“I hate working in Korea”. I remember myself searching that too around winter time, a month or two after moving to the country. Only finding a few results on the topic, I went back to eating ramen, watching Netflix, and wallowing in thoughts of “did I really make the right decision in coming here?”. Little did I know, a few months later my attitude would have a 180 degree shift. Here’s how all of that happened. First off, let’s talk about winter.
Korean winters suck; and I’m not talking about the cold. As a Canadian living in Korea, this previous winter was probably one of the warmest winters I’ve ever had in my life (save the ones I’ve spent in Australia). Unfortunately though, not everyone finds these temperatures to be mild. Koreans and warmer-blooded expatriates alike retreat to their floor-heated apartments and cozy beds for a three month hibernation away from the crisp bitter winds.
The trouble was, I came bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in November – right as the hibernation had started. Coworkers didn’t want to go out, friends wanted to stay in, and nobody was in the mood for making friends. This, combined with a heavy dose of culture shock, made my winter experience (and first experience) of Korea an unpleasant one. I had few friends and the days were as monotonous as the grey skies. The cold made me bitter. What started as frustration grew to disdain. They say though, that hindsight is 20/20; with my spectacles on, I’d like to impart a few words of advice to anyone who might be reading.
Korea gets better with warmer weather.
The great thing about Korea in the summer is that there’s so much to do. This is only facilitated more by the app “Meetup”, where you can meet a number of other people looking for friends or new experiences. Hiking, biking, longboarding, running, science fiction, tell-all honesty circles, you name it, I’ve done it.
I’ve gone from being openly resentful of my host country, to giving it the adulation it so sorely deserves. Everyone told me I would love it over here – and only now I truly see why.
If you’re really feeling low right now, know that it’s likely temporary. The experience is what you make of it. If you really can’t find anything to do in the winter, you’ll definitely find it in the spring. In the meanwhile, catch up on your Netflix queue, send long emails to your friends back home, and start working on that beach body for the summertime rooftop parties in Seoul.