Every winter, Hillsdale gets cold — really cold for those from sunny states with balmy weather year-round.
The average temperature in Hillsdale is around 47 degrees. December’s average is 20 degrees. January’s is 15 degrees. Hillsdale also gets an average of 46 inches of snow.
Students from southern states, like Georgia, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, all have to learn how to adjust to the cold and find ways to stay warm during the wintry months while they study here on campus.
Calvin Kinney, a junior and an exercise science major, said that he was not prepared the first winter he was here.
“Wearing just a jacket doesn’t work. You have to wear layers to actually be warm,” Kinney said. He also said that he wore the wrong kind of shoes, without treads, so he slipped around a bit but never fell.
When asked what he would tell potential students from warm weather states what to expect, Kinney answered: “You thought the academics were hard. It’s much colder.” He also recommended packing warmer clothes than one might think.
Hannah Molloy, a sophomore marketing major from New Mexico, said she was grateful her first winter was mellow compared to recent ones.
“Everyone said that it wasn’t that bad last year.”
Even so, the difference in climate from New Mexico is nothing short of extreme for Molloy.
“It’s a drastic difference. I’m not fully prepared for winter here,” said Molloy, who didn’t have gloves or a real coat her first winter here. One year later, she admits she’s getting the hang of it.
“When I was in MacIntyre, the AC wasn’t working during a little part of the winter and it was stuck on 65 degrees. It was so cold, and I just couldn’t handle it,” Molloy said. “I was doing homework with gloves on. I complained so much about the winter here last year that my mom sent me an electric blanket.”
Some students from warm places see positive sides to Hillsdale’s cold weather.
“I love the cold. I spent the summer here and it was amazing because I could go outside at pretty much anytime of day and walk for five or ten minutes and not sweat. That’s pretty amazing,” said Noah Weinrich, a senior from Georgia studying politics.
Growing up in a place with no snow led Noah to appreciate the winter wonderland Hillsdale becomes every year.
“I grew up with no snow — maybe one snow a year — so I love the snow here,” Weinrich said. “Two years ago, we got snow before Thanksgiving and it was beautiful.”
Weinrich realizes that as much as he enjoys the cold and snow while he’s here, he isn’t sold on the idea of settling down in a place like Hillsdale.
“I don’t know if I’d want to live here like forever and deal with the snow when I own a house, but being in college, I think it’s amazing,” Weinrich said. “I don’t have to maintain a property, so I just get to see the beautiful snow.”
Julia Pletan, a freshman from Whitesboro, Texas, said that the winter here isn’t all that bad compared to her home state. When asked about returning during that especially cold stint at the beginning of school. The first day of classes, the low was 0 degrees.
While the air is colder in Hillsdale, Julia wasn’t phased because it seems calmer than her home state, where she must take windchill into account.
“It was cold, and I definitely put on lots of layers, but it didn’t feel like my face was freezing off because it wasn’t as windy,” she said of Hillsdale’s winters.
Pletan said her mother had prepared her and her siblings for winter.
“My mom basically thinks this is the arctic north. She thinks we need to be really prepared,” she said. “I didn’t have a winter coat before Black Friday, but then I went Black Friday shopping and bought a coat so now I have lots of layers and my coat is really warm. If I’m ill-prepared, it’s my own fault.”
Pletan’s roommate from Ohio keeps her accountable by asking her if ‘she really wants to wear that,’” Pletan said. And sometimes she needs it. Pletan said that her hands get the most cold because she sometimes forgets to wear gloves while she scrapes the ice and snow off her car.
Pletan has a brother and a sister on campus: her older sister, Cecelia, a Resident Assistant in Mauck Dormitory, had a similar “first winter” experience.
“My first winter here, I’m told, was pretty warm as far as Michigan winters go, although I was pretty convinced it was gonna be full out like all the stories you read when you’re little where some girl gets lost in a blizzard 15 feet from her house and has to save everyone she holds dear or something like that,” Cecelia Pletan said. “It wasn’t like that in reality, obviously. I could walk from the library to Olds just fine.”
Cecelia says the best part of Michigan winters are the massive amounts of hot chocolate available free of judgement. She also said she likes coming back from spring break with a tan and making everybody who stayed in Michigan jealous. She says the worst part about Michigan is “the stupid wind makes you tear up like a baby.”
She’s definitely onto something: No matter where you’re from, the weather here is cold. In fact, it’s almost enough to make you cry.