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How to Handle Your First Week Abroad

Hands sweating, knees trembling, and heart racing, these are few of the symptoms you experience when going abroad for the first time. Handling different time zones can be exhausting, especially when it is 9 hours. It’s been about a week since I have returned to the French Riviera to study abroad, and may I add, the struggle to adapt from Los Angeles, California time to Nice, France time never gets easier. The time, the climate, and the environment all play a huge role on how you will enjoy your stay in a foreign country.You might begin to miss home and experience sickness all while being jet-lagged and sleeping mid-day. In order to lower the chances of jetlag, homesickness, and illness on your first week, here are some tips to follow:

1. Don’t sleep on the plane

If you are like me, you get soothed easily by plane rides and fall asleep fast (unless you are the total opposite and freak out and never sleep then you could skip this tip). Studies suggest that sleep should come before the ride, not during. For example, if you are flying from Los Angeles (evening) and arriving to Nice (at night), chances are you will be awake all night because you slept the whole 11 hour flight to Europe. Even though there is absolutely no cure for jetlag, being well rested before the flight should help. IMG_0286

2. Keep yourself hydrated.

Flying and being on the move for over 16 hours dehydrates the body. When flying, dehydrating may occur, which can result with headaches and irritation. Do not worry, the flight attendant will be happy to give you a glass of water, so do not be afraid to ask. If you do not want to ask a flight attendant twice every 3 hours, then buy a bottled water in the airport before you board. Water keeps the thirst and headaches, so drink up!

3. Pack your medicine

It is absolutely important to pack in your carry-on all the medications your body is already used to in case of a headache, cold, or small infection. Unfortunately, I did not take in my own tip, so I have now been sick for over a week battling a cold and cough. So if your body needs Tylenol, Advil, or even a home remedy, make sure it is brought with you to whatever country you may go to. Bringing things your body is used to is very important, which leads me to the next tip on how to battle homesickness:

4. Skype in moderation

Missing home? Your parents? Siblings? Dogs? It’s absolutely normal to feel homesick your first week back, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Fortunately for us, we live in the 21st century where video chat is easily accessible, and we can talk all day if we wanted to; however, it is not recommended. It’s important to Skype with limit, why? Because you will never adapt to your new surroundings if you spend all day looking at a screen missing what is back home, instead of enjoying what is outside that door.

5. Take your Sweets

Every country is different in regards to their products, therefore, what may be back in your home-town will not be available in your new town abroad. Thats partly why you begin to feel homesick; yes you miss your dog back home, but you need to fight it. So pack your peanut butter, hot-cheetos, tortillas, and favorite sweets to have a little taste of back home.

6. Socialize

As an international student, it is inevitable not to get culture shock. You’ll notice a different language, different customs, and overall different people. That may sound scary, but it should not have to be. If you are studying abroad, meet new people your age, believe it or not, they are a lot like you. Yes, they like to eat, drink, and talk just as much as you do. There’s nothing better than meeting new people and getting out of your bubble to feel less “lonely.”

Overall, the first week in your new home away from home can be tiring, lonely, and a little under the weather, but if these tips are to be considered, the first week can run much more smoothly. So whether you are preparing to travel or study abroad to a 9 to 10 hour time zone difference, expect the unexpected.

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Gladys Cardenas

Gladys is a California State University, Fullerton student earning a Bachelors in Public Relations and in Marketing, with a minor in Spanish. She is currently experiencing wanderlust while she studies abroad in the French Riviera for the second time. Gladys is an enthusiastic world explorer who is captivated by the way people communicate in the world, hoping one day she works internationally, melding the arts of business and communications.

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