Posted by: sissillie | October 1, 2012

Getting Sick in Another Country

Nothing is worse than being sick.  Your body aches, you’re coughing all the time, and worst of all your nose is so stuffed up you can barely breath, and no matter how many times you blow, there is more up there.  There can be no possible way that a body produces so much snot to the point where you are convinced that you are going to die and all that will be left is a body still constantly oozing snot.

Now if you are in your home country, or where you speak the language, then you are fine.  You either go to a pharmacy or a doctor, get what you know works, go home, and either play videogames or watch mindless T.V. until you pass out and feel better in the morning.  This is not the case if you are not in your home country and more frightfully, don’t speak the language well enough to communicate what is wrong.  There are always options available to you when this occurs.  Please keep in mind that these examples are specific to South Korea, and it is important to check on any regulations that you may have wherever you are.

1. Grin and Bear It – What I think has to be the most popular traveler/expat solution.  And one, quite frankly, I try to do as often as I can as well.  Drink water, maybe get some orange juice, or vitamins if you can recognize any, and sleep it off.  I try to do this anyway because more often than not, it’s just exhaustion and nothing a few days of going to bed early won’t fix.

2. Travel with Medications – Now if you have any sort of prescription you regularly take, you should be doing this anyway.  However, I’m referring to the meds you take if you have a cold, or a headache.  Sometimes this is a good idea.  I suffer from headaches and arthritis in my ankle, so I take pain medication regularly and packed a big ol’ bottle of the stuff when I moved to South Korea because having been here before I know they only sell medications in boxes of 8 and I didn’t want to have to go to the pharmacy and ask the lady behind the counter for it every week.
But I did not bring any cold medication.  I know they have good healthcare here.  If I was moving someplace that didn’t have good healthcare then I would have been stocking up on the supplies.  But if you are new to a country and not sure how the medications will react with your system, I’d say it’s a good idea to pack a box or two of your favorite cold meds just in case something happens before you have the chance to find the foreign markets or find a doctor you trust.

3. Find a Foreign Market and Buy Your Brand of Cold Medicine – This applies to people who really don’t trust the local medication and want a brand they recognize.  To you I say, get over yourself.  Unless you live next door to a foreign market it’s going to be a pain to get there, especially when you are sick, and you are going to be spreading your germs around to people who don’t deserve it.  Not to mention any foreign medicine is going to be more expensive than anything local.

4.  Find a Pharmacy – Now hopefully a pharmacy is easy for you to find.  Generally pharmacies, doctors offices/hospitals, there is usually the red cross symbol or something like it.  For instance, in South Korea, there is the same cross symbol, but it is green. But if you don’t have insurance and just want the medications, then finding the pharmacy is the most important thing.  There are a few easy steps to finding a pharmacy.  The first and best approach is to learn the word or symbol for the country you’re going to before you leave.  While this may not always be possible, it’s also usually possible to be able to look it up once you get there or ask someone, either a co-worker, friend, or hotel/hostel staff.  Someone will know and be able to help you.  And perhaps you will be lucky enough to get a translator to go with you too!  And while I mentioned before that red cross symbol may not lead you to a pharmacy, it should lead you to a doctor’s office and at least in South Korea you are guaranteed to find at least one pharmacy in the area.  Once in there, you may be lucky enough to get someone who speaks English, but more likely than not you are going to have to dust off your charade skills for this converstation.  Luckily the signs for headache, sore throat, and coughing, are pretty universal.  Or you could do what I did last time and as you walk in get a coughing fit.  She figured out fast what I needed then.

5. Ask for Help – Especially if you are new to the country.  Nobody likes to see another person sick.  And if they do, run away and find someone else.  But 99% of people will help you if you ask for it.  Even if it’s only to direct you to the pharmacy or doctor’s office.  But if you are overseas working, your co-workers and boss should be more than willing to help you find a pharmacy, get medication, and even get you to a doctor, and if they can’t find one who speaks English, they will often go with you to translate.  If you are working in a school in South Korea and no one is willing to help you, start looking for employment elsewhere immediately, because that is a bad sign.  If you are staying in a hotel, the front desk will normally have advice and be able to write down the key words you may need to speak to a doctor or pharmacist.  And if you are in a hostel, someone would have been there long enough you can ask for advice from.  There is no reason for you to go through this completely alone.  Especially if you are new to the area, people are usually more than willing to help you out.  If only to get you well enough quickly so they don’t get sick too.

