So, how’d it go without air conditioning?

At first, it felt great. That’s the best way to start. I started while the weather still felt cool. So the heat slowly built up in my place, which meant I adapted to it slowly instead of trying to bear it all at once.

Still, it got hot. Before the season hit, friends warned me Korea summers can get brutal, especially with the humidity. They weren’t joking. I remember a few days sitting in front of my computer for an hour after getting home and still sweating.

But here are a few coping tips I learned as a result:

  • Keep the window open: Actually, I didn’t really learn this. I never shut the window. Still, I’m pretty sure it played a big part in how the place felt since the air at least stayed within 10 degrees of the outside temperature, which cooled off at night.
  • Open doors: If you live in a place like mine that only has one window, air circulation doesn’t exist.  So toward the middle of the summer, I left my door open. This helped get a breeze to flow through the room and suck out some of the daytime heat.
  • Stay out of the house during the day: I work from the afternoon through to the evening. In the morning, the heat didn’t feel too bad since the sun had just started heating the air. And then by the time I got home at night, the air had cooled down again, not cool but under 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then it was just a matter of using that door and window technique to get rid of the heat that had built up in the room during the day.
  • Take cold showers: This does two things. One, it cools your overall body temperature, and more importantly it cools your skin temperature. Two, it keeps your place from heating up from the steam from your shower.
  • Take off your clothes: There are advantages to living alone in a small place. Seriously, though, definitely get rid of your socks and pants and any long sleeves. Stick with shorts and loose shirts, preferably without sleeves at all.
  • Ditch the blankets: I like to sleep with at least a sheet on me at night. It makes me feel all snugly. This summer I learned to go without the covers. It’s a good idea to learn this skill if you’re going without A/C. Plus, you don’t have to make your bed if you sleep on top of everything each night.
  • Splash cool water on your face: When you start to heat up, a face refresher can go a long way toward making the rest of your body feel cool.
  • Eat cool foods: There’s a reason people love steaming hot soup in the winter: it warms them up. If you’re shooting for cool, eat cucumbers and carrots and cold noodles instead.
  • Drink lots and lots of cold water: I keep a two liter bottle in the fridge all the time and try to finish it each day. Normally, I prefer water that’s just room temperature. . . but not this summer. This summer, water functioned as my internal A/C.
  • Bonus tip – Careful with your laptop: Laptops seem to get hot anyway, even in fairly normal weather. You can imagine what a summer can do. More than once I thought I’d made my own version of KFC: Korean Fried Computer. It never actually gave out, but I still probably pushed it too far. Lesson? Pay attention.

Notice one item not on this list: a fan. It’s a good option, but I don’t have one. That was my last ditch effort if things got unbearable. With the list above, though, plus some old fashioned stubbornness, I never reached that point.