General

Winter Blues

This is the time of year when I start to feel a little bit blue. In Toronto, I think it’s because this is the time when winter seems like it will never end, like I’ll be cold forever and the days will never get any longer. I know everyone hates winter, but I really hate it. So I thought living in Scotland this year would be a nice break from the winter blues.

Winter in Scotland is a bit of a joke. People still walk around in big down jackets, woolly scarves and heavy boots, complaining about the cold, just like they do in Toronto. But unlike Toronto, the ‘cold’ they are complaining about is any temperature under 5 degrees, and their boots are protecting them from drizzle, not snow drifts. The point is, winter here isn’t such a big deal. It rains a lot, snows on rare occasions, and it’s a bit chilly, but I haven’t heard anyone utter the words “polar vortex” or “wind-chill factor”, so I thought I would be safe from that winter-induced sadness.

Even across the pond in Edinburgh, snowy winter managed to find me.

Even across the pond in Edinburgh, snowy winter managed to find me.

But it turns out you can’t escape the winter blues, even if you try to run away from them by fleeing to another country. Last week, it snowed all weekend, it rained all week, and the whole time there was a crazy amount of wind that made being outside decidedly unpleasant. I spent the week being a huge grump, bargaining with myself to go to class or do some studying, and spending way too much time watching TV on my couch.

By the end of the week, I wasn’t feeling any better – I was actually feeling worse, thanks to the pile of school work I fell behind on – but I did get to thinking about what you can do to get over the blah, lethargic, and sad feelings that winter sometimes brings on.

You’d think that being on exchange would be really helpful in that regard, but I think it actually makes those feelings worse. There are still lots of events going on, sure, and other exchange students are still excited to go on trips and go to cool things happening in the city, but if you find yourself with no energy and the winter blahs, it’s hard to be excited about any of that stuff. Add to that the fact that you’re far away from your family and close friends, and it becomes pretty tempting to accept that you might spend the rest of winter watching TV and struggling to get out of the house.

I don’t really have the answer to the question of what you can do to feel better in this situation. Getting out of the house and seeing friends, even though I really don’t feel like it, has been helping me. Not feeling really annoyed at my feelings, because I want to be having fun and going on adventures, has also helped. But I still cant’ shake the feeling of blah-ness that comes along with winter, even if I’m on exchange, and even if I feel like I should be having a great time, all the time.

Spotted this week on the streets of Edinburgh: signs of spring at last!!

Spotted this week on the streets of Edinburgh: signs of spring at last!!

Luckily, the end is in sight though! All of a sudden, the days are getting longer, flowers are blooming, and sunshine is becoming a lot less rare. I’m hoping that sun helps to fix me up, but in the meantime, do any of you student life blog readers have tips for how to overcome the winter blues?