wobbling cautiously in a winter wonderland


A writer reflects on what students wear and don’t wear during the winter in Hanover.

by Stéphanie Sowa | 1/12/22 2:15 am

As my friend Lexi Francis ’25 and I brave the cold, our bulky boots slam against the snow with our down jackets sliding against each other. We almost come to a halt as we see how another Dartmouth student braves the elements. Not only are they wearing shorts in the freezing cold, but they are wearing flip flops. Yes, flip flops. The ultimate summer shoes. I thought I wouldn’t see them until I got back to Los Angeles in the spring. But there you go, they’re making an appearance here in Hanover. Francis and I were shocked, but respect swelled within us for this brave soul defying winter expectations.

“It froze my heart and sent chills down my spine,” Francis said. “While I love Dartmouth, and everything about it, time is a no-brainer for me.”

Despite the 15 degree weather this week, I still see several people in shorts. I saw shorts running, shorts coming out of a dorm, and shorts casually strolling down Tuck Drive. Is this a bug in the matrix? We can’t be sure. Even during California winters, shorts aren’t necessarily commonplace. However, if I see someone in shorts at home, I can understand how bearable it is. But here, under a pair of leggings and sweatpants, drowned in my puffer jacket and winter coat, my jaw can’t help but open when I meet an individual wearing short clothes. How do they do? Are they really human? Is there anything biologically different about them?

Apparently, Elsa’s story from the Frozen franchise resonates with several students.

“The cold never bothered me anyway,” shared Jess Bargamian ’25, revealing the mantra for students who successfully survive the brutal cold of the outdoors in single shorts.

This does not apply to everyone. Even the natives of the east coast can fight this climate change. Raised in Massachusetts, professional sailor for the Boston T, Devin Tulio ’25 explained how she prepared for Dartmouth.

“I grew up in the cold, but something about coming to New Hampshire made me think I needed to improve my game,” Tulio said. “In the winter, I wouldn’t normally wear a coat, so now’s the time to get dressed.”

“I grew up in the cold, but something about coming to New Hampshire made me think I needed to improve my game. In the winter I wouldn’t normally wear a coat, so now is the time. to get dressed.

Tulio’s words made me feel better by constantly checking the weather app. Who knew that it would become my most visited app this quarter? I advise people to refrain from scrolling until the temperature “feels” because this can be the last straw.

However, I can barely recognize some people under all their layers. Layers upon layers upon layers. I identify myself deeply. We have hats, we have scarves, we have gloves, and we have the majestic winter coats. Can we double the glove? Is it possible? But with the masks, too, people look creepily at each other as they pass, trying to decipher if the other is really who they think they are. The internal battle between should I say hello? “And” what if it wasn’t them? Occurs in many minds in Dartmouth this term – mine included. Prolonged eye contact… is that attraction or embarrassment? Most likely the latter.

Isn’t there something about ski pants that makes you feel superior? When ski weekend arrives, the whole world begins to sport their snow exercise gear. The rustle of pants along the melting pavement allows an individual to transcend earthly issues and become one with snow. When you strap on your skis and all of your ski gear is coordinated, you know you’ve done it. After a long day of sliding (hopefully) on the slopes, taking off the warm gloves and wrapping your hands around a mug of homemade hot chocolate topped with whipped cream is heavenly.

Let’s not forget the ski goggles. Now, these don’t give off the same vibe as your typical pair of sunglasses. The sparkling light of the kaleidoscopic surface simply captivates an individual. You can almost get a feel for someone by analyzing their ski goggles, the same way you could by finding out their horoscope. While they’re typically worn with a ski helmet, you could technically wear these goggles casually on a typical day in your life. These would have been incredibly helpful in the Midnight Snowball Fight, speaking from personal experience. Maybe next year ski goggles will become the new trend in Hanover culture.

While it may just be another winter for some, it is also a new experience for many Dartmouth students. Many Class 2024 members were learning off campus last winter, and many Class 2025 members have never encountered snow before. Nohi Perry ’25, from Kauai, HI, recounted his journey to acquiring winter clothing.

“Buying clothes for the cold was super overwhelming for me, having grown up on an island all my life, but it was also incredibly exciting getting ready for my first real winter,” said Perry.

Perry happily walks in the snow on the green, happy to wear the right shoes. She loves woccoms – the walks around Occom’s Pond – especially now, with all the snow magically shaping the surrounding landscape. She recruits friends who are also new to the snow to embark on the journey around Occom’s Pond and bask in the beauty of Hanover’s winter wonders.

Despite the excitement and humor of this time of year, it’s important to note that winter also highlights the wealth disparity present in the Dartmouth community, both at the student level and locally. Ryan Tanski ’25, from New Hampshire himself, provided insight as a current student who grew up in the area.

“As a local, the Canada Goose jackets that many Dartmouth students became a racing gag at my high school where there wasn’t as much wealth,” Tanski said. “It was easy to laugh at the overly ostentatious jackets.”

It is important that everyone stay warm and protect themselves, so any type of jacket, expensive or cheap, is incredibly valuable. Canada Goose or not, a jacket is a must.

Alas, our community has to bind itself under several layers of clothing. Hopefully few of us slip on the icy sidewalk that characterizes the path to class. If either of you experience prolonged eye contact, please let me know if it was attraction or embarrassment. Sending full of warmth and cozy moments to all!


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