As you may or may not know, I'm originally from Colorado so I'm used to long, cold winters, but for some reason the Korean winter seemed to hit me pretty hard last year. Perhaps it's the humidity (Colorado is very dry), or that I have to spend more time outside since I don't have a car here, or maybe it's that Koreans use heaters very minimally and open the windows when it's snowing.........
If you're in the EPIK program i.e. teaching at a public school, odds are your school won't turn the heat on until the first snow, which might not happen until December. This means you'll have a least a month or two of freezing cold weather with no access to heat all day until you go home - pretty much the least ideal situation ever. So, keeping your imminent frozen doom in mind, here are my top suggestions for surviving the South Korean winter.
1. Layers, layers, layers!!! Seriously, layer your layers with more layers. At the coldest point in winter I was wearing three tanks tops, a long sleeve over-shirt, a sweater, a coat that looks like a blazer, thermal leggings, pants, two pairs of socks, and sometimes even my wool overcoat. This is what I wore inside. Lucky for you, Korea knows it's cold so many stores such as Uniqlo carry a line of clothing that is designed for this kind of situation - thin fabrics that are surprisingly warm and perfect for layering up.
2. Buy an appropriate coat... This seems like a no-brainer but many of my friends from California showed up here with a hoodie as their "winter coat".. A hoodie won't cut it! You need something that is either wool or poly-down. I have both. I wear the poly-down when it's coldest and the wool when it's slightly less cold.
3. Blankets - Korean floor heaters are amazing; however, fuel prices are not. So, if you don't want to run your floor heater all the time (and believe me you don't unless you're OK with paying upwards of 70,000 won a month), you need to buy at least one or two thick blankets. Or even better... an electric blanket. When it's coldest I usually run my ondol (floor heater) for an hour or two before I go to bed and then turn it off. Blankets do the trick just as well and shelling out the money for a few good ones right off the bat will not only keep you warm, it will save you big money in the long term.
4. Buy a thermos - You can get a decent thermos for very cheap and nothing is better on a cold day than being able to pull out a thermos of hot tea or coffee. It warms you from the inside out and buying your own thermos/coffee/tea is much much cheaper than buying something from a coffee shop.
5. Body heat, baby ;) - Everyone loves a good snuggle sesh, especially when it's bitter outside. Also, winter just sucks in general and ten positive touches a day will help to drastically improve your mood. Now, I'm not saying that you should jump the bones of the first stranger you see... Stranger danger is real. However, I am saying that cuddling without sex is totally viable if you're upfront about your intentions. Either way. Get liberated! And warm!
Do you, like me, despise the cold? Would you care to share your toasty tips? Know anyone coming to Korea soon who could use these suggestions? All of the above?? Well, sharing is caring and I love to hear from readers :) So, please share this with your friends, Tweet to me at @abeautifulview0, or find me on Facebook. Stay warm friends!
Enjoy the beautiful view!