Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent Made Bloody Miserable by York

Naomi Gildert

It’s November. The clocks have gone back. The Christmas lights have been switched on. Winter is well and truly upon us… and it’s just a bit shit, isn’t it? 

When you think about winter, your brain conjures up a nice image of cosy evenings in front of the fireplace, curled up reading a nice book with a steaming mug of hot chocolate in your hands, as snow drifts past your window. Then you remember you can’t light a candle in your room in Derwent never mind start a fire, you don’t even do your assigned readings, and the instant hot chocolate you got for 50p from Nisa just doesn’t quite taste the same. Don’t even get me started on the likelihood of it actually snowing. Winter is the season of disappointment for students, and you know I’m right.

Every morning you add another layer in the hopes of finally being warm, but then you have a lecture in P/T/005 and end up losing all feeling in your fingers for three hours. You were originally excited about the prospect of Christmas socials, until you learnt that you’ve got six of them in similar restaurants, and there’s just only so many turkey burgers one human being can eat, y’know?  

York is usually quite dry but we seem to have had our annual allotment of rain in the past few weeks, which has combined with the fallen leaves to create a thick layer of sludge on every exposed surface. First of all, it’s a total trip hazard and you’ve all almost decked it about thirty times at this point, and also, you’re spending a fortune on washing detergent because ‘tis the season to walk ten minutes in a pair of clean jeans for them to look like a dirt bike’s mudguard. 

Basically, your life has become a frozen, tundral hellscape. For some of you that will be literal if you’re unfortunate to live with people who are stingy with the smart meter and frost has started forming on the inside of your bedroom window. 

It’s this time of year when I ask myself is there anything actually good about winter in York? Everything that you originally have pinned as an advantage of lovely Jorvik in the summer becomes your worst nightmare in winter. Not convinced? let me give you some examples:

Advantage in summer: York is small enough that you can walk or cycle everywhere in the beautiful sunshine! Disadvantage in winter: cycling in this weather becomes your audition tape for the latest Final Destination movie, and if you decide to take the bus, 50 million other people have also decided to take the bus, and the buses aren’t even running. 

Advantage in summer: York has such a beautiful cultural heritage and history, let’s walk around and enjoy it! Disadvantage in winter: people think some twinkly lights make that same history Extremely Festive™, and everyone else in Britain wants to spend their Saturday walking around and enjoying it too. 

See what I mean? The only good thing about York at winter is our term finishes before December has barely started, so if you’re an undergrad you don’t have to be here for most of it. Light a candle this Christmas for your postgrad friends who have to brave the entire season on campus. They close all the bars and reduce the opening times for everything as if there’s still not thousands of staff and PGs on campus who need to eat or god forbid buy a coffee after 2pm. Arguably the only good thing about winter is gingerbread lattes and I can’t even get them when I want! What even has my £36,000 of student fees paid for?! 

What I will say though is, grouchinness aside, if by some Christmas miracle we do get snow this season, you absolutely have to make the most of it. Snow is like a really expensive concealer. It covers all the crap and makes anything look pretty. We can all agree that York is quite pretty all year round. In the snow, it looks like a bloody Christmas card. 

Snow on campus also opens up a lot of room for some serious fun. In my first year back in 2012, we had a huge inter-court snowball fight in Halifax, complete with a barricade made from Tesco delivery crates and an arms race to see who’d build the biggest snowball. My hair froze in chunks and I don’t think those leggings ever completely dried out, but it remains one of my favourite university memories. When you’re surrounded by friends, laughing so hard your voice goes hoarse, and you’re having so much fun you forget the cold, winter’s not that bad, I suppose.