Life abroad can feel like a whirlwind of new adventures. That is wonderful! However, all the exciting, difficult, and downright annoying new experiences can become overwhelming, even exhausting, if you don’t spend adequate time to rest and reflect.
Last week I wrote about why I love journaling and will be using this blog to showcase my (hopeful) progress in growing as a journaler and overall more creative person this year. This week, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned about journaling over the past 10+ years (I started journaling regularly when I was 9! Woah!).
Three reasons why you really should be journaling:
- Journaling is a simple way to cope with changing life and unknown futures.
- Forces you to reflect on experiences and ultimately get more out of them. A
- And lastly, it makes for the best possible souvenir you can give yourself when the journey is over: a record of not only the things you did but the feelings you felt and the lessons you learned in the midst of it all.
A Few More Benefits of Journaling:
- Helps you to relax
- Helps you keep track of your life
- Helps you to remember sweet and funny details, stories, or emotions you would otherwise have forgotten
- Helps you to cope with hard situations and turn them into lessons learned or stories to laugh at
- Forces you to spend time reflecting and thus can help you to gain more out of your overall travel/study abroad experience
- Helps you to keep track of your long-term and short-term goals and readjust your schedule to continue to work towards those goals
Last week, I was sifting through my first travel journal. Reading about my struggles and thoughts on my first trip outside of the USA was absolutely hilarious. Not only that, but some of my thoughts about wanting so desperately to go back to Europe, but thinking that it would be absolutely out-of-the-question impossible, helped me to put my current situation in perspective and make me ever so much more thankful and amazed by how my life has turned out.
Helpful tips to start your journaling journey:
- Set a regular time
Journaling is fun and doesn’t take a lot of time, even so, if you don’t set a specific time it still won’t happen. For me, I like to set my journal time in the evening before I go to bed. It helps me wind down and enjoy whatever the day brought. The good times are savored. The bad times become lessons learned. The embarrassing times are turned into funny stories for my friends at home (and this blog).
- Don’t be confined
Aside from setting a regular time, there should be no rules for your journal! Feel free to express yourself in whatever way makes sense for you. Don’t feel bad or get flustered if you miss something or your journal gets out of chronological order.
- Try Different Types of Content
Sometimes I like to write long descriptive accounts of the goings on in my life. However, don’t feel confined by that more traditional style journal entry. Most of my entires are very different from that: experiments with cartoons and doodles, a to-do list of things I need/want to accomplish, or even just a list of five things you I am thankful for or five new experiences I wasn’t expecting. Looking back at my journals is more fun when I give it a broad range of content.
Use your journal for creative expression. Don’t be afraid to use colours, photos, stickers, stamps, even small souvenirs you collect along the way.
4. Avoid bare descriptions and/or statistics
If you feel the need to write the bare facts of what went down, do so in a condensed bullet point format on the side of an entry. Long entries about ‘we went to the Thai food restaurant at 10am and then spend 15 dollars on groceries at Tesco’… get boring really fast. Focus on funny stories and personal realizations. Record your surroundings and your inner feelings. That is the stuff you are going to want to remember later.
5. Use Dialog
Your friend made that really hilarious comment or you and a study budy had an interesting conversation… record it! There is no way you will remember the exact words otherwise. I’ve found that going back to read old conversations in my journal makes me laugh harder than just about anything else.
And there you have it! What I have learned about journaling over the years. Stay tuned for more updates (and photos) from my personal journey growing my artistic skills through attempts at improved journaling. Also, if you have any thoughts or suggestions, PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME in the comments below : )