Staying healthy when studying abroad is of key importance. Health, both mental and physical, can often take the back seat while we are focused on getting the most out of our studying abroad experience. There is just so much to see and do, plus the fact that things like eating healthy, exercising, and taking time to think are not always the most convenient or accessible when we are away from home.
However, amidst all of the academic and social excitement, we must not forget to take care of our minds and bodies. Being healthy is what allows us to keep going and performing well, not to mention simply feeling better. That is why we have chosen to give you a few tips for taking care of your health while studying abroad.
First and foremost, we need to get the basics right. When we talk about staying healthy, most people imagine diet, exercise, and activities like meditation being at the forefront. However, do not forget that the most basic metrics of health are what your doctor tells you.
A lot of student visas require you to get a medical checkup before you can get them. Even if this is not the case, it is generally recommended to see a doctor before going on a trip or prolonged stay in another country. Furthermore, it is good to ensure that you are all caught up with your vaccinations and are not carrying any dangerous pathogens.
Make sure you also have basic over-the-counter medications with you. A first aid kit also would not be remiss.
One of the most important things in staying healthy when studying abroad is to make sure you purchase quality travel insurance. Do not leave home without it except in the cases where you know you will have coverage as part of your studying abroad plan (or visa). If you become extremely ill while studying abroad, you should be confident that you will receive the best care available without having to worry about an astronomical expense.
Furthermore, you should have a way of paying for emergency services if necessary. Speaking of, keep emergency contact information with you at all times. You never know when you might need to call an ambulance, the police, or the fire department.
This is a pretty standard fitness tip, but it is so important to keep in mind when trying to remain healthy as an international student. If you are fortunate enough to have quality cafeterias as part of your university accommodation, make sure to eat as healthy as possible, getting plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet alongside lean, satiating protein.
Otherwise, staying healthy when studying abroad might mean making more homecooked meals. While it may not be the easiest thing to balance when studying, it can also help you save some money.
Love it or hate it, exercise is one of the cornerstones of health and fitness. A lot of international students subconsciously forego exercise in favour of focusing on their studies, not realising that a balanced exercise habit could positively influence their academics as well.
The good news is that exercise does not have to be a painstaking chore. For those who are not fans of the gym, walking, cycling, and hiking are also pleasant options that also offer you a chance to get outside and possibly spend time with friends. The key is to find the right thing for you.
This is one of those often overlooked aspects of physical and mental health in our modern world, but staying healthy when studying abroad absolutely involves getting enough quality sleep. Students in general are not good at this, not always because of their own desires but often because of the harsh reality of trying to balance academics with a social and personal life.
Nevertheless, you should aim for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. To help with these, practice good sleep hygiene and go easy on the caffeine in the afternoon hours. A good night’s rest does wonders for both the body and mind.
Mental health should absolutely not be ignored when we are trying to remain healthy while studying in another country. International students often report feeling mental distress which can take the form of depression, anxiety, restlessness, and homesickness.
Luckily, there are several practices available to us which can alleviate any negative mental symptoms we might be experiencing and even help us feel happy. Those are:
When students go to study abroad, it can be difficult to adjust to their new way of life. It is unfortunate if they let their days become simply an alternation between their dorm rooms and lecture halls. There are so many more interesting things to do and explore, no matter where you are.
However, it can be difficult to get set up and organized, especially when you first arrive somewhere. For that reason, give yourself some time but realize that just because you might be staying somewhere temporarily does not mean that you should ignore your health during your stay. A bit of fun is always okay and welcome, but self-destructive behaviour can only give you problems down the line.
Keep in your mind the following mindset: by taking care of my body, mind, and spirit, I am helping myself be both more academically successful as well as more able to have fun and unwind.
Feel free to read about some of our other articles on studying abroad if you are struggling with any other specific issues or are seeking advice on which countries and universities are right for you.
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