WINTER IS a season of relaxation and high morale. As the semester draws to an end, students prepare for their finals, professors bring their lectures to a close, and Christmas carols begin to fill the streets. However, as much as winter is a season of caring for others and recreation of self, it is also a time of fearing the cold winds that gust through open windows. With this year’s winter estimated to be even colder than that of last year, Yonseians are exploring various life hacks in preparation for the severe cold. Those who stay at the Yonsei International Campus (YIC) in Songdo, Incheon, even refer to this season as “Songberia*,” comparing the weather of Songdo to the frigid climate of Siberia. In order to gain insight into how Yonseians are preparing for the upcoming winter, The Yonsei Annals conducted interviews to discover how they survived the cold last year, and how they plan on surviving the wave of cold that is rapidly approaching this year.
Seo Min-su (Fresh., Dept. of Human Environ. & Design)
I lived in Canada last year, and I visited my father in Calgary in the winter. It was extremely cold, around negative 20℃ (if I remember correctly), but due to the dry climate, it did not feel as cold as the numbers suggest. To cope with this [low temperature], I wore multiple layers for my upper body: a t-shirt, hoodie, parka, and a scarf. I only wore jeans without anything underneath. I wore Timbs** due to the snow.
It gets really dry in the winter; therefore, moisturizing is essential. Many people tend to get their lips chapped, and their skins may itch and crack. To avoid this, I applied moisturizer in the span of a couple of hours, as keeping yourself moisturized is key. Layering your clothes is also important. Wear accessories such as a scarf, gloves (with a touchscreen feature, if possible), and a beanie. For girls, if you want to wear a skirt or a dress, it is crucial to wear stockings underneath.
Lee Seo-jin (Sr., Dept. of Economics)
Last year’s severe cold was an important issue for me because I am very sensitive to cold temperatures. To counter this, I had hand warmers with me the whole time last year. They are accessible, handy, cheap and really warm. Without hand warmers, I would not have lasted last year’s winter. I also liked wearing earmuffs last year. Many people wear scarves in the winter, but only a few seem to know the usefulness of earmuffs. In winter, my ears get cold to the point that they start to hurt. I found that earmuffs are an effective measure to counter this predicament. I think earmuffs can be used as a fashion item as well.
A life hack that I’ve been using since last year is wearing many layers of thin clothes, which is warmer than wearing two or three thick clothes. Wearing layers of thick clothing feels stuffy and suffocating, especially in crowded subways. Also, it can get extremely cold outside, but the heaters make it warm or even hot inside buildings. To readily adjust to that difference [in temperature], it’s better to wear clothes that you can easily take off. I also recommend wearing sunglasses as well. This does not have much to do with combating the cold, but the sunlight reflected from snow can damage your eyes. This especially applies to me, because I had LASEK*** surgery before.
Anonymous Interviewee (Fresh., Dept. of Mathematics)
I remember last winter being distinctly cold. My way of coping with the cold used to be simply using electric heating pads and turning on the heating system at home. But since I started to turn them on before going to bed every night, it resulted in our family’s electric bill exceeding ₩100,000 that month, and I was scolded by my parents. As a freshman still living in YIC, I can recall how Songdo would still be like winter in March and how food would never go bad due to the cold.
This year, I am trying to prepare myself against the cold in any way I can. Gaining weight for the winter as polar bears do seems nice, so I will be working out in the YIC gym to gain some muscle mass. Also, since the lack of moisture worsens as it gets colder, bringing a personal moisturizer and towels to Songdo definitely seems helpful. Recommendable life hacks also include taking a hot shower and stretching in the morning to avoid your body from getting stiff.
Anonymous Interviewee (Fresh., Underwood Div.)
It was really cold last year, so I needed to come up with new methods to keep myself cozy. At first, I pasted cardboard paper on the glass windows of my house. Also, I stayed and cuddled in my bed all winter, watching fun YouTube videos, as I figured that not going outside was the best way to get through the cold. I also made some homemade pear tea. It’s very simple: I diced up some pears and boiled them in hot water. It was a good way to prevent myself from catching a cold.
But things are going to be different this year. Since I have a boyfriend and friends to be with, I’m going to leave my house and do indoor activities to keep myself warm with them. I think that being with your friends and your loved ones is a new way to keep yourself snug in the winter. After all, your heart has to be warm to keep your body warm too! On this note, I’m also thinking of donating to charity to share my love and to spread my warmth. I hope this can keep me cozy during this winter vacation.
Cho Seo-hyun (Fresh., Underwood Div.)
I lived in Brazil for the majority of my life, so spending last winter in Korea was definitely a fresh and eye-opening experience for me. I was certainly not used to the piercing cold, but there was something really special about last year’s winter. Since it was my very first time spending the winter season in Korea, I remember how even the small things felt incredibly significant to me. The warm street foods, the stiffness of my frozen fingers, the fragile snowflakes falling from the sky––they were all a part of my dearest memory from last winter.
For the upcoming winter, I am going to try to focus on not only being active most of the time, but also making lasting memories with my friends and family. In the past, I had mostly stayed indoors to avoid the cold; however, I really want to make this winter an opportunity for myself to spend time with my peers. After all, what keeps you warmer than the loving care from others?
Abhirup Saha (3rd Sem., The Graduate School of Pharmacy)
I’m from Kolkata, India, where winters are around 11℃. When I first came to Korea last year, I had no idea how severe the cold would be. I couldn’t prepare [for the cold] by buying winter clothes, because winter clothes in India are specific for the Indian cold, and not for the ones you experience in Korea. What shocked me the most about last winter was the wind. I had to walk to the lab every morning, and I would cover myself as best as I could. Still, I remember the wind, as sharp as a knife, coming from all sides.
For this winter, I am trying to eat more protein and seasonal fruits to strengthen my immune system. I have also been stocking up on tea; I find ginger honey tea excellent for withstanding the cold because it keeps your body hydrated and prevents your throat from getting dry. One life hack is adding a squeeze of lemon to your tea, which adds to the flavor as well as nutrition.
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Numerous Yonseians have shared their own unique life hacks for the upcoming winter. Utilizing these ideas to create one’s own survival tips appears to be especially essential for this winter; the first snow has already come in October in Gangwon-do, causing anticipation for another round of piercing cold waves. We still have months to endure until the bloom of spring, so take out your padded coats, put on your warmest shoes and hold on to your hand warmers. Brace yourselves—winter has come!
*Songberia: A compound of Songdo and Siberia that is used to describe the freezing cold of Songdo
**Timbs: Timberland boots
***LASEK: An acronym of Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis, a vision correction surgery