Monday, January 31, 2011

Health Check for Foreign Visa

Part of obtaining your E-2 Visa in Korea is a health check.  Before coming, you must fill out a self-health assessment and then, after you arrive in Korea, go to the hospital for a check-up.  If everything goes well, you can move on and obtain your Alien Registration Card.
Health Statement for E-2 Vis

Documentation given after you
receive health check in Korea
Application for Alien Registration Card
Wednesday, January 5, 2011, my employers took me to the hospital. We walked in and followed an arrow on the floor which lead to a room where: they weighed me, measured my height, took my blood pressure, had a hearing check, and an eye check (in which I started to guess letters when they were actually numbers).
We then proceeded to a room where they took a chest x-ray.
Then to an area where they took my blood and I was given a cup (3 oz Dixie Cup) for my urine test. Which I barely filled halfway. I was so dehydrated and I had peed just before we left to go to the hospital. On a side note... No one was monitoring me. I was in the public hospital bathroom. I could have put anything in the cup.
All finished, now just have to wait for my results on Monday.

Monday, January 10, 2011.  Boss Lady tells me something came back strange on my chest x-ray and we have to go back for '"closer examination."

Tuesday January 11, 2011 we go back and after walking around in a circle we find the "closer examination" waiting area.  When our number is called, Boss Lady and I go into the room. The doctor does not speak English, and despite the many English words I see on his computer for possible causes, he uses none. He explains to my Boss Lady the discrepancies between my X-ray photo and what my X-ray photo should look like.  I can only watch his hand gestures as he points to various spots in white and black.  Then he turns to me and ask "are you a smoker?" Which I only understand after about the 4th or 5th time.  He's pronunciation was HORRIBLE.  He then says something along the lines of "alsdjfl;. lsdj  lksd sd respiratory klsdj sdfj l" which I deduced to him asking me if I had asthma or any or problems of the kind. Again, after about the 5th time he asked and seemed to be getting impatient.
He and my Boss Lady converse more. Then she says, "CT scan, you need." I say okay.  The doctor then points at the photo, says "left" and then "right", and squeezes out something along the lines of this white spot is too big and the space between what connects your lung and heart is big. and the other side doesn't match. I'm not really sure. It was very, very hard to decipher.
We then exit.
My Bosses fill out more sheets, and ask more questions and... fill out more sheets.
Boss lady says they need more blood, so back to the blood taking area. We take a number and wait. She pokes me (almost in the exact same spot as last time, which makes me cringe) and we are done. Boss Lady says the blood check will be available in the afternoon and if everything is good, I will have a CT Scan at 2:30 on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 I miss my 2:10 class. Boss Man takes me to the hospital.  I read about CT scans on the internet via my smart phone. I don't like what I see about injecting me with contrast dye and radiation. If its not natural, its probably not good for you. I look for risks envolved with CT scan. It says, 'no immediate risks.' Which means, most people don't kill over right afterwards, so... we guess there is no risk.  They don't know yet.  They call me into the room and my Boss Man along with 4 other Koreans try to explain to me what to do in Korean. Basically, they are going to inject dye via your veins, lay this way, breath, hold breath and release acording to the lite pictures, and my voice, and it will only take 10 min. The only English words they used were 'input,' 'output' (My Boss referring to breathing) and 'Ten Minutes.'  I lay down. She puts the needle in my right arm. Which was unusually painful and I she directs me to put my arms over my head. After about 6 minutes, the same nurse come out and makes me hold the arm out to the side. The dye wasn't getting into my system. As I extend my arm I feel the dye rush through my body from right arm to my toes in about 3 seconds. I feel my body go flush and think I may pass out. I don't. Then the radiation again. This time it felt different. I don't know if it was from the dye, the radiation, or both. Before, I presumed I did not like the CT Scans. After, I know I don't like them and I can only hope my ignorance does not give me cancer 30 years from now.

Friday January 14, 2011 during the school day Boss Lady tells me my results are "okay". My something is just a little large.

I still don't really know what the hospital was looking at, but I don't really care. Mandatory Modern Medicine is trifling for someone who believes all actions have consequences and trying to outrun the consequences will only make you tired. The ripple from my descent into the ocean of the dead will be no different if it happens now or 80 years from now.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My House in Korea

This is pretty self-explanatory, My House (apartment) in Korea. The song its set to KID BRITISH - "MY HOUSE IS DADLESS", a remake of "OUR HOUSE" by MADNESS. This is exactly what it looked like when I moved in on the January 1 2011. You also get to see some cool bathroom dance moves. 

Interesting things about my house:
  1. Ten different wood finishes
  2. My neighbors are my landlords and bosses
  3. My coffee table is upside down
  4. My furnishings were conceived before me
  5. At night I can see six neon red crosses from windows
  6. Shoes not permitted
  7. My bed is the perfect firmness
  8. I think my floor is heated
  9. My bathroom is like a refrigerator
  10. My bedroom ceiling is covered with glow in the dark stars



Friday, January 21, 2011

Hives in Korea

Urticaria, also known as HIVES, is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques (wheals) on the skin that appear suddenly -- either as a result of the body's adverse reaction to certain allergens, or for unknown reasons.

