As winter approaches, Christmas is not the only thing that comes with it. Before coming to Sweden, I had heard about the long sunny days in the summer. I had also heard that they get long nights in the winter, but I didn’t think it would be this bad.
It has come to the point where other people in my program and I joke that we don’t remember what it feels like to have sunlight on our skin. This is because the sun will not rise until about ten in the morning and sunset has been happening around three in the afternoon. What makes it worse is that many days, it is also cloudy. Basically, when I leave class, it’s already pitch black outside.
The sunlight here cannot compare to back home or in Maine. There, we get a few more hours of sunlight than this. I will be honest, it kinda sucks. People talk about how when they are in a northern parts of the world that the weather can affect their mood, and I can feel this. I am beginning to feel a bit less motivated to things. I am feeling tired earlier, which stinks because I cannot be falling asleep at four in the afternoon as my sleep schedule would be messed up. I also hear this from my host dad as he says that he starts to feel tired as well.
However, I am not the only person to feel this. So I asked around to see what other people do in order to counteract the effects of the darkness. One thing people will do is take some vitamin D pills. This is an easy thing to do as people can take this in the morning and will help provide the nutrients that people don’t get with the sparing sunlight. Other thing is that some people will to the sun tanning shops. They will go into the tanning beds and soak in some UV rays.
The biggest thing that people do is buy candles. When I first came to Sweden, I thought it was kind of weird that my host family had a large abundance in candles. They would light them at dinner and when they were watching TV at night. However, I can really see why they do this. It makes the house seem a lot brighter and for some reason, it is better than just flipping a light switch.
I am really looking forward to the summer time. I can only imagine how much shorter the day will get. By the time I leave, I believe that sunset may happen at about 2:30. Speaking of time, there is one thing that people in Sweden that is much different than in the US.
Between the times of 25 and 35 minutes, people will say it differently. For example, if the time is 2:25, people will tell the time as “five minutes to half to three”. Or if it is 2:35, they will say it as “five minutes past half towards three.” This can be seen in many of the Nordic countries, but it will vary of the range. Sometimes it could be ten or fifteen minutes around the half hour mark.