Using your study abroad experience beyond college

Guest Posting By: Missy Gluckmann, Founder of MelibeeGlobal.com

Commencement-mania is here! It is that timeless season when students suffer from exhaustion, senioritis, relief and Facebook photo album induced nostalgia. Family and friends appear for celebrations, money is gifted and the job search is officially underway!

Students reflect on those moments that are impossible to replicate – the first time meeting a roommate, that first cafeteria meal (who will I sit with?), and the first class that required reading books and not chapters. For some, this will also include the first time getting on a plane to experience an academic program abroad. Memories will spill over…that first academic field trip on foreign soil, when you made your first “local” friend, the day you successfully ordered a coffee in a new language, and the first time you really understood that culture makes a difference. There were endless moments of learning and many were captured in your study abroad evaluation.

Being home for some time now, you have likely experienced re-entry shock – that feeling of discomfort, awareness, re-adjustment and sometimes plain ‘ol confusion that your home country is a bit harder to understand than you ever imagined! Please don’t worry – everyone goes through some form of re-entry – whether it is the mild kind (I miss the breakfast I ate abroad every morning) to the more difficult variety (I’m feeling straight up depressed and want to be abroad again NOW!) These videos may offer some comfort as you continue to reflect on your time abroad.

And now you’re home, constantly reminded that higher education is highly revered in the US. Being able to announce the job that you landed as a result of that degree or the graduate school that you were accepted to (hopefully, with a scholarship to enhance family bragging rights) is a rite of passage. The pressure that comes with the questions you hear daily – “You haven’t gotten a job yet?” or “Where are you interviewing?”- can make diving head first under the nearest rock seem like a completely reasonable move.

However, there are perks of this “down time,” despite the challenges of defining the next chapter of your journey. Without mainstream campus culture’s requirements of all-nighter study sessions, you now have time to reflect upon your education abroad experience and to revisit your published evaluation at StudyAbroad101.com. Reading back to your program review can provide some powerful memories. You can re-examine what you learned abroad and how those lessons can help you as you consider the path ahead.

Reflecting upon your own written words from your review and your own re-entry, you are able to consider how you’d answer those same questions today. While revisiting your review, I’d recommend taking out a piece of paper (or journal, if you write in one) and asking yourself these questions:

1)    Where have I grown the most?

2)    What three words would I use to describe how I’ve changed as a result of this experience abroad?

3)    What three skills learned abroad am I most of proud? Why?

4)    What data and skills learned from academic classes and experiences abroad am I still applying in my daily life?

5)    Am I satisfied with my level of knowledge from my academic program abroad or do I wish to pursue more?

6)    If applicable, have I continued developing my host country’s language skills? If not, what can I do to move that learning forward?

7)    What critical incidents abroad would I process differently now with some time and space behind me?

8)    How have those lessons impacted who I am and how I respond under pressure?

9)    What would I expand upon in my written evaluation if given a second chance to write it?

Reflecting on your review through these types of questions provides an opportunity to develop new goals. For example, if you reached a low intermediate level of Spanish abroad, perhaps now is the time to sign up for a language exchange in your community or to take a free online language program such as at www.duolingo. Or if you’ve discovered that you really enjoyed learning about your host country’s indigenous population, you may want to explore diversity more at home through volunteering or watching documentaries on the subject from your local library.

Your study abroad review, if thoughtfully written, also creates an opportunity to market yourself during networking and interviews. For example, when someone asks you about your time abroad, you can share your reflection driven “elevator speech” and offer to share your published review to illustrate your writing and analytical skills. This dialogue also creates a natural opportunity to ask for a business card or a LinkedIN invitation.

Reflection is an art form and your skillfully written words from your education abroad review are the canvas where you chose to paint your initial thoughts of self and skill developed as a critical part of the journey of crossing cultures. As you march boldly into the world seeking a job or the next level of education, remember to use the wisdom gleaned from experiences abroad. They can be a bridge to creating more opportunities than you ever imagined!

About the Author: Missy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing tools, speakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities. Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Abroad101 Newsletter – Late Spring 2014

 

Abroad101-reviews-logo-web

Greetings,

It’s a busy time of year those of us working in study abroad; students returning from spring semester abroad, new students for the summer term, production of promotional material for the next season of recruiting and the ritual of marketing and advertising budgets. Abroad101 looks forward to being included in each of these steps and thanks you for taking a few moments to review our progress.

