Journaling and or photographs are the most common methods of recording and remembering the adventures had on study abroad. Being a writer I thought that journaling would work best for me. To my surprise journaling was overwhelming for me. I would get behind because I was juggling so much or worse I would feel that I would have to write more and just fluff up my entries with useless uninteresting filler. My friend Randee suggested I try out postcards because then I would only write about my adventures versus the day to day mundane routines. I loved the idea and now it has sparked my immense love of postcards. I highly suggest postcard writing to those travelling. Postcards have 6 great benefits to them.
Write Less Often
One of the benefits of using postcards is that you don’t have to write everyday if you don’t want to. You can reserve your postcard writing to the days where you go out and have an adventure. I wrote postcards for every trip I took out of the town I was staying in. To add to the memory I would buy a postcard from the place I went to. When I went on a five day trip to Scotland and Ireland, I bought a postcard for each day of my trip from the places we visited.
You physically don’t have as much space to write when you use postcards. Journaling didn’t work for me because I felt that I had to write down every little detail of the day, even the mundane ones. Having less space taught me how to be more concise with my retellings and how to write smaller while retaining legibility. Writing a postcard for each day of my trips was great but some places I visited were too amazing to reduce to a couple sentences in a trip summary. To accommodate for this I started to buy site specific postcards as well, so that I could have more space to write about the monuments and buildings that struck a chord with me.
For the most part postcards are the cheapest souvenir you can buy. Some souvenir shops price their postcards too high in order to get more out of you, but, lucky for you, there are souvenir shops all over and not all of them have high prices. For example one of the few souvenir shops in Reading sold postcards for 70 pence each. That’s ridiculous! Yet the University of Reading’s st
ore sold very similar post cards for 20 pence each. Postcards in London were rather consistent in price. Most shops sold postcards in bundles. In my case I went to a shop where postcards were 12 for a pound! Specialty postcards were a tad more expensive but usually were worth the few pence extra. Collecting postcards is much easier on your wallet than collecting tee shirts from every place you’ve been.
Hoodies, tee shirts, and other typical souvenirs are much bulkier than postcards. I’m not suggesting that you only buy postcards as your souvenirs but they are much easier to collect compared to other items. At home I collect tea cups and I wanted to bring back a tea cup from my travels but I knew it would be too difficult to buy a tea cup from the 9 countries I went to (not to mention all the places I went to in England). I would keep a plastic ziplock bag in my backpack to protect the postcards I bought while out and about. They are much less likely to cause your bag to be overweight when travelling home.
Postcards don’t have to just be pictures of scenery. An art museum will most likely have postcards of some of the art they house. Many souvenir shops sell postcards that are abnormal shapes too. Amazon is a great place for ordering postcards in bulk. My favourite postcard packs from amazon are Best of British (pack of 50, great for mailing home), Wonderful World (pack of 50), and Cavallini Vintage London Glitter Postcards. You don’t have to limit yourself with premade postcards either. Moo.com allows you to make postcards out of the pictures you take! I used Moo.com regularly in order to make postcards from my favourite pictures. I used them both to send memories to friends back home and for my personal collection.
Once written the postcards can be put into a generic photo album (if they’re the proper size) or, even better, incorporated into a scrapbook. I love scrapbooking, so I knew from the get go that I would be making one of my study abroad. I wanted to make this scrapbook different from all the others though. Instead of just sliding the postcards into the sleeves of the pages, I put them into their own sleeves and attached one edge to the front of the page sleeves. That allows me to keep them protected while still being able flip them over to read what I wrote on the back without removing them from the whole book. You could also put your postcards in themed shadow boxes with other trinkets you got from the area the postcard is from. The creativity doesn’t end there either.
Postcards may seem like a strange memento to collect, although they make great collectibles. If you date them and write about your travels on the back, you can flip through the memories later. At times when I feel down because I’m home again, reading through the cards proves to me that I did something and they motivate me to keep striving to travel. I’ve been able to make a scrapbook containing some of my greatest events and I know that I’ll never forget them. I highly recommend that you give postcards a chance, especially if you struggle with journaling.
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