Your Guide to Surviving Winter at Iowa State

by Sarah Bennett

Hi all!

I was worried when I had the idea for this blog because it was still unseasonably warm but luckily the cold is here just in time for Finals Week! A quick note for those who don’t know me, I’m from Florida so coming up here was a huge change. My first year here, my friends always said they were excited to see how I would handle winter since I’ve never experienced things like below zero temperatures and ice…everywhere. Some days it was definitely a struggle, like the first day my nose hairs froze (who knew that could even happen). However, I survived and here we are now. As I enter my fourth “real” winter I have some tips for you, whether this be your first winter or you’ve been doing this all your life.

My roommate and I at St. Augustine Beach, Florida on a “cold” day last December!

One of my best skills is knowing which buildings to cut through on campus. From my apartment in Freddy to the lab I work in in Sukup, I can go through 8 buildings. You may say this is ridiculous but when it’s cold enough you’ll do anything for a few fleeting moments of warmth. You can cut through most buildings on campus but my top 3 routes are:

  1. HDFS Building through MacKay all the way to LeBaron Hall
  2. Physics through Office and Lab to Gilman

Now even the most seasoned winter veteran can experience icy mishaps on campus. You may think you’re ready but the ice on campus can get pretty bad. I recommend ALWAYS taking your time because even if you think you’re safe, you will fall (though of course I’m not talking from experience). The map below has areas in red and I highly recommend AVOIDING THESE! I have watched countless people fall in these areas. Once you walk across Central Campus once heading an 8 A.M. in January, you’ll never do it again.

Pink = buildings to cut through Red = avoid Yellow = warm places to hide from the cold

This next part may seem pretty obvious to some but for those (like me) who aren’t familiar with winter, keep reading. Always dress in layers. Some buildings on campus crank the heat up and others don’t seem to know that heat exists. Combine this with being in and out of the cold all day and you’ll appreciate being able to lose a jacket or sweatshirt. Scarfs can become your best friend, try to wear one. Always carry a hat, even if you don’t think you’ll need one. The wind can go from nonexistent to “hiking across Antarctica” in a matter of minutes and your ears will thank you. Hydration is key during winter. Make sure to carry lotion and chapstick; it still surprises me how dry the air is in winter and I always regret days when I forget them.

Be smart. Don’t dress like freshman Sarah

Now for the fun parts of winter in Ames:

  • Building snowmen on Central Campus (and everywhere else)
  • Sledding on the hill outside the President’s house
  • Game nights with friends
  • Waking up every morning knowing someone else will shovel the snow (something I’ve still never done but I hear isn’t fun)
  • Lots of dining hall hot chocolate
  • Movie nights in Jischke
  • Snow tubing at the hill in Boone
  • Snow ball fights

Snowmen outside President Leath’s (now President Wintersteen’s) house

Even though I’m still getting the hang of this winter thing, I love it. I know I’m the weird one here but I love the cold and the snow so I try to enjoy it as much as I can. It’s still exciting and different and walking around campus after it snows is one of my favorite pastimes. Good luck getting through winter everyone!

One of the best parts of winter in Ames are sights like this


Study Breaks on the Eve of Winter Break

by Hannah Astarita

Happy Holidays Everyone! I hope there aren’t any Scrooges out there who think it is too early for me to be saying that, but it is past Thanksgiving after all. Winter break is almost here and the only thing holding us back is all those exams and projects. Since I am procrastinating a project myself right now, I decided I would share some study break ideas with you.

  • My personal favorite break idea is to watch cheesy Christmas movies, especially if they are Hallmark. My roommates make fun of me for it but that doesn’t stop me! As a person who didn’t grow up with cable, I feel like I was deprived for so long. I’m just trying to make up for lost time. They are always just what you expect and it gets you in the holiday mood.
  • This is probably an obvious one, but I suggest getting active! Go to the gym whether it be for a festive fitness class, your own thing, or challenging your friends to racquetball. Studies have shown that this is an effective way to boost your productivity. If that isn’t your thing, there’s always the relaxing hot tub at state gym.
  • In case you missed Winterfest, you could have your own countdown. It’s super easy! All you have to do is gather a couple friends and go to the tree outside of Beardshear. When there’s 10 seconds left before it lights up, start a countdown and celebrate the beauty of it all.
  • Here’s another easy one for you: pile into a car with your friends, some snacks, and good music to just go around town and look at all the Christmas lights.
  • Now that I am starting to run out of my own ideas, I will share some suggestions from my good friend Buddy the Elf. Buddy suggests making snow angels for two hours, going ice skating, eating a whole roll of Toll House cookie dough as fast as you can, and snuggling. However, I just want to remind you that Buddy is an expert and you might need to pace yourself with the cookie dough.

