Purple Box: Winter Activities

For warm-weather natives, experiencing the Williamstown winter for the first time can be a shock to the system. Fortunately, it’s still possible to have a blast, even if you’re not accustomed to sub-zero temperatures. We interviewed four fair-weather maidens who’ve discovered the secret to January bliss: picking up winter-friendly hobbies. Here are some of the activities they recommend to help newcomers acclimate.

Get Shutter-Happy:
We all know that Williamstown winters are beyond picturesque. For Arsema Berhanu ’14, the snow-covered landscape offers a constant photo-op. The Botswana native had never lived in a cold climate until she attended boarding school in Pennsylvania last year. “It’s really beautiful here,” Berhanu said. “I love taking pictures of the snow – snow on the trees, snow on the ground, people throwing snow, people eating snow, all of that!” Be sure to take pictures of all the ice sculptures, igloos and snowmen your fellow students create. If you’re a Facebook junkie, create a winter album that friends and family can view online. To make friends back home really jealous, swap your current profile picture for a photo of you and Frosty.

Be a Scholar of the Snow:
One Winter Study course offers students the opportunity to investigate winter from an insider’s perspective – by braving the cold and hiking. “Winter here is intense, so different from Miami,” says Melany Funes ’14, a student in a class called “Winter?!” sponsored by the environmental studies department. “Class is very hands-on. We take snow samples, track animals and look at winter adaptations in animals and plants.” The class even held one overnight camping trip at Savoy Mountain State Forest. “It was intense,” Funes said. “We stayed in cabins, and when we woke up, it had snowed like two feet! I’m definitely a warm-weather person at heart, but it was really fun.”

Get Physical:
If your jeans seem snugger post-holidays, don’t despair. Burn off blubber with WOC outings and wintertime P.E. classes. For a 150 lb. person, downhill skiing burns 408 calories per hour. Never hit the slopes before? No problem. “I had never seen snow before this winter, and I went skiing for the first time last week,” said Anshita Khandelwal ’14, who hails from New Delhi. “It really wasn’t as hard as I thought. I fell once the entire time.” Not bad for a novice.

If skiing doesn’t strike your fancy, try snowboarding or ice skating (which burn 396 and 387 calories per hour, respectively). Or, if you’re especially adventurous, take advantage of outdoor trails. “I enjoy running Blair Road … now that I’m used to my feet being numb,” says Maya Harakawa ’12, a hurdler for the track team. “It’s a really pretty view from the top of the hill, especially in the snow.” Whatever winter sport you choose, staying active is sure to invigorate your mind and body. Unless of course you choose to . . .

Some Mission residents simply see no reason to leave the building. “I’ve gone as long as three days without going outside,” said Glendale, Calif. native Narah Moon ’14. And with food, friends and festivities just a few steps away, why brave the cold? “Always remember that there’s a dining hall right downstairs,” Moon said. “Look out the window when you get up. If it looks too cold, don’t even bother getting dressed. Just throw on sweatpants or pajamas and you’re good to go.” But don’t be too quick to vilify the snow. “My philosophy is 80-20,” Moon continued. “Twenty percent of the time, I’ll get out there and enjoy the weather. But the other 80 percent, I prefer to appreciate the snow from a distance.”

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