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.