A Guide to Thriving during Winter at Dartmouth

Grim weather got you down? Caroline Steib ’26 collects students’ best tips for surviving the cold.

by Caroline Steib | 1/18/23 2:05am

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by Beam Lertbunnaphongs / The Dartmouth

I’m from New England, I have a February birthday and — evidently — I chose to go to college in New Hampshire. From these facts alone, one might assume that I’m prepared for or accustomed to harsh winters. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. In fact, I am overwhelmed by the prospect of my first winter at Dartmouth. 

Don’t get me wrong — I am excited to experience the quintessential winter-at-Dartmouth experience. Winter term is packed with seasonal festivities, from ice skating on the Green and doing the Polar Bear swim at Occom Pond to hitting the Skiway with friends on the weekends.

Still, for most students, Hanover winter can feel like a whole new ballgame. 

The upperclassmen I heard from said they associated winters with being “cold,” “miserable,” “dark,” “depressing” and “having snow.” Hence, it seems that the subject of winter brings anxiety for many.

The statistics don’t lie. The cold season in Hanover generally lasts about 3.3 months. January, the coldest month of the year, sees an average low of 12 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 29 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Weather Spark. Additionally, the town braves an average monthly snowfall of 12.5 inches in January, days with only nine hours of daylight and wind speeds up to 6.8 miles per hour. Nevertheless, we are still expected to uphold the same degree of Dartmouth determination in our academic, social and extracurricular spheres that we usually pursue in less grueling, unpredictable conditions. 

Ultimately, all of this begs the question: What can I do to not simply survive, but thrive this winter at Dartmouth? Here are six tips from upperclassmen on how to make the most of 23W:

1. Invest in the right apparel

Warmth, and thus happiness, starts with bundling up.

“You must cover every inch of your body in layers if you want to survive winter at Dartmouth,” Adam Tobeck ’25 said.

Gloves, hats, scarves, balaclavas, socks and turtlenecks should be just the first layer or foundation of your outfit. 

Emily Schuster ’24 emphasized the importance of the outer layer, noting that Hanover winters are no fashion show.

“These cropped jackets I keep seeing are cute and all, but they aren’t functional. You hands-down need a parka that goes down to your knees,” she said.

2. Don’t self-isolate

When the weather is terrible, it is natural to want to hibernate — and though it’s easier said than done, don’t always give into that temptation, Gina Miele ’24 said, highlighting the importance of continuing to socialize.

 “Branch out with the same enthusiasm as you did during Orientation, for example, because surrounding yourself with people will help with some of the dreariness,” Miele encouraged. 

3. Romanticize the indoors

If you are giving in to self-isolation, however, you might as well make it as fun and relaxing as possible. If the outdoors isn’t exciting you, romanticize the indoors. 

Kaia Reznicek ’23 said that she prioritizes intentionally working and hanging out in spaces that feel cozy to boost her mood. 

“You might as well read a trashy book while drinking a heavily marshmallowed hot chocolate in your fuzzy pajamas from sixth grade,” Reznicek said. 

4. Make substitutions 

A common theme among upperclassmen advice is that winter is all about substitutions. The great challenge of the winter is finding alternative ways to do what you want and enjoy.

“Substitute!” Reznicek urged. “Picnics on the Green for baking parties, Woccoms for cardboard sledding on the golf course, pickle ball for game or movie nights — stuff like that.”

5. Learn to appreciate the winter by buying in

It’s not what you can do for winter, but what winter can do for you. Annie Michalski ’23 encouraged others to realize the importance of staying active to both boost your happiness and to capitalize on winter’s unique activities, such as sledding or skiing. 

“It will give you a greater appreciation for the winter and the snow and the cold if you are participating and engaging in activities that are only available to you during this season,” Michalski said.

6. Give yourself grace 

It is only natural that we won’t all feel our best throughout the entire winter. The shorter days and lack of sunlight causes seasonal depression, we are more prone to sickness, we have just as much academic stress and we generally feel limited. All anyone can do is try to do good by themselves, mentally and physically. But if you’re feeling down, avoid kicking yourself over it. Give yourself grace and don’t let it get to you. 

If you want some sort of tangible solution to such feelings, however, Amelia Devine ’25 recommends Sundown High Potency Zinc Gummies—30 mg per serving (found at your local CVS Pharmacy). 

“Don’t freak out if the snow and cold and lack of light is getting to you some days,” Reznicek added. “That’s the unfortunate reality of a Hanover winter. All you can do is make the most of it, and who knows, this term may end up being one of your favorites.”

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