How to Journal your Study Abroad Experience at JCU

November 19, 2021

Thanks to the convenience of technology and the ability to have phones with amazing cameras, we are able to snap a bunch of pictures on our study abroad adventures. Although “a picture is worth a thousand words” how will you always remember exactly what you were doing, or what you were feeling throughout your experience if you don’t write it down. Here are some ways you can journal your experience to remember it  10, 20, even 30 years from now and be able to share it with people if you choose.

  1. Handwriting it out in a journal.
    This idea is probably what came to mind first when you started to read the article about journaling. Buy a simple journal and take time every day or maybe every couple of days to write down what you did. You do not have to include every detail like “today I drank a cappuccino”. But just how your day was. One thing I like to do when hand journaling my experience is to pick a high (something good that happened) and a low (something bad or weird) from each day. At the end of the week, I pick the highest high and lowest low and highlight them in my journal. I also every Sunday would journal a little bit about the week as a whole and reflect on where I was at in the program. I think this helps because you are able to visualize and think about how much you are growing and changing abroad. There are many ways to hand journal your experience and if this seems like something you would be interested in I suggest looking up more ways to journal and what works best for you!
  1. Writing letters to yourself.
    This one may cost some money in postage but if you enjoy writing and receiving letters this could be fun. What you do is write a letter to your future self throughout your experience and send them home as you finish them. Your parents or whoever you live with can collect them and hold on to them for when you return home. Once your study abroad is over, you will have a fun stack of letters to relieve your experience in a sense. It is also fun to do this with postcards of the places you visit. Send postcards to yourself with what you learned or what you liked about each city or place and then have it to read and save when you get back home.

If you are still convinced keeping an actual journal would be too hard for you or that your handwriting is too bad, here are some examples of digital journals you can create:

  1. Social Media Journal
    If you prefer to keep your journal on your phone you can use Instagram as a journal. If you do not want to post journal entries on your main account, create a second account specifically for your travels in Italy and experience studying at JCU. You can use the caption section on each post to write a little bit about your experience and post whatever pictures you want. I like this option because it is something you can choose to share with your friends or make private and keep completely for yourself.
  1. Email Journal
    Similar to the social media option, you can make an email journal. For this, you can just create another email and send yourself emails or essentially letters to yourself about your adventures. Another interesting thing about the email journal is that you can forward yourself booking confirmations for museums, hotels, trains, etc. to reflect on the travels you had. Since the email you create can be used specifically as a journal, it acts as a personal digital time capsule of all that you have done in Rome and over the course of your semester.
  1. Voice Memos
    This one comes with the least amount of writing and typing, but leaving voice memos to yourself. Take about 5 minutes every day to record and just speak into your phone about what is happening and how you feel along the way. You can keep these all saved and labeled and go back to them when you want to listen and reflect on the experience of Italy. You can even record memos for specific photos you take so you remember what the photo is about. This is something I like to do after going on tours. To remember things the tour guide says I will record what I remember and name the voice memo after the location to remember the history. 
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