Posts Tagged ‘Korea’s Four Seasons’

Not really. I had such a great year teaching, traveling and having fun in Korea. I didn’t leave my heart behind completely, but it feels like something’s been missing since I left. Unlike many of my friends who went straight home after finishing their contracts, I decided to extend my time abroad and stay in the Philippines. I haven’t been home in over a year now, but I don’t feel ready to go back quite yet.

I’ve been thinking about Korea a lot lately – wondering at odd hours of the day what my friends must be doing (deskwarming, hanging out downtown, or drinking in any combination). Wondering if my students miss me or if their beloved Maria Teacher has been replaced ㅠ_ㅠ (I hope not!). Wondering what new cosmetics must be out. I could go on. Instead, I’ll make a list of things I miss from my life in the 대한민국.

Korea Miss List:

  • 제 친구들 – My friends!! I met so many great people and I miss seeing their goofy, drunken faces. Just kidding, we weren’t always drunk, right?
  • My co-teacher – She is such a great person. I miss her! Seriously, I was crying on the bus ride to the airport after she dropped me off ㅜ_ㅜ.
  • My students – I loved being a teacher. Not trying to gloss over the stress and frustration I often felt while teaching in Korea. But, my experience was overwhelmingly positive and most of that is thanks to my students.
  • Foods – Let me make a brief list: kimchi, samgyeopsal, samgyetang, kimchi jjiggae, doenjang jjiggae, Korean wings and fried chicken, bibimbap, freakin banchan, kimbap, rice cakes, ddoekbokki, street snacks
  • Egg Tarts – Not what Korea is famous for, but I always used to hang out at the egg tarts place with my pals after dinner.
  • Shopping – Because let’s face it, where did half of my salary go every month.
  • Cosmetics – There are so many and they’re so cheap! I’m also obsessed with cosmetics and Korea just made it worse.
  • K-pop – The soundtrack of my life in Korea. What’s new nowadays??
  • K-dramas – DUDE what’s new nowadays??
  • Nature – Never thought I’d say it. I kind of like nature now thanks to Korea.
  • 4 Seasons – I think it’s a nice concept.
  • Internet – I miss the high-speed internet!
  • Mobility – It’s pretty easy to travel in Korea. I can’t travel as easily here in the Philippines so I feel very limited.
  • Hair salons – I need a trim! I miss Ji-won at Serrano!
  • Korean – I miss hearing Korean! I feel like following around the Korean students I see here. I know, that is just creepy. I won’t do it 😛
  • Traveling – There was always somewhere new to see or return trips to Seoul or Busan. I felt like I could do anything I wanted at any moment.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things. I’m so glad that I took a chance and went to Korea. I learned so much and I have lots of great memories and stories to share with everyone when I finally return home.

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I always knew that I liked fall and now I know why. It’s so colorful! Why don’t the leaves change in California? Now I understand why people travel just to watch the leaves fall.


Near Apsan

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Today, the temperature dropped to about 5°C (41°F) in Daegu and it’s expected to drop to 1°C (33°F) tonight. It’s officially freezing. Maybe off by a degree or two but it’s pretty damn cold. It’s supposed to warm up again later this week, but I think we’ve seen the last of the warm days in Daegu. I am not looking forward to the rest of the winter.

So here are some photos to cheer me up/make me feel even more depressed:

Ah, why did I take all that for granted?

I want to enjoy the winter, but I’m too busy trying to survive let alone like the cold. The worst part is that there was no transition into the cold weather. It was still sunny and warm this past weekend, but then this morning the air felt colder than a freezer.

It's still October...

If the sudden drop in temperature doesn’t make me sick, then it’ll be walking from the bone-chilling halls into the stifling teachers’ office with the heater on full blast. Why does everything have to be polar extremes!

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It’s been raining almost non-stop since I got back from my vacation last week. Actually, this rain had an affect on me all the way in China. My morning flight back to Korea was postponed until the afternoon so the airline put me in a hotel in the meantime. I turned on the TV to watch the news and found out that there was a big storm hitting up the southern part of Korea. Typhoon Dianmu hit Korea earlier that morning. I went back to the airport and had to reschedule my flight since all flights were canceled for the rest of the day. My first thought: I’m not gonna make it to work on time…

I called my co-teacher to let her know the situation and she was very understanding. Luckily, I caught a flight back into Daegu the next morning. I went straight to work after dropping off my luggage at home. My classes were canceled for the day since I was coming in late. VP did not seem happy.. but she forgave me pretty easily and even gave me a popsicle at the end of the day :).

