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How to Survive Your First Winter in London, Ontario

If you’re new to Canada, there’s a lot to adjust to: the culture, the people, and maybe a new school or job. But one of the most visible, unavoidable things you’ll have to adjust to is your first winter in London, Ontario.  

London in the winter months is beautiful. The first snowfall feels magical — Western’s campus transforms into a picturesque stretch of snow and Victoria Park debuts its skating rink surrounded by Christmas lights.   However, London in the winter months are also painfully cold. It’s one thing to admire two feet of glittery snow, but it’s another thing to trudge through it on your way to class. Something about the bite of ice-infused wind slapping your bare face is enough to make you want to throw your hands up and declare hatred of winter itself.   Luckily, there are a few ways to make winter more bearable. -20°C will always feel like -20°C, but we can handle it.

1. Bundle up.

          A homemade balaclava, made by Make It & Love It

A high-quality winter coat is a necessary investment. Anything less will not cut it when you’re waiting at the bus stop in a harsh 9:30 P.M. blizzard and realize your bus isn’t coming for another 15 minutes. You will also need waterproof winter boots, insulated mittens, a hat and a scarf. The best way to dress is in layers—wear a shirt under a sweater under your coat so you can remove layers depending on the temperature of the building you’re going into. There will be some milder winter days, but it is better to be over prepared in a balaclava than to find yourself shivering in regret.

Bonus tip: Spare $3 and pay for coat check. Standing in an hour long Ceeps line without a coat will make you wish you had just stayed in.

2. Stay cozy.

While the outdoor air is definitely the nastiest, winter in London may make your house feel like a refrigerator. To make those winter nights extra cozy, look into purchasing a heated blanket. Turn it on a few minutes before going to bed so that your bed will feel like a toasty, winter-proof cocoon by the time you’re ready to sleep.

3. Sip away the snow.

Although hot drinks are small, they are mighty. Getting out of bed on a cold winter morning can be made a little easier knowing you can make a hot coffee before going to class. There are also many festive hot drinks available at this time of year, like Starbucks’ Peppermint Mocha or Caramel Apple Spice drink,  that can make the winter months seem more delicious than dreaded.  

4. Find some winter fun.

          Victoria Park Skating Rink, photo by Piotr Angiel Photography

Most importantly, try to make the most of the snow and ice while it’s here. Having fun outdoors will take your mind off the horrifying temperatures on the Weather app. You can ice skate for free at Victoria Park from 10A.M.–1P.M., starting December 8th (tentative date). Alternatively, head to Boler Mountain to try your hand at downhill skiing, snowboarding, or even tubing. Winter can be so much fun that you might even miss the frigid temperatures when the fluffy scenery melts into slush.

With these things in mind, you should be able to survive your first winter in London. Prepare as far in advance as possible to avoid panicking when the first blizzard rolls in. Most importantly – remember to appreciate all the perks of winter while they’re here, because even though it feels like winter will last forever, it will be gone before you know it.

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Cassia Pelton

Western '21

Cassia Pelton is a Psychology student at Western University, figure skater, and dog lover.
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