Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Advice to the Fairbanks Newbie.

Yup, it's that time of year again! New Student in Fairbanks? Welcome to the middle of nowhere*! Fairbanks can be a great, exciting place to live, but like anywhere else in the world, it takes some getting used to. Here's some basic tips to help you get by:

  • Homes come in to varieties - dry, and wet. Dry places have no running water. In Fairbanks, this is not a big deal. You haul your own water in a carboy from a water seller, and campus is littered with showers for students. Please leave the showers clean, though!
  • Don't go out and buy everything with the words 'Polar Fleece' on it. Instead, wait until it starts to cool off, and look at what the Locals are wearing. And then, after you've seen how Fairbanksans manage, dress like the locals. Otherwise, you'll waste a lot of money. You'll probably notice we dress in layers, and we're not too fashionable.
  • Get your vehicle winterized now. Buy studded tires before the first snow. There's always a massive backlog of people at the auto shops in town who need that work done when the white stuff starts flying. You can have studded tires on your vehicle as early as September 15th. It's not a bad idea to make an appointment for the 16th, just so you're not caught off guard by snow.
  • Be social! Go out, meet people. Drink at bars (if 21), attend student events. Especially around campus, there's lots to do. I'm always perplexed by people who say that Fairbanks is full of introverts. Michael Feldman said something to the effect of `There's no where else where you're around so many people who like to be with other people who don't like people.` ;)
  • Develop some outdoor hobbies so the winter isn't as boring. If you're trapped inside, of course Fairbanks seems like an awful place! I would remind you that for a minimum of a year, you'll be a non-resident for hunting and fishing purposes**.
  • Get ready for some stickershock, because stuff isn't as cheap as it is in the states. It runs from 25% to 33% more than it runs down below. Frozen foods are expensive in the summer. Fresh produce isn't really fresh in the the winter (and the summer, it can get pretty questionable too). If you're aware of this, things go much smoother. If, like me, you love to do confectionery stuff, be prepared to shell out big money for extracts (besides vanilla) and uncommon spices. Sometimes, I just have friends in the states send it up to me, since it's cheaper.
In general, try to have fun. Don't hole yourself up. And whatever you do,
  • Don't tell us how you did things back in [insert lower 48 state here]. People will say, "That's nice." But they'll be thinking, "What a jerk." You're not in Kansas anymore! :)

*The villages are not the middle of nowhere. The villages are the far-edge of nowhere.
**Yes, you can fish in the winter. It's as fun as fishing in the summer!

While we're on the topic of students returning to UAF, here's a comment from the article "UAF Prepares for Swine Flu Outbreak:"

Swine flu will work just like everything else at UAF. It will show up late, move excruciatingly slowly through the bureaucracy, get lots of talk but little actual help from the risk management office, hang around the Pub far too much, provoke quite a bit of dorm-room puking, and finish its two-year program about seven years from now. Then it will just hang out on campus hoping for a job.

Too funny!


gpc said...

Sigh, that all sounds like fun. Wish I'd come there during my wasted youth. But I can send you spices and extracts any time you need them.

dragonfly said...

Great post, and having been lived here uh...40+ years, I will say this: "Yeah, what he said!"

CabinDweller said...

Oh, and for the Noobs who end up living 'dry' -

Blue foam is the outhouse seat of choice. Trust us.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Your advice is spot on for newbies. However, I must take offense at the description of the swine flu on campus. THAT WAS MY "JOB" DECADES AGO!!! Harumph.