Reviews are Good for Students
This is a message you’ll be hearing a lot more from Abroad101 – published reviews are good for the student! A well-written published review is a testimonial of a student’s experience abroad and should be used to the student’s advantage well after they return to campus. A well-constructed thoughtful review will give students an edge with employers, grad schools, and in other potential post-graduate opportunities. Reviews provide an opportunity to showcase the student’s writing, analytical skills and allows the student to make personal statements about the impact of their experience and personal discoveries. For the student, the power of a published review comes from both a reflection of the past and a pledge to the future. Links to it from resumes, cover letters and online profiles (like LinkedIn) should help the student better leverage the abroad experience in the future.

For the students leaving on summer programs, we suggest you include mention of the review process as part of the pre-departure orientation and in early stages of advising. Getting them thinking about reviews early in the term is never a bad idea!

Get More Reviews Through Tools in your Abroad101 Providers Account
As students complete their time abroad, we encourage you to invite them to tell their story and submit program reviews to Abroad101. Using the “invite tool” from your Abroad101 account portal is the most effective way to draw reviews as the links in our email messages make it easier for students to find their program. The system also tracks their progress sending them timely reminders to complete the process, if needed. Our invite tool produces much higher completion rates than your own email reminders or newsletters, plus using it will eliminate duplication if university advisors have already invited their students to submit a review.

Update/Bolster your Directory Listings on Abroad101: Get us Photos – “Search by Subject” is coming
Whether you participate with free or paid listings, summer is a great time to update your directory entries on Abroad101. Next to reviews, photos are the best way to improve the performance of your listings and photos of students in action are the most popular. Each listing on Abroad101 has one feature photo position; a thumbnail of the image shows in the directory and a larger version on the program page. You can upload a photo to this position and add up to 10 others for a slide show for each program through your account login/portal on Abroad101.

Today, most users navigate the site using city and country search options and links. Some users are drawn to the advanced search feature when looking for program options. This summer we will rollout a “search by subject” enhancement that will give users another tool to find programs that meet their academic area of interest. Updating your listings to include these details will help students find your programs. The directory features are available to all providers with free or paid listings.

The Student Lead API is coming
It’s been a few months since we began sending student inquiries directly to providers, and the response has been great. Student feedback has been positive too as this new process gets prospective students a quicker response. For our advertisers, soon the process will be even faster through our Student Lead API. This summer, the gateway will be opened and specs will be released detailing how you can get the lead data posted right into your CRM system when a student completes the form on Abroad101. Then, with a little bit of ingenuity you’ll then be able to auto-respond and communicate with the student seconds after they’ve sent the inquiry. That should impress students and really improve conversion rates!

Let us be Your Exclusive Review Provider
Our review management tool was designed for university advisors, but with a little modification we can make it provider friendly too. Our system is very flexible and our tech team very capable, so in exchange for us processing all your student reviews, we’re willing to offer some added features and functionality. There may be some modest cost, depending on your requirements but nobody knows review tools like Abroad101 – let us build something for you!

Did you know that over 30 universities require their students to complete reviews on Abroad101? Administrators at these universities are provided with extra tools to compare and report their students’ progress. Students meanwhile would love to have to do only one review and have it available to both the university and the provider. Our second API, scheduled for fall release will look to pass reviews to and from the Abroad101 system. It will make the single review a much smoother process and give providers a better way to display Abroad101 reviews on your website.

You can see the list of the standard set of 37 review questions here: http://blog.studyabroad101.com/2014/05/advisors-and-providers-the-abroad101-study-abroad-review-questions/

Doing our Part to Grow Study Abroad
Abroad101 is in a position to help expand participation in education abroad. By publicizing our ratings, rankings and reviews we give students and their families a sense of security in going abroad. With messaging centered on the future benefits of a well-crafted review, we will push the virtues of the international experience to employers, helping dispel some of the negative stereotypes of study abroad.

Another initiative is designed to provide direct support to students through a partnership we launched with GoEnnounce, an education oriented crowd-funding platform. The initiative sponsors one student each week, showcasing their mission to study abroad and proving them with a small amount of seed money. In turn, the families and supporters of the student will be asked to also contribute. Using reviews as an education tool, we intend to show those in the student’s direct circle some real life examples of the chosen program’s impact on similar young adults. When you see a link for our student of the week, please click it and please consider a modest contribution to help bring one more student abroad. One by one, step by step, we can build the numbers of students abroad and break down barriers that keep students from believing they can participate. Your contributions mean more than money; they are votes of confidence that ripple out to that student’s circle of support.

