It started as an assignment for my study trip to Israel a year ago: take time each day to journal about what you’ve seen and learned. (Since there were no tests or essays and this trip was worth credit, this counted for most of our grade.) I remember scribbling down all of my excited, disjointed thoughts on the flight to Tel Aviv, along with a few doodles. Easy enough. I didn’t realize exactly how easy until my phone glitched out after leaving the U.S. and was completely useless for the entirety of the trip.
I learned a lot from not having my phone–connecting with the other people in our group, taking in my surroundings, listening to the different languages being spoken around me instead of my music. But I remember sitting at breakfast one morning while waiting for my roommate to join me and I just wished I could scroll through Instagram or Facebook instead of awkwardly sitting with nothing to do. So I pulled my journal out of my backpack and started writing. I didn’t have anything particularly interesting to write about at that moment, so I used it as a time of reflection. I began doing this on our long bus rides–writing not only about the places we stopped at but also whatever thoughts were coming to mind. I also jotted down some funny quotes from our tour guide and random facts I learned along the way (did you know you’re not allowed to pick Israel’s wildflowers?).
Although I haven’t done a ton of traveling, I’ve kept up with my journal on my trips since Israel and I hope to continue writing with each new place I go. You can capture so much even in just a simple entry. There would be so many little aspects of the trip that I would have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my time in a foreign country filling up blank pages instead of scrolling through social media.