Standpoint

The Only Way to Survive a St Andrews Winter

I’m just like any other British person: my go-to conversation topic is usually the weather. But recently I’ve noticed it come up more often than usual. The reason? It’s cold. Like, really cold. Yes, I know that this happens every year (seasons are a thing) but it still creeps up on me every time. Each year I make some sort of scathing comment about it being dark at 5pm, and I then make a big deal out of having to bring out my ‘big coat’, but this year, I think, I’m one step closer to answering the question: how do I survive a Scottish winter?

Photo: Walkers Shortbread

I didn’t come here from a warm place – I live in the North of England – so some may think that, surely, I should be used to this cold weather. Yet, somehow, the coldness of Scotland is unparalleled. In all fairness, I have never actually travelled to anywhere except warm countries, so perhaps this hypothesis is unfounded, but I’ll stick with it anyway for the sake of this article. So, with no further ado, let us jump right to the best tips I can give you for avoiding hypothermia this winter…

Big coats save lives

I am one of those people who refuses to spend money on anything that is actually necessary, and good coats are expensive. So, what do you do in this situation? Contrary to popular belief, charity shops in St A aren’t just full of weird old things – they can actually house some cool stuff. After a brief browse of a couple, I’ve scouted out some items that are actual gems so, if you are on a budget (if not, I, along with every student ever, envy you), then go and check them out; you never know what you’ll stumble across, and you cannot dispute the power of a decent coat in this weather.

Photo: Keep Me Warm

If times get desperate, visit the science buildings

It is rare that I venture out to the science/maths area of St Andrews, but when I do, I am always stunned by three things in particular: how ugly the buildings are, how much I hate numbers, and how hot the buildings get. Granted, the first two of my realisations aren’t applicable to everyone, but believe me when I say that you will never be cold in a science building. I have little to no knowledge of what one can actually do there (I’m a humanities student, give me a break), but I’ve heard the cafe is pretty good. If you can brave the freezing air for long enough to walk there, your vital organs will be nice and toasty in no time.

Bibliothèque? More like biblio-heck it’s hot*

I will be the first to say that I do not like the library. It’s too busy, the silent section is intimidating, and the one time I tried to take a book out, I ended up failing miserably and accidentally stole it (this has since been rectified; please don’t come after me). However, it is maybe one of the warmest buildings in the university. Whether this is because of the sheer number of stressed bodies inside it, or just that the people in charge of the thermostat are sadists, you are guaranteed to be warm as soon as you set foot through those glass doors.

*I’m not even sorry; that may have been the best pun I’ve ever come up with.

Photo: University of St Andrews

Shops have heating

If, like me, you’ve ever been caught walking along Market Street wearing clothing completely unsuitable for the weather, this will not be news to you. In fact, I doubt this is news to anyone, but I’ll put it down here just in case some people are unaware of this: most shops have the heating on in the winter. Use them for a quick bout of heat to warm your shivering hands, while also getting some ideas for christmas presents. Maybe you’ll see a mug perfect for your grandma while seeking refuge in Paperchase, who knows?

Winter in St Andrews can be brutal, especially to those who came here from a hot country, but I believe that you can get through it easily. Take these tips into consideration, and if it gets too bad, there’s just one more tip I can leave you with… It’s basically Christmas now (as of November 1st), so just listen to Fairytale of New York on repeat and let your soul be warmed by, unequivocally, the best song of all time.

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