Winter From the Perspective of a Southerner

As an Atlantan, I’ve tangentially experienced winter, at best. Every few years, it flurries repeatedly for a few days before finally sticking, and then we get a half an inch or so. But we freak out. School shuts down for weeks at a time, the highways are littered with abandoned cars, and all hell breaks loose. Behold, a Georgian “Snow-pocalypse.”

So imagine my surprise when it started snowing up in Illinois (where I go to college), and despite the amount of snow-related yaks on Yik Yak (most likely posted by freshman who grew up in the South), few people seemed to react to it.

This is most likely because this is an annual occurrence for students who aren’t freshman or aren’t from somewhere with a warm climate. They look down on those who freak out and run outside to snap pictures of them making snow angels and blowing snow out of their mittened hands.

But I’m unashamed of my reactions to the weather, and I have a few reflections to share.

Winter clothes are a real thing, everyone! I’ve had to properly learn how to wear a scarf, hat, and mittens. You wear the scarf a certain way to block out all of the wintery winds, and you have to make sure the hat covers your ears but doesn’t disrupt your earbuds.

A pro-tip: put all of your winter gear on before you exit a building. If you’re balancing a cup of coffee whilst trying to pull on gloves, or if you’re listening to music through your earbuds but trying to wind a scarf around your neck, you’re gonna end up having to compromise either way.

On Halloween, it was raining ice. Sideways. That was the day I realized I really needed a neck garter. At a certain point, the temperature will dip so low that I won’t really mind what I look like. What’s the point of looking cute but feeling miserable? I don’t understand people who do this. You’re going to get sick! If I could find some sort of middle ground that involves a warm winter coat that looked great on me, then great. But I’d prioritize my warmth over anything, even if my faux fur hood makes me look like a mushroom.

No one can even tell who you are in the streets anyways. Everyone’s all bundled up, with no facial features exposed. Don’t yell someone’s name down a windy sidewalk for thirty seconds, run up behind them and discover that they aren’t your friend, they’re a complete stranger. Aherm.

But you know how Chicago winters get worse and worse until finally climaxing sometime in February? Well, I can barely stand it in November when it’s 20 degrees outside! I have already broken out the very coldest winter jacket I have, and apparently I’m in for a chilly surprise, and that scares the hell out of me.

The weather here is always a topic of conversation. But not in the way you’d expect. The fact that it’s always changing means that it’s not in any way a mundane subject, and people from different geographical regions of the world always have interesting tidbits to contribute.

But you know what’s the worst? A bitter cold raging outside without any snow. Nothing soft to step in, just crunchy, icy grass and slippery sidewalks. We need some snow to reflect the sunlight or the glow of the street lamps.

That’s why sitting inside is one of my favorite past times, no matter the season. But it’s especially gratifying in the winter when you get to sit inside where it’s warm and cozy and enjoy what I believe to be the best part about snow/wintertime, the aesthetic aspect.

The freezing cold outside will push me to become a hermit. I won’t leave my dorm building unless I have to. I’ll have my meals delivered, or go downstairs to our dining hall more often. I’ll grow closer to the people living in my building.

But when I’m forced to go outside, I’m glad that I can still enjoy holiday lights that the university has strung up all over campus. Those bright twinkling stars nearly push me to the brink of tears, reminding me of the holiday season. If I have to walk to all of my classes, at least I can do it in the company of little light fairies perched high in the trees.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll be able to go ice skating outdoors, something that’s been on my bucket list for a long time.

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