When I was preparing to move to London for a year - everyone was quite concerned if I had enough winter clothing with me. I was really fortunate to be given enough coats, scarfs, gloves and beanies to keep me warm and toasty through the wintry days. I really thought I was prepared to face the much anticipated end of the year in London until November came along and showed me that there is more in store: early sunsets, i.e. shorter days.
I quickly realized that I was not prepared for this. I had an inkling of idea of this before I came to London but I didn't think as much about it as I had about the dropping temperature. It first started to get dark by 5:30 pm in November. Now, the sun starts to set at 4:00 pm - which meant that I only get about 9 hours of daylight (that is if I am lucky that it is not a heavy overcast day) instead of the typical 11 hours which I am used to back home.
Not only feeling disoriented, I feel lethargic and sleepy most of the time - which I later come to know that it's due to the lack of sun exposure which contributed to the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing sleepiness (so yes, these are actually sold as pills for those having difficulty sleeping). Outcome of this? I kept going to bed a few times a day! Which is frustrating of course, as time (and precious sunlight) is wasted away on my warm, cosy bed. Thankfully it is already the end of term and I have a month of Christmas break to live this sedentary lifestyle that is now forced upon me. But maybe it isn't so bad after all, now that I have a valid reason to have more than a cup of coffee a day because it would help me stay awake. I was also advised to get vitamin D to boost up my energy in this season but to my disappointment, most of the drugstores has ran out of stock this week. Guess I'll just have to feel like a sloth for a few more days until the vitamin Ds are restocked on the shelves again.
Not only that - I wasn't prepared for the cold and dry air, especially in a room with radiator on. The radiator, while effectively keeping me warm, it has efficiently dehumidify the air as well. The air becomes so dry that it aggravates the nose and dries it out. Outcome of this? My nose became so congested to the extent I have trouble sleeping at night due of breathing difficulty due to all the mucus building up inside. What I am facing is not unusual, it is just that I am not prepared for it. I brought along with me a tiny humidifier from home but I broke it not long ago and didn't think about replacing it until now. Clearly, I have underestimated the role of my tiny humidifier which I took for granted earlier.
But then again, it is not all doom and gloom with this season as I may have inadvertently suggested. It is also a season when people are geared up in the festive mood (donning their Christmas sweater, reindeer antlers and Santa Claus hats), the yummy Christmas goodies all stocked up in Waitrose and Sainsbury, the Christmas lighting and decorations of popular streets, public parks, buildings, etc and the Christmas carols and just being together with loved ones, family and friends. This year, December is very different from all the ones that I had. While I wished I could be home for Christmas, it isn't the most practical decision to take. I've got two essays to hand in, and the return flight to Malaysia would cause a dent in my savings. Further, how many more chances would I get to spend Christmas in UK?
Meanwhile I guess this is a good time for me to decompress from a hectic term and recollect and reflect on my thoughts, organize my lecture notes and explore London and UK. It is no doubt an intensive year in this MSc and I am glad there is this slot of time to just breath and just be. A year from now, I will look back at this moment in time and I hope that I have made many fond memories here to last a lifetime.