One of the best decisions I made when I studied abroad in Spain was to keep a study abroad blog. I decided to make a simple WordPress.com blog, where I wrote day-in-the-life posts and journal entries from my journey through Europe. I posted photos so my family and friends could see visuals from my trip, as well as some extra information about the places I visited. My blog was called Snapshots in Sevilla, and without a doubt, it is the best souvenir from my study abroad experience.
Many of my other friends kept a blog or a diary while studying abroad. Other friends told me they wished they kept a journal or blog and wrote more often. A blog can be one of the best ways to look back on your experience in a new culture and see all the ways you have grown. Here’s some of the other ways why keeping a blog will enhance your study abroad experience:
1. Reflect on what you learn.
While blogging was a chance for me to talk about the food my host mom made me or the small things I would see on the street walking to class, it also allowed me to reflect on the larger lessons I was learning throughout my experience. I would write about my struggles and the things I was learning everyday as a student in a foreign country.
In addition, blogging helped reinforce my learning in my classes. I would blog about every city I visited, making sure to do my research when describing its history. For example, I researched why the city of Chefchaouen in Morocco is painted white and blue or the history of Cádiz as an important coastal city in Spain.
2. Update your friends and family.
This is another important reason to blog about your study abroad experience: to update your friends and family back home. Instead of emailing or Skyping everyone, the people who you are close to can see what you are doing all in one place. They are able to see what you are learning and doing everyday.
3. Remember the small details of your days abroad.
I loved how blogging was an outlet for me to write about the small things that happened everyday. Instead of just blogging about the moments I went to Rome for the first time or saw the famous views of a Santorini sunset, I was able to talk about what I saw on the streets walking to class, what my host mom made for dinner that night or what my host brother or sister were doing that day. I love looking back to see what I was up to each day that I blogged. It was much more detailed than any Instagram post or Facebook update.
4. See the ways you’ve changed over a month, semester or year.
Another reason I recommend keeping a study abroad blog is to have a souvenir you can look back on to see the ways you changed from the beginning of your adventure to right now. This is important, as you reflect on what you have gained from your study abroad experience and how you can market your international experience to future employers or use it to help you travel in the future. It helps you remember the mindset of what it’s like to face challenges abroad, overcome them and really change for the better.
In addition to writing my own study abroad blog, I also loved reading other travel blogs and study abroad blogs! It was one of my favorite ways to get ready for my trip! Did you ever keep a travel blog or anything like that? I would love to hear about it!