Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Chilly Guest Post From Rebekah


안녕하새요!
This is Rebekah, Kristie’s daughter, typing to you on an early morning in Korea. 
It was a brisk -15 degrees Celsius when I woke up and headed out the door for my 45 minute bus ride to school. Every morning I prepare for another day of staying a few degrees above hypothermia. And I thought I was leaving the cold behind in Canada.







Minus 15 is about as cold as Korea gets, but coping with it is approached differently here. Back home, one only has to endure the cold on the commute to work and to-and-from lunch break. Office buildings are kept between 20-25 degrees. Korean style: interior hallways and bathrooms are often virtually without heat while offices and rooms are heated with ondol (floor heating) or large stand-up gas/electric heaters.

At school, students bundle up in fluffy, name brand, goose down jackets, wrap little fleece blankets around themselves and keep heating pouches in their pockets. It takes me two minutes to mentally prepare myself to leave my office and head to my classroom or the bathroom. So even though outside temperatures might not be as extreme as Canada, I arrive home thoroughly chilled from a day of never quite being warm. 





Many foreign teachers laud Korea’s ondol heating and it truly is an impressive innovation – your feet are toasty and the heat rises to the ceiling. It’s common to share stories of coming home, turning on the heat and just laying on the floor, soaking up the heat. I’m trying to save money, however, and refrain from turning on my floor heat too often, so it can get quite cool. (So cool I’m tempted to buy a thermometer to see how cold.)

The result is that most of my at-home activities are operated from within the perimeter of my bed, bundled under the covers. If I have to leave, it’s done by hastily hopping out and back in again as soon as possible. 

Here’s where I have to thank my mom. Firstly, she taught me practical frugality: turn off lights, spare the heat, save money. The main area of our house was kept around 19 C (about 67 F), which meant my basement room hovered around 18 degrees. “Bundle up and sit in front of the fire,” she  replied to our constant complaints.

Secondly, my mom provided me with appreciation for good quality fibers. Every night I go to bed wearing the wool sweater and a pair of wool knee socks she knit me. 





So Korean winters might feel colder than home, but I snuggle up in my apartment clad in not only a nice reminder of home, but a gift that literally warms my soul. Thanks mom!

16 comments:

  1. Ah warms the heart of a mom...especially when the heat is down. lol
    Warmly Linda McG.

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    1. It sure does! I didn't even ask her to say those nice things. I just asked if she would do a guest post and she picked the topic. :-)

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  2. Suddenly I don't really feel like I should be complaining about coming into a slightly cool classroom and having to turn on the space heater to warm up. We never stay cold for very long.

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    1. It was Rebekah's picture of the students bundled up in their down jackets that made me realize she wasn't exaggerating! Brrr...It makes me cold just looking at it. I don't understand how the kids can focus. It seems to me like their hands would be too cold to hold a pencil.

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  3. Your daughter is lovely! I know a young lady who is also teaching in South Korea. She's also mentioned how cold the buildings are - even said they keep the windows open half of the time because they firmly believe fresh air is good for you. :o)

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    1. I have to agree with you. Rebekah is very lovely, and it is going to be hard not to have her here for Christmas this year. But we are all glad she is off on her big adventure! And while I agree that fresh air is good for you, open windows in the water seems a bit extreme!

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  4. A lovely post from your daughter, although it made me feel cold! We don't appreciate what we have do we? I hope it gets warmer for her soon!
    Sarah x

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    1. Her post makes me feel cold, too. I am one of those people who can get cold just by looking at someone else who isn't dressed warmly enough. :-)

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  5. What a nice thing for a daughter to write. I'm sure you're very proud of Rebekah, Kristie. I can't believe the kids have to wear their coats in school all day long. I'd think that would make it harder to focus on school work, but I guess at least they don't have many students falling asleep at their desks, lol. She's made me even more appreciative of the very mild temperatures we're having here in Detroit; I could get used to Decembers like this!

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    1. Ha! Yes, students falling asleep at their desks is probably not an issue. :-) But I really don't know how they can concentrate when it is so cold. It seems like it would be awkward to wear one of those big jackets all day, too.

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  6. Awe. This so sweet! I love when your children guest post! You all seem like a really interesting bunch!

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    1. Thanks Michelle! I will have to see if I can get some more guest posts from them in the New Year.

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  7. Rebekah! Great post, very interesting, as usual--proof that both blogworld and families have room for more than one big deal. :)

    Thanks to having a very cold bedroom in my youth (my oldest brother's bed blocked the only heat vent in the room--he was toasty :), I developed an unusual method (I think) of getting into bed. After turning off the light switch next to the door, I'd sort of dive head-first into bed and roll under the covers. Every second counted...based on the description of your at-home activities, I know you understand.

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    1. I like your approach to avoiding the cold, Rick. Maybe Rebekah will give it a try! She has a few Christmas gifts that we are hoping will help out, too.

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  8. You sound like us ... we don't keep the house as warm as many folk and I was forever suggesting to the kids that they don an extra sweater rather than reduce the fossil fuel reserves. Rebekah's right, you prepared her well Kristie.

    A lovely post ... made me feel chilly but warmed the heart!

    BTW Kristie, in answer to your question, the mince pies are safe from the whippets just as long as I don't leave them unattended!

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    1. I'm afraid I might have prepared her a little too well! It is one thing to tell your child to go put another layer of clothes on when they are under your roof, and you know they are okay. Hearing about how cold she is away from home is another thing entirely. It's hard not to worry about her.

      I'm relieved to know the whippets aren't going for those lovely mince pies. Do you still have your dachshund? They are incredibly sneaky about grabbing food out of their person's hands. What might be safe with a whippet isn't necessarily so with a dachshund! :-)

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