Christy Nolan—As I sit at home during my much needed winter break, watching mounds of snow fall onto my once-clear backyard, I can’t help but think back to my past three winters in Brockport. As a Buffalonian, I was raised to anticipate time for shoveling before making any plans; but for my friends from The City and beyond, nothing has ever quite prepared them for the Western New York winter weather. You will begin to hear things such as “Lake Effect”, “Travel Advisory”, “Wind Chill”, and “Cold Front” and although you may think that your Ugg boots and Dollar Tree texting gloves are enough, I’m here to tell you that they are not and to warn you about what you have gotten yourself into by choosing Brockport as your home-away-from-home.
Your schedule may say “Spring Semester”, but the snow won’t stop falling for a while
The eight-inch snowfall during this past finals week was nothing but a preview of what your spring semester has in store, and the very few benefits of global warming don’t apply to areas surrounding the Great Lakes. Even if for whatever reason the snow falls more lightly this year, it is always smart to be prepared. As a senior at Brockport this year, I can tell you firsthand that there will be snow and you will get sick of it very quickly, especially when the wind makes a ten-degree day feel like a zero-degree day. Also, when the sky is filled with windy white snow you rarely see the sun, so now may be a good time to load up on a Vitamin D supplement.
Classes will VERY rarely be canceled
I know friends who have said that their high schools would cancel classes if over a few inches hit the ground. For citizens of Western New York, we call that “Wednesday” and consider that much snow to be a blessing. Those who grew up in these conditions have learned to drive and trudge through this weather. That being said, choosing a school in this area means that you are expected to learn how to as well. I was a freshman when Brockport canceled classes for the first time in ten years. It was awesome because I got an extra day to write a big paper before bundling up with my best friends, but even then I was told not to get used to it.
Because our semester is on such a strict schedule, it is very rare that Brockport cancels classes unless conditions are deemed dangerous to both walkers and commuters. Yes, you will hear just about everyone complaining about the weather, but just because you don’t feel like toughing it out doesn’t mean that your professor doesn’t have the right to mark you absent. Some professors will email their classes privately and choose to cancel on their own, but this should never be expected. Professors around Brockport are usually somewhat acquainted with the weather and have learned how to survive it, thus expecting their class rosters to do the same. That being said, it is smart to come to class prepared for the weather to shift drastically within your fifty minutes to three hours of being there, because often times it does. Western New York is known to have seventy-degree days followed by snowfall. It’s nuts, but that’s where we all chose to live for most of the year; so it’s our own fault, really.
Give yourself extra time
It can be much more difficult to get out of bed when the world around you feels ice cold. A good example of this is how drastic it feels on your feet to step onto the infamous dorm room tile during the coldest months, so it may be useful to bring an area rug back to school with you if you live in such an environment. Also, while it is tough to escape bed, it is even more difficult to find the motivation to brush your hair and teeth and get dressed as quickly as you did when the leaves were first changing. However, if you want to pass you have to get to class (no rhyme intended), and professors still expect that to be ON TIME. So if you’re taking an 8 a.m. this coming semester (my thoughts are with you), it may be helpful to set multiple alarms beginning at 6:45 and ending at 7:15 rather than one alarm set for 7:45. I know this sounds like a lot, but trust me, I used to be a morning person and there’s something about a two-foot snowfall that makes you want to stay in bed even more than you already do and binge watch Game of Thrones rather than taking slide notes on body systems or actively participating in a Shakespearean-era discussion.
Also, as hard as our facilities team may work, they are not miracle workers, so you should anticipate trudging through inches to feet of snow to class both time-wise and outfit-wise. Now may be a good time to check out the Eagle Run schedule and see if the shuttle can be useful to you in this regard.
If you are commuter, you already know something about giving yourself extra time to anticipate traffic and coffee stops on the way to class. However, accidents are much more likely in the winter, and people drive extra slow and with much more anxiety than normal, so extra time should always be stored away for snowy mornings.
The snow doesn’t fall like your favorite Tumblr model holding a warm mug of macchiato might suggest. That being said, now is the time that you will begin to see classmates looking not-so put together. You will find that your priorities shift from caring about matching and looking presentable to something composed of: unmatched mittens, those ugly boots you swore you would never wear in public, pants that don’t tuck into those boots the way you want them to, the cheapest and warmest hat provided by the nearest Wal Mart (probably Buffalo Bills themed, even if you’re a proud Jets fan), and a coat that adds thirty pounds to both your appearance and self esteem. Although this sounds horrible, after a week or two you will find that everyone is in the same boat as you are, struggling to stay warm and saving the nice outfits for Friday nights instead.
You WILL slip on black ice, and others WILL see it
Winter weather survival requires an amount of humility unlike any other season. As sturdy as your boots may advertise as being, and as well-salted as our campus may be, they are no match for the ice hidden in the most public and populated places. So prepare yourselves for the inevitable, because you will fall.
Stock up on snacks
With the ugly weather in mind, it is not always worth it to walk to the dining hall or Trax for food, no matter how hungry you may be or how great the menu looks. This is where mini fridges come in handy. If you know that a storm is approaching, it is a good idea to head to Eagle’s Nest, Wal Mart, Wegmans, Aldi, or other convenient locations to stock up on easy-to-make snacks and meals just in case your stomach starts grumbling during blizzard-like conditions.
If you live off campus, always expect your landlord to be late
Your walkway, driveway, steps or stoop may not be salted, shoveled, or plowed in the time before you plan to leave the house whether it be for work, class, or social events. You should anticipate this and have shovels of your own at your disposal. It is also important to have your landlord’s phone number at reach in case matters get out of hand or dangerous toward you and your roommates.
In all, a Brockport winter is crazy, cold, and hectic — but it isn’t unbearable. If you are prepared, as I hope you are, you can survive it and live to see the canal refill and squirrels come back out.