Tag Archives: health

Cloudy with a Chance of Dying

Erin wrote about it the other day and I’ve been whining about it on Facebook to anyone who will listen all week. It’s hot. And humid. And miserable. As a result, I’m one drop of sweat away from a breakdown. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every conversation I’ve had this week has revolved around how hot and wet and straight up pissed off I am.  I really almost lost it yesterday afternoon when I walked by my principal’s office and realized that all his windows were closed because he is the only one in school allowed to have the air conditioner on. I dare him to look at me today.

To spare you the pain of a whole new ranty blog post about it (it is seriously the only thing I can think or talk or write about, I’m sorry), I’ve reduced my daily gchats to a “word cloud” that shows exactly how climate-centric my life has been in the last ten days. August 26th, where are you??

Heat Stroke

Humans are warm-blooded, maintaining a near-constant body temperature. Thermoregulation is an important aspect of human homeostasis …. High temperatures pose serious stresses for the human body, placing it in great danger of injury or even death. In order to deal with these climatic conditions, humans have developed physiologic and cultural modes of adaptation. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

I would like state for the record that Korea has not made any physiologic or cultural adaptations. They are a people willing to accept discomfort.

But I am an American.

So I do not accept discomfort.

So I am on the brink of a sweaty, dehydrated breakdown.

Have you ever gone to the zoo during the summer? Have you ever checked out the polar bears while you were there? Know how depressing and crabby they look because they’re very obviously in the wrong climate? I am that crabby polar bear.

Heat makes you do crazy things

This is one of those horrible times when your spoiled middle class  American-ness gets thrown in your face. “Pardon me sir, but your country is not chilled enough for me to properly enjoy my champagne and caviar and money.  See to it tout suite, my good man.” What can I say? I have led a comfortable, dry existence prior to this, and I would like to continue on that less-sweaty path.

Like any developed nation worth its salt, everywhere is air conditioned in Korea. (Please do not get on my back about the environmental ramifications of this. I will tear off the widest part of you and use it to fan myself. I AMHOT.) But somehow, the Republic of Korea has not deemed June worthy of turning on said AC. That means my bus, full of unwashed high school boys, smells like unwashed high school boys.  Coffee shops are stuffy, ATM bank alcoves are nearly unbearable, going outside in the damp, jungley heat will make you pray for death.

I was willing to overlook this heat intolerance as a problem limited to my foreignness. I simply not used to it and do not understand, like I didn’t understand wearing coats indoors during the winter.

But today, drowning in my own useless sweat, my classes of NATIVE KOREAN CHILDREN did nothing but bleat the two relevant words they know: teacher, hot, teacher, hot, hot, hot, HOT, HOTT, TEACHERRRRR.

So much unnecessary suffering.

Bloodsucking Shiteaters

Upon arrival to Korea I was introduced to some grody-ass toilets that triggered this epic rantalysis. Little did I know then the true horrors that were in store for me every time I step into a 화장실. At this point bathroom bitching is so yesterday, but you guys, this last week it has a reached a new level of filthy disgusting awfulness.

why hello! sit down on me!

The temperatures are getting higher and the humidity is climbing its ever oppresive way to unbearable and so the bathrooms have mutated from frigid, dirty puddles of horror to damp, malodorous bogs of all that is nasty and vile in this world. There’s an inch of water on the floor, toilet paper strewn about, dirty mops hanging out in the wash basin. Everything is wet; it can be best described as “swampy”. I would be absolutely livid if I were a parent and discovered that my child played unsupervised in Satan’s rectum. I just can’t understand how any part of the school is allowed to exist in such an unsanitary state. I mean, isn’t this how disease is born and spread? Hasn’t Korea heard of the Middle Ages? What is everyone thinking!? Continue reading

On Hydration

There’s a really funny thread on Waygook.org right now that has kept my attention for the past 24 hours. It’s slightly entertaining (and often irritating) to watch strangers bicker over really mundane, though often apropos, observations of life as a Waygook. Things like if it’s cool that Koreans ask you to take pictures with them. Or whether or not this teaching gig will look good on a resume later on.

If you live in Korea, you know that looks fucking delicious

The particular topic I’m interested in today is “Do Koreans drink enough water?” The original poster simply finds it strange that Koreans don’t appear to drink much water at all, a doubt which OP and I share, and which I have long gotten over. But this person’s wondering has incensed many KOREA-CAN-DO-NO-WRONGers. Since I have no interest in arguing with people on an increasingly troll-y and uptight message forum, I have decided pontificate here, on my blog, where I am the ultimate authority.

I will be fair and make my comparisons only to the U.S, since I really don’t know how much water the rest of you English speakers drink. I suspect America overdoes it a little (though, it’s certainly not in our character to be intemperate).

