The weather where I am
The first time I smelled rain after living out in the bush, I was brought straight back to Ireland in my mind. I hadn’t realised that I had missed the rain. We’re in the middle of our winter now and have had a little rain, but it is still around 15 degrees. If I could move my family out here, life would be perfect.
‘Kids grow up wearing hiking boots here, and almost everyone has a set of skis or a snowboard’
ANDREW TUITE Zurich
There’s a world of difference between the lifestyle in Switzerland and Ireland. Kids grow up wearing hiking boots here, and almost everyone has a set of skis or a snowboard for the winter months. Heavy snow falls from December to March, but it doesn’t feel that cold because there isn’t that same dampness in the air that there is during the Irish winter. I tried snowboarding for the first time when I got here in 2010 and loved it.
In Zurich we are surrounded by mountains criss-crossed by Wanderwege, an extensive network of hiking and biking trails. Mountain biking is my real passion here. I go out my front door in the morning, cycle up the hill and onto the trail at the top of the street, and ride off-road almost to the door of the office where I work. It is a 17km cycle but the scenery is stunning.
Ireland gets a lot of rain, but I think it is a difference in attitude that makes people less likely to get out and enjoy the outdoors. When Irish people see the weather closing in on a Sunday, they would be inclined to cosy in and get the fire going. The Swiss have a more pragmatic attitude, and get on with things no matter what the weather is like.
‘In Seoul, you can experience a temperature range of more than 50 degrees over the course of a year’
JOHN POWER Seoul
In many ways, South Korea is a place of extremes. Koreans work the most among rich nations, are the thinnest and sleep the least; they are the authors of perhaps the world’s most astonishing economic-success story, but also suffers a major suicide problem.
Aptly enough, the country’s weather, too, veers into the extreme. When it is hot, it is scorching; when it’s cold, it’s practically Arctic. In Seoul, you can experience a temperature range of more than 50 degrees over the course of a year. Summers peak at about 35 degrees and feel all the hotter due to the punishing humidity. In January, the mercury regularly drops below minus 15 degrees. In July, the infrequent rain of most of the year becomes constant. Spring, which is cool, dry and regrettably brief, brings with it cherry blossoms that colour tree-lined avenues and parks a brilliant pink. Autumn is similarly pleasant.
Koreans take pride in the variety of their county’s climate, often telling foreigners about the four “distinct” seasons. This is a common source of amusement to westerners who are rather used to the idea of four seasons.
As any Irish person knows, having four seasons doesn’t mean any of the weather is any good. I would wager that most Irish would readily swap the dark, damp days of an Irish winter for a second summer (minus the inevitable showers). But Koreans? I am not so sure. What would be distinct about that?