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How to Stay Somewhat Sane While Abroad

Mindfulness is one way to cope with 'onism''s unavoidable nature. To cultivate mindfulness, one must cultivate an open mind by focusing on the present moment. By focusing on positive thoughts, extensive psychological health benefits are obtained. To maximize your experience abroad, follow these suggestions.

  • Enjoy the "Normalities"

- Become present through your senses for at least a few minutes daily. Senses play an important role in connecting you to the world around you. You might notice how many people are wearing a particular color, how many people are riding the tram with you, what smells you notice, what sounds you hear, what fashion trends you see, and who is wearing your favorite outfit. Upon becoming familiar with your new surroundings, you will experience a calming sensation...

As someone who struggles with severe anxiety, I find this method extremely helpful. Due to my anxiety, I have trouble suppressing my thoughts and am easily overwhelmed by my surroundings. When I step back and engage with my surroundings, I find that my brain tends to relax. Experience each new environment through its normalities, all while tuning in to your surroundings.


  • Keep a Diary

- Keep a journal to connect with your physical body and record your experiences. Get your headphones on, play your favorite music, and get started writing. You can talk about your schedule for today, where you're sitting, what homework you have, a travel bucket list, a letter to your younger self, top 10 songs right now, the book you just read etc.

My favorite way to write is to find a cute cafe, bring my journal along, and listen to Phoebe Bridgers, Lana Del Ray, and Taylor Swift. Even if you write down the simplest things, it's fascinating to look back at what you thought at that time.



  • Aesthetic Playlist

- Create Spotify playlists that include songs that make you feel alive. Songs can convey moods or states of mind, so the music I listened to abroad played an important role in my experience. Relax with a playlist tailored to each mood you are experiencing.

It's best to romanticize your travels with music; though it may sound cliché, there are times when you just need to pretend you're in a movie. As your own main character, your travels abroad will help you discover just how much there is to learn. Take advantage of that moment when you are on the train, plane, metro, or walking to school to blare your tailored music to boost your mood.


  • Move Your Body.

- Have you ever been in a bad mood around your parents and they suggested you walk or run? We've all heard that one before. In spite of how mad I am at that suggestion, I am even more indignant that moving your body actually helps.

As a result of increased blood flow to the brain and body, walking is proven to boost your mood. I find that walking helps me to unplug from my thoughts and develop a clear headspace. Keep your focus by walking around the block for a snack or exploring your neighborhood.


  • Alone Time.

- During my time abroad, I often sought out places to be alone when I was experiencing social exhaustion. The challenge of meeting new people and making friends in your program as well as traveling can be overwhelming at times; it certainly was for me. Introverted with anxiety, I can only endure so much before my social battery runs out.

It does not matter if I am scrolling on Tik Tok, drawing, or playing on Pinterest, I need time alone to recharge. Take time to be fully yourself in a place that suits you. You can do this in many places, such as in your room, in a restaurant or cafe, or in a park if you prefer. One staff member from CIEE Prague encouraged us all to find one cafe that we can make our own to serve as our personal escape from reality and into a comfit zone. You should prioritize spending time with yourself, so make sure you take the initiative to do so.



This advice may not work for everyone, but I found it helpful. As you spend time abroad, you are growing significantly, so don't forget to prioritize yourself. At times you will feel quite lonely so do not forget to use your tools to pull you out of a depressive mindset. You can do this.


Best,

Lily




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