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Dream Eye Center Loves Me

August 27, 2011

I mentioned before how my LASIK clinic has unreasonably attentive hospitality that includes cards and texts.

"I will always with you" Insert your own verb.

I went in for a check up a week after the surgery and got another card.

Thanks but I'm already seeing someone..

My eyes are dry but ok…perhaps these cards are an attempt to make me tear up to combat my dry eye symptoms. That’s so meta of you, Dream Eye.


Hello LASIK (in Seoul)!

August 19, 2011

There was a book that showed pictures and had cute explanations for the procedure. It was adorable.

I’m actually able to type out this post sans glasses, contacts or giant font having had LASIK only two days ago. This is pretty great.

I had a week off and instead of trying to leave the country on the same day everyone else in Korea is, I decided to get eye surgery. This was something I had wanted for awhile but needed enough vacation time for the recovery (which turned out not even to be necessary, but more on that later)

You can choose...LASIK, LASEK or however you've been managing to see so far.

After looking up reviews across the internets, I decided I would try out the Dream Eye Center. Out of the two locations, the Gangnam office seemed to have way more foreigner traffic and I really couldn’t find as much about the Myeongdong one (the facebook page has some good stuff). I figured that the Myeongdong clinic would be able to schedule a sort of last minute appointment with me and I was right – I was able to schedule the consultation, eye exams and surgery on the same day.


When I made my way to the Dream Eye Center (which btw is super easy to find), I was a bundle of gross nerves. This can’t be a unique feeling – who exactly is cool with lasers in their eyes? I could barely manage contacts when I had them so I was sure the day was going to be a nightmare. Instead, I can now add it to a list of really pleasant medical related experiences I’ve had in Korea.

"Can you see this?" "See what now?"

I had let the staff know that I planned to have the surgery that day along with the consultation and a 2 hour eye exam. Even with all that to be done, I never felt rushed. The specialist, Ji Yae, even made time to explain in impeccable English every test and detail about my vision. I’ve now seen every possible angle of my eye/retina/cornea…I’m sure that’s a good thing and not a gross thing, right? Yes.

The exams confirmed that my vision indeed sucked but not so bad that I couldn’t opt for LASIK (quick easy recovery) instead of LASEK (slower recovery). I was told I could come back in a few hours to get started on my surgery. To pass the time, I did some window shopping  – TIP: Do NOT go into retail stores with dilated pupils! The light they use in those places is obnoxious and the worst. But as a testament to how sweet and patient and calming Ji Yae was, I had no problem chowing down before the LASIK and no longer felt the sense of dread I had come to the clinic with.

I was pretty comfortable when the LASIK was starting up but not so much that I didn’t squeeze the life out of my nurse’s hand and a plush toy they gave me during the surgery.


Thankfully, before I got worked up, the surgery was over and the speakers were blasting some congratulatory music (n0, really). All of 10 minutes later, I was reading a sign outside the operating room with vision already clearer than my glasses ever gave me. The anesthesia made me feel pretty invincible during my time in the recovery room, the check up and  the subway ride home. Ji Yae warned me that the pain would be pretty bad that night but at the worst, I had a really high sensitivity to light and what felt like a little bit of soap in my eye for a couple hours. No big deal. Went to bed. Slept like a baby.


Somehow my vision was clearer than it had been last night and, better yet, I could now be in the light. I went to my next day check up which was generally uneventful but upon taking a vision test I learned my eyesight was better than 20/20 and was expected to get better as my eyes healed more. Super psyched.


Nothing more to tell. I feel near a hundred percent. The dryness that seems to typically follow LASIK hasn’t really bothered me yet but I have an arsenal of eyedrops from the clinic just in case. This has been a great experience so far…I’m glad I had the support to go through with it.

Notable Notables:
  • I got scheduling texts from the clinic to make sure I arrived and stuff. Very cute.
  • My parting kit including normal stuff like info about the LASIK, eyedrops, antibiotics, anti  inflammatory drops AND it also had a handwritten not from my nurse…there were stickers and congratulatory remarks regarding my new found freedom from glasses. Also there were goggles.
  • The nurses and surgeons were incredibly patient with my non cooperating eyes. For example, where I might have said “JUST OPEN YOUR DAMN EYES” they were all like “Please….please…let’s open them!”
  • I got to choose the music I could listen to while in the recovery room. I chose Jazz 😀
  • Post surgery, daylight was awful but frickin artificial lights were crippling (neons, halogens, tv/computer screens) And they are also inescapable in Korea.

Hello Speaking Test Torture!

