Newbies: Winter Survival Guide

If you arrived this summer (as so many new arrivals seem to), it is often around this time that culture shock often hits hardest. Let’s assume culture shock is going to get to you this winter. That is pretty normal so it’s reasonable to prepare for it (but it is ok to hope that you will be an exception).

If you have foreigner friends then now is the time you will fall out with them. This is normal. Sometimes it gets nasty. Foreigners who have been here longer than a couple of years have their falling outs a little earlier in the season.

The process of feeling rotten and lonely and miserable and annoyed and bored and angry tends to end around April. The immigrant then declares themselves cured of culture shock and claim it is all because they have gained some insight and become a better person. Oh honey. You just started producing melatonin on the proper schedule and are sleeping better but whatever… OK, you’re a better person now… Except immigrants tend to come unstuck again in October. After a few years of this, you would be grumpy and impatient too.

Here is a spoiler-free Game of Thrones guide to surviving this winter. Let’s go to Westeros! (I’ll act like you’ve seen like a handful of episodes/read a couple of chapters of the first book)

Stay True to Yourself but Fit in Well

Catelyn Stark

Catelyn Stark is from the south but married a man from the north. At the start of the story, she is living happily in her husband’s country. She always feels like a fish out of water but her husband claims she has gone native because she has had a buttload of his children. She pretty much has adapted to Winterfell but she keeps a lot of her old ways (for example, her religion) She just gets on with it, you know. There is a melancholy though, she misses Riverlands, guys! But she’s a stoic (and also has someone to take out her shit on who can’t fight back).

Go Batshit

Lysa Arryn

Caitlyn’s sister married a guy and moved with him to where his job was. A lot of shit went down and I guess he wasn’t supportive enough? She certainly didn’t have any friends. Anyway, she goes a bit wrong but tries to keep it together for the sake of her kid. She is reasonably successful at this, for a given value of success.

Get Sucked In (and spat out)

Sansa Stark

Caitlyn’s daughter moves to the south to be closer to her boyfriend. She enthusiastically adopts his culture and customs. She rejects everything about her previous culture. She looks forward to being completely accepted by her new country more than anything.

It is actually dangerous for her to be open about her disappointment when King’s Landing does not live up to the hype so she hides her true feelings. She also has to deal with the knowledge that she will never be truly accepted.

Go Native

Daenerys Targaryen

Dani moves to be closer to her husband’s people. She learns his language in a short amount of time and adopts even the gross weird customs of his people. She becomes a part of his people. She fully intends to make a triumphant return to her old country and bring him with her.

Work to Your Own Agenda

‘Lord’ Varys

Mysterious Varys comes from Essos. Despite being a foreigner, he has great power and influence. He has done this by not giving one single fuck about becoming a Westerosi. Sure, he speaks their language but he plays them at their own game and comes out on top.

Flip out for a bit and then settle down by keeping busy

Jon Snow
Jon Snow

Sansa’s older half brother moved even further north for work. It is total bullshit. Almost everyone there is a dick, there is no dating and his career plans are diverted.

He is sad about it and even toys with going back home. In the end, he comes to a sort of peace with his situation and learns to fake it to make it.

Now, I don’t know what method you should use. But this much I know: if you know any Sansas or Lysas or Jons then for heaven’s sake: keep your judgements about their coping strategies to yourself.

Did Lysa go a bit funny because she put out negative energy and deserved bad things while Catelyn adapted well because she was thinking positively? HELL NO! Their (mysterious) background circumstances shaped them and ultimately gave them little choice but to react they way they did.

Did Dani learn Dothraki ways better than Sansa adapted to King’s Landing because Dani was more dedicated and hard working? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Their outside circumstances were completely different and out of their control.

Good luck this winter and be gentle with each other.

What is dead may never die!

(Edited to correct the spelling of Catelyn, thanks A!)

16 thoughts on “Newbies: Winter Survival Guide

  1. Or maybe the real reason you start to feel less miserable in April is because that’s the month Game of Thrones starts up again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Everyone complains about the weather, everywhere…not just expats. The weather has been great this year. I’m looking forward to another cold, clear winter with snow.


      1. Maybe. Or just one of those things. Whatever happens with the weather this winter, I am not looking forward to the short daylight hours one bit.


  3. It’s already starting. I can’t wake up in the morning anymore. It’s too dark. :-) Time to start drinking coffee again. ;-)


  4. Going native in Damnark is only possible if one drinks too much mjød and vomits while trying to speak. Well, that seems to be the only reason for so many vowels with a nearly utter lack of consonants in the Damnish language.


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