Caring for My Mental Health Abroad

This week I have done a lot of exploring, both in the city and within myself. My friends and I have become comfortable enough in our lodgings that we are willing to venture further beyond now to see some new cities and what they have to offer. It would seem that this entire journey is about getting comfortable in the uncomfortable.

A group of us went to Currumbin Beach on Friday afternoon. We went for an advertised hike, but it turned out to be an urban stroll, if that. We did see some cool birds and wild turkeys, as well as many lizards. I walked up some steps to get to the top of Elephant Rock, which gives you a view of the ocean and the waves breaking on the rocks. It’s a good place to surf, and there was an art festival going on along the beach to explore too.

Find the friend!
Elephant Rock

I have also been spending plenty of time surfing and swimming in the ocean. You know you have been in the ocean long enough when that night, as you lay in bed, you can feel your body rocking as a soft wave crests under you. I fell asleep feeling as if I was still on my board. That was how I finished my day multiple times this past week. My friends and I have now tried early morning and sunset surfing, with some lovely views and a lot of wipeouts (for me, personally).

Will, Matt and I post sunset surf session

Having spent almost a month abroad at this point, I feel that I have experienced most of the feelings of homesickness and culture shock at this point. This was an added challenge with my mental health. I have struggled with anxiety and other mental health concerns for many years, so this trip meant a lot to me in that I was healthy enough to go away on my own and experience something amazing. Almost 1/4 of the way through this trip, I can look back and reflect on how I’ve been adjusting. At Bond Uni, they place a lot of emphasis on their student’s mental well-being as much as their physical health, so each student can get an hour of therapy per week through the uni. I am taking advantage of this amazing gift as well as using my coping skills and keeping up self check-ins.

This can look like journaling, going swimming, surfing, watching a comfort tv show, reading a book, or hanging out with my housemates. During a change this significant to one’s life, there are going to be ups and downs. I have had my fair share already. Luckily, I have a group of friends that I met in my program that have loved me through the tears, fears, and panic attacks as I do for them. Building a safety net and a routine has been helpful for me to become more comfortable in this space.

I have gone back and forth over sharing about my mental health for this blog, but in the end, I hope people see that if I can do it, they can do it. Studying abroad is really hard, one of the most challenging things I have ever set my mind to: but, I am loving it. And I am proud of myself for doing it. I have changed even in just the the month I have been gone. I wanted to share some ideas that have helped me handle the change and come out better for it throughout this semester.

Thank you for continuing to follow along with me! My next post will be all about traveling to Sydney for the weekend. Below are some pictures of things I am finding joy in currently.

Journaling in Between Classes
Pumpkin Spice Starbucks walks with Carol
Watching the sunset with my housemates on our balcony
And surfing, of course.

Many blessings,


Published by Maddy Baughman

Class of 2024 English and Language Arts Elementary Education Major TEAN Gold Coast, Australia

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