It’s exciting, isn’t it? Here you are, a few months/weeks from actually going on your study abroad program! You must be looking forward to crossing countries off your bucket list, whilst taking many, many photos and making memories along the way.
But you must also want to bring back a unique memento from each place as a meaningful way to remember your time abroad. Though stockpiling generic and cheap souvenirs in all shapes and sizes will be such a pain to store and look at. It’ll be hard to remember your memories fondly, if you have a pile of knick-knacks that just look messy!
Well, don’t fret! Here’s a list of the top souvenirs you can consider bringing home from your study abroad program and how to store and display them!
This is a safe choice, and is definitely a timeless classic! Postcards are definitely one of the most compact, convenient and cheapest souvenirs that you can find anywhere in the globe. You can pick and choose the picture that you’d want to best remember the place by.
We would recommend sending yourself a postcard from each of the countries/places that you visit. Write about your trip so far, the quirky memories you made or even draw whatever you’d like! It’ll be a slight inconvenience making time to buy stamps and looking for a post box/office, but you’ll feel fulfilled seeing your collection grow over time. And to think, you’ll even receive postcards from yourself months after your study abroad program has ended, what a neat and sentimental surprise!
For storing: Purchase photo albums that have transparent cells, this way you can look at the front and back of your postcards with ease!
Travel tip to European study abroad students: If you ever find yourself near Rovaniemi, Finland, consider visiting Santa Claus’ Main Post Office in Santa Village! They have a wide range of delightful Christmas postcards (stamped with a special Arctic Circle postmark) that you can order and it’ll be sent just before Christmas of that year! For more info, click this link!
2. Pins and Patches
Other safe choices to consider bringing home are sew-on patches and pins! Like postcards, patches and pins are compact, convenient and cheap!
What makes sew-on patches so great is that you can use them to customize your bags, your clothing (like bombers or jean jackets) or even for a blanket or a quilt! Patches definitely have a lot of versatility! It’s a little more work than postcards, but it’ll definitely make for a great conversation starter!
For pins, though you can also wear them, we think they look their shiny best when displayed as a collection. As with any souvenir, it’s best to look for the most unique finds! The best way you can do that is by supporting local artisans who create these souvenirs, keep an eye out for these less mainstream hole-in-the-wall stores!
For storing: For patches, you can sew or iron on bags, clothes, blankets, etc.
You can also display your pins and patches on cork boards or shadow boxes (such as this one), which makes adding new pins and patches so easy!
Sometimes, the most memorable moment from your visit to any city is setting your sights on its most famous and iconic landmarks for the first time. It’s one thing to research about it online and see pictures of it on the Internet, it’s another thing entirely to make the journey and actually see it for yourself! Be it the Taj Mahal, the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower, seeing these world-renowned landmarks in the flesh will take your breath away!
What better way to recapture that moment than by purchasing a miniature replica of that landmark! Who knows, collect enough mini-landmarks and you’ll have a mini city consisting of the world’s most iconic landmarks from all your travels!
Tip: Look into purchasing Lego sets of miniature landmarks! This way all your collectible landmarks match in an aesthetically-pleasing way!
For storing: Reserve some decorative space for it at home, be it on a shelf or a table.
4. Local clothing/sports team jerseys
Have you ever considered wearing a piece of your host country’s culture? Be open to the different iconic fashion pieces that your host country is known for. It’ll be a wonderful addition to your wardrobe, as well as a great experience to be literally enrobed in your host country’s culture.
When traveling to other cities/countries, consider if there are different styles and fashion pieces you would be able to look into as well.
Not that adventurous with fashion? You can always purchase and collect local sports team jerseys instead to support! Be it baseball, football or basketball jerseys, you’ll be sure to find something that’ll fit your tastes! You can even check if your favorite nike/adidas sneakers are released in a unique colorway, only exclusive to that country/region!
For storing: Make sure to have space in your luggage for the flight home. I would recommend not bringing that much clothing abroad, that way you’ll be on the lookout for clothing pieces to add!
5. Bus, Train, Plane Tickets!
Now this goes without saying that when you’re studying abroad, you’re probably planning to travel A LOT. And sometimes, the most obvious souvenirs you can bring home are the ones you have right under your nose! So when going from one city/country to another during the weekends, always make sure to keep and collect all the tickets you’ll use on your commutes (includes all the stamps you can collect on your passport from your flights!).
It’ll not only help you keep track of the countries you’ve visited, but it’ll be a heck of a ticket collection once you compile it all together!
For storing: There are plenty of ticket albums that you can purchase online! You can also create a collage using all the tickets and then frame.
Coming home from a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad experience does feel really bittersweet, believe me, I’ve been there. But having some keepsakes and souvenirs that call back to your memories from your time abroad is a great way to not only to comfort yourself, but to also spark conversation with those who’ve missed you while you were gone!
Any other souvenirs not on the list that you think would be great for collecting, storing and displaying? Comment below and let us know!
And while you’re here, check out MiTravel: we’re a small team trying to reimagine how group travel planning is done. Check this link to see how we envision the future for group travel and sign-up to join our waitlist. We will be launching the MiTravel Planning Board this summer!