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

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7 notes &

LASIK in Daegu

TL;DR

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.  

image

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

19 notes &

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

8 notes &

"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!)  

ANYWAYS…

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 

HERE IS A MAP 

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

9 notes &

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

7 notes &

Autumn: Changes & Planning

The leaves have just begun to change here in Daegu.  The weather has been chilly and cool for weeks.  The air-con has long been turned off, replaced by open windows and an extra blanket.  Long gone are the skirts which I wore every day this summer; jeans and leggings have once again returned.  There is excited talk among foreigners planning their Halloween costumes.  Newbies and veterans are looking at plane tickets for winter vacation.  



It is autumn, my favorite time of year.   

It recently hit me as I was in the shower the other night:  I only have 5 more months left in Korea.  It was not a new revelation — it’s been an inevitable countdown. However, it was the first time that the sadness really hit me and took over.  

Korea has definitely had its ups and downs.  While most of my friends and family probably suspect that my 2 years in Korea has been a vacation of sorts, those of us here know this is not true.

It’s the first time where I’ve held a stead 9-5 job with monthly paychecks, pension payments, electricity bills, and responsibilities.  I have managed to establish myself as a pretty good teacher— my co-workers and students like me and enjoy my classes.  The biggest compliments have come from my other Korean co-teachers:  ”I love being in your class!”,  ”I actually learn new stuff in your class!”, “Can I borrow your Powerpoints to use in the future?”  (While I can’t take credit for all the PPTs (haha thanks waygook.org), there is a ton of material that I personally make from scratch.)  

It’s also been a blessing to have the amount of friends that I do.  Coming with EPIK provided an immediate group of friends to hang with, party with, and commiserate with.  There has hardly been a single dull weekend in the past 19 months…. and there is definitely not a single dull weekend left this year. I love you guys, you are my new family.   

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So enough with the sentimental crap.  The next few months will be the busiest months of my life.  Now just preparing to leave Korea, but I am involved in a number of theatrical productions in the Daegu community.  After I hurt my back and had to quit dance, I threw myself into theater.  It started innocently enough last spring with the 24 Theater Project.  It has continued with:
a supporting role in the full-length “Streetcar Named Desire” (September)
a lead role in a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater (October)
a solo and choral numbers in the Daegu Musical Revue (November)
a reprisal of “Streetcar” in Seoul (December) 
another 24 Theater Project (December) 

So the next few months will be super busy!  I officially leave Korea on March 1st, with a one-way ticket to New Delhi, India.  Then begins a year-long adventure of traveling and working and living…. At the moment, my plans are to return to Korea for another year in February 2013.  But we’ll see where the next year takes me….

Filed under korea autumn theatre Daegu

25 notes &

Laser Hair Removal in Daegu

TL;DR

What?  Laser hair removal.
Where?  Joseph Skin.  Downtown Daegu. 11th floor of Lotte Cinema. 
When?  M-F open until 7:30pm.  Saturdays until 5pm.  
Why?  General dermatological care & dermatological procedures
How?  5 treatments (one month apart)
How much?  50,000-100,000 won per treatment (for happy trail/bikini line)

So as English teachers in Korea, we are lucky enough to have a somewhat disposable income, free time, and access to medical procedures at a fraction of the cost.  

Read more …

Filed under laser hair removal english-speaking doctor dermatologist daegu korea skin

23 notes &

Stream of Consciousness…

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated.  I realize I’m a huge slacker and I really have no excuse.  It seems the more free time I have, the lazier I get, the less I do.  This blog will be written in pure stream-of-consciousness form, with little to no editing/censoring.  

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School is officially over.  Well, the actual school semester ended, followed by 2 weeks of summer camp with a bunch of lovely young teenagers.  I really enjoyed summer camp, especially sharing the teaching duties with Paul, therefore allowing my laziness to fester even more.  The theme of camp was “Passport Around The World” and each day was a different country where they explored games and food from that country. America, South Africa and Mexico were the stops on the itinerary…. and while America’s Candy Pong (an under-19 take on beer pong) took the cake for best game, tacos definitely won for best food.  I would like to think it was the sheer amazingness of the chicken that pushed the tacos to the top — i spent hours slaving away cooking that damn chicken just right using only the finest blend of taco seasonings… Taco Bell.

