How international students handle their first few winters in Iowa


Katherine Kealey

Iowa State’s first snow of the fall 2022 semester.

The midwest is expected to have another string of cold winter temperatures this year, but international students have a trick up their sleeves.

A total of 2,443 international students attend Iowa State, according to the Office of the Registrar website. They come from regions such as India, Tokyo and Japan, where temperatures are warmer all year round.

Some international students who already attended Iowa State in previous semesters still have the same reaction when they see the snow falls down. One of these students, Aina Azman, a sophomore studying software engineering, is from Malaysia, where snow is not common.

A ladybug takes shelter in the eye of a statue infront of Christain Petersen Art Museum during the years first snowfall. Nov. 15, 2022. (Jacob Rice)

“It’s a magical experience when you see it for the first time,” Azman said. “I wasn’t a fan of the cold when it happened, but that didn’t stop me from going outside and enjoying it.”

Iowa’s statewide average maximum temperature was 26.2 degrees Fahreneheit in January 2022, according to the Iowa Agriculture weather summary. However, students like Azman are well prepared to combat the cold.

“My advice is to bundle up and drink hot tea,” Azman said. “Make sure you wear comfortable and warm clothes when going out or staying indoors. Some apartments and dorms don’t have good heating.”

Azman is not the only international student who experienced the cold for the first time while attending Iowa State, and as many other students have discovered, experiencing a cold winter for the first time has many ups and downs.

“Growing up in New Delhi, I did not get to see snow during the winter, so seeing it for the first time in America was truly a great experience,” said Burhan Saad Ammari, a graduate student studying computer science. “The second time around, you are reminded of the cold, and that is not so fun.”

Ammari lives in a small apartment and keeps his heater on often when he is home to stay warm.

“I would tell other students from New Delhi to just get used to [the weather],” Ammari said. “It’s going to be a cold experience when you get here.”

Despite the cold setback, students like Azman and Burhan enjoy the winter weather for its beauty and scenery. Other students enjoy the weather because it is something new.
“It’s blazing hot in Pakistan, so to have some cold weather for the first time feels great,” said Niraj Mayank Amin, a sophomore from Pakistan studying computer science.

Amin prepares for the cold weather by preparing ahead of time and dressing accordingly.

Snow covers the leaves and roofs of the Landscape Architecture building on campus. Nov. 15, 2022. (Jacob Rice)

“A lot of my friends and family warned me about the weather and said to wear multiple layers,” Amin said. “Because of their advice, I look at the weather report every morning before heading out, so I know what to prepare for.”

Now that Amin has experienced the cold weather for himself, he is able to offer advice to others on how to stay warm.

“If my family were here right now, I would say just to bundle up and get ready for some frigid weather and to bring lots of hot food,” Amin said. “It helps warm you up real fast when it’s cold outside.”

Additional information on weather safety at Iowa State can be found on the Iowa State Environmental Health and Safety website.