Thursday, July 31, 2014

During Low Times, Find One Positive

This post originally appeared on Have Your Health, a past blog of mine active from 2013-14.


It's been nearly two months since my last health check-in here on the blog. While this won't be a complete check up like the last one, I do want to comment on some recent personal events, how my health has taken a toll as a result, and the one thing I'm still doing right despite everything.

A completely unexpected breakup last week - when I have just one month left here in Korea - led me to do some emotional eating. There's been lots of chocolate making its way into my apartment, after I had gone over two weeks without a single drop! I had been so proud of my no-chocolate record. So I've definitely done some back pedaling, but I'll soon be able to take some steps forward again. The chocolate's not here to stay, just here to comfort.

I've also been frequenting the "bakery" in town every day this week, eating things like donuts and sandwiches (things that I hadn't touched for several months). This is partly due to the fact that I'm teaching summer camp right now during my school's summer vacation period. Our cafeteria is closed during vacation, so I have to bring something to eat every day (since I can't call to order delivery and can't drive to a restaurant, as Korean teachers do). Recent events had me completely unmotivated to do any cooking (plus it's super hot and my refrigerator doesn't really keep things cold... not the greatest combination), so I've been stopping by this bakery every morning to pick up a breakfast item and lunch item for the day - and sometimes a treat too (aka a donut).

This will not become a habit, as my surroundings will change by the end of next week when camp finishes and I have a week and a half of vacation with my sister and Grandma. And I'm starting to kick back into gear, regaining some of the motivation that had been completely drained out of me last week. After all, I'm writing a post!

One last let down is the fact that I haven't been exercising or stretching. Any chance of running stopped back in June when the humidity and heat became so gross and high here. It's stayed all July, and I just can't go out and run in that, though I'm sure some sort of exercise would have been really good for me this past week. But I also haven't been doing any Give it 100 videos or my regular stretching at home in my AC (I think my last video was Day 77). That took a hit when I started a second job - an online editing gig - just over a month ago. My daily routine changed as a result.

Now instead of stretching and making a video right when I get home from work, I log two hours of editing work and then feel so very drained and only want to shut off my mind with a TV show before bed. Recently I'm making pitiful efforts to stretch to some extent, even if it's just a few toe reaches during passing time at school. Again, I'm not worried because my daily routine will completely be redesigned when I leave Korea at the end of the month, and my legs will get a fabulous workout every day when I walk the Camino de Santiago in September/October.

I did mention there was one thing I'm doing right. I must not beat myself up about all of my latest health "fails," so I'm making sure to highlight my single success: I'm drinking plenty of water! The summer heat definitely is to thank for this one, though being reminded to drink water in two recent readings have reaffirmed the habit.

The first was in James Clear's article on sleep. He wrote that he usually drinks an entire glass of water right when he wakes up, because his body has just gone 6-8 hours without any fluids. I'd never thought about that before, so even though it was just a brief sentence, the image really stuck with me. It's caused me to grab for a water bottle first thing in the morning a few times already. The second was seeing the base of the Wellness Center's food pyramid as I read Food Over Medicine: 64 ounces of filtered water. Again, it was a new image in my mind - to see water as the base of a food pyramid - and it brought water closer to the front of my attention. I'm taking great advantage of the drinking fountains at school, refilling my water bottle several times each day, and then drinking more once I'm home for the evening.

We all go through times of turmoil, so I wanted to honestly share how such a time has recently affected my health journey. Even in just writing this post, by identifying my unhealthy behaviors and the causes, I feel as though I've taken a step towards the right path again.
• • •

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Teacher outing: Hiking at Juwang Mountain in Andong

Friday night of my school's teaching outing last week was a late one for me, and after a full week of school too. Imagine my frustration when I woke up on Saturday... at 7am.

I couldn't fall back asleep, as the other ladies had also woken up and were chatting in the living room where they'd slept. So I changed and sat with them on the floor, trying to look engaged but not knowing what anyone was saying.

Over an hour later, we were called in for breakfast out where we'd had dinner the night before. Chicken and rice porridge, ramen noodles, and plenty of kimchi! (Korean breakfast is nothing like an American breakfast).

After breakfast we packed up and eventually boarded the bus. We drove to nearby 주왕산 (Juwang Mountain) for some hiking.

While walking to the base, we had to walk past rows of restaurants and little shops. It felt a bit odd/touristy, and the librarian said she doesn't like it because it pollutes the fresh air.

Walking to Juwang Mountain, past a long row of restaurants/shops on the right

One teacher asked my co-teacher, who then asked me in English, "Do they put restaurants on the base of the mountains like this where you're from?"

After a brief pause to think, I had to answer, "Um, we don't really have mountains like this for hiking where I'm from." The two "taller" places I could think of where people hike are Devil's Lake and the bluffs in La Crosse, but those aren't mountains. So I couldn't compare the two.

It was really excellent. I love that hiking is such a common hobby in Korea (thanks to the plethora of mountains, no doubt), and that it was totally normal to be enjoying the outdoors in physical activity with coworkers.



We saw a three-tier waterfall, which was pretty incredible.


Being in the mountain made you feel small, and helped put the world/universe back into perspective.



At the final waterfall, pictured above, there were two butterflies that weren't afraid to land on people. Many of the teachers took turns holding a butterfly on their finger.


My co-teacher tried passing one to me a few times, but every time it flew away.

There was mention of canoeing afterwards, but by the time everyone got back down and to the bus (2 hours later?), one co-teacher told me they'd decided to skip the canoeing and we'll go straight to lunch, and then home. Perfect! I was wiped, mostly from lack of sleep than the hiking.

We drove to the restaurant and walked behind it to this outdoor roofed eating area. I'm used to taking shoes off when you go to a restaurant, but when we got back there I was a little surprised to hear my co-teacher tell me "Take your shoes and socks off here".

Socks? Why do I need to take my socks off? I wondered. I glanced at the teachers who had already taken the two stairs up to the dining area, and saw two people wearing socks, so I left mine on.

When I got to my spot, then it made sense. Check out the table, or rather, what's underneath:


There was a pool of fresh spring water underneath the table! I have to admit, my very first thought was "Oh no, I don't think I can have fish munching on my feet during an entire lunch," thinking back on my experience in Bangkok.

