The UNYP survival guide to Prague weather

If you’re an international student who plans to relocate to the Czech Republic to study at the University of New York in Prague, you may be having a hard time adjusting to the local weather – especially if you come from warmer climes. Prague can be a tricky city to wrap your head around, and Czech weather can take some time to adapt to, even though the climate here is milder than elsewhere in Central Europe. In this blog post, we look at ways to speed up the process of adapting to the cold as you get settled in your new city. Hopefully, these tips will help you acclimate as quickly as possible so that you can enjoy your student life in your new home. 

How to acclimate faster while studying abroad in Prague 

Don’t let the darkness discourage you!

Prague’s latitude influences the amount of daylight we receive throughout the year – the darkness is obvious when the clocks go back in October. It will probably still be dark outside when you wake up, and it will be dark again before you finish your lectures. If you come from a sunny country, this lack of natural light will probably get you down. Our hormones are influenced by the sun after all, so it’s very common to feel a little sluggish if you don’t get enough natural light. On the other hand, the summer days feel almost excessively long when the sun rises at 4.45 am and doesn’t set until long after 9 pm. As wonderful as it feels to see the sun again after a long winter, sleep is an essential part of life. Fortunately, there are ways to combat all these problems, such as blackout blinds in the summer, and making sure to get outside every day in the winter. If you decide to stay in Prague for your entire degree, you might want to check with your physician whether you should be taking a vitamin D supplement, especially if you have darker skin. Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is directly exposed to the sun, but not from sunshine coming in through a window or on cloudy winter days. 

Layer up!

As with everywhere in the Czech Republic, Prague weather is changeable. Thankfully it is never too extreme, so you won’t need to pack for a polar expedition. Layers are crucial to comfort, as a summer day may start out chilly before progressing to blistering heat in the late afternoon. Invest in some winter thermals to wear under your everyday clothing; brands such as Uniqlo, Intimissimi, Patagonia, and Marks & Spencer offer a great variety of thermal underwear. A nice winter coat, gloves, cap, and scarf will help keep you warm at all times, and you probably won’t need anything heavier. Your accommodation will have central heating, but air conditioning is less common, so you might have a hard time keeping cool in the summer. If you get a little too hot, take advantage of some of the city’s chiller features – open-water locations, parks, and air-conditioned museums.

Waterproof or water-resistant?

Prague used to get less annual rain than, say, Paris, but due to climate change, it now frequently rains in December. Living here, you are more than likely to see your fair share of rainy and foggy days, so preparing correctly is a must. It is a good idea to keep a small umbrella in your bag, and a quality waterproof is vital for days when the downpour is torrential. A hooded rain jacket will look good no matter where you are and should be sufficiently waterproof to use as a winter coat.

Accelerate your acclimation

Although Prague doesn’t generally get extreme weather, it can feel like that if you’re used to a warmer climate in your home country. On average, winter temperatures don’t drop below -4 degrees Celsius, but every few years we can expect a cold snap of to -11. Life must go on when the thermometer is uncomfortably low and there is snow outside, so there are a few things you can do to acclimatize quicker. First of all, when indoors, remove any extra layers – otherwise, you won’t “feel the benefit” when you venture outside. To acclimate your limbs, keep your gloves, hat, and scarf on, but otherwise, try to brave the chill. You will probably see many Czechs wearing shorts and light jackets in winter, but this takes years of training, so don’t risk getting sick by copying them. You should also get into the habit of taking daily city hikes and runs, whatever the weather. If you’re enjoying yourself, photographing the city, or just walking around and exploring new neighborhoods, you’re unlikely to be focusing on how cold you are. Exercise is an excellent way to raise your body temperature, too! 

 

Photo credits: Polina Shubkina

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