Monday, November 23, 2015

Alaska: Where Your Sense of "Normal" Will Change

Alaskans aren't your typical type of people.
Photo by Deanna D Knutson
For example, they like to do yoga in the snow

Photo by Deanna D Knutson
Here in Alaska, temperature is just a number. Whether it's 100F or -20F, Alaskans will be outside taking advantage of the beautiful outdoors.

Photo by Deanna D Knutson
People do go out and enjoy the -40F temperatures too, but only for short periods to jump out of their car and snap a photo at the UAF sign.

Photo from UAF Staff Report
Every year once the temperature gets at least below -35F people are out there is all sorts of clothes, or lack thereof, posing and freezing their butts off.

People partake in activities like the Polar Plunge, an event where people fund raise and once they have enough, they jump into a big hole cut out of a lake.
Photo from Pete
Or they participate in the Slush Cup at Alyeska ski resort

Photo credit to Lisa Gill004

Because here in Alaska, when the whether gets cold it doesn't mean you have to come indoors, it just means you do something different. Like apparently wear less clothing. 

Photo by Deanna D Knutson

Winter Campus Photos

Center of Campus


New Engineering Building

Zero degrees Fahrenheit 

 Yukon Drive 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Winter Activities With UAF

Winter Activities

Fairbanks is a winter wonderland. What better to do then enjoy the snow? UAF offers many outdoor activities that will keep you active during the dark winter months.

Cross-Country Skiing:

UAF has 14.7 miles of groomed ski trails! That’s a lot! I’ve skied on them many times and I am so grateful that they are here. The rush of the wind on my face and the gliding feeling in my stomach help me to relax and forget about the stress of school momentarily. As a college student I couldn’t be more happy to use these during the darker months. My favorite spots are Smith Lake and the Potato Field.

Quinn Borowski skiing fast on the trails!
Smith Lake
photo credit: Heni Barnes

Some friends headed back to the dorms. Eventually we'll need to bring a headlamp.

The Ice Wall:

UAF has the unique activity of ice climbing with its own Ice Climbing wall! Its pretty cool to see and even more fun to try. Although I haven't done it yet everyone I've talked to says its exhilarating and a great opportunity that every one should try. No experience needed!

Photo Credit: Adam Taylor 
Ice Skating:

Who doesn't enjoy iceskating?! Well if you do UAF has an indoor and an outdoor rink. They also have skate rentals. The indoor rink at the Patty Center has a free skating time on sundays. There are also lakes on the campus grounds that are skiable when the water freezes over; Ballaine or Smith Lake..... 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Having A Car; Is It Worth It?

So you think you want to own a car.

Don't worry this isn't actually a picture in Alaska


Can travel any where you want!
  • Go to the store any time.
  • Drive to hockey games at the Carlson Center.
  • Visit the movie theater.
  • Relax in Chena Hot Springs.
  • Have the freedom to roam around Fairbanks.
If you live off campus it can make the commute easier by always having a ride.


Having to purchase parking permit
  • Single Vehicle Decal – Registers one vehicle for parking at any UAF facility 
  • Semester decal is $41 for 8 or less credits. (FPDG) 
  • Semester decal is $78 for 9 or more credits. (FPDF) 
  • Annual Parking Decal is $143. (FPDA) 
Need to winterize the car so you can use it when it's cold out
  • Install a battery blanket or other warming device
  • Install a oil heater
  • Install a block heater
  • Invest in some studded tires (be conscientious regarding the laws on when studded tires are allowed, usually must be removed between May 1 and September 15 of each year)
You'll have to deal first hand with the snow. Make sure you purchase a window scraper and brush to clear off your car, you're going to need it. Something else to consider if you've never had to deal with snow before is that after a snowfall or a cold night, you're going  to have to add an extra 5-15 minutes just devoted to making your car road worthy again.

*All winterizing is suggested to be done once you get to Fairbanks. Yes it may cost more to do up here, and auto shops at home may know what they are doing, but Fairbanks is much colder than what they might expect. The auto shops in town know how to properly prepare your car for Fairbanks weather.*

Purchase an extension cord with a light-up end to check if it's plugged in and there is power.
Allocate an additional 10-15 minutes to your daily routine after a snowfall to clear off your car. 
Always have an ice scraper/brush in your car to remove snow and frost.

