Hey! I’m Lisa, and I’m that girl who will shamelessly exploit your misadventures on my blog – ostensibly for my parents, but really for whoever feels like reading. (I’m kidding. Of course I protect myself from slander charges by forgoing all names.) I started my blog, friedenel.wordpress.com, for the year I’m spending abroad in Moldova, a country between Ukraine and Romania. I like keeping a blog mostly because it cuts down on the number of people asking me “So how’s Russia?” or “So you’re in the Maldives?” But even for people in more-frequently-traveled places, I highly recommend keeping a study abroad blog. Here’s why.
- When your parents Skype call you on the weekend, you can refer them to your blog. They’ll have plenty of source material to ask about (“what do you mean you went into a dark alleyway alone? Didn’t we teach you anything?”), and as I’m sure we’ve all learned from our teenage years, if you choose the topics, that means your parents can’t. They’ll feel included in your life, and this will be good for your relationship. I think. For real, though, don’t let the words “read my blog” come out of your mouth too often when talking with your parents.
- I live far away from most of my extended relatives, and it’s a really cool way to keep in touch with them! I think a lot of my relatives are hearing about my life from the source for the first time (i.e. not holiday letters every December), and that’s cool to me. I think when I go home and visit them, I will again have lots of things to talk about, and I won’t have to answer the questions they ask with “it was fun.”
- You’ll practice your writing skills! On my program all we do is Russian, Russian, Russian. Because I’m starting college next year, I’m a little worried all my academic skills have disappeared into an abyss, never to return. I get, of course, that stream of consciousness personal narrative blog writing is vastly different than essay or any kind of academic writing. Nevertheless, I’m still practicing expressing myself, and any practice can’t be bad.
- You get endless data sources to analyze. I’m a statistics person. If I can’t get it from the endless data on my FitBit (which I don’t own) I have to get it somewhere, right? Where better than the back page of WordPress?
- It’s a tired stereotype flaunted in videos and memes. The “yeah, well when I was in Europe…” thrown onto the end of every conversation, regardless of whether it has any relevance whatsoever. Get this: you don’t just have to be annoying in real life, you can be annoying on the internet too! Although I try not to be that person in real life, my blog is a perfect narcissistic hole for me to pretend that other people care about the thoughts coming out of my head.
- You can see the spikes in the statistics section of WordPress when people who are thinking about taking a gap year find your blog, read the entire archives, and then potentially reach out to you. When I was considering taking a gap year, I read all the blogs I could find. It’s so cool to imagine next year’s kids are doing the same. I’m potentially giving someone information and possibly helping them!
- You get to laugh at your own jokes not only when you write them, but also when you reread them and forget what you wrote. I think I’m funny.
- It’s a time capsule of your life. There’s so much I would have forgotten: the thoughts going through my head as I baked cookies here for the first time, my first high school classes in Russian, going on weird scavenger hunts through the city with the people on my program. I’m only going to be here for an academic year, and I’m already forgetting things. A blog keeps you accountable to your fans (aka your aforementioned parents) and helps me, personally, document my experiences more regularly than in a journal.
There’s clearly no downside to this entire endeavor. If you’re interested in reading more about Moldova, studying abroad, or how I take advantage of my friends for good stories, I’m around on friedenel.wordpress.com! If you have any questions or want to show me your new study abroad blogs because I’m so persuasive, 😉 feel free to contact me as well!