A Small Guide on How to Brighten Your Mood While Abroad

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It’s been about a month since I’ve arrived in Japan, and although I’ve settled into a daily routine, those days still occur where I feel mentally imbalanced. Naturally, everyone has days like these. Even in America, there are those¬† days where my brain feels as though it’s in a fog, and I can’t think straight or focus on the simplest tasks. These inconveniences are already a handful to deal with on a regular basis, but when conditions involving culture shock are added to the mix, it can be a lot to deal with. In hopes of helping those who may be dealing with similar problems, I’d like to give some advice about what to do and/or think about in these situations based on my experience so far while abroad.

1) Accept your feelings (and work with them!)

Yeah, you’re not feeling your best today. You know it happens, and this won’t be the last time it does. Rather than straining yourself into burying that feeling away, acknowledge that you’re not in the best mood and realize that it’s okay to feel this way! Studying abroad is tough and requires a lot of energy pretty much all the time, even when you’re alone. You’re in a completely new environment, and you’re constantly stimulated. Your body is going to be having an intense workout on a daily basis in accommodating to this new lifestyle.

After accepting your feelings, make sure to do something that may lighten the mood. If you’d rather be in bed but have to go to class, take a nap when you get back home. If you feel like you can’t focus in class, give yourself that break. If you just listen to your body but not take any action to resolve the problem, your mood probably won’t change. Action is just as important as acknowledgement.

2) Surround yourself with the things you love

During my first weekend in Japan, I went to a shopping mall with some classmates and my roommate and splurged on the things I love: I bought anime figurines, buttons, and manga. On another trip during that week, I bought a cute little star pillow and a bear plush. When I took the time to arrange these things in my room, it started to become more familiar and welcoming, and my mood steadily became more positive, and I felt more comfortable. While you’re abroad, make sure to take the time to literally surround yourself with your interests. If you’re constantly looking at the things you love, it’s harder to feel down.

I love anime and manga, so I always keep my merchandise right above my desk.

3) Cook for yourself (and keep your fridge full!)

Do not be that person who goes out to eat every day. Not only is it expensive, but if you eat out all the time, it will probably begin to feel like a chore rather than a reward. Save eating out when you’re celebrating or for a fun weekend, and maintain a stocked fridge what you tend to eat on a regular basis. I’m usually feeling my best when I’ve had a good meal, and cooking for yourself can add to that feeling! You put in that effort to cook that egg and rice, and now you get to eat it! Want bacon with it too? Go for it! Give yourself that enjoyment of cooking and experimenting with your favorite foods into making a great meal.

Despite knowing how to cook only a few things, I still take the chance to experiment with some new meals! Because the supermarket had discounted lettuce and beef, I decided to use them both as a kind of salad wrap with dipping sauce for my dinner.