by Jon Sender | Back to Guide
You’ve probably read plenty of study abroad blogs, because it’s become a popular way for people to broadcast their adventures to the world. Before writing my own, I read about the excursions of friends traveling to a variety of countries. There are also a lot of study abroad how-to blogs, like this one, that offer advice on functioning in another culture, dealing with culture shock and reverse culture shock, attaining fluency in a second language, you name it.
There are two types of writing, and furthermore two different places to write in, that I recommend and that will most apply to you when abroad.
First, start a blog using WordPress, Blogger, Wix, or SquareSpace, and have it ready to go before you leave so you write whenever you want to. This should be the place where you reflect on what’s been going down, tell your friends and family how you’ve been entertaining yourself, and chronicle your most insane and memorable experiences. You can post it on Facebook, have friends and family subscribe, whatever you want. As people keep up, it will almost be as if your stories are unfolding as they happen, rather than you attempting to share them all at once at the end. There’s also no rule for what to write about or how to write it. My own blog, which can serve as a sample, turned out to be more like a collection of personal essays than a blog. But the more you write, the more you’ll have to look back on and help jog your memory, even years after the fact. I suggest that after you arrive, you decide on a regular interval to upload a post—every two weeks worked for me—and a regular time and place where you’ll sit down and write. For me, that was Saturday mornings at 11am in my room.
Second, I recommend that you pick up a journal, like the Moleskine I mentioned, for keeping a recollection of events just for yourself. Here, everything you write will be only yours, because everyone could use some privacy. You’ll have moments you’ll want to remember but won’t wish to share with the world, like when you’ve never felt more lost in spirit, or are having trouble finding the right friends, or went on a really bad date with a local that was somehow still worth remembering. If your foreign language skills are sharp enough, you might even keep this private journal—or diary, if you really want to go there—in that language. It will help you practice formulating sentences and recalling vocabulary, and when you come back, you’ll be the only one in your house who can understand it. That’s the route I took.