Your can read more about this initiative in the Abroad101 partnership with GoEnnounce press release – http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11829272.htm
or the “Crowd Funding for Study Abroad” article in The PIE News. http://thepienews.com/news/abroad101-sponsors-crowd-funding-campaigns/

Visit the Abroad101 booth (#1048) at NAFSA
If you are headed to NAFSA, please visit the exhibit hall and visit Abroad101 booth to pick up a few of the soon to be collectable Abroad101 T-Shirts. Not only will we have the usual heavy-duty men’s style, we’ll have lots of WOMEN’S cut T-Shirts. Bring some home for the interns and they’ll be sure to update those free listings!

Stop by and say hello to both Mark and Sherry Shay, you’ll find us in booth #1048 at the back of row 1000.

Press Release: Abroad101 and GoEnnounce Launch Student of the Week Sponsorship

Two Pioneering Websites Join to Help Students Fund Their Study Abroad Dreams

New York, NY (PRWEB) May 08, 2014

GoEnnounce, a platform for students to “ennounce” and track their educational achievements and fundraise for goals, and Abroad101, the world’s first and largest study abroad review website have launched the “Abroad101 Student of the Week” initiative, designed to help more students study abroad. The partnering education startups are tackling one of the primary barriers to study abroad– cost.

Each week, a student who created a “Mission” for a study abroad program on GoEnnounce will be selected. Abroad101 will contribute cash to the selected student’s fundraising efforts and promote that student’s GoEnnounce page through Abroad101’s connections in the study abroad field. The student’s “Mission” will link to their desired study abroad program’s reviews on Abroad101 allowing the student’s followers (friends and family) to read and gain insight as to the student’s choice.

The first student selected as the “Abroad101 Student of the Week” is Natalie Bahr, a sophomore at Concordia University Texas, who was accepted to an intensive study abroad program in the heart of Shanghai, China. She will immerse herself in the culture and society, while picking up eight credits towards her degree. With dreams of becoming an elementary school teacher, she thinks the knowledge and skills she will acquire on this trip will make her an even more effective teacher.

Melissa Davis, co-founder of GoEnnouce stated, “This project is an example of the power of an academically focused social media platform, in which a student’s followers can not only track the progress of the student, but also help contribute to the student’s goals.” Using a practice commonly referred to as “crowdfunding”, GoEnnounce gives students the tools to share a fundraising “Mission” with their network, and then collect donations online from the “crowd.” According to Davis, “The Abroad101 Student of the Week project will help many ambitious, hard-working students achieve their lifetime goal of studying abroad. Partnering with a well-connected company like Abroad101 will not only help individual students, but we also expect it to motivate additional students to start their own fundraising “Missions” to study abroad.”

Abroad101’s CEO Mark Shay points out that many parents and family members who may not have gone to college or studied abroad themselves have a hard time understanding the benefits of an international immersion. According to Shay, “We have more than 20,000 reviews on Abroad101, and each tells a story of a young person’s success, individual achievement and self-improvement. By bringing these experiences to the attention of future students and their supporters, we increase the awareness of the benefits of an experience abroad. Former students become virtual role models for future students and this helps draw friends and family to join the circle. It’s a very positive application of technology and social networking to help the dreams of tomorrow’s generation,” said Shay.

About Abroad101
Founded in 2007, Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website. Focusing on American college students looking for a semester or term abroad, this innovative platform connects past and future students, parents and advisors and program providers through its market-leading online evaluation tool. Abroad101 grew from one partnership at Tufts University in 2007 to over 215 college partnerships today. The Abroad101 directory of study abroad programs is the most comprehensive database in the field today. Click to learn more about Abroad101’s Study Abroad Programs, Rankings, Ratings and Reviews

About GoEnnounce
GoEnnounce gives students a place to tell their educational stories with their family, friends and mentors. It is a way for students to track and share their achievements, projects, and goals with their network to get the encouragement and financial help they need to succeed. All students’ school and extracurricular ‘ennoucement’ updates are saved in a social e-portfolio environment. A student’s followers can respond with likes, comments and even rewards into a college savings account. At anytime, a student can launch a fundraiser, to collect donations for goals and expenses. Click to learn more about the GoEnnounce’s social e-portfolio

Advisors and Providers: The Abroad101 Study Abroad Review Questions

Abroad101 has a 37-question survey of study abroad programs that has grown to be an industry standard. This review process is required at more than 30 universities and encouraged by providers and advisors at many others. As a standard set, these questions also give advisors and providers a means to benchmark their students against that of other institutions. In the spirit of creating best practice in the field, Abroad101 offers these time tested questions as a template for anyone looking to establish a review process for education abroad, we do hope that you will use our free tool to manage this process.

To start a study abroad review evaluation visit: https://www.studyabroad101.com/reviews/new

Download a pdf copy of our evaluation.

