Hi everyone! My name is Kimberly Wilson, and I am the new Mandy’s Mashups social media intern. My role here will be updating the blog, website, and Facebook page, as well as brainstorming other ways to branch out with new projects.
I am currently on track to graduate in May from Clemson University with a degree in Spanish & International Health, so the International Education aspect of Mandy’s Mashups really appealed to me. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Spain to study and intern. Thanks to these experiences, I have developed a passion for travel, studying abroad, and all things international, so I am incredibly excited to merge this interest with social media.
I will be very honest and admit that I have ZERO experience using social media in a professional setting. I, like all college students these days however, have plenty of personal experience using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, among other social media sites.
What else are we supposed to do during a 90 min lecture when the next exam is weeks away??
It has been enlightening to see, however, that social media can actually be something productive and useful, not just a time-waster when putting off that ten page paper or final chemistry exam (or cheMISERY as I liked to call it).
By working as an intern with Mandy’s Mashups, I hope to continue expanding my knowledge of social media’s professional functions as well as its relation to international education. What are your first experiences with social media? Did you jump on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon from the start or did you hold out until it was only completely necessary to have an account?
Please feel free to write me with any suggestions for the website and social media channels below as a comment or through the contact form!
From time to time I like to include posts by student guest bloggers. I think then people in international education and people in general can better understand the true impact of social media and the variety of technologies used.
In this student guest blog, Edward talks about how video blogging connected him to home during his semester abroad in Italy. I hope you enjoy. (Please note that I do not alter the text of my guest bloggers other than to correct grammar and punctuation.)
Remember the first time you moved out from home, the excitement and wonder that accompanied the frustration and craziness of gathering your belongings and making the trip to your new place? Well I certainly do, even if the duration at my new location was only to be a few months. I had never lived away from home before, having relied on my mom and dad for the cooking, cleaning, and emotional support I needed my entire live. So living in Italy while studying at Temple University's Rome Campus was certainly going to be an adventure for me, and it sure was.
Now, to give you a little background on why I chose to study in Rome: I had been studying Italian and the Italian culture for about seven years, so I was gut-set on going to Italy. I chose to do a homestay over the traditional American apartment system that was run through Temple Rome. I wanted to do this to further my studies of the language and the culture, because as all good teachers say: “the best way to learn is by doing”. I am also seeking an International Business degree, so I jumped all over the opportunity to work as an intern in Rome as well. Being accepted into the homestay and the internship programs certainly helped to raise my expectations of my study abroad experience.
I was fortunate to choose Temple University for my undergraduate program, as not only does it have two campuses abroad in Rome and Tokyo, but it also has a department called the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER). To be perfectly honest with you, I had no idea CIBER existed until I was contacted by Gloria Angel, one of the assistant directors of the department, to run a blog site while abroad. My thoughts drifted to all the other unsuccessful attempts of recording my life over the years: a diary my mother gave me which had only three pages filled in and a Blogger site I created a year before that had been completely lost in the internets. Needless to say, I was slightly hesitant to accept this responsibility, having to record a video blog with follow-up text each week of my study abroad experience for the entire term. But, with the promise of being able to keep the $200 Flip camera I would be using, I accepted the task.
The camera came with a list of topics that Ms. Angel recommended for me to talk about during my blogging experience. She asked that I film a blog before I left and once I returned, as to both talk about my expectations and fears before leaving and reflect on my experience and what goals I accomplished when I returned. I was also told not to do any retakes so that those observing the blog could get the most out of what I was feeling at the time.
I can vividly remember filming my first blog before I left, how nervous I was to say the right thing and also to make sure that my face was constantly on camera. But once I shared everything that I wanted to talk about, there was an intense feeling of relief, as I got a lot of worries and anxieties off my chest. It was from this point on that I realized this camera and the blogging experience was going to be instrumental in making my experience the best it could be.
Each week before recording the blog and writing the little excerpt on the WordPress site I would try to reflect on how the week went, what I did, how I was feeling, certain concerns of mine for the future, etc. I found that this reflection helped me to understand where I was emotionally, as it was hard being away from my large family for so long. The woman I lived with in the homestay was 69 years old and did not speak any English, nor did she have any desire to learn English or teach me Italian.
