Studying abroad is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture, explore new places, and meet new people. However, if you have specific dietary restrictions, it can also be a bit challenging.
In this blog, I’ll share my experience of navigating diet restrictions while studying abroad and offer some tips to help you do the same.
The first step is to do your research. Before you leave for your study abroad program, find out as much as you can about the local cuisine and what options are available to you. Look up traditional dishes and see if any of them are suitable for your diet. If you have specific dietary restrictions, such as being gluten-free or lactose intolerant, research whether these are widely understood in your host country.
Another important step is to communicate your needs clearly to your program coordinators. Let them know about your dietary restrictions and explain why they are important to you. This will help them understand your needs and make accommodations if necessary.
When eating out, it’s important to be proactive and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask about ingredients or cooking methods. Look for vegetarian or vegan restaurants, as these are often more accommodating to dietary restrictions. If you’re not sure what to order, ask the server for recommendations.
Another tactic is to print out an allergy card with one side in English and the other in the local language that can be shown to servers to overcome language barriers. If visiting multiple destinations with multiple languages, print as many cards in the different languages as needed.
It’s also important to be flexible and open-minded. You may not be able to find all of the foods that you’re used to eating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find delicious alternatives. Embrace the local cuisine and try new foods that are safe for you to eat!
Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Traveling and studying abroad can be stressful, and it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the nutrients that you need. Bring snacks with you when you’re out and about, and don’t skip meals.
Navigating diet restrictions while studying abroad may require some extra effort, but it’s definitely doable. Do your research, communicate your needs, be proactive when eating out, be open-minded, and take care of yourself. With a little planning and effort, you can enjoy your study abroad experience while staying true to your dietary needs.