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Study Abroad Jet Lag: Expectations vs. Reality

by Caroline Morganelli
AIFS Abroad student in London, Englnd

5 hours ahead of home. I thought sleeping on the plane and waking up in London was going to help me surpass the whole “jet lag” thing. I thought, I’ve been to California before and I adjusted fine to the time change of three hours behind home so adjusting to five ahead would be a breeze.

Boy was I wrong.

Jet lag is a real thing and, yes, it does affect everyone — and it effects everyone in different ways.

After we touched down in London I could tell my body was confused at why I was up at 3 AM Massachusetts time, 8 AM London time, but thought this would all change after my second nap on the bus from Heathrow Airport to the hotel.

Again, wrong.

I was so excited and anxious to get to the hotel so that I could go out and explore, but realized my body was telling me I needed a nap worse than I ever have before. I have never been someone who religiously naps, but I found myself napping in all of the free time I could find. It was hard because my body was tired all day until I hit the pillow. In my mind it was 6 PM, but in reality, it was midnight and I knew I needed sleep in order to function or even make it to any of the mandatory things offered by AIFS.

One nap does not solve jet lag either, it takes time. Not only catching up on sleep but adjusting your body to the time change. For me it took about a week. I found that the key was allowing my body to sleep, which was hard when the only thing on in my mind was going out and exploring everything possible.

I feel that it’s important to remember that your health and sleep come first. If you are extremely exhausted, you won’t enjoy your time as much as if you were well rested. Find time to check things off your bucket list, but also find time to take care of yourself and relax. Don’t spend the whole day in the hotel room, but also don’t stay up (or out) until 3 AM. Enjoy the experience!

This post was contributed by Caroline Morganelli, who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Florence, Italy.

Study Abroad Jet Lag: Expectations vs Reality | AIFS Study Abroad

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