Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

A Whiff of Fall


If you can have a false spring, can you also have a false fall? You know, in February when it suddenly thaws and everyone’s wearing t-shirts and the tulips start to poke out of the ground, and the next day all the tulips are dead, there’s a layer of frost on the ground, and everyone’ s shivering because no one got the “put on your coat” memo. That sort of false spring. We had it every year at UMW, and every year it caught me by surprise. By the time I knew to expect it, I had come to Korea, where we don’t have false springs – we just have very long, uninterrupted winters. I have never heard of a false fall, but that’s the best way I can describe our current weather.

It’s still summer, but the double typhoons (that’s right – instead of a double rainbow I got TWO typhoons, back to back) swept through and seem to have taken most of the summer heat and humidity with them. Looking at my town, we came out of the typhoons okay. There are no broken windows that I can see, though the wind did blow a fair amount of shingles off of the roofs those can be replaced easily, and only one tree fell over. All of the leaves on the ground shaken off the trees prematurely by the storm are starting to decompose, which just adds to the smell and feeling of our false fall.

Yesterday as I walked home, I noted that there were patches of sky uninterrupted by clouds, the first time in a few days, and the sky was so blindingly azure blue that it matched the colors of the roofs of some of the houses around me. Earlier in the day, I had peered out the window of the one of the first grade classrooms and noted that all I could see beyond the field surrounding my school was a gray nothingness, and the comforting familiarity of the mountains surrounding us, encasing our school and town in a valley and protecting it from the elements, had disappeared.

Korean summer has always been alien to me, as being from Virginia, while I’m used to the heat and the oppressive humidity I’m not used to the constant rain, and the winter’s always been too cold and harsh. On the other hand Korean spring and fall,  so similar to the ones I grew up with, just shorter, are pleasantly familiar. Today as I walked to school I wore a sweater, which considering the temperature is just continuing to rise was a ridiculous idea, but I wanted to bask in the snugness of false fall for just a little longer.

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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.