Staying Healthy While Abroad

Worried about maintaining your healthy lifestyle when you’re abroad? The Western ideas of ‘eating healthy’ and ‘working out’ may not be applicable in the country you’re studying in, so you may need to be flexible. This new rich culture that you are experiencing has lots to offer you in regards to your health, you just have to have the right lens with which through to view it!

First, realize that eating healthy can simply be thought of “everything in moderation.” The food you’re eating is typically less processed and fresher than the food you regularly eat here in the US. When I was in Russia, I noticed that the labels on food packages were the dates of production not of expiration. This especially speaks to the new culture you’ve found yourself in—the system is based on what they have there and now, not how long it will last, because of an excess of products! So, don’t try and keep to the foods you eat here in the US, branch out and try the local eats. There are lots of interesting flavors and nutrients that you typically don’t ingest here! You may even find a new favorite!

Second, your usual work-out regiment may not be possible in this new environment. It could be that gyms don’t exist for you to use or that outdoor running or exercising is culturally frowned upon, thus you have to be more creative! Oh and don’t underestimate the power of walking. Since you probably won’t be driving yourself around in your host country, try commuting on foot! Walking substantial amounts each day will keep you active, but also allows you to explore the city firsthand, finding all the little nooks and crannies that will make you feel like a local!

Staying in shape and eating right are very important and completely doable abroad—you just have to be flexible and get a little creative! So get to it!

Kelsey Guyette, OIE Peer Advisor

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3 thoughts on “Staying Healthy While Abroad

  1. I am back at college after being abroad for awhile and I gained some weight while I was away. I’ve been going to the gym a lot but it’s hard to keep a healthy diet on cafeteria food and beer.
    Are there any suggestions for staying healthy while at school? Also, I tend to get sick often. Any suggestions for boosting my immune system?

    1. This can be really difficult, especially when you are not used to local food. Some suggestions we have is to try to stick as close to a healthy diet as possible. I know this can be difficult–especially if you have a cafeteria meal plan and want to try new and different fods outside your comfort zone–but it is definitely doable. Pick the healthy options in the cafeteria and be strategic about going out to eat (how often, what kind of food etc…). A good exercise plan could be great too–WALK around the city where you’re living and give yourself a chance to really see it while staying in shape. Get involved in local dance classes and other activites that could also help you meet local people. This in and of itself could help your body just feel better. Outside of that, definitely talk to your doctor if you have really specific health issues come up–they can often help you find ways to mitigate them!

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