A Southerner’s Guide to Ithaca Winters

Matthew Knight ’19 is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is from Atlanta, Georgia and serves as an intern in the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

Back when I was applying to Cornell, one thing that was mentioned a lot was the harshness of the winters. As a native of Atlanta, that was a little scary for me since the coldest day in my history was only 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters back home only required a light jacket and a short sprint to the warm car. Never fear, it doesn’t matter if you are from the Southwest, Southeast, or a warm climate overseas; I have trudged through feet of snow and shivered enough on walks back to my dorm to bring you A Southerner’s Guide to Ithaca Winters.

1. Get some thick sweatpants.

Nothing helps you survive the winter like some thick sweatpants. Make sure that they feel a little baggy, so you can add some layers on underneath like leggings and/or thick basketball shorts. It also helps if the pants have the same material on the exterior as a wind breaker.

2. Put on arctic gloves to keep the hands toasty.

For finding a nice pair of gloves, put on the glove and run it under cold water, if you can feel your hand getting wet or cold, then that pair isn’t good enough. If you can’t do that experiment, then the gloves should look like little boxing mitts ready to knock out winter.

3. Wear hats and scarves to protect your cranium.

These will save your face from becoming a popsicle. Same with sweatpants, thick hats and scarfs are a must. You could even add a balaclava (a.k.a. ski mask) for added warmth.

4. Choose your shoes and socks wisely.

I understand that sometimes your shoes are the best part of your outfit. However, if they are soaked through, then it won’t mean anything but cold toes. Try to have sneakers with a rubber or water-resistant exterior. It rains a lot at Cornell, and soaked shoes and socks suck. Combine that with a pair of wool socks to prevent your feet from feeling like bricks while walking on campus.

5. When it snows, trade the shoes for some boots.

If you are from a warm climate, this may be your first time seeing snow, or you have never seen this much snow. It snows at Cornell a lot, or at least a lot by my standards. Unlike back home where snow means everyone starts panicking, the Cornell community is equipped to handle it. To navigate this frozen powder, you need a good pair of winter boots. I recommend a pair that goes halfway up your shin.

Additional Tips

– For additional warmth on the upper body, invest in some long-sleeved thermal shirts.

– For a more stylish look between -10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, a pea coat can satisfy your needs.

– Remember, be warm over everything. Sometimes it is better to wear the bulky winter coat instead of the pea coat.

– You can also wear thinner finger gloves underneath your arctic gloves.

That is all I have for you. The Ithaca Winter is not an unconquerable monster; just confront it with the necessary gear. I have survived three winters and counting. You can, too. Don your coats, put on your gloves, and go out and enjoy the winter wonderland of Cornell University.