A very warm (figuratively speaking) welcome back, fellow U of T comrades! I hope you’re all finding ways to fight off the cold other than lingering over sidewalk heat vents on your morning walk to campus. All jokes aside, it has been ridiculously and dangerously frigid outside lately. As if making it to your 9AM class on time isn’t already enough of a struggle, add on all the extra minutes of 1. dreading leaving the warm cocoon that is your bed, 2. making sure you’ve piled enough layers on (without looking like a living snowman), 3. dealing with appalling delays and disrupted transportation services, courtesy of GO Transit and the TTC, and 4. slowly treading on ground at the speed of two inches an hour for fear of slipping on ice and chipping a tooth.
Moreover, studies show that weather really does have an effect on mood, which in turn affects your motivation (and in turn, school work). Having spent my entire life until now living in humid, subtropical climates, the weather in Toronto has been a huge hurdle for me in becoming well-adjusted in this city. Here are a few important pointers I’ve picked up over the past couple winters – I’m definitely no expert, but I’ve somehow successfully survived despite my convictions that anything below 23º is sweater weather, so I must be doing something right.
- DON’T SKIP CLASS. If you can traverse -36º weather and a borderline windstorm to attend a pub crawl, YOU CAN GO TO CLASS. Boom.
- For the love of all that is good and warm – dress sensibly. That short-shorts-over-stockings look in the dead of winter doesn’t make you look cute, it makes you look like you don’t care about catching hypothermia. Invest in long johns and a good coat (material-wise, look for water-resistance and down stuffing – wool-blends are good too).
- Don’t skip class (generally speaking, as a habit-forming rule).
- The only time to break the cardinal rule of class-going is if you’ve come down with a fever or a bad cold. Be considerate and do your classmates a solid by not spreading germs around and blowing your nose every two minutes. Either way, you’ll most likely be too sick to pay attention. If you absolutely have to mission to campus, wear a face mask (the student clinic in Koffler puts them out for free, so don’t worry about having to go out and buy your own).
- Stay indoors as much as possible during a snow storm or freak blizzard. Know your shortcuts around campus. (Quick pro-tip: Engineering buildings are hella connected, so make use of that if a lot of your buildings require you to cut through front campus!)
- A steaming hot bowl of noodles or congee really can make a world of difference (I couldn’t help slipping this one in). Some of my favourites nearest to campus: 1Hr, Pho Hung, Kinton Ramen, and King’s Noodle.
- If you’re noticing you’re feeling consistently irritable and out of your element, you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, as the acronym so aptly forms. Many of you have probably heard of it by now (and for those who haven’t, yes, it is unfortunately a very real thing), but few realise its severity in which many of its symptoms are those similar to a major depressive disorder episode. If you’re concerned that this might relate to you, give the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) a call – it’s all covered through your health insurance at U of T.
- Set aside time to see your friends, no matter how lethargic this weather makes you. Whether it’s at a noisy, crowded bar on College, or a quick coffee break at one of the library cafés on campus, it’s important to break the cycle of wake up/school/go home and back to bed that we so easily fall prey to during winter.
Bundle up, U of T! Just three more months to go, unless Wiarton Willie decides to pay us a visit come February 2nd. On that note, take a study break and go watch Bill Murray kill it in Groundhog Day – you’ll thank me.
‘Til next time!