A Cold and Dark Time of Year

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The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyways

It finally happened! I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment: the moment the sky sends down fluffy, white, cold flakes of wholesome goodness. Snow. It finally snowed here in Uppsala and I couldn’t be more excited! Being raised in a mid-tropical-hot-summer-land of Thailand then moving to Hawaii, which is also a tropical-hot-summer-land, I’ve never experience the winter wonderland. The only outlet of exposure I had with snow was either through television or online videos/movies. However, this was not my first time seeing snow but it was my first time seeing falling snow. It was magical! Sadly it only lasted for a few days before melting away into the ground. But from what I’ve been hearing from the locals who’ve lived here for a long time, this is only the beginning of winter in Sweden.

Snow-covered tracks and grass field!
The morning that it first snowed, my friend and I excitedly ran out to walk in the snow despite having woken up just a few minutes earlier.
Winter Is Coming

For most of Swedes, this is a phrase of impending coldness accompanied by a never-ending darkness. Because Sweden is a country farther north than most European countries, the sun rises later during the day and sets early in the afternoon (during the winter season). Although we’re not at the high-point of winter yet, I can already notice the increasing ratio of dark time versus daylight time.

At first, the thought of having to stay indoors all the time (because it’s too cold to go outside) was ideal for a self-proclaimed introvert such as myself. However, having experienced roughly two weeks of almost zero sunlight exposure drove me crazy. I started to develop occasional symptoms of dizziness, mild headaches, and slight lost of appetite.

During orientation at the beginning of the semester, I remember the Health Services administration gave a presentation on the services they offer. One of them was a Lightroom available for students who may need light therapy during the dark winter. I thought to myself, as cool as it may sound I don’t think I’ll ever need to use light therapy.

But now I may have to pay them a visit soon. I did not realize that there were such negative repercussions that came with the romanticized ‘winter wonderland’ image I had in my head. Winter wasn’t such an exciting time for Swedes as it was for me, but now I’m beginning to understand why it is so. I can only imagine how rough it would get in the future as we approach Christmas winter in December.

Could This Be Why?

After thinking about this for a while, I came to realize something. Swedes are known for their emphasis in respecting others of their personal space as well as expecting others to respect theirs. Most Swedes I’ve come in contact with have somewhat quiet personalities and are very private individuals.

At first I thought it may have been because of their social unwritten rules of Jantelagen, but now I’m thinking, could it be because of the winter weather? Because it’s often cold and dark for so long each year, most people would opt to stay in their home and engage in mostly indoor activities.

If this is how they spend their days for majority of the year (due to prolonged winter), I wonder if it could explain why most Swedes are such private individuals. This is only a rough speculation made from an outsider so it may not be correct, but I can’t help but wonder if environmental factors such as geographical location and meteorological state could affect a person’s behavior and personality.

Although the sky seems bright blue, there was barely enough light to make out the path I was walking on. This picture was taken around 5pm.