Schwager: Take a study break to enjoy winter

Clare Schwager

Last night while struggling to think of a topic that required little to no effort to write, I realized I would much rather be outside doing one of several things: sledding, skating, building igloos, etc. Anything to get out of my lilliputian dorm room and away from all the homework I put off until 10 p.m. on a Monday night. So, after an hour or two of studying molecular biology and Charles Darwin and something in French I can’t really remember, I decided to go stand at my window and stare outside for a while.

While I don’t necessarily condone procrastination, occasional breaks from the academic world can be extremely beneficial for mental sanity, if nothing else. I’m sure professors understand this as well as students. While winter might seem like the bane of a college student’s existence, it actually has a lot to offer. For one thing, snow days, though rare,  are like Christmas all over again, minus the presents, the food and the parties. Okay, so not Christmas, but bear with me here. Cancelled classes are probably the next best thing, can we all agree on that?

As for sledding, I don’t think I even need to mention how incredibly awesome this activity is. Despite dripping noses, frostbitten fingers, soaked clothes and hat hair, sledding is worth every minute spent zooming downhill (and occasionally through the air). If you don’t own a sled, I advise investing in one. Target has some inexpensive options for around five-to-ten bucks, or bug a friend who has one and try doubling up. Going two-to-a-sled definitely increases the fun factor … just be sure to wear extra-squishy snowpants. Landings can be rough.

The Ames/ISU Ice Arena, located at 1507 Gateway Hills Park Drive is an excellent place for skating any day of the week. Admission is $4.75 for adults and $2.75 for skate rental, and there’s a special discount for ISU students on Wednesdays. Visit the website to check the hours ( If you have any, bring your own skates to cut down on the cost.

If you don’t feel like finding a sled or shelling out hard-earned cash to go skating, you can always go the easy route and simply enjoy watching people try their best not to slip on the icy sidewalks. Although most of the dangers have been taken care of by now, I’ve witnessed quite a few hapless victims fall prey — literally — to hidden patches. Of course, it’s only amusing until you experience it yourself … not that I have or anything. Ahem.

Last but not least, there is always the option of starting a full-on snowball war. Now that the snow isn’t quite so fresh and fluffy anymore, it makes an excellent missile if packed correctly. The trick is to use your bare hands. The heat from your palms melts the snow just enough to form a perfect snowball. Now, if I find myself bombarded from all sides on my way to classes this week I’ll know my advice was taken a little too well. Or not well, depending on how you look at it.

While it might seem like the snow is packing up for the winter, never fear. This is Iowa, folks. It will be back, and probably won’t be gone for good until March. So instead of wallowing in self-despair and the winter blues, let’s make the most of this time of year. Before you know it, Spring Break will be just around the corner. That was a little too optimistic, wasn’t it? Forget that last part. Just try to survive the month.