When you’re planning your study abroad program, it’s important to make a checklist—not only of the things you want to do but of what to bring. Studying abroad means exploring foreign conditions in a complete biosphere that your body doesn’t know. From the mental health implications of culture shock to the physical needs of hygiene and exercise, it’s important to stay in as good shape as you possibly can. Sure, you may not know exactly what to expect from your study abroad program, but there are some key steps you can take to stay well. These suggestions can help you maintain good health during your travels.
Study Abroad Program: Tips to Stay Healthy
All it takes to stay healthy while completing your study abroad program is a bit of planning and some diligence. The following tips can help guide your way:
1. Purchase travel insurance
One of the most important things you can do to protect your safety and health overseas is to purchase travel insurance. Some programs include this service because it’s so important. Access to medical care is paramount because it ensures that you can address a potential issue in the early stages.
The whole purpose of insurance is to act as a safety net in the event of the unforeseen. You can plan for a lot of things, but never the unpredictable. Thorough travel insurance pays for itself through the peace of mind it offers.
2. Get any necessary vaccines
Every individual has a biome that comprises a range of cultures, and when you travel, you get exposed to a whole host of other bugs. To get protection against the most severe ones, you can get vaccinated by your family doctor or a pharmacist. You’ll likely have to book an appointment ahead of time and know your travel destination. Post-pandemic precautions make this even more important.
3. Be food-conscious
One of the greatest parts of travelling overseas is the opportunity to try new foods and flavours. Every region is unique, and the chance to explore those foods, from flora to fauna, is an important way to understand the culture.
When it comes to being healthy, it’s important to calibrate. Sure, there are the famed cheeses of France and the delectable custard tarts of Portugal, but these foods are rich. Balanced eating can be tricky when you study abroad, especially if the food isn’t familiar to you. Add to this the process of acclimating to new pallets and spices, and it can be tricky to stay in optimal shape.
Do some research ahead of time to get an idea of what staple diets in the area are, and then establish a couple of meals that will be familiar, nutritious, and won’t leave you in the stomach lurch.
4. Engage your body and mind
When you travel, you are experiencing a whole host of stimuli that your mind needs to process. It can result in many emotions that make it important to connect to yourself. To do this, consider journaling about your experience. Ensure that you practice self-care, whatever that means to you. It could be a good book or a cup of tea, but it’s important to reflect.
Equally important is the need to engage your body. Exercise needs don’t suspend when you travel overseas, but you do need to calibrate them. For instance, if you jog regularly in downtown Toronto under the shade of the buildings, you might find the beating sun of Cozumel to be too much. Consider finding a fitness center or taking up swimming during your adventure.
5. Indulge in culture (not bad habits)
It can be easy to fall into not-so-wonderful habits, especially when travelling to different places with different customs—whether that means deep-fried foods or reckless behaviour. Travelling abroad means retaining your ethics and standards even in other settings where your surroundings are unfamiliar.
For instance, it can be too easy to get enthralled in a conversation and stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Once or twice is likely not an issue. If it’s a regular thing, though, that can become a problem. Instead of slipping into negative habits, take it as an opportunity to grow.
6. Practice safety
This tip remains true regardless of where you are, but it’s especially important when journeying abroad. Ensure that someone knows where you are at all times, that you know where the embassy is, and that you use social media responsibly. Keeping a focus on safety can help you remain well when travelling abroad.
7. Make friends
It’s well-documented that those who have friends are healthier over the long term. This is true as well when travelling overseas. The distance between you and your existing social group can lead to issues socially and psychologically.
The best way to mitigate this is to make friends. When you travel as a part of an organised group, you’re sharing an experience in addition to your individual time abroad. You can use this time to make connections with those around you and stay well while overseas.
Study Abroad Programs: Health, Happiness, and Learning
Now that you know the main steps in staying healthy during your study abroad program, you can plan out the perfect trip. Understanding the role you play in this great wide world means taking responsibility for yourself, including your health, happiness, and well-being. Global travels offer perspective, culture, and education to those willing to take part. By respecting yourself and the value of your health, it primes you to respect the world around you.