Halloween is over, Thanksgiving break is in two weeks, and that means one thing–Rochester winter is on the horizon. I’m not quite the kid from the book Hatchet, but I’m from somewhat nearby (#BillsMafia), so let’s say I know how to handle myself in the elements. Believe it or not, I actually look forward to winter in Western New York each year, because I love the holidays, Tim Horton’s, being perennially disappointed by local sports teams, etc. However, like everyone, I get my fill once it’s 5 degrees outside and it hurts to breathe. This is more or less how I’ve learned to handle the 3-5 months that are like that.
Don’t go outside–this one sounds tough, but it’s really not. That’s the beauty of it. When I lived in Chambers, my rule of thumb was that if you can see your breath while inside campus housing, you should probably take a personal day (“Al, you went here last year?”). Our school wouldn’t cancel class if it were like the movie Dante’s Peak, much less some lake effect snow, and even then they’d still just let the sidewalks take care of themselves for months at a time anyway. Unless you’re going skiing, being inside is always better than the alternative, and the earlier you buy into that, the better.
Don’t act surprised–Didn’t you hear the “Rochester has two seasons, winter and construction” joke on your tour? HAHAHA, yuk it up all you want while you still remember the sun and don’t look like the dude from Powder yet. It’s all fun and games before UR ropes you into paying a zillion dollars to come here, but this is no joke–Rochester winter will break you. Every year there are people who act shocked when they don’t see natural light from Thanksgiving till Easter. At least be prepared. You don’t want to be mistaken for one of those winter warriors that wear gym shorts or flip flops when the day has a high temperature of two. It’s freezing, and you’re fooling nobody.
Have no friends–the more friends you have, the more places you have to go, and the more places you have to go, the more you have to go outside. The fall was like the preseason for your social life, and now is the time to make cuts. You’ll want to keep your friend group to single digits at least. If you have a significant other, you should probably take 2-4 off that number, depending how much the relationship has already alienated you from your existing friends. You may as well get on board now, and wait until after spring break to meet people.
Go somewhere that isn’t freezing–you can go on a vacation with your family that is probably sick of you by now, or you can be a savvy veteran and find a significant other that will pay for it. I see people at this school going to like Croatia and shit at the most ridiculous times like President’s Day. These are the type of people you need to find. I can be nice enough for a weekend to help buy you a little time in convincing your mom that you won’t die alone. Fair is fair and this is America, so last I heard this sort of thing flies. If UR hasn’t taught you by now to snake it till you make it, you haven’t learned anything here.
Embellish–let’s be honest, most of the people from your town probably think you go to RIT (or Rochester University?), and none of the ones that actually know what UR is are impressed anyway. All they know is that Rochester is cold, so take this and run with it. Might as well use this as an opportunity to make them think you’re tough, tell them it builds character, etc. The point is, you can make up just about anything and people will believe you, like that the administration once sent an email to everyone to say to bring a shovel to class if necessary. If you take this far enough, boom, you’ve got your small talk covered for all of winter break! Now everyone will be too distracted to ask about all that weight you’ve gained since they last saw you.
Give up–I’m not saying just to drop everything and stop actually doing school here. I know a few people that have tried that at UR, and let’s just say that their lives are in complete shambles now. Very depressing stuff. But if it’s below freezing, there is no need to wear pants that require a belt unless you’re giving a presentation, interviewing for a job, or meeting with your parole officer. You’re probably the person that sits in the front row of a 300 person lecture and asks a question with one minute left that has nothing to do with the upcoming exam, and like sitting in the front row, this won’t actually help you in life. Throw in the towel and wear sweatpants with the rest of us.
Transfer–this is a big one. Everyone complains about U of R for one thing or another, but few have the courage to back it up. We all reach the point in which we dream about transferring somewhere with an acceptance rate higher than the average temperature in December (personally, I like to picture myself at Louisiana State–geaux Tigers!). This usually comes during fall semester finals, the end of January, or when it snows on D-Day (full disclosure: it was 35 degrees at my sister’s graduation here in ’09, and I promised to myself that I’d never go here. Whoops!) I transferred twice in high school, and I turned out sort of fine; don’t be afraid to have an itchy transfer finger. Speaking from experience, it will make you better at meeting new people, something you won’t be doing here by the end of sophomore year anyway. You probably won’t end up at a school as *prestigious* as UR, but if you let winter get to you, you won’t care.