Sunny skies, boiling hot summers and cacti as far as the eye can see are characteristics of an awesome vacation to most native Nebraskans. To me, these are just natural, everyday occurrences in the place I call home: Tucson, Arizona.
When it came time to pick a college, I knew I wanted a change. I guess that’s how I ended up smack-dab in the middle of the Midwest. When I decided on Nebraska, my family and friends constantly reminded me that my choice to attend this lovely university would also land me in a real bitter winter. Being my inherently stubborn self, I always refuted their persistent reminders with: “It’s okay, I’ll be fine. If I can handle extreme heat, I can handle the cold.”
Truth is, I never fully realized just how cold the cold could be.
According to an article from Nebraska Today, about one third of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s student population is out-of-state students, most of whom are from neighboring states with traditional winter weather. But to the small few who hail from southern or western states, to the people who know my struggle of establishing a wardrobe for a season they have never experienced, this one’s for you.
As we enter a week full of freezing temperatures that make me shiver with just one look at the forecast, I’ve decided to share my acquired knowledge. This is my out of state student’s guide to surviving the winter.
The greatest winter investment
I believe the best winter investment anyone can make is a parka jacket. A parka is a longer and more insulated winter jacket. For the first half of my freshman year, I did without one and just wore my normal length winter coat. It was fine, but, once it was January and winter really started to hit, I was quickly on the phone with my mother begging for a longer coat.
Because of its length, a parka will provide more insulation and trap more of a person's body heat than a normal jacket would. While it may be a little more expensive than a normal jacket, it's definitely worth the investment to make that 15-minute walk to class even a little less miserable.
A little extra traction can be your best friend
There’s nothing more embarrassing than sliding on a patch of ice and falling flat on your butt in front of the Union with a bunch of people standing around. Trust me, I’ve been there. One thing I’ve learned is that Nebraska has the tendency to be very versatile in its weather decisions. One day it's 24 degrees and snowy, andthe next day it's 45 and the snow melts. Then all of a sudden, on the third day, it's 19 degrees, and all the slush freezes and we basically ice skate to class.
There is, however, a way to avoid this — snow boots. On the iciest days, the extra traction is the best thing to help you stay on your feet. Even a cheap pair from Walmart can do the trick. They keep your feet warm, and you’ll probably spend less time on the icy ground than me.
It’s okay to take a break from the cold
It can get pretty dang cold outside. Especially during a week like this, with highs of 0 degrees and lows of negative 11, the walk to class can be too much. On really cold days like these, I like to give myself a little extra time while walking to class. I’ll talk an alternate route through the library or the Union just to give myself a little break before braving the cold again. If it’s really cold, return to the warmth and get some feeling back in your nose before going back outside.
Cover your extremities
Losing feeling in your hands and feet is one of the worst parts about the cold. It’s important to get bundled. Wear hats, gloves, scarves, a mask, whatever you can so you keep the feeling in fingers and ears. It’ll hurt worse when they start to burn in the warm air. The other day my roommate didn’t wear gloves while scraping the snow off her car, and she still can’t feel part of her finger. So just do it; bundle up. ‘Tis the season to look like a marshmallow.
Wind chill is no joke
This was something that definitely took some getting used to. There’s nothing worse than when you dress for one temperature only to go outside and realize it’s much colder than you anticipated. Always, always, always check the “feels like” temperature when looking at your weather app in the morning. That’s the temperature you need to be prepared for. While the weather may say it’s 35 degrees outside, the windchill will sneak up on you, and it’ll feel like 20 outside. Pay attention to the wind chill.
While the cold can be quite miserable, the snow and endless excuses for hot chocolate can be lots of fun. So bundle up, stay warm and with these tips, you’ll hopefully survive the winter months.