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Welcome Back to a Whiter and More Slippery Kansas

It’s February and I’m back to Kansas after a month of vacation well spent next to my family, friends and all my loved ones back in my country, Bolivia. Since it’s February and classes are just starting I thought I could do a recap of how have the college and the town welcomed me back, including the delightful white layer of snow all over the ground that made the town unrecognizable for me.

I wasn’t the only one excited with this natural phenomenon, a lot of friends from different parts of the world, like Bangladesh, Uganda or India were also eager about their first encounter with it.

A fun thing I’ve noticed is how the different seasons change the whole calendar and even the customs of people. Flying to Bolivia in December I moved away from the cold winter’s first traces in Kansas to the already warm summer in Santa Cruz. And coming back to Lawrence I see the winter in its most cruel stage and yet most beautiful façade.

February is the start of most school calendar years in Bolivia, which means it’s the first semester of the year, when the freshmen start college after almost three months vacation. Here, the school year starts in August, and classes for the second (spring) semester start around January or February.

Another big difference is that while in Kansas right now we can’t see anything but white on the ground and have to protect ourselves from the inclement weather with multiple layers of clothes, in Bolivia people are walking around light dressed and getting ready to one of the major events in most of the cities and towns there.

That event is Carnaval, which is a worldwide celebrated event probably best known by its celebration in Rio. But all major cities in my country join the party with different representations. In Santa Cruz, for example, everyone goes out in old clothes to play in the downtown area. Around half of the population concentrates in the center of the city, everyone dancing and throwing water, with hoses or balloons, or even paint (non-toxic of course) at each other.

So sure, I’m going to miss the Carnaval from my country, and the snow can be sort of gloomy. This white carpet of neither solid nor liquid state of water can be awfully cold and even a little dangerous (I slipped on it a couple of times; it’s always funnier when it happens to someone else). But it also provides tons of fun and beautiful sightings.

The monochromatic landscape can fill you with an over-whelming feeling of mixed enjoyment and humility, comparable to staring at the ocean or the stars in a clean bright sky. The strong gusts and the non-stop falling snow seem to be demanding respect while emanating ironically warm emotions for those who just gaze that vision.

The trees that replace their recently lost leaves with the white snow as it was its natural accompaniment are just one of the examples of how this immaculate bleached downpour works as an ornament of mother nature. Other clear examples are the houses’ porticoes which, here in Kansas, look like they were made for this, as you can see in this picture.

Snow is not only a beautiful work of art; it can also be a really fun item to enjoy yourself with. I don’t know if it’s just me because of my snow-deprived childhood, but even though I’m in my twenties I can really spend a whole day of snowball fights and making angels in the ground…not to mention the closest thing to an extreme sport I’ve ever done, sledding.

I’ve gotten to go sledding twice (hopefully more in the future), and the last time was during a blizzard. Sledding in a blizzard was probably not the best idea, but it was worth it as in the end it made the feeling of coming down the hill even more thrilling. And this only gave me a tip of idea of how skiing or snowboarding would feel.

So the snow is the best feature of the American winter for me, and this is only the beginning as forecasters say. A bonus: This Tuesday and Wednesday class were cancelled in a lot of schools in Kansas, including KU. Why? The perfect blizzard to go sledding with.