How to Journal When Interning Abroad (Pt. 1)

antique blank camera, open journal, and iphone laying on white tablecloth

We’re all guilty of taking too many pictures during a trip and not absorbing the moments around us. What’s worse is when you go home and after a few months don’t remember what you did during the trip.

That is the precise reason why travel journals (and knowing how to journal!) are amazing – they transport you back in time to all the hilarious and meaningful moments from your trip. Combined with pictures or – if you’re creatively inclined – sketches, and you can create a work of art steeped in fond memories.

Now since this is something you might refer to in the future, you need to invest in quality materials and tools. Scribbling down your daily entry on some copy paper with an old ballpoint pen may work in a pinch but won’t look nice a few years from now.

The Paper

A good paper is essential for good writing. It is the canvas upon which your ideas take form.  Contrary to popular belief, copy paper is not as smooth as you think. In fact, if you try writing on it with a fountain pen, you’ll hear (and feel) the scratchy surface grinding against your pen nib.

Opt instead for a notebook with bleed proof (non-absorbent) paper. Not only is it going to preserve the ink in your pen, you can safely use more artistic mediums like brush pens on it without damaging the tip.

Some great – and affordable – notebooks are:

ClairefontaineA French stationary specialist, they produce some incredibly smooth notebooks, pads, and planners.

RhodiaBecause they are technically produced by Clairefontaine Rhodia, their paper quality follows suit. Smooth, durable, and a joy to write on.

HP Printer Paper, Premium 32Want to practice your lettering but don’t want to mess up your good paper? HP Printer Paper is the way to go. The price to quantity ratio means you don’t need to feel as guilty for wasting sheets.

If you work with watercolors or want to make collages, you’ll need some heavier weighted paper. Due to the nature of watercolor brushes (which are made from synthetic or real hair), you won’t need to worry about fraying on rough surfaces.

You can’t go wrong with some of the following brands:

The Pens

Choosing the right pen is as much a personal experience as choosing a pair of shoes. There are dozens of styles, nibs, grips, and lengths out there. Assuming you don’t have time to sift through articles or go try pens in person, we’ve prepared a little guide from the most affordable to the most lavish.

Fountain Pens


For functionality, simplicity, and affordability, it’s hard to beat Lamy. Founded in 1930 by Josef Lamy (a sales rep for The Parker Pen Company), they pioneered the use of molded synthetic plastics to create their pens.

Their starter pen, the “SAFARI” writes very well and starts as low as $37.00. If you’re married to the ballpoint, the LOGO M+ and ALL-STAR are both excellent choices as well.

Fisher Space Pen

Need to write upside down? On grease? Underwater? Or maybe your internship is taking you into a zero-g environment. Wherever you need to write, these pens have got you covered. The design matches the minimalistic look of Lamy, while also being short enough for a handbag.

Notable callouts are the Space Cap-O-Matic Chrome, and the Matt Black Fisher Space Bullet.

Goulet Pens

Goulet is like a candy shop for pen lovers. The website sports a beautiful, functional UI. You can set parameters ranging from color to nib size, body material, filling mechanism, and trim. It’s also a great place to see some of the more high-end pens that are available.

Some fantastic, but expensive options are:

Visconti Opera Fountain Pen

A clear acryloid barrel with real silver dust makes this pen a real show-stopper. The cap is made from Lucite and palladium trim.

Visconti Medici Il Magnifico

The power of the Medici, in the palm of your hand. This pen features a red-brown marble barrel and sterling silver cap. The cap also has motifs chiseled on it. Namely the lilies, or symbols of Florence. Fun Fact: The techniques used to chisel the cap were handed down from Benvenuto Cellini, the finest jeweler of the 15th century.

Journaling Apps

If you’re looking to keep a digital record of your memories, there are a plethora of apps that might suit your purposes.

Day One

Released in 2011, Day One is one of the most highly recommended journaling apps. It offers templates, metadata, hashtagging for entries, and insert options for videos and photos. In addition, Day One plays well with other apps by using IFTTT (If This Then That). Basically, Day One can capture information from your social feeds, your sleep hours, steps on Fitbit and much more. The data is then put into separate folders (so your main feed isn’t clogged), where you can refer to it later.


Aside from being the highest rated app in the Windows 10 App Store, Diarium offers support for multiple media types. If you don’t feel like speaking, you can dictate your thoughts. You can also attach an audio file, inked drawing, or multiple photos per entry.


If you live on social media, Memento is for you. This app essentially unifies all your social media accounts under one roof. You can also create journal entries normally, as with Diarium or Day One. Memento is free for up to 3 social media accounts and costs $3.99 for premium features.


Journaling is one of the most underrated activities to boost your productivity and well-being. Jotting down your thoughts can help manage culture shock, enhance creativity, and increase your happiness in a new country. Whether it’s digital or analog, it’s something you should consider doing during your time abroad. Not only will it make the trip more enjoyable, but the future you will be glad for the memories – good and bad.

Enjoy this article? Leave a comment and share it with your friends! Stay tuned for Part 2!

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