You’ve spent more time than you can even remember dedicating yourself to the pursuit of this elusive, demanding, and difficult degree, but do you still feel like something is missing? It might be time to step away from the microscope, and out of the country. Studying nutrition abroad offers students a special opportunity to not only apply their knowledge through hands-on fieldwork and real life projects, but more importantly, it is a chance to witness first-hand some of the nutritional challenges that exist abroad. Additionally, studying nutrition abroad will introduce students to new approaches to the field, that are influenced by the religious, social, and cultural climate of diffe
Why Study Nutrition Abroad
Nutrition study abroad programs provide students with access to pertinent courses that may or may not be available in their home country, that are taught from a new perspective that takes into account alternative social issues and cultural considerations. As international understanding of the field, including the effects of food and nutrition on health and disease in a specific location and culture, will expand student’s employability and job opportunities in the future. Students will also have the opportunity to supplement their required courses with more location-specific or specialized courses such as Chinese diet therapy or West African food safety.
Studying nutrition abroad will allow students to dive deeper into the field and examine important questions. Such as how does culture affect nutritional choices and behavior? Or how do other countries approach food science and research? Studying abroad is the chance to explore the field on a global scale, and the benefits of doing so will be both immense and long-lasting.
Studying nutrition abroad can be a very rewarding experience no matter where you choose to go; but, to get the most out of your time abroad, it is important identify your specialized interests within the field and select a location where you can expand your experience and knowledge in that area. Although each student’s interests are unique and there many be specialized nutrition courses offered in many destinations around the world, here are a few of the most popular locations to study nutrition abroad:
Kenya. Students who choose to study nutrition in Kenya will have the chance to take courses at the University of Nairobi, where they will have the opportunity to engage in fieldwork, research, and coursework alongside local students and professors. It is not uncommon for nutrition coursework in Kenya to take students out of the classroom to work on development projects involving food safety, disease preventative, and other sub-fields of nutrition, so students will gain both academic and experiential knowledge by studying abroad in Kenya. You may even decide on a specialization within the field during your time abroad!
Botswana. Students who study nutrition in in Botswana will have a distinct opportunity to apply nutrition principles learned in the class life in the real world, as many study abroad programs supplement coursework with internships, volunteer placement, or other fieldwork opportunities. By working with local community members as well as a variety of organizations and institutions, students will gain a great deal of insight on the nutritional struggles faced by locals and also have the opportunity to contribute to increase nutritional knowledge and understanding.
India. Nutrition study abroad programs in India give students the chance to explore the field in very unique ways. India has an incredible wealth of nutritional history and an enormous food culture, and many practices and philosophies related to nutrition and food have in fact originated in India. Home to some of the top research universities in the world, India is definitely not a bad choice for nutrition students who are interested in conducting research and exploring the very scientific side of the field.
Australia. The Land Down Under has high aims of being the healthiest country on the planet by 2020. And let’s be honest: they aren’t going to earn the esteemed title if they don’t get their nutrition in tip top shape (which sadly means cutting back on Golden GayTimes and Milo). Aussie diets will seem familiar to most westerners, but an increased emphasis on supplements, vitamins, and minerals make it a fascinating destination for studying nutrition abroad.
Jordan. The Mediterranean diet has lasted for millennia, and it’s not by accident. Locals love a diet high in fish intake, complex grains, simple vegetables, and natural sugars (dates, honey, and apricots, oh my!), and their long lifespans are no-brainer indicators that it’s working. Learn the secrets of these ancient food preferences as you dive deep into the world of Middle Eastern cooking and nutrition through study abroad in Jordan.
Nutrition Study Abroad Programs
Due to the nature of the discipline, it can be hard to find upper level nutrition classes abroad, so students are encouraged to study abroad earlier on in their academic careers. However, students with a strong background in chemistry and a firm understanding of the biochemical interactions of all the micro and macro nutrients with the human body are in good shape to continue their nutrition education abroad.
Those who decide to study nutrition abroad should seek out programs and courses that pair well with degree requirements at their home university (regardless of when they study abroad), introduce them to unique nutritional perspectives, and expose them to possible specializations within the field. Students can also choose to take nutrition courses within specific subfields, such as traditional healing practices, community nutrition, and public health policy.
Overall, the types of nutrition courses available and the type of approach each institution will have to the subject will vary greatly by location, so be sure to select a location that provides the perspective and courses you hope to explore during your time abroad. Lastly, it is important for students to take full advantage of their time abroad, by taking courses that expand their perspective of nutrition in their host country and also give them the opportunity to interact with the field in the real world, through internships, service-learning, field trips, and other learning opportunities outside of the classroom.
Cross-Cultural Understanding. The fact of the matter is, not everyone around the world shares the same principles and ideologies about life, and this certainly applies to the field of nutrition. Each culture approaches different aspects of nutrition differently; consider the fact that some countries revere and praise those who are overweight (in contrast to the U.S.), since it is seen as a sign of power and wealth (you have money to buy food to “over nourish” yourself). Additionally, different cultures face different nutritional issues. For example, while American nutritionists are dealing with an obesity epidemic, nutritionists in other countries are facing malnutrition issues and foodborne illnesses. Spending time out of the country and out of your comfort zone will allow you to increase your cross-cultural understanding, both generally and within the field, to make you an even better future nutritionist.
Career Enhancement. Especially pertinent in science fields and fields that involve a large amount of research, international experience is an incredible asset to any student’s arsenal of skills when it comes to their future career. Adding study abroad experience to your resume will show future employers that you have what it takes to work on a team in a new environment and that you are receptive to new ideas; not to mention that you are knowledgeable about foreign nutrition practices and the field in general.