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Maintaining Mental & Physical Wellness while Studying Abroad

May 29, 2024
by Shayna Polsky
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A bicycle hanging from the ceiling in a flower shop

 

Maintaining Mental & Physical Wellness While Studying Abroad in Spain 

Embarking on a study abroad journey in Alicante, Spain was nothing short of transformative. Not only personally, but physically as well. I found myself immersed in a tapestry of culture and adventure. However, amidst the excitement of exploring a new land, I further explored myself and the importance of maintaining both physical health and mental wellness while abroad. 

A study abroad student in a white lab coat staring into a microscope

An important aspect of my identity is my love for biology. This is a photo from one of the University of Alicante biology laboratories, in which we were viewing a sample from the cells within our cheeks. This has been one of my favorite classes and I have enjoyed using the university's high-tech laboratory equipment.  

Staying true to my identity as a Women’s Varsity soccer player at Hamilton College, I made it a priority to prioritize physical fitness during my time in Alicante. Whether I went for a run alongside the beach, headed to the school gym, or worked out with other peers in my CEA CAPA study abroad group, I find myself loving every minute of it! Incorporating outdoor runs and gym workouts not only kept me physically fit but also provided a sense of routine and balance amidst the excitement of new experiences.  

A plate of homemade chicken parmesan and pesto pasta

I've never had to cook for myself before, so a goal of mine while abroad was to learn how to cook, and with a lot of help from two of my roommates, Erin and Bretton, I cook almost every night for myself! This dish is chicken parmesan with pesto pasta, one of my favorites. 


I also continued my hobbies of meditation and yoga. This was something I started before traveling abroad and was something that I made a goal to continue. This hobby was truly a grounding force, allowing me to center myself when I needed a mental or physical break. Some of my favorite memories from Alicante involve practicing yoga and meditation on Postiguet Beach at sunset as I have never felt more at peace.  

A study abroad student similing at the camera standing on a sandy beach with buildings in the background

The beach at Benidorm, a local city. Going on local excursions has been so fun, especially when the views are so amazing. One of my favorite activities is seeing the sunset on the beach, where I often like to meditate or practice yoga during to find tranquility.  

A rocky cliff next to the ocean

 

El Campello, a small town that I took the tram to with friends. The water was breathtaking.  


Beyond my goal of maintaining and advancing my physical fitness, I also made it a goal to challenge myself internally. Specifically, I wanted to challenge myself socially and push myself out of my comfort zone. Although it wasn’t an easy transition at first, I made it a point to embrace the new culture and immerse myself in my new surroundings. I think this was the best decision I made for myself as it was so rewarding.

Study abroad students walking down a walkway with a city in the background

My roommate, a friend, and I hiked the Castell de Santa Bàrbara in Alicante. At the top of the castle, the views are breathtaking and perfect for taking new visitors to the city. 

 

From savoring traditional Spanish cuisine to engaging in conversations with locals, I've embraced every opportunity to immerse myself in Spanish culture. I said yes to every new opportunity that came my way and met friends from all over the world that I hope to have for a lifetime.  

A plate of food and a drink on a table

My breakfast from El Palacete Resto & Brunch, eggs benedict with Hollandaise sauce. It has truly been amazing trying all of the different Spanish foods here. I have specifically enjoyed Iberico ham.  

A group of study abroad students standing together and smiling at the camera

 

My friends and I at a flamenco class taught by an instructor at Escuela de baile La Terreta. This was such a fun and educational experience as flamenco dancing holds significant importance in Spanish culture.

A group of study abroad students smiling and looking at the camera in a darkened room

One of my favorite forms of exercise is dancing, and I have been drawn to the lively atmosphere of the local clubs and bars playing reggaeton music. This has been such a fun experience on the weekends that has allowed me to meet new people native to Alicante and provide opportunities for cultural exchange. 

Finally, I took advantage of my time abroad to sharpen my linguistic skills, one of my biggest goals when deciding to study abroad in Spain. Through daily interactions with locals, attending language exchange meetups, and enrolling in language courses, I've embraced every opportunity to advance my Spanish-speaking skills.  

A bicycle hanging from the ceiling in a flower shop

I have always thought of myself as not very creative or artistic, especially since I enjoy science and critical thinking. Becoming a CEA CAPA Content Creator really pushed me to explore the creative side of myself. I have found myself seeing beauty in things I hadn’t always recognized; I love going to flower shops and local gardens to enjoy the beauty nature has to offer. It brings me serenity and helps me clear my mind when I feel overwhelmed or anxious. 


Shayna Polsky is the Content Creator - Photographer in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at Hamilton College.
 
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