Social media alters study abroad experiences
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 20:02
With the rising use of smartphones and Wi-Fi, students studying abroad use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr over winter session to share their international experiences.
The university encouraged students to stay connected through social media by appointing student ambassadors for each trip that tweet and share Instagram photos for their programs and create contests based on the pictures
Elizabeth Adams, communications coordinator for the Institute of Global Studies, said students enjoy sharing their experiences on social media.
“The students all have different opportunities offered from the 50 plus programs offered at UD through IGS, and any way they can share their experience is great for UD,” Adams said. “It not only promotes the university and our study abroad programs, but opportunities for students everywhere.”
The university strongly promotes their winter study abroad programs because few other universities offer five-week programs to study with faculty in exotic locales, Adams said.
The Office of Communications and Marketing chooses the student ambassadors for each study abroad trip, while the IGS gives some study abroad scholarships that require students to share their photos and experiences with the department.
Junior Ashley Paulos studied abroad in Italy during winter session and used a special twitter account, @BlueHenAshleyP, to tweet about her time abroad and regularly used the hashtag, “#UDabroad,” which enabled students to search for other tweets that students posted from abroad.
The Institute of Global Studies also runs a contest each year to find the best study abroad picture, and this year they added videos to the contest.
“We get epic, phenomenal pictures each year,” Adams said.
Last year’s winning photo depicted a student on the coast of the southern tip of South America staring at a penguin. Adams said the contest’s photos put the idea of studying abroad into more students’ heads.
Other students who studied abroad found it difficult to keep up with social media, such as sophomore Tara McKeon. She studied abroad in Fiji during the winter and said it wasn’t easy to stay connected.
“We had to buy wifi pretty much everywhere we went,” McKeon said. “Many people would split the cost for a day and trade off using it. That was the only way we stay connected.”
Junior Erica Firestone studied abroad in Vietnam and Cambodia during winter and had a similar experience.
“It wasn’t entirely easy to stay connected all the time,” Firestone said. “The Internet was always on and off and made the chances less likely that I would get in touch with someone back home. I made it work, though, and stayed connected almost every day.”
McKeon said she enjoyed following other students who posted their study abroad experiences on social media.
“It makes me want to go on more trips and post my own pictures so people could see what our time was like,” McKeon said.