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Walking in the snow
February 8, 2019
3 mins read

Tips for winter newbies

Canada is known for its winters, and yet every year, I see everyone in Vancouver completely lose their minds over the lightest dusting of snow.

As a prairie native, I believe that I reserve the right to judge you all (sometimes silently, mostly not so much) for your lack of winter know-how.

That said, winter has gotten a little more real in Vancouver as of late (although it is not yet colder than Mars). I can no longer make it through the whole season wearing nothing heavier than a cardigan, nor can I make jokes about going to the beach in January.

I feel that it is my duty as an Experienced Authority on Winter™ to school you all on how to handle this tiny taste of winter that makes you all go nuts.  

Function over fashion

As much as I love watching you all slip and slide through the snow in your converse/ankle booties/fluffy Adidas slides (???), I cannot tell you how important it is to wear shoes with traction in the winter.

Our notorious Vancouver rain will fall, and then it will freeze into patches of ICY DEATH. You’re looking for a shoe with a sole made of indented rubber that keeps you from slipping on ice, also known as a lug sole. Your uncracked skull will thank you.

You should also try to get your hands on a real coat—your distressed denim jacket is stylish, but it sure isn’t functional. Sometimes staying warm means looking like a marshmallow.

Person outside on a wintry day

The science of layers

This leads me to my most legit winter tip, which is based on totally real science experiments conducted by my mom: don’t keep your layers on indoors.

I know this sounds slightly counterintuitive, but hear me out! If you leave everything on when you go inside, your body will get accustomed to that extra-warm temperature and you’ll feel even colder when you step back outside.

Even if you’re just on the bus or running into Safeway to buy milk, try to remove at least your hat and scarf. The transition back into the snowy frontier of West Broadway will be just a little bit easier.

For the love of Santa Ono, bring extra socks. Everywhere.

Wet socks are the worst. (Yes, this deserves its own section. No, I don’t have anything else to say.)

Give yourself extra time

Everything takes longer in the winter. People drive slower and walk slower (again, get new shoes). It’s harder to get out of bed, it takes longer to get dressed, and even the line at Starbucks is longer (because we all know coffee tastes best when it’s the only warm thing in your life).

Start everything earlier. The world doesn’t stop just because it snowed, but it sure does slow down.

Students walking on a snowy campus

The umbrella debate

Nothing confuses me more about Vancouver than the snow umbrellas. Umbrellas are perfect for rainy weather or sunny summer patios. I get that. THEY DO NOT BELONG IN THE SNOW.

I know what I’m saying is controversial. I’ve heard every argument in the book, from “The snow is wetter here!” to “More people here own umbrellas, so why wouldn’t we use them?”

The thing is, if you’re dressed appropriately—proper jacket, hat, scarf, etc.—the umbrella does not serve a purpose. Snow is lighter than rain, so it’s easier to brush off before it soaks through your clothes.

If you’re looking for a more practical argument, it’s actually pretty dangerous to hold an umbrella when walking on slippery ground. If you slip, you won’t be able to catch yourself. Plus, flailing umbrellas are a menace to anyone in your general vicinity.

Also, you’ll look kind of silly.

Enjoy it!

All of my snobbery aside, I really do love winter. The cold is refreshing, the snow is pretty, and everything is covered in cinnamon.

So take some time out of your busy schedule of complaining about your wet socks and wondering whether class will be cancelled and enjoy it! Build a snowman, indulge in lots of hot tea, and, if there's a campus-wide snowball fight this year, get in on it. Winter can be a little miserable sometimes, but you don’t have to be!