Maria Holland

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 at 11:20 pm

It’s so freaking cold here.  Most of my life has been a stepwise journey south (Minnesota to Oklahoma to Xiamen), but it hasn’t really been turning out like one would imagine.  In Tulsa, I always got asked if I liked the winters down there, but to be honest – Tulsa winters have their own kind of miserable.  I’m namely thinking of the annual ice storms that have resulted in inconveniences of various degrees – delayed flights, bad road conditions, power outages over a third of the state, etc.  Tulsa, being the southern city that it is, isn’t equipped to deal with winter in the same way that Minnesota is.  Yes, Minnesota can get freaking cold, but the lifestyle up there takes that as a given.  Houses are built to be comfortable no matter how cold it gets, and activities are structured to limit the amount of time spent outside.

I noticed an interesting phenomenon a few weeks ago when we were studying comparisons in class.  One of the comparisons was between winters in Beijing (in the north) and Shanghai (further south).  Obviously the weather in Beijing is colder than in Shanghai, but the correct answer is 北京的冬天没有伤害那么冷 (Beijing’s winters aren’t as cold as Shanghai’s).  The reason for this is because buildings in Beijing have heating systems, which Shanghai generally lacks.  It’s interesting, because this jives more with my experience – that factors other than temperature determine how comfortable a place’s climate is perceived to be – but I don’t think that most Americans think this way.  Am I right?

Anyway, the reason I’ve been thinking about this is because Xiamen, a tropical island, does not have heating capabilities in its buildings.  Today was around 15°C but all my Celsius-saavy European friends agreed with me that it felt more like 10.  Luckily, my room is still pleasantly warm but my couple hours of class were not pleasant.  The good news is that we’re supposed to get back up in the mid-twenties later this week, and – in the long term – this winter only lasts until February. 

The cold weather has been making me very nostalgic.  I’ve spent the last few summers in various places, even abroad, but around this time of year, and with this weather setting in, I’m usually wrapping up the semester and getting ready to head home for Christmas break. 

I’ve realized since being here in China that while I’m quite okay with spending time alone, I absolutely hate to eat by myself.  At TU, the only time this happens is self-imposed for productivity or a clear indicator of a bad day when no one’s around.  Here, because my roommate is always working, this is the norm.  I’m just not used to having to call or text someone before every meal to have a dining partner.

But, every now and then I luck out.  I walked to West Gate this evening headed for dinner, and happened to run into some of my former classmates from Saudi Arabia, LiDe and Mahmod.  I stopped to talk to them – they asked how my new class was going and I asked where they were headed.  Turns out they were on their way to dinner at an American restaurant, and they immediately asked if I would like to go.  We took a taxi to The Red Armadillo on the seashore, where we enjoyed a meal and conversation.  My burrito wasn’t amazing (because Mahmoud accidentally ordered one with pork and I traded with him), but the cheese fries were to die for.  They 请客-ed (treated me) so I owe them one.  They told me that Xiamen has a Papa John’s (!) so maybe we’ll go there sometime. 

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  1. You would LOVE it here! It’s been in the low 50’s for days. Lovely!

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