How To Stay Healthy While Teaching in Korea
Everyone likes to be and to stay healthy. If you don't then you're maybe slightly peculiar and there's really nothing that can be done for you. I recently gave myself food poisoning, because I'm stupid, and then had to do a full day of work. That was probably the worst day of my life, and I have not had a particularly great life, so I feel I know what I'm talking about here.
Korean culture very often does not allow for such a thing as a sick day. Often they are technically written into your contract but that contract is not adhered to at all. This is because in Korea you are still meant to work no matter how sick you become. Even though this is likely to make those around you sick the rule still tends to apply. As a lot of us also work in schools we are often surrounded by the disease – ridden flesh bags the world knows as children, which can only make the problem worse.
With this in mind it is important to keep yourself fit and healthy or the grind of teaching and going for long periods without vacation time can drag you down and leave you exhausted. Living here can be occasionally bewildering and it is important to keep your brain and your body agile wherever possible. If you get hit by illness in Korea you can't really rely on anyone but friends to help you out. I had a friend who was hit, not by an illness but by an actual car, who had to spend a number of months in Korean hospital with staff who had no idea how to help or communicate with her. That experience made her time here pretty hellish.
It can be hellish when you find yourself faced with the yellow dust here too. Koreans do seem to have a bit of a tendency to blame either Japan or China for almost everything but it seems they are on the money about the yellow dust. Those pollution loving people over in Beijing just love sending us all of their smog and filth then clogging up our beloved air with it. These things can make it a struggle to survive in Korea for long. Thankfully there are plenty of rivers and footpaths and bowls of kimchi to revive the body and soul.
Wherever you are in Korea you are likely to find somewhere that will give you some opportunity to get into the fresh air and unwind. There is also the everlasting health food that is kimchi – the national dish. You might have heard of it if you've been anywhere near anyone in Korea at any time over the last thousand years or so. It can purportedly cure cancer and improve your body in all sorts of remarkable ways. There is also a great love here for hiking over the many mountains and rivers that can be found throughout the country. In some cities there is the myth that you are never more than ten feet away from a rat, and in Korea you are always near to a climbable mountain – obviously not ten feet away though; that would be insane.
One more thing that is worth mentioning is the trusty Korean jimjilbangs. These places, which can be found throughout the country and in all the big cities, have a huge amount of sweet health benefits which can help you stay fit enough to lift six to eight children at a time. In these places you can lower your stress levels considerably and boost your energy levels too. It is also good for keeping your skin healthy and young.
So any of these things can help you survive in Korea, and keep healthy enough so that you're not slowly dragged into an abyss of screaming children and sneezing – which everyone knows is the worst kind of abyss.