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The First Snow of Their Lives

Most of the time during the dark, cold winter months in New England, one thing can be counted on: the presence of snow. People who have grown up in the region know that in New England, snow and winter are practically synonymous. Some are even fond of the stuff.

Here at Smith, students can hardly imagine a school year passing without those nose-running winds of late and the icy, drifty, sidewalk-blocking, light-reflecting, slushy snow.

But for many students here who hail from more temperate climes, the white stuff is a brand new sensation.

Last November, when Kiara Curbelo-Infante ’06 of Miami, Florida, saw snow for the first time, she was impressed. “The first time it snowed, I was super excited,” she says, “like, what’s this white stuff falling from the sky? I just wanted to play.”

Curbelo-Infante had predicted -- correctly -- an unpleasant winter this year. “I expected it to be one of the worst winters,” she says, “really cold. Coming from Miami, where it’s 80 degrees all the time, if it gets below 60, you freeze. It’s really different.”

Last winter, when Rebekah Nazarian ’05, of Fort Worth, Texas, saw snow for the first time, she didn’t quite know how to prepare -- but that didn’t matter.

“I was so excited when I saw snow that I went out there with flip-flops,” she says, “without any gloves, and dug a huge piece of snow just to feel how soft it was. I was amazed at the texture, how it sparkled and shimmered. Snow made everything so pretty.”

In contrast, Eireann Flannery, a senior art major from Half Moon Bay, California, was not prepared her first year when the temperatures started falling. “I freaked out,” she admits. “When the leaves started falling off the trees, I thought they were all dying and no one else had noticed it. I’d never seen fall before. And then the snow: I’d seen it, but had never seen it actually fall from the sky. I had to stop our entire class and make everyone look at it.”

There are no official statistics, but given the large percentage of Smith students from southern -- and even tropical -- climates, it’s likely that in any given winter, many, like these women, are experiencing snow for the first time in their lives.

Some have been surprised. Eleanor Ory ’06, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, knew Massachusetts would probably be cold when she set out for Smith last summer. But she discovered an interesting phenomenon. “It actually struck me as always being warm inside [here],” she says. “It’s always cold indoors in Florida. I went from cold to warm. I love it.”

After adjusting to and accepting New England’s typically cold weather and snow, many students come to find it fun and even refreshing. The key to enjoying it, they agree, is to know how to dress.

“I learned how to buy winter clothes, like, good ones,” says Curbelo-Infante.

“Layering,” notes Flannery. “Very important.”

“Boots. It’s all in the tread,” Ory advises.

There is no reason, these students have learned, to fear the snow, wind, sleet, ice, hail and cold. They just make sure they’re well stocked with wooly sweaters and socks. And they’re careful when they traverse the campus’ slippery sidewalks.


 
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