December is now upon us and with it comes an inevitable drop in temperature. Whether you live for the beach and the heat of the sun, or love nothing more than a woolly jumper and the crunch of snow under your feet, you must admit that Galway city can be absolutely bitterly cold in winter. Don’t despair however, we at SIN won’t let our readers freeze to death, so here are some cheap and cheerful tips for keeping warm this winter.
As is well known from the wise words of our Mammies, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While this is true all year round, it is particularly important in winter. Food generates energy for our bodies and much of this energy is converted into heat.
So as tempting as it might be to stay in bed for those few extra minutes in the morning, it would be much more beneficial to get up and make yourself a warm bowl of porridge. “Porridge?!” I hear you exclaim in horror; don’t be fooled by images of Oliver Twist’s gruel. Spicing up your porridge with some cinnamon, fruit or honey can actually be a really delicious and warming start to a frosty winter day and is fairly easy on the wallet.
Sticking with the subject of food, it has to be said that there’s nothing nicer in the winter than something bulky and comforting. Soups and stews are the perfect candidates for this description, being warm, filling and nutritious while also being cheap and easy to make.
If you don’t want to add meat, or feel it stretches the budget a little, you can fill them up with inexpensive vegetables, beans, lentils and chickpeas which will provide the bulk and the nutrients. Cooking such dishes in bulk and freezing individual portions to take out whenever you want them is also a convenient and cost effective way of managing your meals over the winter.
One of the not-so-pleasant experiences that many NUI Galway students have faced is the walk across the Quincentenary Bridge on a cold, wet, windy morning. Wind seems to come from all directions at once and just when you think you’ve made it to the end, you look up and realise you’re only halfway across.
For just such an occasion, a useful tip is to layer up your clothes. Instead of relying on a bulky coat for heat and then having the rain soak through it, wear a few more under-layers for heat and then keep dry with a raincoat. That way, you won’t have to sit slightly damp and sticky all through your lectures while the cold seeps into your bones.
You won’t need to be told this twice, but when it comes to all things comfy and cosy, yet easy on the cash, Penneys is your best friend. Guaranteed, you can go in and get yourself a hat, scarf, gloves for under 20 quid and still look stylish. I’ve even seen fluffy earmuffs and beanies with built-in earphones; sure, how could you go wrong?
It could also be a good idea to invest in a hot water bottle and some blankets. Student houses don’t have a reputation for being the most well insulated dwelling places, so these could be the crucial difference between a night spent shivering or sleeping soundly.
A really important point is to be sensible with the heating in your houses. Whether it’s oil or storage heating, heating can be one of the most expensive aspects of student living. Have a conversation with your housemates and decide when is the best time to have the heating on; usually first thing in the morning and later in the evening when people are likely to be at home. If everyone is going home for the weekend, just set the timer to come on for Sunday night – no point letting heat go to waste all day Saturday with no one to enjoy it.
Finally, I personally love the winter, so I would advise you to embrace the change in seasons. Hot chocolate, fluffy scarves, the arrival of the Christmas market – it’s all ahead of us. So try not to be a negative Nancy and complain about the cold. Instead, take a leaf out of Elsa’s book and build yourself a snowman.
-By Aoife O’Donoghue
Image: Youleah on Flickr