I came to the U.S. from Ecuador, a country located in the equator, and Guayaquil, the best city in the coast. My school breaks were usually split between hanging out indoors with the AC on at full power or driving a bit to spend all day eating ice cream and chips by the sea before going for a swim. I loved it, and that beach is still almost paradise to me. But, all I had known my whole life was the sun and how much I wanted to get away from it, so when the time came to apply for colleges, one of the main factors in my decision was that it couldn’t be somewhere with that much sun.
Hence, Seattle: a city that is known for its rainy days.
In Ecuador, I loved the rain. I am still the kind of person that will go outside and sing and dance in the rain pretending I’m in a movie. When I’m in Ecuador, though. In Seattle the rain is cold, it’s windy, and rather than refreshing, it’s a little annoying. It’s not realrain, that’s why in terms of dataSeattle isn’t one of the cities where it rains the most, even though it has about 150 rainy days every year.
But... I loved the rain, right? Rain made me dance and sing, right?
Well, here’s the thing. Everyone knows the weather can affect your mood—the stereotypical sunny day represents happiness, while rain in a cartoon represents sadness. What I didn’t realize, though, was the extent of this fact. There’s even a term for the effects winter has on our mood, when the days are shorter and we receive less sunlight and therefore have less energy: it’s called seasonal affective disorder. Appropriately, also known as SAD.
The Winter Blues are real. For me it was especially shocking because my country has two seasons: hot and rainy, and hot and dry. But, I think that even if you have the four seasons in your home country, it can affect you because it’s not just about the weather. It’s about how the weather is another layer on top of the daily experiences that you are still trying to adapt to. It’s not just that it gets dark at 3:30pm, but that you just got out of class and it’s dark, you want to do more things to distract yourself but it feels like the day is done.
Then, what do you do?
You find ways to adapt as well. You talk to people and get help if you need to. When you come to study to the U.S., you usually come with the mindset that it’s temporary. Take this mindset as motivation to find activities and entertainment even when the weather feels like a challenge.
Maybe the rain in Seattle doesn’t make me want to go outside and dance, but this is the first time I’m in Seattle in the summer, it’s sunny, and I miss the rain. I miss inviting friends over, putting blankets in the drier for 20 minutes, and having an excuse to stay on the couch with warm blankets, tea, takeout food and movies. But I’ve also found that I love having picnics and sitting in front of windy beaches in a warm sweater.
The weather affects your mood, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Besides, it’s just a season. You might grow to love each for its own special thing.
Wendy Tafur is an international student from Ecuador who just graduated from Seattle University with a double major in Creative Writing and Theatre. She’s excited to share some of the stories of things she’s learned in her time in the U.S.!