A little over a year and a half ago I traded my beautiful, sunny Floridan skies and beach days for rainy, gray skies and mountainous landscapes of Northern Spain.
I didn’t just make a rash and sudden decision to move thousands of miles away from my home country. I agonized over the decision for a few months prior and researched every facet of life in a Spanish-speaking country. One of the most surprising things during my college years in Northeast Florida was that paradise could get boring after a while. Maybe the blistering hot and sweltering three and a half summers influenced my opinion of paradise. Maybe it was the lack of cold fronts (if any!) and seasonal changes.
Or maybe it’s the Midwesterner in me who deep down loves season changes, cozy sweaters, and warm soups and hot beverages (and the occasional snowstorm thrown in there, too) when it starts to get cold. Truth be told, missing all of those things influenced my decision to return to a place that had all 4 seasons and boasted some of the most unpredictable weather in the world. Except I wasn’t returning to this place. I was setting foot here for the first time last fall and had no idea what I would be getting myself into, weather…or otherwise.
The autonomous region of Galicia first beckoned to me in the summer of 2013 when my brother was traveling around Spain with a small group of students from his university’s ambassador program. He went as far north as Ponferrada but didn’t quite make it to Galicia. I was following his travels via his social media accounts but I also took the liberty of mapping out his whole trip on Google Maps. When he arrived in Ponferrada, I swiped my fingers to the left to see the part of northwestern Spain that he was missing: Galicia. I was intrigued by all of the names of the cities and towns and remarked at how green the map said it was there compared to the dry and arid part of Spain I was visiting at the same time: Andalusia. I didn’t have plans to travel farther north than Madrid that year but Northern Spain started to speak to me softly. It wanted me to consider a trip there, even though a potential trip was TBD (to be determined). It was okay, though, because Spain would always be there and the northern part of the country would patiently for me to come visit it.
A little over a year later, with a work letter as an English language assistant in one hand and my passport in the other, I arrived in “rainy” Galicia on a cloudless day with abundant sunshine. Not everyone who arrives here both for short-term or long-term stays experiences luck quite like this. Most likely you and everything you own gets rained on and put through the wringer when it comes to the rain.
Don’t worry, though, the rain did eventually come and it rained like cats and dogs! Some days I just wanted to crawl underneath my covers and hide from the world and other days I wanted to dress in a ton of layers to go explore the city in the misty rain and try to catch a glimpse of fog on the nearby hills or see it rolling in from the sea. I can’t explain it but the fog in any city in Galicia captivates me and I love to stare at it for as long as I can. It’s mystifying. It gives you chills – and the good kind, at that!
And so are the patterns and ways of life you adjust to when dwelling in a rainy climate for almost a year. The longer you live in this type of climate, the more you get to know the culture on a deeper level and also see what you yourself are capable of.
So, without further ado, here are 11 ways living in a rainy climate changes you. They are subject to my own experiences and bias, of course, but you should be able to get an idea of what climates do to our mindsets and how we can be influenced by them, even during a short period of time. I’ll come back and expound on the items on this list later this week but for now, I will get them all down on digital paper.
1. You never think of the sun the same way again. (Read: It becomes the friend who only wants to see you on their terms and nothing more.)
2. If there is even a peak of the sun or a whole full day of it, that only means two things: 1) You must wash your clothes NOW and 2) go outside in it NOW before the clouds and come and cover it up for another week.
3. If it’s only sprinkling rain or misting, chances are you won’t pull your hood over your head or reach for your umbrella. Mist no longer bothers you. It’s normal. Embrace it and walk in it without an umbrella. It’s fun!
4. You nearly want to rip your hair out when you walk outside or look out the window and see a sun shower taking place (ie: rain coming down for a brief period of time on a sunny day). No? Oh, maybe that’s just me? haha
5. Your umbrella becomes the child you never had and you are constantly being vigilant over it. And you don’t let it out of your sight when you place it in a public umbrella stand (in a library or any other public place). It may not be there when you go to leave! (True story)
6. If you have to dry your clothes outside, you will do everything in your power to ensure they don’t get rained on while hanging up! This may mean waking up in the middle of the night to take clothes off the clothesline because you * think* you heard rain start to come down. Better safe than sorry!
7. Any time you hear an upbeat song, you mentally add it to your growing list of songs for the perfect “mood booster” playlist the next time it rains cats and dogs for a week straight.
8. You don’t fully comprehend that the weather can go from sunny to rainy and then back again until you walk down a street and find that one side of it was sunny and the other side rainy.
9. Getting rained on is only worth crying about if you are transporting luggage or carrying important irreplaceable documents or lesson plans with you. Any other situation is a normal weekday, haha. Get used to being rained on from now on.
10. You would rather fall into a black hole than have to put up with the “How on earth is she just wearing a rain jacket in this weather?” or “No umbrella? Has she gone absolutely crazy?” stares from everyone to little children to older people on the streets.
11. Umbrella etiquette is a real thing and you should start paying attention to how the locals deal with umbrellas in all types of situations. From how to pass a fellow umbrella holder on a narrow street to locking your umbrella up in an umbrella stand at the grocery store, these skills will come in handy both here and in any other rainy place you visit.
There you have it! Have you lived in a rainy climate before? Would you add any other tips or realities you face when living in a place where you hardly ever see the sun? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.