Umbrellas in the Snow

View from the back of my apartment (Mine is the tall building to the right)

Temperatures have been pretty cold out here on the peninsula lately.  This weekend it reached below -15 degrees Celsius and today Seoul got the most snow I’ve seen so far (which isn’t much compared to the crazy weather happening back home in CT).  I have to say it’s a good thing we haven’t had more snow because it doesn’t seem like they know how to deal with the snow all too well.  I haven’t seen a plow or a shovel yet.  Although it hasn’t snowed enough to need a plow, but why they think a straw broom is enough to clear a sidewalk is another Korean mystery I don’t yet understand.

Man Sweeping Snow by my Apartment


One thing I am getting quite used to here is the Korean hospitality.  This morning I met my co-teacher to go to her church and it started snowing pretty heavily en route.  Unfortunately I didn’t wear my hat or my jacket with a hood so my head was starting to coat with a layer of snow.  As I was waiting to cross the street I suddenly noticed a pink umbrella appear over my head.  A little girl, maybe about 5 years old, was standing next to me with her mom and she lifted her little umbrella over my head to protect me from the snow.  It was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen. I looked down at her and said thank you in Korean and she seemed so happy to help me.  We crossed the street together and then went our separate ways, and I couldn’t help but to have a smile on my face for her kind gesture.  Koreans use umbrellas for every kind of weather here, which is something you don’t really see on the east coast U.S.  They use umbrellas in the summer to have shade, umbrellas in the rain, and umbrellas in the snow.  By the time my co-teacher and I left church, 3 hours had passed and it was snowing more heavily and the wind had kicked in.  Walking to the bus was a slippery slushy mess but thankfully my co-teacher had an umbrella. When I said good-bye to her she insisted that I take her umbrella and even when I refused she basically threw it at me and forced me to keep it, even though I was the one getting on the bus and she had to walk the rest of the way home.  I’m starting to learn just to accept gifts and acts of hospitality here without refusing because it is a huge part of Korean culture and character.  It makes them feel good to help others and when you reject their help they take offense to it.  The kindness of Koreans has definitely been one of the easiest things to get used to here.

Snow in Seoul 1.23.11



6 responses

  1. Hi Jenny
    Snow, Snow, it does look like they could use a shovel instead of a broom, but as long as it is powdery it is less of a back breaker. We now have really cold
    single digit numbers in our weather, and expecting more snow on Wednesday. Your apartment is very pretty, and seems like it is in a really nice area. The people seem to be very nice about a lot of things there.
    What an adorable little girl with the umbrella. Hopefully we will get to see you at Good Harbor Beach this summer. Take care. Joan and the kids.

  2. Jenny,
    I just love reading your stories …even while I read the pictures in my head are like a movie … I can imagine the little girl with the Pink umbrella and you smiling …. a snowy warm korean culture .. i am glad you feel the kindness from strangers across the world in a new place of adventure.
    Do you have an umbrella ?
    Love Mom

  3. You would not believe the amount of snow we’ve been getting in Connecticut. There hasn’t been this much since we were little kids! It looks like you’re also getting your share of wintry weather, though.

    The other day, someone told me that Koreans begin counting your age at conception so that when you are born you are already 1 year old. That means you are already 25 while you are in Korea and you will have turned 26 before I see you again! …another interesting bit of Korean time travel, I thought

  4. Christian, I am actually already 26 in Korean age because they are 1 when they are born and they turn another year older on January 1st, not on their birthday. I like international age much better though obviously so I still go by that. It becomes very confusing here. Legal age is 21 here still but at least you don’t have to wait until your actual birthday to drink, buy cigarettes, drive, etc. They are not as technical as back home. When you show ID they just look at the year you were born and not the date. So you are 23 Korean age!

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