February sunset on the CamEsther Arthurson with permission for Varsity

This week, some people in my cohort gathered in our friends’ apartment to cook a warm comfort meal: on a cold day, that meant some yummy curry. As we weaved in and out of conversations for the night, we settled in on a debate about the weather – I promise we like each other!

As a native-born Californian, when I moved to Cambridge almost everyone wondered: “How are you handling the cold?” To make it easy, my response has been something along the lines of “I’m not” or “I don’t know how you guys do it.” But truthfully, that’s a sort-of-lie. Although California stays warm year round – the Hollywood movies do live up to the hype – I spent the last four years at my university in Upstate New York, one of the coldest parts of the continental United States. Compared to Upstate New York – which regularly boasts temperatures down to 0°F (-17.7°C) – Cambridge is a breeze.

 “Fill up your days with friends – they’re the best way to pass the winter”

At dinner, my friends, all creating lists of their dreams and deal breakers for their next place post-Cambridge (our course is only nine months long), came to the conclusion that Cambridge would be the perfect place to settle down – if it wasn’t so cold. As one of two Californians in the room, they were surprised when I responded that after four years (going on five) living in a place with four seasons, I’m a big fan of winter. I was almost fooled last week with the budding warm weather, but as the frost on my way to the gym this morning warned me: who actually knows when it will be summer dress and flip flop season again? So, here’s my catch-all on how I am surviving (and maybe even thriving!) through Cambridge’s cold winter.

Keep active:

Fellows and Frost on King's lawn onlyEsther Arthurson with permission for Varsity

This is a big one (and hard one)! Believe me, when it’s cold out, I am the first to opt in to staying in my pyjamas all day and laying in bed. But, staying active and moving is a great way to keep your mental health in check through the cold. Here are some of the ways that my Cambridge friends are staying active this winter: teaching (and attending) local yoga classes, running (some even training for a marathon), joining their college rowing (and other sports) teams, and choosing to walk/bike to class. Find a way to keep your energy up that feels good for your body and makes you happy. For me, that has been tag-teaming with a friend to the gym before class in the mornings!

Jack’s white chocolate and cardamom hot chocolate:

Everyone needs a good, warm, winter snack staple. I recommend Jack’s white chocolate and cardamom hot chocolate. It is quite literally one of the best hot chocolates that I have ever had – perfect for motivation to get through a late night study session or to warm up your hands on the way home from class. Next time you’re at Jack’s Gelato, skip the gelato cliche and opt in to their hot chocolate winter treat.

The North Face beanie:

This is a new one for me. Despite having lived in the cold for the past few years, this was the first year that I bought and wore a beanie – my pick was the classic black North Face one. The UK’s dry, cold and strong winds called for it! The cold is here to stay and though that might be devastating to your eclectic fashion style, it is worth it to dress accordingly. Wear the tights under that skirt, wear a thermal shirt under your t-shirt, and (above all!) wear some gloves. It is worth it to stay warm and healthy – the cute clothes will be waiting in your closet, ready to dawn for pool parties and May Balls.

Study (and party!) with friends:


Mountain View

Spilling the tea on the UL Tea Room

As an introvert, I could spend an entire weekend in my room if I wanted to. But, winter – more than ever! – is the time to push past that. Spending time with people makes for a fun and enjoyable season. If looming Week Five is stressing you out, ask a friend to join you for that late night study session! Fill up your days with friends – they’re the best way to pass the winter. Stay in for movie nights, cook dinner together, go on lunch dates, take trips to London, go to college formals, attend JCR and MCR events, check out that cool society, and go to that party you’ve been on the fence about.

And if none of that works, remember: there are kids in New York who have to deal with -17.7°C weather. I’m just kidding, but in all seriousness: the winter is as fun as you make it. And Cambridge gives you the best location to enjoy it: you’re within a few miles of all your close friends, you get to walk through the most beautiful frosted trees and slightly frozen rivers each morning, and it’s the only place/time of year where you can boast your – just a little cocky – college-crested puffer. Happy winter!