So you’ve just arrived in Canada for the first time. You aren’t quite sure what to expect from Mother Nature on your first day – from what you’ve heard about Canada you’ve pictured igloos and a bunch of students skiing their way to classes. Well, never worry! This blog is all about helping you to prepare and adjust to the cold wintry weather that will quickly creep up come December.
1. LAYERS, LAYERS, LAYERS
I cannot emphasize how important it is to layer up for the winter! Unfortunately for us, there are no underground tunnels connecting the different buildings around campus, so we are all forced to trudge through the cold weather and pray we don’t get frost bite in the process. It is always advisable to wear at least two pairs of pants to protect yourself when the winter conditions worsen. I personally always have on a pair of thick leggings underneath my jeans, and also a thick sweater under my winter jacket.
Pro-Tip: Avoid wearing jeans in the winter if you’re not a fan of layering up. They absorb the cold temperatures fast and can make walking outside a nightmare for you!
2. INVEST IN A GOOD WINTER JACKET AND WINTER BOOTS
If you were confused about what you should bring to Canada from your home and what you can purchase when you arrive, a winter jacket and boots are definitely on the top of the list of things you should hold off on buying until you arrive. Most retailers carry winter jackets that are tailored to meet the weather extremes of that particular province, so, depending on where you are travelling from, don’t bother trying to purchase a ‘thick’ jacket for the winter months, as it probably wouldn’t suffice. A reliable brand of winter jackets is the Canada Goose, which are very full-proof and warm, but also on the pricier end of brands (expect to pay up to $500 for one). If that price is too steep for you, that’s okay! You could save some money and still keep warm by shopping for your coat in local stores such as Rossy, Eclipse, and Canadian Tire. I would suggest that you budget up to $150 for a good coat, as you don’t want to cheap out and shiver your way through the entire winter period. As for winter boots, there are multiple kinds which you can buy. If Antigonish doesn’t have enough options suitable for you, it would be a good idea to make a trip up to Halifax where there are several malls and shopping outlets from which you can choose.
If funds are a little tight for you, speak with an International student advisor. The advisors are very resourceful and usually have some winter clothing donated by upper year students which is in good condition, that you can make use of.
Pro-Tip: You can also buy waterproof spray from Canadian Tire to protect your shoes from wet conditions and leave them relatively unaffected by the snow.
3. LOCK YOUR WINDOWS
Yeah. This might sound strange, but it’s something that significantly helped me out during my first couple of winters! Most windows in residence will have the option to lock them by twisting two knobs at the top of the window slider, so as soon as winter hits, don’t hesitate to get that lock secured. I will, however, highlight that a good number of them will move as though to lock, but actually won’t. If this happens, you can email or call Facilities Management and they will come over and lock it down for you. This simply helps to keep the strong draft out of your room, and is especially helpful for students living in residences like Bishops Hall, where beds are mostly placed right by the window. If you really hate the cold like I do, I would advise keeping your windows locked all through winter. Trust me, you’ll appreciate this when there are snow storms and the wind is howling outside your window at 3 o’clock in the morning!
4. STOCK UP ON HOT CHOCOLATE AND SNACKS
Even for those who are not huge fans of the winter and all of the snow that comes with it, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: SNOW DAYS. You will love these! Snow days are days when the weather conditions are too harsh and unsafe for both students and professors to make it to classes. Thus, most classes are cancelled (sometimes it’s only the morning ones, and then campus reopens at noon), but the essential services on campus remain open: Morrison Hall and Campus Security. The storms tend to come at random, but are most common around the months of January and February.
Snow days are great for catching up on assignments and overdue notes, or, more likely, binge-watching movies and TV-series with your friends! It’s a good idea to stay well-stocked throughout winter, as you always want to be prepared when a snow-day rolls in, especially if you are not keen on stepping outside, even for food! You also want to keep your fingers crossed, though, that the snow days do not happen around final exam season, as this can lead to some exams being deferred or cancelled, and all you really want at this time of the year is to be done and go home in peace, sigh.
5. GET SOME VITAMIN-D
With the sunshine being replaced by grey clouds for a couple of months, your supply of Vitamin D (also known as the happiness vitamin) will be quite low! This is why it is common for levels of depression and sadness to increase during winter periods. As very few foods contain Vitamin D, it will be important to supplement your supply with some vitamins from the local pharmacy. Luckily for us, Shoppers Drugmart has flavored chewy candy supplements as an alternative to a tasteless pill – so taking your Vitamin D daily can actually be something you look forward to! Be careful to limit yourself and not enjoy them too much though, haha.
6. GO OUTSIDE!
I know, this is easier said than done. I mean, the snow is pretty gorgeous to appreciate from indoors when wrapped in a warm blanket with a hot mug of something – but playing in it is a whole other story. Think of it this way though: when else would you get the opportunity to make snow angels in the ground, throw snow balls at your friends, or use meal-hall trays as a sledge?? Exactly! So allow yourself the opportunity, even if for just one winter out of the four+ that you will experience at X, to have some fun in the snow. It will create good memories for you and your friends and will also make for great pictures to send home on your postcards. Being outside and embracing the winter can also help to relieve those feelings of depression and lowness that usually arise with being homesick in a far-away country, feelings typically worsened when the dreaded winter time comes around. Canadians are very friendly and will delight in taking you on your first ski-trip or first sledge experience, so why not give it a shot?