Winter is fast approaching and, for many international students, the weather for the next few months will be a big change from what it’s like at home. Fear not, however! Your fellow students will guide you in the right direction clothing-wise, and here are some tips that will get you through to the spring – although in Metro Vancouver you never know when you will need to put the umbrella away.
First Rule: Dress in Layers
From November through April you never know what the weather is going to be like. Check the forecast all you want. It can be wrong. And with a full day of learning ahead, outdoor activities, and likely walking to and from school, or waiting for the bus, you need to be prepared for weather changes. So dress in layers. Bring a lightweight, waterproof jacket in your pack, and wear a fleece if it looks like it will be cold.
Fleece is your Friend
Fleece became the de rigueur outdoor fabric in Metro Vancouver in the early nineties, and it still plays a large role in the average Metro Vancouverite’s wardrobe. Fleece is warm, comfortable, and wears well through frequent use and washings.
Gore-Tex is Your Best Friend
Next up is Gore-Tex which, unfortunately, doesn’t come cheap. But if you are going to be living through an always-wet Burnaby winter you need to stay dry. (Wet = miserable.) If you are wearing cotton clothing (and most students do) under fleece and Gore-Tex outerwear, then you will arrive at school ready to learn and enjoy your day. If you arrive wet with your cotton clothes soaked through, you will be cold and uncomfortable. And if you are cycling to school this winter (in Metro Vancouver year-round cycling is possible) then you will need some Gore-Tex cycling pants. They will keep your pants dry underneath – not to mention free of the mud that is sure to land on you during your bike commute.
A Toque: It’s a Canadian Thing
You may feel a bit of pride as you don your first toque (a sock-like cap that can be pulled down over your ears). You will be most pleased to own one come January when Metro Vancouver reaches its coldest temperatures. Merino wool is best. And do not let anyone shame you into thinking that a toque (rhymes with “duke”) is “not cool for school”. Frankly, it’s an essential piece of Canadian fashion. In fact, your toque may become a sartorial badge of honour when you return home.The Toque is an Essential Piece of Canadian Fashion! Click To Tweet
Don’t Forget to be Visible
Unfortunately, wet winters are also dark winters. Make sure you have reflective markers on your outerwear. Alternatively, purchase strips or armbands so that you’re visible to drivers on the walk home. Even at 4 pm it can be very dark. On a wet afternoon and evening, pedestrians are especially hard to see. And keep the headphones off so you can hear and be aware of the traffic around you.
Stay safe, warm and dry this winter!