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

Secular Republic, Muslim World: Participating in Turkish Ramadan

Tons of Muslims gathering for activities, Sultanahmet in the background.

Submitted by Rachel Whitcomb, Global Ambassador in Istanbul, Turkey

A long skirt and covered shoulders gets you through most neighborhood and sights safely.

One of the most interesting parts about Istanbul and Turkey in general is that although it’s a secular state, and has been for decades, the population is 98% Islamic and at this time of year, Ramadan, it certainly shows. This unique combination leads to a variety of clothing styles- modest coverings ranging from burqa (fully veiled except for the eyes), hijab (only the face is showing), and just covering all of the arms and legs, to the modern European/Western style dressing. There are certain parts of the city that you need to be aware of what you are wearing, but most of the time it’s not something we worry about.

I’ve been in solidarity with the half of the Muslim population here in Istanbul that has been fasting for Ramadan- that’s no food or water from morning prayer at 3:55 a.m. until the sun sets at 8:40 p.m. (yes, that many hours without food or water). It’s been a challenging and humbling experience, especially to be a part of it around so many other people! By day, the city and areas around my campus are pretty barren, but after the sun sets people come from all over and hang out and celebrate. It’s a beautiful sight to see!

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Pamplona, Segovia and San Sebastian: Weekends Done Right

Photo: jimcintosh

Submitted by Kristen Schlotman, Global Ambassador in Madrid, Spain.

Jumping in Segovia.

I can’t believe I only have one more week in Madrid! This experience has been such a whirlwind. Never in my life have I done so much in less than a month. One of the best parts of studying abroad is traveling on weekends. The first weekend all of us in USAC were in Spain for the Running of the Bulls. Without a second’s hesitation we bought tickets and headed to Pamplona. Most of the other students in the program also bought tickets. We knew right away this was going to be a great weekend to bond and to get to know each other.

Pamplona was probably one of the crazier weekends of my life. The bus departed from Madrid at 2 PM on Saturday and by 8 PM, we were ready to experience one of the biggest celebrations in Spain. Dressed in the traditional red and white, we walked around the city taking everything in. By 1 AM, we were bar hopping, drinking calimocho (red wine and Coca Cola), and meeting people from all over the world. Sleeping was not an option. The city was too vibrant and exhilarating to sit it out. At 6 AM we lined up to watch the running. This was somewhat anticlimactic, but the night itself was one of a kind.

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Looking on the Bright Side in the Emerald Isle

Cliffs of Mohr

 

Submitted by Brendan Bond, Global Ambassador in Galway, Ireland

Within a few days of arriving in Ireland, I learned something very important about this country. I was told, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Moral of the story is that the weather here is fickle, always changing and never making up its mind on whether it wants to be sunny, cloudy, windy, dreary, warm, cold, misty, rainy or downpouring.

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Breaking the Rules: Learn to ‘Flex for Culture’ in Turkey

Photo: AntoniO BonvinO

Submitted by Rachel Whitcomb, Global Ambassador in Istanbul, Turkey.

 

Oh that’s right…I’m STUDYING abroad…

Sometimes you get so caught up in the traveling aspect of being abroad that you lose sight of what sent you here in the first place.  But of course, I’m attending class and doing homework, I would never forget!

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Love the 2012 Olympics? Take part in the Abroad101 Global Gold Challenge!

Photo: GreenTea95

 

With the 2012 Olympics in London upon us, global competition is on our minds. The guts! The glory! The…awesome course selection and weekend excursions??

YES! Abroad101 is joining the fun with our own Global Gold Challenge, a head-to-head competition of countries competing for study abroad fame.  For an entire week during the Olympics (July 27 – August 3) we’ll be running a poll on our  asking YOU to get on board with whichever nation you think will come out of the Olympics with the most medals overall.

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Getting Out of Town: The Best Ways to Travel Abroad

Photo: Drozd

 

If there is one thing we know, its that there is certainly a lot to prepare before jetting off to your study abroad destination. Where will I go? What will I study? How will I pay? However, there is perhaps one thing that may be more towards the back of your mind: how will I get around once I’ve arrived? You can’t take that bucket of bolts from high school you’ve got sitting in the driveway and your train card doesn’t really work overseas. Looks like you’ve got some research to do. Let us fill you in…

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Spanish, Siestas and Sangria: Life in Madrid

The gorgeous view from Palacio de Cibeles

Submitted by Kristen Schlotman, Global Ambassador in Madrid, Spain

 

I have been studying in Madrid for just over a week so far, and it has been absolutely amazing. Our first day was orientation. The program advisors showed us how to get to the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos campus, the ins and outs of Madrid as well as the USAC program. Then we took Spanish language placement exams. I was surprised when I tested into Intermediate Spanish I. I was nervous at first since I hadn’t taken Spanish since my junior year of high school, but it’s not so bad. A lot of the vocabulary and grammar came back very quickly and I definitely feel that I am in the right class level.

One of the best parts about the classes is the size. There are only five of us in my

Spanish keyboard

Intermediate Spanish class, and just two in my Spanish Conversation class. This is really helpful for learning the language. It almost feels as if we have private tutors. My class schedule is really nice as well. I take the metro to campus for class at 9 AM and am done by 12:30 PM every day, just in time to get lunch. The last few days I have been adventuring on the metro to random parts of the city. I will just pick a spot on the map and go. I usually walk around for a bit and then find some café or cerveceria for lunch. It’s fun to sip on sangria on the patio and watch people walk by.

Following lunch, people in the program have been getting together to see the different cultural highlights of the program. Yesterday, we went to Retiro Park and then to the Prado Museum, one of the three major art museums in Madrid. Today we went to another, lesser-known art museum called the Caixaforum. After that we went to a building named the Palacio de Cibeles (pictured above). The building itself isn’t that special, but the top floor has a great view of the city.

View from my homestay at dusk

Depending on what time my roommate and I get back to the homestay, I try to take a late siesta before dinner at 9:30 PM. Dinners with our host parents have allowed me to experience some of the best food of my life. Tortilla Espanola and gazpacho soup are now two of my new favorite dishes.

Madrid is known as a city that never sleeps and I completely agree with that statement. Bars and discotecas don’t become busy until 1 or 2 AM and the night normally ends at 4 AM or later. Last week, most of our program went to Kapital, the famous seven-story nightclub. It was a crazy night and we didn’t get back home until 5 AM. Tonight, I am meeting friends at a wine bar that used to be one of Ernest Hemmingway’s favorite haunts. In the near future, we are leaving to go on a day trip to Segovia, so hopefully I won’t be out too late, but you never know in a city like Madrid!

 

Want to read insider reviews from fellow study abroad students? Click here to find your perfect study abroad program!

The Abroad101 Guide to Summer Events

fireworks

photo credit:
SJ Photography

Independence Day is upon us and the summer season is in full swing! Whether you’re studying abroad or at home, it’s definitely time to celebrate with food, friends, family and fireworks (the four essential ‘F’s of course).

But wait! What’s a college student to do after the biggest summer holiday ends?

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