In conclusion, I just want to say that if you need a bit of a miracle on any of your finals, always remember this quote from Miracle on 34th Street: “Faith is believing in yourself even when common sense tells you not to.” Thanks for reading! I hope you found some of this helpful 🙂 Have a great break!

Me and a group of friends at a holiday ornament exchange!

Which Comes First: Studying or Decorating your Apartment?

by Alex McPhail

It’s that time of year again; time to put on some Michael Bublé tunes, drink plenty of hot cocoa, and decorate for the holidays! The end of the semester is always a bit of a rough point, what with all the project deadlines and final exams crammed into such a short period of time. One way I like to enjoy the end of the semester amidst this stressful time is to decorate my apartment and fill it with holiday cheer! It’s no secret that I love Christmas and look forward to decorating every year for it. Whether you have a small dorm room or a full apartment to decorate, here are some easy ways to add some holiday flair to your living space!

First and foremost, you can never have enough lights! String lights are super popular outside of the holidays, so if you don’t have any up yet, you can get some up now for the holidays and then just keep them up for the rest of the year and enjoy the ambiance they provide!

Another easy thing to add to your space is holiday-themed blankets and towels! Especially with the winter looming upon us, having too many blankets is not a problem you’ll need to worry about. Blankets are also super cheap around this time of year since they make great gifts. Just casually drape one over your bed or couch and you have some instant holiday flair! If you have a space that requires hand towels for the bathroom or kitchen, towels are another great and easy way to incorporate holiday décor to your space in a functional way.

If you’ve never checked out the dollar spot at Target, you need to go there asap. There is always a good selection of cheap holiday décor for every major holiday here, and Christmas is no exception. Small trees and fun garland are easy finds and can make great additions to small spaces, such as your dorm room.

If you’re into DIYs and making your own décor, Christmas is a great time to take on some hands-on projects! We even have Thanksgiving break conveniently close to this season, giving you a perfect bit of time to put together some projects to bring back and put up in your living space. One easy project I’ve done involves only two things and takes just minutes to put together. All you need to do is grab some small ornaments and glass jars, and then fill the jars with those ornaments. This project is super easy and can easily be customized to whatever color scheme you would like based on what ornaments you buy. You can also buy other things to add to the jars, such as garland or bells.

Another thing you need to know about me is that I can’t keep plants alive. I’ve had a plant in my apartment since the start of the school year and every time my mom asks me about it I have to admit that I have no idea because I haven’t checked on it in weeks. So fake plants are another great option! I received this one as a present last year (after telling the gift giver my sad plant stories), but this could make another great DIY project if that interests you.

Last thing to mention is that if you missed the chance to decorate this year, it’s never too early to start preparing for next year! Buying Christmas décor during the time after Christmas is the absolute best time to shop because everything will be super discounted. If you aren’t particularly picky about what things you want, you can find some great things for an even greater price. Look at this cute little guy I snagged on sale last year:

The fun thing with decorating for the holidays is that you can do as much or as little as you’d like! Depending on your interests, you can add a little bit as a subtle reminder of the season or go all out and decorate everywhere. Whatever you do, remember to enjoy the time and think about all the joy that comes once finals are over~

Happy holidays everyone, and here is my Christmas tree to end this post!

Things I Did Over Thanksgiving Break: A Memoir

by Lauren Suhi

This Thanksgiving break started like every other Thanksgiving in the past: stopping homework around Tuesday before break even starts with the claim to “do it over break.” When the longest week (yet) of the semester finally ends, its then time to pack up the car with all the dirty laundry I haven’t done in three(-ish) weeks and head home to the land of home cooked meals, free food and family love. While I didn’t get as much homework done as I would’ve  hoped (I knew I wasn’t going to get it done) here’s a few highlights from my week in my hometown over Thanksgiving break.

First, I did some homework for my class. I had to tour a brewery for my Hospitality and Management Class called Beer, Wine and Spirits. I got a great chance to learn more about the chemistry behind brewing beer at a local brewery in my hometown, as well as sample some stuff while spending quality time with my dad!

But, the fun part of break didn’t last too long, because like most college students, my mom had every type of doctor’s appointment squeezed into this short week. Lucky me, I got to spend a lot of time reading magazines in waiting rooms with beige paint and medical ads. Plus, it’s always fun answering questions about “where do you go to school?” and “what are you going to do with that?” while laying down in the dentist chair with sharp metal tools in your mouth.

