Expat Corner #2

by Susan Bergson

Getting through the dark months…in the Statenkwartier

Dear neighbors of all shapes, sizes and colors. This is your second installment of the Expat Corner that I commence at 10am in the midst of a code yellow rain/windstorm that’s making my windows creak. My first round of clothes are drying on the radiator as I’m fully drenched after school drop off. 

The recent weather is a reminder that we are in the vortex of the ‘dark months’, which could be accurately renamed the ‘dark/windy/rainy months’. We have ~3+ months to go, where our right minds know that it’s getting just a bit lighter every day and our reality is stepping outside into a cold and unrelenting rain that hits your face like the spray of your bathroom shower; 3+ months of looking at your overseas happy colleagues on video calls with sunbeams shining on their faces; 3+ months of reminding yourself that it’s too early to blow up your new year’s resolutions. Lack of sun and bad weather in January, February and March are no joke – we must come together as a neighborhood and get through. Here are some suggestions and tips: 

  1. Get outside every.single.day and if it’s sunny, go outside immediately! Yes, I took a walk at the beach where the wind held me in a 45 degree angle… but then I reframed…free salt water/sand facial; an opportunity to wear the sub-artic coat bought for a winter trip to Kazakhstan. Put on your heaviest, most weather resistant clothing and go for a walk or a run. It will make you happier. 
  2. Practice gezelligheid or the Dutch version of hygge, basically anything that makes you feel cozy and warm. Find a way to hug someone. Indulge in the revelation of a hot chocolate from our local chocolaterie. Use a long distance running trick and plaster a smile on your face. This actually works.
  3. Enjoy if something surprising happens – like snow, even slushy snow. Last week, we got a few hours of a hail/ice/snow mix. We put our boots on, rushed outside and threw snowballs at each other. Endorphins activated; job done. 
  4. Do something creative or restorative. In our neighborhood there’s ample opportunity for massage, or even an art class or writing workshop. Artists in the Statenkwartier is a collective of more than 70 local artists and there will be a feast for your eyes at the upcoming Statenkwartier kunstroute (art walk). 
  5. Look up at the sky between 4-5pm, right around sunset. Suddenly, the rain stops and the light breaks through like a painting by a Dutch master. And similarly, one’s mood lifts.

Like construction on the 16 tram line, this season won’t last forever. We can make it.

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