The Aussies’ Guide to Surviving a European Winter
Let’s be honest, in Australia our winters are pretty mild. We don’t get snow; the temperatures are rarely in the negatives and we can walk around in a sweater and jeans without freezing to death. All in all, we don’t have it that bad. So, for the Aussies who are preparing for their first European winter, let me tell you somethings you should expect from someone who has experienced it before! (hint: it’s a lot of cosy nights in!)
In winter, it’s all about layering the clothes. You thought you could only wear one pair of jeans? Don’t be so naive! You need to have at least three pants, three socks and about five shirts including your winter jacket. It depends where in Europe you are, but generally you’ll feel like a walking stuffed olive waddling around with all those layers on. Don’t worry you’ll get used to it! And everybody else is doing it too. Which bring us to my next point…
Everything You Know About Winter Fashion is Wrong.
Let me tell you now; Aussie winter clothes and European winter clothes ARE NOT THE SAME THING. I made that mistake during my first winter abroad. Within the first week my boots were ruined from the rain and the jacket I bought in Australia for the winter was way too thin. Even the sweaters I bought from home were more for fashion rather than actually keeping me warm. So, do yourself a favour and buy yourself a new rain or snow resistant wardrobe!
Accept the That You’re Going to Feel Sad Sometimes
When I moved to Ireland, a lot of people told me that most people get depressed during the winter months. And I never understood it until I experienced it. When you go for weeks without seeing the sun, it can really get you down. Luckily, I made some friends that were willing to go on winter adventures with me like road tripping to the Cliffs of Moher, visiting ancient castles or just having a hot whiskey in a cosy pub to chase the winter blues away. You’ll just have to accept that some days you’re just going to feel like staying in bed all day. Just know it’s totally normal! And just know that when the sun does finally come out (even if it’s only for a few hours) everyone appreciates it so much more.
Prepare for Cosy Nights In
You’ll love the cosy winter aesthetic that winter brings. Think of lazy Sundays, Netflix in bed with a pizza while the rain pours outside. Or go in one of the many cosy cafes and drink a hot chocolate while you read a book. It’s all about knitted sweaters, hot drinks and being comfortable. And because winter in Australia is so mild, it’s great for us to live the true cosy winter experience!
Forget The Winter Wonderland Idea
When you think of Christmas in Europe we all like to picture fields of white, snowball fights and the Christmas you see in American movies. And insome places it may be like that, but I feel it’s my duty to tell you the reality is usually a wet, sloshy and icy kind of experience. Not to say that it doesn’t have its own beauty, but you should definitely lower your expectations if you’re thinking of the typical white Christmas.
The Drinking Culture
Sometimes in winter there is nothing better to do than head to the nearest bar, drink a few pints and chat with the locals. This takes some getting used to, since in Australia having a drink every day after work or class isn’t usually done. But in Europe, it’s common place. And while it is a lot of fun, it becomes too easy to get into the habit of making a detour to a pub while on your way home, so enjoy it, but make sure you do so responsibly.
The INCREDIBLE Christmas Markets
Europeans are known for their historic Christmas markets, and they truly are the best in the world. From chimney cakes, mulled wine and hand-crafted goods, it’s the perfect place to get into the Christmas spirit (and buy souvenirs and presents to take back home).
The Christmas markets in Galway, Ireland brings travellers from all over Europe, live music plays in the beer tents and everyone gets very merry if you know what I mean. Vienna, Brussels and Amsterdam have some of the best markets in the world if you were wanting to travel!
So, all in all, enjoy this experience for all the ups and downs a true winter brings, because you may never get to experience it again!
Want to experience a European Winter for yourself? Check out some of our January programs to check our January programs.
Words by Sophie Nicolas – Sophie studied a Bachelor of Arts at Edith Cowan University and also studied abroad in Japan
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