Considering the Influence of Online Study Abroad Reviews:

Considering the Influence of Online Study Abroad Reviews:

A Reflection On “How Online Product Reviews Affect Retail Sales: A Meta-Analysis”

4 starsWhether we like it or not, the roles of traditional marketing and word-of-mouth promotion now share a large seat at the table with online product reviews. Many industries are already defined by the way their customers use online opportunities to “harangue, lecture, pontificate, and otherwise broadcast personal opinions” (Notess 2000), and for most of us it is increasingly rare to book a hotel, buy a camera, or select a movie without first consulting the opinion of hundreds of strangers. But the actual influence of online reviews on sales remains the center of an academic discussion that is still diverse in focus, method, and results. Professors Floyd, Freling, Alhoqail, Cho, and Freling (College of Business Administration, University of Texas at Arlington) set out to bring some uniformity to the topic with their meta-analysis of 26 studies that included 443 sales elasticities. Their conclusions pose interesting questions for a product that they do not include, namely study abroad programs, where publicly available participant reviews are still in initial stages of popularity but seem likely to follow the course of most other products and services, for reasons that will be seen.

An important note is that the authors of this paper found little variation in their findings despite differences in geography (US or non-US), prestige (elite journals verses lesser known) or method (simple verses sophisticated analysis), which “suggests that the conclusions we draw about online product reviews are relatively generalizable across a variety of contexts” (227). Still, there is likely to be some healthy skepticism towards applying these findings to study abroad. Clearly, more than any product included in the meta-analysis, study abroad programs vary widely in price, length, intent, and conditions, but most importantly in the motivation of participants. While some students might prioritize travel or social opportunities, others seek unique academic or linguistic boost to their education, and a negative review about lax academics might actually incentivize a prospective participant who reads it, for example. There is the divergence of interpretation between the parent who is often the (paying) customer and the student who is the (participating) consumer. Moreover, since most students accept the programs offered by their academic institution anyway, is there any need to look to reviews for a “competitive” advantage? Is it better for the provider to limit reviews to private evaluations to determine that the program meets the organization’s goals? All these are valid, and this reflection intends to do no more or less than consider the state of research on online reviews as presented in the meta-analysis by Floyd et al., to suggest the impact these findings could have on study abroad programs, and finally to highlight the need for further research into these and many other questions specific to study abroad.

The studies included in Floyd et al.’s analysis consider the impact of online reviews on the sale of hotel rooms, books, movies, digital cameras, craft beer, video games, music albums, audio and video players, DVDs, TV shows, and video game consoles (219). The key finding was that online reviews do have an influence on sales across the board. The impact was significantly greater than shelf space elasticity, personal selling elasticity, and both long-term and short-term sales elasticities. In fact, the only factor they measured that had a greater influence on sales was price (219). While not surprising it is meaningful to find such consistency across a wide range of studies and products. What is surprising is the indication that electronic word of mouth has actually overtaken more traditional sources of information. The authors reference a study made over five countries that asked shoppers to indicate the most important sources of information they use to make a purchase decision. Online ratings and reviews were number one (52%), above advice from family and friends (49%), and far beyond advice from store employees (12%) (Cisco 2013). This indicates a major shift in the way people make purchasing decisions, with increasing trust in people they’ve never met exceeding close personal relations.

Advice from friends and family has already been an imperfect solution for those considering study abroad. Because study abroad is experienced by around 10% of undergraduate student, and even less for the generation of their adult family members or friends (IIE, Open Doors Data, 2015), there is often little opportunity for a decision maker, whether student or parent, to find pertinent advice from a familiar source. This is even truer when seeking information about a specific program. The best option before the days of the internet was often to speak with someone who studied abroad, perhaps on an entirely different sort of program, and be told to either “go for it” or not. Thus, in the context of study abroad, online reviews seem likely to not simply overtake advice from friends and family, and rather to fill a void that was never adequately met by traditional word of mouth. This perspective is all the stronger when considering the importance of “product involvement” (discussed below) and the age group of study abroad participants being more reliant on online information (age of consumer was not a factor considered in the meta-analysis).

