How to Keep Your Study Abroad Experience Memorable
Ideas to help you chronicle your travel journey.
Study abroad is an experience of a lifetime and one that many wish would never end. Here are some ideas to help chronicle your journey and keep it memorable.
Buying something that symbolizes or is unique to a country always makes a special keepsake. As soccer is a huge part of European culture, a jersey from your abroad country or city makes a great souvenir. I bought a Fiorentina jersey that I wore to a soccer match in Florence. I also bought jerseys as gifts in Barcelona, world renowned for soccer. Although available in the U.S., Longchamp bags originate in France. Buying one designed with the Eiffel Tower on it helps set you apart from the crowd as it is only available in France, and not to mention, costs less. On my trip to Croatia, lavender sachets were everywhere and fairly inexpensive. Now, every time I open my closet, the scent reminds me of beautiful Split. Another great reminder of your study abroad is a book from one of your favorite museums. It is one of those items that you can proudly display on your future living room coffee table. Paintings, prints, or other works of art that you pick up on your journey are also something special to display as well.
Start a Collection
A collection can be a great way to record your travels. I personally started a magnet collection. Every time I look at my refrigerator, I can’t help but think of the places I visited. Whenever I have guests over, they always prompt conversations about my travels. If you don’t want a permanent display, ornaments are a great idea too. My friend bought a Christmas ornament in each country she visited and will be forever reminded of her amazing experience during the holiday season. An inexpensive alternative is to collect postcards. My roommate made a collage that she hung in our room.
A central part of my abroad experience was sampling different local cuisines. Much of what I ate was simple, yet fresh and tasty. Upon returning home, I was fairly successful in recreating some of my favorite meals. It can be as simple as buying some good cheese and accenting it with walnuts and drizzled honey or as daring as boiling octopus, a treat I enjoyed often in Florence. With the Internet at your fingertips, you can do it. And, if you think you need help, take a cooking class while abroad. My friends and I did, and we prepared a four-course meal. We were sure to take copies of the recipes so we now can recreate this special meal for years to come. To help you along, you can also buy some food items to bring home with you. I enjoyed pesto and anchovies so much in Cinque Terre that I bought a small jar of each. Cooking with ingredients from the places you visited will make your recreations all the more special.
Taking pictures goes without saying. Capture the essence of the places you visit and snap photos of food, locals, scenery, and cultural events. Occasionally, however, some props help make your experience more memorable. Prior to taking an island cruise in Croatia, my friends and I bought inexpensive captain’s hats that said “Croatia” on them. At Munich’s Springfest, we had fun wearing dirndls, traditional German dresses. We felt like we were really part of the celebration. Years from now, we will remember exactly where we visited and what we were doing.
Find ways to commemorate your abroad journey. A friend of mine framed a map and marked each place she traveled. It will remind you of all the amazing places you have been and can continue to mark all of the places you have yet to go. Another option is to make a scrapbook. Throughout the semester I kept all of my museum tickets, cards from restaurants, and took notes about my favorite experiences. Once you get home, you can compile these small keepsakes, pictures, and notes to make a scrapbook you will treasure forever.
Although all of these ideas will keep your trip memorable, the best way to keep your amazing memories alive is to keep in touch with the friends you shared those memories with. Reunions with the people you explored the world with will give you a chance to reminisce on your once in a lifetime experience.