Do I have to learn Celsius?

Given that this is my second time living in Europe and that I have many international friends, you would think I would have some sort of urgency to learn the Celsius system. Not so.

I realize that I am in the minority. Fahrenheit is only used in 5 places on Earth: the U.S., Belize, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

What is it about temperature that makes me just want to stick to what I know? Is it because when I moved abroad, I was already forced to learn weight in grams and distances in meters? Is temperature just too much?

Most of my closest friends in Heidelberg come from countries other than the U.S. and only know Celsius. Sometimes, I really want to say to them, “I couldn’t believe it this morning when I woke up and it was 48 degrees out!” To them, this would be unimaginable heat. To me, it’s chilly for early fall.

I sometimes find myself doing a shortcut calculation in my head:
C = (Fahrenheit temperature -32)

But, that really slows down a story. And, it’s not even 100% accurate.

I’ve tried switching my weather tools to Celsius, but then, I can’t figure out what to wear outside. I just don’t know what 14 C feels like. Do I need a jacket, a sweater, sandals, boots? I end up converting my tools back to Fahrenheit after only a few hours in the name of fashion.

In the kitchen, I don’t even bother with Celsius even though my oven uses it. I created a conversion table, taped it to my Kühlschrank, and haven’t looked back since.

I have enough volume and weight measurements to convert that I can’t waste any time trying to remember high-heat temperatures.

I guess, as an international person, I should make another effort to learn Celsius. It was rather awkward at the doctor’s office last week when I was told my temperature was 36.4 and I almost asked, “Is that good?”

Being an expat is a lot of work.
Check out more challenges and mishaps in expat living


4 responses to “Do I have to learn Celsius?

  1. I find myself using C when I talk to other people here and F when I talk to people back in the states. I still don’t feel like I have a good sense of what each temperature translates to, but I do remember a few benchmarks:

    -18C = 0F, or holy crap that’s cold.
    0C = Freezing, 32F.
    22C and sunny = short sleeved t-shirts.
    30C = humans melting into piles of wax and drinking lots of cool beverages.

  2. Somewhere along the way celsius “clicked.” I still couldn’t tell you what the conversions back to F are, but somehow I now have some innate sense of what to wear in celsius.

    The 24 hour clock, however, still throws me off from time to time. 20:00: how is it already time for bed (oh…wait). 13:00: I’m almost late for school pick-up! (oh…wait).

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