Study Destination

An International Student’s Guide to Surviving Canadian Winters

Yocket Editorial Team

Regarded as the great white North, Canada is an extremely popular and beautiful study destination. It is famous among international students for unimaginable visuals and gorgeous white snow covered areas during winters. But with the snow comes a lot of hassle and therefore, the biting cold winters is among the most prominent problems faced by international students in Canada. As an international student planning to study in Canada, you need not worry.  We have brought you a complete guide on how to study in winter in Canada along with tips to beat the Canadian winters!

Table of Contents

Canadian Winters: An Overview

First things first, answering the three most common questions for international students related to winters in Canada:

  • How long is winter in Canada: Canadian winters last for 5 months spanning November to March, but are bitter cold.
  • When does winter starts in Canada: Harsh Canadian winters start from mid-December and last up to mid-March.
  • And now, how cold is winter in Canada: Winters in Canada are an amalgamation of freezing wind and rain storms, more importantly chilling snow falls, even resulting in frostbites and Hypothermia!

What is frostbite?

Frostbite happens when your skin is exposed to cold weather for a long period of time and makes the skin freeze like ice in a pale grey/ white colour.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a  condition wherein your body temperature falls below 30 degree Celsius.

As an international student you should know that Canadian winter temperatures can go as low as -15 degree Celsius in some provinces. Let us take you through some temperatures, international students observe during the mind blowing winters in Canada:


Daily mean temperature in winter

Nova Scotia

0 to -5 degree Celsius

New Brunswick

-5 to -9 degree Celsius


- 5 to -9 degree Celsius


-0.5 to -4 degree Celsius


-13 to -16 degree Celsius


-7 degree Celsius


5 degree Celsius

As is evident from the discussion, winters can get really cold in Canada. Not to be scared though, as this temperature can also make you experience some winter activities that you never tried before!

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Challenges Faced by Indian and International Students During Winters in Canada

International students in Canada come from over 180 countries every year, and being a vast country, Canada observes quite a number of weather conditions simultaneously in various stretches. Winter in the northern region is very extreme, whereas it is milder in the west and rainy in the east.

Problems faced by international students in Canada can be numerous, depending on your safety measures, and the kind of geography you hail from.

  • If you come from a warm country, it can get a tad bit difficult for you to survive in Canadian winters as the temperatures can dip below zero degrees. This makes everyday tasks difficultincluding getting to your student job.
  • Having the best winter gear is one of the most important things needed to survive winter in Canada, and many international students find it challenging due to expensive winter clothing.
  • Also, one of the major challenges faced by international students in Canada is lack of awareness. “How long is winter in Canada? How to survive winter in Canada? When does winter starts in Canada?” are some questions that you as an international should know the answers for before making the move.

Surviving Canadian Winters: Things to Pack

Let us now focus on answering one of the most important questions- How to survive winter in Canada. Surviving winters in Canada is not that big of a task, if obviously you pack well!

Here are some things needed to survive winter in Canada that you need to pack, to start-off your first winters in Canada:

  • Winter clothing: Your winter gear should consist of warm winter clothing! Be it thermals, turtle necks, high necks, bomber jackets, pullovers, long coats, warm & thick socks, trench coats, snow pants, boots, uggs, you need to bring it all! Try to get good quality and waterproof outerwear especially jackets and shoes.
  • Winter emergency kit: You can make this kit for all kinds of winter mishaps in Canada. This kit can include De-icer, first aid kit, water with non-perishable snacks. You can even pack a flashlight, a small tool kit, batteries, and a tow rope.
  • Do not miss out on the winter essentials:Winters call for extremely moisturizing products like moisturisers, balms, creams and lotions. Also, do not leave your lip balms, and burtbees behind!
  • Accessories:Some accessories are extremely important to thrive in Canadian winters, which include: hand warmers, wool gloves, beanies, quick dry towels, waterproof phone cases.

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Tips for Surviving Canadian Winters

This section will provide you with all the answers for questions like, “how to study in winter in Canada, How to survive winter in Canada, and problems faced by international students in Canada” :

  • Know the weather by location:Canada, as a country experiences dynamic weather conditions across its area. Cities like Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria are a lot warmer, whereas Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto experience winters high in intensity. You can also take help from the weather app to keep yourself updated.
  • Never forget your layers: To avoid conditions like frostbite and hypothermia, you should be cautious enough to never forget layers when going out in the cold. Not dressing appropriately is one of the biggest challenges faced by international students. You can also invest in waterproof snow clothing, and look for quality over price.
  • Keep your accommodation warm: Use a humidifier to prevent dry air, and mend all the cracks/holes to prevent cold air from entering in. Always clean the chimney and keep flashlights in case of city wide blackouts. Keeping a winter emergency kit as discussed above always helps.
  • Avoid unnecessary hassle:Canadian winter is quite difficult to cope up with, and there might be situations wherein you can get late, try to avoid panicking in such situations, so as to prevent injuries on your way. Also, try and avoid being outdoors for long hours.
  • Essential tips:Very generic, but also extremely important to take enough sleep, eat well and hydrate to a proper extent. Never miss your greens, and fruits along with essential vitamins (Vit C and Vit D) for winters. One of the most important vitamins for hypothermia is Vit B12.
  • Make the most of Canadian winters:Lastly, Canada offers everyone with the most amazing activities for winters including skiing, ice hockey, skating and what not. Do not miss seeing the snow capped areas and snowboarding on beautiful stretches across northern Canada. You can also try Canadian winter delicacies, and make the most of the beautiful Canadian winters.

As an international student, you may have many questions on how to survive winter in Canada, and how to study in winter in Canada. Surviving winters in Canada can be easy if you follow proper guidelines, and take important measures. A warm environment will also help you study better, and simultaneously help you enjoy the Canadian winters. Not to forget the numerous hot chocolates, and cups of coffee you can sip while studying in Canada!

Frequently Asked Questions about Surviving Canadian Winters

Ques. When does winter start in Canada?

Ans. Winter starts in Canada in November, and lasts till March.

Ques. How cold is Canada in winter?

Ans. It gets biting cold in Canadian winters, temperature ranges from -5 degree celsius to 5 degree celsius, depending on various locations.

Ques. How to overcome challenges faced by international students in Canada.

Ans. Some challenges faced by international students in Canada can be overcomed by:

  • Having the proper winter gear
  • Using the weather app regularly
  • Make a winter emergency kit

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