As Matt Karo ’14 prepared to leave his dorm room at Columbia University for baseball practice, he and his teammates received an e-mail from their coach notifying them that practice was canceled. The 20-degree weather and fierce winds of mid-November in New York City had forced the players to remain indoors.
“I’ve never had that happen before,” Karo said.
Karo, like many other Harvard-Westlake alumni, has had to adjust to much colder weather in college than he was used to while growing up in sunny Los Angeles. Playing baseball and therefore spending a lot of time outside has proved to be more difficult than he expected.
“Of the top 10 coldest times I’ve ever played baseball, I think nine of them have been this fall,” he said.
In order to handle the harsher climate, Karo has had to change from a practice uniform of only shorts and a T-shirt to tights, sweatpants, a thermal compression shirt and a windbreaker.
Kacey Wilson ’13, a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., has also struggled to acclimate to an extreme change in temperature.
“What I wasn’t used to when I came to New York was the amount of days you could go without actually seeing or feeling the sun,” she said.
Wilson also said that dealing with the cold is much easier for her friends from the East Coast than it is for her. Her roommate is from New York, so the chilly climate rarely surprises her, she said.
“She thinks it’s funny that I have so many different coats, and she just has this one that she wears every day,” Wilson said. “She’ll look out the window and I’ll look out the window, and she’ll say ‘oh yeah, it’ll probably be cold out today,’ and she always knows exactly how cold it’s going to be and can tell what kind of jacket she’s going to need to wear and what clothes she needs to wear. And sometimes I’ll go out to my morning classes and come back and shed my scarf or add a beanie depending on how cold it actually is.”
University of Michigan freshman Sophie Sunkin ’14 agrees that handling the weather is easier for her friends that are not from Los Angeles. However, it is still difficult for East Coast students to live in the “different kind of cold” of Michigan.
“The worst was the wind, I would say,” she said. “Because you can layer up and stuff when it’s just cold, but when it’s windy, your face gets so cold and so does your nose, and you start tearing.”
Although the harsh weather often prevents Sunkin from leaving her dorm, this can also be a benefit, she said.
“Sometimes it’s good because if you have a lot of work, and it’s not nice outside, it forces you to do your work, it forces you to stay inside,” she said. “But it’s kind of annoying because you don’t want to leave your dorm. I’ve become really close with the people in my dorm, but it’s kind of annoying when you want to go to someone else’s dorm, but it’s just a hassle.”
The weather can also make it more challenging and uncomfortable for students to walk across such a large campus. Sunkin knows students who use the car service Uber to get from class to class, she said.
“What’s normally a 10-minute walk, I know people that will just Uber there,” Sunkin said. “I’ve done it at night, but I don’t really do it to class or anything like that. I’m pretty centralized, but I know people who live far away who do it all the time.”
Wilson’s new environment has made her appreciate Los Angeles weather much more than she used to, she said.
“Me and my roommate got home for winter break last year and we were hanging out, and we were about to leave, and she was like ‘oh wait am I gonna need a jacket?’” Wilson said. “And we both looked at each other and started laughing because we were like ‘no you would never need a jacket in LA.’ Especially after coming from winter in New York.”
Daniel Davila ’14, a freshman at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, is grateful for the weather that he has been accustomed to for most of his life.
“The weather is just something you don’t have to worry about when you live in LA,” he said. “You know that it’s always going to be something that’s constant and that doesn’t affect your mood or your environment. And the coldest it gets is, like, 60 degrees, so at the end of the day, you do just get to do whatever you want to do and weather’s not going to affect you, as opposed to if you go to Michigan, where you can’t go outside when it’s too cold, you’re very restricted. But at USC you get to go about your life the entirety of the year.”
Although the weather has had a significant impact on their college experiences, all of the students agree that it was not a huge factor when deciding where they wanted to attend college.
“I was kind of in denial about [the weather] before I came and just kind of got thrown into it,” Sunkin said. “But honestly, I don’t think it should be [an important factor]. Yes, there are some times when it’s like ‘what am I doing here? I should be back in LA.’ But I’m glad I didn’t not come here for that reason.’
The students also agree that living in colder environments gets somewhat easier over time.
“I’ve gotten used to 40, where I was wearing shorts in 60-degree weather,” Karo said. “But 20 to 30, I don’t think you ever get used to it.”