Self Care and Wellness While Abroad
There’s so much excitement in the process of preparing for an experience abroad! With necessary details like getting a passport and flight and finding a place to live, it’s easy to overlook some important preparations that will contribute substantially to a positive and impactful experience: self-care and wellness. You likely have developed strategies to deal with the stress of college life at Drexel, but as you prepare to go abroad, it’s useful to think through which of those strategies will be accessible to you in your new home and consider some new strategies to add to your list. Even the experienced world traveler is bound to run into some challenges in a new country that will test one’s resiliency. Planning ahead for how you will manage the stress and uncertainty of a new place is an important step to making your experience abroad a success. We have included some links and resources to help you to prepare for international self-care and wellness.
If you are currently receiving treatment for a mental health condition, develop a plan to maintain your treatment while abroad. Sometimes students assume that things will be easier, better in a new exciting environment, but experience indicates that mental health conditions tend to persist and sometimes become more challenging in a new location. Being prepared with an ongoing treatment plan will help you to successfully manage your condition while making the most of your time abroad. If you are currently seeing a mental health professional, talk with your counselor about your abroad plans and what strategies they recommend for your time overseas. If you need to locate a therapist in your study abroad or international co-op destination, please share this information with your advisor as early as possible in the application process. In some locations, it will be easy to find a local counselor, but in others it may be more challenging, especially if the local spoken language is not English or if mental health conditions are not as widely accepted in the host country.
If you are taking medications for a mental health condition, you must carefully research the legality of your medications in the country/countries where you will be living and travelling. Some medications that are commonly prescribed for managing mental health conditions in the United States may not be available or permitted abroad or only permitted with special permission. It is recommended that you take a full supply of the medication that you will need as well as a few extra weeks’ worth in case there is an unexpected change in plans. Having a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor indicating the purpose of the medication can also be helpful.
When you ask most students about their time abroad, they tend to focus on the positives: the life-changing experiences, the funny cultural mishaps, the new perspectives they have on the world. And an experience abroad absolutely can and should be all of those things! But, at times, it can also be stressful and uncertain, and if that is also unexpected, it can feel overwhelming, especially when you are far from home without your usual support system. Good plans for self-care and wellness while abroad could be your passport to an overwhelmingly positive and impactful experience.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. If you are in crisis or serious distress, seek professional help immediately.