If you’re planning on attending one of the almost 250 institutions of higher education in the Northeast and you’re not a local, you probably have some questions about packing. Will it be cold or hot? Will I need a coat? How about a sweater? Flip flops or galoshes? The answer to all of those questions is yes. Beautiful sun, unrelenting winds, humidity, snowstorms, and torrential downpours all await you in the Northeast. You might experience all of that in one day! But don’t let that scare you. If you pack properly, a four-year stint in the Northeast will be no sweat. (Metaphorically—you will actually sweat.)
1. Sturdy boots
There’s a reason you’ll see most native New Englanders rocking some Tims or Bean Boots all year round. With wet leaves in the fall, ice in the winter, and mud season—sorry, “spring”—you need a good pair of boots that can withstand all the elements. Find boots made of heavy-duty material that won’t soak easily, and make sure they have a good tread so you spend less time on your butt in the winter. Invest in a sturdy pair your first year and they’ll last you for all four—and beyond, if you decide to stick around!
There’s a lot of in-between weather in the Northeast, where it’s not cold enough for a jacket but not hot enough to walk around in just a T-shirt. Enter sweatshirts. Any type of sweatshirt is recommended, from a cozy fleece to a sporty quarter-zip to the enviable fleece lined. Hoodies are pretty commonplace because the wind can be pretty strong sometimes, even in the summer, and hoodies do a great job of blocking it. Also, they’re super comfy on cool summer nights when you’re chilling outside with your friends.
There’s a reason people make pilgrimages to the Northeast: it’s really pretty. Like, really pretty. If you don’t plan to spend four years taking artsy pictures of that one perfect maple tree or your friend drinking coffee while bundled against the snow, you’ve got another thing coming. There are so many Instagram-able things to see and do up North, you’ll want to capture them all.
It gets pretty darn cold here in the winter, especially if you’re going to a school further up north. (Here’s looking at you, University of Maine and Champlain University!) If you think a jacket and some gloves are going to cut it, you’re wrong. You should cover your face when you go outside if the temperature is in the negatives (and it will be). Stock up on scarves or bandanas to cover your mouth and nose, especially if you plan to participate in any winter sports like skiing or snowboarding.
Honestly, most colleges in the Northeast are super old; some are older than the country old. That means a lot of campus buildings are pretty old too, and they’ve definitely gone through plenty of renovations and new construction, but they still tend to be pretty drafty. So bring plenty of blankets to snuggle under in your dorm.
No, not all New Englanders are lumbersexual hipsters or the Brawny Paper Towel mascot. We’re a region of people who like to be comfortable. Have you ever worn a flannel shirt? There’s literally nothing better. And it’s not limited to shirts. Flannel pajamas are even more amazing! And flannel sheets? You can skip all the extra blankets if you’re using those bad boys.
7. Bathing suit
There’s a pretty good chance that your school won’t have a pool, and congratulations if it does, but there are plenty of lakes and beaches in the Northeast for you to enjoy anyway. If you get to stick around for the summer, get ready to check out some pretty beach areas, spend your days at the lake, or hike to some gorgeous waterfalls.
If you’re lucky, one of your friends will even have a place on Winnipesaukee, down the Cape, in Newport, or somewhere along the coast of Maine. And maybe if you’re super nice, they’ll invite you to spend a nice weekend there. Those are the friends you keep forever.
Rain is romantic in movies and when you get to watch it fall from inside your dorm, snuggled up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. But that’s not how most of those rainy days will be spent. You still have to go to class, and if you walk around in just a sweatshirt when it’s pouring out, you’ll get soaked and catch pneumonia. Okay, pneumonia isn’t guaranteed, but it won’t be pleasant. So pack a raincoat, or an umbrella at least.
Just like onions and ogres, New Englanders have layers. Not emotionally—physically! Mark Twain wasn’t kidding when he said, “If you don’t like New England weather, wait a few minutes.”
We’ve already talked about the wind and the rain, but the temperature can also turn hot or cold in the blink of an eye. You might walk around in the morning wearing shorts and need a jacket by the afternoon, or vice versa. Rule #1: never trust the weathermen. They’re often totally wrong about the forecast because of how unpredictable the weather can be in the Northeast. Layer-able clothing is a must.
10. Adventurous attitude
Kayaking, skiing, hiking, canoeing, swimming, sledding—fun adventures are around every corner up North. Whether you take a day trip to Rhode Island just to try a coffee milk or a weekend camping trip in the Berkshires, there are plenty of fun things to do across the region. So bring your sense of adventure and not just your Netflix password.
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