Barnard, Rain or Shine
In my home state of Arizona, weather tends to range from “can literally fry an egg on the sidewalk” to “kind of cold, I guess.” Having grown up in a desert with 299 days of sunshine each year, I was a bit apprehensive about the colder climate that awaited me when I moved to New York for college. Would I adjust to the changing seasons, or would I be doomed to hide out in my dorm room every time the temperature dropped below freezing?
With a year and a half of experience under my belt, I’m happy to report that the adjustment wasn’t as hard as I feared. I might yearn for sunny days a bit in the dead of winter, but honestly, having seasons is fun! To alleviate the concerns of any other future Barnard students who might be in a similar position, I’ve made a guide on how to survive and thrive in all kinds of weather, both on Barnard’s campus and in the city.
This is objectively the easiest weather to find something to do in. There’s not much that you can’t do around here when the sun is shining.
At Barnard: Relax in the sun. As soon as the weather gets nice, every open space on campus is full of people reading, playing games, napping, and just enjoying themselves. (Columbia’s Low Plaza isn’t nicknamed Low Beach for nothing.) I think the most unexpectedly useful thing that I brought to college was a spare blanket that I spread out whenever my friends and I want to hang out on the lawn. Especially with the newly renovated green space on Barnard’s campus for maximum sunbathing, just relaxing outside is a great way to pass an afternoon!
In the city: Explore a new neighborhood! This one sounds self-evident, but there’s so much to do on campus that it can be easy to get caught in the Morningside Heights bubble. If the weather is nice and you have some time to spare, try exploring a part of the city you haven’t seen. On one of the last warm days this fall, a friend and I went to Brooklyn’s Industry City and had an incredibly fun day exploring all that the space had to offer. To put it simply, leaving campus can feel good! Getting out into the real world and seeing a new part of the city really makes you appreciate going to school in one of the most exciting cities on Earth.
Ah, my least favorite kind of weather. While a torrential downpour can be fun, drizzly or moderate rain is just plain unpleasant, and it’s natural to want to curl up in bed with a laptop all day. This certainly isn’t the worst way to spend a weekend, and sometimes you just need to veg out, but if you can’t or don’t want to spend the day in your dorm, here are some tips for getting by:
At Barnard: Learn to use the tunnels. Okay, so maybe this one isn’t fun, per say, but it will make your day easier. Did you know that you can make it all the way from Milbank to Barnard Hall without going outside? Sure, it’s not the most scenic way to get around, but in bad weather knowing your way around Barnard’s lower levels is a real lifesaver. Columbia has an extensive tunnel system too, although much of it is inaccessible. The fabled Low-Butler tunnel might not actually exist, but some buildings across the street can definitely be tunnelled between!
In the city: Go to a museum! There are over 80 museums in New York City waiting to be explored. As incredible they are, in a city with as much going on as New York, museums have a tendency to move to the back-burner of your bucket list. A rainy day is a perfect time to change this. Even if you don’t think you’re a museum person, there are so many options that there’s bound to be something that matches your interests. Of course there are the classics, like the Met, the MoMA, and the Museum of Natural History, but there are also science museums, food museums, museums about New York, and many more. Take it from me--my childhood museum-going experience was a series of me getting reluctantly dragged through exhibits by my mother, but now that I can visit whichever I want, at my own pace, passing the day in a museum is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend.
The cold can be brutal, and a heavy snowfall is bound to be intimidating to students from warmer areas. But rather than hiding away inside, I think that the best way to deal with this weather is to embrace it. Sure, any good snow day ends with a relaxing night of drinking hot chocolate with your friends, but that warm drink tastes best when you’ve earned it after a day outdoors.
On campus: Barnard and Columbia students love the snow. Recent notable snow-day activities have included a school-wide snowball fight outside Butler Library, the construction of a massive igloo, and snow volleyball (okay, maybe the last one was just some friends and me). Alternatively, grab a friend and build a snowman or make some snow angels. And if you really don’t want to go out into the cold, find a cozy spot in a nearby building, find yourself a warm drink, and watch the snow fall.
In the city: If you really do hate the snow, this might not be the best time to venture out into the city. But if you’re more like me, and get excited every time you see the snowflake icon on your weather app, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it off-campus. A quick Google search will point you to the best sledding or ice skating spots in the area, and Central Park in the snow is gorgeous. Not all of New York in the winter is a picture-perfect as movies make it look (hello, grey slush), but it can be incredible.