Moving from a Warm Climate

After returning to her home in Hawaii, a Frances Perkins candidate emailed the FP who had taken her on a campus tour:

"What can I expect of winter in South Hadley?"

I came to Mount Holyoke after living in California for seven years and in Hawaii sixteen years before that, and I too wondered: how will I endure the winter weather, what will I wear, and how will I stay warm? Although it can be cold in Massachusetts, I quickly adapted to the climate.

Any time after mid-September it is sometimes chilly, but there are many nice warm days too. What helped me get through the fall was the beautiful scenery – especially on the Mount Holyoke campus. The coldest part of winter often begins in February, when the serious snow arrives – the kind that you have to scrape off the car before driving. I was surprised at how invigorating the cold weather can be. And when the snow comes, you can build a snowman! Actually, I've seen snowwomen here too.

Purchase winter clothing shortly after you arrive, so you’ll be ready for the cold weather when it hits. Layers are the best way to go, so you can peel off clothes when you are inside the classrooms. Stay away from acrylics, which look nice but do not keep you warm. Choose cotton or wool sweaters that you can wear a shirt under. One winter coat or jacket will get you through the winter, and a raincoat will get you through fall and spring. Gloves, a scarf, and a warm hat are essentials. When it rains, you can’t count on drip-drying here, as you can in Hawaii.

In early April wpring usually arrives -- it's time to shed the layers. The grass turns green and the campus is truly beautiful -- the crabapple trees flower and the daffodils blossom. The climate in New England is full of surprises, but the changing weather is something most of us enjoy.

Theresa Chamberland, FP '98