Studying abroad is an exciting time packed with many adventures and traveling. In my first month in Italy, I could not sit still. I was either traveling, exploring my city, or planning future travel plans. It felt like I was constantly going at 100 miles an hour because I was so obsessed with taking advantage of living in a new country and having the freedom to catch cheap flights all over Europe on the weekends. When I wasn’t in class or doing homework, I felt this pressure to never waste a second and to always be on the go, exploring and making those crazy memories you see in movies. Don’t get me wrong, you should take advantage of your time abroad and make the most of it. However, running through airports and walking miles upon miles to see as much of the country I traveled to for only a few days on the weekends was exhausting. I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in my life. After my first month of traveling to a different country every weekend and catching countless trains and buses exploring around my city, I began to see the importance of having time to relax and unwind.
Now, if you’re like me, you get antsy whenever you have free time because you’re thinking of all the other things you could be doing. Wasting my precious time abroad was an actual fear of mine. It wasn’t until I did some reflecting and realized that downtime can actually be productive that I changed my outlook. Giving myself the time and space to catch a break became something that I appreciated instead of dreaded, thanks to these ten helpful tips.
- Start forming a habit or getting into a hobby you’ve been wanting to do. Try out some local recipes, draw or paint your favorite spot in the city, or read a book.
- Write about your travel experiences in your journal. You can also make a bucket list that you can check off as you go. My favorite thing I took abroad was a small travel journal that my best friend gave me before I left. I would highly recommend getting some type of journal because it will hold your favorite memories.
- Sit outside with some friends, put on a good playlist, and enjoy where you are.
- Take some time to call or Facetime someone you miss. Checking in with loved ones once in a while actually made me feel less homesick because I still felt connected to them.
- Go for a walk around your city with no destination. Explore the parts you don’t typically pass through and take your time to become familiar with your new home.
- Find a spot in your city that you love where you can go to study, read, or just relax.
- Throw on some sweats, jump into bed, and watch your favorite show or movie on Netflix. Trust me, Netflix in Europe is way better than in America.
- Spend some quality one-on-one time with your roommate or a friend. The people in your program will become your second family so don’t forget to invest in those relationships.
- Create a basic budget tracker using Excel spreadsheet and write down what you spend to keep you on track.
- Find a nearby hike or another outdoor activity that you can do to relieve some stress and get your body feeling better, especially after all the amazing food you’ll eat abroad.
Lexi was a Spring 2020 Sorrento student from California Baptist University.