Expat Joys – The Sun

I’m not sure of the official tally, but from our experience the sun shines about 359 days a year in Johannesburg. It’s definitely one of my greatest joys as an expat here. Even – and especially – in winter, when I’m shivering through the nights, the sun can always be counted on to be up by 7 in the morning. I can see how ancient cultures worshiped the sun, especially at high altitudes, like the Incas. It gets so chilly as soon as the sun is gone that you cannot wait for it to come up again in the morning and the heat gets switched back on.

The sun is so immensely good for our well-being. Sure, you have to protect yourself against its harsh rays particularly here in the Southern Hemisphere and at such high altitude, but I think it has huge benefit for your emotional health. There are even benefits I didn’t know about. Did you know that sunlight helps give your kids good eyesight? I just came across this article in the New York Times elaborating on studies that show even kids with myopic parents develop good eyesight if they spend their childhood mostly outside, especially in a sunny climate, whereas children that grow up mostly indoors are much more prone to need glasses.

Just one more reason to turn off the video games and computers and kick your kids out the door. In fact, here in South Africa, our kids seem to go outside more voluntarily, because the temperature is so pleasant year-round (once you get through the cold early morning walk to school), and because all the other kids are outside as well.