Weather and Planning
This summer I was studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea for what is known as “monsoon season” or the rainy season there. This meant having to plan some activities around or according to the unpredictable but usually wet and always hot weather. Weather is something that can be difficult to anticipate when planning for experiences in advance, and this applies to study abroad experiences. I feel that an important part of making the most of a trip is learning to and being prepared to deal with unexpected or bad weather.
One way of planning well for a trip is packing clothes appropriate to what the predicted weather is supposed to be for your time there. Or, if you are like me, buying clothes at your host location is also a good option if your budget allows for it, especially in countries where clothes may be cheaper or if you don’t feel like you already have the perfect clothes to fit the climate where you are going (or if you just want to do some fun shopping in another country; I was very excited to buy clothes in Korea because I love Korean fashion). This goes beyond just packing for hot or cold weather and should also take into account precipitation and other weather factors (like packing or buying clothes that are good for rain and humidity in Korea).
It is also important to know how to plan for poor weather during your experience abroad. To illustrate this, I will share some examples of how excess rain impacted my excursions and plans while I was in Seoul in July.
Sometimes the potential for bad weather can mean needing to change plans. Every Friday, my entire program would take a trip together in place of the individual culture class activities that we did every other weekday. On the first Friday of the program, we were set to go to Everland, a big theme park in Korea, but the plans were changed due to the forecasted rain for the day we were supposed to go. Instead, the plans changed, and we all took a trip to Lotte World Adventure, another theme park that also had an indoor section that we could enjoy in the event of rain. Though I would have liked to visit Everland, I also had a really great time with my friends at Lotte World and we did actually get to enjoy the outside attractions because it did not end up raining (another part of planning around weather is knowing that it can be unpredictable sometimes).
There were, however, also a few times where the weather was atrocious, but my friends and I did not let that stop us from doing what we wanted to do. A group of us, after our culture class, decided we wanted to visit Han River to watch the sunset. This, however, was not meant to be. Though we did get to visit the river and had a nice time walking around together, soon after arriving it started to downpour. Not only did we not get to see the sunset through the thick clouds and pouring rain, but this was one of the first time we had to figure out how to take a bus back to the campus because the subways were flooding due to how much it had been raining before with this new wave of rain on top to add to it (though we later discovered that the busses were the best way of getting back to the university, they took us longer to really get the hang of).
There was also one day where my class and I had to walk far to get to a museum for one of our culture classes in Insadong and it was raining hard. By the time we made it to the museum for class my shoes were soaked all the way through, and I was just uncomfortably wet despite the fact I had been carrying an umbrella the whole way there. After class, my friends and I had planned to look around at the cafes in Insadong because my friend who had lived there for longer said they had some really cute ones. Despite the fact that we were soaked and constantly walking through water to get anywhere, a couple of my friends and I still decided to visit the cafes in the area, and we had a great time. While the conditions were not ideal and the fact that my feet were squishing every time, I took a step was wildly uncomfortable, I still ended up having a really great time out with my friends that day and had some delicious food at some really cute places.
The moral of this is, it is important to be able to deal with bad weather wherever you are, whether that means not letting it stop your plans or changing plans to do something else exciting and fun. Despite the poor weather for the majority of the time I was abroad, I managed to create a myriad of great experiences both indoors and outdoors, so my message is this: don’t let bad weather stop you from having the best experience possible!