While many people claim that studying abroad is like a long vacation, there is nothing particularly easy or relaxing about leaving family and friends, classes and tests, adjusting to a foreign country, learning a new language, and traveling all the time. Yes, studying abroad is amazing and many times it does feel like a vacation, however, in the months you spend abroad, you are practically guaranteed to feel stressed out at some point. Here are some of my best tips for managing stress while you are abroad, so you can focus more on enjoying your experience.
1. Get your rest
Getting enough sleep is first on the list because not only is in one of the most important ways to avoid getting stressed out, but its also one of the most difficult to do. Long days traveling and late nights studying add up. Invest in ear plugs, an eye mask, a more comfortable pillow, or even melatonin to help make sure you get a good night’s sleep. Skip a night out at the bar if you are feeling tired. Rest up before a big weekend trip. Listen to your body, it will thank you.
2. Keep in touch (but not too much)
A lot of study abroad stress is caused by homesickness. Even if you don’t typically get homesick, there will be days when you find yourself missing family and friends. Keeping in touch with your support system at home can help you adjust to your new life, but avoid letting your conversations with people back home keep you from making friends.
3. Build a support system
Make friends with people you are studying abroad with, locals, or travelers you meet. Once you create a support system in your new place, being away from home and dealing with the stress of living abroad becomes much easier. These friends are incredibly important, as they are able to relate to what you are going through, while friends from home may not understand the details of your new life as well.
4. Plan ahead
An easy way to make the travel part of your study abroad experience easier is to do your research and plan ahead. Before a trip, I usually spend a day or two researching my next destination, creating a basic itinerary, and a list of must-dos. If I have time, I’ll even map out where everything is, so I’ll have a general sense of direction when I arrive. Even if you leave your schedule flexible, a little bit of planning will leave you feeling in control.
5. Use travel time wisely
Have a long bus or train ride coming up? Why not take that time to do some homework? Doing some homework or studying will help you pass the time, and it will also help you stay on top of your school work. Discover how to maximize your time abroad here!
6. Let go
Understand that there is no possible way you will be able to do and see everything you’d like to while you are abroad, and that is ok. Sometimes things won’t work out, the museum you are dying to see will be closed, or it will rain the entire time you are in Paris. Just remember that Paris isn’t going anywhere, and you can always return someday. Don’t let the things and experiences that don’t work out overpower the ones that do.
Working out is proven to help lower stress levels, so get yourself to the gym, yoga studio, or out for a run. If you can’t afford a gym membership, try doing exercises at home, or see if any local gyms offer free trial periods.
8. Treat yo self
Studying abroad tends to feel like you are always buying things…train tickets, souvenirs for family and friends, hostel rooms, food, etc. However, just because you are spending a lot of money on travel doesn’t mean you have to ignore yourself. I spent a total of about 7 Euro on candles, and it was one of the best purchases I’ve made abroad as they help me relax and unwind from the day (and also combat my apartment’s bad lighting). Whether its candles, a manicure, a massage (I got one for the equivalent of $20 in Prague!) or something else, taking some time to splurge on you is a great way to lower your stress level. Just be sure to keep this spending within reason. For tips on how to study abroad on a budget, you’ll want to read this post!
9. Stop and smell the roses
Avoid getting so caught up in sightseeing and adventuring that you forget to take time to enjoy the moment. Taking your time to enjoy an experience, be it a leisurely dinner, stroll through a city, or lengthy trip to a museum will help you appreciate your time abroad that much more.
10. Reach out
Still stressed? Don’t be afraid to reach out to your program administrator if you find that you are still stressed out. They may be able to recommend a mental health professional or have advice geared towards your specific situation.
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Now that you have these tips to stay stress free, keep calm and carry on traveling! What are some of your favorite ways to manage stress while on the go?
For more on Study Abroad, try reading these posts:
- Study Abroad on a Budget: Top 9 Ways to Save
- 5 Simple Ways to Turn Your Study Abroad Experience Into A Resume Builder
- Top 10 Ways to Maximize Your Time Studying Abroad