Winter is a foreign concept to me.
Climate-wise, there aren’t many places quite like the Bay Area. I never lived through snow, frequent heavy rain, and temperatures below freezing. Year-round, temperatures would fluctuate between 45˚F and 85˚F, never reaching significant extremes. I never owned a real sturdy pair of boots or a thick jacket because I never needed any of these things. Almost every day, I could wear flip flops or Birkenstocks and never feel uncomfortable.
But now, my reality is the furthest thing from that.
Chicago is the city of absolute extremes with the weather. This city goes from unbearable heat during the summer to the absurd cold in the winter. And naturally, I’ve recently started a new relationship with winter: one that requires me to develop a more adversarial relationship with it. I have to reevaluate how I go about my day, realizing that there will be days where I genuinely will not be able to do anything I may want when the weather is just terrible outside.
When I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go for college, I didn’t take into consideration the climate in the slightest. To me, I wanted to make this decision within the parameters I could control. Me ignoring the weather was my way of attempting to try and avoid making a hasty justification for where I wanted to be. Do I think that was the right decision? Sure. But did I drastically underestimate how much the weather would affect me? Absolutely.
The most daunting aspect about it all has hands down been the fact it gets dark too early. There is no sunlight after 5 PM, and after living in a place not that much further south, I admit this has rocked me a bit at times. It does throw off your biological clock, and when you end up working later in the night on readings, psets, and other assignments, you just naturally feel more tired. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get to sleep a lot better this quarter, but with little to no major work to do, I know this will be even harder as we get deeper into the winter.
The actual temperature outside may never be that egregious, but time and time again, it is the wind that makes it unbearable to be outside. Lake Michigan is a twenty-minute walk away from the middle of campus, and naturally, the wind beats you over the head constantly. It gets easier to deal with the longer you live in this city, but day to day, the weather only continues to get worse the deeper we get into things.
I wholeheartedly don’t know how I’ll get through this winter, other than the fact I know I’ll deal with it just like every other California student or any student from a warmer climate. I’m ready with the thermals, the fuzzy socks, the sturdy boots, jackets, and layers upon layers. I get laughed at by my east coast and midwest friends for throwing on maybe too many layers, but please, let me live and let me get through this first winter in the only way I know how: bundled up with only space for my eyes.
Being Noah Tesfaye #114: Living Through a True Winter
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