Friday, January 7, 2011, a co-worker showed me around the area after work. We talked, ate at the Lotteria, shopped and then I went home. Later that night, I am talking, on Skype, with a friend and realize I'm scratching my bicep and don't know why. I take off my shirt and see little red spots on the inside of both my arms. They itch. I think... no bugs, no plants, no friends with itching powder. Crap, what is this? After a quick search on WebMD, I self-diagnose it as HIVES.
Great... after all these years of sticking what ever I want into my body, it decides to get picky.  Having a "survival of the fittest" outlook on life, I tell my body, quite bluntly, "You're just going to have to get use to it... Adapt or die."  I'm not sure if he was listening, but for the benefit of us both, he should have been.
(Conversational between me and my body)

Saturday morning, I awake and they have multiplied. They are now down to my wrist and right below my armpit.
Saturday night, hesitant to close my eyes, for fear they may make babies while I'm dreaming, I go to sleep.
Sunday morning, they have spread like the undead in a zombie movie and are now down my sides, around my waist,  on my lower stomach, outer and inner thighs, outer butt, and hamstrings.
I decide I will not give my body the satisfaction of scratching it and use my Miyagi like since of inner peace to dissipate the itch.
Sunday night, after a long day of sightseeing, I return home. As I reach for my shirt bottom, my fingers gently grace the sides of my lower stomach. It feels good.  I pull my shirt over my head and feel invigorated as my shirt rubs against my arms.  Then, I get chills from the friction of my pants and skin rubbing together, as my pants are pulled down. This causes me to lose my inhibitions, and like Pringles, once I popped, I just couldn't stop. I scratched myself violently for almost 5 minutes.  It felt awesome, but the high was short lived. I look up at the mirror to see a naked white man, covered in red scratch marks.  Pitiful... I had become a victim to myself.  I shower and start anew.
Monday morning, even though the hives are still very much alive, they had decided to practice abstinence.
Monday afternoon, I speak with my coworker and boss about my reaction.  I tell them my plan to relieve the itch with allergy medicine and am offered the assistance of my coworker, by my boss.
Monday evening. Coworker and I go to the pharmacy to purchase allergy (al er ge) medicine.  The woman at the counter say take once a day and I begin a medicine regiment that night.
Tuesday. I am still a little itchy around waist and thighs, but forearms look better. I think.
Wednesday. I am still itchy but only when I'm not busy. Forearms look better... Maybe.
Saturday, Jan. 15th - After thinking my body was adjusting, today, after exploring Downtown Gwangju, my hives have inflamed around entire arms and probably more, but I am too afraid to look. I'm sooooww itchy.
Sunday, Jan. 16th - Realizing the allergy medicine is doing nothing to help, and may even be hindering my body's natural process, I leave the remaining 4 doses in the box.
Thursday January 20th - I still have a small expatriate community of hives on the inside of both arms and hip/waist area.  Until my body decides to deport them or their visas expire, we will have to learn to live together. We have already made much progress in the past 2 weeks and maybe, in the end, I will be a better, stronger me, for having met them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Korean Air

Korean Air's slogan is 'Excellence in Flight' and they do not just talk-the-talk, they walk-the-walk. They are the best airline I have experienced. I flew economy, non-stop, from Atlanta, USA to Incheon, Korea on January 1, 2011 sitting in seat 50E. The flight was 14 hours long and worth every cent of the $950 my recruiter paid.

Korean Air has an excellent economy class. They won the "Worlds Best Economy Class" at the Skytrax 2006/2007 World Airline Awards (Oscars of the airline industry). I did not leave my seat one time, during the flight, and I was comfortable.

Korean Air has an excellent first class. They received the "Leading First Class Airline Award" at The World Travel Awards in 2010 (Oscars of the travel and tourism industry).

Korean Air has excellent flight attendants. It is not possible for them to look more excellent. They are attractive, tall, well kept, and wearing the most astounding/uncomfortable looking uniform I have ever seen.  During the flight they were gracious, helpful, and patient.

