OK, after nearly three months in Valencia I am going to indulge my British side and write about the Brits’ favourite topic (after drinking stories): the weather. After all, the weather is about 75% of the reason that we moved here. For anyone reading this who has never been in England during the ‘summer’, let me explain.
In the summer we Brits spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to work out what to wear, because summer doesn’t necessarily mean ‘warm’, and it certainly doesn’t mean ‘sunny’. I have had international students ask me at midsummer, “Teacher, when is it the summer in England?”
“It’s now,” I sigh, “this is the summer.”
So, what you choose to wear on those rare, bright, sunny mornings might be quite unsuitable an hour later, when the rain is pouring. Your pretty sandals and summer dress won’t protect you then. So the next day, you don your skinny jeans, only to be roasting in the midday sun a couple of hours later. It sounds ridiculous, but it can be stressful. You are often uncomfortably aware that you have made the wrong choice; and you’ll spend the rest of the day regretting it. Compare this with Spain, where hot and sunny will last from morning til night. When you get dressed in the morning, you will always make the right decision because the sun will always beam its hot rays rays all summer long.
The sun brings simple, yet stress-easing freedoms. For example, there is no such thing as wet washing hanging around the house for days because it’s too wet or cold to hang it outside. In Spain, put it outside and it will dry the same day, or on a couple of hours if it is summer. There is also the freedom of knowing that it makes no difference if the sun is shining while you are stuck inside teaching or number crunching. It will still be beaming when you finish in the evening, as it will tomorrow, the next day, all weekend and the all the weeks of summer. You will not miss out, as you would in the UK, where it might shine intensely for a couple of hours, then vanish as you leave work, not to be seen for another week. In Spain, there is no rush to get outside because it is sunny. This takes some getting used to, and I am still experiencing ‘good weather guilt’. That is, I feel guilty if it is sunny outside but I want to stay in and watch a film. My inner Brit panics: you should be outside because it’s a gorgeous day!
This is why the British get sunburn, drink copious amounts of alcohol and generally go crazy on a sunny afternoon. It is human nature to over-indulge when one has been denied something for a long time. Drinks outside in the warm, afternoon sunshine are something we rarely get a chance to enjoy in the UK. The time is precious, and pressured.
And so in Spain, a lot of small things add up to make life easier and more pleasant; and that is why we are here.