With the recent temperature drop and the prospect of a snowy couple of weeks, Anna Hotter brings you her definitive alpine survival guide. Don’t let the cold keep you inside! Huddle up and go enjoy the few hours of sun we have left in these dark times.
In case you haven’t noticed, it’s cold as fuck right now. As someone who has regularly dealt with sub-zero temperatures in my native Austria, I wanted to compile a list of things that will hopefully make your life a little less miserable. Here they are in no particular order.
Underwear: This one might seem insignificant, but believe me, it makes all the difference. At home, we have “Skiunterwäsche,” which I believe to be the equivalent of thermals here. Get some! Seriously, that bottom layer of cozy-yet-breathable clothing will make your 8:40 class in Pupin seem a lot less far away.
Tights: Even though they look thin, tights are great for keeping your legs toasty. My mom often wears them underneath her jeans, and even though I hate the feeling myself, it really does work. Also, if you’re looking to invest in a new pair, and are able to splurge a little bit, get cashmere ones. They are more expensive than wool tights, but wool can’t compare in terms of softness and warmth.
Hats: While it’s apparently a myth that most of your body heat escapes through the head, you should still wear a hat, or at least earmuffs. Cold temperatures can be big triggers for headaches, especially if you leave the house with wet hair.
Boots: This one is more snow-related, but still important. Get boots with rubber soles so that you don’t slip on the slush! You can kill two birds with one stone by wearing rain boots, since they won’t get wet once the snow melts. Just put on thick socks underneath and you should be fine (Hunter actually makes ones that fit their boots).
Heating vents: They are your best friends. Seriously, if you see grates in the ground, stand over them and chances are, you’ll feel sweet sweet warmth wafting from below. This is especially helpful for smokers who can’t sacrifice their cigarette breaks even when a blizzard is raging outside.
Take off your clothes: Let me explain. When you enter a heated space during winter, your body adjusts to the new temperature. Now if you leave on your jacket, scarf and hat, you will adjust to the temperature you feel with all those clothes on, and once you go back outside again you’ll be freezing! Don’t do that! As soon as you go somewhere warm, even the subway, take off as many layers as possible. I know it’s annoying, but this is really the best thing you can do to keep from freezing your butt off.
Down: I know Americans like to make fun of Europeans for their puffy jackets, but, honestly, we’ll have the last laugh. Down jackets are the warmest option out there, apart from fur. They are also extremely light weight and can easily fit into your bag if you bunch them up a little (Uniqlo has very affordable options). If you want to really commit, you should consider a down coat. They are essentially duvets you can wear in the street.
Eat: “Finally something I can work with,” you are probably thinking. Good, because eating is super important (duh) especially during winter. If you have low blood sugar you’ll probably feel chilly, even if it’s not that cold. Also, it’s totally normal to gain a few pounds over the holidays: your body is just trying to cultivate a fat layer to keep itself warm.
Sleep: I know, I know, asking a Columbia student to sleep more is like asking the f***ball team to win a game: cruel, and ultimately futile. Still, sleep deprivation messes with your body’s temperature regulation, so try to squeeze in another hour or two.
Think warm: No, of course it’s not all in your head, but some of it is! If all you do is think about how fucking cold it is, guess what? You’re gonna feel fucking cold. Next time you’re speed-walking down Broadway, think about hot things, like a bowl of soup, a desert, or your English TA. Maybe you’ll be able to psych yourself into thinking that the world is not a dark, icy pit that will swallow you whole.
Snowy Austria via Shutterstock