Warily Wobbling in a Winter Wonderland

A writer reflects on what students wear, and do not wear, during winter in Hanover.

by Stephanie Sowa | 1/12/22 2:15am

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by Lucy Handy / The Dartmouth

As my friend Lexi Francis ’25 and I brave the cold, our clunky boots slosh against the snow with our puffers gliding against one another. We almost stop in our tracks when we see how a fellow Dartmouth student confronts the elements. Not only are they wearing shorts in the freezing cold, but they are wearing flip flops. Yes, flip flops. The quintessential summer footwear. I thought I would not see these until my return to Los Angeles in the spring. But lo and behold, they are making an appearance here in Hanover. Francis and I were shocked, but respect swelled within us for this brave soul defying winter expectations. 

“It froze my heart to the core, and sent chills up my spine,” Francis said. “While I love Dartmouth, and everything about it, the weather is a no for me.”

Despite the give-or-take 15-degree weather this week, I continue to see several people wearing shorts. I’ve seen shorts running, shorts pushing their way out of a dorm and shorts casually strolling down Tuck Drive. Is this a glitch in the matrix? One cannot be sure. Even in California winters, shorts are not necessarily a common sight. However, if I do see someone wearing shorts back home, I can understand how it is bearable. But here, under a pair of leggings and sweatpants, drowning in my puffer and winter coat, my jaw cannot help but fall open when I encounter a short-wearing individual. How do they do it? Are they truly human? Is there something biologically different about them?

Apparently, the story of Elsa from the Frozen franchise resonates with several students. 

“The cold never bothered me anyway,” shared Jess Bargamian ’25, revealing the mantra for students who successfully survive the brutal chill of the outdoors in simple shorts.

This does not apply to all. Even east coast natives can struggle with this weather change. Raised in Massachusetts, a professional navigator of the Boston T, Devin Tulio ’25 explained how she prepared herself for Dartmouth.

“I grew up in the cold, but something about coming to New Hampshire made me think that I need to step up my game,” Tulio said. “In the winter time, I wouldn’t normally wear a coat, so now is the time to suit up.”

“I grew up in the cold, but something about coming to New Hampshire made me think that I need to step up my game. In the winter time, I wouldn’t normally wear a coat, so now is the time to suit up.”

Tulio’s words made me feel better about constantly checking the weather app. Who knew that it would become my most frequented app this term? I advise people to refrain from scrolling down to what the temperature “feels” like, because that can be the last straw.

On the other hand, I can barely recognize some people under all of their layers. Layers upon layers upon layers. I deeply relate. We have beanies, we have scarves, we have gloves and we have the majestic winter coats. Can one double glove? Is that possible? But with the masks as well, individuals stare creepily at each other in passing, trying to decipher if the other is actually the person they think they are. The internal battle between “should I say hi?” and “what if it’s not them?” is occurring in many Dartmouth minds this term — mine included. The prolonged eye contact … is it attraction or awkwardness? Most likely the latter.

Isn’t there something about ski pants that make one feel superior? When ski weekend hits, all the world begins to sport their exercise snow gear. The swish of the pants along the slushy pavement allows an individual to transcend earthly troubles and become one with the snow. When you clip in your skis, and your whole ski outfit is coordinated, you know you have made it. After a long day of (hopefully) gliding down the slopes, peeling off the warm gloves and wrapping one’s hands around a homemade mug of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream is heavenly. 

Let us not forget the ski goggles. Now, these do not radiate the same vibe as your typical pair of sunglasses. The light shimmering from the kaleidoscopic surface simply captivates an individual. You can almost get a sense of someone by analyzing their ski goggles, in the same way you might upon discovering one’s horoscope. While typically worn with a ski helmet, you could technically sport this eye wear casually on a typical day in your life. These would have been incredibly useful in the midnight snowball fight, speaking from personal experience. Perhaps next year, ski goggles will become the new trend in Hanover culture. 

While it may be just another winter for some, it is also a new experience for several Dartmouth students. Many members of the Class of 2024 were learning off campus last winter, and there are plenty of members of the Class of 2025 who have never encountered snow before. Nohi Perry ’25, who hails from Kauai, HI, recounted her journey to acquire winter gear. 

“Buying clothes for the cold was super overwhelming for me, having grown up on an island all my life, but it was also incredibly exciting to prepare for my first true winter,” Perry said.

Perry willingly strolls through the snow on the green, happy to be sporting the correct footwear. She enjoys woccoms — walks around Occom Pond —  especially now, with all the snow magically shaping the surrounding landscape. She recruits friends who are also new to the snow to embark on the journey around Occom Pond and bask in the beauty of Hanover’s winter wonderland.

Despite the excitement and humor of this time of year, it is important to note that winter also highlights the wealth disparity present in Dartmouth’s community, on both the student level and locally. Ryan Tanski ’25, from New Hampshire himself, provided insight as a current student who grew up in the surrounding area.

“As somewhat of a local, the Canada Goose jackets that many Dartmouth students have became a running gag at my high school where there wasn’t quite as much wealth,” Tanski said. “It was easy to make fun of overly ostentatious jackets.”

It is important that everyone stay warm and protect themselves, so any type of jacket, expensive or inexpensive, is incredibly valuable. Canada Goose or not, a jacket is a must.

Alas, our community must bond together under several layers of clothing. Hopefully, few of us slip on the icy pavement that characterizes the walk to class. If any of you experience prolonged eye contact, feel free to inform me if it was attraction or awkwardness. Sending lots of warmth and cozy moments to all!

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