Mukhi: A Texan in winter

I’m freezing. It’s not that I’m not wearing jackets and a long-sleeved shirt or that I don’t have a hat and gloves. I’m just not used to winter.
I’m from Houston, Texas. We’re on the Gulf of Mexico, in the South, and it’s often decently sunny. The coldest it really gets in Houston is a couple of days of freezing temperatures in the beginning of January most years.
In Cleveland, we’ve been below freezing for weeks, the sun hides behind the clouds, and we’re on one of the Great Lakes. I’ve slowly been adjusting.
The most interesting thing about living in the cold is the sunlight. Back home, sunlight is always warm. This makes a lot of sense: After all, the sun emits light and heat and radiation, all of which heat the air and the Earth so we aren’t always freezing.
What’s different between Houston and Cleveland is the temperature in the shade versus the temperature in the sun. If I’m in Houston and I stick my arm in the sunlight, my arm feels significantly warmer than everything else. Here, not so much. If I stick my arm in sunlight, it feels like I’m still in the shade. It’s unsettling to me that I can’t go and stand in the sun and warm up.
Something else about sunlight is also different. There always seems to be less of it here. Back home, everything pops. Colors seem brighter, everything is greener and the weather is never dull: You can expect either a blue sky or dramatic rain clouds.
It might be the nearly constant, dull-gray cloud cover, but I often feel that even with the sparkling snow (also new to me), Cleveland feels a bit dreary. Everything is much less colorful than the vibrant surroundings I’m used to.
Speaking of snow, I’ve had to learn how to deal with it. Back home, we’ve had snow a handful of times in my life, and although it’s colder this year than most, the temperature probably hasn’t dropped below twenty degrees once in the last decade. Here, snow isn’t something to enjoy and celebrate a day off school for, it’s a part of life. Salt accumulates on shoes and pants, and ice creates surfaces to slip on while headed to class.
Getting ready to go to class is also an adjustment. I’ve got to dig through my drawers for warm socks, make sure I have a jacket, fiddle with my gloves, grab a hat, and worry if it’ll be warm enough. I can’t just grab a light jacket out of the closet and put it on (unzipped, of course) in case there happens to be a bit of a cold breeze.
Weirdly enough, it’s below freezing in Houston right now. It’s been sleeting and cold. The whole city ground to a halt, from what my parents told me when I called.
Cleveland grinding to a halt because of winter weather? That would be unheard of. Here, snow is business as usual. Ice just means walk more carefully, and temperatures below freezing aren’t cause for concern.
I miss the warmth of home, but I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll adapt to this weather. Sure, I’m a native Texan. But if I survive this winter, I’ll be able to call myself a Clevelander too.

Zubair Mukhi is a first-year student who is planning to study computer science. He writes opinion pieces bi-weekly and is too cold to edit his blurb. If you’re awake early enough, you can find him going to Crew practice. He misses his acoustic guitar.