Emart sells bubble wrap with cute little designs on it. This is not so you can skip the wrapping paper. This is so when you put bubble wrap over you windows it looks less boring and bubble-wrappish.
Wait, you’re saying you don’t put bubble wrap on your windows? Then either you’re freezing, or you don’t know how blessed you are to have such wonderful windows. Or maybe you live somewhere warm.
Now, back home, don’t get me wrong, the windows let in some cold air. But this is not what happens in Korea. The windows don’t just let in “some cold air” they let in an icy blast. And this is just one of the problems at home. I haven’t even gotten started on what things are like in other places. Despite the fact that it gets cold EVERY year, Korea has a lot to figure out about living comfortably in cold weather.
Here are some problems I have come across when the cold weather hits:
1.In most buildings the hallway is considered part of the outdoors. As in, all the windows and doors are left open to let in the COLD air. This apparently supposed to prevent people from getting sick or something (it doesn’t work.) So in winter, before class I can stand at the doors and demand all the students leave their snowballs outside, and then after class the students can collect their still-frozen snowballs and go terrorize some other poor teacher.
Here is is a picture of awkward duck in the hallway at school. If you can’t see me, it’s because I am an awkward ducksicle from being in the outdoor-temperature hallway.
- Nothing is insulated well (thus the bubble wrap). The lack of insulation makes #1 even more of a problem. The doors all have large cracks them and the frame. This probably makes leaving the windows open slightly less nonsensical, because the heat is all going to escape anyway. The insulation is so appallingly bad that in my last apartment, there was a freezing cold draft that blew from the drain in the bathroom floor. Ugh. This year, my apartment is much more snug, but the windows still do not fit tightly, and when the cold weather hits hard in a few weeks, I have little doubt that I will be at emart or Daiso, picking out some bubble wrap of my own to cover my windows. In preparation for this cold, I have carefully arranged my smallest room, which I call the studio (as that is where the awkward duck painting-station is set up) for maximum comfort when I wish to hibernate next to my space heater.
The lack of insulation is particularly strange because Koreans seem to think that they are very environmentally conscious and that they are very energy efficient. Yet despite this, they terrible about any efficiency whatsoever when it comes to heating and insulating buildings.
Every ESL book has some chapter about the environment like “Think Twice, Think Green” but despite their unparalleled composting habits, they still haven’t figured out insulation.
- The buses. Ohhhhhh the buses. Temperature on the buses is left to the discretion of the bus driver. Some bus drivers are reasonable. Others, apparently, live in an oven and wish to continue at that temperature when they go to work. I actually rode a bus once where there was a small thermometer next to the driver, which read 35 C. For those Americans among you, that’s ninety-five degrees fahrenheit. NINETY-FIVE DEGREES!
Awkward Duck on the bus
The worst, for me, is when I get on the bus to school and it is an oven. The journey is too short to shed my layers of coats and sweaters and scarves, but just long enough that when I arrive at work, I’m covered in sweat and feel disgusting.
Also, when you get off the oven-like horrible bus, it feels SO much colder than it would if the bus were just kept at a reasonable temperature.
This same problem exists in summer, when some bus drivers decide that, although the bus must be flaming hot in the winter, it is a good idea to set the temperature at about 16 degrees. That’s about 61 F. I will never understand. Why??
- The heating methods.
At school, each room has one big vent in the ceiling that the heat comes out of. Each room as it’s own thermostat. I suppose this is necessary given the whole “hallways are part of the outdoors” thing. I sure miss central heating though. Whole building being one basically even temperature- it was so nice. That is never the case here.
In my apartment, I have floor heating. Floor heating is the best thing ever. Until you get the bill. So most of the time I huddle in front of the space heater or under my electric blanket.