How To Survive Your First Winter in Toronto

You’ve finally arrived in Toronto. It’s September, and you think, “wow, the weather here is great! It can’t possibly get much colder!”

We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but it’s going to get really cold, really fast.

Luckily for you, we’ve got some tips to help you survive. Follow these instructions and you’ll be sure to make it through Toronto’s ridiculously harsh winter.

Dressing for the Winter:

Things you’ll need:

  • 1 warm, waterproof jacket
    • This jacket should be one that you’ll be comfortable with wearing almost daily. Most people opt for puffy goose down jackets and parkas, but there are plenty more varieties of apparel out there. Your winter jacket may be extremely costly, but it’ll probably last you for years and keep you warm all winter. Don’t be afraid to splurge on this!
  • 1 pair of waterproof, non-slip winter boots:
    •  It is very common for people to slip on ice while walking to class, so make sure you invest in a good pair of boots. Buying a pair of waterproof boots is also extremely crucial because wet socks are the absolute worst and can make your toes freeze instantly. Your UGG boots will neither survive, nor help you survive. These may take a while to break in, so don’t give up on them if they hurt at first. Wear thick socks!
  • 1 pair of gloves
    • Get yourself a good pair of gloves. Hand knit gloves tend to have gaps in the yarn, which might not do a great job of keeping your hands warm. You’ll want a pair with lining to keep out the cold. If you are someone who likes to text while walking, you can even look for touchscreen gloves, which allow you to text while wearing gloves.
  • 1 toque, beanie, or hat
    • Cover your head from the elements! This is especially important if you tend to air dry your hair. Your hair WILL FREEZE and become stiff.
  • 1 thick scarf
    • Thick scarves are great because necks tend to be very sensitive to the cold, so no matter how many layers you’re wearing, you’ll still be chilly.

When purchasing winter clothing in countries outside of Canada, you may find that the winter clothing from other countries may not be sufficient. (E.g. If you purchase a winter coat from a country with a warmer climate, it may not suit the needs of a Canadian winter.)

Special Starter Kit Tips:

  • Be very careful when walking around on campus. Sometimes the sidewalks are frozen and aren’t salted. It’s not uncommon to see people wiping out on their way to class.
  • If the weather is uncharacteristically bearable, take that opportunity to go out, run your errands or pick up groceries. Chances are, the nice weather won’t last long.
  • Don’t be afraid to layer your tops and bottoms! It’s not lame because everyone does it!
  • Don’t forget to wear deodorant during the winter! Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you won’t sweat!
  • Moisturize your body and face (including lips) constantly. Toronto winters wreak havoc on unprotected skin. Lotions and hand creams will save you from painful cracked hands and chapped lips. Keep hand cream and lip balm with you, you’ll definitely need it.
  • Some major buildings in Toronto are connected by a series of tunnels known as the PATH. If you happen to be downtown and have some walking to do, you can check the PATH map online to see if you can get to your destination without having to venture outside into the freezing cold. Through the PATH, you can walk from Union Station all the way to Eaton Centre and only spend a few seconds outdoors. If only U of T had it’s own PATH!

Lastly, try to maintain a positive attitude about the cold. While it may seem utterly dreary and miserable, learn to see the beauty in fresh fallen snow and breathe in the crisp morning air. It’ll be harder to tackle the cold if you tell yourself you hate it. Embrace it. After all, WE ARE WINTER.

*p.s. watch out for icicles.

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