 

Advisors: Reminder to begin the Study Abroad Review process

Now is the best time to invite students to submit their study abroad program reviews. To manage this process we hope you will use the free service from Abroad101.

It’s Good for the Student:
Program reviews are not only good for home university advisors and program providers, but they are good for students. A well-written published review is a testimonial of a student’s experience abroad and should be used to the student’s advantage well after they return to campus. A well-constructed thoughtful review will give students an edge with employers, grad schools, and in other potential post-graduate opportunities. Reviews provide an opportunity to showcase the student’s writing, analytical skills and allows students to make personal statements on the impact of their experience and personal discoveries. For the student, the power of a published review comes from both a reflection of the past and a pledge to the future. Links to it from resumes, cover letters and online profiles (like LinkedIn) should help the student better leverage the abroad experience in the future.

It’s Good for the Advisor:
Thorough program reviews provide the ideal resource for good advising. Reviews that cover all aspects of the experience from pre-departure preparation to student accommodation, academic environment and safety can help the advisor stay current on program quality, the level of provider service and serve as an indicator to the success of future students. It is our experience that most students will resist surveys (it is human nature), so it is the advisors job to insist, because it is good for the student.

A published review with photos and personal statements and can lead the student to a degree of closure and as well as help them think about how their experience will benefit their future. Students will later come to realize the investment in time was well worth it, and may even thank you for it. Once the process gets established, future students come to expect the same and reviews will become part of the education abroad experience at your institution. In less time than it takes to reclaim their luggage from their return flight, a review charts a big step forward in their post-abroad future. At Abroad101 we provide the field’s best review management platform for advisors and we offer it free of charge.

It’s Good for the University:
More than 30 colleges and universities require their students complete a review on Abroad101. This gives them data for each student with the ability to export reviews as well as look at compiled statistics on performance. With reviews administered by Abroad101, university administrators now have a tool to measure the success of their study abroad enterprise and trend it over time.

It’s Good for the Provider:
Reviewing providers by individual program pushes the field to be attentive and accountable, and is a pro-active step to assure quality. The 37-question Abroad101 review looks at all aspects of the abroad experience and lets those who are with your students know that someone is looking and somebody will be reporting on their performance.

Abroad101 is a Name You Can Trust:
Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website. Now under the leadership of experienced professionals, you can trust us as a resource to help improve the field of education abroad. Abroad101 is the result of a lot of feedback from the field and now after 5 years of operations we not only have the most advisor friendly system, we have over 20,000 student testimonials published. Abroad101 has state-of-the art design, reliable data systems that are always monitored and a focus on service, so please join us.

Start Inviting Students Today!
If you already have an account with Abroad101, we remind you to use our “invite tool” to send your returning students their invitation to complete their Abroad101 review. Using this tool makes it easier to find their program and sends them timely reminders to complete the process. Our invite tool produces much higher completion rates than other email reminders.

If you think you have an account and lost your access (login or password), send an email to admin@Abroad101.com and we’ll get you active again.

If you don’t have an account, the process is Fast – Free and Easy. No contracts, service agreements or lengthy set-up. Simply send a request by email to admin@Abroad101.com and you’ll quickly be online. Please include your university email address and your job title and we’ll send you access to your portal and instructions to get started.

Talk to Us!
Most of the functions and features of Abroad101 originated from feedback from students, advisors and administrators. We are eager to build a better study abroad experience through Abroad101 and welcome further comments and suggestions. We also are more than happy to walk you through the site with an online demo or a phone call. PLEASE don’t hesitate to contact us:

By phone: +1-212-321-0928
By email: info@Abroad101.com
Online: http://www.StudyAbroad101.com
In Person: At NAFSA, booth #1048

Follow us on:
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/abroad101

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/studyabroad101
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/studyabroad101/

Thank you,

Mark Shay
CEO
Abroad101

Student Advice: How to Settle in quickly during your first week at university

Guest Blog Post:
For those studying abroad for a semester you’ll no doubt want to settle in as quickly as possible to get the most from your time at university, and those eager to get their fill of overseas student life will no doubt be ready and raring to go.

However, when you finally get a few minutes to relax from the perils of filling in forms, organising your student accommodation and working out where the nearest bar is, reality of the whole situation may kick in and it can be quite nerve wracking. Knowing what to expect and having the standard worries and concerns can get a bit much.

During your first week you’ll be meeting people, trying out all the new places and learning all about your course. Therefore making the most of this week is a really good idea to set yourself up for the rest of your time there.

