In case you’ve been living under a rock (or haven’t left your room in weeks, as *cough* some of us might wish we could), it is COLD out there. There is so much snow on the ground and the buildings and the sidewalks and trees. When I can get my face out of the 87 layers I wear any time I walk somewhere, I can’t help but admire the beauty God creates out of something that can also feel so heavy and sad and frustrating to us most of the time. Campus honestly looks amazing right now, with heavy clusters of snowflakes lining every tree branch and rooftop. It’s really beautiful.
While there are definitely things to appreciate about winter in Holland, it is also important to be prepared. Even my friends who can usually bear to walk across campus in sweatshirts have been breaking out their real coats lately. Here are my tips for surviving the Michigan winter!
#1. Get a good winter coat. Preferably a long one. Mine goes down to the middle of my calves, so it’s really long, but sometimes I find myself wishing that it was even longer! I’m so glad I invested in a nice, warm parka. I’m still cold in it, but I couldn’t imagine walking across campus in anything shorter or thinner! I got my coat on a major clearance sale at a Land’s End store. Patagonia and The North Face are popular at Hope and accessible at stores in downtown Holland, but brand doesn’t really matter – warmth does!
#2. Take advantage of that travel coffee mug that’s collecting dust in your bottom drawer. There is nothing better than finally arriving at your 9:30 class after trekking through a blizzard and remembering that you have a Tervis full of hot coffee (or hot chocolate or tea) to drink.
#3. Cut through buildings. Is this sad? I get cold really easily and I hate it, so whenever I have an opportunity that makes some amount of sense, I cut through a building on my way anywhere. I will admit that I have gotten lost in unfamiliar buildings while trying to do this, but then at least I get to wander around a building and get warm in the meantime.
#4. Get a good pair of snow boots (and probably some wool socks). Last year, I wore riding boots all winter, and my feet were always cold and I slipped on ice more times than I care to admit. This year I invested in a pair of snow boots that will last me for the rest of college, and I’ve felt way more stable while walking to class on snow- and ice-covered sidewalks. I have Sorel boots, and I know Khombu boots are popular as well, but again, brand doesn’t really matter. They sell cheaper boots at Target and Meijer as well. Anything intended for snow will work!
#5. Layers are your friend. This is an easy one for me because I love to layer up my clothes. You can usually find me on any given day wearing a button-up shirt, sweater, vest, and when it’s really cold, a scarf. It keeps me so much warmer than just a t-shirt would!
#6. Take advantage of soup and tea in Phelps. Phelps always has good cold-weather pick-me-ups. Don’t waste a chance to warm your belly with a bowl of chicken noodle or a warm cup of tea before your next class. Grilled cheese and tomato soup day (my favorite lunch!) is a real gift on a freezing cold day.
#7. Take advantage of on-campus spots to buy snacks, toiletries, and other necessities. Sometimes you run out of food or toothpaste in the midst of a blizzard, and that’s a real bummer. I’ve spent way too long digging my car out of parking lots in order to go grab one little thing at Meijer, but there are places on campus to get your necessities! You can pick up chips, muffins, or cookies at the Kletz, several toiletries at the bookstore, and fruit at Phelps when you’re in a pinch!
#8. MITTENS. Mostly I included this because I love the word mittens. They are also my saving grace in the winter. They keep your hands warmer than gloves do, and I just like them. I like the way the word sounds too. Mittens. What a great thing.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8:32