Studying Abroad: A Multimedia Post

Studying abroad has become a very popular activity for college students in the United States. It is the product of many goals that both universities and students have when it comes to what they consider a valuable education. Colleges implement study abroad programs into their curriculums in order to give students many abilities and experiences that people look to get out of their education these days. These abilities and experiences include, “…global learning and development, intercultural competence, intercultural maturity, and intercultural sensitivity of students” (1). Students turn to study abroad programs to “…gain diverse attitudes, intercultural skills, and learning within a discipline” (1). These gains do not come immediately, however. It is when students journey outside of their comfort zone and go through the psychological processes that take place that they can fully reap the benefits of such a rich experience.

Studying Abroad: A Mind Exercise

Studying abroad requires students to make a dramatic transition from their normal routines at home, to a new one in an entirely different culture. One person who has successfully made this transition is Emmie Herbstman, a junior at the University of Michigan who is studying abroad in Barcelona. Herbstman spent the semester before this back in Ann Arbor, and arrived in Barcelona in early January. As a sojourner, or “…temporary visitor to another country who [will] return to [her] home country,” , she has had to adapt to the different social norms, expectations, and lifestyle of Barcelona (2). This is quite an undertaking, as there are several psychological processes that must occur in order to become fully adjusted.

Without knowing it, Herbstman has gone through an intense psychological development period in which she has subconsciously engaged in a roller coaster of emotions in response to her experiences abroad. An entire sub-category of psychology known as cross-cultural psychology focuses purely on the effects on behavior and thought processes that traveling across different cultural boundaries causes.

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This graph illustrates a version of the emotional roller coaster that sojourners experience during their time away from home, and after return as well (3).

There are different emotions and feelings associated with each step a sojourner must take in order to have a successful journey. These are important for students who are considering going abroad to be aware of so they somewhat know what to expect. The first phase consists of the preparation for the trip: packing, anticipating, and getting organized for a new lifestyle. The second phase occurs during the journey itself: becoming aware of the cultural differences, figuring out which cultural differences feel comfortable and which feel unnatural, and a greater understanding of the home culture as a matter of fact (2). Then, sojourners take part in the most difficult phase there is: adjustment. This requires both being aware of the differences and changing how one would normally respond to such differences in a home country to a more accepting, understanding way. Not surprisingly, students who study abroad often experience emotional discomfort, mental exhaustion, and physiological stress from the constant realization that they are far from home (2). The impact of these phases and emotions were not too intense for Herbstman, as she has had a pretty smooth adjustment to the ways of Barcelona.

Below is an interview with Herbstman about her experience abroad so far and how she has felt about it:

Where It All Began

Studying abroad: a time to grow, to experience, to make mistakes, and to learn. People have thought of international education in this way for many years, even centuries. Believe it or not, there is a vast history when it comes to the evolution of studying abroad. Emo of Friesland has been deemed the first person to ever study abroad as he travelled from his hometown in northern Holland to study at Oxford University in 1190 (4). Napoleon’s efforts to bring together all of Europe ignited thoughts about opening up boundaries, and after the Napoleonic Wars, the peace congressed raised topics that served as a leeway to the formation of an international education system. An organization was established in Europe in 1876 which would work to develop and maintain international education (4).

In America, the first abroad student came to study from Greece in 1835. Following this, Indiana University provided students with summer trips to countries in Europe where classes would count toward their academic requirements in the US (4). International education was slowly but surely becoming more common and understood as a way to expand on one’s education.

And finally, in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) was established and studying abroad started moving quickly into the minds of students. As technology and communication abilities improved, studying abroad became a much more popular interest (4).

