Haz el bien, y no mires a quién. -Spanish Proverb

North Dakotans have feelings too


While those of you back State-side enjoy one of the warmest winters in recorded history, Europe has been experiencing quite the opposite: lower-than-normal temps and some of the heaviest snowfall on record.

Places that don’t normally see any snow all year have been witnessing steady snowfall through the past week, from here in Bilbao all the way over and down to Rome.

some of my students enjoying a rare opportunity to have a snow fight during their coffee break

You can check out some great photos of the frigid winter all over Europe by clicking here.

For the purposes of this post, there are two types of people in the world: those from notoriously cold locales (such as North Dakota) and those from mild or warm locales. We will call them Frosties and Toasties, respectively. Sometimes a Frosty such as myself goes to live in a Toasty place. But even Toasty places have their colder days. On days like those, this conversation occurs thousands of times between Frosties and Toasties all over the world:

Frosty: “Brrr! I’m sooo cold!”

Toasty: “Pffft! Whaddya mean, you’re cold!?! You’re from (insert name of Frosty locale here)! This is probably “t-shirt weather” for you!!!”

Frosty: “Umm, not exactly. I mean it still feels cold to me just like it feels cold to you…”

Toasty: “Nah, you should be used to it! You probably have thicker skin!”

I’ve experienced this conversation on numerous occasions in my life, but it has occurred with record-breakingly high incidence over the past week or so, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves. It seems I’m the only Frosty for miles around, and all these Toasties just can’t believe that I would be able to feel the cold like they do.

Yes, I’ve felt -40 degree wind gusts several times in my life. Yes, I’ve shoveled piles and piles of snow and scraped ice from my windshield hundreds of times. But you know what the difference is between cold back home and cold here? The exposure. Back home, we’re prepared and equipped for the cold, and we limit our exposure to the outside air (house–>car –>work–>car–>house) because it can be truly dangerous to be out for too long. I would venture to say that my exposure to cold has been, overall, higher in the past week than in any week of North Dakota winter in my life. Though the temps may not be as low here, I feel overall less equipped for lower temps here and am exposed to cold for much longer periods of time. Why?

1. I walk everywhere. A few years ago, I got a new car and had an autostart system installed. I started my car from my bedroom, waited 10 minutes or so, walked outside and into a nice, pre-warmed vehicle. Then I drove to where I was going, got out and walked another minute or so in the cold before I was back in a nice, warm building. I was only in the cold for a minute or two at a time.

As mentioned in a previous post, I now average about 3 miles on foot each day just in commuting and errand-running. That means that even if I’m power-walking, I’m out in the elements for at least 40 minutes each day.

2. It rains a lot here. Rain makes you wet. Being wet makes you cold a lot faster.

3. The heating systems in buildings here pale in comparison to those back home. The school I work at is miserably drafty, especially on Mondays after the heaters have been off all weekend. Then I come home to my very typical Spanish apartment with one tiny heater on the wall in each room, right below the window. Most of the heat, then, goes up and out the non-insulated window. On some days, it seems the only moment of the day that I’m sufficiently warm is when I’m in the shower.

To my Fellow Frosties: keep fighting the good fight. We’re tough, sure, but we feel the crappy, cold rainy days just like anybody else.

To the Toasties: You mean well, I’m sure. This repeated convo is just part of normal small talk that occurs between two people who grew up in very different climates. Just think about it next time you jump down a Frosty’s throat for making a comment about an unusually cold day. You’re most likely not the first person to think of these comments, and they get old fast.

Whatever your background, if you’re like me, you’re just looking forward to the day very soon when the weather will turn and we’ll be soaking up the sun once again 🙂

Playa Ereaga, Algorta, Spain (October 2011)


Author: meggr

American expat in Spain. tech enthusiast. fitness fanatic. eclectic musicophile. wine and coffee aficionado.

2 thoughts on “North Dakotans have feelings too

  1. Am I a Frosty or a Toasty? I mean I grew up a Frosty, but living in a desert for two years is enough to thaw a person out and cook them long enough to make a Toasty isn’t it?

    Keep warm over there…. in Spain… Ah… While I walk around in long-sleeves here… in North Dakota… This is just weird

    • I think you are what you grow up as, so…you’re a Frosty! :-p It’ll be warming up here real fast and I’ll be on the beach in no time. Don’t think we can say the same for you back in ND, but at least you’ve had a nice mild winter!

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