To my relief, there were no fish in the water. It was quite cold, though refreshing after the hike. There was a bar underneath the table, upon which we could rest our feet, so they weren't submerged the whole time.

On the menu: raw trout.

You take a bunch of veggies into your bowl, add this spicy red sauce, some bean flour, and maybe a bit of dried seaweed, some raw fish, and then mix it all together.


I took four or five pieces to start, and left it at that. Pretty sure I munched on some bones, and I wasn't sure how my stomach would take the raw fish. It was fine. And then I loaded up on more veggies - yum!

It was a long, relaxed meal. After the fruit had been served, some people started going to use the restroom. It seemed as though the meal was over, but then they brought out rice for everyone, plus hot trout soup.

And then, around two thirty perhaps, we loaded up the bus for the ride home.

I settled in on the bus ready to pass out with a nap, so it surprised me when we stopped only a few minutes after. Was this a rest stop?

I put on my purse and followed everyone off the bus... and they all started walking. Another hike? I was so confused, but just went with it.

Thankfully it was a very short hike, as I was really tired from the night before. It took around 5-10 minutes to walk to the dead end where we took a picture by the lake, and then we walked back.



We didn't make it back to school until just after seven in the evening. It definitely felt like a much longer day and a half than my usual Friday nights and Saturdays at home. I was happy to be able to see another part of Korea, and enjoy the outdoors and nature.
• • •

Friday, July 25, 2014

The week in review: 7/21/14 - 7/25/14

Monday, July 21
We only had three sixth grade classes today instead of the usual four because the kids are going home right after lunch this week. I took a picture with two of the classes, and I'll take a picture with the other two tomorrow. In the afternoon my co-teacher asked me to fill out a spreadsheet for English camp supplies, so I don't have to worry about that any more. I accidentally fell asleep after school and napped for at least two hours. It really threw off my sleep schedule...

Tuesday, July 22
You can almost feel the excitement for vacation; Friday's fifth graders are going to be wild, I can just tell. I found out that second semester starts a day earlier than I thought. Luckily I'll be back from Hong Kong, but I was planning on having that one day to unpack/re-coop/upload photos and the like. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 23
The third graders had their last class of the semester today. I'm realizing that the third graders I had during winter camp had finished an entire year of English, but for summer camp their level will be what it is now. Eek. Had my last class with the "new" 1/2 graders today.

Thursday, July 25
When I got to school at 8:30 there were a few students in the room. A bit later some more came, and then my co-teacher started talking to them. Through hearing my name and a few English words, I figured out they were my summer camp students! She was giving them some type of overview ahead of time. Would have been nice for a head's up - I tried to peek through the mirror to see who some of them are. I'll find out soon enough though.

I had trouble sleeping last night, so it was amazing that my co-teacher had the kids watch a movie for their last English class of the semester. We've never watched a movie in class before ever. It rained all night and most of the day, so it fit the mood.

Friday, July 26
I found out that one of my co-teachers had been in a small car accident (I heard the word "bumper" mentioned a lot when they were talking later in the day in Korean) and would get here closer to 9. She's not the one I teach with on Fridays though, so it was a little strange to not see my other co-teacher even after the bells rang at 9 (his backpack was at his desk, he was just elsewhere in school). I didn't know what our plan was for fifth grade class today, but there weren't any students in our room at 9 so it didn't matter. He came back to the classroom a bit later and I asked about class. Oh there's no class today, he told me. Alrighty then - good deal!

My other co-teacher got in soon after, and put up a big banner across the chalkboard for summer camp that she must have made and printed from a plotter somewhere. There were also name tags with the kids' names written in English, with the schedule for them on the backside. I think the sign and name tags are really great! It would have been nice to know they were being made, but I know time and language constraints don't allow for me to know everything I'd like to know about the camps, even though I'm the instructor. She had to leave early at noon, I'm assuming to figure out the car stuff, so we didn't really have time to talk, but she said she'd be here on Monday.

The students all went home before lunch, meaning the cafeteria was closed. The teachers all drove to a restaurant for a quick lunch, which the principal paid for. My final daycare class ever ended up being five of my 2nd/3rd grade boys. We played an Angry Birds PPT game that I had prepared. When I got back to the classroom there was a box of paper cups and a shopping basket of cookies, juice, candy bars, and the book Who Stole the Cookies? - so a few items from my camp materials list. I'm just assuming everything else will be here by Monday.
• • •

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday: 7/24/14

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

Today I'm thankful for the rain. It's been raining the last couple of nights and mornings, which has really helped the temperature cool down a bit (though it's still very much humid). I'm sure the plants and animals are happy for the rain, too.

The person who lived here before me left some Badger rain boots behind, which is another reason why the rain doesn't bother me. I also have the best umbrella ever, super sturdy and could never be flipped inside out in Korean weather conditions.

Although my students weren't to thrilled about this week's rain, it's been a welcome guest for me. It's also fit the mood of a difficult new reality that unexpectedly sprung up this week.
• • •

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Liebster Award

Earlier in the month I was nominated by Jamie from The Accidental Nomad for the Liebster Award! Thank you, Jamie, for the nomination!

Liebster Award

As Sally from A Breath of Foreign Air puts it so well, the Liebster Award is basically a "glorified chain letter". While I would like to think that the Liebster Award isn't given out to any old blogger, the criteria/qualifications are a bit fuzzy (read: nonexistent). But it's a great way to get to know other bloggers and build a community, so here we go!

Liebster Award Rules

Here are the Liebster Award “rules".

1. Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award.
2. Answer 11 questions that your nominator gives you.
3. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 5 blogs that you feel deserve the award, and that have a less than 1,000 followers.
5. Let the bloggers know you have nominated them, and give them 11 questions to answer.

In Jamie's nomination she asked 11 questions that I'll answer here:

11 Questions from my nominator

1. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
I think a really important piece of advice is to spend your life doing what makes you happy, without caring what other people think/do in the society in which you live. You might have to go against the grain, but you only live once and those precious days should be spent doing what you enjoy, not living by someone else's expectations.

2. What’s one of your best/favorite memories?
I'm having trouble even narrowing it down to a year, as the memories are all so distinct, so I'll just pinpoint two periods of my life: First, as a college student I had an amazing work environment at my job. My co-workers are still my good friends today, even though we're all in different places. But when we got to see each other every day, all sharing an open office with three work stations, boy did we have some good laughs.

