Abroad101 is please to have Monica, a study abroad student with College Year in Athens, contribute to our blog.
Gyros, baklava, spaghetti, gelato, pizza… Just some foods amongst many that study abroad students look forward to eating when they get to their destination country. Even the smells of these foods are hard to resist when they’re filling the air as you walk through the neighborhoods. It’s simple to say, “Whatever, I’ll lose the weight when I get home,” but we all know it’s much easier said than done. For people who like to live a healthy lifestyle, studying abroad makes that become a bit of a challenge. But, there are ways to stay in shape while being abroad, so don’t fret.
When I got to Greece, I wanted to sign up at a gym because it’s not likely you’ll see many people running along the sidewalks in Athens. I went to a kickboxing gym and a yoga place but diminished the idea when the cost per month just wasn’t in my budget. But, I soon discovered that I could take advantage of the natural hills and stairs to create my own workouts.
Even if I’m not running, I can easily walk the stairs of the Acropolis, climb Mount Lycabettus or perhaps walk miles up a stone cliff to see the “floating monasteries,” all while exercising. Also, find out from your teachers where people go to run outside. They have to do it somewhere! This is what I did and discovered a hidden gem of my neighborhood. There’s a track that surrounds the all marble Olympic stadium, just steps from my apartment!
In addition to exploring gyms, go outside that realm and find local clubs and organizations that deal with exercising. I went on a 14-mile hike with the Hiking Club of Athens for only 20 Euro. Take advantage of one-time deals like that to keep yourself moving. You can also see the beautiful landscapes while doing it!
Also, you never realize how much walking you’re doing throughout the day until you stop to think about it. Walking is an incredibly healthy form of exercise. According to The Walking Site, the average person should walk 10,000 steps per day, which equals out to be about 5 miles. You can keep track of this by using a pedometer. I use this awesome tool made by Nike that tracks my steps by a small device I put in my shoe and it connects wirelessly to my iPod. It’s called Nike Plus and you can find it at Nike Stores and most sporting good stores. It works and it’s a good way to keep track of your distance walking or running.
Lastly, just keep in mind how much food you’re consuming. Just because you aren’t at home in your normal routine doesn’t mean you should eat anything you want. It’s okay to splurge, because I can’t deny I eat a gyro at least once a week, but just be conscious of it. My mom made a good point before I left. “You don’t always order dessert when you go to dinner at home, so you don’t need to do it in Greece.” It definitely does make sense and is something I’ve kept in mind while out to eat.
At the end of the day, sure you might gain a few pounds. It’s nothing to worry about. Like my Greek professor told me, “You’re young! You have the rest of your life to lose it!”
My name is Monica Kucera, I am a junior at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. I’m double majoring in Journalism and Public Relations/Advertising studying abroad in Athens through College Year In Athens.