Korea is well known for its four distinct seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter all make their presence well-known throughout the year. Like I mentioned last week, Neil and I arrived in Korea when Winter was on its way out. We’ve almost survived all four seasons so I thought I’d reflect on our experiences.
After leaving the heat of the NZ Summer behind we arrived in February the day after it had just snowed in Seoul. We changed into our thermals in the arrivals bathroom and braced ourselves for the walk outside of the terminal doors. As soon as those auto doors were opened we were hastily reminded we were on the other side of the equator, it was winter and it was freezing! We sucked it up, wore five layers of clothing, hastily drank our collection of Milo and then two months later, after some unexpected snowfall in March and a few additions to my sock collection it was Spring.
Spring lasted two weeks. Period. As quickly as the first blossoms appeared they vanished again, giving way to a sea of greenness. When we arrived EVERYTHING was brown and dead and we were convinced that was how it was going to stay, not so. Spring was great. We spent a lot of time tripping around the country, enjoying the blue skies, sunshine and mild temperatures. Then along came summer…
Summer was hot, humid, sticky and we struggled; a lot. It arrived overnight, much like spring. One day we walked out the door of our apartment and were met with a wall of humidity, like a slap in the face with a wet towel. We started limiting our trips outside to early morning adventures or evening escapades and would duck into random stores just to bathe in the joys of their air conditioning. One afternoon we made the mistake of setting out for groceries before 3pm, it resulted in a couple of sweaty kiwi messes. As soon as we arrived back to our apartment we jumped in the shower. Though this wasn’t enough for Neil, who opted for a swim in our bathtub full of cold water and freezer ice.
Thankfully our schools hand roof fans and AC and they were a lifesaver… when they were turned on. For one month and only for three hours a day, usually in the morning. Not too bad as those three hours are usually the hottest, except when you have Summer camp, that starts at 1pm for three hours…Summer also brought the typhoons. Whilst they didn’t really amount to much in our province, torrential rain that causes flash flooding and wind that wakes you up is pretty impressive.
Mid September we made a trip to China, when we returned to South Korea, Autumn had arrived. The leaves started to change, the humidity had vanished and my jandal days were numbered. The days were getting shorter, the nights cooler. My flip-flops were packed away in exchange for warmer footwear and I hunted out my tights and scarves. Neil and I both remarked about how much we enjoy this season. The hillsides are transformed into all kinds of colors and something about adding a scarf to your wardrobe makes your attire much more classy.
After wishing for cooler weather all summer my wish was granted in October. The temperatures took a ten degree dive and we were reminded of just how cold it gets here. Whilst the chill only lasted a few days it was enough to encourage us to add to our winter woollies, purchasing new hats, jerseys and scarves.
It’s now November and our schools have turned on the heating which means we can cook ourselves silly in our classrooms before being exposed to chilling temperatures when we walk the halls or leave the school grounds. Increasing my likelihood of losing my hands to frostbite or catching some kind of crazy Korean super bug. (I’ll post about Korean sicknesses some other time).
Today marks our first snowfall for the Winter season which means my chances of a white Christmas are improving dramatically. Wish me luck!