How to win the winter game

It’s easy to notice the winter is here – by looking at the sour faces of the passers-by.

I’ve found the bike underpass on the way to university the ultimate spot for frown-spotting: bikers rush by with one hand in their pocket for warmth, gritting their teeth. No one admires the yellow and red leaves anymore, and my friends have stopped saying hi. Not because they’re rude, but because they don’t register anything but the heavy rain and piercing, humid cold.

It appears that my home country, Finland, and the Netherlands have more in common than I ever thought: it’s not only salty liquorice that binds us together, we also share the bipolar seasonal personalities. In the summer, we both like to expose our milky white legs to burning UV rays and sip beer on a terrace. In the winter, we burrow in our homes, gain a layer of fat for insulation from pizza and wait for the spring.

We share the pain and the cold, but we combat it in completely different ways. When I was a kid, I was taught that water can kill. I’m wearing a water and wind-proof hiking jacket, rubber boots and a warm beanie, not to forget the mittens, fluffy socks and the merino base layer. If needed, I could sign up for an Antarctic expedition, starting tomorrow. I’m facing the upcoming months well prepared, looking forward to win the winter game.

The Dutch, on the other hand, accept the cold and damp as calm as Tibetan monks. They will wear whatever they like: short dresses, absorbent woolly coats, leather shoes. They accept that the Mighty Winter can’t be defeated; it has to be endured. For them, winter is absolutely no excuse to compromise their style.

Never have I heard a Dutch friend complain about their wet shoes or make-up ruined by the downpour. Instead, they’ll laugh at miserable foreigners trying to cope with their climate and share this video (seel below) one more time. If I got a euro every time a local questions my nationality when I whine about the cruel, humid cold, I’d be a rich woman.

Fellow foreigners, we can do this. Let’s overpopulate the Sports Center sauna, sip on bockbier until Christmas and keep Popi Pizza’s owner’s paycheck nice and thick – whatever it takes to make it until March.

And when the spring comes, it will hopefully bring tulips out on the streets and make the rain a bit warmer. As Tilburg has one the biggest annual rainfalls of the country, the humidity will stay. After all, the season is just a state of mind.

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