Staying Healthy While Studying Abroad
When you study abroad, your mind is so occupied that health sometimes comes second. However, staying healthy is one of the most important things to help you to focus on studying, have fun at the same time, and make the most of your life in a foreign country. There are many ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as eating well, sleeping well, exercising, and paying attention to your mental health. People usually focus more on physical health when it comes to a healthy lifestyle; however, mental health is as important as physical health. Mental and physical health are deeply connected and can actually affect each other. Especially while a person is studying abroad, mental health can be a bit unstable, because of loneliness, anxiousness, isolation, and/or culture shock.
Eating habits always have a significant impact on your health. When studying abroad, many people might tend to be eating more unhealthy food, not only because it is easily accessible and inexpensive, but students usually do not have enough time to cook for themselves. Furthermore, in a country other than your own, it is harder to find the ingredients you usually use at home. Then you end up dining out or getting fast food. Since I came to Tampa, I have been careful about what I am eating, because I know that it is easy to gain weight. Even though I was cooking a lot and not really eating unhealthy food (even when dining out), I gained some weight within a couple of months.
I decided to become “flexitarian.” Flexitarian is a combination of two words: “flexible” and “vegetarian.” This encourages eating mostly plant-based foods while allowing a moderate amount of meat into my diet. When I first changed my diet, I thought that eating less meat would be difficult. However, it was actually not hard at all, and it made me feel healthier and my body felt lighter.
Obviously, I am not saying you should be vegetarian or flexitarian. Instead, I will give you some recommendations to help you stay physically healthy, in terms of your eating habits. Cook for yourself as much as you can. It is better for your health because you know all the ingredients going into the food, and it will also save you money. Choose healthier options when dining out, and make sure you get enough vegetables and protein as well.
Exercising is also very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Those who study in cities find it easy to walk everywhere. While those who are in more rural areas may have to drive or use public transportation to go to places. I am sure that one of the reasons that I gained weight is because I walk a lot less in Tampa than I did in Japan.
So how did I solve this problem? Yes, go to the gym! This is exactly what I did. Now I go to the gym every morning, and I usually walk on a treadmill for at least two miles. I feel like it is still not enough, but it is better than nothing. What I like about going to the gym in the morning is that it creates my routine and starts my day with a boost. There are other ways you can exercise if you do not think going to the gym is your thing. You could go hiking, especially if you are in a rural area. Walking surely helps you maintain a healthy weight and stay fit. It increases your energy level and reduces stress and tension, which is also important for your mental health.
Health Comes First
It is not easy to maintain your health when you are studying abroad because there are many other things to focus on, however health always comes first. When you are in a different country, your body might be more sensitive. Or you could have a reaction, due to your new lifestyle and to new surroundings. This is why you should never forget to look after yourself. Staying healthy can improve your study abroad experience by helping you get better sleep, gain more energy, and have a good immune system.
|Ayako Miyakoshi from Japan is pursuing an AS degree in accounting at Hillsborough Community College (HCC).
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