what I don't miss about Norway

October 13th, 2007

Back in Norway the winters are long. And cold. And dark. I don't know which of those properties is the most depressing, but it's probably the darkness.

In college we sometimes had classes at 8am. In the midst of winter I would wake up at 7 all sleepy and dread getting up, because it meant leaving my warm bed and stepping into the zone of cold. And once you wake up feeling cold that sensation doesn't go away that quick. If you wake up feeling cold, you're gonna be feeling cold until you find yourself in a place where you can really warm up for several hours. But it wasn't just cold, it was dark. So I turn on the light and get dressed. I would leave the house at 7:30 and start walking to school. Pitch black outside, all you have is the light from streetlights. And cold. That 30 minute walk was the least favorite part of my day. Better yet if it was slushy with 10cm of soft, wet snow, and sporadic puddles of water underneath that are sometimes hard to avoid stepping into. Then your shoes are pretty much soaked by the time you get there. (At least if it's slushy it's not that cold.)

On a long day I would be in school until 4pm. After the first block of classes there would be a break, which was just in time to witness that it had become light out, at 10. Around noon there was lunch and another chance to enjoy daylight. At 2pm we had another break and it was still light out. But by 4 daylight was long gone, and I was left with the prospect of a 30min walk back home in the dark. At least it wasn't cold, it would be warmer than it is in the morning and I had had plenty of time to defrost from the brutal wakeup.

When you're in college you don't have classes all day everyday, so some days you do actually experience daylight. The working people on the other hand... Understandably therefore, on the weekends people are trying to catch a break from this routine.

After a winter that starts in November and ends in April spring can't come soon enough. Which is why people are super keen to get excited about the first signs of spring, however meager they may be. There is a time every year when spring is just visible on the horizon and people celebrate prematurely on one of those weekend break-aways.

It will typically be a Sunday. The days are much longer now, so when you wake up it's already light out. And people are quick to say "what a nice day, let's go somewhere". That somewhere is a walk. Now keep in mind this is like a seasonal feast, spring is here and we're all excited. So you drive out somewhere, most of the snow is gone, and you don't have to dress that warm anymore. It's noon on a Sunday, the sun is up, and everything is nice.

Except it still sucks. The sun is up, but since Norway is so far north it's like 30 degrees above the horizon, blinding you. And although the snow is gone, the ground is still frozen 1m deep, so the plant life is pretty much disabled. Furthermore, everything that was there before the snow fell is now visible, whether it's firework remains from new year's or old leaves and decomposing plants dating back to the fall or just random trash. And since the ground is frozen it will pretty much remain intact for a month.

Worst of all, there is absolutely nothing to do at a time like this (that's why you're out walking). There's probably some snow left in the hills for those not yet sick of skiing. But every football pitch is frozen, so even though the snow is *finally* gone you still can't play. And this is supposed to be an uplifting experience, yay spring is here.

That's what I don't miss at all about Norway. After everything winter puts you through, what people perceive as a glimpse of hope completely sucks. And in some ways that's more depressing than winter itself.

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1 Responses to "what I don't miss about Norway"

  1. erik says:

    Oh ouch. And to think I've been cursing Dutch winters for the rainfall