It seems when you find a routine that works, it gets completely switched up on you. Like many other people, I was reluctant to change when I got to Dublin. The first thing I did when I arrived to IFSA-Butler orientation was sign up online for a gym membership. The second day I was still jet lagged, but it did not stop me from going to the gym. If you think about it, anything that is familiar to us in life was once unfamiliar at a certain point. This is how I began to approach the new gym, as well as the whole study abroad experience.
Tip 1: Know Your Measurements
The next cultural shock I had was the weight measurement difference between pounds and kilograms. I walked up to the free weight racks to pick up what I thought was a 20 pound dumbbell weight. I attempted to do a bicep curl and failed utterly. I then realized it was marked Kg. for kilograms and had to Google search the equivalent of 20 Kg. to lbs. At first I had to repetitively pull out my phone to find the equivalent weight to avoid the same mistake, but the next day I memorized the weight equivalents and was able to work out smoothly.
Tip 2: Avoid Peak Gym-Hours
I first went to the gym at 5 p.m. only to be notified that the main gym was closed off to the student population and was directed to the student’s gym in the third level. The student gym was a lot smaller and more compact with students during that peak hour. I had to wait over 5-10 minutes to use certain equipment and machines, and turned what would have been a 1-hour workout session into almost 2 full hours. When attending a large university, try to plan your workout around the peak hours. Try to go either during the morning or late night to avoid the long waits.
Tip 3: Dietary Plans
After the first week, I began to find my groove and set dietary plans and meals throughout the day. In Ireland, and mostly all across Europe, the foods you find at the groceries are fresh with no chemicals or pesticides on them. Most of the food is fairly cheap because it is grown locally. My tip is to cook your own meals packed with the daily nutrients you need to keep a healthy body. You can even try to make one of those “Tasty” videos you always see on your Facebook newsfeed.
Tip 4: Find a Gym Buddy
Most people enjoy going to the gym with a friend. We are more likely to stick to our workout plans when we have someone to keep us accountable and motivated to do it. People also like to converse during rest periods and push each other to complete that last rep or mile. Try to find multiple gym buddies in order to have range of people to work out with to fit your specific schedule. They will be able to give you their own helpful tricks and techniques and who knows? Maybe you can make a good friendship in the end!
Tip 5: Traveling During the Weekends
I am planning on traveling across Europe during weekends this semester and I will be staying in hostels or Airbnb homes where I won’t always have access to a gym facility. My first tip is to go for a run outside in the morning. This is a great way to see the city or town you are in while also getting exercise. My second tip is to do a 30-minute abdominal/push-up workout in the living space of the home, where you don’t need any equipment. Finally, my third tip is to try some amazing food while you are abroad because you deserve to treat yourself and have a cheat day once in a while!
Eric Mojica is a double major in accounting and finance at Providence College and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at University College Dublin in Spring 2017. He is a First Generation Scholar for IFSA-Butler through the First Generation Scholarship Program.