Tips to stay well and adjust to Canada’s winter

Written by Guest Blogger

Prisha Agrawal is a third-year kinesiology and health science student, who is also enrolled in the athletic therapy certificate program at York. As an international student from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Prisha has already studied in four different countries. Her biggest passion is sports, which she has been playing since the age of 6.

Mahir Rafi is fourth-year kinesiology and health science student at York.

Navigating the solitude of winter can be overwhelming, especially for those experiencing the cold for the first time. As an international student, winter can bring about a sense of isolation, especially with the campus becoming quieter, temperatures dropping, and days growing shorter. It's a common sentiment, and I've been there. 

Originating from the extreme climate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and transitioning the shift from the intense heat to its opposite was a delightful and challenging adventure at the same time. The cultural shift I experienced was an exciting challenge that I took up over my first year and it’s something I still adjust to as I meet new people every day. Navigating from the skyscrapers of Dubai to the sprawling natural beauty of Canada became the moment of adaptation, growth, and the discovery of a new home as the energy of Dubai gave way to the welcoming warmth of Canadian hospitality.

Recognizing these common challenges that I and other students faced, we're here to offer valuable tips and tricks to help international students thrive throughout the winter holidays. 

The remedy lies in simplicity—nourish yourself with healthy meals, create a cozy sanctuary at home, and find comfort in the shared tales of frosty adventures. 

How to embrace the winter season

The winter months can cast a shadow on our mental well-being. But do not fear, there are numerous ways to brighten the cold days. 

Stay active with heart-pumping activities like walking, jogging, or dancing in the snow.

Don't underestimate the mood-lifting power of natural daylight – spend time outdoors to boost serotonin production. I forged connections and carved memories of my first York Canadian winter during my very first walks in the snow, down the slippery slopes, to impromptu snowball fights with friends. Challenges became triumphs, and the cold became a backdrop for a season of unexpected joy.

Learn how to dress for the winter weather

My first time stepping into Canada’s winter wonderland felt like entering a snow globe. As the first snowflakes descended, I dove into the art of layering, transforming myself into a cozy cocoon against the cold. As I bundled up in the layers of thermals, I learned the true meaning of “Canadian cold.” 

Embrace the snowy weather

Keep the chill at the bay with cozy drinks, warm food, and warm clothes and socks. In that spirit of adventure, every morning, the mugs of steaming coffee and conversations with friends flowed in the warmth of coffee shops. My favorite stop of all time would at the Starbucks at York’s Central Square. 

Go out and have fun!

During winter, there are many unique activities available, like:

The Cavalcade of Lights Festival

Experience the city with vibrant displays, grand illumination of dazzling Christmas trees. Join us in the capturing of the festive spirit of the winter wonderland celebration. 

Distillery District Winter Village

Immerse yourself with the twinkling lights and seasonal delights. Explore the unique and cozy atmosphere in this historic district. Join us on a stroll through the Winter village. 

Pro Tip: Head down for some fun with other international students through a visit organized by York International.

Blue Mountain Ski Resort

You could also explore the Blue Mountain Ski Resort for tubing, skiing, snowboarding and many more fun, winter activities. 

Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival

Embark on a journey through the vibrant streets at the Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival, from lively performances to market stalls offering a variety of winter treats. Immerse yourself in the creativity of this winter celebration in the heart of Toronto. 

Look out for your health – physical and mental health

As the cold and flu season creeps in, read about how you can stay healthy during the flu season from COVID-19, influenza (the flu) and the respiratory syncytial virus. Keep your immune system in top-notch condition by aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and fuel your body with a balanced diet.

If you’re feeling sad or anxious and need to talk to someone, seek support from those around you or anonymously contact services like Good2Talk or take advantage of the various mental health and counselling resources offered at York. Let's navigate through winter with not just warmth, but also a positive mindset. 

Pro-Tip: To connect with other activities for international students to help get you through the winter, visit the York International events page.