My other "golden" year was when I studied abroad in Spain. I was in the honeymoon phase all year, due to both the new-ness of my sunny, Spanish surroundings (first time I left the USA), and also the close group of friends I had that year, from my study abroad program. I have fond memories of that time, though we're all in different places now.

3. What’s one book everyone should read?
Just one? I'll give you four:
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)
  • In Defense of Food (Michael Pollan)
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
  • Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Could Change  Your Life (Pamela Popper and Glen Merzer)
(I'm curious as to how others would answer this question, and will never turn down a book recommendation, so let me know in the comments!)

4. What’s your favorite country?
At this point I have no answer, as I've only been to a few countries, and some for just short periods of time. Of ten or so countries I've ever visited or lived in, I'm obviously partial to Spain, but I'd also like to return to France, Germany, and Canada to see more. (Plus all the countries I haven't been to yet...)

5. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Probably that fermented fish I ate here in Korea this past weekend. It smelled like ammonia.

Other than that, is it strange to eat sand? When I was younger I liked the feeling of just a bit of sand in my mouth, hearing the crunching sound. So I guess I'd take some from the sandbox and put it in my mouth.

6. What’s one thing you’re glad you did, but would never do again?
I'm glad I did the full body scrub in a Korean jjimjilbang (got scrubbed down by a half-naked Korean woman when I was lying naked on the table), but I won't seek it out again in the future.

7. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?
I like to walk around whenever I go somewhere new. Explore by foot with no destination in mind, become acquainted with my surroundings. I never fail to stumble upon something interesting.

8. What’s the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?
I'm having trouble recalling a particular instance, though I know strangers have certainly done nice things for me - especially while I was traveling. The most recent experience would be the nice ladies who work at the kimbap place next to my grocery store. I keep going back because they smile and are patient with my limited and slow speech.

9. If money wasn’t an object, and you could do anything at all, what would you do?
See the world, but I'm going to keep doing that even on limited funds.

10. Who do you look up to and why?
I look up to many of my friends and family; they each possess different skills and traits I admire. I have a few sixth grade students this year that I really looked up to as well, as they're much more self-assured and fearless than I ever was as a sixth grader.

11. What inspires you?
People, knowledge, and nature inspire me. The good that people are doing, and the vastness of this world. It is so complex, with all of the cultures, languages, towns, architecture, history, politics, nature, and so on. It's almost hard to grasp. Yet we all can feel the effect of a smile and a laugh. Throw in all of the creatures and plants and you've got a truly wondrous place. I'm inspired to explore this world, meet passionate people, share knowledge, and appreciate nature's beauty.

I'm skipping rule #3 and jumping straight to my nominations:

Nominations

I am to nominate five bloggers for this award (Note: Had Sally @ A Breath of Foreign Air not already won this award (twice!), her name would appear below as well). I can assure you these blogs are top quality, and deserving of a blogging award:

1. Abby @ Bodging for Apples II
I met Abby the day before I flew to South Korea, as she is also teaching English through the same program as me. Her creativity is refreshing, and her writing never ceases to impress me.

2. Hannah @ Hannah Kennell 
Hannah is the treasure I was lucky enough to meet my second year in Spain, and who I've called a best friend since. (She's the one I visited in Canada last summer, and will visit in London this fall). This girl is strong and driven, currently an ultimate-playing writing expat in London.

3. James @ James Follows His Dreams
James is from my middle/high school hometown, and he lives in New York City. He is dedicated, passionate, talented, and bold, and his blog is so incredibly honest.

4. Marissa @ Missris
I have no idea how (nor exactly how many years ago) I first happened upon Marissa's blog, but I've been following it ever since (which says something about her blog). Raised in Austin, TX, Marissa moved to Pittsburgh from Chicago in 2011.

5. Soren @ Culture Glaze
I found Soren's first blog two years ago while he was teaching in Korea and I was teaching in Spain. Now he lives in New York, and writes weekly (if not more) at Culture Glaze.

So to get to know all of you nominees even better, here are your Liebster Award questions:

11 Questions for the Nominees

1. Who is your favorite fictional character?
2. Pro-zoo or anti-zoo? (Feel free to elaborate)
3. When you were six, what did you want to be when you grew up?
4. What are you passionate about?
5. You have to sing one karaoke song. What song do you choose?
6. Describe your ideal Saturday.
7. What is one goal you are working to achieve?
8. What's the best view you've ever seen, or your favorite to see?
9. What's a skill or hobby you've always wanted to learn/take up, but never have?
10. What's a movie (or two) that everyone should see?
11. Why do you blog?

Should you choose to accept, I very much look forward to reading your answers!
• • •

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teacher Outing: Andong Hahoe Folk Village

This past weekend I had a teacher's outing for the first semester. We boarded the bus at 13:30 on Friday, and headed southeast to Andong, Korea.

Yongin --> Andong, Korea

Andong Hahoe Folk Village (안동하회마을)

Hours later, our first stop was the Andong Hahoe Folk Village. The village is famous for its traditional houses, and all of the historic scholars that were born here. The village is surrounded by the Nakdong River, which flows in a unique S shape at this particular point.

Andong Hahoe Folk Village map

The Hahoe Folk Village became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010.

What really struck me about the scenery were the splendid, bright green rice fields, accompanied by the deeper green mountains and trees in the background. It was so pleasant to the eyes:


This forest was really beautiful as well.
  

The sun beat down strongly, but my amazing co-teacher had brought along an extra visor, which she lent to me whenever we were outdoors. I rocked the typically-huge Korean female visor all weekend!

The houses in the village either had straw roofs from the rice fields, or traditional Korean roofs.


My final picture to soak up the green before we left:


From the village we had a half hour or so bus ride to our lodging in the mountains. It was a curvy ride, and I was sure I could have hurled if you'd put a bag in front of me. I focused on breathing and not puking, though later discovered many others felt nauseous as well.

The surroundings were gorgeous, out seemingly in the middle of nowhere.



I was in a "room" with four other teachers, but not my co-teacher. The place was horribly yet hilariously decorated in various shades of pink and red. Right when you walked in there was a hot tub in the middle of the living room, right against the windows. 


I walked up the stairs to the loft to discover one bed next to a red heart-shaped shaggy rug. Classy. We were in a lover's getaway suite. And we were five.

