22What Now? ’25s Face their First Winter Term

We share the fears and excitements of newbie Dartmouth students beginning their first winter on campus.

by Eliza Dunn | 1/12/22 2:09am

covid_fears
by Sophie Bailey / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

For better or for worse, 22W is here, bringing along with it a Week One of snow, black ice and single-digit temps. Already, for ’25s in particular, the start of the term has been anything but normal, as we face a slate of new COVID-19 restrictions and a sharp transition into winter weather. The ’25s, this year’s new kids on the block, have a unique perspective on the transition from fall to winter, as for the first time, they swap sneakers for snow boots and adjust to a brand new way of living at Dartmouth.

Recently, on my way to dinner, I ran into a group of other ’25s in my dorm hallway. Over the past week, this has become a common occurrence. Although the bare, dimly-lit hallway is not the coziest setting for dinner, I have found myself spending more time there than ever, eating and socializing with my floormates. That night, a group was gathered at the end of the hall, eating out of Foco containers and talking about the start of their winter term. 

“I’m afraid that if we go totally virtual, I won’t be able to concentrate in class,” someone said. A few others nodded.

“Especially if it gets too cold to go on walks or runs,” someone added. 

“I’m just worried it’ll be hard to find a balance between school and social life,” someone else chimed in. 

The conversation continued like this, many of the students expressing both concerns and hopes for the winter (“I’m so excited to ski!”). They all echoed a common theme: a sense of excitement coupled with considerable uncertainty about the coming term. 

I’ve noticed that these sentiments are common among many ’25s facing their first ever Dartmouth winter. Something that comes up often is, unsurprisingly, the cold. For Emi Rohn ’25 the single-digit temperatures were a stark contrast to her home in sunny Berkeley, CA. 

“At home, it was like fifties and sixties every day,” Rohn said. “I’ve never lived somewhere so cold before. So, you know, I was kind of worried about how to deal with that and how that would affect my mental health, my ability to do work for classes, to socialize and stuff like that.” 

Rohn is not alone in her concerns. For many students, even those from colder climates, the weather over this first week has required some adjustments, from creative layering techniques to finding clever “warmcuts” between classes.

For Ryan Tanski ’25, a local from Grantham, NH, the winter weather is nothing new. “I’ve lived here my entire life,” he tells me. “I’ve lived through these winters. I know that when you’re doing school… it’s going to be a downer to be inside and… not see the sun as much. So get your Vitamin D pills and those little boxes with the appropriate lumens.” 

The little boxes he’s referring to are sun lamps, which use light exposure to fend off seasonal affective disorder (and are available through the Counseling Center!). He joked about buying a lamp for his floor and having everyone huddle around it to get their daily dose of sunlight. Although he may be joking about the communal sun lamp, mental health is a real source of concern for many people during the winter.

“Seasonal sadness definitely hits me by February,” Shreya Jain ’25 told me. “So far it’s been alright, since I haven’t been doing a ton of homework yet … But by week three it might be different when I have a lot more work.”

Many ’25s have echoed concerns about mental health, due in part to Dartmouth’s new COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I was really looking forward to having indoor social gatherings this winter,” Rohn said. “Getting meals with friends, usually indoors, is a big part of how I socialize. I understand that they had to have some sort of restrictions, but we just aren’t able to communicate in the same way.”

“I was really looking forward to having indoor social gatherings this winter. Getting meals with friends, usually indoors, is a big part of how I socialize. I understand that they had to have some sort of restrictions, but we just aren’t able to communicate in the same way.”

For Tanski, one of the most impactful restrictions was the closure of the varsity gym for out-of-season athletes. 

“I think that I, and a lot of the people that participate in any non-winter sport, definitely value those practices and team lifts very highly,” he mentioned. “That’s a group of friends that you’re more detached from because of those restrictions.” 

Of course, Tanski and many other students recognize the risks associated with opening campus and conducting in-person classes. 

“There are immunocompromised people on campus, off campus, constantly interacting with us,” he says. “And there are older people that work in all of our buildings, that are teaching us. And they all matter a lot… and they are part of Dartmouth as much as we [the students] are.”

Many of the worries surrounding the rising COVID-19 numbers are related not only to the virus itself, but also to the effect it may have on in-person classes. If the numbers continue to rise, Tanski says he’s afraid classes will begin to go virtual in bits and pieces, resulting in a messy hybrid structure that is potentially unpleasant for all parties involved.  

Still, many ’25s are hopeful about winter term, particularly following the whirlwind that was freshman fall. When I asked Jain about how she felt coming back to Dartmouth after a long winterim away, she described feeling ready and “refreshed.”

“I think it was nice … to have winterim to reflect on [fall term] and kind of figure out what type of balance I have with my life back home and at Dartmouth,” she said. “Coming back, I feel like I’m much more well-situated, with the Dartmouth world and with my relationships here.”

Rohn was also excited to return after being away from friends at school and the lifestyle she had established during fall term. “I also love my classes that I’m taking this term… so I’ve been looking forward to those,” she adds. 

Winter term provides the opportunity for a fresh start — trying out new classes, meeting new people and adapting to a new season at Dartmouth. While this transition raises many valid concerns, it also brings an element of excitement, especially as 25s try out the many winter activities available here in New Hampshire. 

“I’m excited to ski and take advantage of the winter,” Jain said. She has weekend plans to attempt Nordic skiing for the first time. 

Tanski is also excited to shred the Skiway, for slightly different reasons. “I have some friends on the Ski Patrol, and I’m very excited to make them earn their pay by doing foolish things.”

“Within the rules, of course,” he added.

For the ’25s, winter term poses both challenges and opportunities, and above all a brand new Dartmouth to get to know. And yes, a newfound appreciation for temperatures above the single digits.

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