Winter in Canada : a glimpse of life in the North

Winter can be very appealing for people who have never experienced it before. I, myself, was very excited to experience it first hand when we came here in Canada. It lived up to the hype indeed. Winter makes the landscape very picturesque especially when you see those snow-laden fields, trees and rooftops. It’s exactly like what you see in pictures and movies; however, having lived here for quite some time now, I can say that winter also comes with a lot of challenges. Let me share to you some of these challenges that I have encountered and observed during winter.

First, daytime is so short which means it’s almost always dark most of the day. The sun rises later in the morning and sets earlier in the afternoon. 7 am could look and feel like 5 am while 4 pm would seem like it’s already 7 pm. This makes waking up in the morning and going home from work or school a constant daily struggle. Staying alert at work could also be very challenging. I used to work downtown on the 18th floor of an office building. Although I enjoyed the view, it can be very challenging to keep myself alert. I had to constantly drink coffee during breaks. 

Second, it takes a lot of effort to get dressed up. This is even more apparent when temperatures are really low because you want to make sure that you cover up properly; otherwise, you’ll get really cold. This is one of the reasons why I don’t really go out during winter because it takes a lot of time just to get dressed. My usual outfit during winter would be comprised of a shirt or whatever I need to wear at school or work, followed by either a sweater or a light jacket, and then my winter coat. I would also be wearing a beanie over my head and I make sure to cover my ears. I would also be wearing gloves (if it’s too cold), a scarf around my neck and some thick socks. I wear boots if there’s snow and bring extra shoes (to use for when I’m at work or school). 

Third, it takes more time to travel from one place to another. It is harder to commute and even drive during the winter season. The roads are hazardous and a lot of accidents happen especially on the highways. As a commuter, winter can be a hassle. Buses and subway trains travel slower and major delays almost always happen. As a result, a lot of commuters get stranded or wait longer for public transportation to arrive regularly. This can be very annoying especially during rush hours in the morning and late in the afternoon.

Fourth, the cold temperature can take a toll on your body. Almost every activity during winter can be very challenging. For example, walking or running can be a struggle especially if there’s a lot of snow. It’s like walking in the sand but replace sand with crushed ice. It can be very stressful especially to your legs. Breathing can also be challenging because the dry air outside and inside (especially when you are using a heater indoors) can make your throat and mucosae dry; hence, humidifiers are highly recommended during winter. Additionally, you sweat less during winter which makes your skin really dry. That is why lotions or moisturizers are necessary at this time of the year. Moreover, you can also develop a skin rash or even allergies because of the cold temperature. Cough, colds, and flu are usually common during this time. 

Fifth, winter can also take a toll on one’s mental health. Here in Canada, there is something that they call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is a condition wherein you experience depression in relation to changes in season – particularly common during winter months. At this time, you have less energy and can feel depressed. Part of the reason you can feel this way is the fact that winter days are usually cloudy and cold; plus the fact that you don’t see much activity outdoors because people tend to stay indoors. Moreover, everything looks dead during winter especially the trees without their leaves. It projects an eerie and quite melancholic aura.

Fifth, winter poses some safety hazards. You should always take extra caution when going outside during winter. For instance, if you are driving, the roads can be very hazardous especially after a snowfall or early in the morning. Thin ice can accumulate in the road and can make it very slippery. The same can be said for people who are walking or running. The sidewalks can be layered with thin ice and can be very slippery too. 

Indeed, the winter season can pose a lot of challenges especially for foreign immigrants like myself. Despite all this though, the winter season can still be very exciting and fun.

Written by Michael Cabalinan for

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