From spring to autumn?

When developing my expat services I take the needs of my clients as a point of departure. I believe in possibilities. For every problem there is a solution. For every inconvenience, a different approach can be tried out. For every wish, there are hundred different strategies to fulfil it.

There is this one specific issue however, which I find hard to tackle: the Dutch weather. It affects the majority of the international residents in the Netherlands (and the locals) and I have no clue how to go about it.

  • I have tried to change my approach: “oh, look how beautiful the raindrops on the leaves.”
  • To value the charm of drinking hot chocolate and sitting by a fire place.
  • I have tried to make practical changes: putting on thicker gloves and a warmer hat. Not only in ‘official’ winter time but whenever I feel like. Also in May 2013.

To be honest, emigrating is the only strategy that did it for me. Maybe that is what has driven me in the first place to try out a life abroad: in search for the sun. And I have to admit that in the past few months in my head I was already writing a new emigration plan.

My God, do I miss the sun. And the whole life style that comes with it. Life seems less complicated.

  • Imagine just walking out the door on elegant high heels without panty hoses.
  • Organizing barbecues with friends in their gardens or in the park, with a 90% chance that it can actually follow through.
  • Joining open air events, dancing under an open sky, listening to concerts on a field…
  • Sitting on a terrace without patio heaters, canopies or IKEA blankets.
  • Walking your dog on flip flops and letting the stroll turn into a long walk because it is just so nice to be outside.
  • Having your morning juice, tea or coffee and a newspaper with your sunglasses on.
  • Cycling to work with your laptop without worrying if it is drowned when you arrive
  • Making an appointment to play tennis and actually ending up on the court playing

You get my point. The Dutch weather cannot be managed by taking another psychological approach.

I once had a Mexican friend when I was living in Barcelona. He heard me telling stories about the Dutch weather once I returned to the Netherlands. He said: “Mirjam, try to enjoy the cold. See the beauty of the grey sky and go dancing in the rain.” Not much later he accepted a job in London. After a few months I visited him there and instead of dancing in the rain he felt depressed and isolated. The physical impact was bigger than his positive mind could handle.

So what do you do when you cannot change something? You accept it. And you can try to limit the damage by trying out these tricks:

  • Do not be disappointed when your Dutch fellow inhabitants do not recognise what you are talking about. Every organism has its own ideal temperature and there are quite a few people in the Netherlands who function quite well in this climate.
  • Buy a ‘light lamp”. It radiates a light much intenser than a normal lamp but not as intense as the sun on a sunny day. The light comes in through your eyes and your brains use this signal to manage the day and night rythm in your body. It is a safe method which you can also use when having a jetlag or suffering from insomnia.
  • The grey look on your face because of lack of sun can be helped easily with one or two short sessions in the solarium. Besides, it covers the whole body and you almost feel as if you have been sunbathing just a little bit. I know this migth be more of a female thing. However I have seen more and more (masculine) men attending this place over the past few years.
  • Drink ginger tea, it warms up the body.

And on the moments that you are really fed-up, you can always turn to someone else and talk about it. Write a blog for instance. Sharing always helps.



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