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