A student guide on how to survive winter in the Toon

If a personalised Newcastle puffer isn’t quite cutting it

Cast your mind back to the end of November; the first snow of this academic year fell, treating us Newcastle students to a taste of the Baltic temperatures that are sure to imminently return. Having successfully battled the bitter North East elements twice before, I now consider myself a veteran into surviving these conditions. Thus, I feel it is my duty to bestow upon you, my fellow peers, the tools so that you too can conquer this bitter season.

Semester two is on the horizon, so before you know it, it will finally be time to set our clocks an hour forward and leave the bleak, dark weather behind. Alas, until that glorious day approaches – here are five tried and tested ways to survive the rest of winter as a Newcastle student.

1. Vitamin D tablets

We’ll kick things off with something simple; taking your vitamins. Generally speaking, students know all too well about the consequences of not prioritising their health, with our questionable diets, binge drinking and dodgy routines – but this is an easy step you can implement into your routine, going into 2024.

The NHS recommends that everyone should consider taking a daily 10 microgram vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter, as our bodies do not make enough from sunlight. This is important as if you don’t get the amount you need, your teeth, bones and muscles may suffer.  

Research has also demonstrated links between vitamin D deficiency and low mood, so these are an essential if you are hoping to combat the January blues. 

Think of it as a kind of advent calendar. You can pick up 180 10 microgram tablets for just £4 from Boots – or even less if you remember to activate your student discount using your Smartcard!

2. A hot water bottle…to the library

A wallet effective way to keep warm, while maintaining optimum productivity, is the humble hot water bottle.  This addition to the list is actually inspired by an anecdote my housemate told me from a recent Walton library trip. True to form, while procrastinating, she got chatting to a girl who was filling up her empty hot water bottle with the boiling water tap. Genius!

This will definitely provide a warm source of comfort while writing your essays, or at least serve as a conversation starter with a new found study buddy.

3. A heated blanket

This is aimed at those of you who, like me, are slumming it in a bills excluded student house. Admittedly, this solution is on the pricier side, but the January student loan payment will soon be under your belt and trust me, if you can spare it, the investment is definitely worth it. This purchase should prove highly economical in the long run too as it costs pennies to operate, so is far gentler on your wallet than whacking on the central heating. 

I have this Dreamland Heated Throw because I wanted a blanket I could manoeuvre around my freezing cold house, but my housemates have the kind that go under your sheets and I’ve been told they work a charm too.

While it may not combat your black mould problem, this heated blanket was a game changer for me during cold evenings of revision, so I can certainly say that it was money well spent.

4. A good quality reusable travel mug

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with still using the plastic mug you got from Freshers’ Fair (or in my case nicked from whoever left their Newcastle Law School one at our flat after a first year pres – thank you by the way, if you happen to be reading) – if you can afford to invest in a higher quality metal one, it’s genuinely game changing. They’ll keep your coffee (and therefore, you) warm for HOURS, obviously depending on how quick you slurp down your chosen caffeine fix. 

Personally, I just got sick of my former stolen cup leaking over my bag so my sister got me this fancy Le Creuset one for my birthday. It’s so effective that my housemate copied me and bought one too, so now we have to distinguish between them with this cute sticker. 

Another hack my housemate and her course friends use is bringing Aldi instant cappuccino sachets to the library, as you don’t need any milk to make them and they are far cheaper than buying a takeaway coffee. Thanks girls for the incredible life hack!

5. Wool socks and thermal vests

Although these are both items straight out of your Nan’s wardrobe, I want you to keep an open mind. When a small parcel arrived at the Park View reception in first year containing two thermal vests from my grandma I did giggle, but as I sit here typing away cosily in a thermal vest I giggle no more. I’ve actually purchased four more (incredibly fashionable and versatile) long sleeved thermal tops and countless Primark woollen socks since.

The take home message? Listen to your elders.

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