Although I am form New England, Korea's winters leave me feeling cold in a way that I didn't experience in New Hampshire. Although I would say the winter in NH is actually colder and longer than it is here, Korea's quirks make the cold nearly inescapable.
Here are the top things that make me crazy about winter in Korea:
1) Only the classrooms are heated. This means that as soon as you walk into the hallways at school it's as if you're outside. There is no heat whatsoever in the hallways, which means if you have to walk anywhere in the building, you have to bring your coat. And don't even get me started on the bathrooms....they are also not heated at all, which you can imagine is just extremely unpleasant.
2) When the heat is on, it's on full-blast. This means it gets hot really quickly and becomes too warm and uncomfortable. But then that leads me to the next problem...
3) After blasting the heat, Koreans love to open the windows. Yes, apparently it's necessary to let in the fresh air. This means that the temperature is always fluctuating between way too hot and freezing cold.
4) Students can never remember how to close the door. I have no idea why this is. I am constantly yelling at students who leave the classroom and leave the door wide open, which lets in the freezing cold air from the hallway. I just don't get why it's so hard to remember to close the door behind you.
5) The English rooms use separate standing heaters that I have to turn on when I get into the classroom. This means the classroom is FREEZING cold when I first get there, and it takes some time for it to finally warm up the entire room. It's just more unwanted cold time.
6) It takes clothes forever to dry in the winter. Dryers aren't really a thing in Korea, which I'm pretty used to at this point. However, when you don't have a dryer right beside your washing machine, you quickly notice how the seasons affect drying time for clothes. While in the spring my clothes can dry in one full day, now it takes DAYS for my clothes to dry. These days it seems like I continually have clothes hanging in my apartment.
These are the major things that constantly baffle foreigners in Korea. A teacher from our town is from Canada and she was recently saying how even though Canada is notoriously cold, she has never been as cold during winter as she has been in Korea. And I have to agree in a lot of ways. Back home we go from our heated houses, to our heated cars, to our comfortably heated work places. In Korea you go from your apartment (which is usually chilly because the ondol is so expensive), to a cold bus, to a cold classroom. It's just hard to get comfortable and it's totally normal to see students and teachers alike wearing their coats all day long. I typically don't take my coat off from the time I leave my apartment in the morning until I get home from school in the evening. It almost seems weird to me now that I used to get to work and take my coat off...and leave it off all day!
Although, on the plus side the constant coat-wearing means no one sees the shirt I'm wearing, which allows me to repeat outfits way more than I would otherwise be able to. I guess there's always a bright side, right?
Also, it is really quite beautiful in the mountains now that there is snow:
|There were some beautiful views on my way to work this morning. I regret I didn't start taking pictures earlier...I let some fantastic views pass me by without any pictures.|
I should also mention that come January I will be going on a three week vacation around southeast Asia, so even with Korea's winter quirks, I can't complain too much because I will be spending a good bit of it in much warmer weather.
In the meantime, I'm bundling up and trying to stay comfortable in this December weather!