Surviving the British Winter: The Ultimate Guide for International Students from Warm Climates

Jnnat Khan
30.11.23 – 03 Mins Read

A guest blog from our resident in Leeds, Jnnat.

Being an international student from a tropical paradise like Mumbai, where the warm sun is as constant as the traffic jams, I thought I was prepared for the British winter. Oh boy, was I wrong! The British winter is a unique beast that can leave even the toughest of us shivering like Chihuahuas in a snowstorm. Here’s a comical guide, straight from my own frozen toes, on how to handle the British winter as an international student.

embrace the puffer jacket

As soon as the temperature drops below what you’d call “winter” back home, everyone in the UK seems to transform into the Michelin Man. The secret? Puffer jackets. These cosy, padded jackets are like wearing a portable duvet, and they’ve become my new best friend. My advice: embrace the puffer jacket and wear it with pride. You’ll look like a marshmallow, but you’ll be a toasty marshmallow.

Invest in Thermal Underwear

Thermal underwear is not just for your grandpa anymore. I learned the hard way that a pair of long johns or thermal leggings can be a game-changer. Slipping into these snug, heat-retaining wonders feels like giving your legs a warm hug. Plus, they’re incredibly handy for the days when you accidentally wear your regular underwear under jeans and find yourself turning into a human popsicle.

Master the Art of Layering

Layering is key to surviving the British winter. I’ve started to think of it as an art form, and I’ve become quite the artist. You’ll feel like a medieval knight, but instead of armour, you’ll be draped in sweaters, cardigans, scarves, and hats. I’ve even started wearing two pairs of socks. One day, I might just topple over from all the layers, but I’ll be cozy when I do.

Be Prepared for the Eternal Struggle of Wet Umbrellas

British winter isn’t all about snow and frost; it’s also about relentless rain. So, be prepared for the eternal struggle of wet umbrellas. On particularly rainy days, it’s like playing a game of dodge-the-umbrella in the streets. I’ve taken to carrying a compact, quick-drying umbrella that fits into my bag, so I’m always ready for a sudden downpour.

Accept That the Sun Goes on Vacation

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the sun for days on end during the British winter. It’s as if the sun takes a vacation, leaving you in a perpetual state of twilight. I’ve learned to embrace the cozy gloom by investing in some fairy lights to brighten up my room, because, well, the sun sure isn’t doing it.

Hot Tea: Your New Best Friend

In India, we know our tea. But British tea is on a whole other level. It’s not just a beverage; it’s a lifeline. I’ve discovered the joys of sipping hot tea all day long to keep warm. The British love their tea breaks, and I’ve gladly adopted this tradition to thaw out my icy fingers.

Learn the Art of Defrosting

Frozen fingers, frozen toes, and a frozen nose – that’s the British winter special. I’ve become a pro at the art of defrosting. Quick tip: the best way to warm up is to stick your feet under your laptop charger block (when it’s off, of course). It’s like a mini heater for your tootsies.

Top Tips for Surviving the Cold as an International students:

1. Hot Water Bottles: Invest in a good hot water bottle. Fill it up, place it in your bed, and cuddle with it. It’s like having your own personal heater.

2. Woolly Socks: Embrace the magic of woolly socks. They’ll keep your feet toasty and cosy.

3. Get a Hearty Winter Meal: Dive into British comfort food. You’ll find delight in dishes like shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, and hearty stews.

3. Fluffy Blankets: Surround yourself with fluffy blankets. They’re perfect for binge-watching your favourite shows on those dark and chilly evenings.

4. Keep Moving: Stay active. Walk or cycle to your lectures and explore indoor sports or fitness classes to keep your body warm.

5. Discover Indoor Activities: Take this opportunity to explore museums, art galleries, and indoor events in the city. It’s a great way to stay warm and cultured.

6. Stay Positive and Make Friends: Embrace the British winter experience with a positive attitude. And, of course, make friends – they’ll keep you warm and laughing through the chill.

So, there you have it, my fellow international students from warm climates. Embrace the British winter with all its quirks and surprises. It’s a unique experience, and you’ll come out of it with a newfound appreciation for the simple joys of warmth and the delightful absurdity of layering like there’s no tomorrow. Stay warm, stay jolly, and enjoy your British winter adventure!