What is Foreign?

A couple of years ago I went to Seoul, Korea for the first time and absolutely loved it. It’s combination of history and incredible modernity was simply amazing and I was anxious to go back. Well, we did indeed and this time we took my niece Emma for her first big adventure. We travel a fair amount and over the years we’ve had our share of experiences as well as obstacles in foreign countries but in Seoul we had an experience that was completely unforgettable.

En route to tour the amazing Gyeongbuk Palace Emma didn’t feel well on the subway train. She asked to get off, which we did and she immediately took ill and collapsed onto the floor of the station platform. We were instantly surrounded by kind and loving people who sincerely offered assistance. A little old lady helped me get Emma up and seated. She also got her some water and helped her drink. A young man called 911 (actually 119 in Korea) and everyone spoke to us with tenderness and compassion. Nobody could speak English! The subway worker, 2 police officers and 2 EMT’s came…none of them spoke English either but all showed enormous courtesy. She was taken to a hospital in an ambulance where treatment was equally wonderful. Even there, only one doctor and another liaison person spoke fluently.

What could have been a very frightening thing turned into a beautiful one. We felt perfectly safe the whole time, how wonderful was that? They did several tests on Emma and she was fine. It was simply a combination of humidity, jet lag and the rush hour commuting that elevated stress levels. We finished our trip and had a simply fantastic time. What a great lesson for her! That no matter what our preconceptions about a “foreign” country, people are so much alike. The things that we all share in common are so much greater than the differences we have.

Oh, and guess what else. The bill for the services that included the ambulance and an EKG…$41.00. Imagine what it would have been here!

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