A Minnesotan Guide to Surviving a Midwest Winter

As a Minnesotan, I’ve suffered through my fair share of cold winters - winds blasting and temperatures dropping to an unimaginable -30 degrees with windchill. With many of my friends here at Carthage having never even seen snow before, I felt a call to arms to save these warm-blooded students from freezing with this Minnesotan Guide to Surviving a Midwest Winter.

1. Focus on staying warm, not on fashion

This is the first thing all Midwesterners learn right away, almost from birth - you need to focus on survival in the harsh conditions of winter. Sometimes wearing pants and a warm jacket that's not-so-flattering is better than that cute skirt and the thin sweater that you love so much. Sacrifices must be made, and sometimes that means not being as aesthetically pleasing as you want. But don’t worry, there are plenty of fashion tips that you can use to make the warmest clothes you have the cutest.

2. Layers Layers Layers

If you feel that you just have to wear that cute tee from the mall, no matter the temp, layers can come to your rescue! Whether it's undershirts, jackets, cardigans or flannels, layers let you wear what you want while still staying cozy. Still not warm enough? Add another layer! And the best part of this tip is just as easily as the layers go on, they can be taken off! So if grandma has her heater on full blast, you can lose that jacket and still be comfy. Gotta love those layers!

3. Get a good coat...seriously.

While we're on the subject of layers, let's talk coats. A good winter coat is a necessity in Midwestern winter survival. Without it, those sub-zero winds will cut through you like knives. And don’t think that any old coat will do. No, you need a coat that's worth the investment. A good coat seriously changes the game. Look for one that's down-insulated, keeps you dry, and I highly recommend a hood. I’m not saying you need a parka, but just take time to research what kind of coat will help you personally this winter. Places like L.L.Bean and The North Face may be a bit expensive, but trust me, it's worth every penny.

4. Get ya bundle on

You'll need more than just a coat to really thrive in this cold. I recommend you layer to protect your hands, ears, and face. Gloves or mittens can easily be stored in your coat pocket for easy access and can help you prevent numb fingers. To protect your ears, I recommend either a winter hat, earmuffs, or ear warmers. Finally, you should protect the face. A scarf or face mask are both great options, as they can easily be moved out of the way when you're trying to talk but they can also protect you from piercing winds.

5. Footwear

Your converse shoes aren’t gonna cut it when you’re walking across campus and they haven’t yet shoveled the fresh snow. Stick with those and all you’re gonna get are soggy socks and numb toes. Look for a pair of winter boots that are insulated, waterproof, and tall so you can trek through the seemingly endless piles of snow. Just like your coat, research your boots so you can keep your feet nice and toasty! Also, fuzzy socks are your friends.

6. Car tips!

Here are a variety of winter tips that are passed down from generation to generation:

- Keep cat litter in your car to help you get unstuck in a pinch. It absorbs water and helps with traction.

- Cover your headlights with toothpaste and wash off with warm water to increase the clarity.

- Drive slowly and carefully. Always stay alert as it’s harder to brake with slush and ice everywhere. If you slip and slide, pump the brakes. DO NOT SLAM.

These are just a few car tips; you can find plenty of others here.

7. Stay healthy (physically AND mentally)

With winter comes illness. Make sure to constantly wash your hands, cover your mouth while coughing, and use hand sanitizer. If you're already sick, I recommend teas to not only soothe a sore throat but keep your body temperature nice and warm. Also, make sure to get your flu shot and go to the doctor if you’re starting to feel sick.

But just as important as your physical health is your mental health. With winter comes earlier nights and, for some, darker thoughts. Make sure to keep in contact with people you trust and tell people if you're feeling any negativity directed toward yourself. Try to get some sunlight and vitamin D. But seriously, please remember mental health matters.

These are just a few of the countless tips from a lifelong Minnesotan. I hope you found at least one of these helpful, and I wish you the best of luck surviving this terrifying season.