Sunday, December 17, 2017

Day 117: Finished my last final!

Another day of sleeping in. I'm totally enjoying 
being done with my Korean finals but the truth is that I still have one left. Yes, the paper I have to write for my Media Communication class.
I already mentioned earlier somewhere that I finished writing what was required of me to pass the class - but I still hadn't finished it completely and the over-achiever within me kept trying to shame myself into finishing it.

All the while feeling better and better, my stomach was aching a lot today. My guess is that it's due to me having been on penicillin for 10 days and now continuing eat different pills to live down the allergic reaction. Although I spent a good couple of hours in bed, doing nothing, it didn't stop and I thought perhaps it'd go away if I went out to get some fresh air. I'd brought my computer with my just in case I decided to sit down in a café to work on it but after having spent hours at home looking at the assignment, I still hadn't figured out exactly it was that my teacher wanted me to write about. She's Korean and although her English is pretty good overall, the task description was just so vague that neither I nor Isabella knew what to do about it.

It was really cold out today, like -5 to -10 °C, and I was getting ready to return to my room after having spent an uneventful day. Since it was so cold, though, I wanted to get a cup of hot chocolate before going home.
The café I went into was one of the 24/7 open ones and it was filled with students preparing for their upcoming exams. Something about this environment told me to give the exam paper one last try since I was here anyways. I had about 2 hours until deadline.
Suddenly I got this sort of epiphany where I felt like I finally understood the question. Que 2 hours of pulling information back and forth between documents and suddenly it was finished. I'd finished it and sent it to my teacher 1 (ONE!!!) minute before deadline!
My stomach was hurting through all this so it took me some 20 more minutes from having sent my final until I actually pulled myself together to walk back home.

A lot of foreigners complain about the lack of trashcans in public and even in stores. Where does the trash go? Well, in the night, Koreans put their trash into the streets like this and then the tiny but most effective trash cars I have ever seen come and pick it up. (As of writing this post, I saw a car last night collect the trash and it took them less than a minute to clear an entire street. I was amazed!)
When I reached Severance, I figured that I might as well try to take a shortcut through it.
It was an interesting experience to see the otherwise so busy hospital this quiet.
When I got back outside and was walking through the yard between Severance and the dentist school, it started snowing. I forgot my stomach pain for a moment to take it all in.
Take a look at these cute lamps! They remind me of little fairy houses.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Day 116: Santa run in Sinchon

I already felt A LOT better today. My body was still covered with red spots to the point that I looked like a white strawberry but I was a lot less itchy and had so much more energy.
- Energy that I was definitely going to make use of by getting outside today and doing something.

I'd slept in today and got started on my day pretty late so I didn't get down to Sinchon before the afternoon. But ooooh when I did! There were loads of people here today!

It seemed like there was an event or promotion going on for warm body, which is a warm drink that (from my understanding) should be pretty good for your immune system as well. It's super sweet though and probably contains a fair amount of sugar so who knows.

