Balancing the New Normal

I have officially been in London for a month, and I’m not quite sure where those four weeks went. Somehow, I thought a month in some of the novelty of London might have worn off, but as the saying goes – if you are tired of London, you are tired of Life.

mindthegapI’m quite glad, actually, that I can still walk down the road and be excited by the fact that I’m here. For me, there’s always been something about travel that grounds me in the present and makes me a bit more open to new experiences. But this wide-eyed wonder is not without its perils: burnout can happen abroad.

Naturally, I can be a bit of a homebody. I love to travel, but I can be equally, if not sometimes more, content simply sitting at home with a cup of tea and a good book. But since I’ve arrived in London, the moments I spend in my dorm relaxing after a long day incite a little guilt. I feel as if I should be dedicating every spare breath to exploring the city at my fingertips.

How to balance it all?

One. Set aside time to finish classwork. I know, no one mentioned there would be actual studying while abroad. Your friends will have returned from abroad with tales of grand adventures, and you wonder – did they even do any work? They did, I promise. I’ve found that setting aside time in the evening works best, because most of the things I would rather be doing, like visiting museums and such, are closed by 5 or 6 p.m. and it stops feeling like I’m trading homework for cultural experiences.

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Two. All those little routines you have at home that keep you sane? Keep them up. Being abroad is a wonderful change of pace, but it’s important to retain some sense of your usual routine. If you do yoga every day at home, do it here. If you usually put on a movie Friday night, do that here. Retaining some sense of normalcy will prevent you from feeling completely untethered by the changes.

Three.  Organize your life, meticulously. Between classes, assignments, meetings, planned trips, and impromptu adventures it’s easy to drop the ball and forget about some meeting you were meant to be at. But if you keep all of your plans well organized in a calendar or agenda you’ll take a significant amount of stress off your shoulders.

Studying abroad is a great experience, but it’s not going to come without its road bumps. You don’t realize how much you rely on the simple and mundane parts of your life until you strip them away. So go out. Walk the city in shoes that aren’t meant to be worn for seven miles straight. Lug around a camera and take pictures of everything new and exciting. But at the end of they day, remember to take care of yourself and that it’s okay to relax.

 

kerriebekephotoKerrie Beke is starting her Senior year in London, finishing up her Public Relations degree. You can find the California native wrapped up in a burgundy scarf, sipping tea, and wandering into too many bookstores. When her nose is not in a book, you’ll find her exploring the local food markets and cobbled London streets. You can follow Kerrie’s adventures on Instagram where she documents the moments that make her smile.

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