I did not prepare myself for little to no contact with my family members while I was abroad. I did not know that I would not have a phone to use a calling card in order to touch base with those back home. I was not aware that this older Italian woman would not have internet in her house for me to use Skype to contact those I love. Email and Facebook basically became the only way I could speak with my friends and family. This hurt me, as normally every day when I went home back in the states, I would reflect on how my day went with my family, both good and bad things, just so I could express the day's events to someone. But now living with a woman who did not really want to speak with me and having very little chance to talk with my family and friends, I was finding difficulty in expressing these feelings. This is where the blog helped: every time I recorded myself on the camera, it gave me that ability to express myself as I normally did at home. That blog took the place of my family, friends, relatives, and co-workers who I normally could depend on to share my life experiences. Obviously I did not pour out my heart and soul into those video blogs that I posted online, but it did make me feel much better to be able to tell everyone what I was doing and how I was feeling.
A few months after my trip I received some comments from future study abroad students on my blog site who had questions and concerns about studying abroad. I was elated to answer these questions and help them out and immediately I watched all my blogs again in order of first to last. It certainly brought a smile to my face as I watched them, remembering exactly where I was, what I was doing, and how I was feeling as I filmed them. It allowed me to almost fully relive my study abroad experience. I tend to do this now and again, just to remember how great my time over there was.
It is slightly strange then that I would stop blogging myself even after this wonderful encounter I had with my blog. As I write this, I keep asking myself why I did in fact stop, and I cannot find any good reasons other than I am just being lazy. It is true that I, just like many other people out there, do not think that I live an interesting life, but this is indeed false. We all have experiences to share, feelings to convey, and memories to record and blogging is the best way to come to experience this revelation.
Thank you Ms. Angel for this rewarding opportunity.
About the Guest Blogger
My name is Edward Lieber and I am a 22 year old fifth year student at Temple University. I am currently seeking a two majors in International Business and Economics as well as three minors in Italian, French, and Management Information Systems.
I reside with my parents in my hometown of Rockledge, PA, a small borough right on the outskirts of Northeast Philadelphia. I enjoy spending time with friends and family as well as playing video games, sports and eating food. I am a fan of foreign cultures and hope to someday be fluent in all of the Romance languages.
I studied abroad in Rome through Temple in the Fall 2010 semester and kept a video blog of my experience as well as tips for students who would be studying there after me. The blog can be found here: http://www.fox.temple.edu/blog/rome2010/
I hope you enjoyed my first student guest blogger. Here is another perspective on the use of social media in study abroad from a student who recently studied abroad in Italy.
I really hope those reading are able to see the huge impact social media has on students and how they can effectively make use of it while studying abroad.
Here is what Christine has to say.
Studying abroad is a terrifying and fantastic experience for any 20 year old. Me? I was definitely nervous to board the long exchange of flights that would land me in Florence, Italy on that very hot day in September, 2009. I was afraid that my Italian wasn’t good enough, that I forgot something (or brought too much), that I would have a hard time making friends, and the list went on and on. What I wasn’t nervous about was being able to keep in contact with friends from home. I knew that Skype was on my side for these 4 months and that I could see and hear my friends almost any time I wanted. The thing was, how was I going to keep them updated on ALL of the crazy and amazing things I was doing? I knew we couldn’t Skype for hours a day. The answer was (and still is) simple: Social Media.
As a student blogger, and later Online Media and Communication Coordinator for the Founders Society, our ambassador society on campus, I was one of the biggest social media users at SMC. I was to continue using my blog to keep family, friends, and most importantly prospective students and families, updated on my adventures abroad. Since I have been blogging since the end of freshman year, this was no issue. I expected to blog more often, have more interesting things to say, and hopefully have a nice collection of memories in my blog after my semester had ended. What I didn’t expect was how my social media world was going to expand while I was abroad.
