Recording Your Experience

International and other international programs can generate concrete and lasting experiences that become part of your academic record or documented as personal and professional achievements, in a way that the average semester at your home university may not. While you’re abroad you may not have the time, or inclination, to focus specifically on recording skills, experiences and achievements in ways that are recognised on résumés or job letters. However, it may be useful to record your journey in some way so that you can refer to it when you return home and begin to unpack your experiences.

Hand holding stones

If I was to do it again I'd keep a logbook of what I'd done each day, just something I'd achieved each day, just little things like that. In hindsight that would have been nice for me to do.

Chloe, returned Student.

What’s the point?

A record of your experiences, no matter how brief, can prompt vivid memories in the future. Remember, less than 5% of Australian students undertake international experiences related to their study and that can help you stand out when seeking academic or employment opportunities. Capturing your experiences in some way will help you redraft travel stories into career stories more easily.

From a theoretical perspective, researchers assert that recording experiences helps you create a ‘third space’ … A space that is neither your home nor your host culture. It’s an abstract space where you can store your thoughts, artifacts and images. The creation of this space allows you to become more reflective about your experiences.

What past students say

You may find that you’re so busy whilst you are away that you don't have time to keep up the habit of good record-keeping. Building some record-keeping into your daily routine – for example through some thoughtful use of social media – is one manageable way many students deal with this challenge. One student who studied abroad had to keep a journal as part of her assessment, which she continued to use beyond the academic requirement.


I had an online blog, just because my Mum doesn’t have social media. So I just did that for her. But now, it’s such a worthwhile catalogue for me and I’ve looked through it a lot. If you have the information you’ve written yourself given back to you, you see it with fresh eyes. It’s quite a good experience. Then maybe you can draw out specific examples or themes from that information to talk about at an interview.

Nina, Returned Student.

What can I do?

Students who have travelled internationally have
recorded their experiences by:

  • Writing blogs
  • Keeping journals
  • Taking photos
recording your journey

If there are things you don’t want to forget like:

  • What made you laugh out loud
  • What brought tears to your eyes
  • Your greatest personal insight
  • Your biggest cultural success
  • Your greatest achievement

I would encourage people to catalogue or somehow record experiences that they have while they are away, just so that when they get back and they are interviewed or asked about their time in the different country, they can more accurately call upon those memories and recognise where changes took place.

Sharon, international Student.

Write a Blog

Blogs allow you to share personal reflections, photographs, and weblinks, which can be searched or accessed by visitors to the site. Posts can be as descriptive or as succinct as you like. Blogging encourages introspection and more elaborate reflection.

Tip Box

There are a number of blogging options available. Here are a few user-friendly options to consider:

Create a photo passport

Photos offer you rich and powerful representations of your experience. They are a great way of recording things that surprise, shock and startle. Photos enable you to remember both the moment of the taking, and those around you at the time. They provide the impetus for memory recall – the floodgate of memories takes you back to what you saw, smelt, heard and felt.

Explaining or describing photos, whether online or face to face, stimulate introspection, reflection, and self-discovery. If you use Instagram or Twitter to capture your experiences, think about adding a hashtag (e.g. #studyabroad) to highlight the photos that may have personal, cultural, academic or employability significance for you.

Road trip in Antelope Canyon, Arizona. I think it embodies the feeling of enlightenment that you can get when you figure something out that is foreign to you, like deciphering the NYC subway system, haha!.

Anon, Returned Student.

Walking through a cave

Use Facebook

Facebook allows you to share messages, photos, links to websites and posts about what you are doing. Although you may use your Facebook page for keeping in touch with your social network, it can be a useful tool to record experiences that may have professional benefit down the track. Consider publishing posts that act like a ‘note to self’ to help you remember things when you return.  Maybe use a bookmark that you can search for later.

Use a Note Pad

If you’re in a location where the Internet is unreliable, you can still record experiences!
If you’ve never kept a journal before, consider starting one now. Use a note pad or scrapbook to:

  • Draw sketches
  • Glue in ticket stubs
  • Jot down notes or reflections
  • Create collages

Useful Resource

BLTH Communication Module

If you’re keen to find out more information about recording your experiences whilst studying abroad, the Communication Module created for Bringing the Learning Home project is a great resource.

The module highlights things such as:

  • What makes a good blog entry?
  • Tips for better description
  • Photography tips
  • Think before you publish online

Enjoy your international experience. Check back in for more tips in the "Coming Back" module when you have settled in at home and you’re keen to unpack your international experiences.

Support for the production of this website has been provided by the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect the views
of the Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching. Unless otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
OLT logo