Study Abroad Tips: Don’t Forget to Write Home
With technology, communicating is a lot easier than it used to be while traveling. Now during the times you are abroad, you can not only communicate with your family and friends back home, but you can use programs like Skype and Facetime to see them, as well. Although it may not be the main method of communication, sending postcards and written letters from around the world can be something you keep and look back on to remember your time abroad. I did this while studying abroad in London, and am grateful for the experience.
Here is some information on how it works and things to consider when creating memories across the pond!
What to Send?
Personally, I really enjoyed sending postcards to friends and family. There are plenty of postcards available with different landmarks and scenery to purchase. When in doubt, look for tourist areas and you should be able to find several. Luckily, postcards are fairly inexpensive and often they’ll have deals where you can buy several for a few pounds. My favorite from London was a postcard that was a puzzle. When you buy it, the puzzle is together so you can write your message on the back. Then you break up the puzzle and put it into the envelope that comes with it. The person who receives it then puts the puzzle together to see the message…and they have a special keepsake.
When to Send?
I sent postcards about halfway through my time abroad. After first arriving, you are still adjusting to everything. By the time I sent them, I had ventured around London quite a bit. I had plenty of time to find interesting postcards, such as the puzzle postcard, and I had figured out how to mail them. Obviously, you can send them whenever, but I would recommend about halfway through your time there.
Who to Send it to?
I sent postcards to my parents, boyfriend (now husband), and a few close friends. I sent a total of 10 postcards while I was abroad. It seems very simple, but I guarantee it’s something they’ll keep. Not only do they rarely, if ever, get a postcard, but they are getting one from someone they know who is visiting another country. Trust me, they’ll love it!
Thinking back, one thing I wished I would have done was send myself a postcard. It would have been a great keepsake and it would have been a great reminder of all of my experiences after returning.
How to Send it?
Sending mail in London is just like sending mail in the United States, except it is call Royal Mail. The mailboxes look a bit different, but you should not have any trouble finding one. And just like in the United States, you can go to the post office to purchase stamps. You can buy international economy stamps for postcards. Luckily, there was a post office just down the street from my dorm. It was very similar to what I was used to, so I didn’t have any issues. It was a lot of fun to send mail from another country, especially knowing how far the postcards would be traveling.
Cool London Fact: With the Royal Mail, there are different letters on the red mailboxes. Depending on which letters you see, you can tell when the mailbox was installed. New mailboxes will have EIIR on them, which tells you it was installed during the time of Queen Elizabeth. Did you know that? See how many different mailboxes you can find during your time in London!
Why Send it?
Looking back, I’m glad I sent the postcards because, as I said before, it’s something your friends and family are able to keep, as well as yourself. It’s always easier to look back and think about the things you wished you would have done. Don’t let this be one of them!
Hopefully you’ll consider sending postcards during your time abroad. I know I really enjoyed it and wished I would have sent more. Postcards are an inexpensive way to keep in touch and let someone know you’re thinking about them from thousands of miles away. Regardless of how old someone is, everyone loves to get snail mail. I know I do!
If you’ve traveled abroad, did you write letters or postcards? What was your experience? I’d love to hear it!
Heather Robinette is the London Study Abroad Editor for Wandering Educators. She notes, "During the summer of 2011, I studied abroad for six weeks in London at the University of Westminster with Academics Programs International. I graduated from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS in December 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. I currently work as a marketing analyst for a small company in central Texas. I currently work as a marketing coordinator for a real estate firm in Las Vegas, NV. I am also pursuing my MBA. While I was abroad in London, I was able to create many unforgettable memories that I will never forget! My study abroad experience helped me gain various skills, but above all else, it helped me to learn more about myself and the world around me." You can find her online at http://www.heatherrobinette.com/
Click here to read more of Heather's articles about studying abroad in London.
All photos courtesy and copyright Heather Robinette