API alumni came together to feature issues related to mental health awareness and study abroad. Join us this week as we look at the many aspects of healthy adventure in a foreign culture.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. If you take medication, continue as directed by your doctor and be sure to have enough for the entire trip. Speak with them at length before you commit to any program and go over a plan to help get you through the stress and shock of adjusting to new surroundings.
- Establish a routine in your new host country. Routines can help provide a little more stability in a new environment. If you know when you have classes and what trips you are going on, your brain can focus on those details. My favorite routine involved a patisserie with macarons the size of my fist while walking along the river with friends.
- Accept who you are. Don’t get mad at yourself if you enjoy something less than you thought. I still for the life of me don’t understand the appeal of Geneva, but I didn’t beat myself up for going. Remember, you are going to have low days abroad, everyone does, but a low day does not mean that you are slipping. Accept the low day, but plan for a better day tomorrow and have a fun activity ready to go.
- Limit your alcohol. It can be difficult, I understand. I am not saying give it up completely. If your host family throws a wine tasting party you don’t have to turn down the invitation, just watch your general consumption and know your limits. Don’t turn this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into something out of “Animal House.” I promise that limiting your alcohol won’t make the trip any less enjoyable.
- Use Skype/Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat, but don’t abuse it. Make sure you limit your contact with people back home to a normal amount. If you need to talk to them do, but set limits. Instead of drooling over your friends’ Facebook feeds at home and feeling like you’re missing out, make your Facebook feed the enviable one! Selfies on the Eiffel Tower anyone?!
- You are going to do new things that might make you uncomfortable. You might stay in a hostel that smells of cheese (and not in the good way) or dance with a cute German boy until you trip and fall, grabbing his shirt and taking him down with you. Just smile, apologize, and move on.
Jennifer Teeter is an API Global Leader for the 2015-2016 academic year. Interested in sharing your story through the API Global Leadership Academy? Apply today!