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Looking out over Bondi Beach from the coastal walk in Sydney

Everyone has heard of the “freshman 15,” you’re in your first year of college and your newfound independence and freedom makes keeping healthy habits difficult. The year is filled with binging on unhealthy college cafeteria food and no longer playing a high school sport.

What you may or may not have heard of, is the closely related “study abroad 15.” The excitement of exploring a new country mixed with the stress of leaving your own behind often leads to unhealthy habits and weight gain for students when they spend a semester abroad. But by taking proactive steps throughout the semester, this doesn’t have to happen. Here are my tips for staying healthy abroad, so you can enjoy your time in a wonderful new country healthily and happily.

1. If you can, walk

Walking around your new city is a great way to explore and learn more about your new location. I learned from experience that I really got a better understanding of the local geography and found new places I wouldn’t have otherwise by walking instead of taking public transportation or a cab. You’ll discover hidden local restaurants, boutiques, and other hidden gems. On top of that, it’s great exercise! The average person burns about 103 calories walking 1 mile and once you get started the miles rack up before you know it.


2. Take advantage of outdoor activities

No matter what city or country your in, every spot has amazing outdoor activities to take advantage of. Ask locals where to go or spend some time on Google researching and figure out what great places there are to explore. You’ll be amazed at the places you can find that end up being great exercise as well: hiking spots, coastal walks, swimming pools, beaches, etc. Depending on where you are, you can also check out Groupon for deals. They have an assortment of discounted opportunities for healthy activities from yoga sessions to paddle boarding.

group shot coastal walk

3. Try not to overeat

Moderation is extremely important when you are abroad. Without a doubt, experience the culturally specific food from your host study abroad location. I do not regret a single meat pie or Messina gelato cone in Australia! Food is a huge part of culture and it’s important and fun to experience it. But with that, remember that you cannot constantly be indulging. Try to enjoy in moderation. Also, with a little asking around and research on the Internet, you can find some amazing healthy restaurants. There are always healthy options, so check out if you can find any farm to table restaurants or ones that offer a healthier menu.


4. Find a workout buddy

One of my roommates and I chose to be each other’s workout motivators in the beginning of the semester, and it really worked. When I didn’t want to work out, she would encourage me to go and vice versa. And when we both weren’t feeling very active, we would go on walks exploring the city or do workout videos in our room.


Remember, if you gain a little weight by the end of the semester it is not worst thing in the world. Enjoy yourself, the amazing country you are in, and experience new things. It is all about finding a balance. Don’t overanalyze or deprive yourself, but be conscious of your activity and eating habits, trying to make healthy decisions when you can. You’re about to have the best semester of your life- take in every minute of it.

Savannah Cassidy is a TEAN Alum and Global Ambassador at the College of Charleston. She studied abroad with TEAN at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.