This GradHacker post was written by Trent M Kays, University of Minnesota PhD candidate in Writing Studies, @TrentMKays
I have a confession: I love snow. You might not understand the profoundness of this confession, but I was born and raised on the Central Coast of California in a city slightly north of Santa Barbara. The ocean and 70F weather were normal for my family during the winter. We would make regular trips to the beach, eat Jalama Burgers (a delicious treat from my hometown), and chill on the sandy shore with the water lapping slowly at our feet. However, one thing the Central Coast doesn't have is snow. That part of California is a too far south and too close to the ocean for snowy weather.
Growing up in Southern California, I viewed snow as an exotic thing that I hoped one day I could frolic in. (Yes, I frolic. Don't you?) So, when I moved to Minnesota (after a stint living in the South) to pursue my doctorate, I was excited that I would actually be living in a state where snow was the norm. Though, I didn't realize how much of the norm it was until my first winter in the Twin Cities.
Some in the Twin Cities will say that 2010-2011 winter was the worst winter in Minnesota in the last ten years. Others will say that it was nothing. Thus the conversation in Minnesota proceeds about the weather. Honestly, I don't care. I just want snow. I want buckets of it falling from the sky, so I can drop my bag in my apartment and go outside and play.
Play. It's an odd concept for someone my age, especially when I think of it as a five year old going outside to build snowmen. That's what I do. Graduate school is stressful. The holidays are stressful. Life is stressful. Sometimes you just need to go outside and build a snowman. You need to grab some carrots, some charcoal, a hat, a scarf, and go outside and build a snowman with the neighborhood kids.
No matter how much snow is piled on the streets of the Twin Cities, I still love it. I love jumping into a snow back and watching half of my body disappear. Perhaps these types of things sound childlike, but it is these types of winter activities that keep me sane. Winter is no picnic in the Twin Cities. It's long, cold, long, freezing, and--oh, wait. Did I mention that it's long?! Yeah, it is.
Winter Break is a time for me to work on my spring semester syllabi, finish writing personal essays, work on the many extra projects that fill my cheaply-made desk, and relax. But, the winter is so long in Minnesota that I believe one would go mad if they were mostly locked in their apartment all day. Snow is your friend. Cold weather is your friend. Winter is your friend. Trust me! You can have fun in the middle of a snow laden metro.
Sometimes I'll spend hours locked in my apartment writing, which is something I love, but it's not the only thing that matters. I like to close my laptop, go outside, and have a snowball fight with the neighborhood kids. I normally lose because they are many, and I am only one person, but I go down fighting.
So, I think you should go outside, make snowballs, and have fun. Graduate school isn't everything, and you may soon be to old to be a kid.
*I am aware this is a post that is really only applicable to those who live in snowy winter climates. I apologize. You can substitute "snow" for something that fits your climate. --TMK
Photo by Flickr user jasonbolonski // Creative Commons license: CC-BY