Here is a link to a more comprehensive winterization guide.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Crazy Weather!

Fairbanks can be known for it's unpredictable weather. With 20 degree changes during the day sometimes, you'll have to be prepared with various outfits!
Recently, there has been quite a lot of snow fall. One moment it may seem like a blizzard outside, then clear skies. After continuous snowing though, we have managed to accumulate over a foot of the fluffy white magic. Crews can always be seen working to clear the sidewalks and stairs, but it can be hard to keep up with the new snow layers that are added. Plenty of snow is compacted though, leaving icy sidewalks, so you best watch your steps! If you happen to have an early class like myself, you might have to "break trail" to make it to your class. It took us a little longer than normal, and was tougher in some areas that had much thicker snow than others, but we made it with one minute to spare.

Lots of students have broken out their cross country and down hill skis. There are some areas on campus where you can do a little bit of downhill skiing, and when the terrain park opens that is a pretty popular place. The trail system on campus has miles of groomed and ungroomed trails for those who love skate and classic cross country skiing. We also have the sledding hill, right next to the Student Recreation Center. Some students even like to ski to class, and yes, they actually ski.

The snow stopped falling yesterday, and may continue, but the temperatures have dropped immensely. Going from 25 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, today is a chilly 3 degrees Fahrenheit. The next few days are supposed to be in the single digits, going below zero at night! Whenever you  wake up in the morning and are getting ready to head outside, make sure to check a weather app for the temperature outside. It may look like a clear sky and sunny, but the reality is much different. I had to learn that the hard way a few times....but it keeps you on edge!

It's important that you wear proper clothes as it gets colder though. Especially when it is -20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, frostbite can happen in only two minutes. Hypothermia also comes quick, and you may not even realize it. Wearing multiple layers, or larger jackets, real pants (not just leggings), and hats are important. Face masks are necessary when the temperature drops more.

Me getting my freeze on!

And if you have a car, make sure to plug it in! Many people have dead cars in the Spring or cars that just won't start during the winter because the engine and fluids are too cold. Under 20 degrees, make sure to care for your car.

Enjoy our crazy weather!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Navigating UAF Websites & Resources

Whether you are a prospective student or a current student at UAF, you're going to want to understand where to go online to find the information and resources you need. Here we'll cover a few of the most important things you'll need to know about.

We'll start simple, the main University of Alaska Fairbanks website. This is the main hub from which all of the following sites and resources can be found. I highly recommend exploring every nook and cranny of the website and get an idea of what is available to you (hint: there's always a lot available to you).

A recent addition of the UAF website is our new fancy virtual tour! Just click the big "Launch Virtual Tour" link and start looking around!

Chat With Admissions:

Let's say you have a specific question about UAF but are not able or willing to walk into the admissions office to ask it. The UAF admissions page has a neat little feature in the bottom right called Zopim chat. It's an embedded chat system built into the admissions website. Click on the bar, give your name and your email address, and start chatting with actual admissions staff! Ambassadors like myself are often able to chat with you as well using this feature.

UAF Ambassadors:

The UAF ambassadors are a group of student volunteers (myself included) who are devoted to helping both prospective and current students by giving them the information they need about college life at UAF. From this page you can click on any of our faces and read about us, our story, and our majors. You can also send us a message if you have any questions.

From here you can also find our blog (which you are probably reading this on right now)! It's:

Apply / Manage Your UAF Account:

If you are a prospective student, UAOnline is the place you go to apply. As an aside, instructions on applying can be found here:

Once you've applied and have been admitted, UAOnline becomes the place where you can manage every aspect of your student account. UAOnline is where you can apply for financial aid, sign up for classes, make payments, view/order transcripts, and much more.

Find Contact Info:

Is there a particular person or department at UAF that you need talk to but you don't know their contact information? The UAF people page will help. Try searching for "Computer Science Department" :). The people page replaces an older system called EDIR (, but both pull information from the same place.

UAF Login Information:

If you ever forget your UA login information (username, ID, password, etc.), you can use ELMO (easy login maintenance option) to recover that. It requires that you know a few things like the last four digits of your social security number, but hopefully you know that!