Fermented Skate (홍어)

I'd assumed we'd be having dinner at a restaurant somewhere, but turns out we'd brought ingredients and food along with us to cook ourselves. There was a big covered area with plastic windows looking out over the mountains where we ate on picnic tables; felt like we were camping.

There was one side dish on the tables that I hadn't heard of nor tried before. It's called Hong-eo, and it's fermented fish. It's known for smelling like ammonia, and oh boy did it ever. 


So I tried a piece, putting it between two pieces of kimchi like my co-teacher showed me. The smell got worse when it was up in your mouth, and while the taste wasn't anything overly terrible, it was so chewy. Especially down the middle. I wondered what exactly I was chomping on... I kept chewing and chewing and chewing. I swallowed parts from the outside, but man that spinal cord or whatever it was down the middle was giving me problems. I looked around for a napkin to get rid of the hard remains. None in sight. The piece was too big to swallow in one go, but I could not separate it for the life of me, despite all my chewing. Then I remembered I still had a small piece of tissue in my pocket from lunch. Ta-da!  

I ate and ate, and the soju heavily flowed, as it would at any Korean work dinner. This meant a few teachers had courage to try talking with me in English, which gave my co-teachers a rest from trying to entertain me. It wasn't until a bit after midnight that I headed in to the suite.

The other teachers were sitting on the living room floor talking with each other (in Korean, obviously). One told me to go upstairs and sleep in the bed; the four of them would sleep on the floor. This is what I had feared would happen. Two could have definitely shared the bed, and I didn't want to be the reason why all four slept on the floor. 

If it were earlier in the night, I might have tried to say otherwise, but given the hour, my exhaustion, the difficulties of communicating with non-English speakers, the pain I would save my fused spine, and the knowledge that Koreans are much more used to eating and sleeping on the floor than Americans, I decided to just call it a win and went to bed up in the loft.

• • •

Friday, July 18, 2014

The week in review: 7/14/14 - 7/18/14

Monday, July 14
I started feeling a bit nauseous on Sunday night, so I didn't eat breakfast today and actually wasn't hungry all morning - not even at lunchtime. So it was kind of ironic that in the afternoon, it was one of my kids that puked, not me, in the second grade daycare class. He was standing up and it just kind of splattered all over the floor, hah sorry for that image. Just the other day I was thinking about all of the reasons why I like teaching elementary, but man, having to be around other kids' vomit is not cool. Took a nap when I got home to try to re-coop. Bought my plane ticket to London in October!

Tuesday, July 15
We only had one sixth grade class this morning because a school election for second semester took place during the other morning periods. Kids get elected as class president of each grade or something, I think. Finally thought of a goodbye gift for my current and past co-teachers: books! So I ordered a bunch on Amazon that my sister will bring when she comes (thank you!). We got a document (via Messenger) about this weekend's teacher trip, so I used Google Translate to figure out most of the schedule. I don't recognize any of the names of teachers I'm rooming with, but I'll probably recognize faces on Friday. We leave at one something in the afternoon, which means I have to cancel both my Friday daycare classes.

Wednesday, July 16
Both of my co-teachers were working on summer camp lesson plans for camps elsewhere today. I don't really understand if they'll be teaching at another school, or simply had to help make the lesson plans, but I helped them out a bit with each one. The second grade after school teacher messaged me to cancel class next week Friday, as it's the last day before summer break - a half day for the kids. I've noticed most students this week have been leaving school right after lunch, instead of staying until 2:30.

Near the end of the day while talking with one of my co-teachers, I found out that today the principal strongly denied the request for another native English teacher to replace me in September. The reasoning is because GEPIK, the organization through which I'm contracted, is changing all native English teacher contracts to begin March 1 and end February 28/29 (instead of Sept. 1 - Aug. 31)  to go with the Korean school year. This change starts next March. Therefore they aren't signing any new contracts for this September, but schools can contract a native English teacher directly for the next six months. However, our principal doesn't want to be responsible/liable for that, and prefers to wait until the contract is through GEPIK in March. So, I feel bad that the kids and my co-teachers will go the rest of the year without a native teacher, but it's out of my hands.

Thursday, July 17
In my daycare class today I had the kids make the alphabet with their bodies, on the floor. This kept them occupied and engaged the whole class! The boys were a bit loud and rowdy, but they still made each letter and I took pictures of each one. I'd like to turn it into an alphabet book for the class or the English room, but I'm not sure if I can finish it before the semester ends. At the end of the day my co-teacher said I had to get permission on my attendance sheet to leave early tomorrow for the teacher's trip, which meant getting the head teacher and VP's signatures (principal was gone that afternoon on a business trip). Looks like it'll rain, so I've been warned to bring an umbrella!

Friday, July 18
The school day went by quickly today, since it was just the four morning classes and lunch before we boarded the bus at 13:30. It was raining in the morning, but the sun and heat came back by lunchtime. I'll write up a full post or two afterwards about the teacher's outing. Have a nice weekend everyone!
• • •

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Could Change Your Life

This post originally appeared on Have Your Health, a past blog of mine active from 2013-14.


This past weekend I finished reading "Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Could Change Your Life" by Dr. Pamela Popper and Glen Merzer. The book is written as a conversation between the two authors, making it a book anyone could read.

The more I keep reading about adopting a whole food plant-based diet, the more obvious it all seems to me: What you eat dictates your health. Opinions and knowledge I previously had about about doctors, medicine, healthy eating, health insurance, and cancer - they're all wrong. Dr. Popper writes, "If people really understood, in clear terms, what food did to them, they'd have a whole different attitude about it."

I'm starting to understand, and my attitude is completely changing - about more than just food.

The importance of diet

Reading "Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition" and now "Food Over Medicine" has got me realizing that what we eat has a huge impact on our health. And it makes sense, right? Your body needs food to survive and function. The body works with what it's given, but it doesn't stay quiet if there's a problem. The body tries to tell us when we're eating wrong, when it's not getting what it needs to function well. But are we listening?

Do we change our eating habits or do we go to the doctor with various symptoms and leave with a bottle of pills in hand? One piece of evidence mentioned in the book - attesting to the power of diet - was migration studies. Say someone moves from Wisconsin, USA to Seoul, South Korea. If this person adopts the typical diet of South Koreans in Seoul, he or she will soon have the same disease risk of natives in Seoul, South Korea. Why? Because most disease is caused by what we eat!

