I’ve never really experienced seasons before. When I can’t escape the pumpkin spice drinks from Starbucks (sorry, Dunkin is a rare commodity in SoCal) or the Pumpkin Spiced Joe-Joe’s cookies from Trader Joe’s seem to be everywhere, I guess it’s that time of year. As a native Californian, I barely noticed any change between summer and fall at home. Braving the slightly cooler weather in just a swimsuit, surfers, volleyball players, and swimmers still crowded the beaches. Fall wardrobes were for an earthy aesthetic more than for keeping warm. The palm trees and succulents didn’t shed any autumn leaves. Sure, the weather was a few degrees cooler, and the days were shorter, but that wasn’t drastic enough to transform sunny San Diego into an autumn wonderland. My “falls” felt like summer, somewhat spiced up with a bit of pumpkin, perhaps too much pumpkin, in everything, neutral fashion styles, a few brown leaves on the ground, and minute weather deviations.
Moving to Siena was a culture shock. Nothing from my hometown could have prepared me for a summer in upstate New York, let alone a fall. This was going to be my first fall at Siena, my first actual fall season ever, and I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to take it all in.
At first, I was beyond grateful for the relief from the summer humidity. I didn’t feel like I was constantly breaking a sweat or breaking out from sweat, and it wasn’t chilly enough for me to wear the one hoodie I had brought here. In fact, It was still sunny and warm enough to put my summer wardrobe to use. The six suitcases I packed on my flight to Albany were mostly full of summer attire, the only clothes I owned for my lifetime in California, so I was determined to wear shorts and tank tops for as long as I could. Hines and Roger Bacon were still baking students like bread, but at least the crisp air outside was refreshing. Despite feeling a bit disoriented in a new environment, I told myself that it wasn’t too bad.
Then, it started to rain. I hate dealing with the rain. The squeaking sounds of shoes on the tile drove me crazy. The smell of wet leaves and landscaping made me uncomfortable. Everything was just cold, muddy, and gross. I could bear the rain maybe once every three months in San Diego, so I sucked it up. As I looked out the rain-spattered window of my religion class, I braced myself to rush back to the safety of my dorm in my Crocs with no hood or umbrella to protect me. Making it back to my room with damp hair and wet socks, I survived my first downpour of rain at Siena, and I hoped I wouldn’t have to do it again anytime soon.
I didn’t luck out. To my disbelief, it poured the next day and the day after that. When the sun eventually decided to show its face, I thought to myself, “Well, it’s about time.” Finally, we could dry off and forget about rain for at least the next month. My false sense of hope was shattered as it rained more often than I anticipated. Even the days after heavy rain wasn’t so pleasant since it took a long time for all of the water to evaporate, and as soon as everything was nice and dry, it rained again. Honestly, I felt like there has been enough rain at Siena to cure the drought in California. If this was what real fall weather was like, I was sick of it.
Thankfully, the clouds cleared for a while, and I was able to enjoy the pretty change in scenery. Before, I didn’t know how I missed the most loved characteristic of autumn: the fall foliage. Walking through the Academic Quad to the rugby pitch, I was in awe. Where I came from, deciduous trees becoming vibrant red, orange, yellow, and even purple sights of beauty were unfortunately abnormal sights. The few thin trees in San Diego that briefly turned yellow before becoming bare branches with small piles of brown leaves under them could not compare to the vast, brilliant paintings of fall in Albany.
So this was fall? Looking back, I wouldn’t say that it was love at first sight with my new environment, but I was slowly acclimating to fall at Siena. Although I will always cherish summer as my favorite season of the year, I could get used to fall here. I might not be the biggest fan of all aspects of autumn, but who’s to say that I won’t fall in love with autumn at the end of my time at Siena?