8 ways to document your year abroad (and make everyone else jealous)

8 ways to document your year abroad (and make everyone else jealous) Puerility by jonanamary

This article was written by Tom Stephenson, published on 28th July 2010 and has been read 30790 times.

Everything’s (nearly) sorted for your stay in your chosen far-flung destination and you’re fully prepared for fresh and wild experiences, but all of this means NOTHING if no-one else knows about it. Here are a few of the myriad ways you can let the people back home know that you’re having a better time than them, and let's face it, that's one of the best things about going abroad - you get to shout out about it! Read on for some tricks of the trade... 

1. Start a blog.
You’ve got plenty of options here - Tumblr, Wordpress, Blogger - all of which can be used along with your Global Graduates profile! You can get exposure on certain articles and posts, and it's also a great thing to add onto a CV if you're thinking of going into something creative. Or if you're not that way inclined, it's also a great way to get stuff out there in the open, and rant on for ages. Find a site that suits you and get typing. Saying that, it’s perhaps not best to write something every day (unless you’re a prolific writer) as you’ll end up spending more time staring at a screen than actually experiencing the things you’re writing about. This is a pretty open way of documenting your trip, though you can change the settings to make some posts private and other quite open, for all to see.

2. Write things down as they happen.
The old fashioned way! Pen and paper, slate and chalk, cave wall and charcoal, take your pick. Obviously you’ll want something swish and portable like a moleskine journal, just make sure you don’t drop it out of a fast moving rickshaw or into an ocean. Keeping a journal when travelling is a good way to eat up what would otherwise be wasted time, like in the endless queues at airports, or time spent sat on buses etc. Even if you’ve got nothing much to write about you can sit and draw the funny looking people on the bus.

3. Write your own novel.
For those of you with a lot to say, and who've always dreamed of writing up a short (or rather longer) story, Blurb is the place to go. 3 simple steps can give you the chance to write it, design it and see your creation in print! So whether you fancy writing something à la Nigella or Hunter S. Thompson, you'll now be able to in just a few simple clicks and a fair few more hours typing it all out. Or you could just print a photobook instead!

4. Make your voice heard on Twitter.
Many don't realise that Twitter isn't just for the Katy Perrys or the Justin Biebers of the world: individuals, and especially students, can give it ago and reap in the rewards. A bit like a condensed version of Facebook, here you can tweet and see yourself tweeted back to (that's spoken to, by the way), get your views out there, ask actual experts, find really cool blogs/year abroad info, get stuff off your chest (warts n' all) and see in real time how the world is shaped, news happens and how it travels oh-so-fast. You could even meet potential friends on here. And you can even get photos on here. Parfait.

5. Create your own photo albums online.
Chances are you have a Facebook profile and it’s many, many peoples’ default choice for putting their pictures online. There are dedicated photo sites if you feel like taking your pictures elsewhere; Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket are all excellent alternatives. Taking digital snaps is extremely convenient as you can find internet cafes in the furthest reaches of the world, which will allow you to upload your photos immediately and eradicate the risk of losing the camera plus photos in a tragic white-water rafting incident. Analogue cameras are lovely things but constantly developing film abroad can get expensive (relative to simply uploading them) and is of course a little slower than the instant gratification of a digital camera. You can always take one of each (camera, not photo - this would be time consuming) to get the best of both worlds!

6. Create a scrapbook.
A gooey meld of the two methods mentioned above, but more flexible and personal than both. Get new friends to write stuff, save newspaper stories of where you’ve been, squash rare native animals between the pages (please don’t do this), save labels of the food you loved, save labels of the food that made you violently ill. It’s up to you!

7. Turn your adventures into film.
This sort of goes with photos, but it’s likely that you’re definitely going to want to go digital if you’re trying to keep things portable and easy. Again there’s a whole host of... hosts that’ll store your video, YouTube being the most ubiquitous and Vimeo having the nicest community (in my experience). Camcorders themselves are getting ever smaller, cheaper and simpler to use, the pinnacle of this being The Flip. Not intended for people with big hands.

8. Round robin emails.
Plenty of people send round emails/messages to a list of people while away. There are some advantages to this - you only have to write things out once, everyone gets the same story - but at the same time these make them appear impersonal and you don’t always want to tell different groups of people the same story. Mum doesn’t need to hear about the Thai ladyboys you met last week. A decent compromise is to keep a blog that people can read if they want to, and email the handful of people that require some direct contact.

9. Something else (if you’re going to do one of these then I wish you good luck). Hehe :)

  • Make a travel video by requesting all CCTV footage of yourself under local data protection laws.
  • Commit a minor but newsworthy crime in each city you visit; save the newspaper cuttings.
  • Photobomb other tourists’ photos and try to find them on Flickr afterwards.

If you have more suggestions then let us know!

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