Diet is a combination lock

Another point related to diet that I really liked was when one of the authors compared a diet to a combination lock. To open the lock successfully, you need all four numbers to be right. If you have three numbers correct, 75 percent, you don't get 75 percent of the results - you get zero. Like a lock, diet needs to have all of the right pieces in place in order to see health results. If you're doing it 75 percent right, you won't get 75 percent of the results.

I think this could be part of my digestive problem. I'm probably missing something, and those few tweaks in diet could be the difference between suffering with IBS-D and thriving with a healthy flora. This analogy has given me motivation to adhere to a strict no-dairy, whole food plant-based diet when I return to the states in November.

Again, I'm waiting because I'll have total control over my diet at that point, as well as the time to prepare and cook all of my meals. I'm hoping John will try it with me for a few weeks at the start, and I also have this (probably unrealistic) desire that my parents will want to give it a try too.

Plant-based diet success stories

Throughout the book, Dr. Popper mentions again and again her "Wellness Forum", which is based in Worthington, Ohio. Sometimes it comes off as too self-promotional, though I'm sure the system at her Wellness Forum works. One section of the book provided success stories from Wellness Forum members.

First, the doctors described the client and their situation, and then the client wrote a first-person account of their journey to health. There was a young lady who was too sick to go to college or have a job. She's now a healthy university student. Other successes were a patient who got rid of Crohn's Disease, a woman who eliminated her ulcerative colitis, and a man who completely got rid of his cardiovascular issues and high cholesterol.

A final story that really stuck out was from a 60-year-old man. When he went back to the doctor after adhering to the Wellness Forum diet for several weeks, his doctor was stunned. The doctor said, "I think there's a mistake. Last time you were in here you had advancing coronary artery disease and now, my God, it's like you have the arteries of an eighteen-year-old." The man had reversed his disease, which doctors see often at the Wellness Forum.

Wellness Forum diet

So what is this "Wellness Forum diet"? The book unfortunately doesn't go into many details of the diet, apart from the fact that it's whole-food, plant based, with no dairy or oils. Exactly what to eat simply wasn't the main focus of this particular book.

One paragraph did describe their food pyramid. On the bottom are 64 ounces of water; followed by beans, rice, corn, and potatoes. Next are steamed and raw vegetables and big salads, with fruit up on the next, smaller level. Here's a graphic I found of the complete Wellness Forum food pyramid:

Wellness Forum Food Pyramid
Wellness Forum Food Pyramid
There were a nice selection of recipes in the middle of the book, though. And online you can see what food is served at their Wellness Forum Foods, as well as information about their cookbook "Better Than Vegan," which I plan to purchase.

Nutrition misconceptions

Another section of the book covered some common misunderstandings about nutrition - things that we're taught in school and are widely accepted in society, but that simply aren't true. I won't get into the details or research behind each one, as that could turn into an entire post itself (and it's found in the book), but here were some of the topics included:

Protein

Americans are taught that the body needs much more protein than it actually does. It's nearly impossible to be deficient in protein when you're eating 1,500 - 2,000 calories per day - no matter the combination of foods. But we're eating too much protein, and it's detrimental to our health.

The history that led to this misconception about protein was quite interesting. Protein was one of the first nutrients ever discovered. Animals died without it, so it was seen as a vital nutrient and its benefit has been exaggerated ever since. Merzer then shares of when he reminded his protein over-consumer weightlifting friend that "elephants manage to grow pretty strong on a diet of plants." Oh yeah, I guess they do!

Osteoporosis

I grew up in the dairy state (Wisconsin), so it was drilled in since childhood that milk builds strong bones. I grew up with the Got Milk? campaign on commercials and magazine ads, and at school we drank milk both in the mornings and with lunch - not to mention the gallon or two that was always in the fridge at home. The reality of the situation is that the highest rates of osteoporosis are in countries with the highest dairy intake. Your bones will be better than fine if you eat a plant-based, dairy-free diet.

Mammograms

I'm not at the age to think about a mammogram yet, but I had previously thought it's just something all women are supposed to do. After reading this book, I will never have one! Mammogram statistics are skewed based on the set-up of experiments/surveys. They detect pseudo-cancers, which results in gross overtreatment, and mammograms do not reduce the risk of dying from real breast cancer. Findings by the Cochrane Collaboration ("the most independent medical research organization in the world") in 2001 stated that there is actually no reliable evidence to support mammogram screening at any age.

Supplements

And lastly, this book confirmed what I have been learning and realizing about health supplements: taking them is useless. Supplements fail to prevent, stop, or reverse any diseases. One of the authors did say that the B12 vitamin was special in that it could be taken as a supplement, but that's the only nutrient.

U.S. government's role in health

The idea of preventing and reversing diseases through a whole foods, plant-based dairy-free diet is somewhat new to my mind, so I hadn't yet thought about all of the implications of such a concept. "Food Over Medicine" touched on politics near the the end, looking at the U.S. government's role in our health, and introducing some new ideas to me.

I already knew that the government is outrageously tangled with farming (industrial livestock and dairy) and processed food companies. So if the government gives the right nutrition advice, they will make someone upset (most likely agriculture and manufacturing groups, the book suggests). What it really comes down to is that the government voluntarily sacrifices over tens of millions of people each year to unnecessary procedures, destructive drugs, and even deaths. For what? To be viewed in good light by the National Dairy Council and Kellogg's?

The two then go on to discuss Obamacare, one openly criticizing it as a Democrat. Obamacare is trying to give health insurance to all, not health for all. There's a huge difference between the two. If the government wants the people to have their health, they need to take away dairy/agriculture/meat subsidies and encourage a whole food plant-based diet, end of story.

The authors mention Michael Moore's documentary "Sicko" in this discussion as well, which I had always liked. But now I realize that's the wrong angle. So the pills and medications are much cheaper in other countries. Can you imagine how many more people would be on those meds if they were more easily accessible and cheaper? Prevent, stop, and reverse diseases with diet.

We need to end production and selling of "processed foods," which really isn't food at all. Introduce more farmer's markets. Tax $1 on all meats and put that money towards truthful nutrition education. I suppose it's too far for the government to control what types of foods are available for consumption. But hopefully once enough people learn about the reality of food, companies like Kraft and Nabisco will go out of business on their own. Wishful thinking, eh?

