Today I'm in Seoul.
Two major reasons made me choose to come here for a holiday are seeing my friends who live here and enjoying a bit of winter. And now while I'm here sitting in a McDonald's and looking by the window, I realize that I miss winter more than I thought. And not only winter but the change of seasons in general. Before coming to Hong Kong, the only thing people would tell me is “if you get used to the wet and hot weather you’ll be ok”. But I feel it’s way more complex than that.
As you surely know, Hong Kong has a subtropical climate, meaning a small variation of temperature during the year. What local people call winter I call it spring or bad summer for France. So, I perceive the year as bad summer to intense summer. The other thing is the light. The Sun has also a minimal variation during the year, not as little as a tropical country like Singapore, but the variation is still less than what I was used to.
All of them put together, there is a huge variation in the atmosphere. Summer in Hong Kong, is a warm light with air charged with particles. The horizon is often blurry and the light is dense. In the hot air, the sound can propagate far and the streets are overwhelming with a lot of different noises from people to cars and music. It completely fits the global landscape of a city, intensifying the already busy surrounding. It creates a vibrant atmosphere and invites people to spend time outside.
But winter offers the crisp clear sky of a cold day. No particles except firewood or steam, no evaporation except the condensation on the windows of restaurants. And in this cold air, the sound doesn't go far, and everything sounds muted except for the close surrounding. Everything feels disconnected, and it's a great time to enjoy ourselves or with the company of close friends and family. No wonder it's the time for Christmas and other family celebrations.
Don't think I would like to live in a perpetual winter. I am the kind of person who thinks to enjoy the rain when you need sunny days. The eternal change of season brings the feeling of moving forward, gives a distinctive feeling to every memory and makes you expect the future. The long nights of winter in your blanket makes you dream of the eternal evenings of summer when even the sun doesn't want to get down. And in France you can often hear people say, “during winter we miss summer so bad and now that summer is here we can only think about snow” (yes French people love complaining - it’s a national sport). I don’t think it is bad - looking forward to the snow doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy the summer.
My mom switching her clothes in her closet is a ritual done twice a year, and I keep doing it - unboxing winter clothes and discovering them again, making plans to wear that scarf, that hat or that coat you haven’t seen in months and packing this t-shirt you are tired to wear but you’ll be excited to see again next summer.
Before coming to Hong Kong I knew the weather would be a challenge, as I am always celebrating change. But losing winter was a sacrifice I was willing to make, as it is easy to travel from Hong Kong to a different climate like Korea.
Even this intense contrast is what I miss.
With this article and the previous one about friendship, I want to explore another side of what missing home can be. Behind all the well-known missing family, friends and habits, there are other things that can disturb the balance of someone. Building a new environment, adapting to a new climate can also be challenging.
Photo Credit: Mathilde Gattegno
Posted by Mathilde Gattegno – from Paris and love to see the world. Graduated from architecture with an option in civil engineering. Curious about everything, a huge bookworm, a little bit geek and also enjoy music, sports, going outside to take pictures. Hong Kong is a brand new playground!
MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.