June 27, 2011

Usually for speaking tests I make a very simple table. In one column is a list of questions I will ask graduating in difficulty from top to bottom. The next column has a list of answers also getting harder from top to bottom. The content includes a theme and whatever grammar and vocabulary are from the previous three chapters.

I made this format because it was easy. Easy to make, easy to explain and easy to grade. However, I started to feel like the test had little practicality in the real world. So, I made a new format for the test this semester.  Students have to tell me about a place in Korea in five sentences or more. I would help edit their mini speeches with one on one sessions  in the morning, after school, and during lunch and I did a special lesson on the vocabulary they needed for the speech. Still this test has been something of a disaster.

In one class, 15 out of 35 students didn’t even bother trying, citing that I was demanding too much of them. 15 zeros. That’s really high and since that trend has been basically continuing since we started last week, I’m starting to get a little angry. This speaking test feels the most important to me because I’m thinking No students, I don’t expect you all to study or even like English but you HAVE to know how to talk about your own country. This is English that is the most relevant to them – it’s not about some hypothetical situation taking place in a cafe in New York City, it’s any non-Korean they might encounter ever (which even is Korea is likely to happen on a fairly frequent basis).

I suppose the other thing that gets me is that I forgot that my students procrastinate. This seems silly but since I never assign homework I’ve never really had a chance to see who the procrastinators were. The Korean teachers and myself made it clear that all my free time last week would go toward helping any student who shoved a paper in my face. Although I was fairly swamped, there were still times where no students would show up but SURPRISE SURPRISE 3 minutes before the test starts, students are stalking me to get their speeches corrected.

 This. Is. Maddening.

I’ve spent a good portion of the day with a cloud of students hovering around me, demanding I fix their speeches. I turn them down because…I have to give the speaking test all day today.

I’m a little frazzled and a little frustrated today. Also, it’s been raining pretty furiously for the past week with no end in sight.

I’m ready for this week to be over. What? You mean it’s only Monday? Damn.


Hello Movie Theaters!

June 20, 2011
tags: ,

But really this post is about watching movies in Korea…which is great. There are so many parts of this culture that frustrate and befuddle me but the movie theaters here are better than any I’ve been to anywhere else.

First off, while I hardly consider myself a film connoiseur of any kind, I am a person who takes the move going experience very seriously. I get there super early or not at all and no one can get in the way of that. In Korea, it’s pretty much unnecessary because you can book seats ahead of time. They just show you the layout and which seats are taken and you’re free to book and go about your non-movie related business til five or so minutes before the show starts.

And that’s because you want snacks. And boy do they have snacks.

The normal tray of nachos, box of buttered popcorn and soft drinks are here but in Korea (and it seems all over Asia) they like to switch up the flavors every once and awhile. Since I’ve been here, I’ve encountered “sweet” or caramel, cheddar, garlic, onion, green tea, and cinnamon popcorn at the theaters (and there’s never a premium to pay on these awesome flavors either) What’s more, they’ll let you mix your favorite flavors in a bucket. And the offbeat flavors extend to the drinks – blueberry/pomegranate/blue green tea and peach tea come and go. They’ve thought of everything – it’s all so wonderfully delicious.

The courtesy even extends to the theater itself where the audience tends to behave better than the one at Columbia Mall back home (a situation so bad, I refuse to see movies there anymore).

There is one thing that’s a little strange. I tend to see American movies or movies in all English and Korean subtitles. It certainly seems like a lot of work for Koreans to go through but whatever. I’m fully aware that my country’s most profitable export is entertainment so I kinda figured the subtitle people would be on point with the translations. But maybe not. I saw Inglorious Basterds and Green Lantern here and was a little weirded out when Matt and I and some random other foreigner in the audience were the only ones laughing at the jokes. Or maybe the Koreans were laughing on the inside.

All that to get to the real issue : Green Lantern was terrible but I hope it was at least made somewhat decent with the subtitles. I heard it. I can’t unhear it.

Stationary Wisdom

May 19, 2011

Despite the recent deluge of eventful, post-worthy things in my life, I just haven’t been blogging that often. The writing muse just hasn’t been activated in awhile…perhaps replaced by the music muse that inspired me to take up the ukulele, the food muse that has had me in a somewhat obsessive quest for the perfect naengmyun, or the, weboggle, Game of Thrones or shopping muse. Whatever the case, I really felt the need to make a post about the notebooks and stationary here in Korea (stationary muse…?).

I think English speaking expats come here expecting bad English in every form everywhere. went viral awhile back and made sure everyone had access to the crazy translations that make it over here. It’s funny for awhile but then you realize IT’S ON EVERYTHING. Bad English on things that, back in the US anyway, wouldn’t normally have so much text on them, let alone long, tedious paragraphs (known as essays) used as the fundamental design. That’s right – just like stripes or polka dots or plaid.

