You know, there are actually parts of the new E2 visa requirements I can get behind. Naturally we should all have criminal background checks. Although, to be honest, the one I got was a joke. In spite of - I assume, anyway - checking the validity of two pieces of government ID, the check I got only covers Ontario and refuses to even say that the check really was for me, in absence of fingerprints. This requirement seems entirely logical. And in spite of the fact that I personally feel that racism is driving the drugs/AIDS tests, fine, whatever.
The problem I have with these things is not that they are required, but that no one in the entire fucking country appears to know what exactly is required and if you give it maybe a month, the regulations will have changed anyway. My last health check was sprung on me - I went home that day at break to grab my passport and headed to the hospital to pee in a cup and nervously give up some blood. I passed, but the damn thing expired. Plus, I've been back to the immoral country of Canada, where some people I've talked to seem to feel that every second person is on heroin and has AIDS. Fine, whatever. We're in good company, anyway, since the Chinese eat babies.
After postponing the damn thing due to my inability to wake up early (which is due to my inability to go to bed early), my forgetful nature so that I never remembered to ask Ben where the hospital I was supposed to go to was until after I left work, and, to be entirely honest, a healthy fear of doctors, I finally bit the bullet and went. As anyone who has heard the story of how I finally got glasses after being unable to read the board in class for at least two years or even able to pick out the gender of individuals standing more than 20 paces away from me knows what I need is some sort of incentive. Back in eighth grade it was the upcoming trip to see Les Mis when I knew we'd have horribly bad seats. This time it was a combo of a possible trip to North Korea to see the city of Kaseong and the fact that Shawn now needs to get one to renew her visa too.
We met this morning after I'd had far too little sleep. However, last Sunday I finally got around to buying some coffee for my French Press, so I had coffee AND since I had to buy milk for my coffee, I'd also purchased some bananas. In an attempt to embrace a more healthy lifestyle (and we're talking baby steps, here, but still...), I have been giving breakfast a whirl again. I'm still not entirely convinced, and really, my breakfast is kind of my lunch anyway, but fruit is fruit, right? Though fruit really isn't helpful in healing a broken toe. Not that I ever actually thought it was, but the fruit kick definitely started then.
So, banana. Coffee. Cab to random hospital that I have only a vague idea of the location of. Wandering around the car park for the right building - interestingly one of the few that is not signposted in English, though it is where the foreign folk need to go. Shawn and I marched up, ready to be cleared of having pesky foreign diseases, when...
... the lady took one look at my coffee and her smoothie and informed us we needed to have been fasting for the last eight hours. I protested, what with having done this same damn thing only 4 months ago and having eaten my face off right before passing with flying colors. But no. We must fast.
Though we probably don't have to. Because Jenn didn't and neither have half the people I've talked to. Granted, some have had enforced dental checks and mental health checks performed in Korean with a very dodgy translation in addition to the tests. I have searched several official Korean immigration websites and they state that the check must contain only the drug (minus cannabis now - not only did Korea not have adequate testing facilities, I sort of think too many applicants were failing) and STD tests. So why precisely am I fasting???
Why does no one appear to be able to tell me what a minimum health check is? Why is everyone having completely different kinds of health checks? 'Cause I gotta tell you, I don't personally think too highly of a lot of the Korean medical establishment. Half the time you see a doctor, all that happens is that they check your symptoms off on some sort of computer list and then, without every examining you, issue you a computer generated prescription - which appears to be the same whether you have a cold or pneumonia or your arm has fallen off. I personally was once told that my eardrums are malformed on the basis of one bad cold that created the kind of weird, echo-y pressure that I get descending in planes. Never mind that my eardrums have worked just fine for 30 years - this can't possibly be an abnormal cold, nope, it must be my eardrums themselves.
God only knows what they will be up to tomorrow. I am rather dreading the whole experience. Everyone seems to have those Korea stories where some doctor told them they had some serious problem that needed immediate action that turned out to be absolutely nothing when examined back home. I don't want additional bullshit tests, I want to have the basic required tests - but no one knows what they are, not my boss, not immigration (well, they must, but they sure as hell won't actually tell you), not the lady at the hospital who was completely unable to tell me what test I was going to have that required fasting.
You know what I think? I think I'm about to be screwed. I think they are going to run as many unnecessary tests as possible and charge me for the lot. And I say this knowing people who get told they might just have something, say syphilis, which after 500,000 won worth of tests and lots of stress just so happens to turn out to have been a false positive. In every single story I've heard, these things always turn out to be nothing. Interesting that.
Korean immigration and all the people involved in the new requirements should really get their act together. My kindie class can communicate more effectively.
But my one real concern is - are they checking for any signs of inappropriate fan use that may lead to fan death???