Education of doctors and health practitioners

The last section from the book that I'll mention was about medical schools, and how doctors are and aren't trained and educated. "Nobody is taught that the diet is the cause of the diseases we battle and nobody is taught that diet will reverse them," writes Dr. Popper.

To put it simply, doctors are taught to treat symptoms. It's an outcome-oriented field. But we need to be preventative and stop the symptoms from ever occurring in the first place. How can your doctor learn that the progression of diseases can be stopped - and even reversed - with diet?

Dr. Popper suggests that you heal yourself with diet, and then be the first person to show your doctor that you reversed your symptoms with diet. That idea has also become part of my motivation for adopting this diet when I'm back in the states this fall.

The conversation that could change your life

This book, "Food Over Medicine," very well could change your life. As I said, it's written as a conversation between two people, so it's not a high-tech dense book. It's interesting and important.

I'll close with a quote from one of the Wellness Forum members, Patty Yeager, sharing her success story. It's something I really need to drill into my mind: "If you continue to do what you have always done you will continue to get the same results."

Patty Yeager - Food Over Medicine quote

• • •

Friday, July 11, 2014

The week in review: 7/7/14 - 7/11/14

Monday, July 7
The computer guy finally came and updated my computer to Windows 7 today, after hearing that it would happen for over a week. My main co-teacher mentioned summer camp today for the first time, asking if I had any ideas. She was surprised to know I'd already planned the whole thing, and planted some doubts in me about the level being appropriate (might be too hard for 3rd/4th) so I'll take another look and can always adjust.

My second grade boys were really riled up this afternoon, tons of energy and anger. It was so incredibly hot when I left school today. We'd been hot in the English classroom, but being outside was a different level. It felt like hot hair dryers were being blown all over me. 91 and really humid.

Tuesday, July 8
Sixth grade was great again today - I'll especially miss these kids since I see them twice a week and they can generally say more than the others. After school I saw a 7th grader who I had last year. One of her sisters is in my third grade class, so I mentioned that, and then we awkwardly continued to walk down my precious green street as I tried to make easy conversation every few steps.

Wednesday, July 9
My co-teacher and I were all set for the third graders' "Show Time" class period (role play), when sixth graders started coming through the door at 9:00. Turns out they had decided to change the schedule many weeks ago, and she'd understandably forgotten. So I quickly grabbed my other books and we taught sixth grade for one period, and then the third graders. It was super, super humid today, and luckily we got to have AC on for most of the day! Rained briefly in the afternoon, still hot and humid as ever.

Both my co-teachers left early today, so I was left a key and had the room to myself for the 1st/2nd class at the end of the day. The teacher who had them that day hadn't been told that class would be in the English room, so I had to go down to their room and try to explain to her with gestures that I was told the kids would come up to the English room for class. They did, and it was fine. Only two class periods left in the semester!

Thursday, July 10
All I have to say is this: 82 degrees at 8am. Super humid, and it only got hotter as the day went on. There were several behavior issues in multiple fourth grade classes today: a boy made a girl cry by yelling at her, and a boy kicked another in response to being hit by him. The highlight is that we played a new writing game, "Let's Write," with whiteboards and it was a hit!

Friday, July 11
Fifth graders were their usual selves - not paying attention and rudely chatty. I've been getting a bit angry on both Thursdays and Fridays, but I have to adjust my expectations and remind myself that kids are kids. They want to play with each other and couldn't really care less about sitting in a desk and opening their books to the right page and writing their g's correctly, etc. Also, the main point to remember is that students respond to the expectations and environment set by the teacher. This is so clear when I compare Thurs/Fri classes with a Mon/Tues/Weds class taught by my other co-teacher, but unfortunately doesn't remove any of the frustration.
• • •

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Namsan Tower (N Seoul Tower) by Day

Last Saturday after my Korean traditional medicine appointment I met up with some friends, and we soon we found ourselves back at Namsan Tower!

The first time I went up the tower back in January it was nighttime, so it was neat to see the city during the day. Take a look:

N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)

View from N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)

N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)

View from N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)

View from N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)

View from N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)


View from N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)


IF YOU GO...

What: Namsan Tower (or N Seoul Tower)
Where: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 용산구 남산공원길 105 (용산동2가
Bus: 02, 03, 05
Hours: Friday - Saturday, 10:00-24:00; Sunday - Thursday, 10:00 - 23:00
PriceW 9,000 adult (to go up the tower to the observatory)
Website: N Seoul Tower official site (English, Korean), Visit Korea: N Seoul Tower (English)
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Friday, July 4, 2014

The week in review: 6/30/14 - 7/4/14

Monday 6/30
Sixth grade classes went well per usual. Our fifth period got moved to first period which was great because then we didn't have class immediately after eating lunch. I managed to get a bit more done on camp, even though I had two afternoon daycare classes too.

Tuesday 7/1/14
My co-teacher told me that I won't have to pay for internet with the new landlord after all! So that gives me just over 2 months without the 50,000 KRW apartment management fee. She also said that the old landlord says I owe for May plus 10,000 for the beginning part of June. I'll check my receipts, fairly positive I already paid for May.

Wednesday 7/2/14
Third grade classes were good - today was a writing day, our words being eraser, ruler, pen, and book. I got lots of daycare planning done in the afternoon. I showed my co-teacher the ATM receipts I'd kept from each transfer to my old landlord, which showed that I had already paid for May. So she called and they'll double check and get back to her. In my afternoon ("new") daycare class we made "D is for dog" doghouses out of the letter D. The inner D is the door, which you open to see the dog inside. The teacher told me next week class is upstairs in the English room. So I'll be able to use the TV (yay!) but that means I'll essentially be kicking both of my co-teachers out of  their "offices" (YJ has been using the classroom computer as an office when classes aren't in session, and YH usually leaves the room when another class is in session but he's on break.)

Thursday 7/3/14
My R/F co-teacher had been gone all Wednesday afternoon, so I didn't know what we were doing today until he got in 20 minutes before class. I had to quick throw together a game PPT as he quickly threw together a key phrases PPT. I really don't like that last minute stuff when I could have easily made something early, had I known.

I had my 2nd grade daycare kids play tic tac toe with various letters as one activity today. There happened to be an even number (10) at that moment, and everyone played and was concentrated on the activity. Yay!

