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23.01.2023 • Jinmeng
Surviving winter in Germany
I had heard about the weather in Germany, but it was only after I arrived that I realized how difficult it is to spend the winter here.
When I wasn’t abroad, I never considered winter blues. I was with other people almost 24 hours a day as an undergraduate in China: my classmates at the university and my roommates in the student dormitory after class; I also had a regular schedule: I stayed at the university from Monday to Friday and went to the movies, shopping, and restaurants with my friends on weekends. I’ve never considered what „winter blue“ is, and I’ve never been in a particularly bad mood, or I did but I’ve never noticed it.
I arrived in Germany in the winter of 2020. Because of the Covid19 pandemic, the university’s courses at the time were mostly online. I also couldn’t meet many people in the student dormitory, so it was difficult to connect with people. In my second winter, university life gradually returned to normal, but I still found winter difficult at times: the weather was bad, my mood was bad, and I wasn’t particularly motivated to do anything – I also get homesick at times.
Why do I find it hard?
In fact, I believe the source of my feelings is multifaceted. When a person leaves the country where he or she has lived for more than 20 years and moves to a new environment, a period of adjustment is unavoidable. This feeling was exacerbated further by the fact that I was in a unique situation at the time, allowing me to participate in fewer activities and meet fewer friends. Finally, winter in Germany is bad: the days are short, the sun rarely shines, and there are many rainy days. All these factors contribute to the „winter blues“ feeling.
How to handle winter blue?
I’ve been living in Germany for over two years and have been actively adjusting myself for that time. I am often surprised to discover that I know myself better and can manage my negative emotions better. Here are some suggestions from me.
Get involved in a student organization
Following my arrival in 2020, I took part in many activities organized by the AStA, such as teaching Chinese and participating in online activities like Stammtisch. Students who are involved in student organizations are generally outgoing and helpful, and it is very easy to connect with them.
Meet friends for coffee and a walk
I rarely did things like this when I was in China. I thought drinking coffee and talking was a waste of money and time. But after moving to Germany, I gradually learned to actively relax. Now when I am stressed, I will ask my close friends to go for a coffee or a walk so that I could talk and hear what was going on around them. Initially, I underestimated the relaxation thing but later found out that it is also a very important ability.
Develop the ability to be alone
Some people prefer to be alone, while others prefer to do things with others; I fall into the latter category. But it’s also important for me to learn to be alone because my friends don’t always have time. And I sometimes need to be alone to think about life or do nothing at all. It was difficult for me to stay alone at first, so I bought myself a few books and a small game console. Despite the fact that they have nothing to do with my studies, the feeling of concentration when reading a book or playing a game relaxes me.
I live in a particularly small city, so I don’t have many opportunities to go out except for university breaks. As soon as winter break or summer break comes, I’m like a bird with its cage opened and immediately fly away to somewhere else. Sometimes it’s just a week away, but when I come back, I feel fully charged and ready to go back to my ordinary life.
Living abroad is challenging, but the sense of achievement you feel after gradually overcoming those challenges is indescribable. Do you feel up to the challenges?