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Life > Experiences

Three Tips to Help Prioritize Your Mental Health as a Study Abroad Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

It’s important to Take Care of Yourself!

Studying abroad is a unique experience that comes with many unforgettable opportunities that can be truly life-changing. Spending months in another country away from your loved ones, your cultural norms and what’s familiar can inevitably lead you to grow as a person and test your limits. Honing your independence while you’re abroad can lead you to become a more capable person and equip you with skills that you can use for the rest of your life. While this exciting chapter of your life has countless plus sides, one thing to be aware of about studying abroad is that it can also strain your mental health. 

There can be so many different things to do all at once and so much to juggle. Looking back on my experience, there were definitely times when my mental health waxed and waned. If you feel the same way during your own experience, you’re not alone. It’s only natural to experience this. Here are some tips to help preserve your mental health while studying abroad. 

1. Prepare yourself mentally beforehand

When about to undergo such an intense lifestyle change, it’s critical to mentally prepare yourself. One thing that made the move to London a bit smoother for me was that I did some research on the country I was going to be studying in and what to expect. It helped me a lot to talk to other students who had been in the same program or just people who had studied abroad in London. Gaining a basic understanding through conversations with those who’ve been through it already can help you anticipate what to expect and can help you mentally prepare for your study abroad experience.

2. Prioritize staying connected

A big part of what can add to poor mental health abroad is when you don’t feel as connected to your loved ones across the world. These people have been there for you your entire life, and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that they’re so far away. One thing that helped me was staying connected with family and friends back home. Maintaining those relationships helped me feel less isolated and provided a support system while I was in London.

3. Engage in outside activities

I had the pleasure of living across the street from Hyde Park in South Kensington. A walk outside in the fresh air was sometimes all I needed for a mental health reset. It allowed me to connect with and take in the beauty of the city. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a walk through a park, though. Exploring the streets of a new area of the city you study abroad in or taking up a recreational sport with locals can help you detach from the sometimes intense reality of being a study abroad student. The benefits of engaging with the outside are endless and can ease the pressure of life abroad.

My months studying abroad were undoubtedly some of the best months of my life. I’ve had the privilege to be able to experience things I never thought possible. Despite the many–and I mean many–highlights of my time abroad, there were parts of my experience that were difficult for me mentally. Hopefully, these tips can be helpful for anyone looking to study abroad down the road. Although there will be both ups and downs, just remember that everything passes. And, make sure to take it all in while you can!

Maddy Adler

Wisconsin '24

Hello! My name is Maddy and I'm a staff writer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Political Science. I love cooking, making art, and reading.