Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 21, 2024


Mattoon gives her best tips on how to make it through Baltimore’s cold winter season.

You may have sweat your body weight during Move-In, but enjoy feeling hot while it lasts. Soon, we’ll see the first leaves of fall, the first frost of winter and the long wait for springtime.

I’m a Texas girl, and my Christmas dress has short sleeves and falls just to my knees. Like most of the Class of 2024, I also moved to Baltimore in the depths of January. When my friends proposed an excursion to The Charmery, I shivered the entire way there and opted for a hot cocoa instead. While in some ways winter never gets easier, I have found some practices that help me get through the season without feeling dead inside.

1. Know What to Wear

Most of my friends going to school in Texas can live out the VSCO girl aesthetic year round, wearing oversized T-shirts and athletic shorts to class every day. While in my case, once fall starts to roll around, I need to check the weather app every morning before deciding on my outfit. Deciding how many clothes you need for what temperature involves a lot of trial and error, and ultimately it depends on your body. I follow a loose system where I add a layer every 10 or so degrees Fahrenheit below 70. So, for example, I wear a light jacket if the weather is in the 50s, a coat in the 40s, an undershirt in the 30s, and so on. This article provides another useful set of recommendations depending on the weather. In addition, make sure you have a solid set of hats, gloves and scarves. You can find plenty of thinner pairs from H&M or other fast fashion outlets, but I got waterproof gloves online and could definitely feel the difference. I would also recommend getting your hands on a pair of rain boots that you can use not only for hurricane season in Baltimore but also for any winter snowfalls that come our way.

2. Keep it Bright

Did you know that at some point this semester, the sun is going to start setting at 4 p.m.? Imagine walking into the library at 3:30 p.m. and coming out at 5 p.m. to a pitch black sky. I found that I needed a lot of light to make up for the void outside my window. The lighting in Hopkins dorms is not great, but at one point I made up for it by turning on four lamps in the living room of my Homewood Apartments quad, one in each corner. Also according to Hopkins, you are allowed to place lights around the interior of windows or your room’s perimeter; they just cannot be draped or strung across the ceiling or the building’s exterior.

Beyond it being dark, winter can feel like a time when there’s little sensory input: you just feel numb. I like to make up for this with some stimulation to make myself feel good again. I’m talking lemon-scented lotion, spicy noodles or even just a soft blanket!

3. Get an Electric Kettle

Even after being a barista in Texas, I never got “hooked” on coffee. That changed during my first winter here. Imagine you wake up and it’s twenty degrees outside. You trudge through the snow to Hopkins Café, and your fingers have barely defrosted when a worker hands you a cup full of near boiling hot water. Guess what? The boiling water also has a drug in it that makes you happy!

So yeah, my caffeine addiction does peak during the wintertime. But, honestly, any hot beverage or hot food is going to feel so good and comforting right now. The electric kettle in my dorm room has been a lifesaver for preparing all types of tea, instant coffee and (in a pinch) hot cocoa! My favorite warm, dorm-friendly recipes include this three-ingredient mug cake, Kodiak pancake cups and microwave-baked potatoes!

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