It can be difficult to make the healthiest of choices while studying abroad. It’s a completely new environment, with different people and simple nuances of daily life that fall outside of a well-established comfort zone to learn to navigate. There’s a strong desire to pack as much into a semester or summer abroad as possible, to travel, to explore the host city and still excel academically as well as professionally at an internship placement. It’s easy to forget to drink eight glasses of water a day or make time for mindfulness and reflection.
That considered, CAPA London is piloting a new series titled “Healthy Choices Abroad” to help students find balance in this area. Each week, a new theme comes into focus and is explored either through a scheduled talk or activity, drop-in sessions where students are invited to speak with staff, or through informative handouts and posters around the center.
Current themed weeks include:
- Alcohol awareness
- Study skills abroad
- Healthy relationships
The format may change each semester, but the general message will stay the same. Let’s take a closer look:
Alcohol awareness is one of the many themed weeks planned for CAPA London's "Healthy Choices Abroad" series.
Set in a casual environment, students might be invited to join staff for a mocktail or alcohol-free beer to discuss drinking culture in their global city as compared to home. There will be a chat about nightlife and how to stay safe while out with friends. Students may have an opportunity to try on beer goggles and there will be flyers, pamphlets and posters available with information on recognizing warning signs of alcoholism and tips for cutting down.
Study Skills Abroad
A look inside our CAPA London center.
This is not so much a formal session as much as staff ensuring students have dedicated quiet space to study and some posters to peruse at their will that will share the effects of choosing healthy snacks and staying hydrated along with tips on how to create the perfect study environment. Students may be invited to have a group study session at a student union or coffee shop nearby and staff may be able to consider later opening hours during midterms and finals week.
One thing you'll learn is how to maintain healthy relationships abroad and in country.
Students will be invited to a watch a variety of TED Talks throughout the week that focus on friendships, family, working, and romantic relationships. A short discussion will follow with the freedom to discuss challenges students have experienced while abroad, perhaps at their internship, in communicating with family and friends from afar, or romantic relationship challenges they’ve encountered while overseas. A speaker may also be available to talk about conflict resolution.
Mindfulness and reflection are important.
Over the course of a week, students will focus on learning to be more mindful through various activities. These might include eating a piece of chocolate in a different way to practice mindful eating, listening to a particular type of music—such as Marconi Union’s “Weightless” binaural beats song, or participating in guided meditation practices. Students may also be encouraged to write a reflective bucket list to look at what they’ve already accomplished in their global city as well as what else they might still reasonably want to achieve in a non-stressful way. A yoga or mediation session under the guidance of an instructor may also be added.
Staff are also working on creating additional themes will be built into future semesters, including:
- Giving back
- Healthy eating habits
- Time management
- Traveling safe
- Culture shock and diversity
- Productivity and motivation
As students go through each stage of their study abroad experience, this endeavor will serve as a guide to meet their needs and help them find balance during their time in London.