Winter is Coming – Kyran Penny

Within the first few minutes of speaking to my new flatmates in August, they all had the same question: how cold does it get in the UK? Slightly taken aback by their direct approach, I took a moment to think of my answer, coming up with the rough estimate of ‘it usually hovers around five degrees during the winter.’ I remember them looking at each other and then back to me as if to wish me good luck. Now that it is coming towards the deep winter, I am beginning to understand why they looked at me with such concerned expressions.

When sailing across the Baltic Sea, you get used to feeling slightly trapped. Travelling overnight in windowless cabins with no internet does much to isolate you from the outside world. When we arrived back in Stockholm a few weeks ago, we woke up in the pitch black and hurriedly got ourselves ready to disembark the vessel. Having also drunk copious amounts of alcohol the night before, I was wishing for an easy trip back from the port to my bed in Uppsala. Sweden however, had other plans.

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As we stepped off the boat, Stockholm was blanketed in this cold, white stuff. I think it’s called snow. At least a couple of inches of it. I hadn’t seen this much of it in years. Suddenly my hangover was cured and replaced with the sheer euphoria of the first snowfall of the year. I no longer cared about the hike across the city, the train back to Uppsala or the walk home from the station. It was like being in a winter wonderland.

We walked back from the port to the metro station, which according to Google Maps, should’ve taken around twenty minutes- instead, it took the grand total of sixty minutes. The paths had turned into slip ’n slides and walking up and down hills with heavy luggage led to some rather comical moments, including a brief tumble by yours truly.

“…the child inside me was unleashed in a maelstrom of excitement and wonder.”

It is hard to come up with many superlatives to describe how I felt that day. On the one hand, I was exhausted from a weeks-worth of non-stop travelling and a heavy night of drinking. But on the other, the child inside me was unleashed in a maelstrom of excitement and wonder. It was like being in primary school again and getting the day off because none of the teachers could make it to work due to the snow. I was accompanied by people from all over the place- the UK, USA, Canada and Italy- so there was a mixed reaction to the snow. It is safe to say that the Brits were the most excited due to our seemingly warm winters, whilst the North Americans in particular were not so amazed at the wintry setting. Nevertheless, we spent the journey back to Uppsala reminiscing about days gone by; memories of sledding down what we used to think was the biggest hill in the world, getting so cold from endless snowball fights and coming back to a warm house after a long day in the cold and mum’s there making hot chocolate for everyone. It never ceases to amaze me how people can grow up on different sides of the world, yet share such similar memories.

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It got to minus five degrees the next day. When I spoke to my flatmates about the cold, they looked at each other, and then back to me, just to see a childlike grin plastered across my face. I don’t need luck to survive the winter, all I need is a bit of excitement, and a bit of wonder; just like in the good ol’ days.

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