Letters from abroad

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March 16, 2006

Letters from a broad features letters from Mills women who are currently studying away from Mills. This week we have another letter from junior Michelle Ma, English major, Journalism minor. Michelle is studying journalism in London.

For those of you who don't know, Britain gets about 1000 hours of sunshine a year. To put that in perspective, that's 40 full days, give or take a few hours. Comparatively, Spain gets 3000 hours of sunshine a year. How do I know this? There was a television program on in the mornings called "Living in the Sun," which was basically about English people moving to Spain. No, I don't know why they show these things on television, either.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, it's rather gloomy here. On one of the rare occasions when I step outside and it's actually sunny-which is a fairly rare occasion these days-my pupils, now unused to light, scream in agony and try desperately to contract.

It doesn't help that I live in a basement flat. And unlike the others on my floor, which is the basement, my window doesn't actually go anywhere. The others' windows at least face the outside, or sort of the outside; generally they get a very nice view of a concrete wall. Mine, however, looks in onto some kind of mysterious indoor stairwell and what I suspect is a furnace of some sort. There is another window, high up in the stairwell, through which a little bit of light may leak.

This translates to: I have trouble getting up in the morning.

I had no idea sunlight was so important to my ability to get up. It's not so much the sunlight falling on your face as the gentle suggestion of light on your eyelids. You open your eyes eventually and realize, gosh, it's bright in here. I'd better get up. In my case, however, I often wake in something approaching total darkness. A typical morning goes like this:

My cellphone alarm goes off. I all but fall out of bed, blearily open my eyes, and hit the snooze on my cellphone.

'I should get ready,' I think. 'Turn on the light. Put the kettle on. Brush my teeth.'

'But it's so dark!' my body protests. 'Surely it can't be time to get up yet. Why don't you go back to bed until it's actually light out.'

'It is light out,' I insist. 'It's nine o' clock. That's the time my cellphone was set to go off. I have to be at work in an hour and a half.'

'Bollocks,' says my body. 'It's so dark! It's barely dawn!'

'. . . okay,' I acquiesce, and take myself back to bed for another five minutes. Repeat this three or four times before I finally convince myself to turn on the light-prompting that whole pupils contracting in shrieking pain thing-and get on with my morning.

One day, I was so excited by blue sky and puffy white clouds that I took myself to Hyde Park with a packet of digestive biscuits, entertaining some romantic notion of feeding the swans and ducks and then reading a book. After being buffeted by freezing-cold winds and mobbed by seagulls, however, I gave up and headed home to my nice warm flat with its complete and utter lack of natural sunlight. It started raining later that afternoon.

Stupid British weather.


Letters from abroad was published on March 16, 2006 in Opinions

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