Beyond personal relationships, the obvious place to get information about specific study abroad programs is the study abroad office. Despite clear differences this is comparable to “advice from store employees,” which was a distant third with only 12% of shoppers mentioning it as a decision-making factor. Of course study abroad professionals are seen as being more knowledgeable and trustworthy than a commission-driven store employee, but these findings speak to the overall societal wariness of marketing or perceived ulterior motives, and encouragement to participate from a study abroad professional is not processed the same way as feedback from a former participant.

Similarly, looking at various types of online hosts for reviews, Floyd et al. found that “reviews appearing on a third-party website have significantly higher sales elasticities than those appearing on seller websites” (226). Especially when considering the products in question, this rings true, since few of us would give equal weight to praise splashed across a brand’s website compared to non-filtered reviews. Further research needs to be done to determine if this plays out differently when prospective participants visit the homepage of a study abroad office and interpret quotes from previous participants. Doubtless there is more trust between the university office and the “insider” student than between a traditional seller and buyer, but if a third-party source of reviews were found to be consistent with the information published by the study abroad office then trust would be bolstered.

Providing multiple sources for reviews and information is especially advisable in light of the final conclusion of the meta-analysis concerning “product involvement.” Product involvement is defined as “a consumer’s enduring perceptions of a product category’s importance,” especially regarding monetary investment but including factors such as time, importance, and risk (224). The authors found that “consumers engage in extensive (limited) online search for products that are more (less) involving, which they associate with higher (lower) perceived risk” (228). The authors use the example of the purchase of a digital camera as a high-involvement decision, but by their definition few “products” could be more involving then a study abroad program. Because of the unique nature of study abroad as a purchasing decision, more research is needed to confirm that consumer habits follow the same logic in this industry. The reliance on reviews might be specific to more price-sensitive decision-makers, or to those who are the first in their family to go abroad, etc. If it is shown that potential study abroad participants follow these general consumer trends then we can expect them to spend more time reading more reviews and to be more influenced by their content than for almost any other purchasing decision.

As consumers increasingly look to the internet for decision-making information and become more selective about where they place their trust, greater research needs to be done about the influence on the industry of study abroad. Do decision makers approach study abroad in a similar way as other purchasing decisions? Are certain demographics more likely to seek out online reviews, and how do they interpret what they read? Are reviews more impactful depending on program cost or length (greater “involvement”)? As college applicants increasingly look to online university ratings and even professor ratings, is there any sign that students are evaluating study abroad programs as part of their choice of university?

The temptation is to see study abroad as a less competitive environment and thus less impacted by reviews, but another perspective is to see competition between students participating in study abroad or not. With the goal of using as many tools as possible to increase lead conversion, there is much merit in considering how electronic word of mouth could tip the scales.

– Caleb House

About the Author:

Caleb House is Abroad101’s Social Media Editor.  Caleb grew up in Northern California and has lived in the Czech Republic, Japan, India, Tanzania, France, South Korea, Germany, and Côte d’Ivoire as a student, teacher, volunteer, backpacker, researcher, and administrator. He holds graduate degrees in Modern Global History from Jacobs University Bremen and in International Management from the Burgundy School of Business. He recently married his soulmate in her tiny village in France, and the two currently find themselves in Washington D.C. He is preparing the launch of his website, HowToGoAbroad.com, and in the meantime can be contacted with questions on his Facebook page “How to Go Abroad” or on Twitter @HowToGoAbroad.  

