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Do's and Don(u)'ts: Staying Healthy Abroad

February 28, 2018

Pack your walking shoes! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle abroad is easier (and almost unavoidable) than I had even anticipated. My health has always been extremely important to me and while I took a few weeks to get acclimated (aka indulge), I have developed a routine to remain healthy that keeps up with my busy schedule.

Exercise:

Walking, walking, walking. I seriously walk everywhere. I am constantly moving and on my feet when I am not in class and almost always outside. It is so refreshing coming from Los Angeles where walking and public transportation are not as common. I highly recommend walking rather than using the metro or taxis whenever it is an option.

As for a gym, joining one is not necessary. There is so much to see and running is a great way to explore and escape my busy day for an hour every day. Running also helped to give me a sense of direction around my apartment when I first arrived in Barcelona. If I could navigate the streets on a run, I figured would never get lost on my walk to class or home from lunch and so far, I have been right!

However, if you do wish to join a gym, it is extremely easy to do so. When I first got to Barcelona the weather was amazing and I was going for runs every other day. It was actually something I looked forward to because I would run somewhere different every time. However, it ended up getting colder and started to rain so I decided to join a gym. There are probably 5 within 4 blocks of my apartment, all with extremely reasonable prices so there is definitely no shortage. There are also a lot of Crossfit gyms and pilates and yoga studios, so there is something for everyone. I have not gotten around to trying a class in Spanish, but it is something I would like to try once before leaving Spain.

Cooking:

Cooking has been extremely helpful for remaining healthy. I was eating out every meal in the beginning and it was expensive, and I noticed I wasn’t feeling my best. There are so many amazing restaurants to try and it is extremely overwhelming the first few weeks. Now that I have gotten the initial excitment out of my system, I try to only eat out once during the week when I am not traveling and cook the rest of the nights and make my own lunches.

Grocery shopping here is easy and the fruits and vegetables are so fresh. I find myself snacking on fresh foods here rather than packaged chips or granola bars which is a nice change from home. The grocery shopping is also way cheaper than at home, something I am definitely going to miss going back to the States!

Sleep:

This is what most people I have talked to while being abroad and myself struggle with the most. There is always something going on; a group dinner, friends meeting at a bar, some sort of show, or a soccer game, that it feels like there is no time to sleep. I have always been one to get sick very easily to the point where the nights I don’t get 6 hours, I am guaranteed to wake up with a cold. It is so important to get enough rest because 4 months of traveling, studying, and socializing is a lot. It is important to take advantage of experiences abroad, but our health is the most important thing and quite often, the opportunity will present itself again.

Mental:

As for maintaining a positive attitude and clear mind, walking has been my go-to. Whenever I have free time between or after classes, I always walk to the beach or Parc de la Ciutadella, a large park near the Arc de Triumf that is always filled with people having picnics, families, and performers who are just happy to be there. The positive energy in Barcelona is contagious and I could not recommend taking advantage of these places more.

As for everything else, abroad is all about balance. I find myself stopping for gelato after dinner (quite often), occasionally staying out late, and sometimes skipping a run, but never feel guilty because overall I have had a healthy and happy experience. I have made an effort to constantly walk, be outside, and get plenty of rest and eventually these things naturally worked their ways into my routine and it has become habit.

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