Recently, I’ve gotten sick and I wanted to share my experiences of what to do when you are sick in a foreign country.
Because South Korea is a first world country with high tech medical services and advancements there is no problem when it comes to dealing with common illnesses or surgical matters.
Being sick in Korea has its disadvantages and its advantages. After living here for a full year I can say that I prefer being sick in Korea than being sick back home. The reason is because first of all, seeing a doctor is as accessible as getting an apple in a super market. You don’t even need an appointment and walk-ins are accepted almost immediately. I never had to wait for a long time and there are plenty of clinics with highly qualified doctors that it’s never that crowded. Sometimes during the winter there is high flu/ cold season of course there are more people in the clinics but the wait time is max 10 minutes long. The second reason is that the doctors here are quick and straight to the point. After you say your symptoms they address your medical issue and prescribe you with medication as you leave the door. A lot of the doctors in Korea can speak English. I heard that usually to become a doctor they have to learn all the medical terms in English and have to pass a test so don’t worry too much if you were worried about communication. The third reason and biggest reason is that health care in Korea is super cheap. Visiting the doctor cost me only 2,000 won (which is $2). How ridiculously cheap is that? Back home a check-up at the doctors cost me 40$ with insurance and I have to make an appointment in advance. The fourth reason is that there are pharmacy’s everywhere. Usually there is a pharmacy right below the clinic or in the same building. You can just go down and give in the prescription and you will get it in 10 seconds or less. There is no waiting for the pharmacy to process the medicine. Usually back home, once the prescription is sent to a convenient/drug store like Duane Reade, or CVS it usually takes them 30 min to 2 hours to process depending on how busy they are. The best part of it is that the medicine is super cheap too (in terms of cold medicine/ flu). It ranges from 3,000 KRW TO 5,000 KRW which is 3$ – 5$. SOOO CHEAP!
Now that I listed all the positives I want to talk about the negatives.
One disadvantage I would say is the culture to still come in to work when you are so sick. My co – teachers would still come to work even when they have a fever, sore throat and are coughing. They won’t take a day off. From my observation, I noticed that there is an “unspoken rule” that you must come to work even if you are really sick. Crazy!
They also believe that once you start getting a cold or at the beginning of your sickness you should go to a doctor and get medicine. Being sick myself, I followed the “Korean way” and went to the doctor and got medicine right at the early stages of my cold. The doctors here prescribe medicine that is way stronger than drug store cold medicine. They give you a three day medicine which you take three times a day after every meal and tell you if you don’t feel better in 3 days come back. Let me TELL you how strong these cold medicines are. They make you feel recovered with no sinuses (like runny nose, headaches, cough, and sore throat) until it starts to wears off and you have to take the medicine again. No wonder they come to work. Haha!
Another disadvantage would be that when getting cold medicine you wouldn’t know which brands are good or not. Usually when I go to different pharmacy they seem to give me different cold medicine every time. I’m not sure which one is the most effective.
The last disadvantage is being by yourself when you are sick. Back home you can ask your parent to bring you soup and take care of you but when you are living in a foreign country you are pretty much alone. I’m thankful that I met someone (Ben) that comes over to my house to take care of me. He made me dinner and watched movies with me until I fell asleep. * Shout out to you Ben if you are reading this blog*
I am slowly recovering and am so glad I live in a place where I can easily get access to medical help.
Thank you for reading this blog. If you like this blog please give it a like or a comment and I’ll be back with more blogs.