 

 

Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (2013), Catch and Keep Digital Shoppers, http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/docs/retail/Catch-and-

Keep-the-Digital-Shopper PoV.pdf

Floyd, Kristopher; Freling, Ryan; Alhoqail, Saad; Cho, Hyun Young; Freling, Traci; How Online Product Reviews Affect Retail Sales: A Meta-analysis, Journal of Retailing 90 (2, 2014) 217–232

Notess, Greg R. (2000), Consumers’ Revenge: Online Product Reviews and Ratings, Web Wanderings. http://notess.com/write/archive/200004ww.html

IIE (2015), Open Doors Data Highlights, http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/Infographics#.VyFOGDArLIU

 

 

 

Study Abroad Advisors – Tips for better student reviews on Re-entry

Truman students jumping high in the gold coast australia

Your students have successfully completed an experience abroad that is most often described as “Life Changing” and “The Best Four Months of My Life” and you’re now looking to help them take that experience and do more with it. Some have blogged about it, described it on their Facebook page and made friends and family members of their inner circle aware of all the their discoveries. Abroad101 now encourages you, their advisor, to take another step and have them submit a thoughtful program evaluation/review through Abroad101.

Reviews on Abroad101 will help advisors and program providers gain better insight into a student’s experience and give you something to promote and share. Reviews will help future students and parents understand what to expect on the program, the destination and study abroad in general, AND the best reason to submit a review on Abroad101 is to help the student.

Student reviews will be published on the Abroad101 website and each will become its own webpage.  This creates a great place to feature experiences and use those experiences to open doors to a future career.  Employers are looking for people with an international background and a review on Abroad101 is a perfect place to jump-start career searches.  We suggest that you encourage students to think of a review as a writing sample, a chance to showcase who they really are.  A well written review can show future employers and other recruiters that the student can be constructive in their criticism, take responsibility for  outcomes, be reflective and be forward thinking.  Students should state their new worldview and use the review as a place to shine.  If there are a couple pictures of  community involvement or doing good deeds, this helps to really separate them from the pack. To begin a review, visit the StudyAbroad101.com, search for the program and click the “leave a review” button, or start here: http://www.Studyabroad101.com/reviews/new

When the review is complete , we also encourage students to include a link to their review in the education section of their Linkedin profile and then join the Linkedin group called “The StudyAbroad Advantage

As an added bonus when they complete their review, you’ll get a promo code for an additional $20 off their next flight or excursion abroad with StudentUniverse.com.

Advisors download our Student Re-Entry Flyer!

Advisors – Reviews are Social Media

Social media doodles elementsWhen we think of social media in education abroad we generally think of brief and compelling messaging like posts, tweets, blogs and photos. With social media, we also think how we might like, follow, re-tweet or pin other peoples activity to stay active in front of our target audience. As promoters of education abroad we often struggle with just what to put into our networks and yet, one of the best forms of social media content is often overlooked, that of the study abroad review.

Being in the business of collecting and leveraging student reviews, Abroad101 has found that reviews make great social media content. As with other social media, a review comes from the student’s voice. A study abroad program review contains both quantitative data (ratings on a 0-5 star scale) and qualitative data like comments, descriptive passages and feedback on various program features. Reviews on Abroad101 are especially designed for social media sharing (syndication) as each review has its own unique web page (URL) and has its own comment section below the review.

In addition to the home university and the program name, the Abroad101 reviews have more than 35 other fields including a descriptive title created by the student and an introductory passage around the theme – “was it worthwhile?” Sharing these reviews with your followers is great Social Media content and a good way to highlight the success of recent education abroad alumni and get other communities on your campus to recognize the success of study abroad students.

Students are increasingly doing their own promotion of their reviews, sharing them with their friends, those who helped them into the program and those who will help that student into a career. One example of this self-promotion is the initiative called “The Study Abroad Advantage” where a group has been established on Linkedin to help study abroad alumni leverage their study abroad experience in their career development. Students in the Group are linking their reviews from their Linkedin profiles and using them to showcase their abilities, talents and experiences to get ahead in the job market.

Education abroad offices on campus should consider using these reviews to advance study abroad on their campus. Reviews will prompt discussion and facilitate the exchange of ideas about individual programs, program types and destinations. A number of offices already follow and endorse Abroad101′s social media activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts. In addition to this, posting your own highlights of reviews in you social media can help raise awareness and understanding of how education abroad influences your campus. We encourage you to create social media out of our social media and make posts based on the reviews on Abroad101.