Near the red tube, a big scene had been set up and both Koreans and foreigners were jamming away. Not pictured was a guy dancing around dressed as santa, who looked like he was getting ready to perform next.
Speaking of santa, today was the day of the santa run here in Sinchon! Sadly, it seemed like I had just missed it. I still got to see a lot of Koreans walk around in red felt clothes and with fake beards. 
There was also a Christmas market going on!
About half of main street was lined with striped white and red tents and people were selling all kinds of handmade stuff. I completely forgot to take pictures because this sweet middle-aged woman at the meringue stand kept giving me samples to taste. It was all very delicious.
I'd seen posters down in the subway that there would be a 별밤마켓 (byeolbam maket = starry night market) there at 17.00. When I went down there, though, there wasn't really anything special going on except this band, that had set up a little venue near where the subway connects to U-Plex. They played some sweet, jazzy Christmas tunes.
One of the cool things about the shops down in the subway near redtube is that they are temporary so once in a while we get to see new pop-up stores. This time around, there were two people in big shiba inu costumes were promoting one of the new pop-up stores and they were a huge hit for people, who wanted pictures with them.
Since the starry night market wasn't really anything special, I went back up to ground level. At first I was surprised by how the band seemed to be a lot more energetic now and then I turned to the HUGE mass of people, who were watching.... people dancing in the street?
Yes! A swing dance club had completely taken over the street and were having a PARTY!
They all wore Christmas'y clothes and some of the girls had bare arms even though it was -7°C and you could see their breath. But it didn't matter because they were dancing the night away and all the bystanders were happily watching.
Look at that happiness!
Hajun was busy studying for his exams this coming week and wouldn't have much time for me until Thursday. He did have time to have dinner with me today and while I was waiting for him, I spent the time finally getting a good picture of the Christmas decorations on the church here. The picture really doesn't do the real-life view justice, though.
Back on the main street, the dancers had left and the sound of the bands had been replaced by super loud EDM music, that drowned out all other sounds.
And if it's not snowing during our Christmas market? Don't worry, the Koreans have got it covered with fake snow!
I practically almost walked into Hajun while looking up at the fake snow that was being blown out above the crowd.
Both Hajun and I never know what to eat so we've reached the point of doing rock, paper, scissors and having the winner decide. Hajun won and picked a 불고기 place (bulgogi = marinated slices of beef/pork).
Eeey an almost normal picture of Hajun!
Will we ever see him in non-training clothes?
Some closer up shots of our food: here we have purple rice! The first time I went to Korea and had a stomach ache, the older lady at the restaurant I was at came out with a bowl of this kind of rice. It totally cured me!
We also got sides of 냉면 (naengmyeon = cold noodles). Now I've had it and I'm not a big fan. I also don't dislike it. It just doesn't do anything for me to eat cold noodles in a thin soup. The bowl was pretty small and so was the egg you see. I believe it's a quail egg. The taste felt like that of any other normal chicken egg.
I liked how the salad leaves were held in this thingie instead of being served in a small basket as usual. So fancy.
And here's our bulgogi! We got two different kinds. This is the normal, sweet type.
And here's a serving with cheese on top. Both were really delicious!
As a kind of service, I guess, we also got eggs and ham on the side.
After eating, we spent some time walking around before Hajun had to go back to his school to study.
We spotted another tree inside U-Plex!
We also went into the lego store where  decided to build a tree. Hajun, having learned this, decided that he wanted to make a BIG star for it. A couple came in, saw us, giggled, and then sat down as well as the other table and started building as well. It was super cute.
We finished just as the store was closing! I hope it'll bring some Christmas spirit to the next people, who come into the store. Or at least to the guys working there.
Hajun looks so proud.

He was the one, who had to leave, yet he insisted on walking me home.
When we got to my dorm, I remembered that I was still waiting for a package from my mom. I'd only just told him and walked over to the table with packages before he found it!
My mom and her boyfriend had sent me a package with the words: "We'll send a bit of Christmas to Korea so you can also enjoy this time." I'd joked that it was mean of her to mention my siblings' Christmas chocolate calendars and then she'd felt bad and decided to send me a bunch of Christmas snacks!
They sent me various chocolate snacks, marshmallow santas, and homemade pebbernødder made by my mom's boyfriend's grandmother. And they even included two Christmas cards; one by mom's boyfriend's grandparents and one from my mom, her boyfriend, my siblings, and my sister's boyfriend.

Hajun was a huge fan of the pebbernødder! We also gave some to the elder man, who works night shifts at the desk in my dorm. He looked super happy!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Day 115: Two shots one butt

First thing in the morning I went back to Severance to get checked.

I feared having to wait as long as I did last time but everything went smooth. Isabella told me they'd taken her pretty serious when she came in with the same symptoms.

