By Chelsea Couture, International Education Intern
We all may have studied in different countries, on various continents, using different providers, or for varying periods of time, but there is one universal factor. We all want to hold on to our experience abroad as best as we can. We all want to keep what we learn, our memories created, and our new perspective and apply them to our life back home. Keeping your experience alive even months after you have left your host country, is not always as easy as it may seem. So here are some tips to keep your experience abroad alive and kicking.
Document. The best way to retain your favorite moments and memories is to capture them on film. Pictures are the most common way people keep their past experiences with them. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case one picture may be worth a thousand memories. One picture from abroad can spark emotions from your journey, recollections of things you learned, and also continue to inspire you and others to continue your worldly journey. Another form of artistic expression that will help you to never forget all that your time abroad encompassed, is to write. Write travel blogs, write for your school or organization, or write solely for yourself. Writing in any form may capture small subtle details that you may later forget. Sometimes it is those minescule details that completely shape your experience. Documenting those little details is a sure way to hold onto a lifetime of memories.
Share. Share your personal story. No, I don’t mean brag, but simply tell people small stories from your trip or even better, sharing something that will make others laugh. You can share your experience through simply sharing your photos and blogs with your peers. Post your photos to flickr, facebook, or instagram, this way you can share what you saw with others around you. Send in your stories to your home University or the Program you went through. Often times it’s your stories that inspire others to experience the wonders of travel. Simply sharing can start a major ripple effect.
Collect. Sometimes we feel like we grow and change so much while abroad. It’s often helpful to take a representative material object from where you visit back with you. Memorabilia stays alive and intact long after you have returned home. Even the smallest token can serve as a tangible memory. Sometimes something small is the best way to go, like collecting postcards or magnets from every place you visit. It may seem small in the moment, but your keepsakes from abroad will carry more meaning than your average souvenir.
Connect. Stay in touch with all of those that you met on your travels. Keep in contact with your host family, foreign friends, and people from your travels who may even be from your home country or state. You can reminisce on old memories, share stories, and even plan future adventures. The bonds created by travel are irreplaceable, never let them dwindle.
Advocate. Represent the country you studied, interned, or volunteered in, or the program or the University you went through in your home community. Become a Campus Ambassador Intern with programs like Barcelona Study Abroad Experience (SAE). Work with your home University or community to promote the importance of international travel and a global mindset. Help guide others through the steps that led you to where you are today. Contributing to the spread of the ever contagious travel bug will keep your memories and desire to continue traveling alive.
Keep Traveling. Never let that wanderlust die. Keep striving to expanding your perspective and your knowledge of the world around you. There are many different routes you can take, and the beauty is, there is almost always something for everyone. You can intern, teach, work, study, obtain a graduate degree, volunteer, or travel almost anywhere. Keep your experiences alive by constantly adding more logs to the fire. Once wanderlust takes hold of you it’s hard to break free, but honestly, why would you want to?