Alphabet Tic Tac Toe

Then other kids started to trickle in one by one during the last 10 minutes of class, the computer shut down on me (it usually does this once per class now), and things got a bit crazy. A boy chucked his pencil case across the room in anger. But for at least 10 minutes everyone was quietly playing tic tac toe. It was awesome.

Friday 7/4/14
In the afternoon on Friday, my sixth and final class of the day, I was surprised to walk into the second grade classroom with only four kids inside! Late a fifth joined us, but it was so nice to have a tiny class for one day. It's my dad's birthday today, so I got the kids to sing him happy birthday while I recorded a video - they're so cute!
• • •

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thankful Thursday: 7/3/14

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]
Today was much cooler than the past few weeks have been, as rain washed down during most of the day. In the morning on my walk to school, I was extra aware of my beloved "green street" that I walk down on my way to and from school. It has high walls on both sides of the street that are completely covered in various green life. 
Every morning and afternoon I enjoy the few minutes it takes me to walk down this street. I feel sheltered and safe under the shade of the trees, vines, and plants, and it's simply pleasant to admire the nature. 

These are the flowers currently in bloom - I've noticed three types lately (purple, white/yellow, and yellow):

And there's a huge variety of different foliage; I love to look at the patterns and shapes of the different leaves:

I have always treasured walking down this street, and it will be a place I'll miss when I leave.

And since I was more in-tune to the nature than usual today, I'll close with an update of the fields outside of my apartment:


"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child."
-Marie Curie
• • •

[Teach Abroad Blog Carnival] Unintentionally becoming an ESL teacher

[Today’s article is written for the Reach To Teach Teach Abroad Blog Carnival, a monthly series that focuses on providing helpful tips and advice to ESL teachers around the globe. I'll be posting a new ESL-related article on my blog at the beginning of every month, and the carnival is published on the 5th by its host. If you'd like to participate in next month's Blog Carnival, you can find details in the above link.]

Sarah Steinmetz is this month's carnival host, and you can find all of the July Teach Abroad Blog Carnival entries here at her blog.

Prompt: How and why did you decided to become an ESL teacher? What was your decision-making process?

I have now taught ESL in Spain, Wisconsin, and South Korea; so I'll share the thought that went into (and didn't go into) each decision to teach.

Private English lessons in Madrid

My relationship with teaching English began when it practically fell into my lap during my study abroad year in Madrid. Our program coordinator suggested we teach private English lessons to make a little side money. Our study abroad program office actually advertised for us, and thus had interested families that were matched with us students based on location and schedule.

I had eight students that year, from three different families. I did pay for a short (2-hour?) TEFL training workshop in Madrid that fall as soon as I got my first students, but I mostly learned by doing and searching online that year.

ESL Tutor at Literacy Network in Madison, WI

When I returned to Madison, WI for my final year of college, I learned about a non-profit in our city, Literacy Network, that taught English to adults for free. After volunteering there as a childcare assistant with Spanish-speaking children (while their parents were in classes) during spring semester, I took the leap and committed to volunteer as an ESL tutor during the summer session. We had a short orientation/training before starting, and met weekly with our tutees.

How did this translate to me becoming an English teacher in Spain?

Teaching ESL in Spain

I have to backtrack just a bit to show where the idea was planted. So we already know that I studied abroad in Madrid during my junior year of college, but let me add that I absolutely loved it - in case there was any doubt. While at a hostel in Valencia one weekend that year, I met some girls who had been in my same study abroad program the year before. They were now working as "auxiliares de conversación," teaching English in Madrid. Neat, I never knew such a thing existed! I put that piece of information away in my back pocket.

In December of my senior year, my study abroad advisor in Madrid sent us all an email about opportunities to come back to Spain. The auxiliares program was one of them. I started doing the online application, but got so frustrated with the poorly-made Spanish website, not knowing how to proceed, that I gave up and left it unfinished.

Second semester of my senior year rolled around (2011) and I was looking at some different post-graduation options. I applied to Teach for America, but didn't make the final cut after our day-long interview. I also applied to Peace Corps, thinking that would surely be my path for the next two years. I honestly don't even remember what spurred it, but sometime in March I took a second look at the auxiliares online application site, discovered helpful application instructions, and put together a last-minute application. Acceptance is rolling, and applications were first accepted in November, so my chances were really slim.

Things progressed with Peace Corps; I received a nomination to teach math in Spanish in sub-Saharan Africa, and I was thrilled. This is what I wanted! I was still a ways away from receiving the actual invitation to serve (several people are nominated for the same spot, and the most qualified is invited to serve). I completed and submitted the huge list of medical tests required for health clearance. Auxiliares had completely fallen off of my radar by this point.

That summer I was able to turn my university student job into an LTE position (Limited Term Employee) and keep working after graduation. Later in June, at the end of my university's fiscal year, we were facing a huge "budget crisis" at work. It was stressful and we were crunched for time. I still remember where I was sitting and what I was working on when the email popped into my inbox. I had been offered a spot as a Language and Culture Assistant (auxiliar) in Madrid, and I had five days to accept or decline the offer! It was completely unexpected. Holy crap. I had a ton to think about.

Ultimately, I accepted within the five days to save my spot. Later I reasoned that you can serve in Peace Corps any time in your life, but there was an age limit to teach in the auxiliares program. A month later I got some mail from Peace Corps saying they needed more medical tests/information - I was not cleared yet. I also got another letter saying that due to federal budget cuts, Peace Corps was sending less PC volunteers, and if invited to serve, the earliest possible start date wouldn't be until spring of 2012.

So I called and withdrew from my Peace Corps nomination. I went back to Spain and had an amazing year playing ultimate frisbee with Madrid's Quijotes + Dulcineas, while the teaching position unfortunately ended up being less than ideal. I did get some more great private English tutoring experience that year, though, learned how not to run a foreign language classroom, and soaked up tons of sun & Spanish!

One question remains: How the heck did I end up teaching English in Korea?

Teaching ESL in Korea

While teaching in Madrid, I somehow stumbled upon some blogs by UW graduates teaching English in Korea. Maybe it was when they held the Badger Blogging Blitz, a week-long blogging event during which UW-Madison grads blogged every day about their lives and teaching experiences in Korea. (We actually re-held the event with Badger Blogging Blitz in March of 2014 if you're curious about an average day teaching English in Korea). An acquaintance from college had taught in Korea as well, so I guess you could say that Korea was on my radar.

