Traveling to another country? Going on a road trip? Have a great time! When you return home, you’ll have lots of new memories, a bit of sunburn, or even a new friend. You will also have a pile of maps, napkins, matchbooks, business cards and every other trinket that was picked up along the way to help you remember your newest trip of a lifetime.
Now you are home, fresh from the Eiffel Tower or The Great Wall in China and your pile of treasure sits neatly on the table. At first, it’s exciting to sift through the pile of receipts and menus. Your memories flow as you spot the napkin, folded into the crinkled hotel brochure, embossed with the restaurants’ name from your déjeuner sur la Seine. Underneath that is the wrinkled magazine article featuring that fantastic theatrical production, whose ticket stubs (you are now using for a bookmark) you coveted while in London. Or the receipt from your very first traditional meal of Peking Duck that is stuck to the bottom of your bookmark, (I meant ticket stub).
After a few weeks, the pile that symbolized worldly gain is now a spreading dusty pile of paper. Getting in the way, and creating its own travel itinerary; from the table to the floor.
Throwing it all away never enters your mind (no longer than a few seconds of course) so how does one preserve all this paper goodness?
Building a Study Abroad Scrapbook
A scrapbook. What is a scrapbook you ask? A neat and orderly portal straight to your memories, at your fingertips, and on the shelf!
It’s easy to keep all those paper souvenirs neat during your trip. Prior to leaving, pack for your trip knowing you will be collecting mementos that will accompany you home at the end of your journey. Whether it is for business or pleasure, pack a small notepad and a flat, snap plastic folder that closes.
Each night when you return to your hotel or hostel, add the paper you collected from the day into your folder. It will be kept safe from additional wrinkles/creases. You can pack this folder at the bottom of your suitcase and it should arrive home is great condition.
Now, pull out your notepad and spend a few minutes writing about your day. The cuisine you tasted, the vibrant flower boxes, the sunrise hike, the tour guide’s hilarious banter, the sweet local lady that corrected your French so you got your café au lait, and not a lamp with a roll of toilet paper.
Each entry shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and this is the best way to keep a journal of your travels. A single memory can recall dozens of extra memories you thought were long forgotten.
When you return home, the folder and notepad should be kept until you are ready for the next step.
Creating the Scrapbook
Scrapbooking is a great way to preserve your memories from any event. It’s the process of adding photos, memorabilia and stories/descriptions/thoughts of your experience, also called journaling, (which you have already partially completed while on your trip).
Purchase an inexpensive scrapbook, I prefer SMASH books by K&Company® from a craft store. SMASH books are simple, with no need for embellishments but you can always add if you decide. Embellishments are any extra design additive such as ribbon, buttons, stickers, and coins or paper flowers and are typically flat, so your scrapbook will close properly.
Photos are important but not crucial. Many scrapbooks have not a single photo but the descriptions written in their place paint the perfect picture. However, if you have photos, print your own or there are dozens of websites that will allow you to upload your images, pay with a credit card and in a few days, photos will be shipped to your home address. Easy!
Organizing Your Scrapbook
Once you have your scrapbook, photos, notepad, and folder with your memorabilia, it’s time to organize everything in preparation for your layouts. A layout is how you arrange your items on a blank page. You will need scissors, double-sided adhesive and a fine tipped magic marker for written details. Arrange your items so everything is visible. Don’t forget to remove pages from your notepad and using scissors, trim to fit in your layout or rewrite your entry.
You can also trim any of the items you brought home in your folder so they fit better in your layout. Many people recall additional details when they write. Create layouts by date, activity, country/city visited, or any way you want your scrapbook to flow.
Once your layout is arranged and ready to be taped down, decide if you want to add any embellishments (coins, stickers or anything that pertains to your layouts) Use the double-sided adhesive to attach your items to the page. There is no wrong way to lay out a layout! If you can’t fit everything on a page than continue on the next page.
Why Create a Study Abroad Scrapbook?
Scrapbooking is a great way to relive your experience twice. Who wouldn’t want to go back and revisit an amazing destination? Remember that unforgettable meal? As a scrapbooker, your photos and/or journaling will keep memories as fresh as the sushi you enjoyed while across the pond.
Your layouts are your itinerary! What was your first impression as you strolled along those foreign streets for the first time? Write it down! The first glimpse of your hotel room? Write it down! How was your first/favorite/strangest meal? Write it down! Add all of that detail to your scrapbook.
Remember, there are no wrong decisions when storing your memories. Except when you let all those memories make the slow trek from the table to the floor.
Yep, that’s a fail.
All that mess could make one lose their marbles, keep it together!
Once your scrapbook is complete, it’s yours for the sharing. People would much rather flip through a short book then sift through 200 photos on your smartphone. Those 200 hundred photos will end up either deleted or in a drawer. Your scrapbook will live happily and easily accessible on your bookshelf.