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On Tuesday, January 26, Winter Storm Juno raged across New England with a vengeance. Although a former Harvard Dean of Students once remarked that “Harvard University will close only for an act of God, such as the end of the world,” even our doors were forced to close, leaving our students with a rare snow day. Our two graduate assistants, Sarah and Caroline, found that they spent their snow day in quite different ways…

Snow-engulfed car parked outside Andover Hall, by Caroline Matas

Snow-engulfed car parked outside Andover Hall, by Caroline Matas

Sarah Guzy, MTS ‘15:

The night before the snow day, when my roommates and I knew that we were in for a blizzard, we took stock of our supplies at home. We had an absurd amount of candles, approximately one million boxes of matches, and two flashlights. We had enough wine to last us a week, if necessary. We had a bunch of weird granola bars and one frozen pizza. We had at least ten reusable water bottles that we filled with water as we wondered where some of them had come from. We were set.

In the morning, I was excited to sleep in, but I woke up at 7:30 anyway. In protest of being awake, I stayed in bed and read the news online. Eventually I got up and got dressed in my snow day outfit: fleece lined leggings and my treasured “farm sweater,” which is a bulky and ridiculous sweater I bought  for $2 at a thrift shop when I was in high school. It’s covered in bright neon animals and barns, and I love it.

Although the two classes I was going to shop on Tuesday were canceled, that didn’t stop the professors from emailing those of us who were pre-registered for it and giving us readings to do. For one of them, Voodooizations and the Politics of Representation, I also had to watch a short zombie movie—the first Muslim zombie movie, in fact! I spent my day doing those readings and watching the zombie movie, interspersed with cleaning my room and re-organizing all of my shelves. At lunchtime, I heated up leftover chili (my secret: add sweet potatoes and corn), and settled in to take a break from being productive by watching the spectacle that is The Bachelor. Listen, before you start judging the fact that I watched it, I would like to stay two things:

  1. That’s fine, and
  2. My interest is also scholarly—I’m fascinated by the female friendships that form while the women are in competition with each other. I study gender and sexuality here at HDS, so I’m especially interested in how these women navigate their faith and sexuality while on national  television.

ANYWAY, that’s how I spent my snow day! I was going a little stir-crazy by the end, so I was happy to get back to work at the Admissions Office the next day. I was tempted to wear my farm sweater to work, but I resisted that impulse. Maybe one day…

Students trudging to class the day after Juno hit, by Caroline Matas

Caroline Matas, MDiv ‘17:

As the snow swirled down fast and thick on Monday, it was clear that all the dramatic storm predictions had not been empty threats. The HDS Admissions Office was buzzing with updates: Tomorrow the whole university will be closed, hold tight for further updates. As I walked home in the quickly piling snow, I knew it was time to make plans.

Having a snow day the second day of shopping week (a Harvard tradition wherein students can “shop” as many classes as they want before officially registering) was slightly inconvenient: It meant that any Tuesday-only classes we intended to try (for me, this meant David Lamberth’s Philosophical Reinvention of Christianity…) would have to wait for the following week. And yet, a snow day during shopping week also meant that the pressure was truly off for a day: there was not yet heavy reading to be done, there were not yet papers to write. The statewide travel ban contributed to the feeling of true freedom: there was nowhere to go, nowhere we could be expected to be, nothing we could be expected to do on such a day.

What does one do with a gift of this magnitude?

I, for one, went sledding.

Monday evening was spent planning–gathering up friends, boogie boards (to serve as makeshift sleds), and the ingredients for making snickerdoodle cookies before the travel ban kicked in at midnight, trapping us all in our homes. On Tuesday morning, the snow did not disappoint. We pulled on our cold weather gear and jumped off the front steps into a bank of snow, feeling invincible. After tunneling our way down the street to the park, we spent the next few hours sledding and rolling around in the snow, enjoying the rare gift of a day without obligations.

The snow continued to pile up around us as we played in the park. After trudging home exhausted and shivering that evening, I received the fateful email that Harvard University would, indeed, reopen the following morning. As I prepared to launch back into business-as-usual, however, I vowed to savor the last few hours of this day as much as possible: with the company of friends, some leftover snickerdoodles, and, of course, a steaming cup of hot chocolate.