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Surviving Boston Winters

What does it take to beat the cold?

By: Karyna Cheung

Two girls in cozy fall clothing one holding a drink leaning against each other
Graphic By: Mia Overbo

“I love Vermont, but it’s the season of the sticks,” Noah Kahan sings in his hit song “Stick Season.” The feelings of stick season are universal to anyone living in New England. All the leaves and vibrant foliage wither away by November, leaving behind barren branches and cold, windy weather. And to top it all off, daylight savings ends at the same time, making short daylight hours feel even shorter. It certainly isn’t fall anymore, but it isn’t winter yet, either. Where does that leave college students? Not everyone is accustomed to the growing cold and premature sunsets, especially students who live in warmer climates back home.

“I definitely think I’m less productive when it’s darker outside,” said Julia Ruggiero (CAS ‘26). She also explained that the combination of the darkness and the ending semester “has made [her] super stressed and want to do nothing as a response.”

College is difficult enough as is, but combined with the dark, cold environment Boston students must survive in…the results are usually not positive. The days begin with the sun already risen and feel like they’re over once the sun sets at 4:30 P.M. On top of that, the level of light during the day is questionable at times, as the skies are usually cloudy and gray. Moreover, the temperatures only plummet further as finals approach. Even the spring semester return in dreary January can be difficult.

“Physically, it was the cold, and mentally, it was the fact that the time at which it began to get dark seemed like it was cutting off any potential for me to do anything during the day,” said Zoe Qian (CGS ‘26) about coming to Boston University this past January.

For College of General Studies students arriving in the height of winter like Qian, New England is almost unwelcoming in how cold and dark it gets. She has pictures of herself so bundled in heavy winter clothing that it is impossible to tell who it is underneath the hat, scarf, and coat.

“Where I’m from, the length of the day doesn’t change as much with the season,” Qian added. “It was kind of jarring for me to come to the Northeast and experience it for the first time.”

What is there to be done about these conditions? There is no way to truly combat Mother Nature. How does one survive Boston winter?

Ruggiero, who is from Long Island, monopolized her time off and took a short trip home after midterms.

“I felt significantly happier than I felt here, but also, I think that was a combo of not doing any work and being able to relax and chill for a few days instead of the hard, strenuous labor I have to do here,” she said.

Qian is originally from California and finds comfort in the smaller moments when the sun is out; she can enjoy seasonal drinks and still feel joy in the moments she shares with friends. Those experiences have helped her appreciate the Northeast more.

“My friends give me support when the weather gets to me. We’re all feeling down because of the weather, but we figure it out together,” Qian said.

In the end, it is essential to find peace and solace in important facets of life, whether it is found at home by relaxing and taking some time off of academics or in the shorter time periods in between exams and studies, sharing a meal or hanging out with friends.


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