02 December 2015

Bear Who Swims Seriously Considers Move to Norway*

My brother, AKA the Bear Who Swims, is fond of winter.

In fact, my brother has frequently expressed a sense of loss at not experiencing Minneapolis weather now that he lives in Seattle.

Well, Bear Who Swims, have you considered Norway?

Residents of Norway view their long dark winters as something to celebrate. How it's possible to be cheerful for the next four months.

As the days get darker and colder in much of the northern hemisphere, it’s easy to indulge in gloom. For the next few months, you’ll be shivering. You’ll be battling foul weather. Thanks to daylight saving time there will be no chance to see the sun after work.

The gloom leads to a common question: What can I do to cope with the dark and cold?

If you truly want to be happy during winter, though, this is the wrong approach to the season. Changing your mindset can do more than distracting yourself from the weather.

That’s the takeaway from research done by Kari Leibowitz, currently a PhD student at Stanford University, who spent August 2014 to June 2015 on a Fulbright scholarship in Tromsø in northern Norway. Tromsø is so far north that from late November to late January, the sun never climbs above the horizon. Leibowitz went to study the residents’ overall mental health, because rates of seasonal depression were lower than one might expect.


It turns out that in northern Norway, "people view winter as something to be enjoyed, not something to be endured," says Leibowitz, and that makes all the difference.


And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Leibowitz grew up near the Jersey shore, and "I just took it as a fact that everyone likes summer the best." But deep in the winter in Norway, when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, multiple hours a day can still look like sunrise and sunset, and against the snow, "the colors are incredibly beautiful," she says. "The light is very soft and indirect."
I rather imagine that as he reads this, my brother is thinking wistfully of the thought of sub-zero evenings and the Northern Lights.

*Actually, to be fair, Stephen has never expressed an interest in moving to Norway, I just think that he might now.


Stephen Montsaroff said...

Love the weather, hate the lutefisk.

Actualy, one of the great con jobs of all times was to get Swedes, Noweigans, and Finns to move the Northern Minnesota on the grounds that a) the woods were birch, like in Scandenavia (trues), and the weather is the same (false, falses, false).

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