Living abroad is a great way to step out of your comfort zone to discover and embrace the richness of a new culture. Each day brings an opportunity to indulge in something new.
Interacting with the locals and trying new foods while discovering the art and architecture only expands your knowledge and appreciation of your new surroundings. However, moving halfway around the world comes with many challenges, and it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.
One of the first steps to staying active and in good physical shape abroad is to understand you will have to find alternatives. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a gym, recognize it may not be the same as the one back home.
But the truth of the matter is – there is no reason not to stay fit. Every destination has stairs, steps, trails, swimming pools, or even an ocean. No matter where you go, your surroundings can be transformed into your own personal gym.
It is also a good idea to join a class specific to that country such as Taekwondo or Muay Thai. This helps you to stay active, have fun, and learn more about the culture.
Social engagement will help keep your brain active and help in preventing feelings of loneliness. Family and friends will be curious about your adventures and want to stay in touch, but it is also very important to engage with your host community.
It is uncomfortable to be living in a new place. Remember that is totally normal to feel this way! Every expat experiences these feelings at some point – you are not alone! Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great way to meet new people and make friends.
Take a cooking class, learn the local dance, or brush up your language skills! In today’s age of technology, attending a gathering, event, club, or activity is possible with just a click of a button.
The climate of your new home may also be different from what you are accustomed to. In places like China and South Korea that deal with varying degrees of air quality, foreigners and locals alike take necessary precautions.
For days where the air is heavily polluted, consider buying a reusable, cloth face mask. It may feel strange at first, but look around and you will see you are not alone in wearing one. Purchasing an air purifier for your apartment is another option to effectively improve home air quality.
There may also be weather patterns or natural disaster risks that you are not used to, such as hurricanes in Southeast Asia or earthquakes in Chile. Check out the official health information page of your host country for health and well-being advice and reports of extreme conditions.
Many avoid eating street food thinking they will get sick. However, I am a huge proponent of street food and I believe the most important thing to do is to “do what the locals do”. If there is a long line of locals that is a clear indicator of the food being worthwhile to try.
If you notice a vendor without any customers, there may be a reason. It is important to keep in mind this is the livelihood of those running the food stall and they will not have a job if their customers get sick!
There will be bumps in the road when you are abroad and away from your familiar culture, family, and friends. It is important to enjoy yourself and live in the moment.
Try not to fixate on how things are done back home and instead embrace the culture you are living in now. Complaining does not resolve your issues and will only make you an unpleasant person to be around.
By taking your complaints and turning them into productive aspects of your life in your host country, you will be able to get more out of your experience and feel less stressed.
Try to look at day to day issues from a positive perspective, as ways help you to grow as a global citizen, instead of a negative perspective, as nuisances in your life. Take your experience abroad as an opportunity for growth and a life-changing experience.