Guide for International Students: How to Use Media for Studying Abroad

A Guest Post By Liza Vozjakova, American University Student, PR Expanded Blog Post Winner

A lot of people in different countries use the Internet in order to look at different places in the world. The pictures of foreign places are now spread all over social media. Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook lead young adults to various representations of cultures. Bloggers and famous people create hashtags that help to create mainstream movements. Several years ago, Nataly Osmann along with her husband – Murad Osmann – created #Followmeto project. The project was first presented in Instagram, and rapidly gained popularity. The main concept of the project was taking pictures of Nataly Osmann on the background of beautiful places all over the world and holding her hand. On the pictures, Nataly was leading her husband to unbelievably magnificent places by holding her husband’s hand. She was using fashion in order to harmonize the culture and the picturesque scenery and represent the main concept of the country. Soon, it gained almost one million followers all over the world monitoring the updates of the project and creating their own versions.

As a person from a foreign country, I have noticed that a lot of people of my age engaged in following different traveling blogs and video blogs. Most of them liked the idea of looking at how people from different cultures adopt in new country and get to be accepted by society. Videos with American’s trying Russian food, drinks, and listening to Russian music were gaining more than a million views. Those videos, along with different information from the media influencers, were making Russians think more about moving to another country, traveling or studying abroad.

Having the intention to move abroad is only the beginning for international students. It becomes harder when they start facing the real problems that can be caused by affording the living in a foreign country, knowledge of the foreign language, and the legislative information. However, media helps to find solutions to this problem. Websites can be used as means of information for both the spoken and unspoken rules of the country.

I want to introduce five steps for an international student to go studying abroad from my perspective:

Step 1: Get inspired to go abroad.

It might sound simple, but video bloggers are very good sources of inspiration. Go to social media you like the most. As an example, most Russians are fond of the Russian version of Facebook – Vkontakte. In there, even if you don’t follow traveling communities, you’ll notice that there are a lot of communities (publics) that share quotes of famous people along with pictures from different countries. If you feel that you like the picture, go ahead and look at multiple pictures from different perspectives of this place. Do you feel like falling in love with that place? That means that you have to go to the Second step.

Step 2: Research the place.

Research might sound boring and not exciting but only through research you can get important nuances about the culture and people. Wikipedia is a good source of basic information. Learn about the language, the most important sights, the national cuisine, the traditions and the legal aspects of the country. When you are traveling, you have to remember that in some countries authorities expect you to know the rules even if you broke the law. They would not excuse you for just being a traveler and have no knowledge of the law.

Step 3: Make connections.

Don’t be shy to find people online and talk to them. At least from the perspective of Russian students abroad, they are usually open to discuss their experience and help out other students. It takes a while to get used to another society. If you have someone giving you tips on how to act in a foreign country, you will find your experience abroad more exciting and easy. Especially if you have questions about life and Russian community abroad, a student, who already studied abroad, knows the place from the inside. It might be useful to get to know a person from your own country, because you will have support and feel like home during the assimilation period.

Step 4: Make updates.

It is very important to keep in touch with you friends and family from home. Don’t be worried about people thinking that you show off or post too much. Use your social media when you start feeling homesick. First month abroad might be hard due to new people and new experiences, you will make it easier for yourself by connecting to people you know for a while via Facebook or Instagram. Instagram might help you to be in touch with your old friends and get new ones because of the visual representations of your trip. If you feel confident about your social media account, be free to open it to public because it might help you to get in touch with students from your country who are also abroad.

Step 5: Don’t worry – be happy!

Even though getting used to new education system, new culture, and new acquaintances might make you feel anxious and out of place, social media might help you out. Look through the events happening near you and people attending it. You will be shocked when you realize how many entertaining events are taking place, and how many interesting people are going to be there. Don’t think that you will feel out of place because usually people abroad tend to be very welcoming to foreigners. If you are too afraid to attend events alone, find people who speak your language in a list of people in the event list. Same culture and traditions will give you freedom of action and help you to have fun, find new friends, and practice language skills.

New experience is always hard at first. You have to get through some unpleasant emotions in order to get as much positive as possible. I hope that you will find my tips helpful. Good luck at studying abroad!

Liz Vozjakova American University StudentLiza Vozjakova is a student in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C., where she majors in Public Relations. Born in Russia, she has lived in many different countries, as well, including Germany, Switzerland, and Slovakia. Her biggest passion is art and photography.