I won’t lie – the abroad bod is a real thing. If you’re looking to miss out, portion away. However, if you’re trying to experience the world in all of its calorie-loaded glory, you can’t stress over it too much. These are the happiest, most worthwhile pounds you’ll ever gain.

Spending a semester abroad is all about experience and indulgence. This is achieved through travel, studying, and of course...eating. Most places you go will have a local cuisine totally different from ours. Not only does this food contain locally grown ingredients, but its real. You might have had Italian sausage, but you haven’t had real Italian sausage until now, if you know what I mean.

Trust me, you will want to eat everything in sight, but you also don’t want to step on your home scale full of regrets and carbs. So on one hand, you have the opportunity of lifetime and on the other, the over-looming fear of returning home with an extra 100lbs (and I'm not talking about luggage).

The bottom line: YOLO

Alexandra Townsend

Indulging in authentic, worldly food truly is a once in lifetime chance. Losing weight, however, is not. You might have to bust your butt back in the States to feel better about yourself, but it's worth it. Working out won’t feel good, but in the moment, you and I both know how great it felt to house that entire Belgian waffle.

If you beat yourself up over every plate of paella or bottle of wine, you won't enjoy your semester. Food is a huge part of the experience, something you definitely don't want to miss out on. People travel from all over the world to eat Spanish Tapas, French Coq au Vin, and Italian Carbonara. Traditional dishes are so good that its nearly impossible to only eat them once.

If this means eating until you can't move, then so be it. If you’re journeying with a group of students or a school, it can be difficult to realize the incredible opportunity you’re experiencing. Not many people are able to do what you’re doing (only 10% of American undergraduates are, actually). When you’re contemplating ordering dessert, remember that.

It's more than food

cream, chocolate, butter, peanut butter, peanut, ice, ice cream
Alexandra Townsend

When you eat at a local restaurant or purchase produce from a market, you submerge further into the culture. These exchanges usually result in conversations with the local residents. The staff of places like these are extremely proud of what they create and sell. They love to talk about the high-quality ingredients present in their food.

When you look back on your time abroad, it's moments like this that you will hold closest to your heart. Oftentimes, they'll want to discuss your life too. Their friendliness will make you a more well-rounded traveler. You don't get more cultured than this. Even if you do plan on traveling abroad in the future, no other time will be like this one.

You're a young, eager-to-learn student who is open to truly experiencing your semester. Gain the happy pounds. Each journey is unique, and it's a waste of time and money to not live it up! Never forget: spending a semester abroad is all about experience and indulgence.

The pounds will fade, the memories will last forever

chicken, bacon, pizza
Alexandra Townsend