A Guide to Dressing for Winter in Ottawa for International Students


Quote the Raven: Lui Xia

Lui Xia

Winter is coming – that is a fact. For most, winter can be daunting, scary or even annoying. For us international students, winter should be exciting and memorable. It is especially the case when the first snowfall arrives. Our eyes glisten and sparkle with fascination as we stare at snow for the first time. Then our phones come out to celebrate first snowfall before realizing, it is time to get pull out our winter gear.

The first winter is going to be hard. To make it a little easier, I have compiled a few tips and tricks to survive winter.

  1. Check the weather

Always, always check the weather temperature and wind chill before you leave home. It not only helps mentally prepare yourself, but helps you decide what to wear. Some days might look sunny but still be -30℃, while some days might look cloudy and be just above 0 ℃.

  1. Know how to layer

I do not know how to emphasize layering clothes enough, but layering in the winter is important. There are usually three main parts to the layer system: base, mid, and outer layer. For the base layer, you want a material that does not hold moisture or at least transport moisture off your skin. Mid-layer is meant to insulate you and keep your body warm so you will want something like fleece. For the outer layer, think of all the elements you want to protect you from – snow, rain, and wind. This also needs to ventilate yourself.

  1. Cover yourself from head to toe

When you are out and about in -20℃, you do not want to leave any skin exposed. That means your fingers, neck, ears, head, ankles and eyes – yes, your eyes too – should all be protected. Get mittens instead of gloves, wear scarves, wear a beanie (Canadians call it a toque), wear moisture-wicking socks, and put on sunglasses. Your eyes need to be protected too because the sun rays also reflect off the snow.

  1. Keep yourself dry

I emphasized moisture wicking material earlier on because this is key to keeping yourself warm. Any moisture will cause you to feel cold faster. You should change your socks every day. When it gets too warm, peel off a layer.

With these tips, I hope you can enter winter like excited and confidence. Winter does not have to be miserable, it can be amazing when you plan to dress wisely.

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