An In-State Student’s Guide to Surviving Your First UMich Winter

Now that spooky season is officially over, it’s time to start looking ahead toward what’s next: winter. If you’re a freshman, especially one from a warm hometown, then the next few months may be the first time that you’ve ever seen, nonetheless endured, below freezing temperatures, sleet, snow… and more snow. So, to get one step ahead of the game and prepare for the treacherous winter weather that could *literally* be coming any day now, I, a native Michigander, have compiled some tips for surviving what is arguably the state’s toughest season.

1. Invest in outerwear ASAP While it may be easy to find cute cold-weather clothing nowadays, when it comes to Michigan winters, it’s all about function over fashion. The number one essential that all students should invest in is a quality parka or puffer jacket that’s insulated and water resistant. But don’t worry, a Canada Goose isn’t necessary here. I recommend checking out The North Face, Columbia, or even Amazon so that you can stay dry and avoid hypothermia on your commute to class, all without breaking the bank.

GIF Credit: Popsugar

2. Buy boots with the best traction The second clothing essential that’s absolutely necessary to survive the winter is the perfect pair of boots. And I’m not talking about just any pair of boots. While the infamous L.L Bean or Sperry duck boots will usually suffice for the first few months, once January and February come around, and the freezing rain (AKA ice) hits, you’re going to need some heavy-duty snow boots to avoid face planting outside the UgLi. Speaking from personal experience, having boots with a thick rubber sole reduces your chances of slipping on the often salt-less, always slicker than an ice-rink campus sidewalks. For live footage of me trying to penguin-walk my way across the Diag last winter, see the gif below. It happens to the best of us.

GIF Credit: Giphy

3. Layer up! While we’ve all probably heard that the best way to get dressed in the winter is with layers, it’s absolutely crucial to always have something lightweight on underneath. I say that because for some reason, when the temps drop low, the heat in most of the buildings on campus seems to kick into overdrive. To avoid profusely sweating through your 10 a.m., make sure you’re able to remove a few of those fleece-lined layers if need be. 

GIF Credit: Giphy 

4. Remember to practice self-care As the cold weather creeps in, Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as seasonal depression) becomes a very real thing for many of us Wolverines. Some things that I have found to be helpful for my physical and mental health during the winter months include incorporating wholesome food into my diet, regularly exercising (even if it’s just following a 15 minute YouTube workout in your dorm room), engaging in quality conversation with friends and family and sun therapy.  With the Union reopening this winter, the Wellness Zone at the CAPS Central Office will be bringing back the light therapy lamps, which are free for students and allow you to get regular exposure to sunlight.

GIF Credit: Giphy

5. Learn to love the winter While the weather may not always be ideal, Michigan winters provides many new ways to have fun in Ann Arbor. Some of my favorite activities include sledding down the hill of Palmer Field with friends, taking a stroll downtown with a hot coffee in hand or enjoying KindleFest, an outdoor market celebration in Kerrytown. There’s nothing you can do to stop the snow, so instead of solely spending your days locked up in the warmth of your room, make sure to get outside sometimes. 

GIF Credit: Giphy 

Keep in mind that snow days are a rare and historic occurrence here at UMich, so it’s best to bundle up and begin mentally preparing yourself to brave the wintery weather ahead of time. Good luck!


Header Image Credit: freepik