Notes from the dorm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2010, 12:00am

Snow is a rarity in Hong Kong, usually made of fluffed-up cotton to be used as store-front decorations during the festive season. In countries closer to the Arctic Circle, snow is both loved and hated.

When the first snowfall came at the beginning of January, much too late for a white Christmas, the English countryside was coated in a fine dust of whiteness, and sounds were muted in the still air, thick with snowflakes.

This blanket of snow proved to be a treat for children and teenagers alike, especially at my college, where, faced with a curious soft, white substance that can be easily molded to suit their needs, the students often find ingenious ways in which to leave as big a literal mark as they can.

Inevitably, spontaneous snowball fights break out wherever there is snow, to the extent that those exiting the morning chapel service first will scoop a snowball from the ground, turn around, and initiate an attack on those unlucky enough to be coming out of the chapel behind them.

In a school full of sadistic teenagers, snowmen are too childish and clich?d to be worth the time and effort. Instead they take supplies from the snow-coated field, and create massive snowballs. Some of them are left on the field as monuments to their toil and dedication, and others are cunningly placed in strategic locations, namely the main entrance of the staffroom.

Igloos are also sculpted from blocks of snow, with the builders of these temporary pieces of architecture posing beside, and inside, their creation in photos posted on Facebook.

But the fun ends when the snow starts to melt, then freeze, pulverized into muddy grey slush, transforming sturdy pavements into slippery surfaces to potentially break a bone on.

On those days, students put on all sorts of protective footwear - for as long as it takes the ice to melt, boys will be walking around in army boots, and girls in Uggs.

Luckily, these spells of frosty weather seldom last longer than a month, sparing many from fractured bones and scraped shins. But that risk may be the price you have to pay for a little frozen fun in the snow, however brief it may be.