Winter 101

Guys, it’s almost that time of year again.

You’re probably thinking:

‘Oh, it’s almost finals season!’ or 

‘Oh, it’s almost Christmas!' or 

‘Ooh, it’s almost the holidays!’ 

Me: ‘Oh god….it’s almost winter.’

single digit temperatures. it's official.

And guess what I woke up to on Sunday morning?

THAT'S RIGHT. HAIL. HAIL IN MY BACKYARD *shudder shudder shudder*

Here’s the reason behind my less-than-enthusiastic response to the upcoming season:

I didn’t grow up in Canada. The “winter” temperatures I experienced for the last nineteen years in Karachi only ever went down to around 19° C in the mornings, only to jump back up to a warm 25° C come afternoon. Temperatures have never, in all the city’s history, dipped into the negatives. So you can see just how wholly unprepared I was for the piles of snow, ice and bitingly cold winds Jack Frost unleashes on Canada every winter.

First-year international students, if this is your first winter in Canada, here’s a few things I found handy when trying to acclimatize to the weather:

  1. Knowledge is power

Warning: when it comes to winter, you may have to tweak your expectations just a tiny little bit. As much as we all wish winter was just cute sweaters and hot chocolate and pretty blankets of snow, the reality is, things can get ugly.

expectation       source:
reality. Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese,National Post.
Photo Credit: Darren Calabrese,National Post.

So you always want to be two steps ahead. Investing in a good winter jacket and boots is key. I know they can be pricey but believe me, you’ll need them. If you’re thinking of purchasing winter gear when you go back home for the holidays, unless you live somewhere that gets as cold as Toronto, it’s probably not worth it. I bought a ‘winter coat’ from home thinking it seemed warm enough to last me until snowfall began. It barely lasted through October’s light chill.

Buy the heavy padded jacket. You’ll thank me later. Once that’s done, it’s always good to layer up just in case you feel extra cold. Take it from the girl who wore five layers of clothing the first time it got to -1 degrees. Some more of my winter essentials include:

a giant scarf to protect my face from the wind,

an abundance of tissues tucked away in pockets for the inevitable drippy nose I get after being exposed to the cold,

and onesies. Upon my arrival in Canada I was introduced to the concept of onesies, a piece of clothing I had thought was strictly reserved for tiny humans but... apparently not! My fleece-lined onesie has hands-down been the cosiest thing I have ever owned and has been instrumental in keeping me warm on those chilly winter nights.

      2. Watch out for….


One of the many ways in which Mother Nature enjoys messing with us during the winter is windchill. Your iPhone tells you it’s -25 degrees? Guess what? With windchill, it feels like -40 degrees. This magical ‘windchill’ is the "effective lowering of the air temperature caused by the wind” and basically means that because it’s windy out, you’re going to feel a lot colder than the predicted temperature is showing. So I like to make it a habit to check the temperature (windchill numbers and all) first thing in the morning so I know to dress appropriately).


A thin coating of transparent ice on roads and pavements turns these surfaces into Potential Slip Zones for even the most graceful of walkers. I’m told that one should adopt a certain gait to avoid slipping on the ice- basically, walk like a penguin.

source: Tablet Infographics
source: Tablet Infographics

3. Staying active

Beds suddenly seem ten times more inviting when it’s cold outside but spending all day holed up in my room is never good for my mental and physical health. As much as I hate the wind, I’ll sometimes take a short jog or walk outside to wake me up and get my blood flowing.

4. Have fun!

Don’t see winter as a scary monster that only wants to freeze your fingers off and laugh as you slip on the ice. There’s lots of ways to have fun even when's it's cold outside-  (campus-wide snowball fights being one of them)

There's also loads of fun things to do indoors- swimming in U of T's heated indoor pools, checking out Toronto's museums, indoor greenhouses, free movies, concerts and of course, game nights galore.

Also stay tuned for UTSU's annual Winter Week of Welcome!

Stay warm, U of T!

2 comments on “Winter 101

  1. I can totally relate to this post! As someone who also grew up in a warm climate and had to adjust to harsh Canadian winters, I found these tips really helpful. It’s definitely important to be prepared and stay active during the colder months. And embracing the fun side of winter can make the season a lot more enjoyable.

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