As an advisor, reviews from your institution can be pushed to you for consideration. For those advisors with account on Abroad101, each review from a student at your institution generates an email when it is published. You can find the links to those programs by logging into your account or by looking at the summary page of reviews for your institution. For those of you with a little more computer support, Abroad101 can push your student reviews to you through something called an API (Computer to computer gateway), or you can draw them through a RSS feed that we publish.

However you collect and reference our reviews, we hope you’ll see the benefit of taking the review title, summary paragraph and web link as social media content and use it to advance study abroad on your campus. The Abroad101 team is happy to work with you in finding better ways to network and connect and is available to get you using reviews in your social media marketing strategy.

You might also be interested in reading the slides for the session called  Ten ways program evaluations can Advance Study Abroad on Campus

Read here for more information and presentation slides on the ISEP Conference in Virginia

 

Study Abroad Student Tip: Easy way to practice your foreign language skills

image of chef holding a platterStudent Review Tip –

ABROAD101:

Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants?

STUDENT (from Brandeis University on trip with IES Abroad):

Start by ordering food and asking for directions in German. Then, try to converse with your host family on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to speak, even if you aren’t sure you are saying everything perfectly. Germans may or may not correct you if you are wrong, but they generally don’t care so much; they’ll get the gist of what you’re saying.

At Home in Berlin

Student reviews on Abroad101 cover many areas of the study abroad program. For more information on this student’s review of their trip to Berlin, Germany please read the full review at: http://www.studyabroad101.com/programs/ies-abroad-berlin-ies-abroad-in-berlin-summer/reviews/26073

Why should I write a review?

By guest author: Samantha Shay

 
“I learned that I am able to adjust to just about any situation.”
“The trajectory of my entire life changed because I studied abroad. And I cannot imagine my life without it now.”
“I REGRET NOTHING.”
“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
“I learned to be ‘tough,’ and I grew as a person in ways I can’t explain.”
-Excerpts from some recent Abroad101 student reviews
 

A recent New York Times article stated, “Globalization is here to stay, and students who want to work in our interconnected global world should study abroad…Making study abroad a part of their education is the most effAbroad101.com write a reviewective and accessible means for students to develop needed skills because it pushes a student to get out of her comfort zone to experience another culture, language, environment and education system.”[1]With a mission to promote global citizenship by fostering the most meaningful study abroad experiences for all students through technology innovation in international education, Abroad101 has collected the stories of over 22,000 students’ international pursuits through over 8,800 abroad programs.  Whether you studied abroad to explore your heritage, pursue an academic goal or field of study, or immerse yourself in a culture different than your own, we want to add your story to our collection.

 Allan E. Goodman and Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, New York Times, May 12 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/10/17/should-more-americans-study-abroad/every-student-should-study-abroad

Why should I write a review?

What better capstone to a life-changing experience abroad than to share your story and your advice with someone else?  Abroad101 is an abundant resource for students who are in the process of choosing an abroad program that will fit them well.  Your story could directly impact the program choice of a prospective traveler.  By submitting a review to Abroad101, you are contributing to a collective database of student stories that future abroad students can access easily.  How accessible was healthcare in your city?  Did you spend more money on food than you expected to?  How many hours a day did you speak a foreign language?  By answering these questions and others like them, you create a sketch of a prospective student’s program experience.  If while abroad you faced challenges you didn’t foresee, or elements of your program that didn’t work for you, sharing this feedback and advice for others to access is a generous way to reflect on those experiences.

By sharing a review with Abroad101, you are creating a sketch of abroad life not only for prospective students to consider, but for their families and peers to read as well.  Consider your review a tribute to protective parents everywhere.  At the recent “Women in Travel” Summit, Abroad101 received strong feedback that reviews are just as useful and enlightening to parents and teachers as they are to other students.[1]  The WITS attendees mentioned details about safety and quality of administration as top curiosities and concerns when students are choosing an abroad program.  By addressing these topics in your review, as well as answering questions that target many other aspects of your program experience, you can really illustrate what life was like for you during your semester abroad.

