Korea, Kimchi & K-Pop.

...life as a foriegner in South Korea...

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Anonymous asked: I am thinking about moving to South Korea next year. Has being a woman of "stature" ever been a hindrance in terms of getting respect from your Korean students or peers.

not really.  I’m sure there were comments in Korean about my weight, but never to my face.  It really depends on your teaching style though — my students really respected me as a person.  

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In 10 days, I need to be packed and out of my apartment.

10 days.

That’s not a lot of time to pack and ship stuff home and also pack for India.  

But yet I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed.  I’m constantly tired.  I’m constantly irritable. I’m constantly distracted.

It just dawned on me tonight.  I’m depressed.

The apprehension and denial about leaving Korea is taking its toll.  My conscience is thinking that if I don’t pack, that means it’s not happening.  If I don’t think about it, then it won’t make me sad.  

Somehow, in the next 10 days, I need to pack up the past 2 years of my life… and not just the clothes and makeup.  I need to pack up my mind, get my affairs sorted, and accept it all.  

Or maybe I’ll just be in denial until I step on that plane.  Or until I land in India.  Or until I arrive back to the USA and realize I’m not going back to Korea.  

It’s going to be a long 10 days. 

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LASIK in Daegu


Who: Dr. Choi Jae-Ho at Noon Eye Center  http://noon.co.kr/
What:  LASIK eye surgery
Where:  Daegu, South Korea.  Located on the 20th floor of the LIG building (exit #4 of Beomeo Station on the Green Line)
When: M/W/F all day, T/Th morning only.  Consultations before 4pm preferably. 
Why:  1.3 million won for BOTH eyes for standard LASIK only. Wavefront an extra 100k, LASEK is extra 200k.   You can pay in cash or credit.   
How:  They currently have an English-speaking liaison to help you through the process.  Also,  Dr. Choi speaks fluent English.  


Why did you get LASIK?
After 18 years of vision correction through glasses and contacts, I looked into getting LASIK here in Korea.  It is substantially cheaper, especially with Noon Eye Center, whose promotional LASIK was so popular, they just decided to keep it that cheap!   1.3 million won for both eyes (for normal LASIK), is the price for one eye back in America.

Where did you get LASIK?
Noon Eye Center was the perfect place to get my LASIK done.  Located on the 21st floor of the new LIG building at Beomeo intersection, I have to admit I was a little hypnotized by the prettiness of it all.  The center is brand new, beautiful and comfortable.  They even had a real freakin coffee/espresso machine to use.  The equipment is state-of-the-art and everything is handled extremely professionally.

How was the center? Did they speak English?
I was impressed with how well they treated me.   They are currently employing an English-speaker/translator to help you through the process, although you may want a Korean to call and to make the appointment. they have an introduction Powerpoint explaining the process, all your paperwork, and more information to take home…in English.  

How do I get started?
Schedule a consultation.  The consultation at Noon Eye Center will cost you 10,000.  You mustn’t wear contacts for a week before your consultation (only glasses!).   The consultation includes various tests for your eyes measuring everything — cornea thickness, reactions, night vision, dilation, pupils, pressure.  I swear I sat in front of 20 different machines.  At the end of your consultation, they review your results with you.  They show you the normal ranges for everything and how you measure up.  So you can blatantly see if your measurements may disqualify you from getting surgery.   Also, you get to keep these results, in case you decide you’d like to get the surgery elsewhere.
After your consultation, you may want to take it easy.  Your eyes have just been poked and prodded for hours… I ended up getting a severe migraine and not feeling well afterwards.   

Did you get LASIK or LASEK?
Since I had corneas a mile thick, I was the perfect candidate for regular LASIK surgery. For those with thinner corneas, you may still qualify for LASEK, although LASEK is much more painful and has a longer recovery time. 

How soon can you get surgery?
You can literally schedule your surgery for the next day if you want.  I chose to wait until Friday afternoon, so that way I would have the whole weekend to recover before returning to work on Monday.

Did the surgery hurt?
I’m not gonna lie.  Yes, it did.  The laser does not hurt at all, but it’s all the equipment getting your eyeball into place and ready for the laser.  It’s extremely uncomfortable.  Irrigating your eyeball before the anesthetic drops was pretty freaky.  Having an instrument flatten your eyeball was quite painful (even with anesthetic eyedrops).   I cursed and yelled (in English and Korean) at my surgeon, Dr. Choi.  The entire surgical team helped me to calm down.  They laughed and soothed me, telling me that everything I was feeling was normal and that it’d be over soon.   My advice:  take a Valium or something before surgery.  I like doctors and hospitals and surgery doesn’t scare me…. but having all this right in front of your eyes was quite terrifying and panic-inducing. 

What about after surgery?
Immediately after surgery, I was escorted to a recovery room.  My co-teacher Hye-Jin was waiting to help escort me back home.  Bring sunglasses as lights will be bothersome.  My eyes didn’t hurt because of the anesthetic drops, and I was given a couple pain killers in my goodie bag from Noon Eye Center.   You can definitely see, but it is very blurry…. almost as if you were wearing contacts and they had a thick film over them.
As I got home, the pain set in.  My eyes felt like they were on fire with shards of glass sticking out.  Open or shut, there was no relief.  I popped those painkillers and a sleeping pill and tried to sleep off the pain.  When I awoke a few hours later, the pain was completely gone.  It was still blurry, but I was able to watch some TV and go about my life normally.

