How to survive Scottish weather

As the sun sets earlier and the days become colder, it is worth anyone’s time to understand just how to get through a typical Scottish winter.

We here in Edinburgh are lucky due to the city’s setting: it’s southerly location and hills that help block a bit of wind. However, we have not escaped the frigid temperatures and chill – but that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for them! This blog post will outline the keys to surviving Edinburgh weather and how to deal with the lack of sun in honour of Mental Health Week here at the University of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh at winter time - a view from Calton Hill
Image source: This is Edinburgh – Winter in Edinburgh

Know your degrees

This one might seem silly, but as an American who traveled to the United Kingdom, I had to relearn how to tell how cold it is outside using Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. Sure, you can use your phone’s weather app, but it’s much more useful to ask a friend how cold it is to understand that “below zero” doesn’t mean you should barricade yourself inside to preserve heat. It just means you should bundle up a bit extra before your walk to class.


Speaking of bundling up… you can never go wrong with putting on an extra layer (or five) in Scotland. Puffy jackets certainly seem to be a fashionable article of clothing for students at Edinburgh, but in reality whatever keeps you warmest will keep you happiest. That, and a cup of hot chocolate in between your lectures. Make sure to pack scarves, gloves, hats, and maybe even an electric blanket before moving to Scotland.


In all seriousness, going to the gym is one of the best ways to surviving both the cold and the winter blues. The Pleasance gym is absolutely full of cardio and weight equipment, plus recreational rooms. Working out and getting your heart rate up combats any mood depressors and releases endorphins throughout your body. If you’re feeling a bit down, head to the gym for a quick workout to help alleviate stress and anxiety.

The Pleasance gym at the University of Edinburgh
Image source: The University of Edinburgh – Pleasance gym

Invest in some vitamins

I realise I run the risk of sounding like a mother, but it is of the utmost importance to look after your health during the winter here.

Coming from a city which, even during the winter, is almost always sunny, I had a serious lack of Vitamin D last year. During my first year, if the sun wasn’t shining, I wouldn’t leave my room. This year, I go outside at any chance I can get and soak up the Vitamin D. I not only rush outside when I see the sun, but I suggest buying multi-vitamins that contain all the important things that your body needs to succeed in the day.