Documenting your Experience
Whether you want to share your experience with your family and friends at home, remember exactly how you felt at a specific moment abroad, or enter a photo contest, there are several ways to document your time abroad.
Become a UW Study Abroad Blogger! Blogs are an easy way to keep in contact with lots of people while still being able to focus on your time abroad (not on the 30 people who want an email from you). Link your blog to Facebook to distribute it widely.
Blogs help you:
- Communicate with several hundred people (or your closest friends and relatives) with minimal effort and time expenditure
- Share your experiences abroad candidly
- Let loved ones know that you are safe
- Share photos and videos
- Take your family and friends on your trip with you through thorough descriptions of sights, smells, food and emotions
Blogs to use:
What should you do with your blog when you return home?
- Submit some of your blog entries to the UW Study Abroad Office for future students to learn about your program
- Add on to it through other study abroad or travel experiences
Photographs help you communicate your experiences to friends and family. You will want to share your experience abroad with them. Sometimes it will feel as if you’re speaking another language, but your pictures will help them to understand what you’re talking about.
What should you do with your photos when you return home?
- Consider submitting your photos to publications about student travel
- Glimpse Magazine
- Student World Traveler
Some tips for taking photos:
- Take your camera with you even if you don’t think you’ll need it
- Capture the moment and your emotional memories
- Take pictures of how you see the world you are in and how it makes you feel. Document what you experience internally.
- Take candid pictures of your friends
- Candid photos capture what you were doing when you were abroad and what kind of mood you were in, which in turn will make your memories more vibrant.
- Show people your camera and photos
- Digital cameras are great to interact with people that you might want to take photos of. Kids especially like to see themselves on the camera screens. When possible, try to find a way to give a copy of the photo to the people you take pictures of. Getting their address (mailing or email) and sending them a photo is a great way to strike up a friendship.
- Respect historical and cultural aspects as well as local laws
- Always ask permission to take photos in sacred or religious sites. Also, many countries have laws against taking photos of government and other buildings. Be respectful of the culture and feelings of those around you. When in doubt – ask.
- Consider NOT taking a photograph
- Sometimes your camera can feel like a burden, making you anxious about whether you’ve captured the perfect memory, but ironically, making you miss the actual moment. Take some time to explore without it occasionally.
Writing in a Journal
We strongly suggest that you consider keeping a journal while you are abroad to document your experience. Even if you have never kept one before, you may find that while you are abroad you feel more inspired to write down how you are feeling and things you want to remember. You may also find it relieves some of the stress and homesickness that often comes with being far away from home.
What should you write in your journal?
- As much descriptive detail as possible; you want to create a sensory memory
- First impressions and lingering images
- Narratives of what you do, what you say, and what others do and say
- Names, places, snippets of information, and the addresses of people you meet and places you stay or visit
- Go by yourself to places, and write about these “solo” experiences
- Record your reflections. What inspires you? What’s exciting? Frustrating? How is this experience influencing your world perspective?