Winter is Coming!!
Obviously, I can not speak for all the international students, but for me, at least the phrase ‘Winter is Coming’ sounds as scary as it does in Game of thrones. I have talked to some Swedes and they told me the winter I experienced last year was the mildest one in many years. I thought they were being sarcastic or even joking but unfortunately I learned that they were not quite humorous. To be honest, unlike most of the other international students from South East Asia, I have seen snow and lived in Europe during the winter (I spent two study abroad semesters in Austria and winter was nothing compared to the Swedish one). Please do not be scared, it will be some sort of an experience I promise you. So, for this year’s international and prospective students, I have noted down 9 different stages I had been through over last year’s winter.
1. I just want to sleep a little more
As winter crawls in, your attachment to your bed is going to grow stronger. Your alarm is going be your great enemy and the snooze button your morning prayer. I know this is the case for all the students anyway, but just wait and see. You will totally understand why the bears hibernate in winter, more than you ever did before.
2. Can’t tell if it’s a cyclone or just the wind!
The wind gets stronger as November approaches especially when it rains. Don’t think about getting an umbrella because that is just a way to throw your money in the bin. Simply because the wind is too strong it will break your umbrella and you will end up soaking wet. So, a raincoat or winter coat with the hoodies are the best options.
If you are lucky you would also hear the hissing sound of the wind and it can go on for the whole night. You might think a mini cyclone is paying a visit because of the sound and the rain but trust me it’s just Gothenburg. So, don’t be scared, playing your music a little louder can help.
3. I should go to bed. oh wait! it’s only 4 pm
As winter approaches, the sun will take its vacation from Gothenburg for about 6 months. Nothing’s wrong, it is just the way it is here. So, in the morning you will have gloomy greyish sky, perfect for sleeping. But no, you have to go to class. Let’s say you start your class at 10 am and finish at 3 pm. When you enter the classroom, it’s greyish and gloomy but when you leave, it’s totally dark that you might feel the need to double check the time. But the worst part is when you get home. After having some snacks/fika
, you will think it’s time for bed when it is only 4 or 5 pm. I have no tips for this part, figure it out yourselves.
4. My nail beds….my skin….am i molting? Or is it some mutation?
Enough with emotions, let’s talk physical now. I experienced this and it was the most dreadful phase I went through last year. After a few months of winter, I realized my nails were peeling off, and so did my skin. Of course, humans shed skin once every few weeks but this is the kind when you could see your old skin on your bed sheets or your jeans/stockings etc. Trust me, no exaggeration. I freaked out, started googling and asking friends and one Swedish guy told me he had that as well and suggested me to get some vitamin D for my nails. We all know that we get vitamin D from the sun, but without the sun, we get it from the drugstore aka ‘Apotek’. But for the skin, you just need to get the moisturizing lotion. So, get your vitamin D, and moisturizers ready, because your body is the temple after all.
5. It’s finally snowing. Oh no! it’s just some weird rain
Adding on to the darkness, it’s a strange snow/rain phenomenon. I have never experienced this weather until I came to Gothenburg. Basically, when you look out the window is snowing, so hooray! But when you step outside the building it’s actually the rain that pretends to be the snow before it hits the ground. The disturbing part is when they move sideway right to your face rather than vertically to the ground (hint: strong wind). Check the science yourselves. So, it’s safe to have good winter and waterproof clothing especially shoes.
This brings me nicely to my next advice, which is to get winter shoes with good grips. Because when it snows (for real), it form thin ice layer (something like mini ice sheet) and those babies are dangerous. Once you slip you either take a limp of shame back home or end up at some hospitals. Well, you have insurance but no one wants a broken hip or fractured bones for Christmas, right?
6. I just want to stay in the shower….
At some point in the winter, a long warm bath becomes your happiness because once you are under that warm shower, you forgot about the ice age outside….but just for a little while. Then the sensation of cold creeps in as you try to reach for the towel and suddenly you decide, ‘maybe I can shower a little longer’. Finally, all you think about is how to leave the bathroom without feeling so cold. Different people have different strategies. I’m sure the great engineers of the future of Chalmers can come up with something. Good luck.
7. I spent all day sleeping, now I’m tired
The gloomy sky, the wind, and the drizzling rain outside is a great recipe for a cozy time in your bed or couch with a cup of warm hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows topped with some thick whip cream along with watching your favorite TV series. But as soon as the cup is empty, you will feel sleepy. And once you open that door, you will end up sleeping all day with no guilt especially when it is already dark at 4 pm. However, the guilt creeps in once you wake up realizing you should be studying or work on your project but again, you are so tired from sleeping all day….
8. Maybe coffee can help
I know that infidelity or the idea of cheating is bad but if your first love is tea, I think the world will understand if you would choose to be ‘on a break’ only while you are in Sweden, especially in winter. As true love can bring the best out of you, coffee can pull productivity out of you too. After you have walked this path, next thing you know is that you are drinking coffee without sugar or milk….like the Swedes.
9. Dear Lord, let this cup pass from me
This is actually the last phase where you just accept that fact that you can not change the weather or have everything your way. So, you just acknowledge that harsh winter exists and hope to survive through it. That maybe the reason why our ancestors invented the holiday seasons during winter.
But remember that every season has its own charm, so just consider yourself blessed to be experiencing something different this year. Anyway, you should already start making plans for the holidays. It’s going to be fun. So, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Written by: Daphne Hingert