It’s finally warming up here in Korea and I could not be more elated about this. We’ve been told by several people that this winter was “mild” by Korean standards and I still think it was just so cold (at least, compared to what I’m used to in California).
Spring means more time outdoors–I’m planning some hikes for later in the season and I play ultimate frisbee almost every weekend as part of a league I joined. We recently played in our first tournament, which was a lot of fun. A lot of the self-driven frustration with needing to improve quickly took a backseat to the priority of just playing and I had a lot of fun. I even scored a point for the team in our final game, which was really exciting.
The sport itself has been challenging physically, for sure. I’ve been a distance runner for several years now, so it is a challenge to use my energy for more explosive movements. Our next tournament is in Busan, where we will play on Haeundai Beach, so I expect moving around on sand will be extra challenging on the legs. 🙂
However, as lovely as the warming weather is, this is the season for hwangsa, the yellow dust that blows over from China into Korea and Japan. We’ve already had one dust storm that lasted about a day but of course, we do expect more. Jerry bought us some masks to help protect our respiratory systems during these storms, too, which I’m sure will come in handy if things get pretty yucky. The most recent storm saw air particle levels in the 200s, which is definitely ‘unhealthy,’ however this was incredibly brief–I think we each expected these storms to last days, but the levels only spiked for a few hours that day while we were inside for classes.
It’s easy to get concerned about the dust storms–there is no shortage of horror stories online that are so sensational you can’t help but wonder if they’re totally bunk–but we’re pretty well-prepared. Aside from masks, we’re signing up for electronic notifications from the Korean weather service, which sends us text messages in advance of a coming storm so we know which days we’ll likely need to grab our masks. We each monitor the air quality on our phones (God bless technology!), so I know when things creep above 100 particles or the ozone looks high, it’s time to opt for indoor activities and skip the run for the day.
Overall, I can’t wait for spring to really get underway. Bugil is famous for their Cherry Blossom Festival, which happens in mid-April, when the campus’s cherry trees are in full bloom. There are currently pops of color in the Korean forsythia (a bold yellow) and some purpley-pink flower I can’t quite identify. The photo above is of one of the magnolia trees outside the building I work in, which fragrances the area so nicely. After what seemed like an intense winter, I’m incredibly grateful for and welcoming of these warmer temperatures.