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woman in snow storm
woman lying in snow
two young women in winter on the green

I was recently asked what my favorite thing about Hanover in the winter is, and I’ll admit that, given that it was -23 degrees this morning, most of the answers that sprang to mind were pessimistic. “One day it will be over?” “Scraping ice off my car is really building character?” “I don’t feel guilty for staying inside and drinking lots of hot chocolate?” The more I thought about it though, there are actually some things that I love: how quiet it is when snow is falling, the coziness of a giant scarf, the satisfaction of a long walk on packed snow, the ubiquity of fires burning in hearths, the thrill of plunging down a hill on a sled (or pizza box), how Dartmouth and everywhere looks like a Christmas card…

As a native Californian, I moved to New England for college, winter sight unseen. Read: I had not a clue what to expect when December rolled around. College is definitely a great way to test drive the seasons (we have four of them here!) since a lot of the adulting winter usually requires is done for you by the college: you don’t have to shovel snow or worry about your heating bill, you just shuffle to class and let the College worry about the rest. You’ll have friends to ask about what gear you need (you don’t just need one jacket/coat, it’s a long story) and tell you to avoid walking under icicles (but we all know that from Grey’s Anatomy, right?). Best of all, they’ll teach you to do all the fun winter things — sledding, making maple candy, snow angels, ice skating, skiing (cross country and downhill), snow shoeing, winter camping (Dartmouth students do these things!), building an igloo…

While there has been a definite learning curve for my first “adult” winter (just learned about leaving your water running a tad so the pipes don’t freeze, which never would have occurred to my ever-drought conscious self), I’m so glad I experienced winter four times before I truly had to do it myself. For one thing, my sweater reserve would be nowhere near where it is today without those four years of training (thank you Goodwill, Target, and the occasional Urban Outfitters splurge) and I wouldn’t have a clue about layering. I wouldn’t know how to walk without slipping on ice, and what boots and socks would get me through (Bean boots ftw). I might not even know how to scrape ice off a car (a very generous friend let me practice on hers), or that riding your bike in the winter isn’t so much a thing, unless you have bike snow tires like one of my impressive co-workers.

The moral of the story is, my Californians and other warm weather folks, winter in college can be so so fun! It can be a pain, but it’s also weird and magical and super Instagram-able. College is all about pushing yourself and trying new things, after all, so why not give it a shot?