Avoiding a “Study Abroad Rut”

It’s easy to stay spontaneous while abroad if you are traveling every weekend, but what happens when you’re just staying put? I realized that in my first month in Edinburgh, I was quickly getting into a routine.

Sure, at my home university I have my routines and I’m okay with that. What I am NOT okay with is getting into a routine while studying abroad for just three quick months! I don’t have time to do the same thing day in and day out. I have so much to see and very little time for it all.

I decided pretty early on to avoid getting into any kind of rut. Here’s what I’ve done to stay spontaneous while staying in Edinburgh.

  1. I Never Cook the Same Thing Twice

While I do obviously cook the same foods twice (there are only so many vegetables), I always try to cook them up differently. I found that I was sticking to what I know: which is salmon and spinach. I decided to get a little crafty and try my hand at cooking.

Two apps I’ve been using constantly are Pinterest and Tasty (which you may recognize from the Facebook videos). The Tasty app literally just culminates all of the recipes you always wanted to try but then lost the video for. You can save recipes and create shopping lists. I do find that Pinterest often has more of a variety of recipes.

Being someone who doesn’t cook too much (bless my school’s dining hall), I really wanted to use the opportunity to grow and practice new skills. I have DEFINITELY avoided a food rut this semester.

Favorite recipe: Roasted brussels sprouts with pears (find it on the Tasty App)


  1. I Went on a Coffee Crawl

This is along the same lines of never cooking the same dish twice. I decided that I wanted to try out every single good coffee shop in Edinburgh this semester, and I actually hit a TON of shops. I didn’t want to fall into the rut of going to the Costa coffee shop which is just a one-minute block from my dorm. Instead I wanted to try all of the “Instagram worthy” coffee shops and pick my personal favorite.

I’ve recently taken a break from the crawl and switched over to tea instead (another change-up this semester). I’ve also tried matcha and a chai latte for the first time- both were pretty good. An easy way to break your routine is to pick something small (like your daily coffee) instead of changing your entire day around.



  1. I Tried Lots of Workout Classes

At home, I’m a spin class instructor so that’s basically the bulk of what I do at the gym. I’m either teaching or practicing for class. I don’t do too many workout classes because I don’t want to spend my days off of spin in a group fitness class.

When I first got here, I signed up for ClassPass (which is super popular in New York, but apparently not so much here). Basically, you sign up for a membership there instead of to one specific fitness studio. The benefit is that you can go to yoga, but don’t have to make it the only thing you do.

I’ve tried out hot yoga and aerial yoga at Hot Yoga Edinburgh, a barre class at Edinbarre, and tribe fit at Tribe Yoga. I’ve really enjoyed trying out new classes that I don’t have at home.


  1. I Listen to Podcasts

Maybe this isn’t such a new thing to some of you. Maybe you’re wondering what that has to do with breaking the routine. This was actually the first thing I did to break my routine.

My walk to class takes 15 minutes and on one of the first day of classes, I realized I wasn’t in the mood to listen to my same playlist. I knew that if I listened to those same songs for 15 minutes, a few times a day, I would just hate every song on there. I decided to dive right in to the world of podcasts, something I’ve never really been into before.

I now listen to podcasts every time I walk to class and I finally feel caught up on the news and like I’m learning something new every day, instead of wearing out the songs the same 10 songs. If you feel stuck in a rut, I suggest you find a good podcast and change up your commute to class.

  1. Add Spontaneous Plan-Changes to Your Day

If you can’t add a spontaneous weekend trip into your week (understandable), why not try adding in a change of plans to your day? If you get a text to go to dinner last-minute, take it. If you are about to go home, but see a cool restaurant, try it. You don’t even have to spend money. You could just change the street you take home one day (how I got the gorgeous picture below).


One day I was pretty bored and decided to just check out some of the sights I hadn’t seen yet. That’s how I ended up on Calton Hill, overlooking the prettiest view I’ve ever seen. It was spontaneous and unexpected and wonderful.



By Ali.