The greatest part of break is getting to hang out with your parents, who became a lot more fun to hang out with now that you’re no longer in high school. One day, me and my mom got to go shopping, and I tricked her into getting some ice cream even though it was 30 degrees out.

Another favorite activity of mine over break is going grocery shopping with my parents. My parents are truly amazing people because they let me “pick anything you need.” This is especially great because when I’m living in my apartment I am eating ramen noodles and stale crackers before I pick up more food. Plus, you always get to play the game, “how many people will we see that we know?” game in each aisle. My favorite run-ins are elementary school teachers, which usually get you double points in the game.

What’s a Thanksgiving break if you don’t go to Black Friday shopping at Home Depot with your dad at 8 am to pick up some cool tools? Also, home is where the good coffee is! Along with my little grocery shopping, I also am skimpy on buying creamer and sugar for my coffee, so when I come home I refuel my coffee addiction.

All Chicagoland college students can relate: the Portillo’s run is always a must. It’s particularly great to go on the first or last day of break to your local ‘tillos because it’s almost like a mini high school reunion with everyone getting their favorite food. Until winter break, Italian beef and cheese fries. Only three weeks left, right?

The Untold Stories of Jischke

by Madeline Keane

We all know Jischke is a prime place to study between classes or late at night. The pile of pillows, kitchenette, and computer lab are serious perks many students take advantage of. What you might not know is that some students of Honors use the building for things quite different than studying. I set out to find real-life examples of the eccentric uses of Jischke. Here are few activities worth noting:

  • Certain students simply like to cut through the building when it is cold outside.
  • Pillow forts and movie nights in the projector room are a must! Sarah Bennett can attest to this!
  • Brady Nahkala recalls, “Learning Ludovico Enunaudi piano music at 1:00am. No I don’t play piano.”
  • Jackson Voigt says he and some friends watched an entire season of a Game of Thrones while studying in Jischke once.
  • Some students report a more creative outlet wherein they bedazzled the men’s toilet seat.
  • Others used Jischke to hold a talent show to display the special abilities of the members of their Honors house.
  • During a KQ scavenger hunt, students reportedly borrowed the Honors medal off of the wall.

As you can see, Jischke is a place to make memories that go way beyond white board doodling and group project work. I do not suggest reenacting the riskier of these activities because as Hermione reminds us, “We could have all been killed – or worse, expelled.” Nonetheless, Jischke is a great resource we should all be thankful for.

Class Registration

by Edel Aron

Hi everyone! It’s Edel, one of your friendly neighborhood overworked seniors. It’s the time of the season where you can hear many a groan from around campus as students of all majors scratch their heads trying to decide what classes to take next semester. I’m personally in the peculiar position of having only two reqs left for my minors, leaving me with some free time to take some interesting classes. I’ve kept an ever-growing list to share of the unusual ones being offered next semester that I’ve run across for everyone who’s in the same or similar boat as me. Bear in mind, many of these are ones that appeal to my own personal interests and I left most of the more scientific ones out, but hopefully the assortment will inspire some of you faithful honors blog readers to do some catalog spelunking of your own.

