Grace’s Five Helpful Habits While Living Abroad

Me time at my favorite coffee shop.

1.         Alone time and setting boundaries

I value my “me time.” Especially in college, my alone time has become one of my top priorities for maintaining a healthy mindset. Sometimes it can be hard sharing a small space with a roommate; however, it is good to set boundaries. It is totally okay to ask your roommate if you could have some alone time in the room, and honestly, they probably were thinking the same thing! Alone time allows you to reset, decompress, and tune into your feelings. It is essential to get just a few minutes of alone time to relax and recharge. Living abroad is busy; a lot of energy is put into socializing, traveling, studying. Make sure you put yourself first and know how you feel emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

2.         Explore, get outside, and move your body!

Sometimes, the easy option is to stay in your room and lay in bed. And sometimes, staying in bed all day is much needed! For me, Sweden is a place where the sun rises late and sets quite early. So, I must get some fresh air and sunlight. It is essential to spend some time outside, no matter where you are studying abroad. Ask a friend to go for a walk, sit in the park, or take a stroll around the city! Any little bit helps to boost my mood. Sometimes I find it hard to fit in time, but occasionally I wake up early and just do a 15-minute walk to clear my head. Even a little bit of movement every day helps me feel better mentally and physically. 

One night during a walk around the lake near my apartment.

3.         Call friends and family

I am usually the type of person to call my parents often, like 4-5 times a week. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of studying abroad, so I enjoy pausing and calling my mom to chat for a few minutes. I also try to reach out to a friend from home to check-in and catch up. When I’m feeling homesick, it is nice to hear a familiar voice. In the beginning, I was worried that my friendships back home would not be the same but staying in touch with them and calling often shows that the relationships are still just as strong.

4.         Sleep

Sleep is SO important. Traveling, socializing, and studying really drain my energy (in a good way)! Sleep is often overlooked due to late-night studying, spending time with friends, or waking up for an early flight. I try to go to bed before 11pm and try to wake up around the same time every day, but of course, there are times where I stay up too late and sleep in. It is just essential to get enough rest because my days can often be long and jam-packed. Remember: it’s okay to say no to something if you are tired and need rest!

5.         Journal, be mindful, and be open

First, I find journaling a great way to note everything I have done while being abroad. Second, it is a way to vent and keep track of how I am feeling. I prefer to journal every morning and then whenever I feel like I have a lot going on, mentally or physically. Writing down my thoughts helps me release stress and anxiety about my day. I love to reflect on my days, like what I did that day, how I felt, or things I need to do. Journaling helps me start my day with a clear mind. When my time abroad comes to an end, I will be excited to read back on my time in Sweden; my entries are my memories and keepsakes!

My favorite park near campus.