How’s your vision now?
The first month was frustrating, as some times it would be crystal clear, while at other times, fuzzy.  I was afraid that the surgery had not worked.  Your subsequent (free) check-ups will assuage your apprehension — blurriness/fuzziness for the first month is completely normal.  Eyedrops will become your best friends.  Dry eyes is completely normal but it’s still a pain in the ass.  It took about a month, but my vision is now perfect.  

Was it worth it?
Absolutely.  It was well worth the money and pain to live a life without glasses or contacts.  My latest trip to the Philippines was especially wonderful, being able to swim and snorkel without worrying about losing a contact or dropping my glasses.  The biggest moment comes every night when I get ready for bed… and realize that I don’t have to take out my contacts.  Every morning, I still reach to my bedside table for my glasses, and then smile when I remember that I don’t need them anymore.

If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to ask! 

Filed under lasik lasek korea surgery doctor optometrist ophthalmologist noon hospital eye

17 notes &

Acupuncture Recommendation

I don’t have a question but a recommendation. You said you had some major back pain issues so I thought I would give you an English speaking Korean oriental medical clinic. Accupuncture works on my bum knee and neck pain. Relatively non-evasive and no side effects. The clinic is named Hoo Clinic near the Hyundai department store downtown. The doctor is Audrey Shin and she’s fluent in English and can work wonders for every kind of aliment. Her number is 010-4614-2982.

Thanks for the recommendation!  I will check out Audrey this week!  Thanks again!

Filed under daegu doctor acupuncture oriental medicine korea pain

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Magic Straight in Korea

If you knew me before September 2010, you probably saw me with both curly and straight hair.  In the USA, I had looked into getting my curls relaxed, but it was too expensive and wouldn’t exactly give me the results I wanted.  What did I want?  I wanted straight hair.  Like straight straight.  Like the kind I can let air-dry and it will be perfect.  

(“Yes please!”)

Read more …

Filed under magic straight daegu hair korea straight curly Serrano Hair African-American salon

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"Toy" Shopping in Daegu

No, I’m not talking about board games or stuffed animals.  I’m talking about the other kind of toys.  You know… the battery-operated ones, the ones you hide in your underwear drawer, the ones that keep you going through the lonely nights.

I find Korea in general to be a very sexually repressed country.  Even though prostitution is frequently (albeit illegally) practiced here, frank conversation about sex is rare and bringing up your late-night escapades will cause most Koreans to blush and giggle nervously.  

But hey, we all got needs, right?  And since it would probably be pretty awkward to ask your co-teacher where to get some battery-assisted help, I thought I would just help ya out.

While it is quite embarrassing to write this knowing that my parents will probably see this… I am not too ashamed because people are people and humans have biological needs.  (By the way — hi mom and dad! i love you!)  


Where to go in Daegu to purchase a disease-free and low maintenance good time?

I shall tell you.  Obviously, there have to be numerous places around Daegu but since I am located in Suseong-gu, I shall recommend the following place:

Adult Department Store 25
성인 백화점 25 


The store is not classy or shiny.  It is not high-end, nor does it try to be.  Located along a busy street, this hole-in-the-wall is unassuming.  I lived walked by it every day for almost 6 months before I realized what it was with the help of a Korea friend.  

The yellow banner and neon are not enough to distinguish it from any other Korean business… with the exception of the neon heart-and-arrow.  And the number 25 in the name… although that’s not even the age you need to be to enter.  The windows and doors are covered in paper/blacked out.  There is a small notice on the door to knock and/or call a phone number to be let in.  I would definitely knock on the door before entering… I’m assuming sometimes they lock it.  If no one answers, feel free to call the number on the door.

I have been there numerous times with different friends (male and female), and have never left disappointed.  The store is much smaller than you would expect, maybe half the size of your Korean one-room apartment.  The lighting isn’t great, the selection is random (sometimes hysterical), and the shopkeepers speak no English.  

However, what it lacks in aesthetics and English skills, it makes up for in novelty and customer service.  The shopkeepers are knowledgeable and can recommend popular choices or different options.  The shopkeepers have no qualms about showing off their latest import on the shelf.  They have no shame yet are very professional.  They will gladly take toys out of the package and put in batteries so you can feel (with your hands) the various speeds/strengths.

They have everything from bullets to rabbits to dildos to lube to lotions to male enhancers and male toys and extensions.  That’s right, extensions.  This place is definitely not just for female clientele.  For those men that are… ahem… lacking, there are a variety of extensions for you.

There are no price tags — everything is negotiable.  I once had a friend get a toy knocked down from $140 to $90!  (All it takes is some basic Korean, pouted lips and your best eye-batting.)  I believe that the place is cash only.  

So while the Adult Department Store 25 is nothing to write home about, it makes for an interesting visit and hopefully you find a new “friend.” 

Filed under sex toys adult dildo vibrator daegu korea

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On March 1st, I will leave Korea on a one-way ticket to Delhi, India.  

This scares the crap out of me.

Every single day I think about cancelling that plane ticket and just staying in Korea.   

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What Amanda Wants….

I was a strange, strange little person.  Some might argue that I still am, but that’s not the point.

There are things throughout your life that you think you want or need.  Things that you think are cool.  Things that are cool until you have them and you experience a paradigm shift so severe that your outlook completely changes.

Read more …

Filed under lasik surgery korea daegu