When you begin your university adventure, wave goodbye to your parents and go it alone in the world, the time you have before you can feel endless.
But slowly, as you begin to find your feet in your new home, time starts slipping away, accelerating faster and faster and… wait, what? How is it already May?!
Before you know it university is coming to an end and you can’t quite believe it. Want to look back on all the wonderful memories you made over and over again? Here’s how to document your adventure while still remaining in the moment.
We suggest you begin right away, and make sure the last few months are extra memorable!
1. Take pictures
Photos are one of the best ways you can look back at your time studying abroad but be sure not to hide behind the camera.
Nothing kills the mood quite like having the paparazzi (you on your mobile phone) up in your face while you’re trying to have a good time.
With that in mind, take a select few while you’re out with your friends, instead of being glued to the camera – and be sure to ask for one of you every so often. Even if you’re camera-shy, you’ll be glad for at least one photo of you in the foreign country you came to call home, to show the grandkids one day.
You could use your mobile phone or digital camera to capture these moments or you could even try using a film camera.
Plenty of places still sell and develop film and you can pick up a secondhand camera dirt cheap online. Nothing quite beats the feeling of anticipation and giddy excitement when you wait to see your prints developed.
The beauty of it is, often you can’t even remember what you took photos of so you usually get some wonderful surprises, bringing back heaps of memories all over again.
Shooting on film also makes you stop and think whether what you’re taking a photo of is worth it or not. So instead of snapping away like no one’s business on your camera, you’re putting more thought into what the overall shot will look like – and not just for the benefit of your Instagram followers.
So you have a huge collection of wonderful visual memories, now it’s time to start writing things down.
We know, we know, after a long day writing essays you probably aren’t overly keen on getting back on that laptop once again, but future you will no doubt love looking back and seeing what you were thinking, feeling and doing during your university years.
You can write as often as you like, but if you struggle to ever get going, maybe try doing a post once every two weeks, or once monthly, and do a round-up of what you’ve been doing. Even the most insignificant details are likely to bring memories of those years flooding back.
Treat it like a diary or write articles on student life: this is your space with which to do what you want.
If you are feeling brave, you could share it with friends, family or even the wider world.
You never know, it might inspire someone else to take up studying in your university country, too. If nothing else, it will provide your family and friends from home with a wonderful detailed idea of what your life is really like out there – and an easy trip down memory lane for you.
3. Write letters
Write to your mother, your friend, your sister – heck, you could even write letters to your future self! But just write!
Okay, so you’ve got your blog, but there’s nothing more personal than a handwritten letter.
You may find it easier writing unfiltered if you’re writing by hand, and future you will have something to (quite literally) hold onto.
For many people, writing letters is hugely therapeutic and your family and friends are bound to love it, too, if you’re writing to them.
4. Make a scrapbook
Old receipts, beer mats, business cards from cute little cafes, a fallen flower from the local park around the corner from your halls – collect it all.
No doubt you already have a bag/drawer/bedroom full of things like this; well, now’s the time to put them all to use. It’s strange the sort of things we grow attached to and how sentimental you can get over the smallest things.
You can write little notes, draw, paint, scribble, cut, glue and sellotape all you like, just get those memories down and you’ll find yourself transported back to your favourite restaurant in the future when you’re five years and 5,000 miles away from being there.
5. Make short films
Okay, this doesn’t have to be as complicated as it sounds. You most certainly do not have to be a trained videographer who knows all about the cinematography of every shot you take. Use your phone, have some fun.
You could even try downloading one of many ‘one second every day’ apps which allow you to do exactly that.
Spent a day hibernating in your pyjamas? One second of that. Spent the day shopping with friends? One second of that. Spent the day studying nonstop in the library? Well, you get the picture.
It takes minimal effort and (literally) one second of your time each day and yet rewards you with minutes of heartwarming footage of how you spent your student days at the end of it all. Cute, right?
That said, don’t spend the entirety of your time abroad trying to document it. If you do, you might just miss what’s going on right in front of your eyes.