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Staying Healthy While Abroad

March 21, 2016
by CEA CAPA Content Creator

Being in a foreign country is such a new and exciting time, but sometimes your health can take a back seat. The new foods and smells are tantalizing and you want to try it all, and with school and weekend trips there never seems to be time to workout. Not only can your physical health be overlooked, but also your mental health. Sometimes being away from home and your loved one’s can cause homesickness and stress. After my first month here, I realized I needed to stay healthy the best I could while abroad. It helped me feel better, sleep better, and not feel so bad when I ate a little too many sweets. I want to share with you three ways I’ve stayed healthy while abroad!

Join a gym or find a park

I was thrilled when I found a gym close to my house that was affordable and nice. Besides the machines and weights, this gym also included access to classes, like kickboxing, spin, Zumba, and more. The gym is even better if you go with a friend! My roommate and I always try to go together in the morning, and it’s great to have her go with me because on days when I just feel like laying in bed, she encourages me to go.

 If the gym isn’t your thing, don’t fret! There are so many parks around the area that are great to walk to and do a fun workout that you make up. One time, my roommate and I found a park that was the perfect place for a workout. It had a stationary bike and elliptical, as well as an ab machine. There was also a basketball court that was great for doing sprints and other cardio.

Finally, just get out and explore! Here in San Jose, pretty much everything you want to explore is within walking distance. You can burn off all the rice and beans you’ll eat just by walking. The weather is usually gorgeous and the new sights you’ll see will take your mind off the fact that you’re working out. There are also a ton of hills, so you’ll definitely be using those leg muscles!

 The gym offers a variety of workout machines!
 There are parks everywhere here. Also, the weather is perfect for an outdoor workout!

Meal Plan

While walking around town you’re bound to pass tons of “panaderias” or bakery’s. The smell of fresh baked breads and sweets are extremely tantalizing, and sometimes the urge to buy something is just too hard to resist. Let’s be real, bread and sweets are usually best had in moderation. Buying sweets and lunch out all the time can, not only be somewhat unhealthy, but also hurt your wallet. One thing I started doing every Monday afternoon is meal planning. In the morning I write down a list of what I’ll need for the week and then head downtown to visit the market. You can buy so many fresh veggies and fruits for so cheap. After the market I head back to CEA to prep different lunches to have throughout the week. It makes it so much easier to resist buying lunch and make an excuse about being too tired to cook, because my food is already made and ready to be consumed. Meal planning is great because it saves you money that can later be used for weekend trips!

 Meal prepping with some colorful veggies
I bought at the market!
 A strawberry, banana, and spinach
(no, you can't taste the spinach :) ) smoothie
bowl! Smoothie bowls are yummy
and perfect for lunch!

Take time to relax

Even though studying abroad is full of fun and exciting new things, stress is still a thing that can come around every now and then.  Sometimes schoolwork can make us worry or homesickness can hit, but don’t worry! The best way to beat stress is to take time to relax and unwind. Go for a long walk, take a daytrip to the beach, curl up with a good book, journal, bake with friends, or have a movie night. Whatever you do make it something you enjoy and something that won’t have you stressing. Studying abroad is one of the best decisions you’ll make, but truth be told, sometimes it can get overwhelming, so always make some time throughout the week to relax. Especially here in Costa Rica, where everything is very laid back, no one will look down on you for just chilling. It’s perfectly fine to just exist.

 Don't you feel relaxed already by just looking
at this photo of the beach?! :)
 My friends and I love to occasionally go skating at the skating rink. It's always so much fun to let loose and skate!
 Baking with friends is so fun and relaxing...and tasty!

Kendall McKee is the Spring '16 CEA MOJO in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is currently a Junior at the University of Memphis.
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