Well, my plan for this week was originally to write about my first weekend in Korea and my first venture into Seoul. It was a great plan, very chronologically pleasing. But the universe had different plans for me. Oh, don’t worry, I had a great weekend in Seoul. Lots of barhopping and meerkats–I highly recommend visiting the meerkat cafe in Hongdae. But on Tuesday I had a bit of an…accident.
I’ve never thought of myself as a clumsy person, but since moving to Korea, that very much seems to be the case. My legs never seem to be free from bruises and I’m always tripping over the uneven sidewalks in Bundang. But on Tuesday, I really outdid myself.
I had a plan on Tuesday too. The plan was to go into work early to prepare for a day full of classes. It was also a great plan. Except when I walked into the building and went to climb the stairs, I misjudged the distance and slipped, falling chin first into the stairs. My jaw was forced shut and for a moment I thought I might have broken my teeth. I felt a scrape on my left knee and left foot, but didn’t pay them much attention. It was my chin that became my concern.
I could feel two cuts each about half an inch in length, parallel to one another. Within seconds, blood began gushing from my face and I rushed up the stairs, shaken and grateful that nobody saw what just happened. When I entered the school office, the front desk teachers, Anna and Jessie, immediately sprung into action. Anna had bandages and anti-bacterial cream, and Jessie had our boss on the phone. I was trying not to laugh at how stupid the whole situation was.
My coworker, Paul, walked in, saw all of the blood and said, “That’s awesome!” which made me laugh harder.
Though I may not have formerly thought of myself as clumsy, I have always considered myself pretty lucky. That was true, even in this moment. In the same building as my school is a cosmetic surgery clinic called Clinic H. They took me in right away. My friend and fellow teacher, Eunice, came with me to act as translator since my knowledge of Korean doesn’t include medical terms quite yet.
The office was incredibly swanky, all dark tile and television screens and advertisements for what I can only imagine was a brand new face. I’d heard before that plastic surgery is pretty darn affordable in Korea, and I began to wonder if they’d be okay with giving me a slightly less Roman nose while fixing my chin.
The doctor and his attendant were very kind and explained to me–through Eunice–that stitches were the best option if I wanted to keep from scarring. I’ve always had a thing about needles, so you can imagine I wasn’t pleased. But I also didn’t want scars on my face.
Before I knew it, I had needles in my face, numbing the area before applying fourteen perfect little stitches, seven on each cut. It was, by far, the most anxious I’ve been since arriving in Korea. My face was covered with a cloth that forced me to keep my eyes closed as they did their work. I focused on breathing. I chanted the words nam myoho renge kyo in my head, silently praying for the procedure to be done. It felt like ages before I was bandaged and sitting up. Eunice and Anna were both in the room by then, Anna holding my hand and looking sympathetic.
And then I taught five classes back to back. I told most of my students that I got into a fight. You know, so don’t mess with Library Teacher–a new nickname I acquired this week.
The stitches have been oddly painless for the past five days, but the rest of my body has had to recover. My left leg is mostly bruised and I feel sore and achy yet. On Tuesday, the stitches will come out and I will no longer have to walk around with bandages on my face. I’m very excited for a bandage-less and bruise-less life in Korea.
Really, though, I’m just glad I was surrounded by such great people, all of whom took care of me in my moment of need. I don’t know if I can express how grateful I am to them. I now consider myself a very clumsy and lucky person.