Studying abroad is one of the most exciting times during a student’s college career because you get to study what you are passionate about while exploring and immersing yourself in a different country. Since technology has become such a large aspect of everyday life, it has become extremely difficult for people to go five or ten minutes without pulling their phone out of their pocket and mindlessly checking social media, texting, playing a game, etc., and since you are in a new place and experiencing new things, the urge to pull out your phone is even stronger.
When you study abroad and are out exploring, it is so easy to whip out your phone and take hundreds of pictures. Trust me, I’m guilty. But when you do that, it is so easy to get lost behind your lens and not realize the beauty and history that is surrounding you. You might study in London (like I did) and want a picture in a red telephone booth or with Big Ben (I took both), or maybe you study in Australia and want a picture with the Sydney Opera House. While wanting to take these types of pictures are completely understandable, try not to get so caught up in taking “the perfect picture” or capturing the moment for later because it will receive a certain amount of likes on social media. Another thing to remember when you are doing being mindful of photography is that you may not be taking into consideration the culture and beliefs/values of the locals. It is very important to take a step back and realize that the kind of picture you are taking may not be appropriate/the norm in that city.
While I hope it isn’t, studying abroad may be the only time you are in that city/country, so it is important to take full advantage of every second you have. By spending most of your time focusing on taking the perfect picture with just the right angle and then finding that filter that really makes it look good, you may miss out on seeing some amazing things/places. For me, how I feel when looking at a picture I took on my phone doesn’t even compare to the satisfaction of actually being able to remember being in a place (the people around me, sights, smells, etc.).
Now, I’m not saying do not take any pictures while you study abroad. By all means, take the pictures you want to take (and the ones that your mom and dad really want to see), but before you pull out your phone or camera, think about where you are and the people that are around you that you may capture. Then, just make sure that you stop and take a minute to look around and simply embrace what you are seeing and where you are, because it may be the only opportunity you have to see that city/country.
Bailey Babcock is a sophomore studying Integrated Strategic Communication/Business. She participated in the UK Consortia program CCSA London Winter in December 2015.