Dear New Haven: Sincerely, a Californian

Cassandra on Old Campus, snowy

Dear New Haven,

As I write this, you are gloriously beautiful from my vantage point in my common room. The sun is shining, basking towers in its golden glow; the skies are clear blue, not a single cloud in sight. It’s hard to believe that last night, your snow blizzard raged on behind the very same windows, obscuring everything in sight. It’s even harder to believe that despite the appearances of a warm sunny day, it is currently 8 degrees outside.


weather app showing 8 degrees

I know living here is nothing to those who just suffered through the polar vortex in the midwest, where it was briefly colder than Antarctica. But you have to understand–I am a Californian, through and through. I was born in Malaysia (located near the equator) and lived in Southern California for the majority of my life. This body is not built to withstand your bitter winds that tear at my face or your intense walls of rain that drench me from head to toe. Before leaving home for college, I was petrified at the thought of living here, on the East Coast.

Stiles Courtyard covered in snow

Yet, I chose to spend the next four years of my life with you. What I saw in Yale–a lovely community of students, a support network that I will have access to the rest of my life–triumphed against the cons of the cold. I was determined to conquer my first real winter–I bought two heavy coats, many warm beanies and so many fluffy socks in advance of my move to you. I still wasn’t completely prepared.

snow at night

walkway snowy

You are penetratingly cold. My earmuffs do little to keep your frigid air from biting at my skin. And yet, on my way to class, I willingly expose my fingers to the cold when I pull off my gloves to take a photo: your crystallized trees, your snowy courtyards. By the time I plunge my hand back into my pocket I can no longer feel anything–but your beauty captured in these pictures is worth it.

I often reminisce about my first snowfall at Yale. Within an hour, the landscape completely transformed into something out of Narnia. The first-years gathered on Old Campus and pelted each other with snowballs as Christmas music played. Snowmen and other snow-animals popped up all over campus. Now, when it snows, I feel like I’m walking in a postcard: the twinkling streetlights and warm glow from behind Gothic windows are picture perfect.

Nighttime snowy walkway

snowy courtyard

You’ve made me stronger. I am unfazed by your stormy skies, power outages, and blizzard warnings. I laugh in my family’s face when they complain about the California winter (lows: 60 degrees). And now, I am about to head outside to face that 8 degree temperature, boldly, fearlessly, courageously–but on second thought… it’s quite toasty here in my room. Hmm. A cup of hot chocolate and curling up under a mountain of blankets… Maybe I’ll just stay indoors instead. Utilize the basement tunnels to grab a bite at the dining halls, or groove to the beat in the dance studio, all without stepping foot outside. Yup, it’s too cold out there. This California girl has her limits, after all.

Sincerely, a Californian

Cassandra on old campus

snow on Old Campus

Old Campus at night

small snowy park

Cassandra with Earmuffs!