Student Tips How to Survive Abroad on a Diet


During my third year of university studying, I’ve decided to join a vegetarian club. For me, it was a rather ethical as well as practical decision. This kind of a diet is quite cheap and easy. Moreover, it totally justifies my excessive love to peanut butter.

A year ago I moved to France for the one-year educational program. It didn’t take too long to realize that it would be hard for me to follow the chosen path. The meat-free market in the UK is worth around £657 million. On the other hand, according to the last rating market in France is much smaller.

At following circumstances, all practical advantages of vegetarian lifestyle had gone. First of all, – and it was a real shock for me, – vegan meals are banned in French school canteens. My host family didn’t understand why I wasn’t inveterate meat-eater (not to mention the deficiency of peanut butter in their daily diet). Moreover, even Quorn couldn’t help me as it was a real challenge to find it in Carrefour.

It’s hard to confess, but in this situation compromise was the best solution for me. To avoid hassle or insult I had to eat what was given. As well, I realized that meal is an essential part of every culture traditions, so I ventured to try local food with the hope of immersing myself into the year-abroad mindset.

I clearly understand that for students with religious or medical reasons for restricted diet, my personal example isn’t an option. So, let’s see how you can spend a year abroad on a restricted diet without any compromises.

• Be Prepared

Kathy Martin studies Italian and French at the University of Surrey, and she suffers from a highly common form of allergy – nut allergy. As for her, preparation was the key to her time in Italy: “I prepared thoroughly in case I eat something improper. Make sure that you can clearly explain the waiters that you have a particular kind of allergy. Doing this, you’ll protect yourself from accidently ordering and eating something that could make you feel sick.”

• Make a Research

Get to know how aware your destination is of your demand, for example, medical. Carl Harrison studies French at the University of Kent and has a celiac disease: “I prepared thoroughly in case I eat something improper. As for me, France isn’t the best place for being coeliac. For instance, if I said “soy coeliaca” in Spain, most people will understand me. But in France no one could understand my diagnosis; so I had to say “I’m allergic to wheat” that isn’t the same thing.”

• Try New Things

Show a little bit of creativity! Monica Rose is a Jewish student who spent a year in Spain: “To my regret, before my leaving to Granada I found out that there was no Jewish community. It meant that getting kosher food would be a problem, so I decided that the best solution in this situation would be to go vegetarian.”

• Don’t Panic

When preparing to go out of the native country, the threat of dreary dinners can put the wind up, restricted eaters. But, keep in mind that food is only one tiny aspect of life and your diet can’t take your best memories away because there will always be something to eat.

Due to this, there are no significant reasons why a restricted diet should ruin your great year abroad.