Remembering Your Semester Abroad: My Tips and Tricks

Helena Haynes
May 22, 2022

In my experience, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with remembering your semester abroad. Whether it be collecting memorabilia, taking pictures and videos, or finding new creative ways to document your experience, students have various strategies they use to capture these special few months. Since studying abroad was something I looked forward to for such a long time, I wanted to make sure I could look back and remember exactly what I was feeling and seeing at the time. I’m so grateful that I made this effort early on in the semester, because now I feel so connected with the life I was living at the time, and I can look back fondly on everything I was able to do. My friends and I had different methods of capturing our experiences, so I wanted to give you some strategies to use if you’re about to start your semester abroad…

Become a Collector 

I think that collecting items is such a fun way to remember your travels. Each time I would visit a new city, I would buy a few different postcards with photographs or images of my favorite sights. I plan to make some kind of collage and put some of the postcards in a scrapbook. Postcards were more common to collect, but I also had friends collecting shot glasses, magnets, lighters, etc. One girl I know was collecting fabric patches that she eventually planned to sew on to the back of a jean jacket at the end of her program. Aside from collecting the same kinds of items, you can also collect tickets, business cards, and other memorabilia you find along the way. I kept most of my plane tickets, museum tickets, and wristbands from various places I visited. I am excited to add these to the scrapbook alongside my postcards and pictures from my time abroad. Even though tickets and business cards may seem like pointless things to keep at the time, I love that I can be reminded of certain places I went, and I know I’ll appreciate that I did this when I look back years down the line. 

Create Content

Social media has its pros and cons, but I do believe it’s a great outlet for showcasing your experiences abroad. I loved posting photos from my trips and from my time in London. I like to think of Instagram and apps such as VSCO as a visual journal. It’s so nice to be able to look back on some of the best times I had over the course of the semester. I also think that it’s a great way for family and friends to keep up with what you’re doing. Even though it may seem silly, it can be fun to buy some of the photos they take at different tourist attractions. I bought a picture taken of my friend and I from the highest swing in Europe, located in Amsterdam, and it’s been one of my favorite photos I’ve posted. TikTok was another one of my favorite ways to document my semester. I haven’t made all of them yet, but I took multiple videos on most of the trips I went on, so I can create TikToks of the memories I have. I tried to capture the most beautiful moments and iconic sights, as well as fun times with my friends, so I’m really pleased with how some of these videos have turned out so far. 


Personally, I struggle to stay in the habit of journaling every day, but I know that many of my friends in my program used this strategy to document their abroad experience. Being able to see your mindset from the beginning of your program to the end is such an amazing way to evaluate your personal growth. It’s also a great way to keep track of all of the things you do on a daily basis. Not journaling each day is something I do regret, so even though it can seem tedious, try to keep up with it if you are going abroad. In general, journaling is such a beneficial practice, so it will not only allow you to remember your experience and daily life, it will help you talk about and monitor the various emotions you have throughout the semester. 

No matter how you choose to do it, it's so important to have visual or physical takeways from studying abroad. When you get home, you will be able to show your family and friends all of the photos you have and items you collected, which allows them to have insight into everything you were able to do. Years in the future, you will have these things to look back on, and it will mean the world that you took pictures, collected plane tickets, or even kept a journal from the semester. 

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Helena Haynes

<p>Hi there! My name is Helena Haynes and I’m a third year student at Penn State University majoring in Advertising with minors in Information Sciences &amp; Technology and Digital Media Trends &amp; Analytics. I love being involved on campus with things I’m passionate about, and I’ve had the opportunity to serve as President of the Advertising/Public Relations Club, Research/Strategy Co-Lead for our advertising competition team, and as a Print Writer for VALLEY Magazine, a life and style magazine here at Penn State. In my free time you can find me cooking, watching Sex and the City, or spending way too much time on LinkedIn. I’m so excited to be studying abroad in London this semester and I can’t wait to explore the city and learn more about the culture. I hope you follow along on my journey with me!</p>

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