Here are a few of our tips for making your first week one to remember for all of the right reasons:

1) Be open to new things
There will be so many opportunities to try new things in your first week so you should try and be as open as possible to trying new things to get the most out of your experience! A great way to bond with your new housemates in your student flats in London with Urbanest and other great halls is to check out all the local clubs together or all the themed nights out. This can be a great ice breaker and you’ll get to learn all about the amazing night life in your new city. If you hear of something that doesn’t normally sound like your thing, give it a go as it can be a great opportunity to meet people and surprise yourself.

2) Do your best to avoid the dreaded ‘freshers’ flu’
Freshers’ flu is said to affect 90% of students during their first few weeks at uni even when it’s not Freshers’ Week! Do your best to avoid becoming one of them by keeping your strength up, eating lots of fruit and vegetables and taking vitamins. Freshers’ flu is usually due to lots of alcohol consumption so don’t be afraid to take a night off from all the partying if you’re feeling unwell, and make sure you get plenty of rest. There’s more on freshers’ flu here.

3) Try to avoid spending all your money
Whilst it can be tempting to have a massive blowout of your bank balance during your first week, it will be less exciting when you have to survive on next to nothing until your next loan instalment. Aim to set a budget and don’t take your bank card with you on nights out as alcohol can make you feel surprisingly generous, and you don’t want a nasty shock the next day when you check your account!

4) Get involved with societies
Every university has a huge amount of different societies available for you to try and they’re a fantastic way to meet new people. Moving to a new university in a new country can be daunting but getting involved with clubs and societies can really help you settle in. Don’t worry about whether there’ll be something you enjoy – trust us; there will be!

Steve Fleming is a guest contributor from London as you can no doubt tell by his English!

Parents: Encourage Your Teen to See the World

Parents: encourage your teen to see the world and gain worthwhile experiences this summer!

For many teenagers, it can be tempting to spend summers off from school doing a whole lot of, well, nothing – going to the beach with friends here or there, sleeping in late, playing a few games of pick-up basketball, and basically just hanging out. And while it’s true that sufficient sleep is important for your growing kids, and some amount of downtime can also be a great idea — two and a half months of doing nothing but lounging around watching TV is maybe not the healthiest option.

Encouraging your teens to get out and have some worthy, productive summer experiences is super important – for you, and for them. This is especially true if your teen is hoping to go to college, and possibly even win a scholarship or two. After all, what’s going to look better to a college admissions board – months of sitting around at home, or a worthwhile volunteer program?

There are many different summer activities out there for high school students, but one of the best, and most beneficial, is the option of studying or volunteering abroad. High school study abroad has been on the rise for a few years now, and there are many reasons why:

1) Becoming proficient in a foreign language is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. And because younger students learn faster than college-aged students, your teen is more than likely going to be able to soak up another language pretty fast – giving him or her one awesome, marketable skill for the future.

2) Study abroad looks wonderful on college applications and resumes. Because it’s possible to earn college credit or community service hours while abroad, your child’s study abroad experience will signal to college admissions counselors that he or she takes academics seriously. In addition, study abroad really helps imbue students with vital global leadership skills and a more balanced, worldly perspective.

3) While abroad, your teen will receive a much richer education than a normal classroom would provide. Study abroad programs offer a chance to learn about a country’s language, history, and culture – while living in that country! This kind of in-depth, culturally-enriching education will be invaluable to your teen.

4) Gain good contacts and networking prospects for the future. You never know who you’ll meet when you seize an opportunity like the chance to study abroad. Other than gaining good skills for a future job (it’s not that far off!), it’s entirely probable that your child could make some worthy connections for the future – and possibly even score a potential summer internship or employment opportunity.

5) Studying abroad is an amazing experience. Your child will undoubtedly achieve new levels of maturity, focus, and tolerance while studying abroad – and, of course, it’ll be a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience!

And the best news? High school study abroad doesn’t have to be expensive! Many programs offer scholarships, financial aid, or fundraising guides. So, start encouraging your teen to get out in the world and have a life-changing study abroad experience!

Guest author-
Justine Harrington
Program Advisor | SPI Study Abroad

Study Abroad Rankings Released by Abroad101

Student reviews reveal highest rated study abroad programs, providers,
locations and more.

New York, NY (PRWEB) March 21, 2014

Abroad101, the world’s first and largest study abroad review website, has released its third annual Study Abroad Rankings today. The rankings compiled evaluations from students at over 200 US universities who attended short-term, credit-bearing study abroad programs overseas.

The 2013 rankings honor the highest-rated study abroad programs and locations by American students who have studied abroad. Under the direction of their academic advisors, students complete thorough online evaluations hosted by Abroad101 with both quantitative and qualitative responses. With a database of over 20,000 evaluations and 250,000 individual data points, the Abroad101 rankings provide an in-depth tally of student opinion on study abroad programs; 4,788 reviews were processed in the 2013 rankings.

