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Navigating Mental & Physical Health While Studying Abroad

May 15, 2024
by Giselle Magana

How to Navigate Mental and Physical Health While Studying Abroad in London 

In my third week of studying abroad and I noticed it was a challenge because the lifestyle in London is so different from back home. Learning to adjust and add to my personal habits in this new environment can be a struggle, but I think I managed it well. Coming into this experience, my main concern was my mental health and wellbeing because I tend to struggle with it quite often. I was hoping my mental health would improve when I arrived, but it really depended on how I took care of myself both physically and mentally. 


I made a promise to myself that I’d start journaling this year and be consistent with it. I did journal last year, but I only did it about twice a month and I completely stopped in July. Before arriving, I was doing well, but I needed to ensure I’d stay on top of it when I arrived in London. I don’t have a physical journal, so I typed it all in my notes, which was helpful. I took time out of my morning to type out what I was feeling, and my goals for the day. I tried to journal twice a day but if I was busy, I only journaled at the end of the day.  

Staying on top of this while being abroad can sometimes be a lot to handle because of how much there is to do. I interned abroad along with participating in the CEA CAPA Content Creator Program and school, so I really didn’t have too much time to just sit and reflect on everything. When I had free time I travel with my friends, or I sit and do nothing because sometimes that is all some of us want to do after being busy for so long. I know I said I didn't have time to sit and reflect but I forced myself to have at least a little bit if I was busy. Always take time for yourself because eventually all your emotions can catch up to you, and then it’ll be harder to deal with everything you feel.  

Dealing with Homesickness 

One thing I really struggled with mentally was feeling homesick while abroad. My first week abroad was rough because I had never been so far from my friends and family. I was terrified I made the wrong decision coming here but I realized it’s a totally normal feeling and we just have to work with it.  

Now, if I felt homesick, I called someone from home or tried to find something there that’d make me feel at home. For example, CEA CAPA offered us free tickets to see “Wicked” the musical and I instantly took that opportunity because my brothers and I always watched that together in Houston. Every time “Wicked” toured and came to our city, we saw it. It’s a classic. Watching the musical in London gave me a little sense of home and I felt so much better. It was the very first musical I watched so it has a special place in my heart. The show was incredible, and I wanted to watch it again. I told my brothers about it, and they liked how I did something I was familiar with. Studying abroad is all about trying new things (like when I traveled to Turkey for spring break), but it’s also good to do something you know you’re comfortable with. 

A group of people sitting in chairs in a theater

Seeing “Wicked” in London!            

Supporting Your Physical Health 

Along with mental health, physical health is also extremely important. Back home, I had enough time to go to the gym, but I didn't have the opportunity to do so abroad. That's okay! There are other ways to take care of yourself physically such as taking long walks multiple times a week.

A street with buildings and a street light

Taking a stroll through Notting Hill.   

That's what I did, and it can also tie into your mental health because you can use that time to think and reflect. 

A bridge with lights at night

My view of Tower Bridge on my walk.  

Luckily, London is the most walkable city I’ve been to, so I had no issues finding somewhere to walk. If I ever felt mentally exhausted, I took the tube to Tower Bridge and strolled along that area. (Side note, the bridge is way prettier at night.) Usually, I walked around my neighborhood and walked to Shoreditch, but I liked walking in other areas if I had the time to do so. 

A street with buildings and people on it

My short walk to Shoreditch. 

Eating Well  

Eating a decent diet while abroad is also a good way to take care of yourself. You’re more likely to go out to eat here and there’s no need to feel shame for that. Just make sure you’re eating a decent meal and you’re totally fine.  

A plate of salad and bread on a table

Feta and avocado salad for lunch! 

Overall, adjusting to this new lifestyle while studying abroad and keeping your usual life intact can be a struggle at first. Always put yourself first and reflect on what you’re feeling. If anything, this can determine how your experience studying abroad will go. CEA CAPA staff are also always there to help if you need additional support.

Giselle Magana is the Content Creator - Blogger in London, England, and is currently studying at University of Houston.
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