I thought that the rainy season would be pretty much over when I got back, but the rain has not let up. It rained the entire weekend and it rained really hard today starting in the afternoon and through the night. Looks like we might have thunderstorms for the next couple days, too.

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Chance of a Thunderstorm
32° C | 25° C
Chance of a Thunderstorm
32° C | 24° C
Chance of Rain
32° C | 24° C
34° C | 23° C
Chance of Rain
35° C | 25° C
Chance of T-storms

30% chanceprecipitation
Chance of T-storms

30% chance precipitation
Chance of Rain

20% chance precipitation
Clear Chance of Rain

20% chance precipitation

*Sidenote: Where does all the water go? Considering all the heavy rains we’ve been having, it’s surprising that Daegu isn’t flooded by now. At least in most of the areas of Daegu that I see. Not that I’m complaining!

I asked the VP about the strange weather and she said that this much rain in August isn’t typical. It seems that the weather has been really atypical since I’ve been here. Not just in Daegu, but everywhere, it seems. What’s happening in the world?

On that note, there have been some devastating natural disasters recently in China and Pakistan. Since I was in China the past couple weeks, I saw a lot of reports on the landslides and floods. In Pakistan, millions of people have been displaced and have limited access to food and water. Since I’m not aware of any English news programs on Korean TV, I get most of my information from online news articles.

As an expat, sometimes I find it difficult to stay in touch with the world and what used to be part of the world I knew. I have to reach out myself in order to stay connected.

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So, it’s been raining nonstop in Daegu since last night. It rained a few days this past week, but I think the monsoon has really hit now. For a Southern Californian, this is like breaking news flash flood warning on TV type of weather. It’s supposed to rain most of the week. Shit. I should’ve bought rainboots earlier! Check out Daegu weather at this link. For us Americans that are accustomed to using Farenheit, just learn how to use Celcius! It’s pretty easy to get used to.

5-Day Forecast
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
25° C | 21° C
Chance of Rain
31° C | 22° C
Partly Cloudy
33° C | 20° C
Chance of Rain
32° C | 23° C
Chance of Rain
35° C | 23° C

100% chance of precipitation
Chance of Rain

20% chance of precipitation
Partly Cloudy Chance of Rain

40% chance of precipitation
Chance of Rain

40% chance of precipitation

Since I’m done with all my lesson plans for the semester and finished with my lesson plans for summer camp, I have nothing to do today. I guess I’ll just watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It’ll probably make me hungry though.

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What’s up with the weather in Daegu?? It’s been really warm and sunny lately, but also a little overcast. This morning it was warm but cloudy and a bit rainy. Then in the afternoon it was stifling. I can never dress right for a day at work o_o;;.

All PE Teachers everywhere seem to dress alike. They all wear some sort of fleece pullover with a half zipper and track pants. And there’s something about them that just screams “physical education”. Maybe it’s just me!

One of the teacher’s (not one of my co-teachers) I normally have lunch with will be filling in as a home room teacher. That means we won’t be able to have lunch together anymore since homeroom teachers eat lunch in their homeroom classroom with their students. I can have lunch with any of the other teachers, but I better improve my Korean if I want to talk to them.

Anyway, I was told that it’s not that some of the teacher’s avoid me but they feel that if they sit next to me or walk next to me they should have a conversation with me in English. So they feel a little pressured or nervous around me because of that. Aww… I feel the same way about speaking Korean so I understand. Kinda funny the way that works!

My DMOE observation lesson is tomorrow. I normally don’t have any trouble with my lessons. Even when I work on them last minute they turn out fine and run smoothly. But for some reason, this week’s lesson isn’t going smoothly. It’s not bad, it’s fine actually if I just wanted to keep it. But, I don’t like it! It doesn’t feel right to me and I need make some minor changes to get it right. So, I’m staying after school with my Co-Teacher to work it out. I’ve been thinking about it all day… can’t seem to put my finger on what isn’t working…

Still don’t have plans for Buddha’s Birthday weekend. Better think of something fast!

