Some Red River College Polytechnic international students are experiencing their first-ever winter season and have been feeling its effects on their mood.

First-year IT operations student Ruba Saludez said the winter season feels totally different than what they’re used to. They have only ever lived in a tropical country before coming to Winnipeg.

“Because of the cold weather, you’ll sometimes find yourself reflecting on things,” said Saludez, originally from the Philippines. “Your mood may switch from being active to just (wanting) to stay in bed the whole day.”

Though the cold has been kinder this winter than in previous years, it is still a surprising experience for many international students.

Harmanpreet Kaur, a second-year early childhood education student, said her first winter in the city after arriving in 2022 was much colder than she was used to.

“I like walking home whenever I feel overwhelmed, but I couldn’t do that when it’s -30 C outside,” Kaur said. “It was good that I live with my sister and cousins, so we can sing and dance together to lift my mood even if the weather was gloomy.”

Kaur said being around kids also helps with the winter blues.

“I work in a daycare, so seeing kids play and hearing them laugh really made me happy [even] though I couldn’t do other things like I used to,” she said.

Harmanpreet Kaur pauses from her busy class schedule at RRC Polytech’s Notre Dame Campus on Wednesday Jan. 31, 2024. Kaur, an international student, says she’s enjoying the warm winter weather this year. (Christine Bernabe)
Manager of RRC Polytech’s Campus Well-Being department, Breanna Sawatzky, works in her office at the Notre Dame Campus on Wednesday Jan. 31, 2024. Sawatzky encourages students to try out the different campus activities available to boost their moods. (Christine Bernabe)

Even amenities that help with mood and energy like The Loft Fitness Centre and light therapy stations in campus libraries are accessible to students, Sawatzky said.

Information about these resources and other health and wellness activities available for students, faculty and staff can be found on the Campus Well-Being department’s website.