Reflecting trends in study abroad, the 2013 Top 10 highest rated programs provide a wide range of program size, scope and location. The list has programs in popular study abroad destinations Florence, Sydney and Barcelona, as well as in new hotspots such as Heredia and Rabat. Two programs in Rome made the list and one provider had two programs in the top ten.

The Abroad101 2013 Top 10 Study Abroad Programs:
1. American College Dublin: Dublin – Direct Enrollment & Exchange
2. CEA: Aix-en-Provence, France
3. CAPA International Education: Sydney Study or Intern Abroad
4. Fairfield University: Florence – Semester or Year in Italy
5. AMIDEAST: Rabat – Area & Arabic Language Studies
6. Sol Education Abroad: Heredia – Latin University of Costa Rica
7. AIRC: Rome – Interdisciplinary Semester in Italy
8. CEA: Rome, Italy
9. API (Academic Programs International): Barcelona – Universidat Autònoma de Barcelona
10. European Study Center: Heidelberg

In addition to the highest rated overall programs, Abroad101 released a list of Top Provider Organizations, with top honor going to Academic Programs International, operator of 68 different college study abroad programs. “We very much appreciate being recognized by students as a high-quality education abroad organization” said Jennifer Allen, President of Academic Programs International (API). “At API, we take pride in offering support during each phase of the study abroad experience to our students, their families and their home universities. We take student feedback very seriously, and the insight we receive from the in-depth evaluations posted on StudyAbroad101.com are instrumental in helping us ensure that our programs remain a relevant and valuable component of each student’s university experience.” The rest of the top ten, listed in order are: The Education Abroad Network (TEAN), Sol Education Abroad, American Institute for Roman Culture (AIRC), The School for Field Studies (SFS), CAPA International Education, AMIDEAST, American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS), European Study Center and CEA.

Innovation has always been a hallmark of study abroad and this year is no exception as students look to new and unique programs and destinations. Jeremy Cohen, Founder & Director of ThisWorldMusic, an innovative creative arts program in Ghana, reports that being in the rankings and gaining so many student reviews has given their program a significant boost. Ghana makes the top ten lists in two categories, Non-Traditional study abroad and Budget-Friendly destinations.

Rwanda was one of four African countries in the Top Non-Traditional locations list, India was deemed most budget-friendly, Beijing was voted the most livable city for American students, and Sorrento edged out Milan for the best food. The rest of the rankings along with excerpts from student reviews are available now at: http://www.studyabroad101.com/rankings

“Abroad101 has been helping students, advisors, and parents feel more comfortable with the study abroad process and these rankings are yet another step to expose students to the incredible opportunities the field has to offer” says Mark Shay, the new CEO of Abroad101. “Today, students want reviews to guide many of their future decisions and study abroad is no exception. A compilation of reviews and corresponding scores give them insight into what to expect and serves as a useful tool in their decision-making. Rankings and reviews also help give parents a sense of security about individual programs and study abroad as a whole” concludes Shay.

About Abroad101:
About Abroad101: Founded in 2007, Abroad101 is the first and largest study abroad review website. Focusing on American college students looking for a semester or term abroad, this innovative platform connects past and future students, parents and advisors and program providers through its market-leading online evaluation tool. Abroad101 grew from one partnership at Tufts University in 2007 to over 215 college partnerships today. The Abroad101 directory of study abroad programs is the most comprehensive database in the field today.
To learn more, visit http://www.studyabroad101.com

Tips for Writing a Review of Your Time Abroad

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Guest Posting By: Missy Gluckmann, Founder of MelibeeGlobal.com

Whether you have studied, volunteered, taught or been an intern abroad, the experience will have changed you and how you understand this diverse, beautiful and complex world.

It is natural to want to share your experience and provide feedback to others who are considering such a transformative journey.   Words like “life changing” and “awesome” almost immediately come to mind, ubiquitous for almost anyone who has traveled abroad to learn and participate in the world in a new way.  But these words don’t quite tell us about the depth of the international experience.  They give us a positive feeling, but aren’t particularly helpful when writing a review because they’re simply not reflective or descriptive enough to provide pertinent information to the next potential sojourner.

Here are a few tips about sharing feedback that will help others read between the lines of program materials and get a much better sense of how appropriate a program abroad is when considering personal and professional goals and dreams.

