Five Things I Didn't Expect About Winter In Boston

Coming from New York, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to adjust to Boston. It’s just a few hundred miles north, I thought. It can’t be that different. Oh, my sweet summer child. How very wrong I was—and I was proven wrong much too quickly.

1. It’s Too Freaking Cold

We’ve had our freak warm days, the kind that induce anxiety over how much we’re screwing over the planet. We’ve also had frigid days in the single digits. I, personally, am still not used to the average temperature being in the 20°s and 30°s. At any given time of day, I’m most likely in my dorm room bundled under an electric blanket with the heat turned as high as possible—and still shivering.

2. Early to Bed, Early to Rise

Shifting a few degrees north does a lot in terms of daylight. You guys, I miss the sun. I don’t know how people live in Iceland or Alaska without going stir-crazy. I’m tired of the sun setting before 5 PM; I’ve actually found that I tend to stay cooped up in my room more just because I hate walking around after dark. There are some things you can do to combat this, though. I’ve been slowly but surely shifting my bedtime earlier and waking up earlier—you’ve got to take advantage of the sun when it’s there. I’ve also finally invested in a UV light to shine for a half-hour or so as soon as I wake up. Even if you don’t have seasonal depression, it may help brighten your mood and chase away those winter blues. Darkness is nice; I like the dark. I just don’t like 75% of the day being dark.

3. Wind chill

I never know what to expect when I step outside. One day, it’ll be sub-20° and I’ll bundle up under three sweaters and a parka only to find the sun shining with the heat of a midsummer’s day. Other times, it’ll be a balmy high 30°s or even 40°s, but the second I set a foot out the door the wind tries to push me face-flat in the pavement. I’ve learned the magic of layers; always carry a scarf and hat in your bag, even if you don’t think you need it. Save yourself from cherry-red extremities.

4. Precipitation Anticipation

Snow, sleet, ice. I did not come equipped with the proper footwear and navigating campus was an obstacle course. My normal boots weren’t waterproof, and my feet would end up soaked-through and frigid. Meanwhile, my only pair of waterproof shoes had zero traction and I nearly ended up flat on my behind several times, slipping on the ice everywhere. There were days I would have to walk from one end of campus to another when it was snowing and the wind was blowing it parallel to the ground. Then there’s what happens when all that snow and ice melts; deep rivers in front of every crosswalk, making crossing the street a challenge straight out of the Oregon Trail.

5. Here Comes The Sun

Something I really didn’t expect was how much better sunny days would be. They are a bit anxiety-inducing; we really shouldn’t be having warm balmy winters. But the occasional bright day feels so much better when you’ve been enduring the equivalent of Hoth for weeks on end. Everything feels more alive. Colors are more vivid, the promise of spring is in the air. People are actually outside, talking and throwing Frisbees instead of shuffling as fast as they can between classes, shoulders hunched and hands shoved deep into pockets. We all know that the next day the cold will return and a storm is inevitably coming, but for a few hours we have sunlit bliss.