My year abroad and how my relationship with social media changed
I arrived in London on September 12, 2017. Heart racing that I’ve finally made it to a place I’ve dreamed of coming to since I was young… or since I watched Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging. After months of preparations and bumps in the road, it led to this moment, me in front of baggage claim with too much luggage and my cell phone in hand to capture the moment. Three test shots of just the ground itself with my luggage and London location tag I was ready to go. I decided on this one:
I met up with the international students and people from my Uni who came to get us. I remember being on the bus to Uni and everyone snapping their surroundings and suddenly feeling like crap for not having international service. I’d have to wait until I got to my flat to be able to upload my travels from the airport to campus. As soon as I grabbed my room key, there was a note on the desk with wifi access, London map, and more on how to get around town. With wifi in hand I uploaded a snap of my room, then I went into town and kept my Snapchat updated from everything I bought to a British pug I spotted outside the store.
As my first month in London came to an end, my Snapchat and Instagram stories were always updated. But that was no different from when I was back home, from the moment I woke up I grabbed my phone to say good morning. And then I would take a picture of breakfast followed by me getting ready to start my day. This was my everyday, me seeing what my friends are doing and vice versa, this was nothing new to me. The only difference was since I was abroad I felt if I didn’t post it, it didn’t happen. And I wanted to be able to show everything I saw the moment I arrived.
By the time I took my first trip out of London to visit Scotland, it had hit me just how frequently I had needed to keep my socials up and present. Even uploading to my Facebook story ( wow have I hit rock bottom ) I hardly ever use Facebook. But, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to show the beautiful view from Arthurs Seat.
Once back in London a couple days later I started my job, my posting became a little less consistent as I was juggling work, grad school, and hanging out with friends. However, the holidays were right around the corner, and that means multiple photo opportunities of the beautiful décor and lights from Winter Wonderland to Oxford Street. London is gorgeous around the holidays, and from the end of November into the New Year all festivities were documented.
It’s crazy to believe my mind worked liked that. I began to hate the feeling of thinking I had to post everything, I wasn’t living in the moment I was recording to watch back later. And by February after a trip to Amsterdam and Paris, I decided it was time for a break. I sat at my desk one day and deleted all of my social media apps and from the middle of February until the first week of March. I began more self-care and taking in my surroundings. The first week I noticed as soon I got up I would grab my phone, and my thumb would go directly to where my previous apps were. However, by the end of the week, I got up right away and started my day and was saving so much more time and actually texting and having conversations with my friends. Instead of just checking their Snapchat stories and writing a quick response.
My first social media break taught me I don’t need to capture everything and take each day as it is, and not by how many people view my day. So, checking my timeline and feed was no longer a must, it was if I have some time to scroll I would. And it’s always good to step back and take a break no explanation needed besides mental health first.
My second social media break came at the end of May into the last week of June. This time stemming from realizing a lot of friendships are solely digital, and the only source of commonalities is the humor in memes we tag each other in. Therefore, I needed another cleanse of just wanting to take a step back and get off my phone and just enjoy my summer.
My second break taught me a lot of things in life are trial and error, and it’s easy for me to fall back into old habits. I finished my year abroad and came back to New York the first week of September. And my relationship with social media now is definitely at a better level, and for the sake of everyone, there are no longer post from the start of my day to the end. I don’t post every day, and I go days without even checking my apps (without having to delete them). My mindset is no longer if I don’t post it, it didn’t happen, and this is not to say its not okay to show your excitement when you travel somewhere new, it may work for some. But, for me it's easy to fall back into oversharing.
What are your opinions on social media and how has it impacted you? Leave a comment below, and also what are some other questions you have on study abroad ? I have more blog posts coming soon.