Tip 1: Reflect prior to writing

To be able to share feedback, one must take the time to practice the fine art of reflection.  Reflection involves looking back in the rear view mirror without interruption.  It is a period of time that is dedicated to putting down the smart phone or laptop and instead focusing on various memories that one experienced abroad – the little things such as what you ate for breakfast daily to the bigger things, such as when you interacted with a person from the host country and had an “a-ha” moment.  Reflection takes time; it is not a fifteen minute quiet period that you experience once. Rather, it is something that you do throughout your life.

Before writing a review, take some time to reflect.  If you wrote in a journal abroad, revisit it and take some fresh notes about how you now recall those memories, from the micro to the macro.  Look through your photos and videos too.  Talk with your friends in your home and host country about these memories and feelings.  Look for the new “a-ha” moments and jot them down.  You’ll start to connect the dots. This is when the words “awesome” and “transformational” begin to take more meaningful shape and can be expanded upon with much more depth.

Tip 2: Think Skills

Time abroad provides a new way to observe yourself and your home country, as well as the host country.  At times, it can feel like an “out of body” experience in that we realize we are seen differently than we are at home, that we have an identity that is reinforced or altered by experiencing another part of the world.

With reflection in mind, consider what you learned about yourself while you were abroad.  Does this feel like a difficult task? One method of tackling the enormous question of what you learned about yourself while you were abroad is to complete this sentence:  After being part of this international experience, I am more/less ______. Then ask yourself why that is.  Since many go abroad for academic programs too, it is important to ask yourself what you learned about your “academic” self also.  Try completing this statement:  After being part of this international experience, I am more aware of ________.  Once again, ask yourself why that is.

For example, “I am more aware of conversing at a low intermediate level of Arabic because I attended two hours of immersion Arabic five days a week with a very dedicated and supportive teacher. She took us out into the city via public transportation each week, forcing us to use our emerging language skills in a practical way. This accelerated my use of the language and inspired me to continue studying upon my return home.”

These kinds of insights are often a direct result of how the program you attended was structured.  This information can be invaluable to those who are reading your review and making those important decisions about where to apply – and it is much more descriptive than “My Arabic teacher was awesome.”

Tip 3: Avoid clichés

As alluded to in tip number two, we tend to overuse the following types of words and statements when describing how we feel about time abroad:

–        Awesome

–        Life changing

–        Amazing

–        Fun

–        It was great

While these types of words provide us with a warm and fuzzy feeling, they don’t provide enough detail about those particular nuances of the culture, program design, administration and so much more that people reading reviews seek.  By practicing the art of reflection and utilizing your vast vocabulary, you can turn a routine review into a more thoughtful, informative piece of writing.

For example:
“London was awesome! I learned so much about myself! I would do it again in a minute.”

vs.

“London’s architecture made me feel like I was walking through a film set every day. It inspired me to explore more books and documentaries about the Victorian period, which I learned about in my Victorian Literature 131 class.  We explored the various streets and buildings of London as part of our assignments, making the required reading come to life. This type of learning was much more experiential and it made me realize how much more I learn through this approach.”

Tip 4: Share Stories 

Reviews can be much more meaningful when they are shared through relatable storytelling.  While you don’t have the space to write a novella in a review, sharing a slice of those “a-ha moments” that you’ve reflected upon can be very useful in a review.  For example, when talking about social and cultural integration on your program abroad, you might share a vignette such as this, which offers a picture of an experience abroad:

“This program arranged for more than just the routine tourist outings.  For example, the coordinators took us to a small village outside of Otavalo, where we stayed with an indigenous family for two nights. We slept in simple cement block structures that were clean, and despite being basic, comfortable. We chopped vegetables for a  soup dish that is eaten at almuerzo (lunch) and learned to make bread with our host mother.  During the day we worked in the garden, fed the pigs and practiced our Spanish with the local workers. This type of social and cultural experience was included in the program fee. Other Americans  we met in Ecuador didn’t have this unique experience like our program.”

Tip 5: Be honest but constructive

While time abroad is typically extremely positive, there may be aspects of your experience that you were less than happy about.  When writing a review, it is important to take the emotion out of the experience and get to the facts.  It is also critical that you share recommendations or provide “work arounds” for others who may experience a similar situation.  Honesty is important, but so is fairness.  Share what you need to in a constructive way so that others can benefit from your feedback.  Diplomacy is key; your words will remain on the internet longer than you will be on this planet, so choose your words carefully and thoughtfully.

With these tips in mind, I am confident that you will craft a reflective piece of writing that others will rely on when making decisions about how to narrow down program provider options.   Your words can be the “game changer” for someone who is making those nearly impossible decisions about where to go. Thanks for “paying it forward” for the next generation of those going abroad!

