At the University of Chicago, we pull these all-nighters and work until late hours, but sometimes we do crazy stuff like waking up at 5:30 in the morning to head out into the snow.”
—Agnes Bugaj
College student

For a week during her first winter in the College, Agnes Bugaj and several of her floor mates in Alper House woke before dawn while the rest of Hyde Park soundly slept. Bugaj was on a mission to get her dorm mates out of bed and out into the snow—all before sunrise.

“A couple of us would go and bang on doors and get everyone awake,” Bugaj recalls. Five mornings in a row, Bugaj trekked through the snow to Henry Crown Field House to practice martial arts, dance, and yoga routines at Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko, the University’s annual winter celebration. This year’s festival runs Jan. 12-16 and includes morning exercise sessions, afternoon activities and faculty fireside chats.

Students who participate in all five days of exercises win a Kuvia T-shirt boasting this year’s theme: “Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko: Hard to say, even harder to do,” and houses will compete to have the highest participation in Kuvia events.

“We definitely try to get people psyched up and ready for Kuvia,” adds Bugaj, now a third-year in the College and a student organizer of this year’s festivities with the Council on University Programming.

“I think Kuvia shows a little bit of our craziness,” Bugaj says. “At the University of Chicago, we pull these all-nighters and work until late hours, but sometimes we do crazy stuff like waking up at 5:30 in the morning to head out into the snow.”

A Chicago winter tradition

Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko has been a Hyde Park tradition since January 1983, when former Dean of the College Donald Levine introduced the festival to the University community. On-campus Kuvia festivities replaced winter retreats to Wisconsin formed by the College Dean of Students Office for first-years.

Originally published on January 12, 2009.