Oberlin Blogs

Winter is Coming (And You're Going to Need Boots)*

October 30, 2012

Margaret Saunders ’16

While I've come to expect that one out of every three people I meet at Oberlin is from California, I still find room for surprise when I meet someone who states that this winter is by far the worst they've ever experienced. The surprise is quickly overshadowed by overwhelming pity, as I remind them in my reply, "This isn't winter yet. This is only the beginning."

Pittsburgh is safe from the lake effect, but I still have fond memories of snowy childhood winters, and of course the amazing week in December 2010, when the result of Snowpocalypse was an entire week off of school and the opportunity to create a twenty-foot-long sled run in my backyard. But there are dark sides to the midwestern winter, and you poor folks from sunny climates will feel them hit twice as hard. Henceforth, here is a guide to surviving winter in Oberlin, straight from the experts!

On what and what not to wear:

  • Snow, hail, sleet, and all of their icy cousins have one thing in common: they are made of water. Therefore, all of your outerwear should be chosen knowing that at some point, you WILL get wet. 
  • Most of the time that wetness occurs when the snow clinging to your garments melts upon being brought indoors, so make sure to hang winter clothes where their dripping won't cause slipping!
  • Rainboots are great for keeping your feet dry, but do a poor job of keeping them warm. Invest in true snowboots or make sure to wear multiple pairs of socks if you have no other options.
  • No, Uggs are not true snowboots, and yes, wearing soggy suede slippers is just as miserable as it sounds.
  • Wind chill is guaranteed to make the temperature on your temperature look like the world's most evil lie. Coats with high collars and scarves are an easy way to protect your neck!
  • There's not much disparity between gloves and mittens, but whichever you favor make sure you have a spare pair: losing one is practically inevitable, and you want to be prepared. 
  • You really won't believe how much of a difference covering your ears makes, whether it be it with a hat, earmuffs, or just hunching into your coat.

  • On walking through a winter wonderland:

  • Icicles are like roses: they're pretty to look at, but hurt when you touch the sharp parts. Don't stand under the biggest ones!!! And don't let your fear of impalement prevent you from breaking some off and enjoying a fresh popsicle.
  • Speaking of falling objects, watch out for low-hanging tree branches. Snow and ice can encase tree branches and weigh them down, so you might be forced to limbo through Tappan Square after a storm. (Kidding. Kind of.)
  • The most dangerous thing you'll face in the winter is ice. It turns sidewalks and roads into hazard zones. The kind of ice to fear the most is black ice, which is transparent and therefore harder to notice against pavement. Avoid walking on ice and stick to dry patches, or if there are none, try to aim for the snow-covered portions of the ice. If you find yourself suddenly surrounded by a natural hockey rink, cross it with baby steps. Your gloves/mittens and traction on your snowboots (that you invested in, like a wise person) should save you from spills. 
  • The best kind of snow for building and sledding with is sticky and heavier than powder, which is more suited to ski on. To determine the difference, pick up a handful and throw it--"sticky" snow will fall in clumps and powder will look like a lot of snowflakes!
  • The best snowballs are about the size of your palm, and the polite way to pelt them at someone is to hit only the torso and arms. Purposefully hitting someone in the face with a snowball is just as rude as insulting someone's mother and will guarantee that you will meet a fate twice as worse. Said fate is often getting snow thrown right back at your face, and trust me, it will hurt.

  • On fighting the seasons from the comfort of your room:

  • Hot cocoa is the universal cure for short-term winter sadness.
  • Blankets are your friends!
  • Wearing socks to bed ensures that you will never wake up with cold feet.
  • Don't feel bad for wanting to do nothing but stay in bed all day. Most of us feel the same way.
  • But don't let the cold scare you out of admiring the landscape every once in a while! Even if it's from your window.
  • Catching snowflakes on your tongue may look silly when other people do it, but that's the fun of it!
  • If your friends are the cuddly type, you now have an infinite number of heaters.
  • So Obies, take it easy, and face winter knowing that no matter how cold it may get, it will always turn into spring.

    *I don't know anything about Game of Thrones besides that this is a tagline of some sort? I think Sean Bean dies.

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