A Californian's Guide to North Country Winters | St. Lawrence University

A Californian's Guide to North Country Winters

Monday, January 27, 2020

What was it like seeing snow for the first time at St. Lawrence?

AMAZING! I toured St. Lawrence in April of my senior year, and it was a gray wintry April day. But, during the tour, it started to snow, and that was what sold me on SLU!  I am from California and even though it is difficult for some people to believe, I had never seen snow before attending SLU. However, seeing snow on vacation is a whole lot different than living in snow full time. Experiencing winter in its full force was new for me, and I learned a lot about it after my first year in Canton, so I hope you can learn something from my West Coast winter naiveté and enjoy my North Country winter survival tips!

  1. Having the right gear is super important. I never knew what it felt like for your ears to be so cold they hurt until I walked to Appleton Arena for my first SLU hockey game. This is easily fixable with a hat! If you are from a warm place and have no winter gear like myself, shop summer deals at outdoors stores to buy quality gear on clearance! When my coat arrived at school, I showed it to my Community Assistant (CA) and my New England floormates to make sure it was warm enough to get me through the winter. They told me I was good to go!
  2. When I first got to St. Lawrence, I had no idea what those big buckets of salt were doing by every door…and then I almost fell down the stairs outside the Student Center after the first big snow. That was when I learned the importance of SALT in making the paths and roads a lot less slippery. Big tip: salt gets on your boots and will make your floor super dirty, so you can stay on top of the mess by sweeping your floor regularly and getting a boot tray. 
  3. Don’t go outside with wet hair. It sounds like a no brainer, but I really didn’t believe people when they told me my hair would freeze until it happened, and I literally had icicles in my hair. I’m not going to lie, it was entertaining, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you are trying to avoid a cold.
  4. Don’t expect classes to get cancelled. Professors are NoCo pros and can handle almost any temperature or weather condition to get to class, and they expect the same from you. But honestly, it’s better to not get behind, and it’s nice to know your professors care so much about your education.
  5. Layers aren’t as helpful as you think. I thought it might be smart to wear leggings under my jeans because I was so cold walking to class, but then I got to class and was melting under all of my clothes. I suggest running to class.
  6. If you are bringing a car, learn how to take care of it! I had no idea what the process of dealing with a car in the winter was. You have to run it every so often to keep the engine from freezing but to even get in the car you have to hack open the doors and shovel and scrape all of the snow and ice off of the windshield all the while you’re freezing and the car isn’t warm yet…utter chaos. Lucky thing is, almost everything you need is on campus, so there’s never a huge need for a car. Chances are you’ll meet a friend who has a car and already knows all the winter protocols, so then you are set.
  7. Find the warm buildings to study in. Despite it being negative 1264129840 degrees plus wind chill, it still feels like the AC is on in some buildings. For me, Herring Cole is always a nice warm and cozy place to crank out some work.
  8. Enjoy the outdoors! Borrow skis or a snowboard from a friend and go with the Outing Club to Whiteface. Cross country ski (or Nordic Ski as you East Coasters call it) on the golf course. Go skating on one of our ponds (I thought skating on ponds only happened in movies). Take advantage of the many fun things that can happen outside, especially with St. Lawrence’s unique proximity to the Adirondacks.

Overall, winter isn’t as scary as you may think. If a Californian like me can thrive in it, you can, too!