Wallowing in winter term

Drew Baumgartner

Dear Drew,
Why is winter term so awful?
-Freezing Freshman
There are a lot of reasons,
Freezing, but your pseudonym
suggests that you’re most concerned
with the weather. If you
want to hear things about the
earth’s tilted axis, the jet stream,
or fronts of various pressures, you
should probably talk to someone
else. All you really need to know
is that you are now in Wisconsin,
and this type of weather is pretty
In fact, this has been the mildest
winter of the five that I have
experienced here at Lawrence, so
you should probably prepare yourself
for far worse over the next
few years.
A good coat – not to mention
hats, mittens, scarves and
wool socks – and carefully planning
your day to minimize time
spent outside can make even the
worst days pretty tolerable. For
me, though, the cold weather is
only part of the problem.
The days are much shorter
– only a paltry nine hours of sunlight
right now – than in the summer,
leading to less sun exposure,
which leads to overall grumpier
moods. The fact that all of our
time outside is spent with only the
tips of our noses exposed to the
sun only exacerbates this problem.
You may have noticed the SAD
– seasonal affective disorder –
lamps in your residence hall, in
place to help fight these “winter
I’ve found them to be quite
effective, especially if you can find
the time to enjoy yourself in front
of them – I recommend some hot
chocolate and a good book.
It’s also hard to be excited
about much during winter term.
Fall term benefits from being the
first, so everyone is excited to be
back – or here for the first time
– and are more willing to excuse
the bad parts.
Spring term similarly has the
excitement of almost being done
– everyone is looking forward to
summer break – or the rest of
their lives. Winter term has none
of these perks. We’re less excited
to see each other – admittedly
a little more now with the longer
break – and all we have to look
forward to is spring term.
I think the only solution for
this problem lies in finding joy in
smaller things. Sure, it’s too cold
to throw the football around, but
getting your friends together for a
board game or a movie can be just
as relaxing.
That reminds me: Don’t forget
about your friends. The weather
may make the prospect of heading
off to Trevor to visit your friends a
little more unpleasant, but a short
hike through the cold is a small
price to pay for actual human
Another grievance I have with
winter term is the way it disrupts
the rhythms we set up during fall
term. I get used to my schedule for
the term: the wake-up times, the
people I eat lunch with before and
after class, the direct routes across
the many lawns on campus.
A new schedule, while not
unique to winter term, always
seems the hardest to adjust to
in the second term. For this, and
most of the other problems with
winter term – everybody else’s
mood, quality of classes available,
etc. – I have little advice other
than to roll with the punches.
I realize this is terrible advice,
so I’ll leave you with some you
didn’t ask for: All in all, winter
term really isn’t that bad. Don’t
let the discouraging words of your
peers convince you that winter
term is, in fact, the worst thing on
the planet. The stigma surrounding
the term might even be the
most powerful influence on its
perception as the devil incarnate,
suggesting that if you don’t buy
into it, you might just end up
enjoying yourself.