What Journaling Could Look Like While Abroad

Sanny Yang
December 28, 2021
Visiting a castle in Zaragoza

Wow—it feels so weird writing my blog from the States rather than in Spain or elsewhere in Europe. It’s odd and surreal that I’m not waking up and beginning my day in Barcelona. I feel really lucky though because I got to spend an extra week in Barcelona after the program ended. My sister came to visit, and we spent Christmas together. During the extra week, I got to visit Christmas markets, various museums, as well as Zaragoza. I think the extra time in Barcelona helped me decompress from final exams and process the fact that my study abroad has come to an end.

Picasso Museum in Barcelona

Looking back, I’m obviously grateful for all that I experienced and learned while living in Barcelona for a whole semester. At the same time, it’s so difficult to put into words what my experience has been like. When someone asks, “How was your study abroad?” What would I say? How do I sum up everything in just one or two sentences? It’s impossible to give a quick response that can capture all the emotions, the new things, what I liked, what I didn’t like… Where do I even begin to tell my story? So, I just resort to, “It was great! I had so much fun!” Lame answer, I know.

But the truth is you do experience so much while you’re abroad, and it’s hard to even begin to capture the essence of everything in hindsight. For one, you’re not even the same person that left to go study abroad four months prior. Being exposed to different cultures, people, and environments shifts and expands the way you think and view the world. The ways in which you grew through the experience is something that cannot be forgotten because it’s a part of who you are now. On the other hand, you may forget some of the precious memories you’ve made and details of things you’ve experienced may go fuzzy as time goes by. This is why I think each student going abroad should keep some sort of a journal.

Keeping a journal doesn’t have to be the traditional way with a notebook and pen. Nowadays, we keep a journal even without realizing it. What we post on our social media accounts is a way in which we “journal,” keeping a record of things we do as well as expressing the emotions associated with them. Being a blogger and part-time social media correspondent for IES Abroad made it convenient for me because I naturally began to record my journey throughout the semester. I also made an effort to take more photos during my time abroad (I had to get more iCloud storage, which was totally worth it). I’ve also seen other study abroad students make a separate Instagram account dedicated to their time abroad or groups of friends making an account together. With social media, I think there are cool ways for us to log all our adventures to share with others and also for ourselves to look back on.

Overlooking Barcelona

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Sanny Yang

<p>Hi, my name is Sanny Yang. I am a senior at Hope College (Holland, MI) studying Political Science and Global Studies. I was born in South Korea but mostly grew up in Lilongwe, Malawi. I am excited to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain and to share this journey with you!</p>

Home University:
Hope College
Lilongwe, Malawi
Global Studies
Political Science
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