Studying abroad is an amazing experience -- we've said it many times, and we all know it's true. It's easy to get caught up in getting to know your host country, managing your course load, and making new friends; so much so that you can forget to keep friends and family back home posted on your experiences.
To combat this issue, consider using more fun ways to keep in touch. Instead of writing a long email every few weeks, try one of these options (some that are tech-heavy, others that are old school) until you find one you enjoy and that helps share your stories with loved ones and friends who are eager to follow along.
1. Use Snapchat or Instagram Stories
Everyone is on Snapchat or Instagram now, so these two apps make it super easy to keep friends and family updated about your study abroad adventures. The stories feature on both apps is particularly easy, since it just requires putting together quick 10-second shots.
Whether you're speaking to the camera to let everyone know how your classes are going or showing them the sights in your host city, one of the most fun ways to keep in touch is already installed on your phone. Plus, it's low maintenance and easy to use, so you don't have to worry about it taking up a lot of your time.
2. Create Your Own Hashtag on Social Media
Hashtags were originally created to tie content together. For starters, you can follow #studyabroad or a similar hashtag to see all the tweets or Instagram pictures people had shared from their study abroad experiences.
Why not start your own unique hashtag that everyone back home can follow along? You can use a tool like Tagboard to collect all your tweets, pics, and Facebook posts with that tag, and everyone can see #yourstudyabroadadventure in one place.
3. Start a Travel Blog
It's up to you whether you start a travel blog with the intent of turning it into a money-making business (like many bloggers do). At its core, a travel blog is a fun and easy way to share stories from your travels with interested readers, like people back home!
Sites like WordPress allow you to sign up for a free website, and then it's up to you how much and how often you share the stories of your time abroad. If you really want to wow your readers back home, there are some good rules to follow: try and update regularly, so everyone knows when to expect an update from you; share your knowledge and insider tips of the place, as well of your experiences; and use photos, which really help your friends and family see what life is like for you.
4. Take Advantage of Travel Sharing Apps
While much of your time will be spent in the classroom, there are some really cool apps you can use to share your travels around campus -- and your host country -- without too much work. One such app is called Polarsteps, which calls itself the "Personal Travel Log in Your Pocket." Their app logs your location automatically, and you can go back later to add notes and photos. It's an easy and fun way to track your adventures and share them with people back home. Another app you can use is called Postagram by Sincerely, which lets you take photos from your phone and make them into postcards; you can even send them directly from the app!
5. Send Postcards
Speaking of postcards: in this digital age, it's a pleasant surprise to receive actual mail, right? Your friends and family will think so too. Before you leave, collect everyone's addresses on your computer or phone, and then grab a few postcards in each new place you explore. You can write and send big batches of postcards back home, and everyone will love receiving them -- better yet, they'll probably hang onto your postcards for months even after you come home!
6. Enter A Contest With Your Study Abroad Program
Many study abroad programs host contests that allow study abroad students to submit photos, videos, and stories from their item abroad. If your home campus does one of these contests, be sure to enter! Some popular ones include the IVHQ Travel Blogger Scholarship and the Study Abroad Photo Contest hosted by the University of Chicago.
Contests like these are a great way to share your experience with people, even after you've come back home. You may even end up winning a cash prize if your home campus offers that to entrants.