Studying abroad is important for a variety of reasons. You are immersed in a new and different culture, you are taking classes different from the ones you take at home and you’re meeting people who lead such different lives than anyone you have ever met. I can advocate that being completely surrounded by newness has allowed me to develop and discover things about myself I never knew before. It’s good to get lost in it all, but it’s also all too easy to completely lose yourself.

When I first arrived here in Costa Rica, I was so tempted to try everything. I wanted to taste all the food, meet all the people I could and basically take advantage of all the new, different experiences. And at first everything’s great. You’re excited, you have so much energy and everything is interesting. But after a month, you’ll discover that you’re tired and missing the plain, boring things you had at home.

You’re not on vacation when you’re studying abroad; you’re living in a new place for a few months. You will have sick days, tired days and days where you just don’t want to talk to a lot of people. And that’s normal. Studying abroad gives you so many opportunities to have new experiences, but you have to remember that you’re a normal person who needs alone time and sleep and some sense of schedule.

At home I am a very active person. I go on runs, I practice yoga almost every day and overall keep a very consistent workout schedule. When I first arrived here, I pushed my work outs aside because I was so busy with doing all these new things. I didn’t notice a difference at first, but after awhile my mood began to change. I was so used to activity that when I stopped working out, I lost energy.

I found out there was a balance. Of course you’re going to change when you move to a new place and begin leading a life, but you need to remember that certain things in your life are vital to your happiness. You may be a person who loves to write, and it’s important to take time out of your crazy travel life to write. Once I began working out again and practicing my handstands, my mood and my energy improved.

And there will be days when you’re in a bad mood just because you’re a human being and you can’t be happy all the time. So let yourself have a bad day and remember the things you did at home that helped improve your mood. Just because there’s a beautiful beach and a surfboard calling your name doesn’t mean you don’t need a twenty-minute nap. Remember to take everything in, all the sights and the people, but remember to give yourself time to decompress. Studying abroad can be hard sometimes and you’re only human, be kind to yourself and relax.

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