Your positive feedback, or constructive criticism, can benefit the future of your program.  Abroad101 offers administrators and program providers access to evaluation data collected directly from students, and they can access student reviews and feedback on our website just as easily as other students can.  Your words have the power to support a program you feel strongly about, or alternatively, to help initiate changes within a program to benefit future students’ experiences.  Additionally, since students submit reviews directly through our website and independently from the programs in which they participated, readers can trust that the reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.

Most importantly, submitting a review of your semester abroad benefits you!  A 2010 market research study reported, “of the U.S. recruiters and HR professional surveyed, 75% report that their companies have formal policies in place that require hiring personnel to research applicants online.”[2]  According to Idealist Careers, “employees are looking for positive things: discovering how well you communicate…getting a sense of how professionally you present yourself…”[3]  Whether you plan to pursue graduate school, a job or internship, or another abroad program, having published a well constructed, thoughtful review on Abroad101 will give you an edge with employers, grad schools, and other potential post grad opportunities – show your reflective writing skills, showcasing your experience abroad, and reflecting on how your experience changed your outlook on the world.

 [1] http://www.travelgogirl.com/witsummit/
[2] http://www.job-hunt.org/guides/DPD_Online-Reputation-Research_overview.pdf via http://idealistcareers.org/employers-are-googling-you-now-what/
[3] http://idealistcareers.org/employers-are-googling-you-now-what/
[1] Allan E. Goodman and Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, New York Times, May 12 2014.  http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/10/17/should-more-americans-study-abroad/every-student-should-study-abroad

 

image of Samantha ShaySamantha Shay is a Patron Services Assistant at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and studied abroad in France.  Please read her study abroad review.

Connect with Samantha through LinkedIn

Study Abroad providers with the most reviews on Abroad101

Reviews are the lifeblood of Abroad101 and are what keep bringing students, parents and academic advisors to our website.  Abroad101 reviews are thorough evaluations of a student’s experience abroad and are designed to help the student showcase not only what they experienced, but also how they have grown.  These reviews take work; a well-written review requires 30-45 minutes from the student.

Program reviews/evaluations are also an important part of quality assurance in the study abroad process. Approximately 90% of the reviews published on Abroad101 come from the invitation of the home university, the program provider or the host university overseas.  With this as background, we offer a glimpse of who is being reviewed; this graphic highlights the program providers that have received the most reviews on Abroad101.Top-#-of-Provider-Reviews-July2014

Top 5 Reasons to Write an Education Abroad Review

By Missy Gluckmann, Founder of Melibee Global (www.melibeeglobal.com)

Acting because you’re required to isn’t always exciting.  I really do ‘get’ that!

However, there is a reason that many schools and program require that education abroad participants complete an evaluation before releasing a transcript.  The good news is that there are some really positive reasons for sharing your feedback – beyond receiving your grades.

Here are my top five reasons why you should complete an education abroad review, even if you’re not ‘required’ to:

1)     Your truth can save a life

Education abroad is (or should primarily be) an academic experience.   However, the daily living realities of being abroad can feel as foreign as new skin.  Your insights into the nuances of your host city and/or country can really Female College studentimpact the lives of others who are following in your footsteps.  I’m not talking about things that seem quite important at the time of packing (‘Do I need an adapter for my hair straightener?’) but more along the variety of potentially life saving safety tips.  While it is not the norm, students have died abroad from a variety of incidents ranging from drinking too much alcohol and getting lost in frigid weather with less than adequate clothing  to drowning because of being pulled into a much stronger ocean current along the western coast of Central America.  Sharing tips with your own personal flair is what can truly save someone’s life and can be a great addition to safety tools that are available via the ClearCause Foundation.  While program advisers may write about the strength of a local ocean current in Costa Rica in pre-departure materials, reading about it from a peer who felt the overwhelming pull of the salt water and describes it as being ‘almost completely unmanageable, despite being a certified lifeguard ’ WILL resonate with future participants and their families.  Telling your peers that ‘the alcohol in the region’s pubs is 100% proof and that you really do only one third of the amount you’d drink at home before  feeling rather unaware of your surroundings’ may prevent others from putting themselves in a place of such needless risk.  Your voice carries when talking with other students.  Your voice can have that kind of power.  You can save a life by being candid in your review, while still being professional.

