So this is it, the semester you’ve been waiting for –you’re studying abroad! You will be traveling to countless new places, eating exciting foods, meeting people who speak different languages, and taking class in a city of your dreams. You won’t ever want it to end.
However, this semester will come to a close eventually, and all you are going to be left with is the amazing memories you made. Fortunately, there are things you can do now, while you are abroad, to make sure that you preserve these memories the best you can!
Here are five tips on how to make sure you remember everything about your study abroad adventure:
This is the ideal way to make sure you remember how you spent every day of this semester! Buy a journal or a notebook in a funky pattern, and carry it with you or leave it by your bed. Take five minutes every night (or when you’re on a bus, train, or have a break between classes) to record what you did that day. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just jot down the names of places you went, foods you ate, classes you had, or anything else that you want to remember forever. Be sure to include the date! At the end of the semester, you’ll have a detailed timeline of just how great your experience was.
2. Keep Receipts
This sounds a bit weird, but saving receipts, tickets and maps, will allow you to remember small details about your study abroad experience. Years from now you are not going to remember your first time grocery shopping in a new country and what you bought, or the small museum you went to on spring break, but if you save the receipts –you will! It’ll bring back small memories that you did not even know you had. Saving maps is also cool because looking at them can put you right back in that place and time and you’ll remember how stressful it was trying to find your hotel and not being able to speak the language!
3. Buy Postcards
Studying abroad is expensive, no one can deny that. Between your flights, tuition, living expenses, and various excursions, there isn’t much money left for extravagant souvenirs. Buying postcards is a cheap, and fun, an alternative to make sure you get a token to take home with you after every place you visit. Also, if time allows during your trips, try writing yourself a postcard from every place you traveled to with what you did during that trip –then mail it home to yourself. When you arrive back in the United States, you’ll have an abundance of post cards documenting your experience!
4. Treat Yourself!
Like I mentioned, studying abroad is definitely expensive and there won’t be a ton of extra money to spend. However, rather than buying multiple, small, useless souvenirs, save your money and splurge on just one larger item for yourself that you will use for many years. When I was studying abroad in Rome, Italy, I took a weekend trip to Florence. Since Florence is famous for leather, I decided I wanted to buy a nice purse. I’ve used it almost every day since I returned from being abroad, and I know that I’ll use it for the rest of my life. It was an investment that has a special memory and meaning to me, and that is so much more worthwhile than key chains or bags of pasta shaped like Italy. So, find something you’ll use for a long time and will make you smile every time you use it –it’s like carrying a part of your study abroad trip with you every day!
Hopefully after you return from your time abroad, you’ll have some down time before classes start back up. Use this time to get crafty and ease back into American culture. Take all of the postcards, pictures, receipts, tickets, and maps you’ve acquired and put them into a scrapbook! You can separate them by place (like countries or cities you’ve visited), tourist attractions, and time! It’ll be a fun way to show all of your friends and family what your experience was like, and you’ll have it for the rest of your life!
Enjoy every minute of your time abroad, it goes by way too fast! It’s a once in a lifetime semester, so be present in the moment, make the most of every second, and remember as much of it as you can.