Written by: 
Cláudia Aragão Wednesday, 5 February, 2020 - 18:04

How to Start a Journal and Keep Your Erasmus Memories Forever

Erasmus is the best time of our lives, but we all know that it ends fast. Technology is a lifesaver these days, but this is not the only way to remember our time abroad. Here are some (very) basic ideas to start your journal, which you can keep forever!

What is journaling? Well, it is whatever you want it to be. That’s the fun thing about it! Whatever you call it, (diary, journal, notebook, planner) some say this organisational method can help you to be more productive and have a more meaningful life! And if you’re not used to handwriting but are used to relying mostly on your phone, you can join the #BuJo community - an acronym for bullet journaling! This method, developed by designer Ryder Carroll, is simple and leans on bullet points to log information. Here are some ideas on how you can keep one during your Erasmus experience. All you need is any type of journal, a pen and creativity!

1. Create your Index

Draw symbols that you can easily understand and organise your table of contents, so you always know what’s ahead of you. Make collections and list them here: bucket list, to-do list, trips of the year, meal tracker, films to watch, sleep log, homework assignments, goal setting - you name it!

2. Collect Pictures

If you can, invest in a polaroid camera. Trust us, it will be beautiful to look at later! You can stick them in your journal, either in relation to diary entries or as a collection just for the memories. Next to them, you can write one or two sentences about that moment. If you don’t own a polaroid, print-out small pictures and cut them into fun shapes.

3. Make a Mood-tracker

This can be helpful for you to understand how your month/week has been. Label colours according to moods and every night choose the one that best matches your day. We bet that most of the entries of your Erasmus time will be in your happy colour! 

4. To-do Lists

These are the BEST and super easy to make. Create lists as much as you can, so you can complete tasks and visualise your progress. List your favourite ESN events, your unforgettable trips with Erasmus friends, or the places you still need to visit. Anything is possible in a list!

5. Monthly and Daily Logs

You can also create an “agenda” personalised to your own life - it helps to maintain the focus on what you need to get done, without distracting yourself too much. For this, you can create a monthly spread for tracking upcoming events and display everything in one place. Then, you can add them to your weekly spread as you go.

Make sure to add a to-do list, urgent tasks, calls and a diary entry if you feel like it. How you create your pages is totally up to you, but if you’re not so artsy, keeping it simple is key. It’s always about function over form.

6. Write What’s On your Mind

Don’t worry too much about labelling your journal. Make it your own and do whatever you want. Our advice is to treat it as a diary too, so this way you keep everything in one place. Write what’s on your mind and, if you can, draw a small doodle that represents your mood.

7. Look for Inspiration

Search for ideas on platforms like Pinterest or Tumblr! Journaling is trendy, so advice and ‘inspo’ are everywhere these days. Make thematic collections online and then print-out small figures you like or try to draw them in your journal. Search and recycle material found in your house or in nature (flowers and leaves found on the ground can make beautiful pages). Use stickers or just materials you find anywhere!

8. Customise It!

Don’t worry if you start your journal in the middle of the year. It’s 100% customisable. Bring all kinds of stuff into your journaling, like bracelets from cool events, maps from trips, postcards from your favourite Erasmus cities and much more. To make it nicer, use colours and don’t be afraid to mix them!

9. Be True to Yourself

Write what’s on your mind, keep it fun and happy. But also, don’t forget about the bad stuff. It may seem weird but, in the end, this will be part of your life. Later, you’ll appreciate reading about your past and learning from your past mistakes. Explore uncomfortable emotions and confront them by reflecting upon them and transforming them into words.

Journaling is an awesome way to plan, reflect and even meditate. Some people do it just to relax, but it’s different for everybody. It depends on your personality, lifestyle and free time. Your journal is, after all, a record of your thoughts and experiences. It’s special and unique, just like your time abroad! So, what better moment to start one? It will be even more useful after your experience because post-Erasmus depression is a hard reality to deal with. Start your journal now and keep it up for life!

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