2)     Enhance your portfolio

Writing is a lifelong skill.  It is one that you will use in your academic  career and your job search.  Documenting your experience abroad by completing an evaluation provides a tremendous opportunity to beef up your ‘body of work’ that is available on the internet that potential employers and headhunters will peruse as they look for possible candidates for positions in their companies and organizations.  The time that you take to reflect and consider the seismic impact of an experience abroad  -and how you document that in a constructive, mature manner – may result in a new document for your ever expanding portfolio.  Potential employers are known to  ask for writing samples.  Your genuinely crafted review can serve as an sample that you’ll ultimately need in these scenarios.

3)     Reflection =  Growth

Going abroad changes you.  Coming home feels familiar but strange too – and students are typically so busy plugging back into “life” that they rarely sit down and really THINK about who they were before they departed for their host country and who they are now.  Intentionally taking time to ponder how you’ve changed and what you learned is necessary for measuring our growth.  Reflection is an art form, one that requires dedicated time and attention – and a structured set of questions to guide you.  The education abroad evaluation is an ideal way to start your reflective journey.  What was it about your program that you really appreciated? How did those well delivered (or not so well delivered) services impact you?  What would you want to change about the program and how would it impact future participants and your host community for the better?  Despite it being a ‘mandatory’ exercise in some cases, you may find that you are actually grateful for someone asking for your opinion and observing your own trajectory of growth and increased maturity.

4)     Role Reversal – You become the teacher

Part of the reason that many program administrators request or require evaluations is that they want to know what works well and what aspects of the program abroad need to be re-examined.  Despite putting a complex education abroad program together, they do not have the luxury of experiencing the program first hand as a student.  (Imagine how hard that is – crafting an exciting learning experience that involves seeing new cultures and not being able to go along with the group.  It is torture!) So, despite them preparing guidelines and tips for students prior to departure and reinforcing them in country, when you are abroad, you begin to transition to the role of ‘subject matter expert ‘ on certain aspects of the program.  You know what it is like to eat in a college cafeteria abroad every day (skip the meats but make the most of the potatoes!) or what cultural experiences are must see (the Guayasamin Museum in Quito, Ecuador is more than just a one day visit).  With this level of customized feedback in your evaluation, you’re actually TEACHING US!  What an exciting and empowering experience that is!

5)     Writing through journaling

For anyone who has kept a journal, you know the power of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and documenting your feelings, perceptions and realities in the moment.  The process of journaling is essentially documenting your life’s story, one page at a time.  The beauty of having to complete an evaluation is that you have a searchable series of life’s important memories in one place, allowing you to return to the internet to recall where your mind and body were at a specific moment in time.  Being able to jar your memory to the highs (and even the lows) of your time abroad is a simply priceless opportunity, one that you may not be able to fully appreciate until months or years later. Taking the time to review your program online may also develop into an interest in taking up journaling or even blogging.  After all, an education abroad experience is one that you will to process for your entire life.  Continuing to write about the impact of it, even decades later, is a joyful and cathartic experience.

I hope that these five tips will give you reason to pause and seriously consider how you complete a mandatory evaluation or to encourage you to consider filling one out, even if it isn’t required.  The impact truly does extend well beyond your time abroad!

 

About the Author:

Melissa Gluckmann, contributor to the Studyabroad101 Blog and founder of Melibee GlobalMissy 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.

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.

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.