6. Go To the Doctor Already – If you have tried all of the above and you still are feeling miserable and coughing up both of your lungs, go to the doctor already.  There may be a bit more wrong than the average cold and you need something a little stronger.  This can be the scariest thing about going to another country though.  If you are lucky enough to be in a town where there is an English speaking doctor, or even traveling to the nearest place where there is an English speaking doctor.  Because even if you bring something that you really trust with you to help translate, something can still easily get lost and you are without control of what’s going to happen to your body.  Also, not all countries put labels on their prescriptions.  If I get something over the counter here in Korea it comes in a box with a bunch of writing that I can then ask my co-workers to translate the symptoms for me and to help make sure I got the right thing.  However, if I go to the doctor and they give me a prescription to fill, I get about 5 different pills separated out into when I should take each grouping in clear plastic bags with aboslutely no labels on them whatsoever.  Leaving me again at the mercy of others.  It can be scary to think that all you have is a cold that won’t go away, go see a doctor and you end up with about 6 different medications.  Just take a look what I got this past go around.

But it works.  And even though it is scary, you have to remember that these people do not want to hurt you.  They want to do what they can to make you better.  And in the end all you can do is trust your instincts and do what you feel is best for yourself.

Posted by: sissillie | September 16, 2012

Coming Back to Korea

I’ve been back in South Korea for 1 week now.  I’m mostly over my jet lag, have a killer sore throat, and have possibly lost 2 pounds having to climb up a really steep hill to get home every time I leave my apartment.  It’s too early to tell you how good/bad my job is.  However, it being a private academy and I’m not wanting to run away after this week like I’ve heard from some people over here, I’m taking as a really good sign.  Coming back to a country that I lived in and worked in for 3 years has been an interesting experience.  There is a bit of like going back in time and I’ve decided to look at it like going back to school.  

When I first came to Korea, I had no real plan or purpose to be here other than to work and to leave my home country.  This lead to me wasting lots of time not really doing anything and coming back home again only to do a few types of work that I really wasn’t enjoying.  This time the most important thing for me to do is to come back with a plan.  A working plan in progress, not just something that will hopefully work out in the end.  The economy is just not working in a way to allow that.

So this time Korea, I have an exit strategy before I even arrive.  I will get into a grad school or find a teaching fellowship.  Failing that, I will have work waiting for me.  Failing that, I will have interviews lined up in a city that I want to be in.  Not somewhere where I have to get an hour to be where I want to be, no the actual place so I can properly network and build that life.  Or failing that, I’m moving to either Thailand or Japan and never looking back.

I am aware that these things may change and probably will.  However, the key is that I am working towards these goals this year.  Instead of just enjoying life and thinking that something will work out when it’s time to go home.  I have realized that the time to plan is now and the time to work is now as well.  

However, that does not mean I won’t take some time to enjoy the view as I leave my apartment.


Posted by: sissillie | September 16, 2012

View From My Apartment

View From My Apartment

Posted by: sissillie | July 23, 2011

Why the New Wonder Woman Show Failed

Really: just watch these clips and you will see exactly why it failed. It just screams the old failed Birds of Prey TV show that the WB tried to pull when Smallville was a success. The feel, the writing, even the look reminds me of the show that tried to destroy some of my favorite characters in the DC Universe.

Never before have I been happier to hear that a pilot failed after seeing these clips. My personal favorite is when Wonder Woman starts going off on saying ‘tits’ and ‘ass’ and then gets told that Wonder Woman isn’t vulgar. Did that woman not see the action figure they were trying to sell? Or the previous clip?

I’ll be the last person to complain about the skin shown in some shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood, but after reading those books they are staying true to the stories. The camera focusing on Wonder Woman’s bouncing breasts as she runs through the street and kicks people…not true to the character. She is suppose to be sexy, but she is sexy because she is a fierce warrior woman. Yes, Xena had moments where they focused on her body (just look at the opening credits and her putting on her armor) but that was not the focus. And Lucy Lawless commanded your attention and you could suspend your disbelief that she could be feared. This woman is not fearsome. She looks like a little girl playing dress up and trying to be Wonder Woman while the show exploits her looks. In fact the only way I would have found those clips to be believable is if they had a twist at the end of the pilot that she wasn’t actually Wonder Woman, Diana Prince, but Donna Troy, trying to be her big sister because that is sure what it felt like to me.

Don’t believe me? Check out the clip for yourself. But you have been warned.

Posted by: sissillie | July 19, 2011

30 Day Running Challenge Update

Wow, this is exhausting. I have walked/run for 20 minutes every day since I started. Starting Friday I moved to walking in the park to get some fresh air and a change of scenery.

