When I decided to attend Northwestern, the first thing everyone told me was some variation of, “You’d better pack a heavy jacket; Chicago is cold!” But I stubbornly brushed off their advice – I was tough, I thought. A little snow wasn’t going to scare me away. It may be only mid-November and still far from the dead of winter, but these past few months have taught me that I came to campus far from prepared. While I’m a ways away from being acclimated to the awful Evanston windchill, I’ve also learned some tricks to surviving the cold. I’m optimistic that I’ll survive this winter, and hopefully with these tips, you will too!

1. Invest in a thick winter coat right away

Literally any thick parka will do; it doesn’t have to be Canada Goose or Moncler. I’d recommend getting one that covers your legs at least partially, because sometimes jeans just don’t cut it. Getting one that’s waterproof and has a hood (preferably fur-lined, because those are super cute and ward off snow from falling in your face) is also a must. Whatever you do, don’t be like me and think there’s no way the temperature would drop any lower this early into winter. Flashback to Halloween, when I had to walk to class through the snow with three regular jackets, a rain jacket, an umbrella and a whole lot of regret.

Gap has some great finds, like this ColdControl parka jacket, which costs $198 – a bargain for anyone looking into North Face or Canada Goose ones.

2. Get outside!

Sometimes, the fact that it starts getting dark around 4 p.m. can make you feel down in the dumps. Personally, my time here has proven just how dependent my mood is on the weather. A cheerful sunny day sends my mood soaring, while I have to drag myself out of bed on a rainy day. That’s why I try to get outside when the weather’s nice, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Fitting in a quick jog down the lakefill doesn’t take more than 20 minutes, and it immediately makes you feel better, trust me.

3. Appreciate the scenery

For all of the time I’ve spent complaining about the weather, I often forget that the whole season thing is completely new to me. The cold may be annoying at times, but it does lend itself to some pretty spectacular views. Taking a minute to appreciate the beauty of a fresh snowfall or jump in a pile of leaves will make the seasons less dreary, and you might even be able to get artsy snow pics for the VSCO!

This is just of the many scenic pictures that’s been featured on my VSCO.

4. Load up on those vitamins

Getting enough Vitamin D was never an issue in Florida, but it’s become a concern as I often spend more waking hours in the dark than in the daytime. That’s why it is so important to make sure you’re taking a Vitamin D supplement or a good multivitamin to strengthen your immune system and prevent against the flu and other annoying illnesses.

5. Layers are your friend

Keep piling on the layers until you physically cannot fit that last sweatshirt on. Layering multiple thinner jackets is proven to keep you warmer than wearing a single heavier jacket, because the layers serve as an insulator to keep in your body heat. Honestly though, did you really need me to give you an excuse to dress up like a human marshmallow?

Underneath the jacket are two sweatshirts and a long-sleeve shirt – Florida girls gotta keep warm!

6. Hydration is key

I may be able to deal with the change in temperature, but the humidity change has been the real killer. While my hair may be frizz-free and thriving, my skin most definitely is not. Therefore, this is not the time to skimp on the lotion, y’all. Find a good one that works for you (Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter is my fav!), and don’t forget to drink lots of water, too.

I’m not kidding! This stuff is no joke!

Whether you’re a veteran to Chicago winters or you’ve never even seen snow, these tips and tricks will hopefully help you to not only survive, but thrive during this winter.