Campus News

Beat Oberlin Winter Blues

February 26, 2015

Marvin Krislov

President Marvin Krislov
Photo credit: John Seyfried

The sky is blue. Sunshine is flooding the campus and town. The snow is sparkling, and the temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit, a big improvement from the overnight low of five. Welcome to winter in northeast Ohio.

This winter has been especially tenacious even by Oberlin standards. We’ve had plenty of snow—although nothing like the blizzards that have buried New England—and we’ve seen record-low temperatures across the region; temperatures that make anything in the 20s seem like a heat wave.

Winter’s short, dark days and long, cold nights can weigh on one’s body and psyche. If you or someone you know is suffering from seasonal affective disorder or just the plain old winter blahs/colds/flus, don’t hesitate to reach out for support from our health service, the Dean of Students office, and your peers.

Most people I know who have spent a few winters in Oberlin have developed their own ways of coping with the weather. So as a community service, and an antidote to cabin fever, I took the liberty of asking some faculty, students, and staff for their tips on surviving winter in Oberlin. Mine can be summed up as working out at the gym, spending time with the family, going to movies, drinking hot tea, and reading by the fireplace.

Here is the collective wisdom. Stay warm and enjoy.

Ben Jones, ’96, Vice President of Communications

“In the dark days of winter in the early '90s, we would head to Starlight Lounge in North and build Stonehenge out of the couches by placing them vertically and in a circle. All the cushions would go in the middle and we’d get 20 or so people to cuddle in there. It was nice and warm.”

Anna Menta ’15

  • Always know where you're going before you go outside to minimize time spent in the elements.
  • Wear thick socks. You'd be surprised how much of a difference thick socks can make.


Erich Burnett, Associate Director of Conservatory Communications

“I love walking (not driving, but your results may vary) to the numerous antique and secondhand shops in town. It's a great way to escape the weather...and even to escape the year 2015 when I need to.”

Tanya Aydelott, Assistant Director of Admissions

“Soup parties. Soup parties. Soup parties.”

Miles Gueno ’15

“My advice is to make sure you walk with your really tall basketball friends (Randy Ollie and Matthew Walker) so you can use them as one great shield to halt the arctic winds Mother Nature has in store for you that day.”

Scott Wargo, Director of Media Relations

“Embrace it! Go traying, sledding, tobogganing, or have a snowball fight.”

Chloe Vassot ’18

  • “Scarves are definitely a requirement for winter here. If they're big enough, it can be like wearing a blanket. You can also bury your face in one to protect it from the wind.
  • Hot drinks just make everything better if you're not one who enjoys being cold. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate—basically anything from Slow Train. You’ll enjoy it more because you've walked through the cold to get it.”

Yvonne Gay Fowler, Office of Communications, Editorial and Photography Projects

  • “Try not to let winter interfere with your day-to-day if you can help it. Although I enjoy biking during warmer months, my substitute for that same activity in the winter is spin classes. Although I can't physically enjoy nature, I can enjoy biking with other people, which is the other thing I like about biking outdoors.
  • Read a good book! This is a great time to catch up on reading and to escape in another person's imagination.
  • Start canning, baby! Take on new activities that you would never have time to do in the summer. Learn to can apple sauce, bake pies and store them in the freezer for summer, or learn how to knit socks so you can give them to a senior home.
  • If you're under a mound of snow and can't get out to visit people like you would in the summer, get crafty with your poster board, punches, and glitter and make some ‘Thinking of You’ cards and mail them to your friends. Or sit back and write letters. This lost art will be a welcome to those on the receiving end!
  • Finally, when I was a student, we tagged doors in the winter time. Basically, two or three of us would get together and decorate one of our friend’s doors without him or her knowing. We cut out pictures of things they liked along with streamers, balloons, etc, and taped them to the door. The person being tagged always felt special.”


Cathy Strauss, ’84, Director of Conservatory Communications

“The shared experience of hearing live music warms the soul, and the space in which you hear it. At Oberlin, you can hear many genres of music almost every night of the week in venues across campus—from Oberlin's large ensembles, Artist Recital Series, and concerts in Finney Chapel; to jazz, world, experimental, and popular music in the Cat and 'Sco; to guest, faculty, and student performances covering 500-plus years of classical, contemporary, and jazz music in Fairchild Chapel, Warner Concert Hall, Hall Auditorium, Kulas and Stull Recital Halls, and Clonick Hall. Get out there. Shake the stale air from your lungs and shout for the people performing for you.”

Kazim Ali, Director of the Creative Writing Program, Associate Professor

“Yoga is a great way of getting some exercise and beating the winter blues. There are now daily yoga classes at the college!”

Rosalind Black ’14, Office of Communications Fellow

  • “Go to the Cat! You get to see a show, be with your friends, and take a break from homework. Plus you can get coffee or tea and delicious cookies.
  • Hit the sauna in the gym. It’s pretty toasty in there.
  • On a warmer day, put on all your layers and frolic in North Quad or Wilder Bowl. The snow can't get you down, and you might even get some sun on the little space where your face peeks out.
  • If you think you are being seriously affected by SAD, consider getting a happy light. Make a playlist of your most upbeat songs with your friends and sing and dance through the entire thing.”

Machmud Makhmudov ’15

“Wear layers and carry around a thermos. Exercising regularly can raise energy levels during what can otherwise be a pretty draining time.”

Ann Medwetz, Director of Development Communications

“A good workout always does it for me. Getting nice and sweaty and burning some calories because, let's face it, summer bodies are built in the winter!”

For even more winter survival advice, see the Oberlin Blogs:


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