Let’s be honest–who hasn’t dreamed of eating big Italian meals, trying every type of gelato, and feasting on pasta and pizza until your heart’s content? I know as soon as I decided to study in Milan, those were things I dreamed of nightly. But if we are being realistic, all those heavy goodies take a toll on the body and I’ve quickly come to learn you can’t live off gelato (unfortunately). There’s a balance students need to strike while spending time in these cities, between indulging and healthy living. Within the first few days, my body felt depleted, and I knew it was my change in diet. I took the liberty of discussing it with my roommates, and we all felt the same way.
It’s important to communicate when you are living abroad, whether it is with your family, friends, roommates, or ISA staff. This communication helps you feel more connected, and can help you feel less alone during this experience. Communication is also important because it helps bring you and your roommates together. To date, my roommates and I have been very open with one another and I think that helps make this experience more enjoyable. We all realized we need a balanced diet, and decided on cooking dinners at our apartment. With this simple change, it not only brought us closer together as a “family” but helped make us feel better as individuals.
Another way we keep a balanced lifestyle here in Italy is walking. We learned that walking is some of the best transportation for living in this major city, and everything is accessible when doing so. Walking has not only become part of our everyday life, we now joke about how much more of it we do here then we did at home. By walking everywhere, one can see and experience an Italian lifestyle much more accurately. Yes, I will admit it’s very tiring at first, but you become more accustomed to it with time.
For me personally, I love to workout. It’s something I do everyday at home, and without it I feel like something is missing. My yoga practice is very important to me, and it was not something I was going to leave behind just because I was going to a different city. Before leaving for Italy, I made myself realize that my practice was not going to be the same as it had been at home. Going into this experience knowing that made it much easier to adjust to my new lifestyle. Obviously, living in a downtown Milan apartment with five others is not part of my typical life at home. In the beginning it is definitely hard to adjust, but the most important thing is to make time. You can always find excuses that you can’t find time, but making it because it’s important to you. There are days when I have to drag myself out of bed before anyone else is awake, make sure not to wake my roommate, and just go flow. Even if it starts as vinyasa over and over, it’s something. Sometimes working out during this experience means sacrificing other things; such as sleeping in, or staying out too late. Like stated, I get up early to practice, so I rarely sleep in. But the plus side of this is I always feel refreshed and ready to take on the day- sometimes even without a cappuccino!
Also, I feel it’s important not to be afraid. Don’t be afraid to stand out, the public eye is not watching you. Have fun with your experience, try new things, and remember that it’s okay if you skip a day. At home I rarely miss my practice, but being here I’m much less strict. Some days we wake up at 5:30 to catch a train to go exploring, just go with it. Don’t miss out on too much just for working out. It’s all a balance.