My biggest adjustment to life in Europe has been getting used to the heat. While I was able to prepare myself for a new language, navigating a new city and integrating myself into a new culture, dealing with sweltering summer temperatures is something you don’t think about until it hits you.
Since getting to Budapest, the temperature has often climbed to 30 degrees celsius or more. The average daily high so far this month has been 28C. After enduring the polar vortex winter of 2013/2014 in Canada, where highs in the -20s and wind chills in the -30 range happened all too often, I’m now facing a 60 degree swing in a matter of months.
A couple of weeks ago, the temperature reached 37C when humidity was factored in. That level of heat is oppressive to someone used to a nordic climate. I felt a sick during the afternoon. Today the temperature got to around 35C. All I could do was sit in front of my fan and wait it out. By 5pm, I needed a nap. It’s almost like battling a cold, better to just sleep it off than to try and fight through it.
Day after day of 30 degree weather means I sweat a lot. I sweat doing things that shouldn’t make me sweat. When I walk around my apartment, performing a simple task like preparing coffee or tidying up, I sweat. I even sweat when I eat. Walking to the grocery store, and especially carrying some food on the way home, leaves my t-shirt drenched. This past weekend, I sweat so much that a rash formed around my underarms. I’m trying to use less deodorant while it heals, which presents its own set of challenges.
Finding relief from the heat has been more difficult than expected. I don’t have an air conditioner, nor do I plan to get one. What’s surprised me is that the temperature in big box stores and shopping malls remain elevated as well. Unlike in North America, where you can head to your nearest Wal-Mart to get a nice dose of frigid air, the stores here are quite warm in comparison. The other day I went to TESCO, the UK’s version of Wal-Mart, wearing a t-shirt and jeans. I was drenched. It must have been around 27C or 28C inside.
I drink a lot of water and a lot of juice. I wear loose clothing around my apartment. I try to walk slowly. I use my fan. At night I open up all my windows and let the wind clear out the stuffy air. That’s about all you I can do, but I’m managing. And after the winter I went through this past year, I’m not complaining. A little sweat is a lot more enjoyable than constant frostbite warnings.