By Brittany Engeman
ALMOST SIX WEEKS ago I arrived in Surrey (for a year working as a ‘Gappy’ at a school with one other Australian, a Kiwi and three South Africans) to a so called ‘mild’ English winter. Despite constant assurances about my luck to be enjoying toasty five degree days, I was freezing, not to mention bewildered at how shy the sun was.
Skyping home made the winter even more difficult to come to terms with, as I was graced with the beautiful sight of my family back in Brisbane relaxing beside the pool in their bikinis (and yes, my dad was rocking his standard budgie smugglers) at the bright hour of 6.30pm.
However, once my new flatmates and I had finally accepted the cold (or at least stopped sulking about it); had finished marvelling at the frosty mornings; tired of trying to smash the frozen pond; and had celebrated our first time below the zero degree mark with a victory dance and an impromptu party; we were presented with a completely new and even more shocking phenomenon: snow.
It started when one of our English neighbours came into our flat one night and casually mentioned that it was snowing outside. He’d barely closed the door before we’d raced outside to see, to our utter disbelief, a few tiny, barely visible snowflakes falling around us.
I must confess to becoming just a tad obsessed by checking the weather forecasts after that night. I was really quite addicted. Whether I was comparing the ‘real feel’ to the ‘recorded temperature’ or analysing the hourly predictions to decide how many layers to wear, I felt like an absolute expert in weather forecasts. I even tried to learn what actually makes it snow, and in considering this, realised that I’d spent my whole life completely unaware of something so normal to so many.
And then suddenly it was ‘snow day’! Upon hearing that snow was on our way, we cancelled our plans for the evening in favour of a girls night in with some quality rom-coms, popcorn and the key ingredient – snow.
For us, and I’m sure most people from the Southern Hemisphere, this was a massive deal. The light snow of the early evening was exciting enough, but we were in for even more of a treat.
After our first movie we went out to a new world, and danced about in freezing temperatures with this strange white powdery thing we’d never properly seen before (and would soon learn was actually very wet and cold, much to our displeasure). Then we settled down and watched Love Actually into the early hours of Sunday morning, while it snowed. It felt like we were in the movie. I half expected Hugh Grant to rock up at our door and start singing Christmas carols, or even a Portugese proposal from Colin Firth.
Sunday morning was, if possible, even more strange, as the morning light proved I hadn’t simply imagined it all. The brightness was also very convenient for the taking of hundreds of photos to make everyone back home jealous of the snow.
The prospect of having to actually shovel the stuff on Monday morning was not quite as thrilling as our expeditioning around the school grounds, but after our solid efforts to make as many snowballs as possible, luckily most of it had melted away and we were spared.
In addition to being totally stunned by the snow, it has really made it clear to me just how quickly significant changes can feel normal (or at least not totally wrong), and how skilled we can be at adapting to new people and things, especially when we don’t have a choice.
Just last week I was walking across a field back to my flat, and it was snowing again. While it was exciting, it was nowhere near as big of a deal as it had seemed less than a week ago. Now I find it more annoying than exciting.
But whatever inconveniences the snow may cause, the transformation of the school grounds that initial weekend to a winter wonderland has led me to believe that, despite a lack of pool side cocktails, I think I might really love it here.
In the time it took me to write this, outside has once more become covered in this white powder that I’m rapidly becoming familiar with. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Read our other London snow encounters:
– Nice to snow you
– Snowflakes are falling on my head
– An Aussie in the snow