And Where We Are Now

As technology and communication improvements have led to the proliferation of students studying abroad, they may also be the reason that the emotional roller coaster has not been so intense for Emmie Herbstman. During the preparation stage, Herbstman was able to stay in contact with people she knows who have also been abroad to Barcelona and instantly receive advice from them about what to pack, what to do in Barcelona, and what to expect. Since this is the case, the realizations of cultural differences were definitely still apparent to Herbstman, but may have come as more of a shock had she not talked to other Americans her age who experienced the same transition. Communication and technology have also brought together people from all different parts of the world and have spread shared beliefs, interests, and knowledge across continent boundaries. In a highly advanced, bustling, and rather international city like Barcelona, these blurred boundaries can be felt. During the adjustment phase, students can have an easier time since they can easily stay in contact with those back at home. Before technology allowed global communication to be so accessible, sojourners could not feel as strong ties to home as they can these days.

Communication and technology advancements have not only led to an easier connection between students who study abroad and their home countries, but also a connection with countries that surround them in their temporary homes as well. Study abroad students often take advantage of their time abroad to see and experiences cultures outside the country they choose to study in. Instead of being sojourners in these other countries, they become tourists, and usually only see the place they travel to for a weekend or so in between classes. Herbstman has traveled to a different part of Europe for the majority of the weekends she has been abroad. Websites make it easy to plan trips, find cheap flights, and view tourists’ and locals’ ratings on places to stay and eat.

Below is a video summary of the routine that this one study abroad student has adapted, which helps make the adjustment to a new culture easier. The video includes her everyday life, and well as some of the trips she has made over the weekends.

Sources:

  1. Braskamp, Larry A., David C. Braskamp, and Kelly Merrill. “Assessing progress in global learning and development of students with education abroad experiences.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad 18 (2009): 101-118.
  2. Sussman, Nan M. “Sojourners to another country: The psychological roller-coaster of cultural transitions.” Online readings in psychology and culture 8.1 (2002): 1-11.
  3. Smyth, Karen. “Sojourners 2.” Intercultural Interactions Psychology. CEA. Lecture.
  4. Lee, Megan. “The Complete History of Study Abroad.” Go Overseas. Go Overseas, 17 Apr. 2012. Web.

Valentí Sanjuan Presentation

Valentí Sanjuan was our guest speaker in class on Wednesday. It was so interesting to hear the story of someone who has used YouTube to develop his own brand, and now agency, and become an inspiration to so many people.

Valentí has established himself as a brand, representing hope, perseverance, strength and determination. He told us about how he has achieved this status, and it turns out that he has relied mostly on one source: YouTube. He maintains his own YouTube channel where he has developed a fan base made up of followers who want to stay updated on his adventures and great feats.

Here is one of the videos he showed in class, which exemplifies his strength and determination:

In each of his videos, he tells a story just as a journalist would. He emphasized in class that in order for a story to be effective and make an impact on viewers, it must be something that the storyteller is passionate about. He or she must really believe there is a reason other people should know about it, whether it is that it can move the world in a positive direction, make someone’s day better, or give people some inspiration. As Frederick Levy states in his book 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming A Star In The Youtube Revolution, “YouTube has always been about the idea of creating and developing something that would change the world” (1). Valentí Sanjuan’s success is a testament to this mission.

Valentí mentioned another necessary component of being a successful journalist: a camera — but not necessarily the kind of professional camera used to film a reality television show. The only tool anyone needs to portray their story to the world on YouTube is an iPhone. In previous class discussions, we’ve identified the iPhone as a key tool when it comes to citizen journalism. Valentí made the point that the iPhone can do everything necessary to document a story: It provides a way to find sources to support an argument, a way to upload videos, a way to grow audiences (through social media sites), and a way to respond to the audience’s feedback about the video. As Valentí states, 10 years ago you needed a lot of help to broadcast your story to a wide audience. Today, all you need is the curiosity and desire to tell a story, or to “give something a voice, inspire people,” as Valentí said.

I thought it was especially fascinating when Valentí pointed out the fact that even though he owns his brand, he is not his only boss. His main boss is made up of the mass of people who give him the support he needs to continue doing his job– in other words, his fans. This made me realize how much power YouTube has in determining who or what can become a trustworthy, popular source of information and stories.

