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That Time My Period Became an International Crisis

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Having lived in the United States for the majority of my life, I was used to having choices. I could always choose what to eat, where to go, when to complete certain tasks, whom talk to and much more. The best part was that there were millions of businesses, products and apps available, making it even easier to make decisions that fit my personality, mood and whims at any given time. This all changed when I moved abroad. Of course, I expected things to be different than they were in the U.S., but I never could have imagined just how different they would be. One of the most eye-opening experiences I ever had happened when I got my first period while living abroad in South Korea.

The sad thing is that I had actually done research into the feminine hygiene product availability in South Korea before I left and still hadn\'t taken the time to purchase and pack my own supplies. Instead, I waited until I was in the middle of my period and had used my last tampon before heading to the store for more. How hard could it be to find a tampon, right? There are plenty of women living in South Korea, right? I was in for the shock of my life. I went to store after store and found nothing but thick, diaper-like pads. How could this be?
date night
Eventually, I had to swallow my pride and ask for help at the next store I went into. I pulled out my pocket translator and tried my best to speak Korean and mime my request to a little old lady behind the front register. After I had thoroughly embarrassed myself, the lady smiled and took my hand. She walked me down the aisle in the market where I had previously seen the thickest pads of all time. She reached behind all the pillow shaped (and sized) bags of pads and pulled out a box roughly the size of large box of raisins. The only word in English was "slim." I knew whatever was in this box was not going to help me, but I bought them anyway, partly because I was so frustrated and partly because I felt bad to drag that poor sweet little old lady into my ridiculousness.

When I got home, I opened the box of "tampons" and found eight of the smallest tampons I had ever seen in my entire life. They were literally about the same diameter as a lollipop stick. Slim indeed. What in the world was I supposed to do with these? Defeated, I went back to the first store and bought the biggest pads I have ever seen in my life. They were uncomfortable and chaffed in a way I didn\'t even know was possible, but I learned a very valuable lesson: Always bring your own feminine hygiene products with you when you travel internationally.

Before my next period came, I mustered up enough courage to ask my coworkers about where to secure tampons. I found a small selection in a larger chain store. These tampons, in my opinion, don\'t even compare in quality and value to the tampons that can be found in the United States. Then again, beggars can\'t be choosers. Although there is not a large variety of feminine hygiene products available here, I am so grateful to have found the ones that I use now. Also, I know that when I return to the United States to visit, I will be stocking up!
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