By Celia Cullom
Studying abroad is, in some sense, a rite of passage for many juniors. In addition to academics, the experience is defined by excursions to exotic places, interactions with locals and immersion in a new culture. But theres something else thats becoming more and more common and seemingly requisite for spending a semester abroad: blogging.
Sam Colt 14 isnt new to the world of blogging. Hes had his own blog since high school, and before leaving for Prague, he wrote for The Thrill. His new page is dedicated to keeping people back home updated on what hes doing.
My abroad blog, Czech It Out, is geared primarily towards my friends and family, Colt said. Part of me is blogging so I dont have to send dozens of repetitive emails any time I want to share an experience.
Emma Sajsa 14 started The Littlest Fairy Goes to Ireland for a similar reason.
Its really hard with the time difference and all of our schedules to set up regular Skype dates, she said, so I just wanted to be able to share my experiences with people and keep in touch [with a blog].
During her time abroad in England last semester, Annette Covrigaru 14 found that other forms of social media could actually be more useful for that purpose.
I was constantly on Facebook when I was abroad. That was honestly my main mode of communication with people back home, Covrigaru said. I kept up with my Kenyon friends study abroad experiences by browsing through their photos or reading their witty statuses.
While blogging is not the only form of social media that works for sharing abroad experiences, Colt prefers it.
Photos are the main component of my blog. I use them to capture scenes and details of my time here, Colt said. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram dont make sense for photos because you can only share one at a time. I like blogging on Tumblr because they give you flexibility in terms of how your content can be presented.
Sajsa puts more emphasis on the text and uses pictures sparingly in her blog.
I knew it would be a really easy way for my family and friends to see what Ive been doing here and to hear my voice through my writing, she said. I guess I just try to put myself and my voice into each post as much as possible. I want people to really feel like theyre experiencing Ireland as Im experiencing it, you know?
Junior Ally Bruschis blog, Smrrebrd & Danishes, has been viewed almost 3,000 times since she left for Copenhagen at the beginning of the semester. To keep that many people coming back, she said, its important to upload a variety of content.
Since I know that its mostly my close friends and family that are reading it, I try to write it in my voice as much as possible and include funny quips in my posts so its not too dry or catalogue-esque, she said. I use my blog for my scenic pictures so that I can comment in detail about the things Im seeing, and then I post all my pictures with people and events on Facebook.
Posting one to three times a week, Colt, Sajsa and Bruschi will be able to look back at their blogs as they would journals, albeit a public ones. Even Covrigaru, who admittedly didnt keep up with blogging as much as she would have liked, thinks that its a meaningful undertaking.
[The blog] was really worthwhile for my parents sake, Covrigaru said. That was one of the main ways they were able to see what I was doing and read about how I was feeling, and when I went on a blogging hiatus every few weeks my mom would yell at me to update the Tumblr. Its also fun to look at now that Im back on campus.