Learning To Enjoy BC’s Hilly Campus, Even In Winter

There are all sorts of winter activities from which I, a born and bred California girl, was denied as a child. I’ve never had a white Christmas, never skated on a pond, and certainly never gone sledding.

That last one, however, was remedied earlier this week when some resourceful friends and I grabbed a bunch of garbage bags to slide on in lieu of sleds and scampered to the nearest hill. Lucky for us, it happened to be a two-minute walk from the Mod that served as our headquarters for the adventure. We could have trekked all the way to Brighton campus for even more slope options, but why bother when Main Campus has so many?

Boston College is known for its hills. It’s the first thing people familiar with the campus mentioned when I was a senior in high school and asked them to tell me about it. While I admit to taking the parking garage elevator last year to get to class almost every day, I’ve learned to enjoy the literal ups and downs of BC’s many hills.

People say that the best part of living on Newton is that it feels like you’re “going home” after class, and living in Gabelli feels the same way. They’re both somewhat isolated-Newton, by the bus, and Gabelli, by the fact that it’s up on a hill. There’s a certain feeling that we live in our own little neighborhood up there. While living in Walsh last year was fun, being on “The Avenue,” as our Resident Director calls it, has the quiet surroundings I was used to before I went to college. It’s nice to go back to that, even if it does mean having to take a few staircases to get there.

The most infamous of BC hills is naturally that of the Million Dollar Stairs. Imposing to both visitors and students alike, the walk up the stairs can feel like scaling Mount Everest in the winter and sap the energy out of you in the humid summer. Unless, of course, you’re one of those incredible people who uses that staircase as a workout. I always marvel at them as they bound up the steps with pure determination in their eyes. It’s probably a welcome alternative to the stuffiness of the Plex once the snow melts, but I certainly won’t be trying it any time soon.

I don’t shy away from the Million Dollar Stairs entirely, though. Springtime is arguably the most beautiful time of year on our already scenic campus, and the best way to take advantage of that before it gets too hot to move is to save some time to stroll up the stairs. The feeling of a breeze that doesn’t bring the temperature down to zero and sunshine on my back after a long winter are always welcome companions, and the pink blossoms on the trees that line the way are pretty reminders that spring is finally here. I still don’t think there’s any view on campus quite like the one from the top of those stairs.

Granted, the hills are not easy to love. Whether you’re on crutches for a few days or more permanently limited in terms of mobility, stairs and views and sledding are not realistic options. It’s fair to say that BC’s campus could, in certain areas, be made more accessible.
It’s difficult enough to get used to the hills without those constraints, but it’s also worth the hassle. Yes, it’s sometimes a drag to have to walk up the stairs built into the hill near the parking garage to get to class, especially when my backpack is heavy and it’s well below 20 degrees outside. It is not, however, impossible to love. The ascent has become a part of my everyday routine.

If I could add a daily slide down that same hill into my schedule-preferably on something more durable than a garbage bag-I don’t think I’d ever complain about a hill again.

January 26, 2014