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Much needed help

I need help. I am teaching abroad for 5 months, and, once I arrived, I found out that the undertaking was far less than I assumed. I only teach 3 days a week, and I don't have the money to travel on all my off days. In month I've been here, I've gotten lazy, and have been sitting around eating and basically doing nothing. Each day I say I'm going to get up and go run, catch up on my reading and all the other things I never found time to do when I had 28 million things on my agenda in the States.

I know I should get out and exercise, but it's so cold outside, and I can't afford a gym membership since I'm making no money. I have to stay in the program 'til May 1, but I am so lonely, and I know if I don't change, I will have gained an enormous amount of weight by the time I go home. I don't want to face my friends and family then.

Please, I'm asking for someone to offer any suggestions that will send me in a positive direction.

Mon. Jan 30, 9:33am

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It is rough to be in a foreign place without friends in a place that didn't meet your expectations. I spent a year in the middle east and I remember the first month being incredibly lonely. I didn't speak the language but I understood one word "cake" and I found myself eating cake every evening. Soon I started to write in my journal and write all the crazy thoughts down though and each day became easier as I indoctrinated myself into the new culture and let go of my expectations of what I thought would happen on this experience abroad.

Have you befriended any of the locals? They usually love to host people and learn about other cultures. All you need to meet is one. It's amazing how one person can open up many doors. Is there a local cafe? I find many people sit there for hours and socialize, and if you're reading a book in english, many will approach you for conversation and extend invitations. How about the students parents and families? Do you ever get a chance to meet them?

Monday, January 30, 2006, 9:46 AM

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Don;t lose hope!!! Start today! Take it one day at a time, you will have to be your own 'keeper' - you are going to be the only one responsible for going home overweight OR NOT! You already have your first bit of motivation ready - you know what to do, NOW JUST DO IT.

The only way I feel positive at the end of the day, is when i have accomplished what I set out to do the morning. i make a small list of at least 5 things to do. Throughout the day, I check in to the list and cross them of as soon as I have done them. When I have completed my list - I FEEL GOOD!!!! When I haven't done them, I carry them over for the next day and try harder!

Keeping a diary of what I eat and weighing myself daily also keeps myself on track.

I'll check back later - good luck so far!

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:04 AM

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When I was abroad (I was studying, not teaching, but maybe you could find a study abroad program to get info from), my program had a community board type thing where you could post things like requests for conversation exchanges. English is a pretty valuable thing - a lot of the people I met were very enthusiastic about practicing their English with me. So I set up a couple of "dates" each week where I'd get together with a local for an hour or two, and half the time we'd speak in English, and the other half we'd speak in Spanish. It was a great way to practice - in that controlled setting, neither of us felt awkward about correcting the other's mistakes, and the best way to improve is to speak with native speakers.

Are you in a big city? If you are - try craigslist. Post for someone to show you the sites. If you're a woman, be sure to take all the necessary safety precautions (like meeting in very public places, trying to find women to go with, etc).

Could you find somewhere to volunteer? It's a great way to meet people, and it's always hard to feel bad for yourself when you see how much whoever you're helping is struggling. Craigslist is again a decent resource for this...or try a local church. Or ask around your school.

The other teachers where you are might be a great resource. Probably one or more of them would enjoy getting coffee with you sometime after work.

I don't know your whole situation, but you probably chose to go where ever you are for some set of reasons - write them out to remind yourself, then make another list of all the things you want to do while you're there. Traveling isn't an option, but walking is a great way to see the sites, and many cultural things are free. There is probably some local magazine that lists all the events that are going on in a given week. Check it out and go do a couple each week.

Tell yourself that you're going to try a new coffee shop each week to find your favorite.

Finally, there might be some sort of America community (are you from the US? - or where ever you're from) where you are. They might be able to point you in the direction of other people who are in a similar situation, or maybe they have some big sister program where people who have been there longer take newbies around and show them all the good spots.

Hang in there! Being abroad can be an amazing experience - get out there and enjoy it!

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:10 AM

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Pick up a book, or order from Amazon, of something like "how to explore xxx city on $5 a day." They have them for tons of European cities, as well as, like, NYC. It'll tell you about hole-in-the-wall museums and churches you can explore for free, or when festivals are going on, etc. Then you'll be out, walking, and doing stuff, which will take up your time, and you won't be sitting around, eating.

Also, since you're on a limited budget, try and buy all of your food from a grocery store, and not eat out. It'll save you a ton of money and calories. Budget out how much money you have for food each week; if you spend less (by not going out), put it aside. If you do well with that, you may have enough to go travel for a weekend or a few days, or go to the theater, or take a tour, or some other touristy thing that you wouldn't be able to afford otherwise. And you'll be eating so much healthier!

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:16 AM

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You mentioned running. Could you look for a running club? Or at least a buddy? If you try to associate yourself with people who have a healthy lifestyle it would be a bonus.

Monday, January 30, 2006, 10:18 AM

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