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How To Measure Your Growth While Living Abroad

Posted by Auvi Evans on 8/20/17 12:00 PM

ILP Europe

While living abroad you will grow in ways you'd never imagine.

Pst: this guide to navigating your twenties is full of other ways to grow (and travel) plus some other advice. 

What attributes do you acquire abroad? How do you grow spiritually or mentally? That type of growth can be a bit harder to measure than just marking your height on the wall, but here are some ways to see how you change, grow and learn during your time abroad.

  • Make A Vision For Yourself
  • Journal Daily
  • Write Your Future Self
  • Video Blog
  • Coming Home

Make A Vision For Yourself

First of all, you need to make a vision so you know where you are headed! This can be done is so many different ways, but here are two things that have worked for me. 

  • Write it out - separate a piece of paper into three columns; on the left write some things about yourself that you would like change or become better at. In the middle, you can write what you would like your end result to be. On the right, write how you can achieve that end result. 

If you are really shy you could write "Shy around new people" on the left,  and "Comfortable talking to new people" on the right and have a goal to talk to two new people every day. I love this approach because it's so customizable.

 I like to put it by my bedroom door so I can look at it every day before I leave. Once you feel like you've become better at that thing, cross it off and move on!

  • Make a collage and put it somewhere so you can see it often. Add things to your collage that represent who you would like to be, what attributes you would like to gain, etc. I like to cut out meaningful quotes and add pictures (maybe a shot of Paris to remind you to save and do some traveling?). I also like to write out my goals and ways I can achieve them to add to my collage. 

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This one may seem obvious, but really stay consistent to journaling (especially during a semester abroad when you're making memories and pushing out of your comfort zone every single day).

Journaling is different for everyone - maybe you jot down a few bulleted points of that day or maybe you write pages and pages every day of the week. However you journal, this seems to be one of the easiest ways to track your growth. Reading back on old journal entries is really eye-opening (and embarrassing!!) and can help you see how you are changing and have changed.

Write A Letter To Your Future Self

Write your future self a letter. Add what your hopes are for yourself during your trip, how you would like to become better, what  things you would like to see change. Label the outside ("open in two weeks", or "open when you're feeling discouraged"), seal it up and  hold onto it until the end of your trip.

Reading your letter can be quite an amazing experience. You will be able to see where you started and where you are now. Its an awesome way to reminisce on your time abroad and think of specific experiences that helped you grow.

We have a list of 15 letter prompts right here you might love. 

Video Blogs

Like journaling, this is a super easy way to see your growth and progress, without all the writing.   Keep a consistent video log of what you are doing, how it is living abroad and all the things you are learning. If you're consistent, you'll have a record of what your thoughts were like before and after an entire semester of living abroad. We're betting you could really see yourself really change.

Coming Home

One of the easiest ways to truly see your progress is when you actually get home!  You'll perceive things differently and people tend to notice a difference in you as well. A semester living abroad  will have forever shaped you — just like it changed these volunteers. 


Ready for that trip abroad? Volunteer with International Language Programs(ILP) for a semester!  ILP offers humanitarian programs and exchange programs all over the world. Click that button below to learn more!

Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering, Tips For Your Twenties


We are ILP, a Utah based non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We're sharing all our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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