A Stranger in a Cold, Strange Land

Editor's note: The Scroll is pleased to introduce a new regular blogger, Lisa Weier, a freshman majoring in Communication and Journalism and in Catholic Studies. She replaces Brady Narloch, who graduated in December.

“If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

I can hear my mom’s voice echoing through the years, using the tried, true and dreaded parental comeback. In days past, I would have used my diagnosed “sass problem” to its fullest potential, retaliating, “It depends. Probably, unless there are sharp pointy rocks and/or flesh-eating fish at the bottom.” However since coming to Minnesota as a freshman last fall, I think I would have a new reply.

You see, I hail from the great state of Nebraska (and if you’ve never heard of it, it’s two states down and to the left). In my initial second-semester optimism – before classes get old, lectures get long or eyelids get heavy – I spent one early, snowy morning walking behind a scantily clad guy, heading to class. My definition of scantily clad: boots, jeans, flannel shirt, backpack and fur, ear-flapped hat. My mothering instincts made me want to yell, “Put your coat on!” but apparently mothers in Minnesota don’t concern their children with outerwear much, and yet they survive. Amazing!

Since arriving at St. Thomas, I have learned many things, not the least of which is to keep quiet that I have yet to attend a hockey game. The first time I let this fact drop was at lunch – there were audible gasps followed by the clang of dropped cafeteria silverware. In the Minnesota version of Spanish, I discovered there is an unwritten yet strongly pronounced accent over every “o.” I learned a 20-degree day really IS warm, almost balmy (until I call home to find out it’s 45 and sunny). I found out that it is culturally acceptable to walk across the quad eating ice cream – on a stick, naturally – in the midst of a blizzard. And I have developed a strange urgency when looking at crisp, perfectly fallen snow. Like a blank canvas, there’s just something seriously wrong there. It must be scooped, plowed or generally pounced upon as soon as possible.

So, to my mother’s, “Would you do that, too?” I would now retort, “Would I land in water with a temperature below or very close to freezing?” Well, if the answer to that is, “Yes,” there’s only one thing to do: Jump on in, polar bear style! After all, it is Minnesota.