Documenting Your Time Abroad

Some of you might be creative types who will create a beautiful blog or film a documentary while you’re abroad – and others might be the type who doesn’t believe in the saying, “pics or it didn’t happen.” I definitely fall closer to the first type, so I documented my time abroad in multiple ways. Here are the five ways I personally recorded my experience, and a piece of advice for all study abroad students – documenters or not – at the end.

1. Blog
I was so excited to update my very own study abroad blog, but it actually turned out to be my biggest fail. I still managed to upload 14 posts during my 5 months abroad, but the majority of them were recaps of the cities I visited during Easter Holiday. While I enjoy the aesthetic of this form of documentation, I was naturally self-conscious about my writing so my blog isn’t the most authentic representation of that semester. On the other hand, though, I’ve read study abroad blogs that were updated regularly with great detail – I just couldn’t do that personally. Nonetheless, it’s nice to have and look back on.

2. Photos/Facebook albums
I took a LOT of photos while abroad, and because I’m obsessed with social media, that means I uploaded a lot of photo albums onto Facebook (eight, to be exact). This was a little more fun than a blog to me because I got to share my new adventure with my friends and family, almost in real time. It also provides an easy way for me to access photos for #throwbackthursday*.

3. Tumblr
I did daily Tumblr photo challenges for the months of February and (almost all of) March, and I wish I followed through with every month. I liked that even though I took photos of everyday things around me – money, food, clouds, my bathroom cabinet – those photos will always be special to me because of the place and time they were taken. Creating a life in a new city feels more real once you incorporate and notice everyday things into your life, and those daily photos helped me do that.

Photo from March 9: Red
Photo from March 9: Red

4. Video
Throughout the semester, I took random video clips of transportation, nights out, and scenic views, and eventually put them together into a compilation video. It took a while, since I worked on it over the course of the semester and finalized it once I got home, but to me it was worth it. Now I can have a quick three-minute flashback of my time abroad whenever I want.

5. Daily journal
A piece of advice I received before going abroad was to journal every day. Now, whether you photograph and blog about everything or aren’t too interested in taking pictures at all, I encourage everyone who goes abroad to do this. Write long entries filled with every detail, thought, and feeling from your day or short ones with incomplete sentences – just write something. I think that one of the reasons my memories are so vivid is because I forced myself to sit down and think about my day for at least a few minutes every day. Of course, I was lazy with some entires (especially if I had a late night), but by journaling, I remembered to to hold every one of my days abroad, even the boring ones, special in my heart.

*I have no shame in posting tons of #tbts because Instagram wasn’t even available for my Android phone until near the end of my time abroad. If I did have Instagram, a special hashtag like #kchoiabroad would totally have been my 6th way to document the semester.

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