I haven’t weighed myself yet. But I don’t really think I’ve lost weight yet.

And my hips hurt. Constantly. Combined with the fact that I cut my feet last night I think I’m gonna take the day off from running today and drink lots of water with some aspirin. Hopefully tomorrow I will not be hurting everytime I take a step so I can go back out. I kinda miss it in a weird way.

Posted by: sissillie | July 10, 2011

30 Day Running Challenge Day 2


I just got off the treadmill and oww…My hips are stiff and sore. However, my hips are always stiff and sore after I work out, I tend to take it as a good sign because at least then I know I’m working.

I decided to stick with the treadmill for now, for two reasons, my road has no sidewalk and is very curvy and dangerous and I don’t think getting hit by a car would be fun. And if I get into the habit of going downstairs for the treadmill I won’t be using bad weather as an excuse.

Some initial observation from yesterday: because I did my workout in the morning I actually felt like I had more energy and was more willing to do more stuff in the afternoon and evening. I didn’t do much, just a few sit-ups and stretching, but I felt less like just lying around on the couch for the rest of the day.

Now time for today’s stats:

Time: 20 minutes
Distance: 1.15 miles
Speed: Alternating 3-4mph every two minutes, except for the very end where it was every minute so I end on 3 mph
Calories burned: 256
Incline (I just found this and started playing with it today): 4

I tried to speed up with 5mph after the initial two minutes of 3mph, but it ended up being too fast too soon. My bad ankle started hurting after about 20 seconds and decided to just go back to what I did yesterday.

Now I need to shower and be less stinky. I feel like people would appreciate that.

Posted by: sissillie | July 9, 2011

30 Day Running Challenge Day 1

That was exhausting.

For the first day I decided to try and use the treadmill that is in the basement. I had trouble getting it started, but once I finally did…I didn’t really like it.
I walked/ran for 20 minutes, alternating 3mph and 4mph for 2 minutes each. I ended up going 1.15 miles and burned 240 calories.

I constantly felt like I was going to fall off the treadmill. I think that tomorrow I’m going to try my 20 minutes by going down the street.

Posted by: sissillie | July 9, 2011

30 Day Challenges

Well, I was watching a TED Talk last night with Matt Cutts about challenging yourself to do something for 30 days. I’ve decided to do this. Every 30 days I will try something new and do it for the next 30 days.

Running, photography, learning a new skill, not eating meat, whatever can be thought of and reasonably, or even not so reasonably done.

For this first 30 day challenge I’m going to be running every day for 20 minutes.

This is going to be a huge challenge for me, being really overweight and not very physically fit. And since I am no longer walking everyday I need to do something to get more physically fit and a couple of days a yoga per week are no longer cutting it.

I will record my progress here each day. I expect when I go downstairs today all I’ll be doing is really walking for 20 minutes…but let’s give it a shot.

I found this book recently when doing research for a term paper. While it ended up not being very useful for my paper, I found it very interesting. Thinking about pursuing a library career myself, reading stories about how librarians of today are adapting and changing to this digital world was fascinating.

Marilyn Johnson is writing this book for not only librarians, but for people who are wanting to “see behind the curtain” and learn what happens in some of these libraries, if your rights really are being protected, and how people seem to like to leave poo on the shelves. She also points out that you no longer need a degree to be a librarian. There are a multitude of people out there organizing information, and making it their mission in their free time to make it easier for users to find, bringing the idea of a cybrarian into the world.

As for the reading level, I found it a very easy read for a non-fiction book. It was not too full of jargon and you don’t have to be a information science student to understand what is on the page. Marilyn Johnson does an excellent job of honoring these protectors of information. I think this should be added to a required reading list, so that the public does not forget how important librarians can be, especially as the world goes digital.

Posted by: sissillie | June 19, 2011

8 Things I Learned from Super 8

I went to see Super 8 this weekend and I loved it. I also learned some very important things:

1. There can still be original ideas in Hollywood.

2. Audiences don’t have to spoon-fed every detail in summer blockbusters

3. Kyle Chandler needs to be in more stuff.

4. Not getting a clear picture of a monster/alien/creature does not always make it more scary, but it does make it more interesting.

5. Sometimes the monster isn’t the most interesting thing out there.

6. Silver rubics cubes are too difficult to solve by humans.

7. When in doubt, blame the Soviet Union.

8. Zombie movies were better in the 1970s.


I forgot one that is probably the most important thing I learned from Super 8:

9. Vomit is always funny.

That is all. Have a nice day.

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