Still packing? Remember to bring snow, rain gear
As you prepare to come to Princeton, you have probably sat at home in front of Facebook stalking the profiles of anyone you know who has survived at least a year at Princeton, hoping for a glimpse into your future. You gaze in wonder at pictures of girls in sundresses frolicking along Prospect Avenue.
There is the requisite snapshot of the red-orange tree in front of East Pyne and a snow-covered Blair Arch, then back to another round of Prospect cluttered with cardigans, pastel shorts and Andre.
With your building anticipation, you internalize a myth that very few people debunk before they spend a year on campus. I am warning you now — Princeton’s weather is not as beautiful as the weather that our Facebook pictures portray.
I think one of the worst features of the Princeton climate is the humidity, and I grew up in an area in Texas that boasts a humid subtropical climate. One of the life lessons I have learned thus far at Princeton is that 98-percent humidity turns everything that is slightly absorbent into a soggy mess.
Normally, the humidity just results in some very unruly hair and smudged eye makeup. But when you arrive on campus in September, the humidity will join forces with the blazing sun. This combination should not be taken lightly.
The clothes you are wearing will be soaked through with sweat by the time you drag your second box up the stairs to your third-floor room. Don’t dress to impress until after your post-move-in shower. The same goes for preparing for your nights out during that first week on campus. You will be taking at least two showers a day during frosh week, so you shouldn’t even think about putting on your makeup and cute outfit until after 9 p.m.
Since Princeton allows few cars on campus, you will always be exposed to the elements, including rain. If you were lucky enough to visit campus when it was sunny and dry, then you are in for a surprise. Princeton is very often covered by clouds that threaten to burst at any time. Water-proof shoes will be your best friends.
All of the water seems to collect in the sidewalks, and nobody wants to walk around with soggy footwear. The rain also creeps up on the day when you forget to check the forecast. Do yourself a favor and stick a miniature umbrella in your backpack on the first day of class so that you are never caught unprepared during your cross-campus walk.
As you transition into cold weather, be sufficiently prepared. I suggest coming to college with most of your cold-weather gear. Shopping is very difficult as Nassau Street has some pretty limited options, and escaping to New York won’t be so easy once classes and activities start. The cold weather can strike at any time.
Last school year, the first snow was on Oct. 29. Though this was probably a sign of the apocalypse, try to have your coats and sweaters ready as soon as possible. At the very least you should be prepared for the winter by the time you get back from fall break. There will be even less time to go shopping during the second half of the fall semester.
From then on, it will be about five months of cold dreariness. Use your winter survival skills to get through them. Avoid the wind tunnel between the University Chapel and Firestone Library. Don’t know what those buildings are? You’ll know when your final history paper blows away toward Nassau Street during reading period. Don’t know what that is either? Never mind.
Stay moisturized and hydrated. Don’t go to State Night when you have the sniffles. If you’re wondering whether it’s socially acceptable to start wearing earmuffs, don’t worry - I’ll already be wearing them.
But do not panic. For a brief period of time in the spring, the sun will return. This warmth is fleeting, only providing us a brief glimpse of the happiness we once had. Remember that just because it is 75 degrees in March when you are in front of H&M in New York does not mean that it will stay that warm in Princeton for the rest of the semester. Sadly my warm-weather purchases from spring break didn’t make it out of the room until well into May.
Two months later, the school year will be over. You will have survived your freshman year at Princeton, successfully tackling the weather in addition to two Dean’s Dates and finals periods. Weather is a circle, and you will find yourself once again under Princeton’s sweltering humidity. This time you will hopefully be comfortable enough with your roommates to sit in your underwear in your dark common room. You may even be uploading pictures of yourself wading in the Woody Woo fountain for next year’s freshmen to stalk.
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