Hot in the City, How I Learned to Love the Californian Sun

I am that rare arrival in California, that complains about the weather. ‘Why is it always so hot? I’d love just one cold day.’ I would say. You see I have never fared particularly well in the sun, being blonde, blue-eyed and so pale that for the better part of the year (so, around 10 to 11 months!) I am near translucent. When I go out with bare legs, it is best if you are wearing a good pair of sunglasses, but I recently realised, that I had come to love the Californian sun.

Now as we all know the Bay Area is subject to wide and varying microclimates, and I am sure had I moved to San Francisco itself the weather would have been ideal for me. But I am based in Palo Alto, which is definitely one of the hotter areas of suburbia in the Bay. This means that this pale Welsh girl has taken a little while to adapt to the heat, but after one too many instances of rather unattractive sunburn, adapt I have.

As discussed in a previous post my time in California is as a temporary visitor this means we are currently weighing up our options and seeking opportunities for what might come next. One of the possibilities that is always on the table is heading home to the UK, and as my husband and I discussed this the other day I had a startling revelation. It is always so grey there. As the hot weather is now beginning to return to the Bay, I wondered how much I would now miss the weather I had always avoided? How would I cope without the glorious Californian sun?

I was always someone who sought shade as soon as the weather went above the mid 20’s in Celsius (that’s about 77 Fahrenheit). I was someone who enjoyed the rain and was straight outside when the snow arrived. And I still do miss the snow every winter when I see people’s photos of the beautifully pristine and crisp snow-covered landscapes of home. But I no longer automatically seek shade, my first summer here when the mercury hit 30°C or above I could barely function as a human being, and whilst I still don’t enjoy it when it gets super hot (last summer when Palo Alto/Stanford hit 111f was unbearable!), 30-38 Celsius (86-100f) is now a temperature in which I am happy going about my daily life, this would have been unthinkable 2 years ago.  And now if it is below 20°C (68f) I think it is getting a little chilly and wonder if I need to take a jacket with me, in the UK that sort of temperature is considered beach weather.

Californian Sun: Drinking a smoothie on Stanford Campus

Keeping cool on Stanford campus in the Californian sun

I never thought I would be someone who would enjoy being outside in the sun, and though I always carry a lot of water and definitely high SPF sunscreen wherever I go, the day just feels better when I get outside and get some Californian sun on my skin. I love knowing that when I make plans that involve being outside, that they will definitely happen, no matter how far in advance I plan. In the UK planning a barbecue or picnic is done at your own peril.

Californian Sun shining down on Yosemite

Sunshine in Yosemite.

If we do end up back in the UK I am sure I will adapt again in the other direction, but the grey of every day will certainly take some getting used to.

How do you find the weather in the Bay Area? Too hot? Too cold? Or just right? Let us know below.

About Sarah Jennings

Less than five years ago, I got my first passport and went on my first short holiday outside of the UK to the absolutely stunning Croatia. And it feels like I have never looked back! Since then I have spent 2 years living in beautiful Copenhagen, before arriving in the Bay Area in early 2016. It has been quite the whirlwind adventure. I have used my expat adventure to reignite my lifelong dream to become a writer and editor, returning to my studies and slowly building experience through work and voluntary roles to make this a reality. I have recently left the Bay Area and returned to the UK, to live in London, another place I haven't lived. You can follow my journey at my website -

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