It was December, below freezing, and transfer student Chasen Parker’s first real winter. Enthralled by the flurries, he ran out into the street to catch a snowflake on his tongue—and only narrowly avoided oncoming traffic.
Eventually, the excitement wore off.
“I love Boston,” said Parker, a junior visual and media arts major, “but the winter weather here is just terrible.”
Parker, who transferred from Sam Houston State University in Texas, said that while preparing for the move to the Northeast, he knew he had to buy winter essentials like gloves, a warm coat and a “Russian fuzzy hat.”
Boston’s average January forecast includes temperatures ranging from 20 to 40 degrees, with an average snowfall of 43.8 inches a season.
At Emerson, where students hail from all 50 states, many come from balmier locales. For some, their time in Boston provides their first real winter experience. Twelve percent of the current freshman class arrived from California and around 19 percent of Emerson students originate from warmer climates.
One such student is Noah Pattillo, a freshman from Laguna Beach, California, whose average January temperature ranges from 44 to 67 degrees with no chance of snow and 2.3 inches of precipitation on average.
“[Boston weather is] just cold, really cold,” the theater education major said. “It’s unpredictable.”
Pattillo said he was not ready for the reality of a Boston winter. He had expectations of it gradually getting colder from the beginning of the school year to the winter, but Boston’s notoriously fluctuating fall temperatures left him worried about what was to come. Pattillo said that the first time he saw snow, from the safety of his dorm room, he was frightened and refused to leave the residence hall the rest of that day because of it.
Cassie Tatomir, a junior marketing communication major from Laguna Niguel, California, said that three years in, she still isn’t used to the change in weather each year.
“I still am shocked by it,” Tatomir said.
During her first winter on campus, Tatomir recalled quickly learning how to deal with the weather. She said that layering and buying a down jacket is key to surviving against the cold.
Manisha Tolani, a junior marketing communication major from Turks and Caicos—a group of islands near the Bahamas— said that she also was unprepared for the weather when she arrived.
“I remember when I started Emerson, I did not have any winter clothes at all,” said Tolani. “As the year started I progressively bought sweaters and winter accessories and soon, before I knew it, my entire wardrobe had transformed.”
Zachary Mills, a junior visual and media arts major and New England native, however, knew exactly what to expect.
“I always wear at least four sweaters when I go outside,” Mills said sarcastically.
Junior Nikki Stein, a Connecticut native, said the winter weather doesn’t shock her anymore because she has lived in the northeast her whole life.
Stein, a writing, literature, and publishing major, said she had two pieces of advice to students experiencing a colder climate for the first time: invest in a high quality, warm coat—and run to all of your classes.
“It’s really funny,” said Stein. “I had five suitemates from warm locations and I watched them walk out into 45 degree weather being like, ‘Is this winter?’”