A First-Year's First Frost
External conditions have major impact on our daily pursuit of happiness; that is certainly true with regard to the weather. When severe weather leaves us overheated or freezing cold, it is difficult to manage to have a happy, successful day. As Winter Storm Harper passed through New Hampshire, it was impossible to ignore the extreme effects that winter weather can have on our daily lives. Having to brace for frigid air, bundle up in warm clothes and trudge through snow day after day is an experience unique to those of us who live in cold climates — and shocking to those who are new to such conditions.
That certainly applies to many members of the Class of 2022. In the fall, they were forced to adjust to the academic and social demands of college life. Now, just a few months later, they have to find a way to become accustomed to the extreme cold of winter in Hanover.
Because Dartmouth students come to Hanover from all over the world, each student’s experience in adjusting to the weather is different. Ned Stabnick ’22, a resident of Wellesley, Massachusetts, did not originally anticipate the need to adjust to the weather of an area so close to his hometown. However, he soon found that conditions in northern New England can be quite different from those in southern New England.
“I thought it’d be about the same, but it actually feels much colder,” Stabnick said. “On average, it’s been about 10 to 15 degrees colder. It’s been really noticeable.”
Unsurprisingly, many students who come from warmer climates than that of Massachusetts are even more shocked by Hanover’s cold temperatures. Manuel Hinojosa ’22, who came to Dartmouth from Texas, found it somewhat difficult to adjust to the new weather at first. However, it wasn’t the winter that was most surprising to Hinojosa; despite the comparatively mild weather, he found it more difficult to adjust to the weather during his first term at Dartmouth in the fall. He also believes that older Dartmouth students overstate the extremity of the winter when describing it to incoming students prior to their first winter on campus.
“[I was shocked] more so last term,” Hinojosa said. “Right now I’m kind of used to it even though everybody said January would be the worst month, but I don’t think it’s been that bad so far. Not as bad as everyone made it out to be.”
Many other students, however, are impacted more heavily by the brisk cold and heavy snow of the winter term. Michelle Kim ’22, who is from the Seattle area, was originally surprised by how mild the weather was when she arrived on campus; however, she eventually realized that the colder days could be difficult to manage.
“When I stepped off the Dartmouth Coach, it was pretty moderate,” Kim said. “It was probably like [in the] tens to twenties [degrees]. So it wasn’t too bad, but when it reached … sub-zero, it was kind of shocking.”
Due to Seattle’s notorious cloudiness and rain, Kim says that she became accustomed to inclement weather of many kinds before she ever came to Dartmouth. However, she was not prepared for Hanover’s heavy snow.
“I’m used to the cloudiness and it not being bright all the time … [but] I also didn’t expect it to snow as much,” Kim said. “I just didn’t know snow in this amount.”
Of course, having a wardrobe suitable for a New Hampshire winter is absolutely necessary for surviving the freezing temperatures and heavy snow. Hinojosa says that he had to buy a number of new clothing items in anticipation for a winter unlike anything he had ever experienced
“I did have to buy a whole new wardrobe for this type of weather since back home, on average in winter, it’s … [in the 60s] all the time. It’ll get down to the 40s, but it’ll go back up,” Hinojosa said.
Kim finds that it is easiest to wear many layers of lighter clothing rather than heavier jackets and pants.
“I just wear a lot of clothes,” Kim said. “I usually wear two pairs of pants and three layers of jackets before I put on my big jacket.”
Though Kim believes she has adjusted to winter in Hanover fairly well over the past few weeks, she is unsure of whether that will help her prepare better for future winter terms on campus.
“I don’t know if I can prepare any more than I did this year,” Kim said. “But hopefully I’ll expect the temperature drop a little more.”
Dartmouth students are forced to make the best of a difficult, frosty situation. Even after they are able to make that adjustment, many students still believe that they’d be living a happier life if they were in a warmer environment. Despite being less than 150 miles from his hometown, Stabnick already feels as though he couldn’t put up with Hanover weather for much longer than he absolutely has to.
“After [I graduate from Dartmouth], I definitely want to go more south than New Hampshire,” Stabnick said.
Looking back upon the warm weather of Texas, Hinojosa agrees that he would not want to deal with such cold weather after he graduates from the College.
“I wouldn’t mind living here temporarily, [but] not for the rest of my life,” Hinojosa said. “I’d like to go back to the warmth.”