Last weekend, everyone in Stockholm turned back their clocks by one hour for “vintertid,” or winter time. Our already shrinking days are suddenly even shorter, with the sunset now around three in the afternoon. The average temperature is also dropping, which is indicative of what you already know: Winter is coming.
Whether you’re here in Stockholm or considering it as a location for studies, there’s a 99% chance that someone from a warmer climate has asked you how you’ll possibly survive… the winter. With one Swedish winter and a lifetime of Michigan winters behind me, I’m here to assure you that thriving (regardless of your experience) is absolutely within your reach.
Here’s my advice for staying warm & well:
Tip 1 – Brave the dark (it’s not so bad)
When it’s dark and cold outside, it can be tempting to stay inside. That plan to study on campus, that much-needed trip to the grocery store, that workout at the gym – it could just wait for tomorrow… But resist the urge! You’ll feel accomplished – and also more awake – if you stay active. You may also be surprised to find how busy and well-lit the city streets and local trails are throughout the winter. People here strap LED collars on their dogs and put winter tires on their bicycles. This city doesn’t stop, so you shouldn’t either.
Tip 2 – Bundle up
Swedes love to say that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”. And honestly, they’re not wrong. Winter rocks when you’re not preoccupied with your own shivering or the loss of feeling in your toes. @Stockholmers – if you haven’t bought winter gear yet, let’s just say now is your moment. My equation for winter garments = the layers I think I need + one more. Sweating > shivering.
Tip 3 – TRY WINTER ACTIVITIES (they’re underrated)
Have you ever thrown a snowball? Gone skiing/snowboarding? Jumped back and forth between a sauna and a snowbank? Ice skated on a frozen pond? Watched a herd of reindeer cross the road? Hiked on snow-covered trails? Seen the northern lights from the Arctic Circle? Just typing these things makes me excited. Of course, there are plenty of festive and fun indoor activities to do too. But, I’d argue that the outdoor stuff is where it’s at. Try as much of it as you can while you’re here.
Tip 4 – You need people
Even the best winter comes with bouts of the winter blues. Some days the cold is annoying, the snow is tiring to trudge through, and the darkness feels lonely. The best antidote I’ve found for this is people: Drag your friends to fika when the sun is setting at two in the afternoon. Bring people together for a dinner party or lunch at the student union. Or just check in with your neighbor/flatmate in the hall. Little interactions go a long way, for everyone.
“Good luck!” Don’t let anyone fool you. Get out there and enjoy what winter has to offer!