Being abroad is an exciting experience and spending only a semester abroad—especially when your favorite professor likes to remind you that there is only 60 days left—can feel like there is not enough time to do everything you want to do. I certainly feel that way, like there is just so much to do and not enough time. As mindful as I have tried to be of my own health, there is a level of adrenaline that can be deceiving and lead to unfortunate circumstances.
I never was the example to follow back in Texas in terms of how much water a normal person should drink on a daily basis. But arriving to Dublin has blown any and all possibilities of ever being on the podium off the charts. The amount of times I’ve walked around parched and gotten lightheaded is not for me to disclose. Part of it, I think is how easy it is to access public toilets in the United States in comparison to Dublin. There is one at home, when I go to classes, if I decide to go shopping, or out to the movie theatre. But being in Dublin, I spend a lot of time just walking around and exploring, and so often I’ve found myself avoiding to drink water—when I was not unconsciously forgetting about it—to avoid having to go into restaurants and pay for a drink before using their toilets. This is all to say, don’t do it. There a good number of time I’ve felt sick that were perfectly avoidable.
The TMI part is over now. Here’s the other component to my health, food. I’m the sort of person that eats three times a day. Even when I’m stressed, I’ll be the person that overeats. Eating less is something that just isn’t compatible with my body. When I moved to the apartment in Dublin, with an electric stove, 5 of 8 did not work. Technically, 6 of 8, because the dial for one of the is unusable. Ok, we can live with that. Here’s the second thing you need to know about me. I’m a hypochondriac and cleaning maniac. I can deal with a messy space, but a dirty space drives me up the walls. So, when I saw that the kitchen was in an unfortunate state, I began to avoid it. And with that, came a cut of my food intake, as there is only so much I can spend on take out and snacks. One word describes that way of life: unsustainable.
The next most important way I neglected my health, after not drinking enough water, is the amount of sleep I got. Remember how I said that when you are abroad you feel like you’re supposed to be doing all these things and there is not enough time? Well, sleep is what I’ve sacrificed for it. And let me tell you, I’m unfortunately one of those people that needs 9 hours of sleep each night to function properly. I did not, not on 6 hours of sleep.
Finally, self-care. This takes several forms. But for me in particular, as an introvert, it means I should be taking breaks away from other people and just recharge my battery. Forcing myself to constantly be outside, I’ve ended up cornering myself at a place where I have no option but to lock myself in my room for a day and just breathe.
I’ve been talking a lot. This is all to say, you know your body. You know how to take care of yourself when you live back home. Being abroad is no different, and you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being to pack more into the schedule. It will make the experience less enjoyable, and you’ll end up unnecessarily exhausted. It’s alright to take your time to experience the new city.
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The first time I met one of my best friends, she thought I hated her. I was just busy thinking of things we could have in common to continue the conversation. Since then, I have gotten better at the talking part. I'm not sure I've gotten better at the friendlier appearance part. Just know that I'm always excited to meet someone new!