  • H S 105: First Aid and Emergency Care (2 credits)
    Discussion and application of the basic techniques of utilizing bloodborne pathogen safety measures, administering first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. ARC layperson certification available.
    You never know when skills like this will be useful
  • ENGL 330: Science Fiction (3 credits)
    Study of science fiction from its origins in nineteenth-century to the present. May include study of specific types of science fiction, such as classic, cyberpunk, feminist, or apocalyptic narratives; and may include consideration of science fiction film and/or theory.
  • ENGL 370: Shakespeare (3 credits)
    Reading and analysis of selected plays. Development of Shakespeare’s dramatic art in its social and intellectual context. Meets International Perspectives Requirement.
  • HIST/CL ST 403: Roman Civilization (3 credits)
    Ancient Rome from the Regal Period to the fall of the Western Empire; evolution of Roman institutions and Rome’s cultural contributions studied through original sources.
  • DANCE 120/130/140/160: Modern Dance I, Ballet I, Jazz I, Ballroom Dance I (1 credit)
    Dance classes in the real world tend to be on the expensive side, so take a free one while you can (especially when they are pass/fail)
  • KIN 101-185: Swimming, Bowling and Judo, Oh My! (1 credit)
    Along a similar vein, there are a lot of kines classes which teach the basics of various sports on a pass/fail basis
  • BIOL 355: Plants and People (3 credits)
    Uses of plants and fungi by humans and the importance of plants in the past, present, and future. Discussion of fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, spices, beverages, oils, fibers, wood, medicines, and drugs, in the context of their agricultural, cultural, and economic roles in modern societies. Emphasis on origins and worldwide diversity of culturally important plants, their characteristics, and uses.
    I took this class last semester; the biology doesn’t go too far beyond plant structures (only BIOL 211 and 212 are required) and you get a lot of practical knowledge as you can imagine based on the course description. The professor is also a fun spirit and his enthusiasm can be infectious.
  • HSP M 383: Introduction to Wine, Beer, and Spirits (2 credits)
    Introduction to history and methods of production for a variety of wines, beers, spirits, and other beverages. Beverage tasting and sensory analysis; product knowledge; service techniques; sales; and alcohol service related to the hospitality industry.
    I sadly am not and will not be old enough to take this class so I can’t recommend it personally, but a lot of my friends have taken it and learned a lot
  • MATH 439: Mathematics of Fractals and Chaos (3 credits)
    Iteration of maps; classification of periodic points; bifurcation theory; chaos; Julia sets and the Mandelbrot set; fractals and fractal dimension.
    This is the last time that this class will ever be offered, so I feel the need to plug it out of loyalty to the math department. If you take it, there’s a small chance you’ll become Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) from Jurassic Park and who doesn’t want that?
  • POL S 334: Politics and Society (3 credits)
    Examines the history and political dynamics of public science and technology policies. Examines differences in political and technological orientations. Assessment of the roles of politics, media, engineering, science, and private business in the formation public policies that put heavy reliance on or seek to advance science and technology.
  • RELIG/ANTHR 340: Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion (3 credits)
    Survey of global religious belief and practice from an anthropological perspective. Emphasis on myth and ritual, shamanism, magic, witchcraft, beliefs in spirits, conceptions of the soul, mind and body relationships, and healing and therapeutic practices. Discussion of religious response to dramatic political and social change; effects of globalization on religious practice. Meets International Perspectives Requirement.
  • THTRE 251: Acting I (3 credits)
    Theory and practice in fundamentals of acting.
  • CJ ST/ENT 220X. Introduction to Forensic Science (3 credits)
    Study of fundamental forensic science techniques and procedures covering types of physical, chemical, and biological evidence and how this information is used in the legal system. Assessment of crime scenes and various forensic specialties will be introduced.
    There are a veritable ton of experimental classes being offered ( When successful, many of these classes get upgraded into mainstream classes; I’m the undergrad TA for a class that was experimental two years ago and is now one of the choices of requirements for genetics majors, so you never know. They are definitely worth looking through.
  • Honors Seminars (1-2 credits)!
    Registration opens this Wednesday, so be ready!

This list could have been much longer, but the rest is up to you all. One of the many perks of attending such a large school is that we have these options available to us so break up your schedule a bit if you can. Don’t just take classes that are required for your major(s) or minor(s); live a little! Good luck with making or altering your schedules and happy early Thanksgiving!

Congratulations to Brooke and Amy!

CONGRATULATIONS to Honors students Brooke Almasi and Amy Kurr, recently crowned ISU Homecoming royalty!

Brooke is a senior studying public relations with a minor in American Indian Studies. She is involved with the University Honors Program, Student Admissions Representatives (STARS), Greek Community Ambassadors, Alpha Delta Pi sorority, the Iowa State Daily, Cardinal Key Honor Society, Order of Omega Honor society, Advocates for the Alzheimer’s Association and Pre-Law Club. She volunteers with Raising Readers in Story County, Project Linus, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Feeding Lunch to Youth and Students Helping Our Peers. Brooke will attend law school after graduation.

Amy Kurr is a materials engineering major, with a biomedical engineering minor, from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. During her time at Iowa State, Amy has been a part of the ISU Honors Program, a membership retention officer for Tau Beta Pi, an ambassador for Women in Science and Engineering, an ISU Weight Club addict, and the founder of the student organization Ladies in Fitness Training. Amy is an advocate for women who lift weights and has competed in strongman and powerlifting, both locally and internationally. Upon graduation, Amy will pursue a technical career focusing on giving back to others and further appreciating the beautiful mystery of life.

Brooke and Amy will both receive a $1,000 scholarship, which is funded by a silent auction hosted by the ISU Alumni Association and the Homecoming Central Committee.