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Staying healthy away from home

Access to familiar foods and exercise can make staying healthy a challenge in a strange country

How did you find staying healthy in your new home compared to your country of origin?

Our group didn’t flag any big issues with health care. This may be that as children in a new country, our group were less likely to be aware of how health care or treatment was organised, accessed or paid for. One theme is the ease of exercising in a warmer climate – which in turn makes it cheaper - and the freshness of food in some countries.

Carly: “Food is much fresher in Portugal than England”

Lucy: “I had access to Forces health care so, if anything, it was better when I was abroad [than in the UK]!

Austeja: “Staying healthy in the UK has been very hard. During my teens in Lithuania, my parents encouraged a healthy lifestyle. Since I moved to the UK I have been eating a lot of unhealthy food and doing minimal exercise. The food in Lithuania traditionally is much healthier and there is less junk food.”

Tom: “On reflection, it was probably easier to stay healthy [in the Middle East than in the UK]. The weather was better so we spent more time outdoors and there were excellent leisure facilities. Health care was excellent when we needed it.”

Methee: “Considering how globalised the developed world has become, I don't think location is an excuse for poor diet and exercise. As for health, it depends where you live. It is more difficult to avoid disease in tropical countries.”

Nina: “I’m all for universal health care. For example, I still marvel at being able to simply walk out after seeing my GP or not having to pay for birth control. I do find that even small criticisms of the UK’s NHS go down very badly with Brits. It’s as though I shouldn't have an opinion because I’m not from here.

“I also go to the doctor at home [Costa Rica] because it's good quality and quick.”

Kim: “In Germany, I grew up in the countryside and used to go horse riding. My parents tried to give me the same opportunities in the UK, however it was too expensive so I didn’t do it for long. Now I run.”

“I feel like the German system was a less over-crowded system than the UK. The UK system also seems old. I remember having my ears cleaned by a doctor in Germany who had tiny tools. In the UK they used a pressure pump which made a hole in my ear drum. It seems hard to get to see a doctor let alone a specialist, but it might be the same in Germany now.”

Girls playing in the pool Girls playing in the pool

“It's more expensive trying to stay healthy here [in Australia] than in other countries I've lived in. Gyms and healthy food cost a fortune. Alcohol and junk food are cheaper. No wonder there is a rise in obesity. However, health is very important to me so with a little financial redistribution I am investing in better quality foods and a good gym.

The healthcare system here reminds me of the UK... much of Australia's government systems are based on the UK so there's not too much difference, and as I've experienced healthcare in the UK I didn't feel any 'shock' when I moved here.”

Jimmy: “It’s harder to stay healthy [in the UK] due to the weather. In Dubai, you’re making the most of the outdoors.”

Lisa: “We had everything paid for privately in Hong Kong - and of course we have the wonderful NHS here in the UK. I remember signing up to my new GP in Belfast and thinking the facilities weren't as good - but that was just a materialistic teenage view. I now appreciate our health care system here so much, especially having recently had my daughter.

“Hong Kong was much warmer [than Belfast] so I swam every day and played loads of sport. Most of that stopped when I moved back to Belfast.

“Food was much fresher in Hong Kong: more market based rather than supermarkets. We had access to varied cuisine too, from Thai to Chinese to Indian, all of which I ate from toddler age.

“I remember there were concerns about young kids taking drugs at my school in Hong Kong. To the extent that they actually introduced random drug testing for some year groups. It never got this bad in the UK. I think it was all down to rich kids being given lots of money by their expat parents, instead of time and attention. Local drug dealers saw those kids as easy prey. A year after I returned to the UK a guy I knew overdosed.”

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