Advice for surviving your first NYC winter

I came to the U.S. for college and spent four years in Providence, Rhode Island. I vividly remember the winter in Providence; it snowed till April and we got a lot of snow during the winter, so I had my share of snowball fights and made more than enough snowmen with my friends every winter. Although winter is my favorite season, it was way too cold there. Before I came to Columbia University for my master’s degree, I thought New York would be better in terms of the weather. I was wrong. Last January, we got heavy snow. In order to help you better prepared for winter, here is a list of items that I think would be good to have for winter in NY.

  • Decent boots that will remain watertight, even when you step into an unexpectedly deep puddle. I did not bring my UGG boots from home and I forgot to buy a pair. So I had to wear snickers when it snowed a lot last year. Needless to say, I slipped and my feet got wet. I would recommend you prepare for good-quality boots in advance.
  • Warm winter clothing items: thick socks, gloves, and a warm, properly padded hat; preferably one that covers your ears. They are all useful to walk to campus or go to downtown to have fun. Your fingers and toes get cold fast so make sure you have them. I seriously thought my fingers were going to fall off when I was walking to campus because I forgot my gloves in my room. I hope you don’t get to that level of coldness.
  • An electric blanket. I found this one especially helpful to keep me warm. My room frequently gets cold, and I seriously need something to stay warm. Luckily, my friend gave me her electric blanket when she left New York. It has been a lifesaver. I feel happiest when I go to bed with this warm blanket.
  • Hand-warming packs.  These small packs use chemicals to create a continuous heat for several hours. I think it is a bit like having small hot water bottles in my pockets. Although I do have gloves, they are not enough.
  • A travel mug for hot chocolate or hot tea. Another way to make sure you can still stay warm and go to class is to take a travel mug with coffee or tea with you in the morning. Sipping on some hot coffee or tea in the morning with my gloves on while walking to class turns out to be a great way to start a day!
[Photo courtesy of Mobeen Bhatti]