“Baby it’s cold outside!”

If you’re coming to Boston from somewhere else, (especially somewhere warm,) you might be curious about what the weather is like here in Boston. This fall and winter have been pretty odd – it was so warm through most of December, but then we had some very cold spells and on-and-off snow. We’re looking at another snowstorm tomorrow morning and all of our eyes on the lookout for an announcement as to whether school will be cancelled or delayed tomorrow.

As a lifelong northerner (I grew up in northern Vermont, another 2.5 hours north of Boston,) snow, cold spells, and long, dark nights seem normal to me in the winter. To get another perspective, I talked my fellow 2L Anda Lopazan, who spent her early childhood in Romania and then moved to the southern U.S.. Even though she’d seen snow before in Romania, Anda told me she had to buy a few key things to move back into a northern clime. I wasn’t surprised at all when she told me she had to buy snow boots with good tread and a heavy ski jacket, but I was surprised when she told me she had to buy a lot of socks. (I myself own about a dozen pairs of Smartwool and Carhartt wool socks, plus athletic socks and business socks. I did not even think about that.)

Anda told me the snow didn’t surprise her, but the wind was pretty shocking. She said her sense of what a cold day is has changed a lot: before, 40 degrees felt freezing, at this point of the year it feels great. This doesn’t surprise me, either – I think anyone who lives in a northern climate re-adjusts to colder and hotter temperatures as the seasons change.

Boston University and the city of Boston seem to deal with poor weather pretty well. So far, we seem to consistently have a few school days per semester cancelled due to bad weather. Typically the first of those cancellations is “built in” to the schedule and does not need to be made up – the rest require make up classes. If the T won’t be running, or it will be too hard for students & staff coming in from the suburbs to make it to school, you can bet that school will at least have a delayed opening to let the snow plows and sand trucks tackle the roads in the morning.

If you’re not used to cold weather, know that dressing properly can alleviate most of your discomfort. As Anda mentioned, waterproof boots with good tread and a good snow jacket are key. I also love Yaktrax and other like products for walking on ice, as well as the multi-tasking wool Buff to keep my face, ears, and neck warm no matter what. Products like Dermatone can protect your skin against chapping and sunburn. Remember that your choice of materials is key – materials like cotton and down will only make you colder once they get wet. Make sure to stock up on clothes (long underwear, tights, socks, sweaters…) made with wool, fleece, or synthetic materials designed to keep you warm even when they’re soaking.

The following pictures of Anda and I on our last snow day illustrate some ways of bundling up:

Anda ColdDee Cold 1Dee cold 2

Finally, some people find that adjusting to living up north can be a struggle in December and January when the days are very short. It can be a real bummer to get up at 8am to darkness, then leave school at 4pm to more darkness. Some people find themselves more tired, grouchy, or depressed in this weather. My boyfriend, Rob, finds the darkness really unpleasant and swears by sun-lamp therapy. Rob wakes up every morning to a sunrise alarm, which essentially creates a fake sunrise to gradually wake you. Rob then stares into a sun-lamp for 5-20 minutes, which he says makes him feel awake and alert no matter the weather outside.  In addition, we both use software like f.lux on our computers and phones to minimize the insomnia-producing effects of staring at a bluish computer screen near bedtime. If you try sun lamp therapy and still feel blue in the winter, the student health center and mental health center at BU can always give you more advice.


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