We have decided to write this international student’s guide to journaling in an attempt to provide international students with a way to take care of their mental health. Not only that, but we believe that doing so is a way to help make sense of the sometimes chaotic journey of moving to a new country and beginning your education there. This guide will consist of five useful tips that you can use if you decide to keep a journal during your time studying abroad.
Your journal does not merely have to consist of written entries. Sometimes, a well-placed receipt or train ticket can tell an entire story in and of themselves. Start keeping items that you believe might make a great addition to your journal. Another great thing about doing this is that you will be able to look back on your studying abroad journey and trigger important memories by looking at these items. Pictures are even better! After all, it is often said that they are worth a thousand words each.
One thing we want to make clear in our international student’s guide to journaling is that is by no means the only way to take care of your mental health. We especially do not want you to think of it as any sort of obligation. Ideally, you should journal because you really want to and because it makes your life better. In accordance with that, journal only when you have the time or feel the need to. Alternatively, if you are a very schedule-oriented person, try not to overwhelm yourself with too strict of a journaling routine.
Nobody except you needs to see your journal. Thus, there is really no need to have a filter on what you write in it. This is your opportunity to pour out your innermost and personal thoughts, opinions, and frustrations. The therapeutic effect of journaling comes precisely from that unconditional acceptance that those blank pages allow you. Of course, this is no replacement for actual therapy, but it can help maintain a baseline of mental health during your day-to-day life.
There can be a lot of emphasis on aesthetics within the journaling community, but we want to take a different approach with our international student’s guide to journaling. What we mean by this is that spending a lot of time designing the cover or how every page looks is fine if you are into that but it should by no means be something that gatekeeps the wonderful experience of journaling. There is beauty in simplicity as well and if you are someone who just wants to take some time at the end of your day to write down and process your experiences, then that is completely fine!
So far we have talked about journaling specifically in the context of using a traditional pen and paper. However, journaling can take many forms. For example, some of you will prefer to do it in a Word document while others might feel more comfortable creating a series of drawings. Not only that, but some people use their social media as a kind of journal as well. The important thing is to find what works for you.
We hope that we have made you aware of the flexibility that is available to anyone who wants to journal. As an exceptionally useful tool for any international student, we wanted to make it clear that everyone’s method of journaling is valid. Go forth now and document your experiences abroad in whichever way resonates most with you. Alternatively, check out some of our other articles if you are still having difficulties finding the best universities to attend or any other aspect of international student life.