Students give advice for surviving ‘Chiberia’


For DePaul students, returning to school during the winter means the sun sets around 4:30 p.m. Without its heat to help make the sub-zero temperatures somewhat bareable, students and faculty are left to fend for themselves.

They must combat the blustery winds  and frigid air despite keeping up with never-ending schedules. It makes commuting to and from class a challenge — staying warm isn’t easy.

The best way to stay warm is by creating  ‘Chiberia’-proof fashion choices. One of these includes layering.

Chunky-knit sweaters over t-shirts or fleece tights under jeans are just a few ways to stay warm while walking around in Lincoln Park or the Loop.

Assistant professor of biological and health sciences Margaret Bell explains how layers help to keep everyone warm.

“The more space you put between your skin surface and the cold air, the better,” Bell said. “So, if you remove drafts, (by) tucking your shirt in or pulling your socks over your pant legs, that will reduce the chance that the cold air has to come in contact with your skin.”

Her favorite clothing to keep warm is boots and long underwear. She wears fabrics such as down feather or wool to prevent cold air from reaching her skin.

For Bell, dressing to impress is the least of her concern. It’s all about surviving Chicago’s brutal winter months.

However, junior graphic design major Daniella Ballarino has some tips for staying fashionable. She will be working as an intern at Fashion Bar in June because of her love for the art. To keep warm in the Chicago winters, she enjoys wearing leggings, a sweater, a scarf and Guess combat boots.

Despite her boot choice, Ballarino has noticed that occasionally wearing Guess combat boots rather than more traditional snow boots does cause her to slip on the ice.

Ballarino stays fashionable during the winter, but doesn’t always stay warm.

Ballarino commutes and takes the train, so staying warm is a priority for her. However, she doesn’t wear a jacket that protects her very well from the bitter cold because of the heat she faces on the ‘L’.

“Sometimes I find myself getting cold in the winter because I don’t like wearing a heavy jacket, but I suck it up anyways,” Ballarino said. “It’s just uncomfortable for me (to wear a heavy jacket) when I’m sitting in the train, sometimes it gets too hot.”

While attempting to maintain a positive attitude in the freezing conditions works for Ballarino and others, Bell reiterates why layers are so beneficial.

“Layers help, specifically down, because you are adding even more space,” Bell said. “There is air trapped in the down and that will retain heat better.”

Freshman environmental studies major Twyla Neely-Streit is from Carbondale, Ill., which is six hours south of Chicago.

“(Chicago winters) are cold, definitely colder than where I’ve lived my whole life, but it doesn’t really bother me too much,” Neely-Streit said.

Neely-Streit attributes part of this drop in temperature is due to Lake Michigan.

“(It is colder in Chicago) because it is a lot windier. It is probably 10 degrees colder here (in Chicago) at any given time. And (Chicago) is next to a big body of water,” Neely-Streit said.

To avoid the winds, she stays inside and wears warm layers of clothing. Neely-Streit also uses the heat lamps on the CTA to stay warm during those frigid commutes.

“On most of the major CTA lines, if you are waiting for your train, you can stand under (the heat lamps),” Neely-Streit said. “(It is) like what restaurants have for food.”

This is an important tip to use while commuting because, according to Bell, bodies lose the most heat when cold air comes into contact with skin.

According to Mental Floss, “If you’re otherwise clothed, you’ll lose heat from any surface that’s exposed.”

Besides using the heat lamps to her advantage, Neely-Streit has observed how other people try to stay fashionable but also manage to avoid getting frostbite in “The Windy City”.

“Everybody has the fur hoods, navy-green bomber jackets and Timberland (boots) are coming back in style, and Uggs will probably never die,” Neely-Streit said. “Guys are wearing scarves more.”

William Kanter, a freshman theater arts and English major, does not use a scarf. Instead, he stays comfortable by wrapping himself in his comforter and warm pajamas.

“(Doing that) makes it easy to go to sleep,” Kanter said.

When wrapping up in blankets, Mental Floss recommends “layering your covers with the thinnest, densest ones on top.”

Kanter is satisfied with his decision to live in Chicago, rather than a toastier location.

“I sometimes think about living somewhere warm,” Kanter said. “Whenever I go on vacation somewhere warm, I think ‘this is nice.’ But I don’t know if I want to live that way year-round.”

His hometown of Champaign, Ill. isn’t too different than the city’s when it comes to the weather.

“The weather in Champaign is actually quite similar to the weather in Chicago,” Kanter said. “One of the reasons I like Chicago so much (…) is there is still something reassuringly Illinois about it and I think the weather helps. (…) You can always just put on more layers.”

Kanter recommends for others to layer, too by wearing a hat, scarf and heavy gloves to stay warm this winter.

“My mom is a knitter, and she knits me a bunch of hats,” Kanter said. “Those are really nice.”

Bell is also considering adding insulation for her office window in the building of Biological and Health Sciences.

Mental Floss also recommends using heavier curtains during the winter months.

“If you’re not wearing a tank top or going sleeveless, your windows shouldn’t, either,” Mental Floss said. “Replace thin curtains with heavier wool or fleece drapes in the winter. But be sure to open them on sunny days for free heat.”

Similar to window insulation, blocking cold wind drafts with a pool noodle might also help students’ dorms stay warm.

“Keep heat in and cold out by cutting a pool noodle in half lengthwise, wrapping it in fabric, and sliding it under your door,” Mental Floss writes. “It’ll stay put all winter, and you can re-use it at the pool come summer.”

Unfortunately it is not pool season yet, so hopefully these tips can help DePaul students remain warm until then.