Sadly this journal entry is not as positive as the other ones have been. Me being from Miami, where there is literally no winter, while in Korea I have noticed I am very susceptible to temperature changes. I have now caught a cold for the third time since I have been in Korea. The first time was at the very beginning of fall, the second time in the middle of the winter, and now right at the beginning of Spring. Starting to see a pattern here? Cold weather. Now, I thought spring weather was going to be very nice, and it definitely is a welcome relief after months of winter, but it is not quite how I pictured it to be.
These past weeks of Spring have been full of blossoming trees, but also an unforgiving wave of Yellow Dust coming from China has paid us a visit. Yellow Dust is, well, dust that comes from Mongolia, which later passes through China, and finally Korea. The dust itself would not be as bad if it wasn’t for the fact that it picks up huge amounts of pollution when it passes through China. Because of this it is dangerous to go out without masks on the days where it is really bad.
As if this wasn’t enough, spring season in Seoul means days where it is a pleasant 55° at noon, which later turns into a chilly 25° by 10pm. I blame the Yellow Dust and these drastic weather changes for the two weeks of coughing me, and what seems like half of the Seoul population, have been doing. Also, my cold turned into Tonsillitis a couple of days ago which means I have spent the last four days stuck in my room with an extremely painful sore throat.
It may seem like I am just rambling on about me being sick for no reason other than I feel like complaining, but there is something I want to talk about specifically. Being sick while abroad is very, very different to being sick back home. You see, for most of us, being sick means having our parents or our close loved ones take care of us. At least for me, when I am sick I can count on my mom to make me the most delicious soups, the kind that make you feel better just by their smell. I don’t have to deal with unfamiliar hospital systems or language barriers while I am at home, where having something like a cold is just a minor inconvenience.
Here, however, I have realized that whenever I have gotten sick is when I miss home the most. It’s when I wish I could have familiar food, because being sick makes me lose my appetite and Korean food is not necessarily what I would prefer eating in that situation. It is also when I wish I had my mom to take care of me. This feeling is not exclusive to me, my other foreign friends who have been sick here in Korea have told me similar things.
This is, however, just a small bump in the road. After spending two weeks locked up in my room except to eat and go to class, I am finally getting better and expect to be back to normal by the end of the weekend. I have taken this time to reflect on the many sides to studying abroad, and have realized how it really is the most complete experience for immersion you could have. This would likely not be a problem you would experience on a simple vacation to a foreign country, but actually living here lets you experience so many different sides to your host country. Listen, homesickness is unavoidable really, but look forward to it too guys!