Don’t Panic: Preparing for Winter in Wisconsin

Elainia Barbieri

I am not really a winter girl. Sure, I adore the holidays and the look of snow on the trees and I’m just as down for hot cocoa as anybody on campus. Just don’t make me go outside. I was still trapped in the romance of fall, when I can just sip my pumpkin spice latte and dip my toes in the frost that was to come instead of being submerged in the 9th circle of hell. But I received the first icy slap of wintery reality in early November, during my English seminar, when the first visible snowflakes began to float down from the sky.
Right before the crushing weight of inevitable freezing nights and arctic winds fell on me, I realized that two of my fellow students had never seen snow. Until then, it hadn’t occurred to me that someone in Wisconsin had never seen snow- a substance so abundant up here that I’m surprised we haven’t found a way to make our cars run on it. Tikantame Amaleboba and Jennifer Ip, transfer students from Ghana and Hong Kong, were about to experience the magic of that stupid frozen water that everyone familiar with the Midwest has gotten positively sick of. And everyone wanted to share a little of their winter knowledge with their snowless peers. So did I.
While I couldn’t quite tell them everything there is to know about winter, it inspired me to think about how I prepare for the harsh few months ahead and what I do to make it brighter. And why not share a bit of brutal honesty and joy? So if you haven’t seen snow before- and let me tell you that you have quite the storm coming- or if you just need to fall in love with winter again in order to get rid of your post-summer depression, then here are a few tips on making this winter a little more bearable:

  • For the love of everything good in the world get sensible gear. I can’t tell you how many times I have fell victim to undermining the ferocity of winter. Still wrapped in the warm cocoon of fall, I simply bring my pea coat and fashionable boots wondering how it could ever get so cold so quick. The issue here is that it does and the weather gets under freezing point earlier than I anticipated. I learn quite early every November that always looking fashionable in winter isn’t going to save my hands from turning purple. With that being said, it’s important you always have a huge Eskimo like coat at your disposal. Something not too terribly expensive that you don’t mind getting wet but something with enough layers that it feels like you haven’t left the house. The same thing goes with shoes. Uggs maybe comfortable, warm, and also a somewhat unappealing tan color but unless you want water stains the size of Africa on your $100 shoes then buy a pair of snow boots that you don’t necessarily mind ruining as you trek through heaps of snow. Basically, if a Game of Thrones character wouldn’t wear it in the north, you probably don’t want to wear it when the wind chill is below thirty and you’re walking to Barstow.
  • Create a winter playlist. You may already be swimming in Christmas music that you’ve been listening to since October, but that isn’t exactly the kind of playlist I’m talking about. I mean warm music. The kind of music you want to listen to by the fire on a cold snowy night. It could be Christmas music. Knock yourself out. But for me it’s always been something like Frank Sinatra. Something that makes you feel cozy and relaxed. So expand your music collection and find a few new artists that make you feel warm when the outside is similar to the planet Hoth in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Stock up on sweaters and buy a Snuggie. Now’s your chance. The weather is going to be cold enough where you can waste all your money on sweaters and no one can judge you for wanting to be warm and snuggly in a time when your toes can literally freeze off. Buy a few sweaters that make you feel happy when you wear them. And while you’re at it, winter is the perfect excuse to buy a Snuggie. Need to annotate your book for class and want the use of your arms while also knowing that those said arms aren’t cold? Well, Snuggie is the perfect purchase for you. You may think that all you need is a blanket but when you’re still shivering in your dorm as you try to turn the pages in your book, you’ll realize throwing some cash into a blanket with sleeves is a pretty reasonable purchase.
  • Actually try baking. You may only be skilled at making some really gourmet cereal and milk but trust me when I say that baking can really warm up a house. Accidentally setting the house on fire isn’t the type of warmth I’m talking about either. I’m talking about the feelings that stir your heart when you smell a fresh batch of cookies in the over. Feeling the heat of the stove and the smell of a not terribly cooked pastry might make roughing out those snowstorms enjoyable. Browse the Internet to see what recipes you are both interested in and can also manage. Knowing that the next snow brings a possibility of trying a cool new treat can make the feelings of dread disappear. As long as it’s somewhat edible and nothing burns down, which may be a struggle for some students here who forget that EasyMac needs water, then you will have a nice treat on a cold snowy day.
  • Play in the snow again. Who really cares about being an adult anyway? Part of the reason we loved snow so much as kids is because we constantly played in it. I can’t remember the last time I built a snowman and I think the last time I went sledding was when a Republican was president. Bringing back some of that nostalgia can help us remember what we loved so much about winter in the first place. So have your snowball fights with no shame! Make your precious snow angels! Enjoying life isn’t a terrible thing to do.

You may never love winter. It’s still a bitterly cold season that makes walking outside to a class you hate even more miserable, especially when that teacher insists on you coming when it’s twenty below zero and there are squirrels frozen onto trees. But hopefully you can use some of these suggestions as a way to get acquainted with the snow once again. I know I may never fully embrace the snow or the cold but seeing Jennifer Ip’s face light up when she stepped outside and saw the first flakes fall, reaching her hands out to catch the precious new snow she heard so much about, I realized that there is something great in winter after all.

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