Campus & City Guide

#RULifeHack: 5 Winter Survival Tips for Commuter Students

As I approach graduation, I realize have done my fair share of commuting to Ryerson. I have experienced all the delays the TTC has to offer and learned the best routes to get downtown in a reasonable manner. While commuting heavily involves the reliance on public transportation, there is also a lot of other aspects that affect your commute – especially in the winter.  Below are some of my tips that have come in handy for me over the past couple of years.

a PATH underground sign next to an escalator

1. Learn to navigate Toronto’s underground PATH system

For those days when temperatures drop to -20c, the PATH becomes a lifesaver from walking in the cold.  The PATH is an extensive series of underground pedestrian walkways that has retail stores, restaurants, and some of Toronto’s top businesses.  What is even more useful is that the PATH includes a connection from Union Station all the way to Dundas Square! This is perfect for when the weather is super cold or when a snow storm hits and you don’t want to walk outside for a long time.

But beware! The PATH can be confusing to navigate at first because there are multiple walkways throughout the downtown core, so it is easy to get lost. I would recommend taking some time after class, or when you have some free time, to learn the routes so you won’t get lost when you’re rushing to class. A printable map can be found here.

2. Twitter is your friend!

Nothing is more worse than commuting downtown only to find out that your lecture has been cancelled. During inclement weather, ALWAYS check Ryerson’s official Twitter and RU Student Life for updates on the cancellation of classes. This is especially important to do during midterm and final exam period; the weather is no excuse to miss a test when it wasn’t originally cancelled.

3. Check your Ryerson email and D2L for updates from your professor

Professors commute too and might not be able to make it downtown, even if Ryerson is open during bad weather (which is most often the case). They might cancel class on their own and if you don’t check your email or D2L, you will make an unnecessary trip downtown.

person wearing brown winter boots in the snow

4. Your choice of footwear is crucial!

This tip may sound silly, but choose your footwear based on the length of your lectures and how you plan to get to campus. If you are walking in the PATH and going to be in back-to-back lectures, I would recommend wearing fall boots, as you will be indoors all day. A personal favourite of mine are my fall Sorel boots, because they’re comfortable yet practical at the same time. Nothing is more annoying than sitting in class, getting overheated because of your heavy winter boots and thick clothing.  Save your winter boots for those times when you do not have the option to walk inside for long periods of time.

joey from 'Friends' dressed in several layers

5. Dress in layers

Similar to tip #4, your choice of clothing will also dictate how comfortable your commute will be, so dressing in layers is key.  Wearing thick sweaters will not only make wearing your winter coat tight and uncomfortable, but will make it unbearable to walk inside due to overheating.  Sitting in a three hour lecture wearing clothes that you should be actually be wearing for ice skating only makes for an unpleasant experience in the classroom.

Bonus tip… for those who use GO transit

There are lots of delays that affect public transportation in the winter.  If you are taking the GO train and it becomes delayed for longer than 15 minutes (and the problem was within GO transit’s control), you can get a refund for your trip.  Trips on the GO can be pretty pricey depending on where you are commuting from, so the GO’s Service Guarantee program is very helpful to save some money on your Presto card.

Read more about the refund program here.

What are your tips on surviving the cold winter months? Share with us @RUStudentLife!

featured image by @____miggie____ on Instagram

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Kristin Walcott-Dass
Hello hello! I'm Kristin, a sociology student who loves dogs and vanilla lattes. I tend to overanalyze movies and collect vinyl records. Follow me on social media: Twitter (@nitsirk_) and Instagram (@nitsirkk_).