• Mackenzie Kane

Blog Post - Staying Present

In the era of Instagram and Twitter, it is easy to fall into the mindset that the photos you take will be the only memory you’ll have when you leave your study abroad program. The first thing you hear when you announce your travel plans is usually, “Take so many pictures and don’t forget to put them on social media!”

I say: challenge that.

One of the most recognizable buildings in Florence is the Duomo. You will pass it almost every day on your way to class, a friend’s apartment or to lunch, and the only thing more impressive than the architecture is the masses of people looking at it through their cellphones.

As an explorer in the city, you will have plenty of opportunities to take incredible photos, but what I’ve learned is that there is a time and place for taking photos and there is a time and place for stepping back to experience everything around you.

When seeing a new sight, challenge yourself to keep your phone in your pocket. Study what’s around you: the architecture of the building, the landscape of your view, the sounds you hear and how you feel in the moment. Only after you’ve done that, snap your shot.

By taking everything in before the photo, you are separating yourself from the ties you have to your social media. It’s no longer about the amount of likes you will receive, but about your journey abroad.

And photos aren’t the only way to keep the memories you make here. Keep a journal, collect every ticket and every business card and (maybe not EVERY) receipt. Challenge yourself to write about your days and your feelings.

When you’re stressed, write about it. When you’re excited, write about it. When you miss home, write about it. You will be able to look back through your journal and not only remember the things you did, but also how you felt. And that is something harder to capture in a single photo.

*This article was co-written by Mackenzie Gobillot and myself*

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