Friday, 1 October 2010

Korea - The first flu shot

Hello everyone!

Last blog was a biggie, so I left out one final thing I did during the Chuseok vacation. On the Friday I went with a friend to the 63 building. We made the mistake of trying to do things when all schoolkids are on vacation for the longest time in the year. The line for the 63 building was pretty much out of the door, so we opted against that and headed to Noryangjin fish market.

Big. Fishy. Wet. Everything you expect a fish market to be. We tried talking to various people before one took it a stage further and offered us a medium-sized flat fish for 20,000W. He realised that we needed persuading, so he threw in two extra fish as 'service'. Oh, and he let me hold a live octopus. That sealed the deal for me. I could feel the suckers on my finger. I will eat a live one before I leave, though.

So we accept his offer. The fish is whisked onto a chopping board from the net, at which point it starts flapping slightly. Well, until the old man slams a metal tool down onto an area just under the head. Dead in an instant. Bye bye fish. We weren't expecting him to do it quite so publicly, so we were a bit shocked, but I guess he's been doing this for years, so it's just work for him.

Five minutes later we were eating said fish as sashimi. The big one didn't have much taste unless heavily dipped in one of the sauces, and I know why the little fish were offered as service - they are pretty much inedible. I'm marking this experience down as exactly that - an experience.

School was back in on Monday. I didn't teach though. The nature of this job is similar to my life as a student, and I feel I have picked up freshers' flu. Sunday was spent coughing my guts up, so I warned my co-teacher in advance that I might not be on top form the following day. I walked into the office to be greeted with, 'Wow, you look terrible'. Great start to the day. My throat seemed swollen and my voice was non-existent, so I was whisked off to the doctors. This surprised me, as I have always been told that the choices are hospital

This wasn't the only surprise. Upon arrival in what seemed to be a children's clinic I was told by my admin colleague that I would be given a shot. Fair enough. I roll my sleeve up as I enter the more secluded room, and a nurse preps the needle and swab. Quick dab on the arm before entry, nice and simple. Except it wasn't. She ignored my kind offer of rolling the sleeve and instead hustled with the bottom of my shirt and top of my trousers. Confused, I moved the trousers down slightly. No sooner had I done this then I felt dampness on the top of my left bumcheek, quickly followed by a sharp scrape. Injection in the bum.

WHAT?!?! Now I'm no doctor, and a very naive person at times, but to my knowledge I have NEVER had a flu injection in my rear end. We have arms to do that. ARMS! Having asked teachers and students about this, it is normal in Korea. Having asked other foreign teachers, it is not normal in English-speaking countries. It doesn't seem to have worked, anyway - I am writing this on Friday and was told by another teacher this morning that I sound worse. Lucky I don't need sympathy.

In the meantime, in two months time I will be into my final 24 hours as a resident in Korea. Time really does fly.

Love you all


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