I just walked up to the counter and told them I thought I was having an allergic reaction.
Then my blood pressure and pulse was taken. I'd brought my notes to study for the our last final today but I'd barely opened my book when I was called in to see a doctor.
The doctor (or doctor student) was the same who'd checked me last time I came in with the sore throat, which was good because she'd seen me before when I looked normal and also now that I was spotted and swollen. We excluded outside factors like new products I'd used or any new foods I'd eaten and then she asked to see my back even though I told her that the legs were the worst part.
Then she left the room for a few minutes before she and another doctor came back.
While I was alone in the room, I though I'd snap a picture for the memories.
 When the doctor was trying to figure out how long I'd had these symptoms, she looked at the calendar, got all flustered, and covered the man on the ground in the picture. The foreigner shown is Horace N Allen, who founded what is today known as Severance Hospital.
 The next doctor came and this was actually the doctor whom I'd gone to the very first time Celine and I went to Severance to have our tuberculosis tests taken. She, too, was interested in seeing my back for some reason. This second doctor told me that yes, it seemed like I was having an allergic reaction, and that they would prescribe antihistamine and steroids to stop the redness and swelling. Furthermore they'd give me a shot. In the butt cheek.
Say what?!
I've come to terms with my fear for needles but I'd never had one in the butt and I asked if there was anything else I could do to avoid the shot. I COULD technically eat a third kind of medicine but this would ultimately be the best and work the fastest.
"It's an injection in the muscle so it will work quickly. But I will tell the nurse to do it slowly so it won't hurt so much," she said.
I'm pretty sure I've heard somewhere that the ones in the muscle hurt the most.


So I was sent out and had barely sat down when I was called to the counter to pay.
This time, once I sat down again, 2-3 whole minutes actually passed before I was called again. This time to the room where I would get my shot.

It turned out that I had to get not one bUT TWO SHOTS. ONE IN EACH BUTT CHEEK.

The nurse was super nice and did a good job. She gave my butt a few pats before inserting the needle so it really wasn't bad. I felt them both but none of them were bad at all!

The medicine was already ready for me to pick up when I'd gotten the shot. Everything was over in less than hour. I will repeat myself here: I have only had good experiences at Severance and they are so impressively efficient.

So I told you that Hajun had planned to join me, right?
Well.... he didn't get to Sinchon before it was all over. But no that he was already here and we had a couple of hours before my final, we might as well meet up and study.
On my way out, I walked past these signs. Korea is so high tech.

I'd taken a picture in front of Severance when I was on my way down to Sinchon and while I had been on my way, Hajun had walked to Severance and we had somehow passed each other.
My butt had started hurting from having used the muscle and spread around the injection by now so we decided that I stay and Hajun should come back to where I was.
When we met, he had to help me stand up because I was laughing too hard from the soreness in my butt and the ridiculousness of it.

We went into the café that we'd gone to with Jeongtae (정태) and ordered strawberry 설빙 (seolbing = shaved ice). I took this picture when we left. When we'd first come, there were only two other girls in the café so we'd been able to find a table in the back where we could eat and study.

Here's the 설빙!
The bottom was shaved ice covered in slices of strawberry and strawberry jam. The top was not whipped cream but a sweet white cream that is often put in street food stand waffles. And then a piece of cheesecake!
 Why is Hajun like this every time I try to take pictures of him?

After having stayed here for a while, we decided to grab some Subway before heading back to my dorm. We got there just in time for me to drag my sore butt into the language building and take my final. Today's final was the very last Korean final we had and it was on Korean grammar, which is my strongest point. I'd prepared well so I didn't have too much trouble. Overall, it was a nice feeling ending our finals with this one.
 After this, Isabella had asked me if I'd like to go for sushi with her one last time before she goes home and also shopping for an extra suitcase. Her parents have bought her an earlier ticket home so she'll be leaving on the 19th.
At the sushi place, I found yet a fake tree to add to my collection (I honestly don't remember if I've snapped this one before).
 We went to 현대백화점 (Hyundai Department Store) but after having cast a look at the price of one of the suitcases we found there, we decided that this was probably not the place for us. We'd found a smaller suitcase that cost 389000₩ (> 350$ / 2200 DKK). Nope.

Next stop was U-Plex right beside the Hyundai Department Store.
Their assortment wasn't impressive either but at least the pricing was better.

Isabella bought what she believed was an extremely ugly purple suitcase but it was while we were waiting for the store clerk to bring her a non-demo model that we saw the absolute ugliest suitcase ever. Look at that gray one in the picture below. Isabella also got a sheet of ugly stickers with her purchase.
 After this, we split up so we could go home and work on our assignments. We have one last final left that is the paper that we have to write for our Media Communication class and turn in Sunday night at 23.59.
She told me that she'd put the sticker on the suitcase and send me a picture, showing how ugly it was, once she got home. She delivered.

