Monday, March 22, 2010


March 20th is the start of spring, which means that March 22nd is the logical time for a freak snow storm. SPRINGFAIL!

It started snowing ten minutes before my last class ended (which, of course, led to TEACHINGFAIL!) and kept snowing all afternoon. Before long, I couldn't see beyond the school yard (compared to my normal view here). It was eerily beautiful leaving the school with the snow still falling - everything still and shrouded in the silence you get only when any possible sound is muffled by snowfall. On the flip side, my walk home was less of a walk and more of a controlled downhill fall, and I get to walk back up the ice hill tomorrow. Overall, I am unimpressed.

I am also unimpressed with the 황사 (Hwangsa, or Yellow Dust), which I had managed to forget about in the past year. Hwangsa starts as dust storms in the Gobi Desert, which are then carried east by the winds, picking up pollutants as they goes, and pass over China, the Korean peninsula and Japan. Yellow dust storms usually just make things look hazy, but during bad episodes everything looks yellow. Here's a picture of Seoul on Saturday. It wasn't quite as bad in my town, but at noon, my apartment was as dark as it is when my alarm goes off at 6:45 in the morning.

Last year, during a particularly bad Hwangsa, I asked my 6th graders what the weather was like. I had taught them the phrase yellow dust the week before and one boy, after thinking it over, looked at me and said brightly, "Teacher, today it's Yellow Dusty!" Aces, kid, aces!

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