April 28, 2009

Perks of Being a Foreigner

I am finally getting over an angry allergic reaction to a medication which made my first week in Korea slightly less comfortable. Much to my surprise, the Korean health care system has exceedingly met my expectations. While I had never experienced any sort of universal health care first hand, I found it to be quick, foreigner-friendly, and an extremely good deal. My insurance has not yet kicked in, so I feared that a couple hospital visits would take a nice chunk of my savings. Fortunately, two doctor visits and a slew of prescriptions has cost me about $30- about the price of a clinic visit with good insurance in the States. In addition to this glorious deal, I felt very confident in the doctor's knowledge and thanked the Lord above that he spoke enough English.

While most people here do not speak English, as previously mentioned, I have yet to come across a Korean who has been anything less than hospitable. Though I have spent my entire life in Mississippi, "The Hospitality State", I have never encountered the warmth and generosity that the Koreans so openly offer to those who visit. I had heard before my traveling here that Koreans as a whole are xenophobic and racist. Perhaps this does exist, on the rare occasion, but I have only found the complete opposite. In my short week here, I have not yet been been to a meal or walked around in a market without having a kind person give me something for free or go out of their way to help me. Last night, I stopped in a small convenient store to purchase a 30-cent lighter with three of my co-workers. The clerks spoke to us, and quickly offered candy bars to each of us, which surely cost more than our small purchase.

Sure, some would consider this generosity to be small, but it is a trait shared by so many that reside here. It is also a generosity that is rarely found anywhere else. Just as the Korean people are interested in our culture and our story, they are most keen on making foreigners feel at home in their home. This, above all of my experiences in the past few days, has made my living abroad transition so much easier, and will surely continue to do so throughout my stay.

Well, that and the randomness that is Asia. See my newest video on facebook.


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