The big, bad, scary winter in Iowa

A few weeks ago, my classmates and I celebrated another major milestone in our academic pursuits. Having concluded our first semester, we are now 1/8th, or 12.5%, finished with med school! This achievement marks a brief pause in our studies during which we might reflect upon the progress we’ve made since beginning in August. Again, I can’t pour out enough egregious praise on all those who helped us make it so far. Whether they be professors, staff, upperclassmen or alumni, everyone did their part to provide us with advice and assistance whenever the opportunity arose. That being said, however, I do regret that so many of these helpful individuals shamelessly propagated a certain myth which, through my personal experience, I have found to be entirely untrue. Indeed, there is one aspect of life in Des Moines about which I was lied to…

You see…I was told, quite shamelessly, that winters in Iowa were terrible. I was told that the cold would never cease, that the wind was unrelenting, and that the sun would be blotted out by the pitiless onslaught of snow. Being from the northeast, of course, I am quite accustomed to harsh winters. I’ve learned to enjoy them, in fact, to the point where winter has become my favorite season. As such, I merely chalked up these claims to another plus in selecting DMU. I remember, as a prospective student, reading about how DMU’s buildings were connected by underground tunnels so that students need not be concerned with, as the catalog put it, “The harsh Iowa winters.” I had never before heard stories of a “harsh Iowa winter,” so I was perplexed to see this phrase invoked as though it were some infamous and well-known entity of wickedness. I did, however, interpret that winters in Iowa were subjectively perceived as very cold, so I was content to use my imagination.

I will admit, I was somewhat concerned when the student services department began distributing free ice scrapers with a wink and a “hint-hint, you’ll need this” sort of look, but I was unimpressed when the entire month of November passed with only a sprinkle of snow here and there. With temperatures nearing the sixties and green grass all around me, I have finally concluded that the “harsh Iowa winter” is a myth. Meanwhile, back in the mountains of Pennsylvania, my friends and family members are likely cowering in the shadows and crying out in panic that the sun will never rise again while another foot of snow is added to their already-growing collection.

When I returned to Des Moines from my “winter” break, I expected to be met with a barren tundra. Instead, I found naught but warmth and sunshine. Oh yes, there had been some wind and snow, but it was like the last breath of a used-up aerosol can; it sputters and hisses, then dies like an empty threat. Filled with disappointment, I ran to the top of my apartment, threw open a window, and shouted into the night, “IS THIS ALL YOU CAN MUSTER, IOWA?!” Now, in retrospect, it may have been unwise to do so during the Hawkeye game – some Iowa fans across the street misinterpreted my words as support for Missouri and responded with a host of unflattering epithets. Regardless, my challenge stands. Will Mother Nature punish my hubris by at last dispensing the fabled “Iowa Winter” of legend? Only time will tell.

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