Why I didn't blog my year abroad
That’s it. The paperwork’s been signed, your tickets are booked and you’ve even figured out where the best shops or bars are in your soon-to-be-new-home. You’re about to set off on your year abroad! Already, you anticipate the sights and smells of the city, or the open air of the countryside, and the exciting times to come exploring a new place with friends you haven’t even met yet.
1. Let the adventure begin
It’s going to be a year you won’t want to forget in a hurry. So how can you make sure those memories don’t fade when you’re back home? I know, I know, it’s so tempting to blog your year abroad. It seems to be the ‘done thing’; isn’t the blogosphere just a 21st-century diary? Perhaps. All the same, having returned from my incredible year abroad this summer, I’m glad I didn’t blog it.
Once you’ve hopped overseas to have the time of your life, chances are all your friends at home (not to mention your mum, dad and any tech-savvy grandparents out there) will want to know all the details. If the odd Facebook upload doesn’t cut it, setting up a Blogger or a Wordpress account seems like a no-brainer. But here’s the thing: unless you’re already a regular blogger, keeping your ‘online audience’ in the know could be more of a distraction than anything.
2. The reality of blogging
When I arrived in France and saw links to several shiny-new blogs popping up on social media, I was almost tempted to join the ranks. Quickly, though, I realised that blogging could end up feeling like a chore or a hindrance for me. Sure enough, many of the blogs I checked out early on were updated less and less often throughout the year. Sometimes, the posts were even rushed and apologetic. It seems that, in the stress of trying to store experiences or keep relatives up-to-date, blogging can rapidly lose its appeal.
At the start of the year, I asked myself the following question: if I’m at the beach with friends, climbing hills in the sun, teaching idioms to Year Ten or hitting the shops in a neighbouring city, do I want to be constantly searching for the best photo spots or trying to remember the funniest anecdotes? Probably not. In fact, I knew that I’d most likely end up planning my days around my blog, to make sure I had good content; say goodbye to spontaneity!
3. The best way for you
Of course, this depends entirely on the way your mind works. If you’re the kind of person who could go about their day without giving your blog a second thought, only updating it on the odd evening as the idea occurs to you, then it shouldn’t cause too much hassle. If you’re anything like me though (perfectionists, raise your hands) and feel that keeping your blog updated, interesting, colourful and unique could take up more brain space than you’d like, why not go it alone? Once you’re back home, you can write as many blog posts and articles (like this one) as you like, but you won’t be able to check out that German village 30 miles away, meet your French friend for coffee in Avignon, or explore the streets of Florence without the responsibility of regurgitating it all that evening via your laptop.
4. Moments to memories
So my advice is this: if blogging comes naturally to you – or the idea of it really appeals to you - then go for it. But it’s not the only option. If you can help it, why not close the browser and reflect on everything you’ve done in a few months time instead? I’m not saying we shouldn’t make any record of our travels, but there is a happy medium. While away, I snapped photos as I went along, kept travel tickets, event brochures, notes from my students and even café and restaurant flyers. Then, once every couple of months, I reached for the scissors and sticky tape and stuck everything I’d collected into a scrapbook, scribbling a few annotations. Now, when I want a quick reminder of my favourite moments, I need only pull the book from my shelf and flick through the pages.
What about your friends and family, though? No matter how keen they are to hear your news, the truth is that they don’t need to know every detail of your time away. Not yet, anyway. Knowing that you’re safe and having a great time should be enough to keep them going until you’re back... when the real updates can begin! And if you’re still worried that you’ll lose the memories of your adventures abroad, don’t be - the real value of your experiences isn’t how they look on a screen, but how you live them in the moment and what you take from them. What’s more, I guarantee that the very best of those memories will stick in your head far longer than your old blog’s URL will.