Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enjoying and Adapting. Coping Mechanism 2.

From the dry and wet Philippine seasons to four seasons in the temperate country. How will a tropical raised survive winter and cold temperatures?
Eis und Sonne  
Ice and Sun

Italian ice cream. Vanilla and Pistachio medley.
I arrived in Darmstadt in summer moving towards autumn. A perfect timing transitioning from tropical Pilipinas to cold Alemanya. I remember during my first day, my flatmate Linda accompanied me all throughout the city center, to my university and hows on daily tram/bus commuting. On my first weekend, it was a perfect sunshine just like in Los Baños. I was wearing sleeveless and eating Italian ice cream with Linda, Sina and Jenny. Yummy and rich!

Mia, my dear friend, walked with me one summer evening to the Rosenhöhe (Rose Garden Park). We stayed there until half past 7pm since sunset begins at that time. She also fetched me to bike to the woods another afternoon, passing Orangerie on our way back and ended the day once more with gelato.

Summers are no problem. Just a little bit of adjustment on people I see around: sun bathing in the parks and building rooftops. There are no one carrying umbrella to protect from the sun. I always want to pull my fancy umbrella to protect my kayumanggi skin from the sun, however, i’d look stupid and crazy. Umbrellas are Regenschrim (protection from the rain or Regen usually). And they waited at least nine months to have the sun and they are there to enjoy it.
Kurbis and colors of autumn 
at Aachen, Germany.

I never realized how beautiful autumn colors are unless i had experienced it. Shades of red, orange, rust, gold and hints of greens. Wonderful. Colorful. Add into the autumn touch the sound of crackling dried leaves laying on the street. So crisp, music to my ears. See them changing the environment you are revolving, creeping vines along buildings, season for kurbis (squash and pumpkins). 

By this time, temperature starts to decline. At first below 20°C, then below 15°, then below 10°. Ahem, i realized i may say goodbye to my bike anytime soon in autumn. Biking during this time might paralyze me. One morning on my way to my German Language class, my hands started to freeze when i biked without my gloves. As I entered the class, my hands were numb and i cannot feel them for the next five minutes. 

One autumn afternoon, Linda and her friend, Jenny (Senior BS Sozialarbeit Studentin), were busy reading and researching for their thesis. They told me that the flat heater was on, because it was very cold. I didn’t feel cold at all, wearing my sleeveless tops and thin leggings. (What’s the matter with my German friends?). 

Healthy frühstück (breakfast). Greens, 
tomatoes, bread and orangesaft.
Another teatime afternoon, Linda and I sat by our dining table to take some break from our labors in studying. Linda with her triple-layered get up was having a tea, and me? Seriously, was on sleeveless, my shortest shorts and socks. Not feeling cold at all. What am I doing? Acclimatizing. Feeling the cold temperature seeping through my skin. Getting used to the environment.

My adaptation seem to worked very well plus another good measure: eating lots of vegetables and fruits. With the changing temperatures, the body may not adapt fast to it so munch on vitamins-enriched foods to boost my system. Voila! I think i was the only person in the class who haven’t had any serious cold and coughs or fever during the temperaturwechsel (temperature changes). Real fruits in the morning, fruit juices and yoghurt.

Es ist kalt. It is cold.
Schnee Snow

Winter signified its coming days when i first saw some frost! During field work around a neighborhood in Frankfurt, i noticed some white thingy covering grasses. It was new to me and i kept on asking Jamileh (my Iranian classmate) what are those. And she told me that it was nothing, those white thingy were normal. Looking closely, they are frosts! Wow, my first frost beholding my tropical eyes. I pulled my Nicaraguan (Noel) and Bangladeshi (Sharmin) friends, those who haven’t laid eyes and experience such frost. And indeed, they also was happy to see some frosts too. As we walk around the neighborhood, we started writing on frozen cars windshields and hoods : ‘Freezing’ and ‘Eis Kalt’ (ice cold).

First frost at Frankfurt.
Usually, winter comes before calendars turn December. This time, we had extended rainy and cold days and i had been long anticipating for my first snow. After my Philippine presentation on urbanization, i had a short sleet rain as i stepped out my class. After a few steps, i hurried back to my class and told them ‘It is raining ice!’ I was so excited to see it falling before me, but they told me that it is ok and i won’t be killed by the falling icedrops. With a little disappointed face, i walked home again and the short sleet rain was over.

Snow walking at Technical University Darmstadt.

Mid-December, i visited my friends Simi and Holger in Bonn and we walked around the night with 0°C. Absolutely cold, but it was so nice to behold more than centuries old buildings. My first snow was experienced in Bonn early morning. As i have to catch my train back to Darmstadt, i was waiting outside for the bus on a rainy, dark and snowy morning. Moving from Bonn southwards to Mainz, I saw white covered houses and structures fleeting to a fair day in Mainz.

Two days after, i woke up very, very early in the morning at 4:00 am and saw snow falling in the dark morning. As i opened my eyes four hours later, everything was white outside! Got two messages from Simi and Mia who were excited as me to see the first snows in Darmstadt. 

I was wondering where the snow are stored. Where the Lord has laid them and get them ready for winter days. The day was filled with snow ball fights and was ended by the small Christmas gift-giving celebration. Weather forecasts said there will be no snow on Christmas day, maybe before the year ends there will be snow again.
Before winter came, i was mastering the adaptation to the cold temperature. Its all in the mind i tell my classmates who are also not made to live in temperate countries. (Well, its not always in the mind. It would be detrimental if i would not take necessary precaution). Some winter tips:

1. Layer up with thick socks and leggings. Go out and enjoy the weather. Simi and Holger (German couple who had experienced the tropical Philippines for the past decade.)
2. Protect your head and throat section. Bundle up with shawl. Polina and Helena (Russian girls from our masters program).
3. Enjoy it! Stefi (German friend who bikes rain or shine, cold or colder.)
4. Drink Glühwein. Linda and parents. Glühwein are hot wines served at the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets).
5. After a warm shower, finish it up with a cold blast to close the pores.
6. Lots of fruits, juices and liquid.
7. Enjoy and adapt the season changes.

Changing colors outside my window in four months. (1) Bright summer (2) Colorful autumn (3) White winter.

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