The quest for cold

Similar to what is described in Mariana Lepecki’s article, I spent my break trying to survive the polar vortex. From mid-December to mid-January, my heater was on the highest mode and sweaters were my best friends. But here in São Paulo we are facing a radically different problem: heat. Record-breaking temperatures have left the Graded community scrambling for relief. Classes have moved to the Writing Center, the library, and the old IB office. Male teachers are now wearing shorts. Responding to this change, Mr. Amaral took to Facebook: “Historical day at Graded… The heat has been so unbearable that for the first time male teachers were allowed to wear bermudas; it made a huge difference. Let’s revisit old rules and adapt to the new times.”

Adapting to new times means finding new ways to keep cold. We all know the benefits of air conditioning and drinking water, but here are a few unconventional ways to deal with the heat:

1. Eat spicy foods. The hottest regions of the world, such as India and Thailand, tend to eat the spiciest foods. Coincidence? Nope! Spicy foods make us sweat, which actually cools us down. Stella Park says, “Kimchi-jjigae makes me sweat when I eat it. I continue to eat spicy food at home even when it’s hot.” So, next time you are feeling warm, be sure to grab spicy kimchi-jjigae or even just the hot sauce at lunch!

2. Befriend the floor. Warm air rises, so getting closer to the ground is another way to escape the heat. Clara Bezerra opts to sit on the floor rather than in a chair during her Physics and ToK classes, especially as temperatures shoot up. After I asked her why she chooses to do this, Clara responds, “The floor not only is a good place to cool off, but it also allows you to look at the world differently. Roofs and skies are awesome; I don’t get to look at those often. Lying on the floor makes me feel free, relaxed, empowered. Plus, I have a habit of being strange; ask my parents.” For a break from this unbearable sultriness, sit (or lay) on the ground and enjoy.

Clara Bezerra in her natural habitat.
Clara Bezerra in her natural habitat.

3. Think cold. Listening to music like “Let It Snow,” reading literature like “Winter Dreams,” watching movies like Frozen will not only entertain but cool you down. Camila Isern watched Frozen three times through the burning months of January and February. She says, “Whenever Elsa was running and accidentally freezing the entire country, I felt colder, like a wind had just blown in.”

4. Put ice on pulse points. Wondering about the biological mechanisms of this technique, I asked Mr. Amaral why it works. He said, “Ice on pulse points causes vasoconstriction in the area. So, the body tries to compensate. The rebound effect causes vasodilation, especially of superficial blood vessels. As a result, you sweat, lose more heat, and cool down your body.” The pulse points are the side of the neck, the back of the knee, the inside of the wrist, and the inner part of the elbow. Grab an ice pack or wrap some ice in a paper towel and place it on these locations of the body for instant heat relief.

These tips are sure to keep you a bit colder over the next few weeks. Personally, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss the polar vortex a little bit. But, the difference between -15°C and 35°C isn’t that much, right?