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/
If you studied abroad and used social media and are interested in being a guest blogger, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.