Were you gifted a journal before studying abroad? Well.. I will break the news to you now and say that you probably won’t write in everyday like you’re hoping and planning.
I am an SAI Ambassador who went to Italy with high hopes that I would avidly journal, but if you’re not in the habit of doing so already it will quickly get put on the back burner. The struggle I had with journaling was that I would feel the need to write every detail down which was overwhelming. It is also time consuming!
Classes, homework, travel plans, SAI activities. Your schedule will fill up and journaling might not be the best way to save all the memories from your study abroad experience. Besides, are you going to sit down one day and read 300+ pages of your day to day encounters? I have compiled alternatives to consider when you’re deciding how to “save your memories.”
1) Post cards with the big moments
So many people choose to collect postcards from all of their travels. A great idea is to buy a 30 cent postcard and write on the back, in list format, your favorite memories from the day.
Ex: date / location / people you were with / funny story or memory / list of the museums and tourists spots you saw here / etc.
This way you will have all the important details and a visual documentation. At the end of your semester you can put them in a scrapbook, hang them on a wall, or keep them in a decorative box to go through. You will enjoy going back to read the important details instead of a journal.
2) 1 Second Everyday: Video Diary
There is an app on phones called 1 second everyday video diary. My roommate, Jen, was very consistent with this. The app makes it easy to upload a one second video and by the end of the semester you will have compiled video with a clip from everyday. When you get back from your trip and your friends and family ask about your adventure you will have a visual to share!
If you want to check out Jen’s video its on youtube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iY8XJelPZM
3) Instant images
Images are a great way to document memories. We are constantly doing so without even realizing it. I met several peers that choose to document memories with an instax that printed instant images or a polaroid and used impossible film. This might be a more expensive option, but it’s always nice holding a photo in your hand as opposed to flipping through a phone. You can paste those instant images in a notebook along with a few notes about the image or memory.
This seems obvious as I am sure a lot of you will use social media to document your memories, but consider making an Instagram account just dedicated to your study abroad. Another option is to make a personal hashtag for your trip. Ex: #jessstudyabroad2016 #jesstakesfirenze (ps. These are not actually real, but if you did want to see my images from studying abroad check out my instagram @jessvass.)
6) Notes on phone
Let’s be real. You can probably type on your phone faster than you can write a page in a journal. A great alternative to journaling on paper is journaling on your phone. It’s easy and convenient for those days you forgot it at your apartment or laying in the dark on your bed. It’s also a good idea to do this anyway to keep track of what museums you have gone to or places you’ve visited. Keep a list on your phone! It’s easier than trying to remember all the places you saw within 4 months after the fact.
7) Tripadvisor Travel Timeline
Tripadvisor has a location feature that tracks your movement and activity. If you turn it on it will document the areas you’ve walked, restaurants you’ve visited, and places you stayed. While this won’t keep track of the quirky personal moments, it will take care of the details you’ll forget about and want to know months later.
This isn’t necessarily a way to document memories but it’s a great way to share memories with your friends and family back home while abroad. Download the app Postagram to send cheap and personalized postcards home. Instead of spending 2.50 euro on a postcard and 5 euro on postage stamps with the high risk of it never making it back home, upload a photo to the app from your camera roll and pay $1. (I sent several that never made it to their destination)
Let me be clear that I have nothing against journaling. If you can keep up with one while study abroad, I owe you mad props! I just wanted to offer you a few alternatives in case journaling isn’t for you. If you have enjoyed these suggests or want to leave a few suggestions of your own leave a comment!
Jessica was a fall 2016 SAI Florence student from Georgia State University.