On my way home, I noticed something touch my skin. Was it a fly? No, it was a tiny ball of snow/hail!
We had a minor shower before it stopped again. The weather now is dry and we're constantly below zero degrees (celsius). We've still got snow lying around that came down more than a week ago and the tiny hails today stayed in their little ball shapes once they'd come down. It was pretty interesting. Speaking of the weather, I saw that we're supposedly getting snow tomorrow so hopefully I can be there and ready with my camera to snap some pretty pictures!

Once I got home, I changed into some more comfortable clothes. When I dropped my stockings and accidentally passed the mirror, I discovered that the nurse had left a band aid on each of my butt cheeks where she had given me the injections.
Look at these little wolves hahahah. Even band aids are cute in Korea!

On my way home, Chris, my old roommate, had asked if I had time for a Skype/Facebook call that we'd discussed having soon.
Yas! It turned into a 3.5 hour conversation - so no working on the paper tonight.
We talked about how we'd been, my adventures in Korea so far, his new job and apartment, the ONE OK ROCK concert he went to, and my plans for the future. And then I showed him a bunch of weird Korean snacks I'd found in the GS25 connected to my dorm.
We haven't talked in a long time so it was nice to catch up.

I felt a LOT better when I went to sleep tonight. The spots were not nearly as itchy and the swelling had subsided quite a lot. But butt was still a bit sore though.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Day 114: Reading final did not go well

You read that right.
My reading final was pretty bad and I honestly hope I've done well on the other exams (and will do well tomorrow) so the scores from those can even out the bad grade that I will probably get on today's test.

After yesterday's final, I took the rest of the day off to relax and clear my mind. The plan was to wake up early today and study before the exam (at 16.00) since I'd be able to remember the texts much better if I'd recently looked at them.
But things didn't turn out how I'd planned and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I didn't prepare for today's test because I spent the entire day leading up the the final, in my bed crying and hating on absolutely everything because I couldn't take being inside my own body.

The red spots on my body had gotten much worse.
My ankles almost didn't exist from being so swollen, the skin on my elbows was thick, sore, and red, every single place on my body was filled with red spots now.

My legs were the worst and the spots on them were starting to swell up, making the surface super uneven.

My ears had swelled up and were bright red, and my face was so swollen that there was not a single wrinkle on my lips, my nose seemed to have grown in size, my eyes appeared to have shrunken, and my entire face was red and shiny except for two big white circles around my eyes. I looked like a red inverted panda. Absolutely everything on me was itchy and wouldn't stop whether I scratched or not. I could sit in but one position because every time I moved, something new would touch my skin and make everything itch again.

Today was also the last time we'd probably see our reading teacher so we'd agreed in the group chat to stay after the exam and ask for a group picture with her.
I slapped on two layers of make-up and hoped to turn out presentable on the picture.

I came to the classroom early to find Isabella already there. We had some time to chat before the final began and I complained about my skin and showed her. She told me that that was exactly what her skin had looked like when she first came to Korea and got sick and THEN got an allergic reaction to the penicillin she was given here.
Could it be an allergic reaction? She convinced me that I should probably go to the hospital after the final to get it checked.

So yes. We took the exam, which, of course, went horrible due to me not having studied + every time I looked away from the paper and to my spotted hands, I'd get distracted by the though of having to go to the hospital afterwards.
It happened and then it was over and we got our picture.
I believe this is the first time I've posted a full picture of our entire class so let me introduce our friends!

Left to right: Tiffany (American), Andrew (American), Yu-Hsuan (Taiwanese), Kael (French American), our 선생님 (teacher), Misaki (Japanese), Isabella (Danish), Sandra (Danish), Hana (American), Raquel (American), and me.

I love this picture but dislike how uncomfortably awkward I look on it. I wanted to smile but if I'd done that, my bloated cheeks would have squeezed my eyes out of existence.

After the exam, I went straight to the hospital.
When I arrived, it was probably 18.30 but there were barely any people and when I went to the information desk, I was told that they'd closed for today and would open again tomorrow at 09.00.
What is this? Koreans seem to never sleep and EVERYTHING is open until late.... except their hospital, which closes super early. I don't understaaaand.
Defeated, I returned to my dorm.

That evening, I made plans with Hajun for him to go with me tomorrow. It's always nice to have a local with you just in case.
Although everything was still itchy but I hadn't taken the last of my pills and potentially knew the cause of this mess so I was able to relax and actually sleep the entire night when I finally drifted off.
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