Until Further Notice, You Can Assume I’m Freezing
We are well into winter here in Germany, even though technically the first day of winter isn’t until December 21st. Most days the temperatures are right above or right below freezing, sometimes even colder. We’ve already had more snow this season than Atlanta normally gets in two years. Freiburg is also in the southwestern corner of Germany, and it’s the sunniest part of the country. Though you’d never know it by looking out the window these days.
Don’t blink, you’ll miss the sun
Andy recently wrote about how Germany gets dark in winter, and as much as I hate that we get just a little more than eight hours of daylight each day, that’s not the thing that bothers me the most. What really gets to me is the cold. I lived in New Jersey until I was 15, and I spent an entire winter in Minnesota for a training program when I was 25, so I’ve definitely lived through cold winters. But living in Atlanta for 16 years probably made me a bit soft. It does get cold there, and occasionally a few flakes of snow even reach the ground. But overall, it’s a milder and shorter winter.
I need more Glühwein
I missed most of winter here last year while I was on my round the world trip. My first full winter in Freiburg is off to a rough start, and we still have a solid three or four months to go. The Christmas markets have started, which helps because it’s something fun to do and there’s alcohol involved, but it still means being outside in the cold. Besides, that ends at Christmas. Unfortunately there are no Valentine’s markets or January Sucks markets.
Fresh air or torture technique?
Germans have this thing with fresh air. I get it, fresh air is a good thing. But I get enough of it walking to and from tram stops several times a day. That’s not enough for your average German, so they like to open windows. It could be 35F (2C) and my German teacher will open the windows, letting in all kinds of frigid air. Luckily she has backed off a little recently, but I could easily keep my coat on all morning if she opens the windows for even a few minutes.
Stress and bad fashion
I’m a miserable person when I’m cold. I’m surprised Andy wanted to see me again after meeting me in person for the first time in Prague with snow and below freezing temperatures. When I’m cold, I get stressed out more easily, I’m much more impatient, and I just want to hide under the covers.
The wind and overall winter weather wrecks my hair. It irritates me to have to wear my hair in a ponytail nearly every day. (How do so many women wear winter hats without their hair looking like crap afterwards?) My skin is constantly dry. I’m also really short (5’1″ or 155 cm) which means my pants are usually too long. In this weather, that means a big chunk of the bottom gets wet, so now I’ve taken to folding them up. It’s not an attractive look.
Combine all of these things with stubborn culture shock, and winter becomes disastrous.
Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much, if anything, I can do about this. I will continue to bundle up to trudge out to school everyday. I will do whatever I can to minimize how often I have to be outside. I will indulge in some Glühwein at the Christmas markets, you know, for warmth. And I will keep dreaming of tropical places.
Unless any of you have any magical powers that will give me my own personal bubble of warmth? No? Then maybe I’ll just try to escape to a warmer location next winter.
Note: The three pictures of the buildings (which are the apartments across the street from ours) were taken from our living room through the glass door of our balcony. I was unwilling to open the door to go out in the cold to take the pictures. I’m sure you can understand.
December 13, 2012 @ 12:21 PM
There is only one good thing about cold weather and that is cuddling up in a nice warm bed. I suggest staying in bed and not going to school.
December 14, 2012 @ 4:53 PM
I do occasionally make that choice! Luckily I only have a few more weeks of class left, then I will stay inside for days at a time if I can!
December 13, 2012 @ 1:41 PM
Looks terribly cold!! Its winter here in Mumbai and the temperature is around 20 degree celcius!! As we commonly say, winter in Mumbai means ac not required, fan still runs full speed!!
December 14, 2012 @ 4:54 PM
20C is a winter I think I could handle! Thanks Arti!
December 13, 2012 @ 2:57 PM
I can’t imagine having class and trying to focus on learning a new language while freezing air wraps around you from head to toe!
December 14, 2012 @ 4:56 PM
It is rather distracting sometimes! Right now I’m just looking forward to being done with the class so I can hide in my warm apartment until spring.