Got a ticket to the Daegu Pre-Championships track competition on May 19. I’m excited to see Usain Bolt in action! Even though it will only last for about 10 seconds.

I got a spot on the DMOE Farm Tour! Here’s our itinerary:

  • 1) Mt. Palgongsan
    2) Bullo Memorial Park
    3) Guam Farm (picking fruits, riding tractors, making tofu and rice cakes)
    4) Herb Hills
    5) Spa Valley
    6) Herbal Medicine Village (drink Korean herbal tea, help package herbal medicine, receive foot therapy)

I’m thinking of starting a separate page  for my lesson plans and other teaching resources and a page about my travels. I’ll start on that tomorrow.

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Apparently, Korea was hit with the worst Yellow Dust storm to date. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was the worst it’s ever been. That’s great, just when I get to Korea, it’s hit with an especially cold winter and the worst dust storm ever. No wonder I’ve been sick more days than I’ve been healthy this past month :(!

Here’s some background info on the yellow dust:

“Yellow Dust” is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon affecting most of East Asia from the months of March to May.
The dust storms originate from the deserts of Inner Mongolia and northern China with strong winds kicking up dense clouds of dry soil particles which are airborne and carried across the country to Korea and Japan.
This past Saturday, Korea experienced its worst dust storm since it started recording data in 2003 and weather experts say there will be more yellow dust storms affecting the country over the next few months.
In the last decade, it has become a serious problem due to the increase of industrial pollutants contained in the dust.”
Arirang News

Here’s a chart that measures the severity of the dust:

Dustconc.in micrograms per cubic meter of air
Level of Health Concern Health Alert Color Code
0-399 LOW No Alerts
400-799 MODERATE Health Advisory
800 or greater HIGH Health Warning

Those levels definitely warrant a Health Warning! What’s more alarming than the volume of dust is the rapid increase of dust levels in recent years. I heard that the dust has become increasingly worse since it first reached Korea. Also, it keeps coming earlier and earlier. (That’s what she said).

So what was the level in Daegu this past Saturday? Hmm, enough to rename the yellow dust as the YELLOW DUST OF DEATH!

wtf yellow dust


Yes, that says 2,684 micrograms/cubic meter. That’s over three times the amount considered a  Health Warning. I think they should create another category called Imminent Death. Well, it won’t kill you instantly. In addition to the long-term effects, it makes people sick, limits outdoor activity and diminishes quality of life. This is a low point in my life in Korea thus far. Okay, I admit it’s mainly because I’m still having a hard time getting a cell phone. I must be the only person left without one!

Since I’m sick and the dust is at insanely high levels, I’ve decided to take precautions. Here are some suggestions I found on my main (only) source of knowledge, the internets. From Hi Expat and various other sources:

  • wear a mask approved by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) or 식약청 (Shik-yak-cheong)
  • wash mask in between uses
  • drink plenty of water
  • wash your hands and face with warm water
  • brush your teeth after coming in from outside
  • keep your windows and doors closed
  • wear glasses instead of contacts
  • try to avoid a lot of outdoor activity
  • check yellow dust levels: US Military Yellow Sand/Asian Dust Monitor System, or to check levels in your area: Korea Meteorological Administration
  • eat pork – everyone has been telling me this! I guess people in Korea eat pork to help get rid of, I don’t know, waste?

Hope everyone gets through the dust storms alive!

The makings of an Asian mom: Auntie shoes, face mask... what's next?

Random thoughts about China: Really, China? It can make me sick all the way in Korea! No one can match China’s prowess in environmental degradation x_x. It’s so serious that there was a whole chapter on the dust/sand storms in my 读写 book when I studied in China.

Also, how does China always find its way into my life? I just created a separate tag for China on this blog.

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Stepped outside my apartment and saw everything covered in snow :D! But my elation soon faded as I slipped down the stairs…I hate the snow.

Slushy streets

I’ve been told that it typically doesn’t snow in Daegu. So far, I can’t believe it doesn’t because it definitely has been cold enough to snow during the time I’ve been here. My co-teacher heard on the news that Daegu hasn’t seen snow in March in over 50 years. I guess it’s just a cold winter this year. I can’t wait for spring. “Colorful Daegu” better live up to its name!

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