Valentí Sanjuan was such an entertaining, interesting and informative guest speaker. It is truly amazing how he was able to branch off from the show “Visto Lo Visto” and do something completely different with his time and energy. Using only a self-held camera and the social networking abilities of YouTube, he has managed to gain the ability to reach tens of thousands of people and tell inspiring stories that positively impact viewers. He encourages people to focus on the good in life and believe that anyone can get through difficult times with the right attitude. Valentí says he is only focused on the present and doesn’t make any plans for the future. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.

Sources:

  1. Levy, Frederick. 15 Minutes of Fame: Becoming a Star in the YouTube Revolution. Penguin, 2008.

Journalism of the People, by the People, for the People

Citizen journalism has become an increasingly popular source of information in society today. Many events that have taken place in the world have been covered by regular people, with regular phone cameras, and simple intentions of getting the word out. On January 15, 2009, Jim Hanrahan or “Manolantern” published a tweet that would light a news wildfire. The tweet read, “I just watched a plane crash into the hudson riv in manhattan” (1). And just like that, Hanrahan became a citizen journalist who documented a monumental moment in history and spread this vital information for the world to see.

Citizen journalism has been enabled by the development and growth of online social networks, which allow people to communicate across divides of communities, countries and often authoritarian government news policies (2). Anyone who chooses to send out a message can reach thousands, even millions of people. Social networks have allowed citizen journalism to gain a following and credibility, as regular citizens are becoming some of the first live reporters on a scene through a simple tweet, youtube video, or Facebook Live stream.

Citizen journalists have been instrumental in covering many events in recent history. One grim situation where citizen journalists have been essential is the conflict in Syria. Citizen journalists are risking their lives to share what is happening in Aleppo, and around 70 of these people have been killed in the process of reporting to date (3). Since the government has prevented international media from accessing the events happening in Syria, citizens have taken the initiative to document the events themselves. Without their visual documentation and informative reports, the world would not know what is going on.

Because there are so many dangers in reporting from the ground in Syria, the foreign press sends fewer reporters to capture the events. As a result, professional news sources have worked to collaborate with citizen journalists and assist them in reaching as many people across the world as possible (4). Citizen journalists can send videos, images and reports to those professional news sources. Below is a video which captures the life of one citizen journalist working to record events in Syria.

The rise of citizen journalism is often questioned due to its contrast with traditional journalism. However, its popularity has allowed more and more people to make a difference and be heard simply by using a smartphone or 140-character tweet. Professional news corporations are collaborating with and working off of information provided by citizens more and more (2). As Melissa Wall writes in her research article on citizen journalism, “the act of ordinary people creating media content that includes information (“’news”) has become a commonly accepted practice around the world, viewed by millions as alternative, authentic news or even simply as an everyday practice” (2). Citizen journalism has given power and strength to the voices that need it most.

Sources:

  1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/4269765/New-York-plane-crash-Twitter-breaks-the-news-again.html
  2. http://nca.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2014.1002513?scroll=top&needAccess=true
  3. http://www.wired.co.uk/article/syrian-citizen-journalists
  4. http://www.rferl.org/a/syria-war-reported-by-citizen-journalists-social-media/24630841.html

Looking Back

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This week we have midterms. Wow. That means we are already halfway through our time abroad which is absolutely crazy and really hard to believe. It feels as if I have been living in Barcelona for a while when I think about how long ago it was that we moved into our apartment. But then again it feels like I just got here a week ago. Time moves fast during the week, faster during the weekends, and so the months roll on and on. So in this post I won’t talk about a trip or aspect of social media– I will make a list of some of the lessons I have learned about abroad, traveling, and living in general.

