On January 6 at 5:01pm, in the midst of the worst polar vortex in recent US history, a terrible thing happened: My nose-hairs froze.
If you’re reading this and originally hail from the North, this probably isn’t a foreign concept to you (albeit a little graphic, and for that, I apologize). But if you’re from where I am – a magical land of year-round beach going and endless supplies of fresh oranges – you probably think I’m nuts. And let me tell you, cotillion certainly did not provide me with a more lady-like way to express what happened to me above. (Sorry, Mom.)
When I told my parents I would be moving away from the South for the first time in my life in favor of a job in Northeast Wisconsin, they took the news with all the excitement of a root canal. (And like a bad root canal, this one seemed to come to them without enough Novocain.) Though I know they tried to be as supportive as possible, there was obvious doubt I could survive what from that day forward will forever be known to my family as The Great Frozen Tundra.
Perhaps naively, I didn’t think it would be that hard. After all, I’m a millennial… I can do anything! (Insert generational commentary here,) I’d buy a coat, start my new career, and get on with it.
I made the brilliant (read: lucky) decision to move in August – you know, sweater weather time. I loved Lawrence instantly and proudly volunteered for Welcome Week, where I courteously provided directions (likely wrong) to other newcomers like myself.
But as time tolled on, I realized there were quite a few differences I may not have been prepared for. So, with all the wisdom that comes with exactly 5 months and 5 days of living in Wisconsin, here is a brief list of things you may be comforted to know in advance:
- The Weather. It’s cold here. Don’t buy your coat in the South, because it doesn’t count. Don’t buy your jeans there either. Your nose hairs will freeze and you’ll have to carry mittens everywhere and your poor 6 pound Yorkie will fall straight through the soft snow. That all being said…
- No seriously, the weather! Snow is kind of a blast! People don’t actually just stop going outside here when it’s cold. (I’m looking at you, Texas.) There’s sledding and snow shoeing and snowman building – there’s even igloo building for the advanced, future civil engineer snow-architects.
- It’s easy to make friends. Southern hospitality is simply called “Midwestern Nice” here. Try going to a grocery store here and NOT being smiled at or greeted by 100 strangers. I dare you.
- How about them apples? Did you know ‘Red’ and ‘Green’ aren’t the only types of apple? And they have different flavors? This is a weird one you’ll grow to appreciate, and you’ll establish alliances based on your preferences. (Because there is a limit to how many people will edit this post, I’d like to take this opportunity to announce Honeycrisp as the Lawrence Admissions Office’s apple of choice.) Plus apples go well with…
- SAY CHEESE! It really is everywhere. Just accept it. Fried cheese curds may be the best thing to ever happen to you.
- Watch your language. If you tell someone “bless your heart,” they will think you’re being nice and not realize there’s at least a 50% chance it’s an insult. On a similar train of thought, all phrases referencing ticks, armadillos, wet towels, wet mules, and/or hot tin roofs will not be understood. Understand y’all?
- Predator-free aquatic recreation. Wisconsinites spend a lot of time taking advantage of our 15,000 lakes without ever worrying about a shark, crocodile, or alligator! (Ahem, I was born in Florida.) Also, Wisconsin has more lakes than Minnesota. Did I wish I knew that last tidbit ahead of time? Probably not. Is it fun to taunt Minnesotans and their 10,000 lakes about now? You betchya.
So maybe I do still wear a puffy coat when it’s a balmy 27 degrees and sometimes mistake the names of fancy apple breeds for 90s pop stars… I still maintain that when all is said and done, Lawrence makes it all worth it. And if I – and my 6 pound puppy – can do it, so can you.
Gaelyn Rose is a recent addition to the Lawrence Admissions staff. Arriving in Appleton by way of Houston, Texas, she shares her experiences dealing with the regional changes of all things weather, language, and critters.