A Reflection on Dartmouth's Cold ( + First Impressions)
When I was applying to college, I had two main priorities: to attend a school with great undergraduate education, and, well… to be in a not-cold place.
Who knows how I ended up at Dartmouth, infamous for its freezing weather?
My home is relatively cold in the winters—Los Alamos is deep in the mountains of New Mexico, meaning that when it gets cold, it snows. However, winters were always a pain, with icy roads, freezing wind that never let up, and cold, damp buildings with puddles of melted ice. Winter was grim, and I wanted nothing but to get out of the cold.
As I spent the early parts of fall term enjoying the warmth and lush green trees, I found myself dreading having to tromp through snow and slush and nose-biting wind in the winter term. Hearing horror stories about seasonal depression from the early sunsets, and upperclassmen groaning about having to endure yet another winter term, I braced myself for the worst when I flew back to campus at the beginning of January.
I've been told by upperclassmen that this winter has been on the milder side, the degrees hovering around 20° – 30° F / -5° – 0° C. However, especially with the milder winter, I've found that the cold offers some merit.
Traditions, sports, infrastructure. I had underestimated the cultural significance of snow that is interwoven with Dartmouth's identity, inviting us not just to push through the cold, but to embrace it. For some, the invitation to embrace the cold is the midnight snowball fight, a tradition for the first large snowfall of the winter term. For others, it's the intoxicatingly warm Tower Room in Baker library that can melt any frigidness away. Maybe it's the skiway, spending weekends and afternoons on the powder.
I have yet to see everything that Hanover's winter has to offer. From the winter carnival to skiing to sledding down the old golf course, I find that there may be more to look forward in a winter term than I presumed.
I understand that my first impression of winter has been generous; the temperature itself is an anomaly. But if I were to talk to myself before I arrived at Dartmouth, I would tell her that her concerns, although valid, are overblown. After all, who wouldn't wish for a winter as beautiful as this?