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Korea: not the land of prevention.

January 22, 2012

The meds I’ve been taking for the flu are making me higher than a kite. Not really, but it is the weirdest I’ve felt in a while. I’ve never done drugs, nor do I plan to. I’ve been told that I “lived a boring life” because I didn’t have a rough past or a past party life. I suppose that’s one way to look at it. I disagree strongly, however– and feel sad for people that would say that or think that. I’m glad I’m walking in my identity and know that I DO NOT have a boring life.

Anyhow– In Korea there is no concern for prevention on a lot of accounts. Any kind of prevention. Laws and protocols are only made once something bad happens. And even then, nothing might be done. Hence, why I am sick right now. There is no preventative measure for keeping sickness out of the school.

This week I had several students go to the nurse, were told that they have a fever, and then were sent back to class. Seriously? I mean, I know they believe in Kimchi being like a god and keeping you healthy…but come now. This is the 21st Century. Let’s be real. If you’re really sick, you shouldn’t be at school or work. So, by Friday, I got sick. I don’t get sick very often, but when your students come to school with a fever, it’s hard to avoid– especially when they are four years old and break all kinds of personal boundaries.

At my last school in Korea, there was one classroom that became infested with lice. Yes, that’s right– the creepy bug that lives in your hair and sucks your blood. Ewww. You could see live bugs crawling in the infected child’s hair… yet, the school would not send the child home!! Instead, they came to class and guess what– the entire class, including the teacher, got lice!(and if you haven’t seen my video of a Korean mom picking lice out of her daughter’s hair on the subway– you should track it down– I’m not kidding! it really happened!)

Also, at my last school– when there was the H1N1 scare, the school shut down for a week (surprisingly!). The foreign staff was asked to be quarantined and stay at home because they “did not eat Kimchi so they could catch H1N1” (even though I ate/eat plenty of Kimchi) while the Korean staff was allowed to leave their home. Now, I’m no doctor, but that doesn’t make any sense! Call me rebellious– I left my house that week.

Or how about at my current school– this is the first year we’ve actually had a real fire alarm– and you know what– it’s all in Korean, even though we are an English speaking school. The first time it went off I thought that we were being invaded by North Korea. It did NOT sound like your typical fire alarm.Of course I thought we were being invaded on other occasions as well, like the time there were loud fireworks going off down the street from me for no certain reason.

When the country does it’s routine drills just in case N. Korea invades, our school NEVER participates.

I’m just sayin’…

So, here I am, at home– taking medication that honestly I have no idea what it is. Five pills in a little bag. It’s amazing how much you trust simply because you don’t speak the language. I will say, I LOVE the medical care system…it’s easy, fast, and cheap! My visit to the doctor cost me about 4,000krw (or $4) and my medicine cost 2,800krw (roughly $2.80). I didn’t have an appointment and I didn’t have to wait in a long line! It’s fantastic, really!

I’m thankful that it’s so cheap and all. But I sure wish that I could enjoy my Lunar New Year without the flu.

O Korea… do your teachers a favor and keep your sick kids at home please!

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