Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

100 Days of Night

Daylight Savings time has come, winter is approaching, and we are again setting in for the long haul of the darkness that accompanies it. Living in Northern Europe, we sometimes forget how far north we are, especially because they have a relatively temperate climate here in Holland, thanks to the weather patterns. However, if you take a look at a map, you'll notice that Rotterdam is well North even of Quebec, Canada. This means that there is a much more drastic change in daylight hours than we previously had in Pittsburgh & WV.

In the height of the summer, the daylight seems almost never ending. The sun rises around 4:30 AM, well before our morning alarm. So I end up needing to use my sleep mask to get those extra 3 hours of sleep after the sunlight comes blaring in our bedroom windows. Then in the evening, the sun starts to set around 23:00. So, we have to make sure we watch the clock to know when we should go to bed. Otherwise, it will be almost midnight before it's finally dark, and we would have no idea it was so late. I never realized before now how much I use the sunset as an indication of when to start getting ready for bed.

Of course, on the opposite side of the calendar from those long summer days lies the equally long winter nights. This is the part that we really don't like. In the depth of the winter, the sun does not fully rise until around 9 am. This makes it incredibly hard to get out of bed in the morning, because it is still pitch black. The one upside of this is that we can watch some beautiful sunrises from our office windows. haha. I work on the 9th floor of the Maersk building, and Chad is on the 16th floor at Erasmus MC, so we both have a great view of the flat horizon.

In the late afternoon, the sun begins to set around 15:30-16:00. If you notice, this means that it is dark when we leave for work and dark when we come home. It is remarkable how much the lack of sunlight can drain the energy from you. It is hard to get going, and to keep up the energy throughout the day. It's even harder to try to gather the energy to go to the gym after work.

Chad exploring the rocks with Shiva at sunset (3 PM!) in Larvik, NO

I can see now why the Scandinavian countries, which are even farther North, have a high rate of depression in the winter. I can also understand, then, why people use those sun lamps in their homes, to give themselves some more light & vitamin D. We experienced these ├╝ber-short days when we visited Norway for Christmas two years ago. The sun never fully rises, it just comes up halfway in the sky, hovers across the horizon for a couple hours, and then drops back down. As tiring as these short days can be, at least they can sometimes show us beautiful colors, like this sunset in Oslo.


We only have one more long & dark winter to get through, so we just need to hunker down. Maybe we'll have to plan a trip down south to a warmer country this winter, to break up the darkness. Until then, I'll try to soak up every last ray that I can (and stock up on Vitamin D).


-S

1 comment:

Brandi said...

I am beginning to get a taste of this. Typically winter and dark days don't bother me too much. But we'll see............ Either way we will make the best of the early nights in December with Christmas lights and markets!!!