OrgSync is a new third-party campus engagement network that allows UAF students to organize! It's the new defacto way for UAF to officially manage things like students clubs and organizations. Clubs and organizations have their own pages, and there are a variety of tools and resources they can use to make their lives better. You also don't need to be a UAF student to sign up either, so you can participate without a UA ID! If you have a UA ID, you should use that to sign in. Find a club that you might be interested in!

UAF has a variety of social media. If you're interested in connecting with UAF that way, find your social media platforms of choice and like/follow/subscribe!

UAF is all over the web, and there's a lot more out there than I've listed here. Hopefully you now have a good idea of where to start looking.

As always, you can contact the admissions office or any of the ambassadors and we'll help you find what you are looking for!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Being the Nook

What it's like to be the school mascot for your college. 


Well honestly I've always wanted to be a mascot. Not to be able to wear the presumably stuffy over-sized suit, but to act however goofy I wanted. Who doesn't want to take pictures with everyone and dance around all the time?
You ever see a mascot dance and want to join in? You ever see a random person dance and want to join in? Exactly. If a person is wearing a giant furry head, they automatically become the life of the party. 
School pride coupled with anonymity and flashiness, sounds like my idea of a fun time.


Outfit consists of 1 body suit with tummy padding, 2 foot covers, 2 3-fingered paw gloves, 1 hockey jersey, and 1 polar bear head.

What I wore under: t-shirt, leggings (thicker than I would wish), socks, and boots.

Getting ready: Well this suit was definitely made for a taller person. I have to roll up the legs so they don't look so scrunched. And the arms are too long too. Getting a little hot already with the extra tummy padding, mascots are supposed to be huggable I suppose, but it seems bearable.
The last part is the head, and I needed assistance with that because there's flaps to tuck into the hockey jersey I'm also wearing. Like I would be cold. The head has this contraption helmet-like-thing to position it on you without your head hitting the top. This would be a lovely invention if I was the right size. Because of my height and general smallness, the the head rests on me the bottom hits my shoulders and the helmet part doesn't fit correctly, On a positive note, the suit is not smelly!

Here we go!
5 Mins in: This is fun! The suit is fluffy and the head fits weird, but not bad. Waved at some people, walked around, took a photo with a lady. Successful mascot accomplishments.

15 mins in: Wow I'm hot. Maybe I'll walk outside for some colder air. Nope, doesn't help, there's no breeze, guess I'll go back inside. My hair is getting sweaty and moving in front of my face. Help I can't use my hands to move it away. Got more high-fives and a few hugs, still being a mascot.

30 mins in: I need to get out. Out out out of this suit. At least take the head off. I need to breath normally and get some air! Right now I can feel the sweat running down my back (sorry but it's true). I'm sweaty and I want a shower. I've resorted to using the cheeks on the inside of the head to try to move my hair out of the way. It's not working.

Took a break after 30 mins - Took off the gloves, the head and took off my boots. Man, now I know why these are worn at hockey games!

Back out!: Now it's photo taking time! This is the part of the mascot job I am excited for! There is a photo station set up with lights and props, and the mascot for some school pride. Some people were happy to take a photo and hold props, others where in a sense dragged over by me to be in a photo. Great thing about being the mascot, it's hard to argue with them when they come up and grab your arm and start walking towards the photo booth.
"This was the part of the mascot job I had expected. The dancing, the pictures, the mascot rights to make people do what you want. Yeah, because of this photo shoot and the people, it made it worth it."
The last hour of being the mascot was much easier than my first 30 minutes. Maybe the photo area was cooler than the rest of the Wood Center or it was because I wasn't moving around so much, or I was just distracted by all the people and poses to make.

As a mascot, you're not supposed to talk. And not being able to talk is difficult. Especially if you're in an over-sized hot and sweaty polar bear costume.

After photo

In the end


  • Being able to dance around all the time
  • Hug are never denied
  • Everyone always smiles at you
  • In every photo!
  • Got to practice for charades


  • Hot and sweaty
  • Uncomfortable
  • Can't speak

Worth it? Definitely.