If you can avoid Korean winters, I would highly recommend it. Unless there’s snow involved.

4 12 2012

Because that’s when the crazy comes out.

I like to think of myself as a mostly logical person. After living in Indonesia, full of jam karet and 90% of things working backwards, and almost 2 years of living Korean style, I’d like to think that I can understand things from the other side of the logical  fence.

For instance, wide open windows in the wonderful -7C temperatures. Fresh air after the room finally gets warm enough for me to take off my wool coats and giant scarf. I get it. Leave the coat on.

This is actually what  I look like now. I can’t put my friggin arms down.

During the summer, there  was this wonderful energy saving campaign to limit the temperature of public offices. Air conditioners couldn’t go below 28C. That equals 82 degrees Fahrenheit. An air conditioner. Valiant effort guys, but productivity drops the second things get uncomfortable. Thankfully my office is separate from the main office and my coteachers have the “blame the foreigner card.” We played that one whenever an administrator would come in here… which they rarely do.

For the winter, the new rule is no heaters above 18C. Again, a toasty 64F. I’m writing this with gloves.

Thankfully, last night I won part of the money from Bundang’s Biggest loser (-8.6 kg!!) and was eager to buy myself a little reward as we were leaving Travelers. Just outside of the station, this vivid royal blue knit scarf was calling. I saw it as I was walking out of the station and thought, “If I win, I’m going to get it.” I won. I went back and used my crappy Korean skills to chat up the vendor and got a whopping 1,000 won discount. Not good enough. I walked away.

As I was walking down the stairs to the subway station I had that feeling. The feeling that I was going to need that scarf, and soon. Screw it. Turned around, went back, told the vendor’s wife that I really wanted that scarf, but their offered price was too expensive, and got it at the price I wanted. I’m a bargaining warrior. (Seriously, I should put my killer price negotiation skills on my resume.)

Good thing I was excited to wear it, because today, we are expecting 3-5 inches of snow and it is currently -5 degrees Celsius. Better known to the students constantly walking in and out of my office as “Shut the door. It’s cold today.”

I get to school to find the gates locked. Both of them. I cannot possibly climb this fence, and there aren’t any spots to climb through. I call my coteachers… nobody answers. I was about 2 seconds from saying “forget this” and walking home when the new painfully shy military assistant guy comes running out and opens the gate for me. Apparently the gates are now to be locked at 8:15 every morning. I come to work at 8:30. Take note: this is crap.

Since the 9th graders are finished with their exams and still have to come to school for a month to basically watch movies and do useless lessons, lots of them have been coming late on a regular basis. So naturally the solution to get kids to school earlier is to lock them out. Make them get to class later… this boggles my mind.

Once I make my way to my office and get settled, my dino-computer finally boots up and I’m ready for my day of 3 whole classes. Then the power goes out. Computer dies, heater dies, lights out. A minute later, things are bright again, my work laptop starts the 8 minute struggle of turning on, and the room is freezing. Where’s the heat? As they might say in Korean, 없어요.

Surprise new law: Space heaters are banned from public buildings, too. It’s a good thing I keep fleece blankets and hand-warmers in my desk drawer. (I kid you not.)

My classes all got cancelled, and lunch was nengmyeon, or cold noodles complete with icy broth… with ice. Then, it started snowing.

What is basically came down to was a moment of “aaaaand I’m going to the coffee shop.”

So I did.

Beauty ensued as the snow fell.

The front courtyard of my school. The principal made two troublemakers clean the path.

The front courtyard of my school. The principal made two troublemakers clean the path.

On the way to the coffee shop

On the way to the coffee shop


One of my favorite boys, about to pwn some of his friends with an awesome snowball!

One of my favorite boys, about to pwn some of his friends with an awesome snowball!


At the coffee shop. lovelovelove

At the coffee shop.



One response

5 12 2012
Joanie Helms

I love your commentaries! And may your new blue scarf keep you very warm. (Congrats on the weight loss!)

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