notes from the dorm

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am

A small, but brief, snowstorm marked the beginning of winter in Vancouver late in the night. The snowflakes were illuminated by the orange glow of streetlights for a passing moment before settling on the ground.

Within the hour, a 20cm deep blanket of snow had developed, covering every exposed surface. That provided more than enough ammunition for snowball fights which broke out across the university campus, accompanied by the sound of laughter and camera flashes. Snowmen materialised out of the fresh powder, transporting their architects momentarily back to happier childhood times - times when nasty words such as 'midterms' and 'finals' had never before sullied their innocent ears.

Deep, footprints criss-crossed the blanket of snow, leaving an imprint on the landscape and in the minds of those first-year international students from warmer places, who had never experienced the joys of this fluffy, white form of precipitation.

That initial joy probably turned to annoyance when the pristine coating of snow that once brought merriment and jubilation was reduced into what can only be described as grey slush.

Out came the rainboots of every size and colour, trampling the melting snow indiscriminately on the dirt. And with every day that passed without snowfall, more and more puddles dotting the pavement froze over, lying in wait for unsuspecting passers-by to slip on and perhaps break some bones.

Another indicator of the onset of winter, apart from the gloomy grey skies, cheek-nipping temperature and the shortening of the day, was the start of the Holiday Gift Fair in the Student Union Building.

Little booths sold myriad gift items, ranging from hats and mittens with cartoonish animal designs, to hand-carved African trinkets and smoked-cedar scented candles. They were aiming to cash in on the holiday spirit - a feeling that was slightly dampened by the looming prospect of final exams.

Although the holiday season will not begin for us unfortunate university students for another two weeks, the snow and the beginnings of a festive atmosphere serve as great reminders that there is indeed light at the end of the exam tunnel.