THE FIRST SNOW EXPERIENCE: AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE – EMEKA (NIGERIA)
One important mixed feeling that I and possibly other African students had was to meet a weather as low as 15 degree Celsius upon my entry into Estonia via Tallinn in August. However, these mixed feelings and astonishment gradually turned into fear of the weather to come as almost everyone kept singing the same song – “This is summer, winter is yet to arrive”. To me, it was very cold already, and Africa’s winter which is due to ‘Harmattan’ is certainly not as cold as the Estonian so called summer. I thought, “If the summer is as cold as this, what would winter be like?”.
This phobia for winter increased even more as the weather seemed to be changing faster than I had read it should, much faster than I was told it would. The temperature gradually began to drop and eventually slumped to negative Celsius. Interestingly, it’s absolutely absurd to suggest to an Estonian, that your weather is so cold. To them, their weather is good and the best compared to other European countries, although it changes like London weather. The weather here is why everyone likes to walk really fast, as if they are running or somebody is chasing them. This is not so in Africa. In Estonian winter when you breathe out, it looks like you’re smoking even when you’re not. Pockets here are used to keep hands warm, but in Africa young guys walk with hands in their pockets to look stylish. In the hot African weather, sleeveless clothes are preferred, but in Estonia we have to wear layers of clothes. Wearing layers can restrict someone from turning their necks freely because if they do, their mufflers or jacket cap will get loose, unlike in Africa where only models slowly twist their necks that way to amuse the audience during concerts! But all in all, the people here seem very happy with their weather.
In October, the sudden appearance of white powder on my window was indeed an unprecedented experience. As I noticed white flakes on my window on the early morning of Tuesday, 25th October, this amazement grew into excitement on getting close to my window. “So this what snow is like!” Later in the day, while on the road, I looked all around me to ensure that no one was noticing, and then quickly packed some snow with my hand and felt it. I did not mind the cold this time – it was fine sparkling white powder and tasteless. All that snow also decorates and beautifies the city as if it were neatly sprinkled deliberately. Tartu is more enchanting with the snow, fields now look more beautiful when covered with snow than with grass, pedestrian lanes are also decorated, gardens and playfields more beautified, most vehicles completely covered with snow. It is not possible to see this in Africa!
I also realized that snow is great fun not only for Estonians but perhaps for everyone; it was particularly fascinating to see young and old people alike excited about the snow, and young people playing in the snow. One Estonian friend called snow ‘snow angel’; it was also hilarious to see students chasing each other with snowballs, little children drawing smiling faces on pin the snow that covered cars! I found all the snow statues amazing.
All my fears about cold weather were gone once the snow arrived.
Now I will say that snow is beautiful and Estonian is more beautiful with snow!