Why Your Diet Won’t Hold Up Abroad and Why You Shouldn’t Care
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry Abroad, Make it Count.
I’ve been a very active person all my life. I’ve played sports since I was a kid and I’ve been dancing since the age of 5. I’ve been known to pick a healthy salad over a calorie slammed sandwich, and I’ve belonged to a gym and attended religiously since the age of 18. I make these efforts to stay healthy because it’s something that it is important to me in my daily life while living in America. Like everyone, I’ll indulge myself every once in a while, but because I’ve been exposed to many indulgences that America has to offer, I don’t have to succumb to every meal It’s known for.
Study Abroad Life
These healthy ways should not translate over when studying abroad. Here’s why and what to do instead:
Every minute spent at the gym in the city you’re studying abroad in is a minute wasted.
Looking at the inside of an ugly building – or worse at a television on the treadmill, is time you could be getting your exercise by exploring the town.
Every calorie you take in from a bland salad abroad is a calorie wasted. I’m not saying don’t have a salad if you like salads, but your goal while studying abroad should not be to lose weight and torture yourself with foods you don’t want to eat. Your motto abroad should be, “make it count”.
If you’re going to work out, and really don’t feel yourself unless you do, run outside. Go run, get lost, and find your way back. You’ll actually learn your surroundings that way. Roam the streets everyday, explore. There’s no need for a map when you know the streets you run by heart. In addition, these views are much more valuable than an ugly gym building.
I found myself lost while out on a run in Madrid several times – that was the goal, that way I was forced to find my own way home, interact with locals, and get a longer workout. If this seems too unsafe, Google map the surrounding area first, take a screenshot on your smart phone and if you get yourself seriously lost or need to show locals a picture of where you need to you have visual evidence. So, go run or hike or rent a bike. Make more memories for yourself, like that time you got lost running to the El Parque del Retiro (OK, that was me).
On the same note, with the same motto, if you’re going to eat something abroad (which you probably should) make it count! Make it something that you can’t get easily in the United States, something that the country is known for. Also make it memorable or Instagram worthy!
If you’re staying in a home stay, chances are that the meals made for you will be memorable. My roommate and I still talk about what our Spanish mom used to cook for us.
If you’re going to be in your own apartment, chances are you’ll be eating out a lot. In these cases, remember where you are, studying abroad is such a short experience and every meal should count! You won’t remember that time you at a salad at the American place down the street from your school, but you will remember the best paella and sangria you’ve ever had. Making these meals an experience instead of just a meal makes more memories for you and your friends.
•In the case that you’ll be making meals for yourself, make that count too! You don’t have to buy Ramen noodles or Mac and Cheese constantly.
There are plenty of farm stands where you can pick up local foods. Pick out something you’ve never heard of and learn to cook it! Experiences like these are what studying abroad is all about, maybe you’ll be able to bring a recipe or two home with you!
You have the rest of your life to eat bland kale salads and run on a treadmill while watching junk TV, it’s not every day that you can run around Real Madrid stadium and eat tuna stuffed red peppers with pumpkin mushroom risotto at the tapas restaurant by your apartment. Studying abroad is a short period of time and making every detail count will only enhance your experience.
Here’s a small visual taste of what you should be enjoying: