Monday, February 2, 2015

Dispatch from an empty office in Cheorberia

3:55pm: 35 minutes until I can leave. It's my eighth and final day of desk warming in the vacated office upstairs at the middle school. Maybe four or five other people are at school or have been at school. The principal's been here at times because I've seen the light on in his office. He's held some meetings. My excitement because when the teacher of Korean that I talk to about novels came by to pick up a package.

Otherwise, it's been a solitary, lonely, and downright cold time here. I tracked the temperature changes over time today: The thermostat said 3.6C when I arrived at 8:30am. The overhead heater's efforts brought the temperature to 19.5C, which is hospitable, but it's only been above 15C since noon today. I've survived the cold by layering, but it's still difficult to type with gloves on. Going to the bathroom means putting on the overcoat and walking downstairs to the staff bathroom. It's not exactly convenient.  That's how it goes for those who desk warm. I've passed the time by reading novels, writing emails, and planning my exit trip.

On another note: I've often been asked about how Cheorwon or Korea's weather compares to my home state of Wisconsin. The answer usually goes something like this: "Wisconsin gets more snow and lower temperatures, so Cheorwon isn't so bad." What I leave unsaid--and this is something I didn't fully comprehend until this winter--is how the cold in Korea pervades everything. The temperatures may not dip as low as Wisconsin, but the place certainly feels colder more of the time thanks to the lack of central heat, the bad/nonexistent insulation, and the drafts in buildings in Korea. Even now, it's 19C but it feels chillier thanks to draft currents. Oh well. It's nearly time to leave. And not just leave for today--I've less than four weeks to go before this job concludes. 

*Anyone considering teaching in Korea should bring long underwear and thick socks.

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