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Last week was interesting in the way of doctor’s visits.  Everyone knows I have an ongoing love affair with Korean health insurance and the opportunities it gives me to exploit my hypochondria.  

I started lactating.  Dude, not even joking, breast milk was coming out of my tits and it freaked me out.  Ask Josh who was on the phone with me when I first discovered this, who heard my increasingly panicked “OH MY GODs” until I was forced to get off the phone with him to do some extensive google searching.  Google searching did not qualm my panic — lactation without being pregnant is either:  medications or a brain tumor.  OK so not a scary brain tumor, but just a little party crasher brain tumor that’s humping my pituitary gland.  



Various blood tests were ordered, sonograms were done of my rack, and I was sent home with the promise of results in a few days.  Still lactating.  Not like spontaneous lactating — I gotta like squeeze it out.   My friend Kyle brought up an interesting idea… could I legitimately become a wet nurse?  Squeeze, pump, and sell this stuff for won on the ounce?  This idea was brushed aside by my test results which confirmed that I was not pregnant, I did not have a brain tumor, and that it was my medications effecting the level of Prolactin (the hormone that tells your milk ducts to get to work).   

So here I am, still lactating, being told to ween myself off various medications and come back in a couple weeks for another Prolactin test.  So I ween.  And I wait.

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Last week, I was also hunched over in various degrees of pain because of my lower back problems.  Legit pain that had me hunched over like a Korean grandma. So Friday morning I begged my orthopedic back specialist for another epidural.  You see, I had gotten one before, a few months ago, and it was glorious.  I was able to sit/stand/walk for hours with no pain.  However, the gloriousness didn’t last long and I was then relegated to rehabilitation and physical therapy and prescriptions that are not near narcotic enough to deal with the pain.

 

But here I was again, woefully describing to him my pain and pleading for another epidural.  I wanted to skip as I headed upstairs to the Pain Management Center… or in this case, shall I say, the Pain Infliction Center.  My previous epidural had been a walk in the park.  The pain was minimal — albeit a very strange, indescribable pain — and the results were spectacular.  This epidural, however, was a totally different story.  I blame it on the doctor, different from my previous epidural-giver, whose dead cold heart obviously lacked any compassion.  As I writhed in pain, tears streaming down my face, crying out for help, she chuckled.  Chuckled and asked “kwenchanayo?” Are you okay?   No, not kwenchanayo lady.  Nowhere near kwenchanayo.  

I was bed-ridden for the rest of the day, which I spent sleeping off the enormous muscle cramps the epidural had left me.  My original back pain was gone, but replaced by the pain of epidural.   24 hours later, all pain had subsided and I was able to carry about a normal existence.  

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So my hypochondria really wasn’t hypochondria this week — I had some legit stuff going on and squirting out.  

Oh and if you didn’t see, I actually wrote an article about my obsession with Korean healthcare that got published in The Korea Times. Click HERE to read it.  

 

Filed under healthcare korea doctor lactating back pain epidural

18 notes &

The Sound of Silence… I wish.

For many years, I’ve known that I was different than most my friends.

  • Their blaring stereos in their cars would physically hurt my ears, while no one else seemed to mind at all.
  • Certain movie theaters (especially IMAX theaters) cause me to go into a panic attack.  Seeing Inception in the IMAX was one of the most painful experiences.  
  • I must sleep with a fan or humidifier to provide white noise for me to sleep.  
  • I have relegated myself to sleeping with earplugs every night, even in my own home.  I find it near impossible to fall asleep otherwise.  
  • My cat’s meows, adorable as they are, are sometimes enough to send me over the edge.
  • The shrieks and laughs of students.  The desks scratching on the tile floors.  The settling of students in their chairs.  The one kid whispering in the back of the room.

Read more …

Filed under doctor daegu misophonia hyperacusis korea