Preparing for the Cold in Seoul
As the spring season is approaching and cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom it’s easy to forget about the brutally cold winter South Korea just went through. I am currently studying abroad for the spring semester and because of quarantine I arrived in South Korea earlier than usual. On February 13 and was quarantined for 10 days (from the original 14 days). When I got released on February 20th I knew it would be cold in Korea but what shocked me the most was the mixture of cold weather and the wind that always seemed to accompany it. I go to school in upstate New York, Schenectady, which is only 30 minutes from Albany and 3.5 hours away from Montreal. That place is known for its chilling weather. I thought I was prepared to deal with the “so-called” cold Korea had but I was severely mistaken.
My reasoning for only talking about the cold weather in spring? Bring a heavy jacket! I truly regret not paying attention to what everyone was saying. A long heavy jacket is better than a waist-length one but either is fine as long as it keeps you insulated (the Yonsei jacket sold at the bookstore “Yonsei Coop” is surprisingly warm). Thermals also help and HOT PACKS! You might find yourself being saved by hot packs during the late nights. My mistake was thinking I could toughen through the cold as I do at my home school. I brought my trusty semi-heavy puffer jacket that got me through 3 years of upstate NY cold weather which I thought would be enough but when I realized I was ill-prepared and needed to buy a new jacket I already caught a cold. After a quick google search, the reasoning for why South Korea is cold in the winter is because it “is controlled by the large Siberian high-pressure system (the Asiatic high), which results in predominantly cold, dry north-westerly winds” (“Climate of Seoul.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Mar. 2022). The chilling wind creates a cold similar to what my newfound friend Amanda describes as “Florida cold”. She told me that the humidity from the water in the air mixed with the cold weather makes the temperature unbearably cold. The wind here cuts through almost any semi-heavy jacket and even though it’s a dry cold and not humid, the air feels especially cutting on any given cold day.
I was lucky enough to only deal with the cold for a little over a month before the Spring season started. To those going in the fall, be prepared to bundle up and drink hot coffee/drinks in December. Winter is coming, sooner than you think!
Today I want to speak on the Topik Test--(the only official) Korean language proficiency exam administered by the Korean government. Taking the Topik exam is a great way to gain a formal gauge of one’s Korean language abilities since it is standardized, although the score is only valid for two years after taking the exam.
Today I will be recounting a little trip to Damyang Bamboo Forest in South Korea! For one weekend in early December, a couple friends and I took a short trip to Gwangju City--leaving Seoul for the last time before the weather got too cold!