How to Stress Less About Your Body During Study Abroad
3 Body Image Tips To Pack for Study Abroad
I studied abroad in Florence my junior Spring and it was the best decision I ever made. It was also a great excuse to start and end every conversation for the rest of the year with ‘Ciao!’ If you can, I highly recommend studying abroad for a semester or similar program, you meet so many new people, get to learn to new language in a place where it’s natively spoken, be immersed in a culture different than your own, try new cuisine, travel, the list goes on. Picking up and leaving the comfort of your dorm room and curated friend circle can be intimidating and like with a lot of transitions you may feel pressure to look a certain way on the trip. I just shared on my instagram, that when I went abroad, I made a promise to myself to not talk negatively (and try hard not to think negatively) about my body. It was a decision that came out of realizing that whenever I did it or joined into negative body talk, I felt shitty after and didn’t want those kinds of feelings or emotions to come with me to Italy. I really credit that promise (and amazing friends and support) to having such a great time abroad and I’d wish anyone going abroad to have that same freedom around being able to enjoy the experience instead of constantly worrying or critiquing how they look. So while you’re reading every single article on what to pack for study abroad, don’t forget to pack these tips too!
1. Pack clothes that make you feel good.
Honestly. This was a tip from my therapist at the time and it’s now my favorite piece of advice that I use for all trips and even getting dressed in the morning. You feel better when you wear stuff you love! Rather than packing those ‘maybe’ jeans or dress that never fit quite right but you want it to - skip it and bring the stuff you love! Worst case, you can shop while you’re there! I mean how awful would it be to have to pick up a few things in France?
2. Nix the negative body talk.
We’ve all been in conversations when one friend says something about themselves and then it seems like the domino effect of everyone picking apart their own body or self. Even if your friends are saying things that seem complimentary “girl, you are disappearing!” Either speak up or walk out of that conversation. It’s not helpful to you and joining in is harmful to your friends. Here are other tips for navigating food/body talk. Plus, you are in another freaking country for your best semester ever you want to be SEEN, not disappearing. Thank u, next.
3. Be flexible, but keeping some of your normal routine is okay!!
Enjoy the local food and culture, but keeping some of your home routine is totally normal! Transitions are hard for anybody. As incredible as study abroad is, it can sometimes feel like you were airdropped onto the wrong Rachel’s iphone - it’s sort of familiar, but something feels off. If you like to run, take a friend for a jog and see the sights (always check if you’re in a safe area/get tips on routes and running times!). If you like at-home workouts do some in your room or get roommates to join in. Study abroad can also feel like your freshman orientation week all over again, with booze and eating out. It’s a-okay to want a night in, take a night off or make a meal that’s ‘not so traditional’ when you’re feeling it. If your friends want to book a beach trip and the only thing holding you back is the fact that you don’t feel ‘bikini ready’ is that really worth missing out for?!
Tip 3 1/2: If you see a therapist or dietitian regularly (or semi-regularly) at home, let them know you’re studying abroad so you can make a plan together and they can be available if you want to schedule a last-minute call or skype session. Just because we fly across the ocean doesn’t mean you have do go it alone!
You’ve got a whole semester to experience and soak in the culture, experiences and memories, while still making yourself a priority. Ciao, bella!