Winter is coming.

What? Why are you looking it me like that? Oh…the title… It was inevitable, ok. Just about everyone in the Northern Hemisphere who has read/ watched/ knows someone who has read/ watched Game of Thrones (also known as A Song of Ice and Fire, epic series by American fantasy writer George R R “Please-hurry-up-and-finish-the-next-book” Martin) will be using this phrase as the cold season approaches. Winter is coming.

It’s totally a thing.

I managed to survive my first northern winter last year (as I’ve mentioned before, winter in South Africa is like autumn or spring in Korea. Only it’s much shorter. And the sun shines just about every day (in the interior). And just warmer.) and I find myself looking forward to the next one with a mixture of excitement and dismay.

See, I like winter, but I hate being cold.

No one ever said I was uncomplicated!

Things to look forward to in winter:

– being all cozy indoors with blankets and duvets and slippers while it’s freezing and miserable outside (I have a fluffy cream-coloured blanket I love so much that I’m actually going to ship it back to South Africa when I leave. True story.)

– justifiable indulgence in hot beverages. “Yes, I will have the grande caffe mocha with whipped cream. Hey, it’s cold outside!” Is there anything better than a steaming mug of warm chocolatey goodness when you get home from your icebox of a school? I think not.

– reading books or knitting in warm coffee shops (find the ones with couches) while drinking hot chocolate or similar

– Christmas (I love Christmas!)

– snow! (It doesn’t snow a lot on Jeju; at least, not in the city. It tends to hang around on the mountain and hilly areas. This means we appreciate it more (well, I do) because it’s rare and doesn’t make our lives too miserable when it does make an appearance. And I love snow.)

This is my “excited about snow” face.

– guilt-free watching of entire series on a single weekend. It’s hard to do this when the sun is shining, it’s a lovely day outside, and the beach is calling (even though the nearest nice one is minimum half an hour bus ride away). But when the wind is howling and the clouds are low, a day spent on the couch with the latest Community or Fringe or retro-ing it up with some Twin Peaks or Blackadder is practically mandatory.

– delicious winter food. Cream of tomato soup with grated cheese and little viennas and warm buttered toast; spaghetti bolognaise; warm Jungle oats for breakfast. YUM.

– comfortable winter clothes. Warm hoodies, jeans, fluffy boots, scarves, gloves, earmuffs!

– winter sports. Snowman building, sledding, skating, skiing, walking in the snow…

Skiing is fun!

Things to dread in winter

– getting out of bed in the mornings (and I have enough problems with this as it is)

– shivering violently whenever you get out of your shower, even though the floor heating AND space heater are on

– having to go outside in the freezing cold and go to your freezing cold school to teach in a cavernous draughty icy classroom, or to feebly attempt to warm your desk for long days while everyone else is on holiday


– waiting at the bus stop in the freezing wind

– dry skin

– heating bills

– endless grey days of nothing going on

– getting up in the dark and getting home in the dark


Tarryn’s Top Tips for Surviving Winter in Korea

Buy a heater. It won’t be exactly cheap, but will cost less than using your floor heating all the time. Also, get a large floor mat to keep the heat in your apartment.

– Use thin fleece blankets as sheets on your bed. You won’t BELIEVE the difference they make. A bed warmer (electric blanket) is also a good idea, although it will make getting up that much more difficult…

– Buy thermal underwear and other clothing with “Heattech” (Uniqlo) or similar. Amazing invention.

– Natural fibres work much better at keeping you warm than artificial ones. I mean, there’s a reason sheep have wool coats, not polyester ones :) A down jacket is a great buy – I lived in mine last winter.

They’re also très stylish.

– If, like me, you have a longish walk in the mornings, wear earmuffs to keep your ears from turning blue and falling off. I find I get too hot in a hat, but earmuffs are just right.

– A decent pair of insulated boots with a non-slip sole is essential. Essential. That is all.

– Lined pants: I found these at Emart last year. They look like normal pants but they have an extra, thermal, lining inside. Saved my life. I can’t remember what the brand is but just keep an eye out in stores around November.

– Hand and feet warmers! I only really used these when I went skiing, but they’re good to have for that extra-cold day.

– Pick up a hobby (like knitting. What?) or take a class (K-pop dance or tae bo, for example) – anything that keeps you from drowning in your duvets and twenty seasons of Dr Who. Everything in moderation!

– Take advantage of the milder days and head outdoors, even for a little while. I promise you will feel better about life.

See, I went out and I totally met this guy! What a hunk.

And always remember that after winter, must come spring, so hang in there, make the most of it, and enjoy the cold season while it lasts!

8 thoughts on “Winter is coming.

  1. I have to admit that, while I’m SO TIRED of sweltering in this Bangladeshi heat, I’m SO HAPPY I’m not suffering through another frigid Jeju winter. Two were enough for me, but I love your attitude.

    P.S. Like you, I found my most favorite blanket ever while I was there, and you better believe I sent it back to the States for future snuggling.

    Enjoy the snow! :)

    • Hi Elize, the internet is full of knitting patterns! I recommend joining Ravelry, an online knitting and crochet community. They have tons of free patterns for all levels. As for needles, they can be ordered online for Gmarket or Amazon. Or just have a look around your neighbourhood – I’m sure you’ll find a knitting supply store! I live on Jeju and I know at least four ;)
      Jeju is awesome. I recommend going to see Sunrise Peak (it’s the volcanic crater that’s on all the promo pics of the island), Udo Island (a 10-minute ferry ride from the port by Sunrise Peak), the waterfalls in Seogwipo (Cheonjiyeon and Jeonbang are the best) and getting to at least one beach (Jungmun, Hamdeok and Gwakji are my favourites). Let me know if you have any more questions! Have a good time ^^

  2. Hi Taryn, thanks for the post. I have a question, where did you get this fabled blanket of doom? I am looking for one that hugs you back. Any ideas?

    • Hi Jenna, the blanket I mentioned in the post is from Emart. It’s quite thin though; I’m using that and a thin fleece one at the moment, so it won’t be enough for winter. Look out for the traditional Korean quilts – I’m not sure what they’re called but I’ve seen them at small independent Korean stores (eg we have a place here called the Royal Shopping Arcade, four floors of ajummas selling wool and clothes and crockery etc, and just about every second store had them). Basically they’re enormously thick, fluffy, warm and heavy. If I didn’t already have a thick blanket I would totally buy one! Also, I don’t know how you feel about fur but you can buy mink blankets in Itaewon. Stay warm!!

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