Nicole is a student at Saint Mary’s College of California. She was selected as the SAI Summer 2013 intern. Nicole completed her Spring 2012 term at John Cabot University in Rome and will attended Florence University of the Arts during the Fall 2013 term. Below are her tips for using social media successfully while abroad.
At SAI programs, we want to make sure your experience abroad is a great one. That is why we have crafted some quick tips on how to use social media to stay in contact with friends, family and of course us—without letting it consume your time.
Facebook is an incredibly useful way to stay in touch with friends and family back home—but also is a great way to connect with new friends abroad!
- We say DO use Facebook, but be careful how you use it.
- DO upload pictures for friends and family to look at. It is very easy to quickly upload pictures to Facebook from your smart phone. On that note, DON’T spend too much time sorting through and uploading photos—you can create the perfect album when you get home.
- DON’T post pictures carelessly. Facebook is a public site, be sure to check out your privacy settings before you post.
- When you are uploading photos, DO include #SAIprograms or #SAIexcursions. You can also search for these hashtags and see what other SAI students are up to.
- DO start Facebook groups between yourself and new friends you have made abroad. Considering the cost of texting on your international phone is higher than it is back home, create a group where you can interact about upcoming travel plans or dinner plans.
- ALSO: If you include #SAIprograms in your group posts, other students can find your group and see what you are up to!
- DO use these groups to maintain contact with new friends when you return home. Feeling gloomy because you are missing your friends you made abroad? Visit the Facebook group and post a picture with #SAIprograms. Interacting with friends you shared your abroad experience with will help you get out of your reverse-culture-shock-funk.
- DO add SAIPrograms as a friend to keep up-to-date with all the latest SAI news.
Instagram is a great tool for uploading photos very quickly—as long as you can decide on which filter to use! Friends and family will be in awe over the places you go and things you see. The best thing being that when you return home, you will have created a little photo album of your journey. You can then scroll through and reminisce at any time!
- We say, DO use Instagram.
- When using Instagram abroad, make sure you DO use hashtags to document your travel with SAI. As you begin to include#SAIprograms in your photos, you will be able to connect with other SAI students—past, present and future!
DID YOU KNOW: If you are using Tumblr to keep friends and family in the loop of your travels and experiences, you can instantly link photos from instagram to your Tumblr. DO consider starting a blog with Tumblr to create a virtual travel journal others can view.
Twitter: We are recommending that you DO use Twitter, but less than other social media platforms.
- Twitter might be helpful for pre-departure tips if you follow @GoAbroad and @studyabroad101, and (most importantly!) @saiprograms.
- When using Twitter abroad, DO NOT use in excess. Living in a new environment means there is always something new to experience!
- DO NOT waste your time scrolling the twitter feed.
Youtube: We love Youtube, DO use it, but we recommend you wait until you are home for this social media platform—seeing as it will take up a lot of your time.
While you are abroad you may collect videos and photos of your experiences. If you are skilled with video editing (or even if you are not!) putting together a comprehensive video of your experience will help you while you are transitioning back to life at home. You can even link the video to Facebook and tag all of your friends featured in the video. Please include #SAIprograms in your post, we (and future students) would love to see what your experience abroad was like!
Texting: As we mentioned earlier, texting is not cheap—neither are phone calls. Most people are aware of the existence of Skype, but have you ever heard of Viber or Whatsapp? Both are great applications on your smart phone, which enable you to text through the Internet. When you have a WIFI connection you can easily have a conversation with others using the app all over the world.
We say DO use Viber for three main reasons.
- Viber has both texting and calling functions.
- The call function on Viber is free.
- The Viber application is a free download!
DO NOT…We cannot stress this next one enough. While we want you to use social media to your advantage to connect with others and with us, we DO NOT want you to miss out on this once in a lifetime experience!