Suggestions and Advice on Writing Web Journals
Why submit journals to the RYE-Southeast website?
Over the years, we have found that our website is visited by thousands of viewers, from here and from abroad, including Rotarians, host families, and current, past, and potential exchange students. The journals are the most interesting and, in many ways, the most important part of the website. Many students decide to apply for this program, or develop their preference for certain countries, because of the journals they read. So the words you write will impact many, many others.
And of course, it’s something we expect you to do as part of your responsibilities as an exchange student.
How often should I send in a journal?
We expect to hear from you every two months. If it’s been three months since you sent in a journal (or three months since you started your exchange), you can expect to start receiving reminders.
What should I write?
Certainly, we want to know about your activities, but if you read the journals of other students, you’d probably agree that the more interesting ones are those that look inward. Writing about your feelings, your view of cultural differences, your language progress, and other accomplishments, and so on—those are the subjects that make the most fascinating journals. A journal that says, “I went to this tourist attraction, and it was fun,” is almost like the generic traveler’s postcard that reads, “Having a wonderful time. Wish you were here.”
What if I have trouble with spelling or grammar?
Even though English may be the first language for outbound students, that doesn’t mean they know how to write properly. We might do some clean-up on all journals, fixing spelling and grammatical errors to an extent, while not removing the “character” that they contain. However, there are some favors that we would ask, to make our editing process a bit easier. A far-from-complete list:
- The first person singular pronoun, I, should always be capitalized.
- Spell-checker is not the same as meaning-checker. Countless times, we have received journals from students claiming that they “defiantly” enjoyed something. Unless they are truly being defiant, they most likely intended to use the word “definitely”.
- Try to understand the difference between it’s and its – the former is a contraction for “it is;” the latter a possessive pronoun. The same is true of you’re and your.
- You will amaze and impress the editor if you can correctly distinguish between there, their, and they’re. This is correct: “They’re on their way over there.” This is not: “Their is no way there going to get they’re way.”
- A comma is not a way to string together dozens of sentences. Proper use of commas, along with appropriate paragraph breaks, make a journal much easier to read.
- “Rotary” and “Rotarian” start with a CAPITAL R.
Again, your journal won’t be rejected because of errors, and you’re certainly not going to be graded on these, but the less time we have to spend cleaning up the journals, the more time we have to plan fun activities and other good things for exchange students!
What about photos?
We LOVE receiving photos with your journals. Here are some important points to remember:
- Photos are to be included in the form with your journal. Photos sent later might not be posted.
- Downsize your photos before you send them. When published to our website, all photos are downsized to 1000px wide, 72dpi, so you can save us all some time by transmitting them in that size. How do you do that? You probably have some kind of photo editing program on your computer. If not, you might try Pixlr, a free online tool. It’s available at https://pixlr.com.
- Each file uploaded field is limited to 10MB per submission.
- Each submission can only have up to 20MB submitted at one time.
- Provide captions to make things more interesting for those that read your journal.
- My host Rotary Club president looks stunned at my fluency!
- I climbed Mont Blanc to get this view.
- Me looking so cool in my stylish school uniform.
- Pick your best photos (preferably with people in them, not just tourist sites), and send them along.