Why the rain brought me back to college in the Pacific Northwest

photo of the university of oregon campus at night with pastel colored street lights glowing in the mist
There’s never a bad time to take photos of the beautiful University of Oregon campus. UO student Owen Lowe-Rogstad took this unique photo of the play of light on a rainy night after class. 
Owen Lowe-Rogstad
Owen Lowe-Rogstad is a multimedia intern for the UO School of Journalism and Communication. Lowe-Rogstad, pictured here on the Oregon Coast near Brookings, has a soft spot in his heart for the rain in Oregon. Photo by Finn Lowe-Rogstad.

In April 2021, I transferred from a small liberal arts college in the Midwest to the University of Oregon. I came back to Oregon to go to college in the Pacific Northwest for a number of personal reasons, but one factor that helped me make my decision was the Eugene weather, particularly the rain.

When I told people that I was going to college in Minnesota, that conversation always involved them asking what I thought about the weather, specifically the cold. And yes, Minnesota gets really freaking cold in the winter. Growing up in Oregon, I always thought cold was a 25-degree ski day on the mountain. But, by far, the coldest temperatures I have experienced were waking up at 7 a.m. to walk across campus in Minnesota to my job at 8 a.m. in 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

I was prepared for the cold, but what the admissions people, current students and friends from the Midwest all neglected to mention was the lack of rain. Sure, it snowed. It snowed in October, which was wild. I went to a pumpkin patch a week before Halloween and saw pumpkins covered by three inches of snow. But it barely rained. On days that forecasted rain, it might have poured for 15 minutes, but the rest of the day was dry. And on more than one occasion when it rained, it was so cold that it turned to freezing rain.

After spending time in Minnesota, I missed the Oregon rain. I love looking out the window and watching the rain fall. I think the rain makes tea taste five times better and makes my bed feel 10 times more comfortable. In my opinion, walking to class on mornings with a light mist is the best replacement for a caffeinated drink. I am simply a sucker for a good rainy day.

When it rains, it always brings back memories of when I was young. Rainy fall days, with bright orange and red leaves coating the ground, remind me of muddy soccer practices at the local park. Spring rains remind me of Easter egg hunts in the backyard with my family. And although the winter months can get a little dreary, I am always brought back to when I would listen to books on tape with my brother and drink tea while the rain poured down outside.

I know the rain can be a bit of a downer sometimes, and sitting in wet clothes in class, trying to take notes, just plain sucks. But I always try my best to embrace the rain and appreciate the good things it brings. I love going to the beach in the winter because the storms churn up some particularly spectacular photo opportunities. I love those March days when the sun breaks through the clouds, and I can spot a rainbow on my way home from class. And even when the rain lasts far longer into spring than it should, Oregon always rewards us with the most beautiful flowers and gorgeous spring days.

So, while the rain may not be everyone’s favorite part of going to school in Eugene, it is one of mine. Spending time away from the Pacific Northwest has made me appreciate how much I love it here, and I am truly grateful to be back in Oregon going to college in the Pacific Northwest.

moody photo of raindrops on a car window in focus, with a blurry car mirror and landscape in the background
This photo of a rain-splattered window in Portland, Oregon, was part of a photography experiment Lowe-Rosgstad did with depth of field. 
black and white image of evergreen trees in fog
The Oregon Coast is where Lowe-Rogstad learned to take photos, and he often returns to practice new techniques and improve his skills. He took this black-and-white photo of the rainy woods, with fog blowing in from the ocean, on the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.
raindrops falling on a river with trees along the shore
The Salmon River, north of Lincoln City, Oregon, is also the shore of Camp Westwind, a summer camp. Lowe-Rogstad works as the communication assistant for Camp Westwind, managing content production and social media. Photo by Owen Lowe-Rogstad.

—By Owen Lowe-Rogstad ’23

Owen Lowe-Rogstad is a senior political science major who currently works as a video and multimedia intern for the SOJC’s Communication Team. Check out his photography portfolio.