Thursday, September 20, 2007

Water, that precious life liquid

My mecca




I never thought I'd have a problem with getting enough water in Korea. First, a background. Water is one of the TWO beverages i normally drink. I usually get away with only drinking WATER and SKIM MILK. Lately (in the past few years) I've increased my repertoire to include: sprite, snapple iced tea, and orange juice (when i'm feeling sick). Recently (in the past year) I've increased my list of suitable thirst-quenching beverages to include: lemonade vitamin water, tea (in general), chai, and green tea lattes.

In Korea, people don't drink nearly as much water as I did in the states. I drink a lot of water. I usually go through 5-7 regular size (20 oz.) Dasani bottles a day. This is in addition to my pre/during/post workout drinks. In the summers at Duke, I would drink much more. One time when I was living with Joan (Summer 05), I took out the recycling in the morning and by dinnertime we had amassed a pile of at least 14 water bottles between the two of us (and Joan doesn't even drink water!).

Anyway, so here, Koreans don't really seem to drink a lot during meals, or even between meals. Just a little cup at the end of meals. Thus, I am always thirsty, pressing the table service button for MORE water, and generally being a camel that leaves everyone else in awe at my waterdrinking/retaining prowess. Lunchtime is the hardest. I've actually been skipping vitamins/fish oils due to lack of beverage to wash them down with!

After every class I am a trapped vulture, wishing water would appear on my horizon but no such salvation exists. I have less than 10 minutes before the next class arrives and by the time I rearrange and prepare for that class I have 3 minutes (MAYBE) to quest for some life-giving beverage. Usually this doesn't happen. So I chew some gum for the extra saliva that generates in my mouth (I know, gross and sad).

Today was especially bad. It has been super hot and super humid this week. I had to shout for 2 classes because the weather has gotten the kids all wired up, too. I thought the heat would tire them out, but no, it's just making them more irritable and irritating. haha. So, I finally get down to lunch and all I can do whilst eating, is FANTASIZE about that lukewarm barley tea water station on the way out of the cafeteria. I finish my rice and soup (today's banchan were gross - i'm not even sure what they were) and rush to the line ... where sadly there is just a scene of absolute chaos.

The students are tipping over the GIANT water cooler/warmer things because apparently there is NO WATER LEFT!!! They are backing up the whole leaving the cafeteria mechanism. I am desperately standing there PRAYING the lunch ladies will bring more water, because the unruly students are demanding it. NO SUCH LUCK!!! They tell the kids to go away because it will be a while before more water is ready. A giant ROCK falls into my already parched throat at this news.

I talk to my co-teacher about the next best thing. We have disgusting tap water that the children call "poop water". I must boil it to make it suitable to drink. And then wait for this boiling hot water to cool to at least room temperature before I can drink it. Because of the weather lately, room temperature usually means upwards of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. (I have yet to master the conversion to Celsius). MMmmmMMmmm. Talk about refreshing.

Note: My 1st grade teachers just brought me delicious patbingsu for our workshop. And are giving me random class days off. Really, I'm going to be getting through this year on these people's shoulders. I am so thankful for them and how much they take care of me. =)

Water, water everywhere. But no water here. =(


Jessica said...

cant you get a brita filter?

Amelia said...

Omg I SOOOO know your pain Christine.

I drink SO much during meals and everyone is soo conservative. I just bring water bottles to school and fill it up in the teacher's office since they have a cooler. People usually just use it for the hot water for their coffees, but I need hydration!

grayshifter said...

Wow, you must be my karmic bizarro twin of water. I don't drink nearly enough. My thirst instinct is crap. In CO (super dry state btw) I sometimes drink tea, but in general I don't actually drink much of anything.

Maybe I'm a cat?