There’s a beauty to the North Country. It’s usually covered in snow, but hey, it’s still beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to live, work or study here, you know all of these feelings.
1. You get excited when you start seeing Kinney’s Drug Store in place of CVS or Rite-Aid.
Kinney’s is something you’ll only see once you start heading north. This pharmacy chain is small, but homegrown, and they have great sales on necessities like groceries, makeup and health products. Bonus points if your Kinney’s takes your campus cash, like Bear Express or Knight Card.
2. Stewart’s is your favorite place on earth.
Where else can you get gas, hot dogs, and ice cream 24 hours a day?
3. You describe where your school is in relation to Canada.
One of the great things about the North Country is the isolation from pretty much everything. On my drive up to school, I see signs directing me to Canada before I see signs for my school’s town. So when you’re trying to explain to people exactly where you go to school, sometimes it’s just easier to say “Take the interstate straight north to the border and then back up about 30 minutes.” The nearest recognizable city is Syracuse or maybe Watertown, which is still about two hours south.
4. On your drive up, you will probably end up following the same car for over an hour.
I see you Route 11, and the same white Honda Civic that I’ve been trailing since I turned off 81.
5. You put your snow tires on during October break.
I always used to laugh at my mom when she set up appointments for me to get my snow tires put on when I came home for October break, but I didn’t get them on this semester, and I paid for it. I got stuck in a ditch alongside my driveway for an hour after we got fourteen inches of snow in one weekend. Pro tip: Keep a shovel in the trunk of your car, because if you live on campus, the plows will go through and back up snow behind your car, making it impossible to get out.
6. Fifty degrees is warm.
The weather this semester has been very unpredictable-- right before our fourteen inches of snow, it was hovering around 60 or even 70 degrees. So when I saw someone walking around campus the other day in cargo shorts when the thermometer read 47 degrees, I was not surprised. Also, the first “nice” day of spring is usually characterized by a glimmer of sunshine.
7. Campus is dead unless it’s the first or last two weeks of the year.
When you think of a typical college campus, you probably imagine a lot of young adults hanging out on picnic benches, talking about projects or homework, with a bottle of soda in one hand and a Frisbee in the other. And yeah, our campuses look like that... for four whole weeks out of the year. We tend to hang out inside, where it’s warm and dry, and we have access to coffee.
8. You’ve heard a horror story about someone’s hair breaking off in the cold.
My mom told me this story that she heard from someone she knew during my first year at school. He had long, curly hair and took a shower before class on a regular day in the winter. He lived in a dorm building that was close to his classes, so he only had a short walk. He walked from his room to his class, then went to shake the snow out of his hair, and his hair broke off. It had frozen solid. This hasn’t happened to me, but I have frozen my hair walking from one class to the next on a cold morning. Moral of the story-- wear your hats and scarves.
9. You don’t have a football team...
My school had t-shirts that said “Potsdam Football, undefeated since 1816.” Plot twist: Our school was founded in 1816, and we’ve never had a football team…
10. So hockey is your new favorite sport.
Half the complicated rules, three times the rowdiness.
11. You know both the Canadian and American national anthemsBecause we live so close to Canada, many students at our schools are Canadian citizens, so we honor their country as well as ours at any major sporting event, school function or graduation. By the time you leave school, you know both national anthems as well as the native citizens.
12. You've hiked at least one of the Adirondacks.
It's almost a rite of passage if you go to school this far north. The mountains are beautiful, so take advantage of the natural scenery that the North Country offers!
13. You love your school, but the weather? Not so much.
We are really blessed to have some exceptional colleges and universities in the North Country. Even though the sun may not always be shining and you'll be wearing your winter coat for six months straight, it's a beautiful region with lots of hidden gems and amazing people.