In South Florida, where I’ve spent the past 19 years, people break out their “winter coats” and barely-worn boots when the temperature dips below 75°F. Although I have only lived in New Haven for less than three months, I’ve already learned ten very important lessons about what it means to freeze:
- I’m not the only one who has never lived through a “real” winter… everyone is cold. Before I arrived at Yale, I (for some reason) imagined that I would be the only person accustomed to year-round warmth and perpetual sunshine -- the only person who had never truly seen the trees change colors and drop their leaves, and the only person who had never made a snow angel or endured a snow storm. I couldn’t have been more wrong. A large proportion of Yale students have lived through “real” winters, but so many of them grew up in warm, sunny places. I’ve learned that I’m definitely not alone, and that I’m definitely not the only one who’s cold. Everyone struggles with below-freezing temperatures.
- Earmuffs aren’t actually embarrassing. Over the summer, as I shopped online for winter essentials to fill my wardrobe, I avoided earmuffs entirely (and instead invested in a “stylish” thermal headband). What could be more embarrassing than having large, colorful, fluffy masses protruding from either side of your head?, I thought. Once again, I was wrong. There’s nothing wrong with earmuffs. Earmuffs are great. And when the cold winter air threatens to freeze off your ears, looks don’t matter so much anyway.
- Long/thermal underwear exists, and it’s amazing. I can’t say enough great things about long underwear. First of all, it’s not nearly as bizarre as it sounds: a thermal underwear set consists of a form-fitting shirt lined with fleece (or another warm material) and stretchy pants (like leggings) lined with the same warm material. It can be worn alone as pajamas or as the first layer under your favorite winter outfit, and it’s incredibly warm and comfortable. Order yourself some here!
- The sun really does set by 4:30 p.m. during the winter. When I first learned this, I was horrified. I also didn’t think it was possible. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that the sun sets earlier during the winter (thanks, daylight savings!), but I didn’t expect darkness to engulf the world at such an early hour. Few things are more distressing than looking out the window at the pitch-black sky, thinking it must be almost time for bed, only to find out that it’s 6 p.m.
- Good boots will become your best friend. Don’t simply order the cheapest pair you find. In July, before I knew anything about living in the Northeast, I ordered myself some boots for $10.99 (yes, $10.99) from Amazon, optimistically thinking they would get me through the winter. Are they cute? Sure. Were they a great bargain? Absolutely. Will they get me through the winter? Not a chance. Looks like I’ll be ordering myself an actual pair of boots with insulation and waterproofing in the near future.
- Winter clothing can be cute. It doesn’t need to be drab and unattractive. I never realized how much I love sweaters, boots, hats, and scarves before I moved to New Haven. Stores in perpetually warm-weathered states make half-hearted attempts at stocking their shelves with winter clothes, but the clothes are always drab and borderline hideous. Now, I can say I have a deep appreciation for fuzzy socks, cozy sweaters, wool hats, and all things winter fashion-related.
- 60°F will feel like a warm summer day once the temperatures have dropped below freezing. I look forward to the day I can walk around campus in shorts when it’s 60°F outside, knowing that winter has changed me, making me stronger and more resilient.
- Converting the temperature to Celsius will make everything seem more dramatic. I recently announced to my suitemate, “It’s supposed to be negative six degrees on Friday!” She looked at me with the most outright confused expression before she realized I meant negative six degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Converting the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius makes everything more dramatic (“It’s negative ten degrees outside!” sounds exponentially more intense than “It’s fourteen degrees outside!”)
- Getting dressed in the morning will take twice as long as it usually does. This is one consequence of wearing approximately eight layers of shirts. The other: being unable to move.
- A good winter wardrobe doesn’t need to be expensive. While I advise against purchasing low quality, $10.99 snow boots, a great, warm winter wardrobe definitely doesn’t need to be expensive. Stores like Burlington Coat Factory (and even stores frequently found in shopping malls, like H&M) sell great pants, sweaters, and coats at reasonable prices.
Thanks for reading! Have you learned any lessons about winter that we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments.