As many of you may know by now, I am currently on a study exchange in Canada. There have been a lot of things that I have had to adapt to that I am not used to back in Ireland. This post is for anyone who is planning on moving, visiting or coming on a study exchange to Canada in the Winter – basically, what I would do differently/advice I would want to know before I arrived.
1) Travel: Travel as much as you can, I am lucky where I am based (Ottawa) because there are a lot of places to visit that are relatively close by like Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, Quebec City and loads more.
Problem: Getting from one place to another is bloody expensive
Solution: Rideshares. So many people drive from city to city on a daily basis as their job, you can find drivers in kijiji.com (kind of like eBay in Canada). The two I have got have been really nice and really good value. Okay, I know. It sounds dodgy getting in a stranger’s car but they are generally completely full so you aren’t on your own with the driver. They are quite common over here and less than a quarter of the price of trains and buses.
2) Footwear: I had no idea what sort of footwear to bring/buy before I came here. I will say if there is still snow around and you think runners are a good idea, they aren’t a good idea. You are wrong.
Problem #1: There is snow everywhere and it is really slippy!
Solution #1: Get a WATERPROOF pair of boots WITH GRIP. I got two pairs, a just above the ankle leather pair of black boots that I am happy to wear both during the day and at night. The other pair I got are snow boots, they go half way up my calf and lace up the front. They are nice but honestly, I have only worn them twice on the really cold days as they are warmer but to be honest I probably didn’t need them. (NOTE: I am based in the city in Ottawa so the streets are usually cleaned, however, if you are going to be going to a ski resort or living/staying out of the cities the longer ones might be a good idea if the road clearing systems aren’t as efficient)
Problem #2: The roads are regularly salted to prevent it becoming really icy. When you are walking along the path the salt stains your boots.
Solution #2: Be sure to have some wet wipes handy to remove the salt marks as they leave a permanent stain your boots if you don’t
3) Choosing a jacket: When in Canada your jacket will be your best friend, you want to be sure that you makes the right decision when choosing one.
Problem #1: When we first arrived the main place where we were cold was our thighs, you can pile layers under your jacket but either 1) Never think to put layers under your jeans or 2) If your from abroad would never consider that you would need to put layers under your jeans so don’t buy a big enough size.
Solution #1: In fairness it has been a very mild winter while I have been here, but there hasn’t been a huge amount of days where I have needed to wear thermals under my jeans so I wouldn’t be advising you to go to the shop and spend a fortune on jeans that are too big for you. Instead, when choosing a jacket I would make sure that it at least came over your bum. Some people get ones to their mid thigh but I prefer shorter ones so a ‘bum coverer’ is ideal.
Problem #2: You are wearing this jacket every single day, sometimes it is raining. Sometimes you get makeup on it, sometimes your jacket won’t go with everything.
Solution #2: Get a neutral coloured jacket. Black, Grey or Navy ideally. It will give you the most amount of options in terms of what it goes with. I thought it was a great idea to get a white jacket … (What was I thinking?). Although it is pretty it is easy to get dirty especially with makeup etc.
Hope you guys have found this helpful, if you have give it a like!
The Girl on the Go xx