Your Mental Health while Abroad

Study Abroad

Health Matters

Mental Health While Abroad

It is vital that you maintain your mental health while studying abroad so that you can fully enjoy your experience.

Linda Long, LPC, of UT Tyler's Student Counseling Center shares a few tips below on keeping a sound mind while studying abroad.

Expect Some Culture Shock

To cope with culture shock, it helps to know its stages:

  • Honeymoon
  • Frustration
  • Adjustment
  • Acceptance

For a shorter duration study abroad, most students will likely only experience the first 2 (or maybe 3) stages, whereas some international students may go through all 4, and require a period of readjustment to their home culture after they return.

Take it Easy on the Partying Front

Alcohol regulations are likely different. You may be traveling to a country where the drinking age is lower, and inexperienced student drinkers could end up in different types of dangerous situations. This is especially true for those who are taking psychotropic medications and unaware of potential interactive effects.

Marijuana may also be legal or more accessible in the country you are visiting, which could prove very tempting to you. Before doing or trying anything you wouldn't normally at UT Tyler or while in the U.S. in general, make sure you're not putting yourself or others in danger.

Bring Enough Refills on Medications

Laws and regulations differ by country. Some psychotropic substances might even be illegal. In most places, you should be okay as long as you bring the medication in their original prescription containers.

Look into obtaining an advance supply of your medications to match the duration of your trip. Most doctors/pharmacies are fine with prescribing/filling up to a 3-month supply, if they know you are going abroad. Don’t count on being able to refill prescriptions at a foreign pharmacy!

Don't Isolate: Reach Out

Express yourself to peers that are experiencing this new country along with you, AND don’t forget to share things with those back home.

Stay Grounded: Maintain a Routine

Try to keep those things that you can control (meal times, bedtime routine, exercise, etc.) the same, especially if you are prone to anxiety or depression.

Incorporate Home Country Coping Skills

Do those healthy things that you know typically help you feel better – taking a warm bath, going for a walk, reading fiction, etc.

  • Journaling is an excellent way to track as well as manage your emotions. The journal itself also becomes a treasured keepsake through which you can relive your experience studying abroad later on.