Time for students to come out into the cold

Few things are worse than the longing for missed opportunities. The St. Paul Winter Carnival is one such opportunity of which University students should take advantage.
Attending the University is more than just getting an education. There is a unique Minnesota culture everyone should experience as part of living in the Twin Cities for several years. Whose education would really be complete without at least one visit to the Mall of America? Would one not have wasted four years if one did not see the Landmark Center? When graduation is a faint memory, these are the experiences that will either rest fondly in your minds or haunt your more reminiscent moments.
Freshmen tell themselves they have four years to do it all. But come graduation day, seniors often find themselves wondering what they were doing for four years. They will leave the University and realize they had so much time and should have done so much more. Trying to cram it all into the final month before the end never works and those final University days will be tinged with regret. With only minimal effort, all students can avoid this fate. Now is the time to learn what Minnesotans are all about. Now is the time to pad your memories and prepare your explanations for those inevitable questions of the future.
No one would dispute that Minnesota winters are cold. Yet in a purely Minnesota display of bravado, Twin Cities’ residents party outdoors for more than a week every year. The 113th Winter Carnival got underway last weekend and will continue until Sun., Feb. 7. As Minnesotans revel in the chilly air, there literally is “No Time for Cold Feet” — the Carnival’s theme. With events including golf and softball in the snow, a giant snow slide, parades, a medallion hunt, ice skating and concerts and banquets, everyone can find something at the festival.
But what students find at the carnival will go beyond just transient entertainment. Jumping into the frozen Lake Como or spending time looking at ice sculptures are fun in the moment. The memories and comprehension, however, will be far more valuable. When students settle in other states, they will be asked how Minnesotans survive the winters. The carnival provides an answer. Minnesotans celebrate winter rather than dread it. They stand defiant toward the icy winds and snow, taming them to their own ends and enjoyment.
As the days, months and years pass quickly — obscured by term papers, text books and campus parties — it is easy to miss the world surrounding the University. Students must move beyond classrooms, however, and become members of the community. Failure to do so means a hollow space within their chests during the years to come. They will long to have a chance to go back and do the things they kept putting off until tomorrow. Seize your chance now. Have some ice cream in February. Be a Minnesotan, if only for a week.