One thing you may not know about Edinburgh is just how far north it is, sitting almost 56 degrees above the equator. As a comparison, Toronto’s latitude is only 43 degrees North, which means Edinburgh is located closer to the arctic circle than it is to Toronto in terms of latitude. Although, Edinburgh does not feel like Northern Canada because of the warm ocean currents that flow into the British isles, making Edinburgh’s winters warmer than Toronto’s.
However there is one element of living up north that you cannot escape – the sun. British Summer Time ended last weekend and now that the UK is back in the GMT time zone, the sun now sets at four and rises at eight. And the days will only get shorter until I depart for home on the winter’s solstice. Even when the sun is up, its low angle on the horizon makes the sunshine feel much weaker than in Canada.
Perhaps I am only noticing this because I am on exchange. I have made a commitment to live everyday to its fullest while I am on this new continent, but winter is making that harder and harder. One of the ways that I have combated this is by waking up early and spending the hours when the sun is up out of my dorm room. I have always been a morning person, but even for me it can be hard to get up to the cold and dark. By spending all of that time out of the house though, the daylight feels longer, and my mood is boosted.
The other thing I have been doing is trying to search out new experiences and people. By this point of my exchange, I have a fairly regular routine and my work load has increased significantly. Although instead of staying in this rut, I have kept trying to go to new events and societies and talk to new people.
Every November I participate in an event called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, where hundreds of thousands of writers embark on a month long project to write 50,000 words of a novel. This probably sounds crazy to many of you, but it is a lot of fun (and yes, a lot of stress).
Whether I complete my novel or not, Nanowrimo has proven to be a great way to get out of my routine. The best part of Nanowrimo is the community of writers that come together every year during this month. Since people from all over the world participate, I have found a community of writers here in Edinburgh as well, through the events sponsored by the Edinburgh Nanowrimo group. Bringing this yearly ritual from my life to this new country has been a great source of joy as I head into the dark winter.
I wish everyone back in Toronto a warm and happy transition into daylight savings time.