The not-so-glamorous parts of studying abroad — taking care of your body and brain

Headshot of Leah Henevald on a mountain
Leah Heneveld
August 6, 2023
A grassy park framed by palm trees and mountains

Studying abroad is such an exciting experience that will certainly be full of amazing friendships, hilarious memories, and unforgettable experiences.  However, not every day is a walk in the park, and that’s totally normal!  Moving to another country for any period of time is bound to have some sort of impact on your body, whether that’s physical, mental, or emotional.  Thankfully, IES Abroad provides a ton of information right up front to help you deal with any bumps in the road during your program.  Today, I’m going to introduce you to some of the resources available to you to take care of yourself abroad, and share some tips to make sure you’re able to be your best self :)

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I have an anxiety disorder, so mental healthcare was something I looked into extensively when choosing a program abroad, as well as once I was accepted to IES Abroad Santiago.  I wanted to ensure that I would be able to access my medication, as well as see a therapist if needed.  When I had my health check-in with the IES Abroad Santiago student affairs coordinator, she was happy to answer any questions I had and ease any nerves about healthcare abroad.  She even put me in contact with a therapist who spoke English so I could better express myself.  It was super easy to schedule therapy around my internship and classes, and I found it to be a great way to process any stress I was experiencing while in Chile so I could focus on enjoying my experience!

Unfortunately, studying abroad does not make you immune to sickness — something I very quickly learned during winter in Chile.  However, there are also tons of resources offered by IES Abroad to make sure you get well and stay well during your program.  During IES Abroad orientation you will learn about all things healthcare in your country, including how your insurance works, how and where to find a hospital or doctor’s office, and who to contact if you need help.  My program in Santiago even offered home doctor visits if you weren’t feeling well.  It is also totally possible to get over-the-counter medications for a cold abroad if necessary — although I would recommend consulting with your host family or someone at your IES Abroad Center since names and ingredients may be slightly different than what you’re used to.  Getting sick abroad is certainly not ideal, and it can be especially difficult being away from what’s comfortable during those times, but if it happens to you it is absolutely manageable — you’ll get better in no time!

My number one piece of advice for taking care of your body and brain while abroad is to advocate for yourself!  You are the one who knows yourself best, and the staff at IES Abroad are there to help ensure your health needs are met.  If you’re feeling down, or like you’re not eating well enough, or like you’re a little too stuffy for it to be just allergies, reach out to your student affairs coordinator or use the IES Abroad guide to take advantage of the resources you have available to you.  It may seem intimidating, but you can totally do it!!


Headshot of Leah Henevald on a mountain

Leah Heneveld

I speak four languages (English, Spanish, Arabic, and Pashto), and I LOVE holidays, especially Christmas. I also love watching new shows, specifically fun reality shows like the Great British Bake-Off and Queer Eye.

2023 Summer 1
Home University:
Indiana University
Zeeland, MI
International Studies
Middle Eastern Studies
Explore Blogs