Today after our work shift, several of us decided to venture to the Super Store (that’s actually what it’s called) at the Olympic Park, where the Opening Ceremony was held last night (reminder: we’re 14-hours ahead here). (The time difference is working out nicely for students in my online class since a Friday, 5:00 p.m. deadline actually gives them over a half-day leeway to turn work in.)
Those of us on Team A have met several of our Korean counterparts including a Korean-born woman now living in Chattanooga, Tennessee also named Gina. Gina volunteered to serve as our default guide, of sorts, to help navigate us on the right bus. First stop was the North Face store (North Face is an official sponsor and provider of our volunteer gear and apparel.) We were pleasantly surprised to find our issued boots retail for $135 in the store; our gloves retail for $80. One shopper asked me how I liked my coat as he was looking at buying a similar one for $399.
Next we crossed the street and over a bridge to Olympic Park and the Super Store (essentially an oversized industrial tent). Shopping was fairly controlled pandemonium, probably reminiscent of someplace like Ikea on Black Friday. It was opening weekend so several sizes of t-shirts and hoodies were already out-of-stock but no one left empty-handed.
While our so-called “five minute” bus ride took about 25-minutes to get to the Park, the return trip was actually five minutes which meant we still had to wait about 20-minutes for our return-to-the-resort bus to show up. The transportation has been surprisingly efficient since we’ve been here. The traffic is picking up, however, as it took about 15-minutes to get through a roundabout.
The brutal weather is the only downside really. Unfortunately, we’re looking at a cold and windy rest-of-the-weekend before it’s slated to lift.
As a self-confessed weather nerd (you may recall my Olympic umbrella purchase at the Korean National Souvenir Center when everyone else was buying Soohorang stuffed mascots), I check forecasts every morning. So you can imagine my dread when the PyeongChang weather app read 6°F, “feels like” -11°F. To make matters worse, there were three squiggly lines next to the temps–the dreaded icon for wind. (“How cold was it,” you ask? “So cold (or in this case windy) the men’s downhill scheduled for today has been postponed due to high winds.”) Needless to say it was a rough day, especially for those of us assigned to outdoor positions. So we lost our first heat (no pun intended). Tomorrow’s prediction calls for a very slight improvement. Tuesday we do the DNC Museum tour. (Incidentally, Sokcho, the town where our “resort” is located, is only about 30-miles south of the North Korean border.) Wednesday is predicted to be in the 40°s. So, let the Games resume.
By Gina Daddario, Professor and Chair of Mass Communication, Posting from Sokcho, Korea