For many college students, studying abroad is synonymous with eating your way through various cities and countries. But spending four months indulging on crêpes and beer can catch up to you: in the form of the dreaded “Foreign Fifteen.”
Before my semester in Italy, I spent the months leading up to my departure researching various ways to avoid weight gain while abroad. When the time came, and I was surrounded by mountains of carbs and wine, I was tempted to hold back, fearing I would come back looking like a balloon.
That is, until a nice young Italian man gave me some excellent advice; “It’s not fat, it’s happy.” He was right, this was my time to try as much as I could and I knew I would regret missing out on these opportunities.
So yeah I may have returned to the good ol’ USA with tighter pants and a slight double chin, but I cannot pick out one thing I ate that wasn’t worth every pound. Here are some reasons why I decided to throw out the scale and indulge, and you should too.
Your Time Is Limited
Three-four months of your life may seem like a long time, but when abroad, every day counts. Time soars, and it’s a proven fact that you miss 100% of the pizzas you don’t eat.
How could you possibly understand a culture without experiencing their food? You can’t go to Belgium and not eat Belgian waffles, or Germany and not drink beer with a gigantic pretzel in hand.
Traveling transcends so much more than simply visiting sites and museums. Really traveling is eating where the locals go or trying something crazy and totally out of your comfort zone. Remember, you’re there to study, and food can teach you a lot.
The Real thing is Worth it
Trust me, you’ll never find better Baklava than in Greece, Goulash in Hungary, or Croissants in France. While abroad, you have the chance to eat the real thing, so why not take advantage?
If you gain a pound because you ate the best fish and chips you’ve ever had or spent a crazy weekend trying some of the 2000 beers on tap at the Delirium Bar in Brussels, so what? Seriously, treat yo self.
Friends who Eat Together Stay Together
Food brings people together. When you’re alone in a foreign country, what better way to make friends than to go out for drinks, or try new restaurants together? Have everyone order something different off the menu so you can all try everything.
Don’t miss out on your chance to bond and make memories over tapas in Spain or drinking an excessive amount of beer at Oktoberfest. YOSO — you only study abroad once.