The One Habit You Should Pick Up When You Go Abroad – API Blog

April 5, 2019

Today’s blog post comes to us from API blogger & Drake University student Maddie Topliff. She’s studying abroad with us in Seville, Spain.

I only have one month left in beautiful Sevilla, Spain. I can’t even believe it!

Having only a short amount of time left, I’ve been nudged to think about the beginning of my study abroad journey. I arrived to Spain in January, not long after I made my 2019 New Years Resolutions. Some of them have fell to the wayside—for instance: waking up earlier to have more prep time in the morning—but one particular resolution has stuck and has been my saving grace while abroad.

Sevilla is a walking city. Everyone walks everywhere, and that’s hardly an exaggeration. Sure, there are plenty of cars, but there are also plenty of one-way roads, which makes getting from point A to point B by car a but of a hassle. Why not take a stroll instead?

In addition to getting my steps in by hitting the street, I bought a gym membership from school. It turned out to be the best 40€ I ever spent and is the focus of this article.  Here’s why.

Ever since I was a tiny Topliff, I have been involved in some sort of organized sport, from t-ball at age five to intramural basketball back home at Drake. The pinnacle of my athlete status was in high school, where I was fortunate to letter in both soccer and cross country. Don’t get me wrong; I lettered in cross country because I competed all four years, not because I was fast. But regardless of how fast I ran, cross country was one of the most formative and rewarding experiences of my life. Running made me feel in charge of not just my physicality but also my mental strength.

Unfortunately, post-graduation high school graduation I stopped making running a regular part of my routine. Sure, I would pound the pavement sometimes, but I made excuses for why I couldn’t more often than not, especially when college homework started to pile up.

I was frustrated with myself for a long time.

I loved running and I loved being in shape, but going to the gym at school was a foreign concept to me. Besides during the mandatory weight-lifting unit we had in 11th grade PE, I never became comfortable with the atmosphere. Designing my own workout? Never heard of it.

Truthfully, I missed and sometimes still do miss having a coach tell me what to do and for how long. This newfound freedom and agency—free agency am I right?—kept me from being a gym regular for a long time.

But being abroad has changed things.

I now find myself voluntarily working out on an average of three times a week; not because it’s always 100% a blast, but because it’s the healthy thing to do. Yes, it combats all of the dark chocolate I find myself snacking on, but it also keeps my brain from stressing more than necessary.

Studying abroad isn’t all sunshine; sometimes loneliness and homesickness are gonna knock on your door and elect to stay a while. It’s extremely important that you take time pre-departure to understand yourself well enough that you know how to take care of yourself. And I recommend physical fitness. It proven to biologically improve your mood and it helps get yourself out of your head, which is my favorite place to be.

My fanny pack is cutting-edge fashion.

So that’s today’s advice. Whether you like to run, walk, do push-ups (nobody does though), or dance, make time to sweat a little. Need extra motivation? See if your school or surrounding area sponsors any community sports leagues or upcoming races you can partake in. I signed up to run a 5-mile race at my host university at the beginning of the semester, and having that goal at the end of March to look forward to really helped keep myself accountable.

Thanks for reading! Talk soon.

Spanish word of the day: romper a llorar!

It’s a phrase! In English, we say “burst into tears” and in Spanish, it’s romper a llorar. Romper means to break, and llorar means to cry. Very similar!


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