Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sick Daze

Fan Dance
Kindergartners performing the traditional fan dance at the school festival. It was super impressive, especially considering they were like, six. I'd love to see professional dancers perform it. Of course, I spent the entire dance contemplating how many tiny Korean children I could fit in my bag and take home with me. They were precious.

Here is my advice to thee: don't ever call in sick to a Korean school. IT'S NOT WORTH IT. Even if you're dying of the bird flue and leprosy, just so to school and cough/drop decaying body parts of the children. IT WILL BE SO MUCH EASIER.

Last night I posted my entry, said, "Oh, I don't feel so good," went downstairs and threw up. A lot. I spent the next eight or so hours alternating between throwing up, severe abdominal pain, crying from said pain, curling up on the shower floor (hot water helped) and fever dreams about the election (Obama lost in all of them and I woke up gasping in terror at least twice. In one, Nicolas Sarkozy endorsed McCain and the Hamburgler was campaigning for him.) Then, around three in the morning, I feel asleep for real and slept until my alarm went off. I woke up feeling much better, but also like I'd gotten three hours of sleep and spent the night puking, which I imagine feels similar to being hit by a truck, only with less broken bones and internal damage. There was no way I could handle teaching class today.

Koreans don't really understand the concept of sick days. They will honestly go to work until they can physically not make it out of bed. However, sick days are part of my contract and at the training/orientation a few weeks ago, we were told to use them if we needed to. Just because the Koreans are sometimes crazy doesn't meant we need to be, and going to work when you're sick is only going to make you worse. I gave my co-teacher a call and told her I was too sick to make it to work today. I tried to describe my symptoms, but Ji-Won didn't understand me over the phone, so she came over to my apartment (she lives nearby) and told me we needed to go to the hospital. I said no, don't think that's necessary, all I need is to rehydrate and sleep. She disagreed. I refused some more, telling her that it's just a 48 hour bug and all I needed was to rest. She called the school nurse and they spoke rapidly in Korean. She hung up and tried to convince me to go to the hospital again, and again I refused. Finally, an hour later, after she talked to several more people, she agreed that I should sleep. Of course, by this point I'd been awake for two hours and arguing half that and was too keyed up to fall back asleep, so I spent the day watching Numb3rs and Pushing Daisies and knitting.

It's back to work tomorrow and dealing with being fussed over. The most frustrating part about this whole day, apart from the whole having to argue for an hour when all I wanted was go back to sleep, was the insistence that I do everything the Korean way and that anything else was unthinkable wrong. It's just that I spend so much time reminding myself that this a different culture and those differences aren't necessarily wrong, they're just different and I need to respect those differences, even when I personally have a problem with them. (For example, corporal punishment in the schools, eating dog or spitting all over the place.) It would be nice to occasionally get the same consideration back and, as far as I'm concerned, when it comes to my health and my finances, I get to call the shots.

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