  1. Not having a dryer can be fun. When we first arrived in Barcelona and realized that we did not have a dryer, we were not mad or anything like that, just a little intimidated. It seemed like a lot to hang dry everything in the dark little patio area right outside our kitchen door. It was drafty, voices echoed all around, and it was, well, really dirty. However, now that two months have gone by and we have gotten used to hang drying, I can actually say I enjoy it a little bit. Now that the weather is nice and warm here in Barcelona, it is calming to take a step outside the kitchen door into the night and peacefully hang clothes on the line. The voices are no longer just voices… now we can somewhat put faces to them. Babies giggle, pots and pans clank together during dinner time, and voices murmur in the darkness as everyone is settling in for the night. So, long story short, not having a dryer is not bad at all.
  2. Pack so so so so light for weekend trips. The first trip we went on, to Copenhagen, I stuffed my bag. Too much. It was a pain to carry in the airport. Most of all, I needed less than half the clothes I brought. Wearing the same sweater the entire time you are away on a weekend trip is not a big deal. You are only there for two days and you will be happy when your bag is lighter and you can more easily and comfortably make your way through the airport. Also, a stuffed bag means the risk of the airline telling you that your bag must be checked before you board, which is not what you want to hear because that means more waiting at the other end, and less time in the city you are traveling to.
  3. Look around as you make your daily commute. When I first started making my daily commute to school on the train, I was only focused on getting to my final destination. But, I have realized, that my daily commute is such an interesting part of my day. I actually get to be a part of the city and see the everyday hustle and bustle of the city. In that way, I am actually thankful that I have somewhat of a little journey every morning.
  4. Write. Even about the little things. I have been taking notes in my phone during weekend trips and whenever I experience something I think I will want to remember when I return home and this all seems like just a dream. I am happy I have written down what I’ve seen, what I’ve eaten, what I’ve loved, what I’ve struggled to understand, and any funny moments that happen. I know I will appreciate these notes down the line.

This is only a starting list of what I’ve realized/what I’ve learned. There is so much more…

London, Eye Love You

The next trip we took was to London. I had not planned on going to London before I left for Barcelona, but I am so glad I did. Our trip started off great until we got on the wrong train from the airport. OOPS. Even signs in English can’t lead us to the right place. Well, it was quite a shock realizing that we were going deep into the countryside instead of towards the heart of the city. When we handed the man our ticket to get stamped on the train, I knew immediately from his crumpled brow and lengthy concentration on the ticket that something was off. He told us that no, we were not on the right train, but yes, it would be easy to transfer back to the right line.

Where did we mean to go? To tea, of course J We had made a reservation for late afternoon tea at the Strand Palace Hotel. I had only had afternoon tea once in Washington, D.C. We got off the metro and stored our bags with the front desk in the hotel. I ordered a mint tea which was absolutely delicious. Then, came the towers of finger sandwiches and sweets. Our eyes widened as we realized that not only one of the four towers the waitress was holding was for us, but ALL of the four towers. We would each get our own tower. Wow. After picking through most of the tower and finishing our last sips of tea, we left the hotel to go check in to our hostel.

We decided to stay at the Generator Hostel which was great—highly recommend. Very cool, comfortable atmosphere. Very clean, as well. Music was playing in the lobby and the people at the front desk greeted us with welcoming smiles. So far, London was great except for the little train incident. We quickly dropped our bags (which was something we would be getting used to during all of our weekend trips), changed, and then went to Wahaca for dinner. I got a pork burrito and Passion Fruit Margarita—perfect meal. The guacamole is superb and must be ordered as an appetizer by anyone who makes a visit to Wahaca.

The next day, we woke up early and had a quick breakfast of eggs and toast at the hostel. Before we left, we glanced out the window and realized it was snowing. According to our friends studying abroad in London, it was the coldest weekend yet of the semester. We bundled up and made our way to the London Eye, warm coffees in hand. We waited for about 45 minutes in the line to get on the huge contraption. I looked across the river at Big Ben as we made the loop in what seemed like a snow globe. After the Eye, we walked to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. We took pictures in front of the red phone booths, of course. Then, the cold got to us. All we wanted to do was warm up with a nice hot drink… so tea it was! This time, we went to tea at Harrods. What a store. We shared two types of tea—Vanilla and English Rose—and snacked on warm scones with jam.

That night, we went to a favorite bar of our friends called O’Neill’s. On the first floor, a DJ played music that was similar to what we hear at bars near school. On the second floor, however, a live band played throwback nineties songs that we sang and bounced along to. Such a unique experience and so, so fun.

Another magical trip filled with good music, snowy London streets, and a new found love for afternoon tea.

