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Upside Down Expat

The winter cold

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unusual toned portrait of a beautiful young girl in winter

Winters overseas feel raw and it’s not because of the weather.

The winters down under are an unwelcome wake up from our happy holiday-like haze. In part, we’re spoilt by long summer days spent sprawled out on the sand, slathered in sun-cream, sipping on iced sodas and dipping in the ocean; our skin sun-kissed and sprinkled with freckles for what feels like infinity.

By the time the first wave of the bitter winter arrives it’s often a surprise. It takes a few times of leaving home without wearing warm clothes, waterproofs or wellies before we properly remember that Australia does actually get cold weather and that pink thongs (flip flops) and numb purple toes are not a good look, or feel, together.

To further fuel our frosty feelings, no-one believes us when we tell them our Australian homes are extraordinarily cold. But we’re only shielded from the wind by a woefully weak wedge of wood that is the wall. And heating systems are seldom sufficient so we sit on the sofa with shivering shoulders, wrapped up in our woollies while finding warm relief by sipping on copious cups of hot tea. We subsequently spend all night bursting to pee, braving the Baltic bathroom instead of being snuggled up asleep.

And just as we can’t escape the cold weather, we can’t escape our woes. When we’re no longer distracted by the sun, the dull skies are a glaring reminder we’re unable to pop in to see our loved ones. Homesickness hits like a ton of bricks. The winter cold brings up both comforting and disconcerting memories of home; familiar, yet a reminder of the times we rarely felt alone. We can languish under a landslide of longing; pining for our older, colder life yet the warmth we felt inside, and also for sunnier times and our new carefree identity that thrives on feelings of freedom, tranquillity and possibility.

Winters down under can be raw. Because when it’s cold outside, it’s hard to decide which life we long for more.

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