 
About the Author:  Missy Gluckmann is the Founder of Melibee Global, which aims to elevate the discussion about education abroad, culture, diversity and the lifelong path to global citizenship by offering trailblazing toolsspeakers and professional development for the global education and travel communities.  Raised in New York, Missy has lived abroad three times and traveled to dozens of countries. Missy currently resides in North Carolina and experiences culture shock there on a daily basis! She can be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

Atlas Sliced Tells Us About Teaching Abroad

THANK YOU so much for participating in the Google+ Hangout last night. You gals are awesome. It’s posted on my site right here: http://atlassliced.com/episode-slice-23-get-started-on-teaching-english-abroad

Getting TEFL Certified in Peru and Teaching English in Korea

If you had asked me at my university graduation where I would be and what I would be doing at couple years later, I would have never guessed teaching English in South Korea.

I thought for sure that I’d be in an office somewhere working for a nonprofit or a PR firm. In fact, I did get a job at a public relations firm but decided it wasn’t the right fit. Having grown up with parents who took me on exotic vacations, my desire to travel became too powerful, as I sat in my cubicle daydreaming of faraway places. So, I quit my job, took out some money from my savings account, and bought a one-way ticket to Cusco, Peru.

My initial plan was to volunteer in Peru. I helped paint a battered women’s shelter and took care of kids at a rural daycare. I loved it. Additionally, while there, I learned that my volunteer organization (Maximo Nivel) was a language institute and offered a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification program. After learning more about the program, I enrolled.

I thought to myself, “What better way to see the world than to teach and travel?” Teaching would be a great way to fund my adventures and explore different countries.

The TEFL certification program was an intense, 150-hour, four-week program. There were 11 people in the class, and we had superb instructors. We even taught practice lessons to real English students.

Sometimes the best things in life come when you’re not expecting them. This was the case for me at Maximo Nivel. However, if you’re looking for a good TEFL program, here are some of my top tips.

1) Take a look at what people have to say. Personal reviews are important. Do some online sleuthing and ask around.

2) Do an on-site course vs. an online course if you can. On-site courses are more expensive, but they are more conducive to learning. Also, in an on-site course, you’ll build relationships with your instructors and your peers. These connections might help you score a job later on.

3) Do a course that is 100 hours or more. Many schools prefer to hire teachers who have taken courses that are over 100 hours. It shows that you have spent more time training.

I’d also like to point out a few advantages of being TEFL certified. Let me make this clear. You can get a teaching job without a TEFL certification. But, here is why I advocate for getting one.

  • You’ll get more job offers and have more of a selection to choose from.
  • You’ll be exposed to different teaching resources and techniques, both on and off line.
  • You’ll learn how to write an international resume.
  • Your salary will be higher.

Now, you might be wondering where South Korea comes into play. After realizing that South Korea was a huge hub for English teachers and that the benefits were fantastic, I applied to teach English there through a recruiting firm. There are hundreds of different recruiting firms, each with different reputations, so make sure you do your research.

I ended up in Gangnam (just like the song from Psy) at a hagwon (private school) and experienced big time culture shock at work. The problem was that I didn’t do enough research on both the culture and the school. I thought I’d get proper training sessions and instructions on how to teach. This definitely didn’t happen. I was just given some books and told to teach the material to some four year-olds who had no clue what I was saying. I was at a loss for what to do considering the TEFL techniques I learned were mainly for adults. It was one of the toughest transitions of my life.

What can you do to avoid this situation? You’re in luck. Here’s some advice for finding the right school for you and adjusting to a new life abroad.

1) Talk to a lot of teachers beforehand who are the same gender as you. Men and women are treated differently in Korea. I faced a lot of sexism my first year there. Ask to talk to at least three teachers who work at your school. Keep in mind that the teachers they put you in touch with are the teachers who will probably say good things, which leads me to my next tip.

2) Stalk. Yep, I said it. When you hear about a potential school, do a Google Blog search and look for people who have worked there on LinkedIn. I have been stalked by potential teachers and always give them candid responses both through email and over video chat. Chances are most people are friendly and won’t mind talking to you about their experiences abroad.

3) When you arrive at your new city, join expat groups, visit expat bars, and connect with fellow teachers to exchange ideas on adjusting to the culture.

4) Explore. A new country is like a playground. Get out there and taste the local food, ride on public transportation, visit parks, and get lost!

Adventuring into new territory wasn’t easy at first. Despite being overwhelmed in the beginning, living abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had. I not only met some incredible people, but I also learned more about myself as a person than any other time in my life. Being a global citizen opened my eyes to the vast beauty of the world and its habitants.

To anyone thinking about living abroad, do it. It will change your life for the better.