Maintaining your well-being while abroad is key to enjoying your experience to the fullest. Whether it’s mental, physical, or social health, each aspect plays a crucial role in your overall happiness. Balancing these areas is vital, as none should be overlooked.

In terms of mental health while abroad, you need to take a very individualized approach. For me, it is very important to have a space that I feel safe and comfortable in. This impacted my decision to spend a bit extra on a single dorm room rather than a double, as I would always have a space that is my own. Also, after spending most of the pandemic in my room, utilizing it as a space for learning, studying, and relaxing. These confounding purposes for one room would sometimes hurt my ability to properly study or properly relax. Thus, I have found places on campus that I genuinely enjoy studying at, or at least enjoy studying at more than my small dorm room. Taking your own mental health needs into consideration is important to plan out before studying abroad, and ensure it is in place once abroad.

Though it can be easy to forget about sometimes, maintaining a strong physical health is an extremely important foundation for a positive experience abroad. One such factor is remaining physically at and around your host university. For me, I was lucky enough to have a gym in the basement floor of my dormitory building, have a bunch of nearby hiking trails, and live in a very walkable city like Seoul. Also, making sure I eat a healthy, diverse set of meals. Though South Korea generally has plenty of healthier meal options, fruits and vegetables are much harder to come by than they are in the United States. Bananas are still cheap though, and I try to have one a day. Lastly, as a picky eater, it was important for me to try a bunch of different foods that I wouldn’t normally eat, including dumplings, fish, squid, different meats, and different sweets and snacks. In doing so, I have found many new and enjoyable foods, and now have a more well-rounded—not to mention more enjoyable—diet than before. 

Studying in a brand new country is intimidating for many reasons, and having no in-person social network to lean on is a huge hurdle to overcome. Though I have no family or friends in South Korea, I was lucky enough to be traveling here with my girlfriend—which comes with its own set of challenges. While it’s great to have someone you know you can rely on, it’s also important not to rely on them too much. Forming separate social lives and building our own support systems is essential. Doing that requires you to go outside your comfort zone and find ways to socialize with others you might not have in your home country. Also, finding ways to communicate with those back home is good for you and those who may be thinking of you, but should also not be relied on too heavily. It’s likely that your friends and family are happy to hear from you, but would be just as happy to hear from you occasionally about all the fun memories you’re making with your new friends abroad.

Got questions or just want to chat? Feel free to shoot me an email at Happy travels!