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Let it Snow!

Worried about the snowy Minnesota winters? Kelly highlights how Carls embrace the chilly temperatures.

Worried about the snowy Minnesota winters? Kelly highlights how Carls embrace the chilly temperatures.

Coming from Illinois, I was not overly concerned about the Minnesota winters. The main difference I found, pointed out to me by my cello tutor, Tom, is that it is sunny in the winter in Minnesota. In Illinois, the winters tend to be drab and depressing. In Minnesota, however, the sun gets so bright in the winter months that I wear my sunglasses outside. If that is not enough sunlight for you, Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) offers free light boxes for students. 

Ice sculpture
This winter term Carleton set up ice sculptures outside of Sayles Campus Center before Valentine’s Day. My friends and I got dressed up in our best red and pink outfits and walked around the sculptures before getting dinner and watching a cheesy rom-com.

Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland  

People here embrace the winters wholeheartedly. Many students from Texas and other warm areas enter Carleton scared of the winter with no winter jacket or too large of a winter coat (think the kid from A Christmas Story who could not put his arms down). By their senior year, these students can be seen cheering at the first snow fall with the rest of us, and claiming that they love the snow because they are from Minnesota (it is hard not to feel at home in Minnesota and Carleton when everyone here is so “Minnesota nice” and welcoming). 

Carleton students embrace the winters by snowshoeing and cross country skiing through the Arboretum. A popular way to fulfill your Physical Education requirement is by joining the Nordic skiing club in the winter. There is also downhill skiing near campus as well. 

skiing in arb
The arb boasts 15 miles of trails that can be used for winter recreation.

Other fun activities include ice skating, hockey, or broomball on the Bald Spot (our campus quad area where students gather to play sports, study, and hangout). In the winter, the Bald Spot is flooded to make two ice skating rinks. Students, faculty, staff, and Northfield kids gather on the rinks to play friendly games of hockey or broomball. What is broomball you ask? Well, it is one of Carleton’s many quirky traditions that involves flat-bottomed shoes, a gym class dodgeball, and an oddly-configured broomstick. Broomball is so popular that even the senior administration forms a team. A goal of many Carleton students is to score on the president of the college during a game of broomball.

An intramural broomball match.
ice skating
My friends from Club Soccer ice skating together. Skates, snowshoes, and skis can be rented from the Rec Center for free. Carleton also provides winter gear for students who need it.

A more spontaneous winter activity you will find all over campus are the snow people and other structures students build. This year there was a giant octopus taking up most of the Bald Spot and a complex castle that managed to stand all of winter term on the Mini Bald Spot. 

Another popular activity is sledding on Bell Field. Students use whatever they can find to propel themselves down the hill. On the weekends you can see little kids and their parents sliding down the hill which is always fun to see. 

For an impromptu floor activity, my residents and I went sledding and built snow bears on Bell field. My resident, Chris ‘24, managed to sled down the hill on his frisbee he received during New Student Week! Afterwards we got lasagna and hot chocolate from the dining hall and made chocolate chip cookies on our floor’s kitchen.

Book Across the Bay, hosted by CANOE (Carleton Association of Nature and Outdoor Enthusiasts) is another popular winter event. CANOE buses students to a frozen lake Superior where they walk, run, or ski across the lake lined with lanterns. This year, due to the pandemic we could not book across the bay, so instead, we booked across the arb! My friends and I laced up our snow boots and trudged off trail through the arboretum. It was a little too dark for my liking even with the full moon, so my favorite part of the evening was eating warm quesadillas in Sayles afterwards.

Book Across the Bay
A beautiful photo taken by my friend Emily ’23 at Book Across the Bay 2020.

But Baby It’s Cold Outside

Not a fan of the outdoors? That’s okay, because my favorite winter Carleton tradition happens indoors! Over midterm break (classes are not held that Monday) of Winter term the aptly-named Midwinter Ball takes place. Sayles-Hill Campus Center is transformed from a café bustling with people doing homework and playing pool to a grand ball filled to the brim with students in dresses and collared shirts dancing to pop music. In other rooms in Sayles you can find students salsa dancing and swing dancing to a live band. Administrators stand in the post office handing out free pizza. There are also shuttles running across campus that night so no one has to worry about getting their fancy outfits snowy. 

Other popular indoor activities include intramural sports, drinking hot chocolate, movie nights, and playing board games with friends. The SWA dogs hosted by the Office of Health Promotion (OHP) continue to come in the winter if you need a little pick me up. The Student Activities Office (SAO) also puts on uplifting events such as the Paint and Sip event I attended virtually this past winter. 

Mid Winter Ball
My friends and I taking a break from dancing to smile for a picture at the Midwinter Ball.

Whatever your winter speed, you are sure to find an engaging way to pass the time. Whether it be on a nice walk outdoors, or playing board games inside, the winters at Carleton are not only manageable, but enjoyable! 

Kelly in snow
Me posing in my Carleton gear after an indoor soccer practice. Behind me you can see the hill students sled down and the snowy soccer fields, tennis courts, and arboretum in the background. Post-soccer practice snowball fights are a must on beautiful nights like the one pictured.

Kelly is a rising Junior at Carleton. She is a Psychology major and is considering a minor in Cognitive Science. Her other academic interests include Neuroscience and Educational Studies. Kelly considers Northfield her home as she is spending the summer here as an Admissions Fellow. Outside of the classroom, Kelly enjoys hosting programs for her residents as a Resident Assistant, planning practices for the Womxn’s Club Soccer team where she is one of the captains, and playing the cello in the Carleton Orchestra. Meet the other Bloggers!