But sometimes..

It’s surprisingly deep and meaningful English quoted from somewhere or back translated (sigh) from somewhere. While shopping for some cheapy-deapy, cute notebooks, I found myself actively engaged in reading each one. It seemed like so much effort went into printing some of these messages that for, for the most part, will probably never be read by their owners.

So, here are the best ones.

Smile at the Sky

Smile at the sky. It’s so pretty. It sets me free. When I’m sad, I go outside. When I’m happy I go outside. A smile emerges on my face so far and wide.

This notebook quote was all about me today. My first class was just really hard and frustrating and crazy but it just took a few open windows to let the sun in and to wind down and power through the rest of the day (which was amazing)

You’ll notice the title is a link to the poem in full which I found AFTER posting…whoops. Whoops for me. Whoops for notebook not giving credit to the author.

I’m a banana.


You should be able to articulate your dreams in a new way, and thus bring them a little closer to reality.

I don’t know what the banana is about but I couldn’t really find a source for this one which could mean it’s Korean. I’ll check on Monday. I like this message – I can make my dreams more realistic by further examining them? Deep.



The start of a happy life is a firm decision that I will must be happy and the practice that lead you happiness from this moment. He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance one cannot fly into flying.

Ok, that one might take more than one reading and there’s a lot to take in. It is absolutely baffling sometimes how the grammar gets so twisted up. One of the frustrating parts about being inundated with Engrish here is encountering Engrish and wondering why no one at the office thought to call the resident foreigner to straighten it out. I’m guessing it’d be expensive. But anyone who knows anything about Korean and English knows that Babelfish will not get the job done. Walk forward your dream? If you can plug a fragment of a sentence into Google and NO ONE in the ENTIRE WORLD has ever put those words together even kind of like that, it’s just no good.

That said, I would love to get actual sources for these quotes or even more insight into how the bad English makes it onto just about everything in Korea. Also, I secretly hope that all my students go on to take careers that prevent horrible, ridiculous English from getting into the hands of future Korean children.

Students, you have the power to end this.

The future is in your hands...

Conversations with Students

April 15, 2011

Student: Teacher, what’s your Twitter name?

Me, indignant: I don’t have a Twitter name!

Student: WHY?!

Me: …because I have Facebook.

Student: Can I have your facebook name?!

Me: …

Me: No.


 Student: Can I go to the bathroom now?

Me: You just had 10 minutes to go! What happened?

Student: I return in ONE MINUTE

Me: 1 second.


Me: Well, yeah then go.


Me: So what is P.E.?

Student A: Physical English!

Student B: Pretty Elephant!

Student C: Pencil Eraser!

In a different class…

Me: What is R&B?

Student A: Rock and ballads!

Student B: Red and blue!

Student C: Real and beautiful!


Kristin realizes that her rhyme warm up has finally backfired..

Me: Open your books to page 30!


Everyone cracks up. No one opens their books.

Me: That’s a great rhyme! Open your books to dirty thirty!

Student: Oh sexy sexy thirty..


Hello Radiodormant Rain!

April 7, 2011

Oh, that crazy sideways radioactive rain.

Before I left for school yesterday, many students tried to warn me about tomorrow’s bizarre, dangerous weather. Supposedly, radioactive rain from Japan would somehow make its way to Korea and so, I should avoid drinking the rain and carry an umbrella. I rolled my eyes pretty dramatically and went home. Then it seemed that the madness had passed on to Facebook where there were more than a few posts on my wall about radioactive rain. It turned out that other teachers were warned by school staff about the oncoming catastrophe but I just could not take it seriously. But, even with my skepticism, I was pretty quick to check the window when I woke up today. And, upon seeing that the sky was NOT green, I made my way to school.

I expected that fewer people would be walking the streets but it was crowded as ever. So then I figured it must have been called off ONLY to get to school and have people telling me all about the radioactive rain. So I guess they came and went or they came and people should DO SOMEthing or nothing happened and the weatherman is a dunce. I don’t know.  I mean, some schools have closed and some people are wearing masks but really no one knows what’s going on or what to do. This article about it would have me think that nothing really happened although it was supposed to. Again, I don’t know.

Conclusion: Nothing happened, the wind changed, some schools closed for no reason. I still wouldn’t drink the rainwater (yellow dust)

… Today was pretty meh…EXCEPT that asked my students if any of them got superpowers from the rain  and several claimed that they did. So there’s that!