Social media provides dynamic spaces to share your study abroad story. That story begins the moment you decide to go and continues long after you return home.
The idea is not to be glued to your computer all day but to thoughtfully use social media to engage your community throughout your study abroad experience.
Curate Your Study Abroad Story
Curation means carefully choosing, creating, and sharing visually or conceptually interesting content via a distribution outlet, in this case, social media. People gravitate towards content that conveys particular themes, messages, or moods but tend to ignore an information dump. (A classic example of an info-dump is the rambling travelogue…. “Then I did this and went here and saw this and met so and so.”) Try one of the following or come up with your own idea (and share it with us below in the comments!)
- Take a photograph every day of a part of your daily routine (ie taking a bus to class, going to market, etc.) and put it your Instagram.
- Connect your experience to a larger context. For example, write a concise blog or post a photo on Facebook featuring a local festival and link it to a documentary or news article explaining that event.
- Create a Pinterest boards or hashtag to explore a particular aspect of your journey, like learning a new language. (#BeBilingual or @IHeartTurkish) and then post two or three thoughts daily about that experience.
- Feature Pinterest boards that showcase different aspects of your study abroad experience, like (People I See Everyday, My Neighborhood, Food, etc.) The possibilities are endless but remember– curate!
Crowd Source Wisdom and Advice: Ask Questions
Somebody you know has studied abroad. Somebody you know speaks the language of the people you will meet in your host country or knows whether the bus or train is a better mode of transport in a particular region. It is a good idea to look to your program advisors for advice, but use social media as well to ask questions and elicit specific feedback. For example, Hey everyone! I’m going to Ecuador next semester to study biology and brush up on my Spanish. Can anyone recommend a good book about Ecuador or biology in that part of the world?
Crowdfund to Pay for Program Expenses
It may be that personal savings, financial aid and scholarships aren’t going to cover all of your program expenses. Mobilize your community to support your educational travel goals by using sites like Project Travel. (Full disclosure, I help students successfully reach their goals as a member of the Project Travel team!)
Participate in Study Abroad Communities & Forums
There are many ways for you as a study abroad student to connect on social media with other program participants, study abroad alumni, and people from your host country. Check to see if your program provider or university has a study abroad Facebook page, Twitter feed, or other social media spaces. Conduct more general searches on the social media platform of your choice to find community forums dedicated to study abroad. You may be able to interact with staff and advisors in those spaces, network, gain new insights, or share a great resource.
Leverage Social Media to Win a Scholarship
Most study abroad scholarships select winners based on the quality of an essay, academic merit, and/or financial need. Now, some scholarships incorporate the use of social media into the application process, which means you can leverage your social capital to earn financial capital!