Winter: an international student’s survival guide


Shout-out to all my internationals out there, because we’re officially entering wintertime in the UK tomorrow! Now, depending on where you’re from, British wintertime might be mild for you. However, this is a survival call for those of you who are struggling to adapt your warm-blooded selves to cooler climes and may be facing British winter for the first time (I don’t know about you, but I broke out the Uniqlo heat-tech clothing weeks ago). As a shivering international kid myself, here are a few survival tips to get you through the most freezing season of them all.

Isn’t the weather just…

You know the stereotype: all Brits do is talk about the weather. And, I cannot deny that even I’ve been influenced to gossip about it too. During the British winter, expect a three-fold increase in weather chat, so make sure you brush up on your weather vocabulary. “Well, I’ve checked the forecast and it’s going to be two degrees warmer next week” can be a good conversation closer if you’re trying to move on to another topic.

You ain’t seen January yet…

December isn’t even the coldest month (as we’d assume from all the grumbles we’ve already heard about how cold it is) – just you wait until January! It’s a good idea to prepare yourself mentally for the face-numbing weather during the Christmas break.

But don’t be tempted to stow away your sun cream

Yes, I see you – stop right there, and put that sun cream back on the bathroom shelf! “I haven’t even seen the sun this week!”, you may cry, but the harmful rays are just as strong and damaging despite the dropping centigrade (especially the UVA rays responsible for aging and wrinkled skin). So, keep the cream out, just in case.

Lotion, lotion, lotion…

Speaking of creams, moisturising lotion is your best friend during winter. 24 hours of long-sleeved everything for days on end can severely dry out your skin without you even realising, since you’re all covered up. So, stock up your usual moisturiser, because we know you’ll be much too lazy to dash out to Boots in the cold when it run out.

Fashion flies out the window

Come wintertime, the usually fashion-forward Brits don’t care if you’re wearing mismatched socks or look like a walking closet with eyes peeking out, because as long as you’re warm, you’re winning at winter. I highly recommend buying a giant scarf that can stop wind from whipping around your neck and doubles up as a blanket. Also, invest in an awesome winter jacket (Superdry has a great selection) and some sturdy winter boots. Why? Because silly first-year me didn’t realise my feet could actually turn into ice-blocks…

Food, glorious food

During the winter, you might feel like it’s too cold to leave your uni room to go and buy supplies. Or, perhaps warnings of ice and road safety mean essentials are low in stock at your local shop (no joke, I couldn’t seem to find eggs anywhere last January). So, I recommend keeping your cupboards well stocked to save yourself time and avoid shortages.

Mince what?

Nope, it’s not a hearty ol’ minced beef pie – the misleading ‘mincemeat’ filling that you may have tried in mince pies over Christmas is actually a dried fruit and spices mixture (so, a sweet treat rather than a savoury pie). And what’s that drink... mulled wine? That’s usually red wine infused with spices such as cinnamon, served at a warm drinking temperature. Make the most of these delicacies while you can if you didn't during Christmas, as you won’t find them around for much longer.

Have you got any tips for surviving the British winter? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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