It feels like just yesterday I was melting in the sweltering heat of Daegu Summer. In fact, it wasn’t long ago at all. When I arrived, three months ago, I had just left a South African Winter and it took me a while to adjust to the hot, humid weather. Despite what the guidebooks may say, Daegu is hot and humid all the time in Summer. The weather will regularly reach high temperatures and it rains all the time. I think I saw more rain in my first few weeks here than I have ever in my life. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but there was definitely lots of sticky, warm rain.
As September finally arrived, things started to cool down slightly. Instead of days of rain, the weather was warm and clear. There were days that felt a lot like the hot, dry, peaceful Friday afternoons I remember from Grahamstown. It’s probably my favourite kind of weather. Fall also brought light breezes and occasionally stronger wind. For a month, the weather was beautiful. One of the things that will now remind me of Daegu is drinking Pink Lemonade or Iced Cappuccino outside on a warm Autumn night between classes – not sweltering heat, just warm and comfortable with a breath of freshness in the air.
It’s hard to keep exact track of the changing seasons because I’m not sure what it supposed to be happening but Autumn seems now to be winding down to winter and suddenly the warmth is gone. I got back to work after the Chusoek break (all 5 days of it) and wore roughly the same clothes as I was wearing last week. Last week I was starting to feel a little chilly after dark but nothing dramatic. On Monday, I was cold coming home.
And I know that it’s just going to get colder. I’m a little bit nervous about it. I’ve never really experienced proper cold. Several of the friends I’ve made here have said that I shouldn’t worry because it doesn’t really get that cold in Daegu. The fact that they are Canadian makes me a little sceptical. I have a feeling that ‘not that cold’ means something different in South Africa to what it means in Canada.
I even tried to buy a coat. There has been a rack of coats hanging outside a particular store for a week now and they’re quite attractive and reasonably priced. It was a very pretty little white coat, with double row of buttons and a belt. I would have bought it too, but apparently this shop only sells coats for women without breasts. I was a little offended, to be honest, by the way the shop assistant looked smugly at me as if there was something wrong with me and that was why the coat didn’t fit. Particularly because I don’t have particularly large breasts at all. I realise I shouldn’t take it personally – after all, I’m in a country where it’s apparently almost impossible to find a Bra above a C-cup – but it annoyed me.
Some mornings, now, I wake up curled up in a ball, with my shoulders stiff from being hunched over. It’s not freezing, not by a long shot, but I can feel the Summer’s last kiss as it fades into a distant memory. I was reading something the other day that described Daegu as having short, hot, humid Summers and long, dry Winters. I love Winter for it’s grandeur and it’s emptiness but I will admit that this year’s winter, my first Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the first time I’ll really be exposed to snow, makes me a little nervous. The temperatures now feel a little like the Winters I’m used to, except that it doesn’t really warm up during the day. But this is still the middle of Autumn. I may need to buy more blankets.
The changing weather also makes me feel more foreign than ever. The last two days have been overcast and chilly. I’ve wandered around in a jersey, hunched over and feeling the cold. Around me, some Koreans are starting to dress a bit more warmly but there are still people in T-shirts, school kids in nothing but shirtsleeves and women in tiny, little skirts. The other foreigners look comfortable and cool and talk about how much more pleasant this is than the boiling hot summer. I sit shivering in the corner trying hard to figure out why humans ever left the warm, welcoming embrace of a sun-drenched continent.
I have friends who have adjusted to weather in all manner of places and I’m told the trick with the cold is to find particularly comfortable and pretty winter outer-wear. If I can just find a coat and some gloves and a hat that will fit, perhaps that will make the cold better.