A Floridian’s Guide to Winter in New York

When I was applying for college during my senior year of high school, one of the main reasons I was considering schools out of state was because I wanted a change of scenery. I was tired of going outside in December to find that it was 80°F outside and everything was still green. I watched the ABC Family Christmas lineup every year with the air conditioning system BLASTING, and dreamed that I would one day experience the phenomenon known as “snow.”

I didn’t realize how woefully unprepared I was for the cold until about September during my first year here at NYU. I stepped outside one morning to find that it was already 50°F  outside. I was horrified. I thought that I would have at least another month to mentally prepare myself for this. I began to panic. How was I, a born-and-bred Floridian who had never experienced a true winter, going to survive? Why had I decided to subject myself to this?

As the winter months drew closer, I became more and more certain of one thing: I was not going to make it. I was going to be found frozen solid to a bench in Washington Square Park, or crushed under a mountain of snow. The headlines would read: “Winter Strikes Again: Florida Woman Defeated by Sinister Season.” I still held out hope for snow, but was discouraged by claims that it was only nice for the first hour, and then it got grey and gross and stayed on the streets for weeks after.

I braced myself for the worst, and although it got pretty rough around February, I somehow made it out alive, and with all of my fingers and toes intact! It was a winter miracle!

Want to know how I survived? Here are 5 tips on How to prepare for winter if you don’t know what it is!

  1. Gear up for Battle

The first, and most obvious, step: Buy a winter wardrobe. Make sure you have at least one sturdy winter coat. Consider it an investment, because a good winter coat can last you for a while. Some companies, such as the North Face, even offer lifetime warranties on their products! Buy a couple of pairs of thick, warm socks. I discovered quickly that normal ankle socks just won’t cut it, and nothing is worse than having to walk around New York City with numb feet. Gloves were something I didn’t think were going to be necessary, and that was my biggest mistake. When your hands get really cold, they get numb and sensitive. You can stick them into your coat pockets, but then you can’t use your hands for anything else like holding a cup of coffee or texting your mom.

2. Rain or shine, snow or sleet…

Make sure you check the weather before you get dressed to leave in the morning. The temperatures can fluctuate greatly from day to day, and even within the same day. From personal experience, you don’t want to be dressed for 60°F when it is actually 30°F. My advice is to always add an extra layer; if you get too hot, you can always remove it later. It’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared.

3. Moisturize!

This was definitely something I wasn’t expecting to deal with, but the cold air will dry out your skin really quickly. Make sure to moisturize your face and hands, and always carry chapstick on you.

4. I’d like to Phone a Friend…

As NYU prides itself on having a diverse community of students, it’s more than likely that at least one of your friends will be from somewhere that has a real winter. Use your friends as a resource, and ask them about their own experiences with winter and the cold. My roommate, Kaitlin, was more than happy to answer all the questions I had, no matter how ridiculous they were. (“What does it feel like?” “What does it taste like?” “Can you bury me in it like sand at the beach?”) 

5. Haters Gonna Hate

I encountered my fair share of people who were annoyed by my questions or thought it was silly that I wanted to have a snowball fight on the first snow day of the year. Don’t let yourself be deterred by their negativity! Yes, winter can have its low points, but so can all the other seasons. Allow yourself to enjoy this experience, especially if you’ve never experienced it before! That’s part of the beauty of New York: people come here to try new things every day!

I hope this list will help to ease any fears you may have! Just remember: if this Florida girl can make it, so can you!

My first snow!


  • Fabulous perspective & great thoughts about enjoying new experiences & seeing the positive side of things!

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