In Exeter, it usually doesn’t pour. The British isles are famous for rain, however the annual precipitation in Exeter is actually less than that of Tampa. USF students are all familiar with the typical afternoon thundershowers in the warmer months, when hot sunny days will be briefly interrupted by violent wind and rain, and thunder powerful enough to set off car alarms.
Typical English weather is nearly opposite. A constant low drizzle and dampness is the norm. I would guess that it is only actually raining about 40% of the average day, with only 5% of that being more than a light mist. This is not to say that the sun is shining during the rest of the day though. Cloudy and bleak are generally the rule for Autumn weather.
This weather must be at least partially to blame for the well known phenomenon of “freshers’ flu”, usually just a light cold that goes around in the first weeks of term. After wandering around all day Saturday in the rain in Bristol, I also became a victim of freshers’ flu.
But the rain isn’t a new phenomenon here. People know how to deal with it. You carry a rain jacket and an umbrella. When possible, you walk through buildings rather than around them. You wait for the heavier part of the rain to die down before going out.
The rain also results in some of the best aspects of life here. The University has a fantastically green campus, with a great diversity of botanical life. The constant rainfall keeps these trees hydrated, and the climate that produces the rain keeps the soil warm. Few people expect to find so many palm trees here. Traditional food seems to be designed to make up for the weather. Eating a hot pasty after walking through a rain shower feels like wrapping yourself in a blanket. Pubs with more people in them than seats feel cozy, rather than cramped. You chat with people on your way out of a lecture as you wait at the door for the rain to slow down, and huddle three people under too small of an umbrella.
Complaining about the weather is as much a part of life here as the weather itself. However, gloomy weather isn’t just a hazard of life in England, but essential to it.