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Why and How to Document Your Time Abroad

Posted on January 07, 2018

Going abroad to study, intern, volunteer or teach are exciting experiences often filled with many firsts and memorable moments. While disconnecting and enjoying every experience to the fullest is widely suggested, it is also important to make sure you don’t make the mistake of not documenting your time abroad. It can be as simple or as complex as you like, just make sure you pick a method that you connect with on a personal level. The way you decided to document all your adventures will influence the way you remember them.

However, documenting your time abroad isn't just about you. If you’ve had the privilege of participating in a global program you have the opportunity to pay it forward and use your experience to inspire and influence other students to take advantage of programs abroad. It’s particularly important for diverse student who gone abroad to share their story - if you’re comfortable with this - and help other underrepresented students see that ‘we go abroad too’.While there are dozens of platforms out there to help store and express memorable moments, each will be attractive to different people. To help you get started, here are five methods to document your time abroad:

  1. Photography


Taking photos is the tried and true method of capturing memories. The photos you take abroad can be used for scrapbooks, photo books, Instagram, Facebook posts to share your experiences with friends, and your personal reflection. With the rapid advances in technology in mobile technology, you no longer need large expensive cameras and several lenses to take high quality photos. With the use of mobile phones students from all income levels can use photographs to document your time abroad.

2. Journal/Diary

Travel Diary

Life abroad as a diverse student can be both exciting and stressful, as you are learning to navigate your identity in a new culture. Journaling or writing in a diary can be a great way to reflect and decompress your thoughts. This can be done daily or when something exciting happens. Looking back at a journal or diary can also make reflection more rewarding as it can be very personal. Another upside to journaling is that it is very low-tech, all you need is notebook and paper, and you can journal from anywhere, anytime.

3. Blogging

Typing in Nature

For that those that prefer a more high-tech, public method of sharing your experiences, blogging is a great option. This is ideal in that its very flexible and can be expressed through any creative outlet of your choice. You can center your blog around stories, photography, poetry…. Literally anything that you find to be an outlet and would like to share. While internet and laptop are typically needed, blogging is still ideal as there are several cost-free platforms to use such as Blogspot, Tumblr, etc.

4. Collections/Souvenirs


Collecting souvenirs can be a rewarding part of going abroad regardless of your budget or host country. These items can range from bus/train tickets to local jewelry to sculptures and paintings. If something has an impact on your time abroad and you can bring it home, why not? Souvenirs can be used for scrapbooking, telling stories and make great gifts. Worried about having enough money to shop? There are many tips to prepare financially for your study abroad experience.

5. Make Friends


One of the most important components of studying abroad is the connections and friendships you will make. Keeping in contact with the people who made an impact on your trip. This could be fellow classmates from the U.S., local students, professors etc. With the large variety of messaging apps available internationally, maintaining these relationships should be as easy as making them!

Years down the road you’ll thank your younger you for documenting your time abroad. The pictures, journals, blog post, and souvenirs will all bring you back to what most likely will have been a transformative experiences in your life. And don’t forget, what you document can be just the thing to inspire a friend or one of your peers to go abroad too. So whether you're snapping shots on your new iPhoneXYZ (or an android phone), writing a journal or making new friends, remember sharing is caring and be sure to document your time abroad.

Author: Darius Carey

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