Doctors Visit in Seoul

To preface, I am grateful that I was able to make such a great friend here, I consider her one of my closest friends now actually. Luckily, she is also a Drexel student so I will not be losing her to the mass that is the globe. Maybe it’s not to my greatest benefit that we encourage each other to do some really dumb things. There was one night where we finished watching a musical and we went to the nearby Han riverside; this was in Apgujeong. Apgujeong, relative to where my hostel is in Hongdae, is on the other side of the river – Seoul is split in half by the Han River-and is also just generally on the opposite side of the city of Seoul. Seoul is a very large city by the way. I don’t remember who it was that proposed it, but I remember my friend and I looked at each other while sitting at the waterfront and someone asked “hey do you want to walk home?” and the other one said “I’m so down.” I think we’re too adventurous for our own good sometimes. It ended up being a 5 hour walk home. Although I do not necessarily regret that night, I do think it’s regretful that I pulled a muscle in my ankle and continued to ignore the pain for around a week and a half after that night. It came to a point where I came back from Jeju, one of Korea’s islands, and was worried it would only get worse if I didn’t go to a doctor. Which is how I ended up seeing a doctor in Korea!

Based off of a recommendation from a friend, I ended up going to Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital because it has an entire International department/section. I thought it would be most beneficial going somewhere close to home and where there wasn’t a language barrier so it was a good choice. I ended up taking the bus there and found myself in the international center in no time. Of course, before coming I had to call and make an appointment.

After giving my name to the receptionist and showing the proper ID, I was given a few English forms to fill out while sitting in the waiting area of the center. After filling out the forms and handing them in, I was directed to this room off to the side by a nurse where my blood pressure, height, and weight were taken. What was interesting about this experience was that the technology was better than what I am used to back home. To take my blood pressure, they had me stick my arm in this contraption with a hole in it and I was only able to place my arm through it while sitting down (see picture for better explanation). That was cool as no one was needed to physically record my blood pressure. Additionally, the scale I stood upon doubled as a height measuring piece with the indicator coming down and automatically touching the top of my head. I’ve seen the automatic height measurers back home, but I’ve never seen it attached to a scale.

Reception of the international clinic, the blood pressure machine, and the forms I had to fill out.

After this, I was directed to sit down and wait for a bit. After around 15 minutes, I was directed into a private room where a nurse first asked me questions about the pain I was feeling and my reason for coming. We discussed how long I was feeling the pain for and where it was located, which is what you would typically experience in the U.S. before meeting your doctor as well. Then I met my doctor and thankfully she conveyed to me that despite my constant pain, I didn’t have major injury at all and what I really needed to do was rest, which is something I find impossible to do)=. So she prescribed me anti-inflammatory pills and also directed me to buy a supportive ankle bind at a local pharmacy. It was a very smooth and pleasant experience, I would say. When I was finished, I was charged around 25,000 Korean won, which is approximately 25 dollars, for the consultation. I am not sure if this would have been the same price for someone without insurance, as I had purchased Korean national health insurance before this visit. So I walked out of that visit with a new prescription, an ankle bind, and a relieved heart.

I think what really stood out to me was my experience at the pharmacy. It was just really easy and seamless, not what I’m used to experiencing at a pharmacy back home. Here in Korea, I walked in the pharmacy across the street from the hospital and simply handed my prescription paper to the pharmacists working at the counter. I waited only 10 minutes and my prescription was ready! I went up to the counter and nearly cried from happiness because I only ended up paying 4,000 Korean won, which is essentially 4 dollars. I’m sure the fact that I had Korean health insurance played a role in this, but I was so happy that it was so affordable. I’m typically used to being given a time of day where I can pick up my medicine after dropping off my prescription at a CVS in Philadelphia. Also, I’m used to waiting in line and taking the time to remember all the insurance information I have to tell the pharmacist, showing identification, and usually paying a lot more than 4 dollars, so this was a refreshing experience.

I’m a little sad that I’ll be leaving this healthcare system behind, but it is what it is. I even took a picture of my medicine because I thought the packaging was unique. I had one roll of pills to be taken “30 minutes after breakfast” and “30 minutes after dinner.”

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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