Winter is coming! Life hacks for life on campus

It’s December, and winter is coming! If you live in a place of ice and snow, it’s the time of year to stock up on the types of things that will make life easier on campus. If you live in a suite, how can you make sure your toilet seat isn’t freezing first thing in the morning? Headed to a game and looking for ways to keep your feet warmer?

Worried about that exposed car on campus parking and how you’ll get your car going for that trek home from an evening lab? Check out these life hacks for some get-ready-for-winter tips!

Keeping yourself warm inside your dorm

When I lived in graduate school housing, keeping warm at home was a non-issue. I lived on the 13th floor of the building, and between the frigid ground floor and where the elevator stopped for me, I had to strip off all my outdoor layers, because my floor was a sauna. I kept the windows partially open most of the winter to keep from overheating!

Hopefully, your dorm’s heat-regulation is better than mine was. But odds are good that you won’t be the one in control of the thermostat. What can you do?

  • Dress in layers. I always wore a t-shirt as the base layer under sweatshirts, coats and other winter gear so that I could adjust by taking off one layer at a time until I was comfortable, no matter what building I was at on campus or whose dorm room I was visiting.
  • If you live in a perpetually cold dorm, consider grabbing a robe and wearing it backwards, so your front is covered. If you study on the couch or even in your desk chair, odds are your back is warmer than your front.
  • This is also the time of year to work with your laptop actually on your lap. Mine works as a nice little mini-heater on cold days.
  • Try some fingerless gloves. These are a staple for me on days when I’m writing an essay. If you don’t have friend who can knit a pair for you (one of my undergrad housemates was a perpetual knitter and I definitely took advantage of that), you can turn a pair of cheap, store-bought gloves into fingerless ones with a little stitching and the directions on the Fashion Diva Design post “DIY Winter Crafts.”

Oh, and that toilet seat tip I hinted at above? If you have your own in-suite toilet that opens in the front, you can take a pair of men’s tube socks and use one to cover each side! Round seated toilets can be covered a little more creatively, such as by cutting a huge hole out of a t-shirt and putting that t-shirt around the seat. (You can find photos of both options in Andrew P.’s Buzzfeed article “24 Creative Life Hacks Everyone Should Know Before Winter Comes.”)

Winter life hacks for your car

If you’re on a driving campus, there are some hacks that will make your life easier—and possibly safer.

  • Keep a mini shovel in your trunk. I keep a shovel in my trunk all year long, because a few fall and spring surprise storms had me digging my car out with less than optimal tools. Once I used a plastic binder, because it was all I had on hand.
  • During the winter, keep kitty litter in your trunk, too. It’s surprisingly good at creating traction beneath your tires if you get stuck in snow or ice.
  • If it’s going to snow while you’re in class, put your windshield wipers up, so they won’t get buried under a layer of snow on your windshield. Better yet, put a pair of socks on them so snow and ice can’t stick to them.
  • Use a plastic sandwich bag zipped over your side mirrors to keep them from icing over. It means if you’re running late to your 8 a.m. class, you won’t have to remember to scrape them.

Make sure you keep a blanket in your car along with your winter car safety kit (which I wrote for CengageBrain about in “Life hacks for cold weather on campus,” posted December 25, 2015), and check out these other great tips from Ginny Gaylor, also on CengageBrain, in her November 13, 2014, post “Winterize your car for cold weather.”

And if you’re going to that game on a cold day in the stadium? Grab a cardboard box to keep your feet on. The elevation and air-space between you and the stands helps keep your toes extra warm.

What are your best winter weather life hacks? Tell us in the comments.

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