Loading Praxis Center site...
Pro Tip While Travelling: Find Familiarity

Pro Tip While Travelling: Find Familiarity

When you’re traveling abroad, you may instantly feel overwhelmed by the many changes and new experiences.  Things may even seem a little out of control at times.  The daily routine that you’re so used to may not even exist anymore.  

One thing that I would suggest when studying abroad is, even when everything around you seems so foreign and out-of-the-ordinary, is to try to have some sort of familiarity.  Whether that includes pictures of your family or friends, or your colored pencils because you like to draw, that familiarity will help a lot when everything else seems so different.


For me, that familiarity is regular exercise through running.  Even if I weren’t studying abroad, exercise is a good way to release endorphins and lower my stress levels.  But this is especially relevant now.  Ironically, I have not run one step since coming to Costa Rica.  The neighborhood is pretty safe to run in, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t feel right.  

At first this was fine because I was constantly tired and didn’t even have time for exercise because classes went form 8 am until 5:30 pm.  However, after those classes ended in October, this lack of exercise actually caused me a lot of discomfort.  There was a voice in my head that told me I should be getting exercise, but I still felt too tired or scared to run outside.  Eventually, there was a time when I got a pretty bad case of the flu, and I spent three days inside, not seeing the sun once.  This was a real wake up call for me, as I realized how sedentary I had really ben this entire trip.  Even though I am in a totally different country, exercise isn’t something I should have to forfeit (This goes for any sort of hobby or interest—if it’s something that you enjoy, please don’t give up on it just because you are studying abroad.).

So maybe running isn’t really your thing.   No worries, there’s Zumba!  I was honestly a little nervous the first time I went Zumba here.  I had done Zumba a couple times in the US, but since Zumba originated in Latin America, I felt very out of place.  However, it was honestly so much fun!  No one judged me for my poor dance moves.  In fact, I’m sure the instructor (who is crazy good) saw me struggling, but he made an effort to encourage and even compliment me on the things that I could do.  

Next, if neither running nor Zumba are up your alley, there are these public exercise machines in the parks of most neighborhoods.  To give you a better idea of how they work, none of them are motorized, they instead focus on lifting one’s own body weight.  Other machines use resistance or work the cardiovascular system.  When I first saw these, I actually laughed a little bit, thinking to myself do people actually use these silly machines out in the open?  The answer is yes!  Even though it’s not what we are used to, they are free to use and will give you a basic workout.  

If none of this appeals to you, there is a gym that you can get a membership in.  I considered this, but it did seem a little expensive for my taste.  But hey, if that’s something that is important to your everyday schedule, don’t shy away from that!

Overall, what I am trying to say is that even if you are spending a semester abroad, which is supposed to be filled with all new experiences and adventures, if something is important to you or your mental sanity, don’t give that up.  In the long run (no pun intended), when everything else is so different from the norm, that one familiar thing could help tremendously.  


12 January 2018


Zoe Henkes