December 13, 2012 @ 3:55 PM
I know! I put a hat on and my hair is plastered to my head. I see other women takes theirs off and shake out beautiful hair. I must be missing some sort of trick…
December 14, 2012 @ 4:57 PM
Hair plastered to my head plus static electricity hair for me! So annoying!
December 13, 2012 @ 4:25 PM
Oh hell no, I couldn’t handle this. I mean I know I couldn’t… I don’t know how or why anyone in the world would handle this? It’s like TORTURE. I’d rather deal with the extreme summers of Cairo… laying there with the fan infront of me all day than the cold.
I love your style though… bring back the 70s. Make rolling of the pants happen again. Oh & the photos of the houses all look great. I hope Spring arrives before you know it.
December 14, 2012 @ 4:59 PM
Thanks Jaime! I’m not good at dealing with extreme heat either. I need a perfect 75 degrees at all times 🙂 Glad you like the silly pants!
December 13, 2012 @ 5:45 PM
I think it’s time to commit to some jeans alterations 🙂 Do they have those little pocket hand warmer things there? Maybe you can throw in your coat to feel better?
December 14, 2012 @ 5:01 PM
Well, the jeans aren’t so bad when I can wear them like a normal person. And I *hate* how jeans look when they’re hemmed. Ugh. I finally bought a hat yesterday, so I think I’m fully committed to looking silly for the rest of winter.
December 13, 2012 @ 8:37 PM
Oh Ali – I have to admit I laughed all through this post. Not at you, mind you, but in sympathy with you. I’ve been more cold the last 12 months on my travels than I can ever remember before. Apparently I’m doing something wrong. But I can definitely relate and commiserate.
December 14, 2012 @ 5:03 PM
Thanks, I’m happy to make you laugh! Hopefully you can move on to some warmer weather soon!
December 14, 2012 @ 2:50 AM
Oh jeeze, I’m like you and hate the cold and feel so bad for you. Hell,I live in Central North Carolina and find it too frigid here. But i bet you’ll have a lovely spring!
Do you have any wool socks?
Have you thought of ‘tight rolling’ your jeans like folks did in the 1980’s? That would be HOT!!!
December 14, 2012 @ 5:06 PM
I know, I didn’t like how cold it got in Atlanta when I was living there! That’s nothing compared to this. I don’t have any wool socks, might need to go shopping for some though. And I did just cave in and buy a hat. I don’t think I can handle tight rolling my jeans though! HA!
December 14, 2012 @ 10:17 AM
8 hours of sun a day is 2 more than we get, haha. I actually prefer the cold to the heat – I’ll take snow over the 40C days we’d have in Australia any day of the week. Up here in Norway they have an expression, “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Once I figured out how to dress for the conditions, I’ve been having a grand time. But we’re all different and I hope you find your cozy place soon =) ps. opening the windows in 2C is not on!
December 14, 2012 @ 5:08 PM
Andrea, I can’t even imagine how you deal with the weather there! Not that I like the extreme heat either. I am getting better about having the right clothes and layering up, and I do have a hat now, which I never did in Atlanta. As for the window thing, yeah that gets old real quick!
December 14, 2012 @ 11:02 AM
Ah it drives me nuts when someone opens a window in my apartment! I’m like are you nuts it takes ages to heat this joint. Seriously, terrible.
December 14, 2012 @ 5:09 PM
It’s very strange! Especially when my teacher doesn’t care that she’s the only one not freezing.
December 14, 2012 @ 11:44 AM
Ali, i feel for you, really. I soooo hate the cold as well and while it’s around 0° C in belgium right now, that’s already WAY to cold for me. In fact, I think anything below 20° C is cold. And I’m not exagerating. I’m wearing at least 4 layers everyday, and a scarf. Woolen socks. Leg warmers from time to time. And I’m still cold!
