UK daylight savings time (a.k.a. British Summer Time) ends this weekend, and I’m delighted. Why? Well, I love an extra hour. I could use one more often. “Fall Back” time has always been a happy time for me. But never so much as when I moved abroad. The first thing that is immediately noticeable is that the US does not switch at the same time, so there is a magical week of decreased time differences: 4 hours to the east coast instead of 5. Five to Minneapolis instead of 6. I love this. We get a few magical weeks each year in the spring and in the fall when this happens. I wish we could maintain the shorter time difference always, and I panic at the thought of the proposals to equalize the UK with European time and permanently move forward an hour, thus increasing the difference to 6 hours UK-east coast. Hopefully the UK-France animosity will prevent such an equalization and the Eurosceptics will prevail in this one small thing.
But this line of argument reflects the overall expat existence in some ways. I don’t live in British time. I live in some strange mid-Atlantic time-zone between here and there. The east coast is normally 5 hours, from me, the midwest 6, my colleagues in Colorado 7. I don’t seem to have many working relationships at 8 hours away in California, but I know it’s there. In general, these time differences are an automatic subtraction when I look at my watch and think about who I need to talk to and what I need to say. Fortunately I have a relatively flexible job in terms of the timing, and as a result I don’t normally book appointments before 10 am. And I often don’t “down tools” until 8 or 10 pm. I don’t religiously work a New York day, but I’m definitely closer to that than to a typical working day for those around me in the UK (although thank goodness 8 am starts are not the norm here, in that I do NOT miss Minnesota!)
That said, I have the intrinsic tendency to be slightly nocturnal, and sometimes this does not help. The time zone shift provides me an excuse for not integrating into UK time as well as I should. When I have to do something at 8:30 am (as early as I’ve been asked to do when not travelling) I’m pissy and resentful, because you can bet I was not in bed before 1 am (8 pm on the east coast!) It’s a delicate balance. And I’m eager to hear from readers–on both sides of the pond–how they accommodate this moderate but not insignificant time difference. Is it a help or a hindrance? Is it better to be in China (as my sister is) and be completely shifted in the US, or is it good to have this evening window both in the US and UK where people can overlap in timing, as long as the US person gets home from work early and the UK person manages to stay awake late?