Let’s be honest, Berkeley can get really cold. Coming from a girl used to the blazing San Jose sun and 100℉ summers, I still haven’t quite adjusted to the cooler temperatures in Berkeley. It’s taken quite a bit of trial and error – including many freezing or sopping wet walks home from campus – to figure out how to stay warm and dry here in the winter. With the cool Bay fog that looms over campus, the nearly freezing mornings and nights and the occasional downpour of rain, it’s easy to get caught up in the cold and have to spend the rest of your day on campus shivering. Fortunately for you, I’ve managed to acquire a few tips and tricks during my time here to help any of you freshmen and transfers survive your first winter in Berkeley.
Layers are your absolute best friend during the winter. Start with a long sleeve shirt as your base layer. You might even want to consider a thermal shirt if you’re someone who gets cold very easily. From there you can layer on however many sweaters, cardigans or sweatshirts you need to stay warm. Don’t worry, you won’t look like a hot mess. I promise that layered looks can actually be very cute and cozy! Before you head out the door, throw on a coat to protect yourself from rain (bonus points if you have a waterproof coat) and please put a beanie on your head to protect your ears from the freezing wind.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have frozen blue hands by the time you get to campus – even if you kept your hands in your pockets the whole commute. It’s so painfully inconvenient to have stiff hands from the cold when you walk into a class because your fingers refuse to type or write at their full capacity. For those of you who refuse to wear gloves (me included) I’d highly recommend getting a couple of hand warmers. Stuff several into your pockets and hold them in your hands to keep them from getting cold and stiff. Plus the heat will also spread from your pockets into your body which is an added warmth bonus!
Good pair of shoes
Much like my hands, I have numb toes most of the time I get to campus. Beyond getting some thick and warm socks, a good insulated pair of shoes will make all the difference. Most of the time sneakers and boots will be your best bet for a good pair of winter shoes. You don’t need to spend all too much, just make sure they don’t have any holes or big gaps anywhere in the shoes so cold air can’t creep in. Make sure that there is enough wiggle room to fit a good pair of socks in them.
One of my favorite ways to heat myself up from the inside out is to sip on a hot beverage throughout the day. At the risk of my health, I am an avid caffeine drinker so I will always have a steaming cup of coffee on hand to warm me up. If you’re not a fan of the taste of coffee, no worries! There’s an abundance of teas to choose from or you can get yourself a matcha latte. If you need something savory, then you can even bring some soup or broth in a thermos. Don’t knock it until you try it! If you’ve got a long day on campus, then the salts and vitamins in soup are the perfect warming pick-me-up to help you get through the rest of your studies.
If all else fails and you find yourself coming home wracked with shivers, then a personal favorite of mine is a heated blanket. Just plug it in, set it to your preferred heat settings and crawl under it for however long you need to warm up. I love to cozy up on my bed with a heated blanket, a nice steaming hot warm drink and play my favorite comfort movie to decompress after an overwhelmingly cold day.
These few tips and tricks have managed to keep me (mostly) warm during winter in Berkeley. Sometimes it’s just so cold that it creeps into your skin no matter what, but hopefully dressing properly for the weather and carrying around a hot drink will keep you toasty long enough to make it to your classroom. Let’s be honest, the classrooms in UC Berkeley are hot enough to boil you any day of the year, so it’s just a matter of getting from A to B in one warm piece.