Things that make me feel like Koreans drink significantly less water than Americans (possibly to their detriment): Continue reading

Before Korea, I Never Thought I’d…

…sing in public all of the time.

And I’m not even talking about a norebang. I’m talking about in class. In front of hundreds of kids. And a coteacher. Everyday. It’s not a big deal when I’m singing along with the book CD or with the class. But one of my coteachers had the brilliant idea to turn everything we do into a song. Before my kids tell me what day it is, they must sing “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine” twice. And after we’ve determined the entire date, I must lead them in a rousing verse of “Today is Monday, Today is Monday, April 23rd, April 23rd, 2011, 2011, That’s the date, That’s the date” to the tune of “Frère Jacques”. I have a really hard time not singing off key at the higher parts, and it’s rough to squish “February twenty third” into like three syllables. Awkward. But I do it. Four times a day. Five days a week.

…eat Spam.

Yep.

I made it to the age of 25 without ever seeing a can of Spam in real life, but August 2010 that all changed because Spam is everywhere in this country. Continue reading

Mind Over Manners

Cultural Lesson #2837: Learning What’s Polite in Another Country

In Korea, it’s polite to bow when you meet someone for the first time. Also when you see your principal walk by, when you see your vice principal walk by, when you see someone you know in the hallway, when you complete a monetary transaction anywhere, when someone enters or leaves the room even if it’s for the fiftymillionth time. It’s polite to bow all the of the time in Korea, and it’s a cultural practice I am happy to accept and participate in. The same goes for other very strange feeling habits, like always extending my money to a cashier with both hands and accepting change with both hands. Or pouring drinks for people with both hands. No problem.

But even after seven months living here, there are a handful of common Korean behaviors that I just can’t get behind. Some of them I’m simply not wired to perform and others are so unspeakably gross that even in the name of cultural diplomacy I am flat out unwilling tolerate. Continue reading

Sabor de Soledad

Friends, we are fast approaching the 6 month mark in this, the Year of Korea. This is a time of reflection, to pause and note what I have learned about this foreign land, its people, myself, and others like me, in our self-imposed exile. As I sit here in my lotus position upon my mountaintop pondering these things, I have come to one conclusion about displaced Americans:

Our greatest common passion is the pursuit of legit Mexican food.

Exactly. (courtesy of the best place on the internet)

We go to extraordinary lengths in the service of this insatiable hunger. We take hour long train rides in Seoul to an On the Border (a scurrilous Tex-Mex chain I would turn my nose up at Stateside, but such are the concessions one must make in Korea…) for a 20 minute dinner, bottomless chips and salsa, and Modelo. We stay up til 4 am in order to sample the wares of the legendary Hongdae taco truck (Remember?). We fashion excuses to gather and construct enchiladas and quesadillas in cramped Korean kitchens, combining our cheese stores, swilling Coronas and wondering why it’s so hard to find a ripe avocado in these parts. Even on vacation in Switzerland, my American friend couldn’t help but bring up how unfulfilled he was without access to chorizo.

Despite our perseverance, our damnedest efforts put forth, the Real Thing has remained elusive.

It is therefore incredibly painful to speak of Korean takes on Mexican food. First, one must understand that Koreans approach food from a health standpoint: eat this because it is nutritious and benefits you in X and Y ways, even if it tastes like Neptune’s butt (…because everything tastes like ocean here. Keep up with me people, I shouldn’t have to explain my jokes to you punks.). Americans approach food from the pleasure side of things: make it taste good and give me more. At heart, we are a nation of hedonistic walruses. Example: say an American discovers an opportunity in Gwangju to order nachos* at a restaurant. American eagerly anticipates a mess of tortilla chips piled with about 14 c. of delicious ingredients including, but not limited to: meats, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, jalapenos. The American believes the dish should weigh no less than 5 lbs. and require a waiter with hypertrophied biceps to deliver it. But this is what the American receives:

Perdon?

8 individually decorated chips, displayed in an aesthetically pleasing ring. Heavy on vegetables, low on meat, nothing in excess. Korea, this American walrus knows you’re better than her, but it’s still kind of weird to make little chip pizzas and call them nachos and trick me into eating them. And then there was this, a shot in the dark for something like Doritos** and the inspiration for this post. A foul, sweet, disgusting turn on something billed as “Maekshikan tacoe” flavored, but that tasted like a churro rolled in cheeto powder. I hate you, Dodohan chips.You might look the part, but the Asian chick in the sombrero belies your true nature.

Ahora con mas semen del toro!

We few, we happy few, we band of gringos! There is no hope, but still we search. Search for the mythical taco stand that will sate us somewhere in the heart of Asia. So on. On we ride. On into the friscalating dusk light.

*We at TWD are fully aware that nachos are not authentically Mexican.

**Ditto.