Evoked…Again!| Winter Musings

Every winter evokes a nostalgic state of mind which takes me back to 2014. For most part of my life I enjoyed winter, as all it meant was an opportunity to wear sweatshirts and of course the holidays! But my stint with a real, freezing white winter was experienced when I first landed in the United States. It was the month of December in 2013. My friend and I were nervous as much as excited while heading out from the airport. Though we had an idea of what to expect from a Midwestern winter based on our research during grad school applications, we weren’t really cold tolerant people.

As I stepped out, I noticed traces of snow here and there, but less than what I imagined. The chilly breeze through my hair was a feeling I would never forget, as it is still fresh in my mind after 4 good years! After all, that was my first feel of Nebraskan winter. Within few days, we had good amount of snow and just like many, I enjoyed my time with my first snow.

The honeymoon stage with my snow experience was over pretty soon and thus came the hard part. A 26- minute walk to my apartment every Tuesday and Thursday night after class was the toughest part of my masters program in the States. Yes, I wouldn’t ascribe my hardships in a foreign country to a hectic schedule, busy lifestyle, never ending assignments, homesickness or the tough coursework, but to a bone chilling torture of winter walking with heavy backpacks, freezing palms and feet that almost feel numb and dead by the time you reach home! Not to forget the foggy glasses as a result of my thermal face mask. All this in spite of wearing four layers of clothing with heavy jackets, gloves, beanie and boots!  The privilege of not having a car! But yes, it was HARD!!! Those moments were the only times I felt like running away, the time I missed home and family real bad.

The same scenes repeated each time we went walking to a nearby Walmart. Nothing is as close by as you think when you walk on a freezing winter evening with temperatures falling below -30 C, carrying tons of grocery bags! Phew! (in a cold way) I think most international students can relate to this if they lived in colder places. But it was definitely intense for someone who used to cuddle up in a fluffy blanket just for tropical winters!

I still have a love/hate relationship with winter, but amidst all my hatred for spine chilling cold winds, there was and is one thing I crave for- Sunshine! Yes, who would’ve thought I’d really crave for something so basic- like sun rays! To feel the warmth in a way I never felt all those years back home. It made me realize the need and existence of light and heat from sun.

Now, I’m glad to be in a position where I no longer need to walk miles for groceries or any place else on a winter evening, but winters do evoke my cravings for sunlight! They made me notice and acknowledge a blessing I never really cared about. No matter how much winter reminds of my hardships during my early encounters with it, it definitely made me grateful and reminds me to get out and get my daily dose of Vitamin D!

Daily PromptEvoke

#AtoZChallenge- Nebraska Nice

When I was looking for universities to apply for masters, I had to rely mostly on suggestions and feedback from study abroad consultancies or fellow uncles whose kids studied abroad or my friends and seniors. Their suggestions mostly boiled down to the universities that belonged to either the East coast, West coast or the Texas region of the United States- the most popular ones, specially among Indians. Irrespective of the program interested, the reasons were obvious- great opportunities, bigger Indian community/ diversity or a happening lifestyle. I did my fair share of research online based on my area of interest and program with reasonable tuition fee and decided to go to Nebraska, contrary to all my suggestions.

Why Nebraska? Where is it?”, were the most obvious questions from many of my well-wishers. Well, all of my relatives haven’t even heard of it. Of course they wouldn’t know, because little did it sound like New York or Chicago or Texas or California! And people who knew had only one thought in mind- Nebraska is all about farms, corn and some remote state of white people in the Mid Western United States. I did not know much about Nebraska when I chose to study there, but once I moved, I realized it has been one of the best decisions of my life!

Contrary to many perceptions, Nebraska is not just about farms, corn or plains. There is much more to this most under rated state. The feeling of being at home, when you are actually away from home is hard to find. But Nebraska makes you feel belonged and welcomed, not only to Nebraskans but also to its visitors. The reason being- the community and its people.

The nicest and the warmest people on the planet are actually in Nebraska! Trust me, I’m not exaggerating here! It is not uncommon to find someone random smiling at you and asking about your well being when you pass by them, or even striking a conversation with a complete stranger. Little things like holding doors, very polite way of addressing and receiving a helping hand when you expect the least, can actually make your day. These are something I hardly experience in other states or places. This home of the Huskers actually has some of the best schools and also a great technology landscape. The state has places emerging as tech start ups and also few of the major Fortune 500 companies. Don’t be surprised if you casually bump into Warren Buffet, the second wealthiest man in the world!

Nebraska has constantly been listed as one of the happy states or the best place to raise children and family and also as one of the top states for over all well-being. Apart from the terrifying thunderstorms or the harsh winters with snow, there isn’t much to complain about this place. A great and safe way of life, the availability of best steak for many and an amazing community paves way for a greater life experience here. The tourism department of the state has rightly and aptly coined the slogan- ‘Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.’