On December 29, 2017 Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon signed a decree declaring 2018 the Year of Tourism and Folk Crafts in Tajikistan. Although Tajikistan is an incredibly budget-friendly tourist destination, full of beautiful mountain landscapes, ancient historical cities, and a unique blend of Persian and post-Soviet cultures, it remains relatively undiscovered by American visitors. For this reason, I wanted to begin by sharing some photos from one of Tajikistan’s many beautiful destinations—Safed Dara, a breathtaking ski resort located merely 45 minutes outside of Dushanbe.
Although I’d highly recommend visiting Tajikistan to any traveler or study abroad student who finds herself in or around Central Asia, Tajikistan is especially great for those who love outdoor activities and relaxing in nature. At Safed Dara, we were able to ski, snowboard, hike, and tube down the slopes all day, and at night, we indulged in some much-needed chill-out time in the hotel’s sauna. Intensively studying language(s) all day every day can be mentally exhausting at times, so weekend getaways such as these are a great way to recuperate, see a different side of the country in which one is living, and bond with your fellow study abroad mates.
Not only is it necessary to occasionally take breaks from intensive study (for example, by participating in fun weekend trips such as this), day-to-day self-care is also an essential piece of any study abroad experience. Although in the United States, you most certainly have bad days every now and then, I would bet that in your home city you may have a support system in place such as family members or close friends who you lean on when times are tough. When studying abroad, I have found rough days are often amplified by feelings of isolation, especially in the first month or two before you develop those closer relationships with your fellow classmates or other local friends. For this reason, it is doubly important to take care of yourself while abroad by going the extra mile to do things that will promote your physical and mental well-being. In my first month here, this has meant intentionally spending time in nature (something I do a lot in the U.S.) and getting a professional massage (something I’d probably never do in the U.S. but that feels like a special treat here!). While the spa may not help YOU decompress, I am sure there is something else that may help you relax when in a foreign land studying a foreign language. I just want to encourage anyone else out there either currently studying abroad or thinking about it in the future to take self-care into consideration to make sure you get the most out of your study abroad experience while staying mentally healthy.
Other steps toward self-care my classmates and I have taken in our first month here include joining a local gym (also fun for language practice!), taking yoga classes, hiking, and having board game and D&D nights at local cafes. Whatever it is, I just wanted to remind others who may be reading this that study abroad is not only about language gains but also having interesting and (hopefully) positive experiences, and a key piece of staying positive is R&R.
By: Rachael McBride
Term: Spring 2018
Program: Eurasian Regional Language Program