Korean Air has excellent IFE (In-Flight Entertainment). Each touch screen T.V. is equipped with 100+ movies, television shows, short features, radio stations, games, flight plan tracker, sky view and ground view (via cameras attached outside), news headlines (Korean, American, etc.), and a USB input.  The TV's limited viewing radius allows for more privacy when viewing the screen and avoids distracting neighbors who may be sleeping or working.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My First Post

I had intended to publish my first post at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st, but due to my hectic schedule in preparation for my trip to Korea, I failed.  Here is a recap of the events that occurred after the Ball dropped:

Jan. 1, 2011 Saturday
00:00:00 EST
Some bar with no cover in Atlanta, GA
"Happy New Year!!!" or something close to that was yelled. I really couldn't say for sure.  My mind glitches after drinking enough alcohol to kill a preschooler.
-36 ounces of 4loko
-finishing a bottle of cheap vodka
-4 or 5 Iron Curtains (shot tequila with a beer to chase, the $5 special for the night)
-2 beers courtesy of the generous establishment where we were celebrating
-and probably some more the blackouts cause me to forget
03:10:00 EST
Middle of Peachtree Road
"Ahhhh!!! Let's pick her up! Seriously, Stop the car!" I said. Right before, I jump out of the car while it's still moving.  Flying over like Superman to save a Crying Latina walking down the road, all by herself.  I say in a concerned tone (in reality, it was probably just creepy), "Are you okay? We'll give you a ride," as I point at the car, already packed with 5 other people.
This probably would have worked on this girl either way, but 3 of the 5 being girls saying, 'Come on sweetie, we can help you.' didn't hurt.
03:11:21 EST
Middle of Peachtree Road
"Myy Ba, Ba, Bahh, Boyfrien-end left meye e eeee." whimpers Crying Latina,with mascara everywhere, but on her eyes.
The people in the car say, 'Ahhh, he's a jerk. We'll take you home, where do you live?"
Crying Latina was sad, lonely, disoriented, and in need of help...
03:22:33 EST
Some road in front of a gated apartment complex
...Crying Latina was no more as Borderline Bitchy Latina exited the car.  Her head held high without a thank you for the ride.  Latinas... can't live with them, can't live without them jumping your border.
04:36:05 EST
Some Girls' House
I've got the drunchies and I'm eating anything, and everything, I can get my hands on in these girls' kitchen.
08:15:00 EST
Collier Ridge couch
I awake in a panic to my insomnia-tic friend telling me his natural alarm clock saved me from missing my flight. One man's problem is another man's solution.
12:00.00 EST
Atlanta Airport Terminal E
"Now boarding rows 45 and up, now boarding rows 45 and up." I hear in a Korean accent.  As I'm stepping into the plane, I am greeted by two of the most well dressed flight attendants in the history of flight.  Both saying things I can't understand (just a taste of what was to come).  My seat, 50E, is dead center, right between Sleepy Head Korean and Lets See If We Can Start Fire By Rubbing Our Arms Together Korean.  Luckily, they were sitting beside I Don't Care American.
Jan. 2, 2011 Sunday
02:13:09 EST (16:13:09 KST)
Incheon International Airport
I arrive in South Korea after sleeping for 7 hrs, watching 4 movies (Salt, Shrek Forever After, Takers, Sorcerer's Apprentice), eating Korean Airplane food (not a good first impression of Korean cuisine), and not one time leaving my seat.  I believe I can attribute this self discipline to my experience with deep stack tournies and sci-fi movie benders.  I washed up in the bathroom and was within 5 minutes standing behind 2 older american couples in the immigration line.  They were not together and after listening to one of the gentlemen using 'coffee' as a platform to boast about his travels to over ten different countries for 15 minutes, I wanted to tap him ever-so-softly on the shoulder and say, 'no one cares.'  I didn't.
02:36:41 EST (16:36:41 KST)
Incheon International Airport Baggage Claim
First Korean voluntarily speaks to me, saying, "Are you American Military?"  I reply, "No," tilting my head a little to its side, "I'm a Teacher."  He smiles and after I ask him which way I should go, we part.  It was the first time I had ever said I was a "Teacher."
02:49:12 EST (16:49:12 KST)
Incheon International Airport Arrival Gate
I exit the customs, after exchanging $350 for 378,000 KRW, to a man, squeezed in the middle of 30 other men, holding a sign with my name in big black letters.  With eye contact, I hold my hand in the air and he was on his way to carry my 120lbs of luggage for me.  He raced through the entrance cutting Koreans down at the knees, with my luggage, without saying anything, and to the Express Bus Window.  I handed him 33,000 KRW and he purchased my ticket.
03:50:02 EST (17:50:02 KST)
Incheon International Airport Bus Stop #9
We put my bags under the bus and he tells me to get off at the last stop. He explains that it should take 4 hours and 20 minutes.  I am thrilled to see it is a luxury bus and only sits three wide.  I have a window seat all by myself.  I quickly fall asleep to the tunes of Juiceboxxx, the perfect way to bring in the new country.
07:37:19 EST (21:37:19 KST)
GwangJu Station
I awake to the commotion of Koreans eager to exit the bus.  It appears that everyone is getting off the bus.  So, I assume it is the last stop and follow their lead (I have been doing that a lot).  I walk into the Gwangju Station, which is also a mall of some sort.  I see no sign with my name and begin to doubt I'm where I should be.  Rather than panic, I sit.
08:10:00 EST (22:10:00 KST)
GwangJu Station
A cute Korean couple ask me, "Are you..."  I smile and say, "Yes."