Courtesy of Hannah Nguyen/MiC.

I wake up to my cold feet fighting to stay warm under the blanket — a signal to me that a Michigan winter is in full swing. This means I have to face an annual dilemma: how to stay warm during the frosty season. My too bright phone screen displays a low of 13 degrees Fahrenheit, prompting me to start mentally sifting through my closet to try and come up with a warm outfit to wear. I slip on tank tops under turtlenecks under thrifted sweaters, gauging if I’ll be warm enough to wrestle the winter cold. Before leaving, I pull on a big, black puffer jacket, cream earmuffs and a long, green scarf. 

On my way out of my apartment, I notice a tall student wearing shorts and a zip-up jacket, despite the snow that’s falling around us. Glancing down at my jeans that hide a layer of thick leggings underneath, I can’t help but marvel at how he’s able to be warm in this weather. As I make my way towards the sidewalk, I pull my phone out of my pocket to play this week’s obsession, The Neighbourhood’s “Pretty Boy,” on repeat, but my hands instantly freeze, and I can no longer type as they start to turn rough and red. Quickly slipping on my gloves and shoving my hands back in my pockets, I feel my fingers come back to life. 

The day goes by fast and the next thing I know, I’m back in my apartment and it’s dinnertime. My roommate and I make our way to the kitchen to start cooking, one of our favorite activities to do together. The menu of the night includes crispy rice with salmon. We work well together in the kitchen, each of us maneuvering around the other in our tight space. We chop the salmon and avocados, fry the tightly packed rice, mix the salmon with kewpie mayo and sesame oil and plate everything together before sitting down to devour the food. As we sit with the TV playing, we can’t help but laugh at each other’s comments about whatever is on the screen, causing our sides to hurt as we also share funny childhood stories. I stay warm in the winter when my cheeks burn up from laughing too hard. 

After cleaning up for dinner, we both sit on a couch and start to wind down. I prop my feet up and pull out one of the books I’m currently reading: “101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think.” While it’s not the kind of book that I can digest in one sitting, I do enjoy learning about why we avoid doing what’s best for us and the cognitive biases we create that drive our experiences. As with reading any other philosophical book, I tune out what’s going on around me and only think about what I am learning. I get warm thoughts as I think deeply about my life and what’s ahead. 

Before going to sleep at night, my phone rings with a FaceTime call from my mom. To no one’s surprise, she’s cooking something up in the kitchen. I see the steam from something she’s boiling as it floats past the camera and hear her blender mixing every so often. She asks me about my first day of classes as I get into bed and tell her about how I accidentally went to the wrong classroom and how I wasn’t looking forward to my busy schedule on the next day of school. I tell her that I’m happy to be back on campus but also scared as everyone I know seems to be getting sick. As we continue talking, I learn she’s trying out a new bread recipe to make bánh mì. She tells me how my dad is in the other corner of the basement making model airplanes but really, he’s eagerly waiting to eat the bread right when it comes out of the oven. My heart warms thinking about my parents’ wholesome night routine and how they are able to spend time doing what they like. 

So despite the winter snow and freezing temperatures, I know I’ve found warmth in the people around me and the activities I do.

MiC Columnist Hannah Nguyen can be reached at hannahnn@umich.edu.