I really don't remember when or how the idea changed from a possibility stored away in my back pocket to something I wanted to pursue and apply for - and this wasn't that long ago! It happened sometime between fall and spring. My thoughts at the time were that I'd have something figured out for another year, I could learn about an Eastern culture, gain quality teaching experience, and save to pay off my student loans. It was never somewhere I had dreamed of going to, but I knew Korea would teach me life lessons and provide me with expat experiences distinct from those in Spain. I attended an informational session at my university in the winter, got added to the email list about applications, applied, signed a contract, got a visa, and here I am.

A conclusion, of sorts

As my stories demonstrate, it was never my intention to become an ESL teacher abroad. Rather, the opportunities presented themselves and one thing led to another. I'm now well-aware of the numerous doors that are open for native English speakers; it's really quite incredible. I've also learned that teaching ESL abroad is tough, but oh so rewarding. Even if it doesn't remain my career in the future, teaching ESL is a skill that I'll be able to fall back on for the rest of my life. And for that, I am grateful.
• • •

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Saturday of new sights

After my Eastern medicine experience at Namsangol Hanok Village, I watched a taekwondo "performance" just outside the traditional houses while waiting to hear back from my friends. It was really neat!

Their "dance" of taekwondo moves to music told a story. It lasted at least 15 minutes.


It was really fun to watch, as I'd never seen anything like it before. The intense and epic music really helped to get you in  the mood, too.

Then I met up with friends, and we were outside the rest of the afternoon, seeing new sights. Like this tree hooked up to numerous IVs:

Tree with IVs Korea

We couldn't figure out the purpose of the tree's IVs. (If anyone knows, I would love to learn what they are!)

Just across the road we saw two gruffy rabbits who were not afraid of people in the least.


Didn't even flinch when Abby got some nice close-ups of the furry creature:


So many colorful bugs, too! Check this guy out:


A nice view walking through Namsan Park:


Later in the evening we walked past one of those places with glass cubes of small animals. They're so incredibly cute, but it's equally sad how little space they have.


I was tempted to break all the windows and take the little guys home with me.


And this little dude was sick of people looking at him:


We ended up going back up to Namsan Tower today, which offered new views of the city. The first time I went up the tower it was night time, but I really enjoyed seeing Seoul from that height during the day.

All in all, it was a wonderful Saturday with many new sights, and lots of time spent in nature.
• • •

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Korean Eastern Medicine Experience

This post originally appeared on Have Your Health, a past blog of mine active from 2013-14.


I currently live in South Korea, so last weekend I had a taste of Eastern medicine through the Jin Hanbang Experience in Seoul (Korean Traditional Medical Tourism Experience). There were four main parts to my appointment: hot/cold health survey, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and cupping therapy.

Hot and cold bodies

My Korean guide did tell me that traditional Korean medicine classifies people into four body types, but since foreigners often get confused they simplified it to two: hot and cold. The full four types are greater yang (Tae-Yang, 태양, 太陽), lesser yang (So-Yang, 소양, 小陽), greater yin (Tae-Eum, 태음, 太陰), and lesser yin (So-Eum, 소음, 小陰).

By reading some descriptions online, I clearly fall into the "lesser yin" category. But at my appointment, they showed me a list of statements that fell under either "Hot" or "Cold." By glancing at the list there was no doubt that I identified most with the "Cold" body tendency. Note that these hot/cold labels don't refer solely to body temperature, but include personality, body tendencies, digestion, and a variety of other indicators.

My recommended herbs and foods to "warm" my body are ginger, cinnamon, ginseng, mugwort, honey, dried orange peel, jujube, milk vetch root, spring onion, garlic, and pepper.

Aromatherapy

Now that I knew what type I was, we went into a side room to first make an aroma pouch. I was instructed to put three herbs inside: cinnamon, wall gardenia, and fennel.

  Korean Eastern Medicine Aromatherapy Herbal Pouch

I've been keeping the pouch by my pillow, so I inhale the aromas as I sleep. Then I made a bar of soap with the same scents. Since there are no preservatives and no chemicals in the soap that I made, I have been using it when I shower (I don't use shampoo and I previously didn't use any soap in showers). I'm enjoying the "warm" scents, whether or not they're having an effect on my body.

Acupuncture

After sitting and talking with the kind Korean doctor for a while about my health and hearing various recommendations for my digestive woes, he asked if I was comfortable with acupuncture. Of course! He then got out a huge model ear and explained that if you turn the ear upside down, it closely resembles a baby's fetus. So traditional Korean medicine uses the idea that each part of the ear corresponds with a body part.

He then put in a short, tiny acupuncture needle into each ear on the spot that corresponded to the digestive tract. The tiny needles were actually on a small sticky patch, a sort of tiny square band-aid that adhered to my ear. I was to leave them in for three days, and could apply pressure with my fingers when I wanted. I got to take ten more home with me, but they're beads instead of the tiny needle.

Cupping therapy

Finally, after discussing the spinal fusion I had at age 16, he suggested we do some cupping therapy. I had never heard of this before, but learned that it's very common in Korea. Cupping involves placing plastic or glass cups on the skin and creating suction by removing some air from inside. It's thought to promote healing and increase blood flow. It felt just like what a bit of suction feels like on the skin. I was lying on my stomach, and could feel as various cups would lose their suction and pop back up.

One woman stayed in the room during the ten minutes, and would come over and re-suction as necessary. They had warned me that it would leave marks that could last up to five days, which I didn't care about. When I got home that night I was surprised to see the dark purple circles on my back. Some were just outlines, but one was a solid purple circle. I excitedly took some pictures to remember, as the marks have since faded.

Korean traditional medicine

It was great to experience a bit of the Eastern Korean traditional medicine that day. Without knowing much about oriental medicine, I like how it looks at the whole body's interconnectedness (rather than just the part that's causing trouble). I like how it takes into account personality and bodily tendencies, and I'm also a fan of the natural suggestions first.

Koreans don't stick to strictly natural, though. When talking about my spinal fusion, he said that his nephew was actually going to have one done the following week. He added that traditional Korean medicine practicers do use Western surgeries when necessary, but always follow up with Eastern care. I've had no follow-up since my spinal fusion nine years ago, which is why he had suggested the cupping therapy.

Have you had any exposure to Eastern medicine?
• • •