for this time of year, but I shrugged it off and went on. Throughout the day, my body started to begin to tire much more quickly and I got body aches by the end of the day. By Friday morning, I was miserable. Raw throat, congestion, headache pounding behind my eyes, body aches, low fever, and just plain miserable.

After a shower I felt slightly better, and I thanked God that it was Friday and I only had to endure 1 day  of work before the weekend. On the way to work, I stopped at the chemist (pharmacy) and pointed at my nose, then throat, then temples of my head. I got an affirmative grunt and the guy put 2 boxes on the counter and said "2 and 2 (pointing at each box) 3 times a day!" Okay, easy enough. It was 5,000W, which is like $4.50. Man, I love Korea!

I went into work and everyone was like "Chelsea, you're so pale!" "You look sick!" Etc. I trudged through prep work which, thanks to my proactive-ness the day before, was very easy. I decided I needed something to drink that wasn't water, and Erin accompanied me downstairs to get some TheraFlu tea pouches. I also got some vitamin C supplements, which I thought were candy but ended up being powder to put in a drink. Oh well! I sipped my tea all through class, and it did help. Between the ibuprofen before work, 4 tablets from the chemist, and the TheraFlu, I was definitely doped up.

By my second to last class, I was pretty run down. I refused to yell at the kids, who could tell I was sick. For the most part, they were compliant and helpful, but of course my one student who is a complete jerk just wouldn't shut up. My patience with this kid is extremely thin, and add being sick, I just couldn't handle it. I took the calm and scary approach, rather than the loud and crazy approach, since that was all I could actually handle. He was maybe 2 notches quieter than normal, but just as talkative in quantity. Frustrating...

My last class was pretty good, but I was totally out of it, I literally put my head on my desk while they worked. I didn't really "teach" that class, but just told them what to do. They are my oldest kids and can work independently. The only frustrating thing was that Henry likes to sing. It's annoying in the first place, but add a pounding headache and it's intolerable. I was counting down the minutes until class was over.

At 8pm exactly, I got my stuff and bolted. I was on a mission to find a humidifier, because I think that the dry air is what is causing my sore throat. The congestion makes me breathe with my mouth at night and the air irritates my throat. So, I took a bus to the subway, and the subway to the store. I went to E-Mart, because I read that they have the best selection. Well, they had some, but most were about 20-30,000W more than I expected. And they were all "ultrasonic" which I had done some research and found that that type is not the best, producing white dust which you breathe in and that can't be good for you!

I literally stood and stared at the stupid things for about 20 minutes, flagged down a worker who did not understand a word of English, tried to use my translator on my phone, and got absolutely no helpful information. I decided to leave and go to HomePlus, which is a heck of a lot closer to my place and should have been my first destination. I got to the subway just to realize I didn't have enough money on my T-Money card. I tried to reload it at the machine, but they wouldn't take card. So, I had to walk back up to the street, find an ATM, get cash out, go back down and reload my card, THEN I could get on the subway, get back to my neighborhood, get a bus to HomePlus, and check out their humidifiers.

Let me just say, side note, how frustrating it is when you're in a foreign country, trying to figure something out, nothing is in English, no one speaks English, and the thing you are trying to decide or figure out is not something most people just know the answer to so you can't call up the one person you know who does speak the language because she probably wouldn't have a clue what helpful advice to give you. I mean, I spent a few days researching humidifiers and types and brands, etc. I had no one to call, no one to ask for help, and no way to figure it out myself. Add to this, being sick and having just worked a full day and I was about ready to cry.

Thankfully on the subway, my mom texted. I was so happy to hear from her, I let my shield down and I did cry a little. Especially when I started to tell her my situation. I was feeling sorry for myself, but who wouldn't?! By the time I got to HomePlus I had dried up the tears. HomePlus had even MORE humidifiers to choose from! I was yet again overwhelmed. At least the prices were more what I was expecting. Mom gave me the go-ahead to just spend the money and get a decent one. Even though I'm paying for it either way, having mom tell me it was okay to spend money on it made me feel better.

My narrowed down options: I got the one in the middle.
I ended up getting one that was more attractive and had a larger water tank. When I got to the register, it ended up being about 10,000W more than I expected (maybe it was in the wrong section with the wrong price tag...?) but by then I just shrugged and paid. I got a taxi home, since I didn't have the energy left to try to figure out which bus would take me home. It was 10pm, I'd spent 2 hours on public transportation and wondering around trying to find this dang thing. I just wanted to get home!

I got dropped off and decided to get some soup at this kimbop place near my apartment. I walked in and saw a white guy. It was so surprising for both of us to see each other we both said "oh, wow!" Haha! I sat with him as I ate my soup (and asked for another bowl to-go), and he was nice. Just getting to meet someone new who speaks your language is a rare treat. I paid and left to get home around 11pm.

After figuring out how to work the humidifier, I set it up and fell into bed. This morning, I am amazed at the difference the humidifier has made in 1 night on my throat. Still a little sore, but significantly less than yesterday. I still feel a little woozy, but I am confident that a weekend in bed will cure me so that Monday I will be refreshed and ready to go! Hopefully that is the case...


  1. hmmm... Hope you are much better! What an exhausting experience. I don't know how you did it; I feel your pain. You know I do! Looking forward to Part II. Know it wasn't something you were in the mood for, but so glad you forged ahead with the blogging! ;-) Love you; miss you...
    (I wonder what happened to my 'anonymous' pic - I thot I was a dachshund but noooo, I'm still a mere shadow of my Real Self. I'll figure it out when I have t-i-m-e) arf!

  2. wow. You are amazing for your adventure!! I hope you feel better !! & humidifiers make a world of a difference!


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