“You know, Nat, that a bit of snow and rain isn’t going to kill you right?” Ben says to me.

Snow and rain will not kill me, but it sure feels like they will. I jump up and down, hoping to warm up and shake off the snowflakes and raindrops clinging to my thick winter coat. Where I am originally from, even the slightest amounts of rain are capable of creating chaos within seconds. I laugh and say, “Yeah, yeah. You’re right. It’s not like I’ll have to drive in it or do anything extreme.”

Telling others that I am going through my first “actual winter” at age twenty really embarrasses me. Russian classmates have told me how incredibly cold their winters are, and their stories make me feel like a total wimp. This winter is going to be the first real winter I will ever have. I have had periods of being in winter weather for, at most, a couple of weeks at a time, but the thought of a few months of living in a real winter brings some anxiety. Before now, the only type of “winter” that I had encountered in my life was warm and occasionally called for some time on the beach. I had never lived in freezing temperatures and I am certain that I will need time to adjust. Up to this moment, seeing snow falling from the sky seemed like something magical that only happens in movies and an event I would experience rarely. Snow and wintry weather only appeared in my dreams and I was never able to think otherwise. I did not expect that winter and snow would be as cold as what I am experiencing now. 

Shivering and shaking, I ask my boyfriend, “Does it usually get this cold?”

“Cold?” Ben laughs and says, “This is mild! Normally, it gets more intense over time.”

The movies do lie! I absolutely dislike the summer like weather that I used to have back in California and always dreamt of having true seasons. Now, I want to avoid leaving my apartment for two months. Why is hibernation not possible for humans? I would have never thought in the past that being a bear would be pleasant.

Tomorrow is my first day of my new German class and unfortunately, I am sure that the weather is not going to calm down to make my trek there feel more comfortable. To get to school on time, I have to leave at eight o’ clock in the morning. Before ten in the morning, the days are at their coldest. The mornings include temperatures that are below freezing, gusts of wind that feel strong enough to knock a person over, and every other intimidating element related to winter. I cannot imagine how people in Siberia feel. Maybe the stereotype of Russians seeming miserable is due to their harsh winters. Sure, the weather here is not as cold as Canada or as freezing as Finland. But for me, it still feels perilous. My first morning walking to school in the cooler temperatures will be one of my chilliest challenges to date. The only thing I can do is tell myself that I will be able to do it without any problems and that I will be okay, but is that really going to be the truth?

As soon as I enter my apartment, my glasses fog up and I start to sweat. I remember that I forgot to turn the heater off before Ben and I went out, which makes going from one drastic to another more difficult. The day passes and before I know it, it is time to sleep. My mind worries about the cold and starting school again, but my body is able to fall asleep regardless.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The alarm on my phone wakes me up, which signifies the beginning of my first day of class and my first true winter morning. The first day of school jitters are not as bad as the day’s forecast shown on my phone’s screen. I ask myself if I am overreacting and tell myself that maybe I am thinking the worst with the weather. As I step outside of my apartment building, I was certainly not making a big deal out of what was to come. The first gust of wind of the day slaps my cheek and I am already miserable. It feels like I am putting up a fight for my life, like a Natalie vs. Nature type of situation. Tiredness adds a harsher factor to my commute. Just five more minutes until I make it to public transportation, which means fifteen minutes of serenity in a warm train car. The windy walk pains my joints and when I finally enter the train, it feels more like entering paradise. I wish more than anything to sit next to the heater for the rest of the day, but school is more important. The fifteen minutes pass by rapidly and before I know it, the speakers state, “Nächster Halt, Altstadt. Next stop, city center.” Slowly, I stand up from my seat and drag my feet to the door. I step out of the heavenly train and am now inside the train station. Although it is underground, I know the chilliness here feels better than being outside. The breeze I feel down here acts as a preparation for what is to come. It will only worsen, and I cannot pretend to think that that is not the truth. I know I have to power through it make my way to class quicker than ever before. Another ten minutes of being outside seems impossible, but it must be done. What other choice do I have?

After ten minutes of power walking to my destination, I step into the warm building. It feels heavenly, and being the first to class means that I can have the spot next to the heater. It is only going to get better from here.

Until one in the afternoon.

At one, my first day of class is over. I enjoyed my time and meeting the people there, but I think the heater was my favorite part. I brace myself to step outside to return to a cold hell. Everyone says the afternoon feels more comfortable than the mornings, and they are one hundred percent correct. But it is not magic, it is just a little less unbearable. My face starts to feel frozen from a mix of falling snowflakes and raindrops forcefully hitting my cheeks. The same commute that I endured this morning must be repeated, but going the opposite direction. Now that I know what to expect, my journey is going better than expected. There are more people outside than this morning, and that is all because they have the right idea. No one would be outside in the morning unless it was absolutely necessary. Returning to my apartment is the most sacred experience of the day. The warmth of the heater, my favorite blanket, and my flannel pajamas will make what I went through worthwhile.

While climbing the stairs to reach home, I mentally look back at my former self and laugh at her. What a fool! Winter in California and winter in the movies are not real winters. Heck, even what I am experiencing is not true winter for people living in colder countries. Now I realize how naive I was before, when I would say that winter is my favorite season. Knowing what I know now, autumn or spring can happily take that title. 

I unlock the door to see Ben next to the heater. He kisses my forehead and happily says, “Hey, babe! How’re you doing?”

“You know what, Ben?” I gulp and shamefully feel the need to tell Ben that he was right. It is never easy to admit defeat, but he has been right all along and I cannot beat that. Winter is a lot trickier to handle than expected, and he knew I would come to that conclusion sooner rather than later. I shudder and utter, “I was wrong before. I don’t think winter is my favorite season anymore.”

January 06, 2020 22:16

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Marie Persley
03:17 Jan 16, 2020

It is interesting to imagine what it would be like for someone from CA to move to a place like Russia! I like the ending—it’s a good reminder of how “the grass is always greener”... :)


Natalie Schlegel
20:14 Jan 16, 2020

Thanks for commenting! It was a big adjustment for me to move to somewhere completely different in climate and even though it is not as bad as Russia, it still feels like it!


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Hillary Nwaigbo
18:54 Jan 10, 2020

Smiles... I like this line particularly "What a fool! Winter in California and winter in the movies are not real winters ".. Quite funny. Perfect ending dearie... Kudos


Natalie Schlegel
15:56 Jan 14, 2020

Thank you!! This is based off of the winter of 2018/2019. I am glad you read it :)


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