Immersing yourself in another culture while studying abroad can be fun and rewarding. You live in a completely new place, while enjoying exploration, adventure, and self-discovery. You become a better person.
However, those who study abroad often end up having so much fun that they forget to look after themselves. Just like adjusting to a new country and culture, staying healthy while studying abroad is not easy.
Although it denotes change, studying abroad should never compromise your health. The following tips should help you stay safe and healthy.
Prepare Before You Leave
If you want to stay healthy while studying abroad, you’ll need to prepare some stuff before leaving. Start your adventure on the right foot by taking care of these things:
First Aid, Vaccinations and Medications
Do your homework before traveling. Stock up on basic medications, such as diarrhea tablets and painkillers. If you have any chronic medical conditions, make sure that they’re stable. Complete a pre-travel physical exam.
Furthermore, you’ll need to make sure that your immunizations and vaccinations are up to date. Check to see if the country you’ll be studying in requires any of these. Some countries do not allow entrance without proof of vaccination.
Since there’s no guarantee you’ll have a pharmacy around the corner, bring your own. It’s wise to travel with a small first aid kit and basic over-the-counter medications. These include sunscreen, yeast infection treatments, oral rehydration electrolyte mix, bandages, blister dressings, cold medicine, cough drops, bowel management medications, pain relievers, antacids, and medications that control fever.
There’s no guarantee that the medications you’ll purchase abroad will be of the same quality as the ones you buy at home. Moreover, refilling a prescription in another country can be challenging. Stock up on everything you may need.
Investing in good travel insurance is just as important. It’s one of those things you simply can’t leave home without.
In case you get seriously ill, you’ll receive adequate medical care without a crippling bill. Read up about your health insurance policy and what it covers.
Emergency and Contingency Plans
Always have a backup plan. In case of an emergency, have a way to pay for emergency care. Travel with something that allows quick access to funds, such as a credit card.
Remember that some facilities can turn you away if you haven’t got any kind of guarantee of payment. And yes, they can and will do this regardless of the nature of your medical emergency.
Another important thing is to always have emergency contact information with you. This can be a simple quick reference card. As well as contact info, write down information such as past medical history, major medical conditions, allergies, and daily medications.
Staying Healthy When Studying Abroad
The first few weeks after you arrive in your host country may be challenging. This is the ideal time to start with the “staying healthy” routine.
What’s more, finding ways to stay in shape will help you get out of your comfort zone.
The most important component of staying healthy overseas is adopting healthy eating habits.
Everyone who has studied abroad knows how easy it is to live on fast food. However, every country offers healthy, budget-friendly alternatives. Learn about the country’s staple foods – these are generally the cheapest and the healthiest.
As you’ll be out of your comfort zone and away from your support network, it’s important that you stay physically fit and capable of coping with challenges. Remember to take your vitamins and choose healthy options when you go out to eat. You are what you eat!
Stay Hydrated and Moisturize
Staying hydrated will help you look your best and will keep you healthyt. Don’t forget that staying hydrated doesn’t mean consuming sodas or alcoholic beverages; it means drinking lots of water.
To keep your skin fresh and pretty, always have a bottle of moisturizer with you. Skin dries out so easily, especially in a hot climate – retain its healthy glow by keeping it well-moisturized.
Start an Exercise Routine
The easiest way to fall off the staying-healthy wagon is by excluding exercise from your schedule. Sometimes, you’ll skip the workout because you’d rather spend that time with friends. Other times, you’ll do it because you’re exhausted from that day’s classes. It’s always easy to find an excuse.
One way to tackle this issue is to work out in the morning. Prioritize your healthy and start your day with a boost while still leaving time for everything else.
Be accountable. Find a fitness partner who will help you stay on top of your workout goals. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new local friend, a roommate, or another student from the same program. He or she will help you to stay on track.
Don’t Forget About Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as your physical needs. Living and studying abroad can be overwhelming and take a toll on your headspace. At times, you may feel anxious, homesick, isolated, lonely – in one word, miserable.
To help you feel connected, make an effort to interact, reach out stay in touch. Actively seek out opportunities to meet people. A good idea would be to join a local sports team, a club or a meet-up group. This will help you meet new friends and learn about the local culture, as well as give you an opportunity to practice the language (if you’re studying in a non-English speaking country).
Signing up for traditional dance lessons in another great option. Either way, meeting new people is crucial for mental health and will help you get the most out of your studies abroad.
Making the effort to stay healthy while studying abroad is just as important as the actual studying. Your immune system will be boosted, you’ll sleep better, gain energy, adjust to local customs, and make new friends. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
If you are good at taking care of your health at home, this shouldn’t be too difficult. If it’s never been high on your list, now is a great time to start.
Contributed by: Mike Dean
Michael has been working in marketing for almost a decade and has worked with a huge range of clients, which has made him knowledgeable on many different subjects. He has recently rediscovered a passion for writing and hopes to make it a daily habit. You can read more of Michael’s work at Qeedle.