By Valérie Filloux

I grew up in California and had never seen snow until I arrived on campus at Northwestern. My version of a winter day was a chilly 32 degrees (only in the morning, of course) that would rise to a more reasonable 50 by the afternoon. Needless to say, I was not prepared for winter in the Midwest. If this sounds like you, don’t worry; you will get used to the cold in no time. Here are some tips that will help you face the chilliest academic quarter without fear!  

Enjoy winter activities!

Winter on campus can be really fun, and Lake Michigan is uniquely picturesque during this season. Make a snowperson (see our most recent Bienen mascot: the mega-snowperson), have a snowball fight, or take artsy pictures! One of my personal favorite winter activities is getting a hot chocolate; on-campus options include Coralie (which also has an off-campus location), Norbucks—our nickname for the Starbucks in Norris University Center, which is located next to Pick-Staiger Concert Hall—or Dunkin Donuts, which also is in Norris. Cupitol Coffee & Eatery, Coffee Lab, and Newport Coffee House are all great off-campus spots.

If you want to explore the great outdoors, Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon provides beautiful views of winter downtown. Norris University Center also has tons of winter equipment for students to rent, including snowshoes, boots, cross country skis, and more.  The City of Evanston also holds an annual Hygge Fest; it was virtual this year!

Dress for success.

I would recommend a down jacket with a bit of length and a lined hood, as well as thermals to put under jeans or leggings (or to wear as leggings!) along with a sweater to make it even warmer. Don’t forget hats, scarves, and gloves to keep those fingers and vocal cords warm for rehearsals and practice sessions!

Give yourself extra time to get everywhere.

... and take the Frostbite Shuttle! Walking through the snow and wind often adds extra time to your “commute.” Try to find different buildings to cut through as you navigate campus. When severely cold temperatures are predicted, Northwestern runs additional free Frostbite shuttles—there’s even a stop near the Bienen School buildings.

Take care of yourself.

If you are used to enjoying a little more sunshine, try visiting NU’s Henry Crown Sports Pavilion for some free white light therapy! Many students also love participating in free meditation and yoga and exercise classes, which are almost entirely virtual right now. Taking a break to gaze out at the lake from the warmth of our Bienen School buildings also does wonders to reset your mind.

Stay warm during these final days of winter! 

Valérie Filloux is an undergraduate voice and opera student at the Bienen School of Music.

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