What on Earth Is a Radiator? (And Other Things Law Students from the South Should Know)

Snow in Washington Square Park
Winter is coming. (Photo by Paul Wasneski)

“Wow, you came far for law school. Are you ready for winter?”

This is something I heard almost every day during orientation. Now, especially with the first snow of the season upon us, I’m hearing it again. I’m a proud Floridian and haven’t spent much time this far north. I’ve heard stories about harsh winds, feet of snow, and one broken heater. So, from a southerner to future southerners dreading that New York winter, I have some bits of advice that I’ve heard over and over the past few months.

  1. Layers!

    This is the one thing I think is most important. Even if you don’t have a big coat (which absolutely you should), layers can keep you warm even against the harshest of winds. Wearing just one more layer of anything, be it another long-sleeved shirt or leggings, can keep you warm when walking through the snow.

  1. Buy proper shoes.

    As a Floridian, I had a closet full of sandals and open-toe shoes, but when the snow comes, wearing these will be impossible. Buy at least one good pair of snow boots and lots of pairs of closed-toe shoes. Even if it doesn’t rain every day, it will be cold for months at a time!

  1. Space heaters are your friends.

    Before I came to New York, I had never seen a radiator. I had to look up how to turn it on, and then I realized that the radiators have to be turned on in the entire house at the same time. Which meant that I had to wait until the weather got cold enough to turn the heaters on in the entire house. That temperature is well below what I initially believed was cold. The space heater saved me from having to bundle up in three blankets and a sweater in my apartment.

Coming this far north can feel like another country, given that it’s difficult to find any good sweet tea and strangers never smile at me on the street, but that doesn’t mean that the winter has to be miserable. Being able to watch the leaves change colors, play in the snow, and watch as the city prepares for Christmas is a privilege. It takes only a little foresight to make sure you’re prepared when winter comes!