I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 31 to a world of white. My roommates and I wanted to get to the Rotunda to see a clear blanket of snow on the Lawn before there were many people outside.
As we made our way out, I tentatively took my first step and felt my boots sink into the snow. It was genuinely a bit disorienting — I knew the sidewalk was there, but I couldn’t see it. I looked behind me to see my footprints in the fresh snow. I felt like I was somewhere else — a place I’m so familiar with suddenly became new to me, and I was in awe.
I knew that snow behaved similarly to an often bothersome drizzle of rain — but even though my hair and coat were wet, I was too enraptured by the drifting flakes to feel any of the cold. As we made our way to the Lawn, I thought about all the previous times I had walked the same path, but it was sunny and 60 degrees or windy and the ground was covered in leaves.
As I had anticipated, there was indeed a clear blanket of snow on the Lawn at this early hour. It was before sunrise, and the Rotunda was the only source of light in the hazy background. The one other person present was taking pictures of the Rotunda and offered to take a picture of me and my roommates. All I could hear were my own steps in the snow and my breathing — it was quiet, but so peaceful.
It felt surreal. I knew exactly where I was, but it had completely transformed — and it was beautiful. The first time you experience something is never quite the same as the second or third time. The exhilaration and excitement I felt in this particular moment will go unmatched.
I’m often told that snow is overrated — that it’s only pretty while it’s falling, but gross and inconvenient once it melts. I could express the same sentiment about the beach though — getting saltwater in your eyes is painful and sand sticking to your skin is annoying.
My friends have gushed over the idea of taking a road trip to Florida and visiting the warm-water beaches of the Gulf. Although I do enjoy a good beach trip, I don’t necessarily have the same burning desire they do because I’ve gone to the beach regularly my whole life. There is value in both sunny and snowy experiences — depending on who you ask. I personally happen to appreciate both.
Around noon, I looked out my window to see people sledding and making snowmen. There were plenty of people enjoying the snow just like I had six hours earlier. Interestingly enough, I didn’t want to do any of the typical snow day activities. I simply wanted to walk around Grounds while it was snowing, and I felt content that I had been able to do that.
One of the reasons I wanted to go out of state was to experience snow and real seasons. For context, the winter temperatures in central Florida typically do not drop below 40 degrees. There’s also no spirit of winter — it’s generally warm year-round, so there aren’t any visible changes in behavior such as wearing winter attire. On the surface it may seem rather trivial, but I knew that in this new chapter of my life I wanted to live somewhere vastly different from home — therefore I ended up moving to a different climate. Little did I know how quintessential this change in weather would be to curating my college life.
This snow day was my paramount experience at the University, and I know it is a euphoric moment in my life that will stay with me for the long run. As I’m growing and learning on my collegiate journey, I can reflect on all the times I experienced something new and how crucial these moments are in shaping how I view myself and the world around me. The people alongside me and the memories I make with them encourage me to be more conscientious, both inwardly and outwardly.
New experiences — both small and large — can have a profound impact on one’s worldview. The newness of snow has solidified my appreciation for both of my lifestyles, and I’m looking forward to all the experiences Virginia has in store for me.
Yasmin Teixeira is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.