International Endurance – Weather Wisdom

A huge part of the typical international student’s experiences consists in facing countless novelties and learning how to deal with them, whether they are good or bad. And given that we are in Montreal and just three days ago we survived one of the (to my mind) worst days ever from a weather point of view, here are a few suggestions for those of you who almost never feel ready.

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by

Instagram @gradlifemcgill Photo by

– Don’t get discouraged.
It is easier than you think. I had no idea I could be affected so much by weather, and especially by the cold. When I lived in Milano, I had a very hard time getting through the extremely humid and hot summer, but winter was never very hard, even though the humidity could make a trivial 0°C feel like a -15°C. Then Montreal became my home and I realized that the length of the bad season here, and particularly the wind, have become my worst enemies. There is little I can do about them though, so I can just suggest you to spend time with friends when you feel blue, and hold on because summer in Montreal is pretty amazing. If it’s your first time, you’ll figure it out, otherwise you know what I am talking about.

– Look for a good piece of advice.
Before my first winter here started, I attended a workshop in McGill, called Winter 101. I was very skeptical so I went only because I had not much to do that evening, but it turned out to be very useful. It is designed especially for international students and you can find a recording here . They provide a great deal of advice, most of all the first I heard and I still remember: “Fashion is good, Warm is better!”

– It’s good to save money, but not on winter clothes.

Instagram Photo by @lidiatijeras

Instagram Photo by @lidiatijeras

I have always tried to save money on clothes, but I found out it’s not really worth it when it comes to rigid winters. You’ll just pay more in medicines and lost days of work and fun. An interesting program in McGill is the Winter Coat Project. If you are still looking for a heavy coat in decent conditions, you might want to check it out, and have a chance to find a coat for free: the program is ongoing, and it will end on the 10th of February. Otherwise, if you have an old coat in good conditions that you want to get rid of, this is your chance to help somebody else.

– Use layers.
It is something I have always done and my friends back home used to call me “little onion”, and I am not going to stop anytime soon. Sometimes you might need to have space in your backpack or bag in case you are not using all the items you have with you, but how good it feels when you start feeling cold because a bus is late or you are waiting for somebody outside, and you suddenly realize you have an extra layer to keep you warm!

– Try to enjoy winter.
Make an attempt to take advantage of the activities you are not able to do in summertime, or just take some time to pamper yourself with a nice blanket and a book, or a hot chocolate that you would not enjoy as much if it was warm outside.

Any other suggestion from the more experienced of you?
Good luck!

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