When studying abroad, there are many things that have the potential of becoming terribly wrong. Whether that means losing your wallet at an airport, forgetting to pack underwear, or taking a taxi to the wrong city, you have to deal with the situation and make adjustments. Though I may be a bit extreme with these examples, the same adjustments must be made for those of you who have more “exotic hair” in your visiting country. This essay is directed not only to women, but men as well!
It is a complete shame when students go abroad with thick, healthy hair, and by the time they are ready to return, their hair looks completely and utterly tragic. This is my way of potentially saving you from this experience! Now, I can only give advice through my experience so I hope this will help a lot of you all. It is crucial for you to do your research in order to understand the typical hair products that are popular in the area in which you will be residing in. Sometimes this can be extremely difficult. Therefore, if you find yourself unable to research before you leave, your best luck will be asking the locals once you arrive! Many people simply pack more than a month’s supply of hair products in their bag; however, this is a challenge when you may only be bringing one large suitcase that has to be under 50lbs. For instance, I did not bring any of my hair products because they would have weighed too much to bring along. I was rather brave because the first week after my arrival, I discovered that the average market only sold products for straight hair (look for liso on the bottles), and 2 in 1 shampoos and conditioners. This was a bit of an issue because my hair is quite the opposite of what was described on the containers. Instead of being calm and tame, it prefers to be wild and free! After almost having a panic attack, I decided to make the effort to ask one of the directors of my program where I could find products for my hair texture. She saved the day after explaining to me that there is one store called Miami in the central part of the city. I was ecstatic and caught the bus as soon as I got the chance. It was everything I could hope for…minus the expensive prices. Yes, I found products that could work for my hair (I knew of the brand names), BUT everything was twice as much as I would normally pay in the states! This is something that you must keep in mind when you are debating between packing your hair products from home, or waiting until you are in the country.
One way you can save some money if you are one to use a lot of different products is by creating your own shampoo or styling gel (if you like to do wash and go’s). For example, an easy substitute for shampoo is mixing apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, and water together in a spray bottle. All the ingredients are relatively cheap, and what’s great about it is that you are able to find them at pretty much any convenient store! For those who like to use a styling gel to scrunch your hair, you can purchase chia seeds and boil them in water until it begins to foam. The consistency should be slippery and goopy. You can simply refrigerate this in a container when you are done. These two ideas are only a few examples of the different options you may choose from! When studying abroad in warmer climates, I personally find that it is best to be more natural in everything. This means hair, make-up, and food! Don’t fight the weather by straightening your hair everyday or applying chemicals to your skin to get rid of a pimple. The best thing to do is to allow you body to adjust to your new environment. I promise it will be more stress-free and you will thank yourself when you are ready to return home.*