Blogging & Journaling

What's the difference between a journal and a blog? Well, a journal is essentially private, and a blog is a public record of your experience. Many of the same principles of thinking and writing about what's going on inside of you while you are overseas apply whether you are keeping a journal or writing a blog, so please have a look at the following tips on blogging and journaling.

Official UI Study Abroad Blog

Are you interested in blogging about your study abroad experience?

Then consider becoming a Study Abroad Blogger! The requirements are minimal; we only ask that you blog a minimum of twice a month during your time abroad. We will provide the tools that you need so all you have to do is supply us with your thoughts, comments, stories and pictures/videos to share! Read more about the requirements and fill out the application form here. Applications will be reviewed in early June for fall semester/academic year programs and in early January for spring semester programs.

Need inspiration?

Go here to read an article from Forbes listing the “Top 10” travel blogs.

This site showcases well-written blogs from people traveling to amazing places.

A couple good books to read are Writing Across Culture by Kenneth Wagner, Tony Magistrale, and Kenneth Warner, and Charting a Hero’s Journey by Linda A. Chisholm.

Create your own travel-themed blog:

Other Blogging Ideas

There are a few online magazines that will accept stories or posts produced by current or returned study abroad students. Glimpse often hires foreign correspondents. You can visit their site here to see if they're hiring. Native Foreigner magazine reaches out to returned study abroad students. If you'd like to submit an article, you can check out their submission guidelines here. Finally, World Celebration Blog collects study abroad student recommendations and insights and shares these with the world. Post something by visiting their website.  

Keeping a Journal

Used with permission from Sylvie Burnet-Jones, University of Colorado-Boulder; Barbara Kappler, University of Minnesota; and the website of the International Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Think of a journal as a written and visual record of your experience abroad that you will have for years to come.  You can document your travels, display souvenirs, describe a city, tell a story about someone you met on the train, keep a vocabulary list, or analyze a political discussion that you heard that day.  You can start now -- before you leave -- and continue journaling after your return.  You won’t regret it.

Reasons for keeping a journal

  • to record your goals and personal agenda for your sojourn abroad
  • to list the addresses and references you collect
  • to use as a diary during your time abroad to record your travel and daily routines
  • to act as a vehicle for creative thinking through observation, reflection and analysis
  • to assist in the cultural adaptation process
  • to record your feelings upon re-entry

Hints on journal writing

  • write in the same fashion as you would in a letter to a close friend
  • provide a context for the stories you relate
  • include specific names of things you discover in your new environment
  • translate words
  • use adjectives and adverbs to increase the descriptive quality of the text
  • tell stories; quote from the people you meet

Some questions to consider

Before leaving

  • Why did I select the program I did?
  • What do I want to get out of this experience?
  • How can I make friends in the host culture?
  • If I expect to improve my language skills, will I have to avoid other English speakers?
  • Am I concerned about missing friends, family?  How will I stay in touch with them?
  • How would I describe the U.S? Americans? Myself as an American?

While in the host country

  • What are my initial reactions?  Are they different than my companions’ reactions?
  • What type of experience engages me most?  Isolates me most?
  • What interaction was the most confusing of the past week?  The most stressful?
  • Who was most helpful to me this past week?
  • What am I doing to meet people?
  • Am I being viewed as an individual, as an American, as a foreigner?
  •  Have my goals changed?

Upon returning

  • What did I learn about the host culture? About myself? How can I apply this information?
  • Who will listen to my stories? How can I get more involved in international activities?
  • Do I think of America any differently now that I have returned?
  • What advice would I give to those who are leaving tomorrow for my host culture?