Harsh Vermont winters are problematic for students coming from warmer climates

The Norwich campus may be beautiful in snow, but for students used to warm weather, it takes some getting used to - especially in a cold winter like 2014.

The Norwich campus may be beautiful in snow, but for students used to warm weather, it takes some getting used to – especially in a cold winter like 2014.

It is no surprise to the Norwich community that the temperatures in Vermont can regularly drop well below freezing. Returning to Norwich University after winter break, especially from a warm climate, is a hard adjustment for many NU students.“I come from San Diego where it is warm all year round,” said Patrick Barnes, 21, a sophomore sports medicine major from San Diego, Calif. “It takes a while to adjust, especially for me.” <!–more–>
Barnes explains how in his home state of California, the general population thinks 60 degrees is cold. He said they all wear jackets and pants when the temperature drops to that.

“The cold here makes me appreciate where I am from so much more than I did before,” Barnes said. He continued that when he goes back home, he acts like it is 100 degrees, even when everyone else around him is cold.

“Adjusting to the cold to me is all in your head,” Barnes said, reflecting on how he adjusts to jumping from climate to climate. “When I hear people complain I just smile because I know there is nothing that will change the weather.”

To Barnes, being a part of the Corps of Cadets helps adjusting to the weather because of all the training conducted outside in the cold. “When you wake up at 5 a.m. to go for a run,” he said, “being outside during the day dressed warm does not seem all that bad.”

Being from California originally, Barnes said that he cannot comment on the issues that families in Vermont have to go through every winter, like losing power, or pipes freezing. “I would imagine it sucks,” he said.

Other people who are used to the cold find it much easier to come back. “I do think it is very cold, but it’s like every other day in Vermont,” said Riley Salls, 19, a sophomore psychology major from Swanton, Vt., which is up near the Canadian border.

Being from Vermont, Salls is well acclimated to the cold conditions and the creative ways to counter the consequences of negative temperatures. “People who complain about the cold here do not even have it bad; my family lost power for two weeks over the holiday break,” she said. “We made fires, and had to use our back-up generator.”

Still, Salls does not like the cold – saying “who does”– but enjoys the winter time. “When summer time comes you appreciate it so much more.”

“As long as my dorm room has heat I will be just fine this winter,” Salls said.

Originally from not too far across the Vermont border, Michael Lavery, a 20-year-old sophomore biology major from Concord, N.H., relates to Sall’s acclimation to the weather, but admits he does not enjoy the snowy season as much.

“The cold bothers me a little bit, but what I really don’t like is the fact that I can’t just walk outside and hang out,” Lavery said. “Finding things to do around campus is much harder when it gets this cold,” he says, and Lavery agrees it gets boring very fast.

In the battle against boredom, Lavery said he takes part in the sporting events offered on campus. “I go to all the sports games but besides that it’s mostly hanging out in the dorm rooms,” he said. “We don’t know what to do when we have a large group of friends.”

Finding things to do on campus is not the only problem that comes with this freezing weather. Road conditions are also a very big concern to students at Norwich.

For those students like Lavery who own their own vehicles, it is not always worth bringing their cars up to campus since the roads are so bad. “It’s not even like we can drive far off campus with black ice everywhere on the road,” Lavery said. “I didn’t even bring my car up for the second semester because my little car would not survive in the snow and ice.”

It is a pain to Lavery and to his family, he explained, because now his parents have to find the time to make the long drive to get him back to NU and pick him up at the end of the semester.

“There is no other way,” he said considering his only other option would be to risk his safety riding back to the campus.

Another issue students face has to do with the heater system. “My room in the bottom floor in Crawford Hall didn’t even have its heat working for the first part of the year,” Lavery said. “We just got used to the cold down there until it finally got fixed.”

Lavery explained that it was surprisingly nice when it was cold in the room. He said how it would be easier to get out of bed and stay awake.

“The cold wakes you up better than any cup of coffee I drink,” said Lavery. He just “got used to it”.

“I’m from south Florida, where it is very tropical and warm,” said Ian McAdorey, 19, a sophomore engineering major from Parkland, Fla. “It’s also very humid so when I come back, this dry cold air is the worst part for me.”

McAdorey describes where he lives as “paradise,” which is why it is so hard for him to come back. He does not like the cold, he said, so the hardest adjustment is being in Vermont during winter in general.

However, McAdorey has found the positive side to going to school in the northern part of the U.S. “The cold brings new experiences with it though,” he said. “I just learned how to ice skate last semester and plan to try skiing or snowboarding.”

McAdorey says that he has never really been in an environment where people think it is fun to be outside in the cold weather. He said he thinks it is weird that people want to play in snow and ice, but became accustomed to it while at NU.

However, the subzero temperatures are still difficult to deal with. “I can deal with when it is cold,” McAdorey said. “It is the days where it is below zero that really makes me uncomfortable, but that is (the same), probably, (for) everyone here.”

For McAdorey, the worst part of the winters in Vermont is the need to bundle up with a lot of layers to go outside, even if only walking five minutes across the campus. “Once you get to where you are going you have all these clothes on and you start to sweat. You also put clothes down and lose them.”



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