A few notes:
– screw the bad hair, wear it loose, it’s much warmer than wearing it in a pony tail!
– fresh air is very important, so I open the bedroom window when I leave for work (with the bedroom door closed) and close it again when I come home from work. And than I put the heating it’s maximum. I figure I’m in my bedroom for about 7 hours each night, so that should be enough fresh air:p
– the pants that get wet: put them IN your shoes. Of course you need to be a bit careful with what kind of pants you wear in what kind of shoes, but I always tuck my skinnies in my boots. It’s warmer and it often leaves room to put leg warmers over my trousers and in my boots as well.
I’ve been dreaming of hot winters as well. When I was in LA in September, people told me that it can be 20° C there on Christmas. 20° C! I’m already happy when temperatures don’t go below 20° C during the day in summer here in Belgium.
Also, my birthday is in February. That’s like the coldest, most crappy month over here. Spring still isn’t in sight in February and people have so had it with the cold by then (I’ve had it already, but you know…). I’d really like to travel somewhere warm (Australia!) for my birthday, but that won’t be for this year, unfortunately…
Until then, I’ll just keep planning my sunny trips to come to get me through winter!
December 14, 2012 @ 5:15 PM
Thanks Sofie! I’m glad other people who live in northern Europe also don’t like the cold. My hair isn’t thick at all, so if I wear it down in this weather, it gets blown around like crazy by the wind and ends up really knotty. It’s awful. So the ponytail is actually a bit better. As for the jeans, I don’t own skinny jeans because my legs are definitely not skinny! So I also don’t own those nice tall boots everyone’s wearing now because I’d never get them zipped up all the way. I did just buy myself a winter hat though, so my head is a little warmer, and I’m now fully committed to looking silly for the next few months. I just have to be ok with it!
Hopefully for your 2014 birthday you can plan a warm getaway!
December 14, 2012 @ 10:51 PM
Haha. I would flip out if I had to sit in a classroom with the windows open if it was that cold! I totally feel for you because I’m a cold wimp too. I’ve been using the heater in San Diego already.
December 15, 2012 @ 2:50 PM
I know, I can’t stand it! It’s one of the few parts of living here I don’t want to adjust to, I just want to escape for the winter instead!
December 16, 2012 @ 4:12 AM
Unfortunately, unless you’re living in Florida or Hawaii or somewhere tropical, cold happens! Here in Washington it’s a different kind of cold – damp, dark, gray and gloomy for months on end of 40F plus endless drizzle/showers/rain. It gets right into your bones. But I’ll still take cold over too much heat. You can always put on more clothes and warm up. When it’s too hot…well, you can only take off so many clothes, unless you’re living in a nudist colony.
December 16, 2012 @ 12:31 PM
I know, I just really don’t like being cold. It’s a pretty damp winter here too, and the latitude of Seattle is just a hair south of Freiburg’s latitude, so I can definitely understand that dark, gray and gloomy thing. Ugh. I’d love it right now if it would stay around 40F, but unfortunately we have far too many days that are below 30F. Not fun. I’m not a fan of extreme heat either though. I think I just have a narrow range of acceptable temperatures!
December 16, 2012 @ 4:45 AM
People forget how far north Northern Europe is. Almost half of the continent is north of Montreal.
I live in Michigan, notorious for it’s awful winters, but it’s been mild here so far this year.
December 16, 2012 @ 12:34 PM
I guess because most people visit in the summer when it’s warm, it’s easy to forget how cold it can be in winter. I just had to look up the latitude of Montreal, and Freiburg is roughly 2.5 degrees north of Montreal. Crazy! I’m glad your winter hasn’t been bad so far, hopefully it’ll stay that way!
December 17, 2012 @ 6:58 AM
THIS is why I live in Austin. Tonight it is a frigid 58 degrees. BRR! <3
Sending warm thoughts your way girlie!
December 17, 2012 @ 5:07 PM
I don’t blame you at all! Thanks for the warm thoughts, I need all I can get!