UI students and staff discuss preparation for winter

As the first snowfall of the winter comes and goes, students from in and out-of-state are acclimating to the cold weather.


Tate Hildyard

Iowa City is covered in snow following a recent storm on Sunday, November 25, 2018.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Reporter

As an out-of-state student from Houston, my experience with severe winter weather is limited, to say the least. When Iowa City was blanketed by its second snowstorm of the season this month, I was equally amazed by the beauty of the winter storm and its chilling temperatures.

Although the icy streets have since thawed and the sun is shining, the freezing weather remains. While I have taken to wearing three layers of clothes to protect me on my walk between classes, students native to the Midwest seem unfazed.

“I’ve lived in Iowa my whole life,” UI freshman Olivia Fourneau said. “It’s normal, but I don’t like the cold at all.”

One of the worst parts of winter, she said, was adapting to the streets constantly being salted or submerged in sand to avoid collisions because of the ice.

UI spokesperson Anne Bassett said the last time a full day of classes was canceled at the UI occurred in February 2011.

On the contrary, the precedent for winter weather at my high school in Houston was cancellation if the snowflake icon even appeared in the weather app on our smartphones.

“As long as students and their instructors are able to travel to and from campus safely, regularly scheduled classes will continue to meet,” Bassett said. “Individual circumstances may vary, and you should avoid serious risks.”

Bassett said that on days when severe weather is forecast, the Vice President for Student Life consults with several different university officials to determine whether student safety is at risk.

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Like many the schools throughout the state, UI administrators seem to understand that snowstorms are inevitable in the state we live in, and students and staff must learn to work around them and the obstacles they pose.

Nevertheless, for me and other nonresident students, the harsh winds and flurries of snow take some getting used to. UI junior Cassandra Chia transferred to the UI for the spring semester of this year, moving from a warm Malaysian climate to a cold Midwestern one.

“It was brutal,” Chia said. “I got lost in the snow, and my phone died because of the cold the week before my first classes started. I definitely had a hard time getting around.”

Another surprise was the dry Iowa air, so different from the rainy seasons she’s used to. It prompted her to buy some lotion.

Chia said she has since learned how to prepare for the winter weather, purchasing snow boots and more than anything shifting her mentality to be excited about the cold.

“One day, I decided I’m not going to sit there and complain around the weather because I chose to come here,” Chia said. “Part of the whole package is that we have four seasons — it’s really cool.”

Similar to Chia, I come from a very hot and humid climate, spotted by showers and flash floods. I know how to drive in deep water but not what to do if my car drifts on a patch of black ice. I can brave record-breaking degrees of heat, but I shy away from negative wind chills.

The differences are undeniable, but already, the white backdrop of a Midwestern winter has proved worth it. I will go home for winter break, where it’s warm enough for me to go swimming on Christmas Day. But I will come back to sledding and snowmen and snowball fights, concepts so foreign I almost can’t wait for my return.