Become a Collector

Written by Valerie

It is an undeniable fact that if you choose to study abroad, you will have an unforgettable experience. As with all unforgettable experiences, we tend to want to have a way to remember them. For some, that may be in the form of a souvenir, a collectible item, or photos. Regardless of what you choose, it should be something personal that holds value to you. Considering this, I would like to inform all those interested parties to think ahead and start brainstorming how you would want to document your time abroad. Everything regarding the program goes by so fast and when you finally arrive at GTE, you will start traveling to new destinations almost immediately. This means that when the lightbulb goes off in your brain telling you to pick a uniform habit to remember your adventures by, it may be too late to start, or you will have some trips that are not included in the collection. 

The way I am choosing to remember my trips is by collecting at least one postcard from every country I visit, but ideally, I would get one per city. I know collecting postcards does not sound like an original or unique thought, but they are valuable to me. I mentioned before that I have a friend who is older than me and studied abroad while she attended Georgia State University. This friend inspired me to study abroad through the postcards she would send me from Italy and Japan. So now postcards are going to be my way of bridging a connection with others by sharing my thoughts and experiences from across the Atlantic. 

In addition to finding something that is tailored to your interests, it is important to consider the practical aspect of it as well. When you travel within the program, you always pack lightly. Anything more than a backpack will make it increasingly more difficult for you in your travels because travel days are filled with lots of walking, tight spaces on trains or planes, and less-than- favorable terrain such as cobblestone paths or endless staircases. To put this in a better perspective, I’ll share an example from a friend in the program. He is collecting snow globes from every country he visits. While snow globes are super unique and beautiful to admire, they are made of glass, weighted at the base, and filled with liquid. This makes snow globes very fragile and heavy, making it more inconvenient to bring back to campus.  

Regardless, at the end of the semester, he will have a beautiful collection of snow globes to illustrate all the locations of his travels. However, when the time comes to pack all our things into suitcases, make our way to the airport, and approach the check-in counter, our luggage will have to be weighed. We all dread that moment when we might face an overweight cost if the luggage is a couple of pounds over the limit. It is already hard enough to fit an entire semester’s worth of things needed for your survival into a few suitcases Therefore, you don’t want to choose a souvenir that will make your life harder further down the road.