Allison Harpole is an SAI Ambassador who studied at Florence University of the Arts (FUA) during Summer 2013. She now promotes SAI and studying abroad at her home university, Belmont University.
I love to talk about my travels with my friends who have also been across the world. We compare our experiences, laugh about our tales, and exchange travel advice. The #1 regret I hear from my friends is that they wish they had kept a vivid record of their study abroad experiences.
I am an advocate for journaling and blogging about travel experiences. Think about it: you pour your heart, soul, and piggy bank into traveling whether it is a one week vacation or a 5 months cultural immersion. Don’t you want to remember as many aspects as possible from those trips? I know I do. My biggest fear when arriving back to the states from a 3 week study abroad excursion to Italy was that I would forget the timeless memories I made. Unfortunately, I realized how quickly I forgot many aspects of my travels, pieces I never dreamed I would ever forget.
During the summer after my freshman year of college, I studied Renaissance art history in Florence, Italy for 3 weeks. During those 3 weeks, I kept a detailed blog and labeled in detail every single photograph I uploaded on my computer. Part of it is the history nerd inside of me who documents and keeps everything under the moon, but the other part was some great advice from fellow travelers. Today, I am patting myself on the back for keeping such detailed record on a timeless experience that I will be able to share and cherish forever.
After all of this information and persuasion, I am sure you are thinking that keeping record of your trips is so tedious and time consuming. But thanks to modern day technology and the gazillion options we are offered, it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few options to document your adventures:
I love blogging because it keeps you accountable. When you blog, in the back of your mind you know that others will be reading your travel tales and expect you to post. Blogs can be fun, creative, and the perfect way to document your experiences. You will need technology and wifi to blog, which could restrain where you are able to blog. And because domain names expire, you will need to transfer your blog posts to a physical journal after your travels in order to preserve your memories. But it is fun to find a journal or notebook from the country you are visiting to document your priceless memories. Use WordPress or Tumblr to start your own blog.
A friend of mine kept a physical journal during her study abroad trip and loved that her memories were all written down in a book she can place on her shelf. Physically writing (yes, with a pen and paper…) can be more time consuming and hold you to less accountability because you are not writing for an audience, so be careful to hold yourself accountable to write. But it also will be physically written in a book you can keep forever (unlike a blog you would need to transfer to paper), and you can write at any time and anywhere. Also unlike a blog where you must be cautious about what you post online, you can write anything and everything your heart desires in journal or diary.
- Phone Apps for Journaling
There are several phone apps for keeping a journal. Day One is an iPhone app that easily keeps record of your travel experiences and organizes all of your journal entries. It even sends reminders every so often to remind you to write. Like blogging, it is important to write down the entries into a physical journal when you arrive home.
- Doodles and Sketches
Not a writer? You can record your memories through doodles and sketches. There are no rules to documenting your travels, so get creative!
- Video Blogging
Another great way to document your trip is through a video blog. By using iMovie, Adobe Premier, or your digital camera that records videos, you can videotape yourself speaking about your travels through what you did, what you learned, and what you hope to achieve. These videos can be easily uploaded to YouTube to use as a video blog for an audience, or you can keep them for yourself to combine into a DVD or digital file when you arrive home from your trip.
With all the options technology offers for writing travel memories, choose the one that fits you best. Whether it is blogging, journaling, or doodling, choose the option that will be the most fun and hold you the most accountable. You will thank yourself when you arrive home!