Welcome back to Ask a Californian! The place in online space that lets you ask well meaning if uncomfortably direct questions that others would simply shun. With the change in seasons and drop in temperature, many of the less Finnish students here at Arcada may be noticeably shocked; but the answer to the question “Are you cold?” doesn’t have to be yes. In fact the answer to this weeks question is a resounding no, and with some of the following tips just about anybody ought to be able to keep warm. This entry is for all those from more tropical climes who might not have figured out how to keep warm yet, and for all those who grew up in the snow and have forgotten more about staying warm than I know and want a giggle at the silly Californian or groan about just how much colder it’s going to get before the seasons finish swinging back to summer. (Both are fair responses)
So let’s get you outfitted: The most important starting point to staying warm is layering. If like me you are a child of the desert, thermals may not be something you are used to; but they make a huge impact on your ability to stand at a bus stop in the wind and snow. In a pinch just having an extra pair of socks on or extra hoodie under you jacket may make all the difference for you. Next I like to take a cue from the locals and see how they prepare their kids to go outside. No, I’m not telling you that you need a brightly colored snowsuit; but see if you can find a Finnish child without a hat, scarf, and gloves. You lose a lot of heat from your head and hands, insulating them helps; and that scarf will help insulate your core and bring your temperature up fast. So watch a Finn and see how they wrap their scarves, pick up a funny looking hat and gloves from the harbor market (or wherever) and layer accordingly. If you follow these basic outfitting steps the chances are good that you’ll have to start removing layers after that run for the train, or you’ll really start sweating.
Now that we have approached the topic of moisture, comes my favorite rule: Stay dry. Simple right? When you are hot you sweat, the wind carries excess heat off of your body as that moisture evaporates, it isn’t a leap to consider that still applies in the cold. As I said before you lose a lot of heat from your bare head and hands; but wet socks will sap the heat out of you faster still. So whether you like to rock the galoshes or just waterproof your shoes; whether you have a Moomin umbrella or a slick hooded overcoat, keeping dry will contribute to your well being and happiness, especially in the drizzly rainy not quite frozen cold of autumn and spring.
Sooner or later, there may come a point, when all your preparedness s isn’t enough to stave off the cold and dark, for those times I advise avoidance. Find a warm group of friends to hang out with or duck into a café or restaurant. Travel by way of the city’s underground tunnels; not just the metro, but the underpasses that keep Helsinki’s businesses bustling with customers even in the snow. Soak up and try to really enjoy whatever little sun you see when it comes out and do your best to absorb the quiet beauty of the snow and candlelight that make Finland so beautiful in winter. If you do, I think you’ll find your breath is taken away by more than just the temperature.
I welcome you to contribute your favorite tips and tricks to surviving the soon to be sub-zero surroundings, drop them off in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to more questions here at Ask a Californian!