Before leaving for Florence, I started a Twitter account. I linked this to my blog and began to accrue followers, follow others, and learn to tweet. I had also always posted occasional videos and photos to my blog. However, with study abroad comes LOTS of media to share with others. So, I opened up a YouTube Account, as well as Flickr. I actually ended up opening several Flickr accounts because of monthly uploading limits. From then on out I thought myself the master of media. I could pop videos and slideshows into my posts like it was nothing, and I did. My parents loved the videos, and I knew my readers and friends could really feel like they had experienced my trips with me. Most of all, I wanted potential SMC students to see what great things they could do while studying at Saint Michael’s. Social media allowed me to still feel like I was communicating with family and friends AND doing my job as a blogger for SMC.
It was not until I returned home from abroad that I began to use YouTube and Flickr in new ways, helping to integrate it into the Saint Michael’s College Blogs (www.smcblogs.com). I have since also learned much more about effective tweeting, and feel that Twitter is one of the best ways to keep in touch with others. I haven’t seen my best friends from abroad since we returned home, but I feel that we see each other often because we are engaged through twitter. We keep up on Facebook too, where I also posted ALL of my abroad photos as my semester went on.
The nicest thing about having kept a blog and used social media abroad? When I returned home for Christmas, my dad had made me a photo memory book containing all of my blog posts and tons of my Facebook photos. It is like a photo diary of my time abroad, all made possible by my social media efforts.
Christine Amoresano is a recent graduate of Saint Michael’s College in
Colchester, Vermont. She graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Psychology and
was active in many activities during her college career, including varsity
swimming, admissions, campus ministry, and community service. Christine spent
the Fall 2009 semester abroad in Florence, Italy with Academic Programs
International. While there, she traveled to 5 other countries, learned to paint
and cook, and ran the Florence Marathon.
This post is the first post in hopefully a continuous series and revolves around students who have or are studying abroad and have or are using social media while abroad.
I am starting this series because many people have asked me - "How do you know if students are actually using these various forms of social media?" I figured rather than me tell you about it I would get the story straight from the users themselves.
So I will be asking several current and former study abroad students who I know have used some form of social media while abroad how social media affected their time abroad as well as how they used social media while abroad.
Here is what one student has to say:
This spring semester, I’ve been studying abroad in southern Spain to improve my Spanish and to live in and understand another culture. Before coming here, I had a blog that I used for my experience in technical theater at my college and beyond, since that is my chosen career track; and I decided to upkeep the blog while abroad despite the fact that I knew I wouldn’t have a lot to do with theater here.
Working on my blog while abroad has been a great experience. I know my family, even my grandma, can keep up with my traveling and enjoy my pictures. It’s better than a personal journal because while I write small things in that journal, on my blog I write about the big things and details about traveling. It’s a perfect record that I can look back on later, and since it’s in the public domain I know the things I included were things I felt were worth reading and sharing.
Facebook and Skype have also been a big part of my time here. I don’t know how I would have made it without being able to talk to my boyfriend, friends, and family at home. Studying abroad is a roller coaster every day, and when you have strong relationships you want to share every little new experience with someone you love. With Facebook, I can post fun facts about Spain that no one really knows to my friends’ walls; I can watch videos of the theater events and other fun things that happen at school; I can get the personal news from home; and I’ve kept in touch with people that I would have regretted losing.
I was worried at first that spending too much time online, even if it was to update my blog, would cut into my experience here. My parents didn’t even want me to bring my computer, but I knew I’d need it for schoolwork and brought it along. And the truth is I do spend some time online almost every day…but it’s all a balancing act. I don’t think I will look back on my time here and have regrets, because I took every opportunity to go hiking, to take pictures in the city, to go on excursions even when no other Americans were there, and to try new things. In fact, keeping up with social media has really made my experience here even better because I can share these adventures with the people I’m close to and allow them to enjoy Spain with me.
Keelia Liptak is a junior theater major at Saint Michael's College. She has worked extensively in the central Vermont area in various theaters. She is currently studying abroad with Academic Programs International in Granada, Spain. This summer Keelia will be working as an electrics intern at the Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, NY, on Long Island. For more information, please visit http://backstageatsmc.blogspot.com/
This blog is all about social media. I hope to offer tips, tricks, advice and more on using social media within international education and international travel.