6 Ways to Stay Sane Abroad

Moving to Oregon, from Toronto, to pursue my MBA in Sustainable Business practices from the University of Oregon has brought so many changes upon my life that they’re hard to count.  I’m clearly still me, but in such a bizzarro-world setting that you realize you’re kind of a bizzaro-world you.  So am I my own bizzaro-world self? That would contradict everything Seinfeld has taught us!
Sometimes I’ll be doing my own thing, then suddenly clue into where I am and what I’m doing and I’m like “Wow, I’m in the United States, this is my life”.  I think we tend to default back to what’s comfortable, so sometimes I think I’m at home in Toronto living my normal life, then boom I’m
biking(!) in a full rain suit through a heavy downpour in Eugene, Oregon.  Going to a movie here was interesting because you lose all sense of reality in a movie theater for 2 hours. When you come to after the credit’s role you’re all like “Oh wait I’m in the state of Oregon”.  Common theme here is that your life goes on wherever you end up, so you’d better keep up with it or it will keep hitting you in the face.

Eight weeks of being here doesn’t make me an expert whatsoever but here’s how I’ve been trying to keep on top of it:

  1. Eat well
  2. Force solo time
  3. Do something you love
  4. Make new friends
  5. Keep old habits, start new ones
  6. Chase waterfalls
    1. Eat well. Now, I don’t necessarily mean eat only 1500 calories a day (ladies, you know what I’m talking about), but I mean eat to stay energized.  I think that when you’re someone in a new place there is extra energy on top of your normal amount of energy required to exist.  So eat up and stay energized, it will benefit you on many levels!! During our two-week orientation I also learned that as an introvert, I direct my energy and attention inward and receive energy from reflecting on my own thoughts, memories, and feelings. So recognizing how you personally generate energy is also important to your overall well-being.
    2. Force solo time.  If, as the introverted ways go, I do require alone time to reflect and reenergize on my thoughts and feelings of the day, then it follows that one must make time for oneself.  If I’m spending all my time socializing, working, sleeping, and the aforementioned eating, without making any time for me, I’m not going to help myself.  You don’t necessarily have to choose solo time over socializing, just make sure you fit it in any way you can. For example, writing this entry today was a good way for me to slow down and have some solo time whilst also doing…
    3. Do something you love. Writing is a suppressed love of mine.  I feel like we spend so much time typing other stuff (emails, essays, texts, Instagram captions) that I figure why bother typing more? However, it’s nice to talk about whatever you want sometimes.  No guidelines, rubrics, or etiquettes to follow. Sigh. So write, knit, whittle, collect buttons; do what you must to keep yourself sane.
    4. And when you go insane? Make new friends, they’ll help keep you sane (hopefully), or at least keep you grounded in reality.  Making new friends allows you to tie yourself into your experience; they’re real people doing the same thing you’re doing.  Your family and friends are still at home, which is the sad reality, but your life is still kind of happening here.  But when things get too real….call someone at home. There’s nothing better than talking to someone familiar.
    5. Keep old habits, but start new ones.  These habits will force routine, which is a good thing to have when trying to manage a busy schedule. For me this was a two-for-one because my old habit was being active, but my new habit is to be more active.  So I’m really just turbo-boosting being active which is pretty easy with a free gym membership offered through the university, and some epic land features out here.
    6. Chase Waterfalls. As far as epic land features go, Oregon has some good ones: coastlines & oceans, mountains, deserts, ancient trees, valleys, painted hills, and waterfalls. Last weekend I woke up Saturday morning, got in the car and went on a #solotrip an hour and a half outside of Eugene, eastward into the interior of the state.  Let me tell you, I passed some GREAT land-before-time-scenic-stuff, but all that will be saved for another time. I drove just outside of Oakridge, Oregon where there is a waterfall called Salt Creek Falls.  It has a 286 ft drop, pitches 90 degrees, and has a 84.35% rating on waterfallsnorthwest.com.  Now exclaiming: “I will go to a waterfall today” and getting excited about it, and then actually going to a waterfall will have a totally different effect on you.  I was pumped I was going to a waterfall, but when I got there I didn’t even know what to do with myself.  Luckily I had brought something to sit on (it’s quite damp at the base of a waterfall), a few letters that deserved responses, and something to snack on. Then I just sat in the dwindling fall sunlight and took that crazy waterfall in.  I drove there burnt out, came back feeling invigorated.  So I guess this was me doing a little bit of 1,2&5 and ultimately helped keep me sane during these turbulent times.
    7. Oh and a surprise bonus #7: Music. Listen to music, it’s a powerful thing that can get you through the toughest of times.

So while we may develop coping mechanisms for our weaker moments, ultimately we must remember why we chose to undertake this journey. This will help you to focus on the person you want to become and allow you to hone in what you want to take away from living in this bizzaro-world. Everything we do/say/absorb while here will shape our personas for the future.  So when you’re in one of your low moments, remind yourself of the reason why you are in Eugene, it will bring you back that joy of the day you received your acceptance letter.

So thanks for staying sane with me…

Written by Andrea Teslia

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Andrea came to the University of Oregon to complete an MBA in Sustainable Business Practices. Graduating in 2016, Andrea plans to spend the next two years immersing herself in the progressively sustainable culture that has manifested itself on the West Coast of North America.