Living: Korean style! As with everything else, it is important to have an open mind and an eye for possibility. Most Koreans live in ‘apartments’, those white, high-rise buildings that seem to be everywhere. Most foreigners, however, live in ‘villas’ – two- or three-story buildings with smaller apartments. The average ‘villa’ has a bathroom, a kitchen and a single room, usually big enough for a double bed, a couch, desk and cupboard. All apartments (including ‘villas’) have underfloor heating and air conditioning to keep you comfortable through every season.
Kitchens are commonly equipped with a fridge and gas stove. Other things, like an oven, toaster and microwave, depend on your school.
The bathroom is an adventure in its own right. Don’t expect a bath. Don’t expect a shower, either. At least, not a shower as you know it. Here is what you’ll find: a toilet (not a hole in the ground), a basin, and a hand-held shower. No longer are you confined by the rims of a bath or a curtain! Welcome to your bathroom, where the world is your splash pool! Water from your shower wets the entire bathroom before it disappears through a drain in the floor. Just get yourself some non-slip shower shoes and you’re set to go!
Korea’s weather ranges through the extremes, with hot, humid summers, and icy winters. Expect rain in the summer and snow in the winter. Needless to say, an umbrella will be useful. Autumns and Springs can be tricky, with warm days and cold nights, so keep a jersey handy, just in case.
In case you haven’t realised that Korea is in the Northern Hemisphere, please take note: November, December and January are freezing, while May, June and July are scorchers, with July being monsoon season and very wet. The months in between can be either.