Rainy Season in Korea

You can probably guess from the title of this post that we are currently experiencing the rainy season here in South Korea. The rain started last Sunday and has only let up a little since then, with periodic downpours that start and stop with no warning. Needless to say, I have been wearing my rain boots (or “gum boots,” as the Kiwis call them), and have been using the umbrellas so often that one of them broke on me yesterday.

Aside from the rain, last week was a good week here at EV. We had a middle school group from Monday to Wednesday and a high school group during the latter half of the week. The students were great; I have nothing to complain about. I think it’s the limited devo and overwhelming amount of tasks to do that left me feeling so exhausted by Friday evening.

Glenn got Lasik eye surgery Saturday morning. The doctor’s office is down in Gangnam, a trip that takes 1.5 hours door-to-door from EV to the office (roughly 45 minutes on the bus and another 35 minutes on the train, plus wait time at the bus and subway stations). Glenn’s appointment was 11:00am Saturday morning, so we decided to trek down to Gangnam on Friday after work, get a hotel for the night, and then be able to sleep in before going to the appointment.

I had reluctantly agreed to be a language exchange partner for the long-term university program here at EV. I was reluctant because I already keep myself pretty busy, and with VIP coming up, nobody has any extra time for anything around here. They desperately needed someone, though, so I agreed to do it – more as a favor to my friend, who is the coordinator for the long-term program. The only time that my partner and I were able to meet to start our language exchange was Friday after work, which meant that Glenn and I only made it to our hotel in Gangnam around 9:30pm, pushing 10:00pm. It rained heavily the entire day, evening, and night, so it wasn’t a pleasant trek down there. I suppose the funny part was that when I was booking the hotel online Wednesday night, I didn’t realize that we would be staying at a love motel. (In my defense, I had read and compared all the reviews of the hotels in the immediate area surrounding Gangnam Station, and nowhere did anyone mention that it was a love motel; just that it was reasonably priced, centrally located, and rooms were decent!) For those of you who are wondering what exactly a “love motel” is, it’s where young lovers (or businessmen and their “girlfriends”) go to have some privacy since Koreans live at home with their parents until they get married.

Some key differences between hotels and love motels: love motels are usually not on the main city roads and inside, it is rather dark… but don’t worry, colored lights line the hallway floors so you can find your way. Also, no questions are asked at check-in (you don’t even have to show your ID). The rooms look like ordinary rooms, but have colored lights on the ceiling that change colors.

Hey, at least we’re continuing the cultural experiences!

Glenn’s surgery went great Saturday morning, but the 3-4 hours following the laser treatment were horrible for him. The treatment itself only took about 20 minutes, and he walked back into the waiting room looking totally normal. I was surprised! They had him sit and wait half an hour so that the doctor could check him just to make sure the recovery was going according to plan. In the meantime, I had gone to the pharmacy to get all his eye drops and prescriptions that he’ll have to take for a week. He had to take one kind of eye drops every 10 minutes, which proved to be an unwelcome chore as the day progressed and we occasionally forgot to check the time. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was when the anesthetic wore off and his eyes felt like they were burning; a sensation that lasted through lunch (he wanted to do Ethiopian in Itaewon again for lunch but later regretted that decision) until about an hour after we got home. When we did get home, all he could do was sit on the bed and listen to the audiobook I managed to find for him on Youtube. Luckily, he was feeling almost totally normal again by dinner time and was able to come out with me and some friends for a going-away dinner for our good friend, Tina, who leaves Korea this week.

Sunday, we had to go back for Glenn’s post-treatment appointment. It took us the 1.5 hours to get there and then the appointment was only 2 minutes, if not shorter. Since we had come all that way again and Glenn was feeling fine other than having to wear sunglasses due to light sensitivity, we decided to go to Itaewon yet again so that he could actually enjoy the Ethiopian food this time. We did that, and he also visited the tailor who has made him 2 tailored suits and who will help him get the online suit business up and running. After all that, I was looking forward to going home and having a little time to myself (since it’s been weeks since I had that), but our friend, Tina, wanted to go out to dinner again and we didn’t want to disappoint her. Plus, she leaves tomorrow (Tuesday) and we wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. We got home around 11:00pm, and there went my weekend.

Between being so busy at work and in the evenings, plus having plans the last several weekends on top of it being so rainy (and COLD! Ugh!), I haven’t been feeling very well. Every day that I have to teach and use my voice, I feel a little worse. Today, I’m back to having discomfort when I talk and swallow. For all the days that I couldn’t take off because I was out of sick/vacation days, I probably should have just taken off the entire month and let myself heal completely before trying to teach again. I was sent home early today because on top of being exhausted and my throat hurting, I was feverish and dizzy. My supervisor is very sympathetic and understanding, and wants me to take off as much time as I need – I just have to clear it with admin first. (Please wish me luck with that!) The important thing is that I allow myself to recover enough so that I’m able to be a part of VIP. Everyone is counting on me, especially since I’m a house and club leader this time.

On a happier note, I’m finding that I understand a little Korean. Despite being surrounded by English and English speakers here at EV, I’ve picked up enough words and have heard the language enough that I’m able to figure out what people are talking about based on context. It’s pretty cool considering I haven’t made a conscious effort in months to actually learn any Korean!

Lastly, I want to let all of you know that I appreciate the email correspondences but that I haven’t been able to respond in over a week now. I’m too busy at work to check email, and in the evenings I can’t take care of any personal business since I share the laptop with Glenn and we usually put on a video or something that we can both enjoy. My emails have really started to accumulate and it’s starting to stress me out a little, so as impersonal as a mass-message in a blog is, I’m afraid that it will have to suffice until I have a good hour or so to myself and can reply to you all individually. Thank you, everyone, for continuing to write to me!

I’ll post some pictures within the next couple of days, so check back again soon!

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