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It’s Cold. Wear Clothes.

Posted on 22nd October 2009. 3 Comments

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Sophie Camp is annoyed not only at the crap weather, but at the way in which Durham students tend to ignore said crap weather.

“What is it in the blood of a university student that drives them to wear absolutely nothing in minus degree centigrade temperatures?”

CanadaFlagGirl01This week, as the mornings turn from crisp sunny hours to a sludgy, grey mass of frigid air, you start to realise that the winter is coming in. Slowly but surely we’ll be slipping on patches of frost, wearing mittens to bed, and ditching 9am lectures for remaining snuggly in bed. Thoughts will now be turning to the weather. At least mine are.

The weather. That nasty thing that lurks outside your window and starts to tamper with your nights out. It tests how willing you are to go to lectures and makes you question how often you can get away with wearing that big thick hoody that keeps you nice and toasty before it starts to smell. The start of the new academic year seems to pale in comparison to what the hell I’m going to wear that won’t make me look like an Eskimo, but will keep everything from going numb. I could go for that skiing jacket I bought last year, with the mittens, tassled hat and furry socks.

Or, I could do what most girls at this university tend to do and hoik my skirt to just under the line of my knickers, deck my feet out in a pair of furry moon-boots (I’m sorry: ‘Uggs’,) pile five hoodies on my top half, drag my hair through a hedge backwards, and head out looking like that. Seems to work for them. And they never look cold, no. Their knees are shivering and their skin is a glacial blue for totally different reasons, apparently.

What is it in the blood of a university student that drives them to wear absolutely CanadaFlagGirl01nothing in minus degree centigrade temperatures? Some may call it determination to look good in an image obsessed world which ranks both male and female young adults against the current, idealised aesthetic. Some just call it plain stupidity.

This is not only directed at the ladies here at Durham. Guys too. You know the ones. The ones who wear a painted-on shirt, pyjama bottoms and flip-flops to lectures even when it’s raining so badly whole Hill colleges are being swept down South Road.

Guys: flip-flops belong on the poolside, in gyms, in the home, anywhere but on the street. Of course it’s hilarious when one of them falls over in their flip-flops and sticks their feet into a leaf-clogged drain, but that’s hardly the point. We get it; you’re tough. You laugh in the face of frostbitten toes and scoff when you start to lose the sensation in your ankles. But you must be absolutely freezing and we would rather you wear shoes than see your big toe drop off in a lecture.

“Alcohol in the blood makes us feel warm; some will forsake a coat or anything beyond a vest top because of this.”

CanadaFlagGirl01It’s not just the day time where people are starting to look cold. Nights out become a battle of wills, students pitching everything they’ve got against the weather. Our parents and grandparents tell us, whatever sex we are, that ‘you will freeze if you wear that’. The words ‘catch your death’ have been thrown around plenty of times.

And, unfortunately, people really do ‘catch their death’. If you have parents that are conscious of this, then you will have heard the scare stories. Those horrible legacies parents leave you of people they knew who came to a tragic end because of the cold after a night out. Alcohol in the blood makes us feel warm; some will forsake a coat or anything beyond a vest top because of this. They just head to the nearest bar, drink as much as they can, and go about their business.

“…nobody looks cool when you’re dressing for one of St Tropez’s nudist beaches and it’s minus 5 degrees outside…”

I’m not here to give a lecture on how to ‘play it safe’ when you’re out on the town. CanadaFlagGirl01We’re not idiots, we know that with a lot of alcohol in your blood you do stupid things. You put your boxers on over your trousers and tell everyone you’re the superhero ‘Shot Man’. You say silly things to your best friend and spend the rest of the night philosophising over how much you love each other in the toilets with a lot of tissue paper and tears. You run around Durham naked simply to become part of a college sports team.

But with the winter coming in, it doesn’t seem the greatest idea to be playing with fate by bearing flesh to the elements. Alcohol can make you feel warm, but at the same time it’s lowering the body’s temperature. Skin flushes, your stomach feels a little warmer and you feel impervious to the cold. All signs that alcohol is working to keep you warm, but in fact core body temperature is heading southwards. That, combined with some drunken staggering home can have an adverse effect on the body. Of course, some of us just get lucky and can come away unscarred. Unfortunately, if it’s not your lucky night then side effects range from a cold the next day, to a bout of the flu, to something much more deadly. Add adverse weather conditions like rain or snow into the mix, and the danger goes up a notch.

So why do people still dress the way they do when it’s freezing? I guess in the end it really is about image; laced with that bit of stupidity that comes naturally with being a student. We’ve all done it, we all do it.

Still, quick tip: nobody looks cool when you’re dressing for one of St Tropez’s nudist beaches and it’s minus 5 degrees outside. In fact you look like a fool and – admit it – you are bloody cold.

What would I suggest? As winter starts to loom and you’re thinking of what to wear for lectures: wrap up. Put a thick puffa jacket on, jam that stripy bobble hat on your head and go to town in your wellies and stitched-on mittens. Wear those long john thermals your Mum hid at the bottom of your suitcase when you were packing, strap on that pair of woolly socks your Dad rejected for Christmas, wrap a scarf so tightly around your chin and neck until you look like you’ve been in some sort of accident.

It’s Ok, go ahead.

It’s so bloody grey in Durham at the moment that no-one is going to be able to see you anyway.

Sophie Camp


  • Hannah said:

    When I was at Durham, a student died while out one winter night. I think he was drunk and fell and hit his head, rather than having hypothermia or anything, but it was still all very sad.

  • Sarah said:

    there was that girl who died on a skiing trip last year as well. also sad.. good article though despite the upsetting comments! i always laugh when i see guys walking down the hill in the pouring rain wearing flip flops, idiots.

  • Calum said:

    The problem is that it is so cold outside but so bloody warm in the clubs. Then again, a compromise can always be struck.