There is a saying I’ve heard before in the dark corners of the Internet. One whispered in chatrooms and hallowed blogs, trawled and inscribed by those who know the ways of the web. It is said that the great god Apollo grants the gift of prophecy to the unwilling and unexpecting, cursing them with a foresight they could never prepare for nor change. Much like Cassandra of Greek mythology, they are cursed with knowledge and granted no ability to change it. A fate which none desire, and yet many are cursed with.

I was one such individual this past week.

“Huh, the temperature’s not too bad. I thought it’d be getting chilly by now.”

I curse my ignorance now. That day, October 20, 2023, the mean temperature for Kelowna sat at around 13 degrees Celsius. Today at the moment of writing, October 27, 2023, that temperature has dropped 16 degrees Celsius, and now sits at a frosty -3 degrees Celsius. That number will only continue to drop as time passes, and the inexorable march of winter draws closer.

And that SUCKS.

Many of you reading right now might be shrugging your shoulders. UBCO is a Canadian school after all, and much of the student body has experienced temperatures far worse than a measly dip below freezing. I’m still seeing some people walking around in shorts and a t-shirt, and who knows what ice-based superpowers those people must have been granted to be able to do something like that. I salute the nutcases, whatever the fault.

Either way, for those of us who haven’t been blessed by the frost giants, the plummeting temperatures have been a bit of a wakeup call as to what we might be able to expect for the future. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a fresh snowfall over the valley, and nothing quite as casually terrifying as remembering what new icy despairs that entails.

For those who are having their first experience with temperatures below freezing, there are some important things you might want to lock down while you can. Take it from someone who came to UBCO from a region whose average temperature for October is 27 degrees Celsius — winters can take you by surprise. 

And they’re the worst when they do.

So, here are some basics.

First of all, get the right clothes. A proper winter jacket is a must, as are at least one pair of gloves. More than one pair would be ideal, actually, because I’ve genuinely never lost articles of clothing as much as I lose gloves. It’s like losing a sock in the wash, only instead of saying “screw it” and mismatching them to no ill-effect, you might end up wandering around with two left gloves from different sets on, and that’s an experience that should never be repeated as long as humanity still roams the earth. (It’d probably be fine for the cockroaches though.)

Speaking of clothing, get some good boots. It might be tempting to skimp when it comes to footwear since a good pair of winter boots can be expensive, but trust me — you need some good boots once the snow starts falling thick. Sidewalks turn to ice, roadways turn to slush, and you will fall flat on your butt eventually. There’s no avoiding it. Getting some good boots is the best way to minimize the odds of that happening.

Also, this is a personal anecdote: make sure to dry your hair before you head out. Weird advice, I know, but I’m still suffering from an ear infection from two years ago after deciding it would be fine to go outside straight after a shower. My ear canal still hates me.

There’s more to be said, of course. One self-referential article from a third-year student whining about the cold isn’t enough to get you ready for the upcoming season; there are a dozen other reminders that I haven’t covered here.

The point of it all is this: prepare. Get ready. It may seem dramatic now, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. To quote an oft-lauded show with a terrible ending, winter is coming. If you know how to handle it, awesome. If you don’t… well, you’ll have to learn soon. Reckon back to Apollo granting the gift of foresight, and call me Cassandra once more. Because, if you don’t heed my warning, you might find yourself snowed in with nothing but a toque and a moth-ridden scarf to guard against the chill. At that point, you’d only have yourself to blame.