First Stop– Copenhagen

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetIt was our first trip out of Spain—our first weekend adventure abroad. We chose to go to Copenhagen because of all the wonderful things we had heard about it. It would be cold—really cold compared to Barcelona. So, we packed our bags with sweaters, hats and scarves and set out on Friday morning.

As we went through security, it hit me. I was about to go to Denmark… a place I had only heard about once or twice in school, mostly in my psychology courses since it has been called the happiest country on earth. We were so excited to see, to taste, to experience everything that we could in the city over the two and a half days we would spend there. As we went through security, our passports or IDs were never checked and that came as a shock. Later we learned that when you fly within the EU, they don’t check for ID until it is time to board the plane. Different. Really different.

The hotel we chose was a short train ride from the airport. We checked in, dropped our bags, and made our way into the magical city. We decided to go to Café Norden for dinner as it was a strongly recommended restaurant from my friend at home. It was AMAZING. And so cozy.

First, we ordered blueberry mojitos. Then, I got the open-faced sandwiches—a Danish specialty. There were three of them (yes I was stuffed after). One was tuna, one chicken salad, and the other shrimp. All piled on thick, toasted bread. Yum. Sophie got the tuna tartar and Emmie got mini chicken burgers. We were quite satisfied. Little did we know we were about to fall in love with the city even more. Big time.

The next day we woke up early to get the most of the day. First we had breakfast at Union Kitchen, which I highly recommend! Then we headed to Nyhavn—the area of town with the line of colorful buildings that sit right on the water. As we approached Nyhavn, we could hear music from the little band that sat on the square in front of the dock. The sun sparkled off the canal and the houses sat in their colorful glory. This is where the love came. I was absolutely amazed at the beauty and simplicity of the place. We signed up for a canal tour where we were taken on a large boat and shown many of the landmarks, including Hans Christian Andersen’s little mermaid, the architecture museum, and the Copenhagen Street Food market where we would go for dinner later. The tour guide told us that the city burns garbage to produce electricity, but they don’t have enough garbage to produce enough for everyone so they have to import more garbage. How perfect could this city get?

After the tour, we warmed up with some Irish coffee at a little café on the canal. We then tried to find the trampolines that are set in the sidewalk somewhere along the water but just couldn’t. Instead, we decided to take a ride on one of the bike-buggies and the driver showed us some cool views along the way. We were cold, but it didn’t matter. The beauty kind of distracted from it.

Then, we experienced what would be our favorite part of the trip. We took a cab to the Copenhagen Street Food market also called “Paper Island.” I had never been in awe so many times in the span of two days. The market is inside a giant warehouse, right on the water. It is bustling and beautiful and warm at night. Music plays throughout the entire place and everyone is just so happy (no surprise). There are stands and stands of different foods from Moroccan flatbreads (which we got) to Italian to Chinese, to every dessert you could imagine. After the market, we met our friends at a small, local bar where everyone danced and sang and requested songs.

In the morning, we packed our bags and headed for brunch before going to the airport. We went to the restaurant Mad & Kaffe where you are given the freedom to pick either three, five, or seven small dishes to make up your meal. The choices range from oatmeal to fruit to avocado to eggs to a freshly baked cinnamon roll. I chose to get three: fried eggs with chives, yogurt with granola, and blood orange slices.

Needless to say, the weekend went by way too fast. Copenhagen was an absolute dream city, a winter wonderland. It was like nowhere I had ever seen before. Even though we were sad to say farewell to our weekend love, we were ready to return to our first love—the beautiful and spirited city of Barcelona.

The Age of Mobile Journalism

Journalists no longer need to be published in a magazine, newspaper, or on the radio and television in order to spread information. There is a new journalistic practice that allows reporters to send their message directly from the scene of the event or anywhere they choose straight to viewers, all with minimal technology.This journalistic practice is called mobile journalism or “mojo” for short, and is being increasingly utilized by reporters across the world. Mobile handset devices have been developed to make this possible and are capable of “…portable digital media production and data transfer systems with configurations of features such as still and video camera capabilities, multimedia file swapping, global positioning satellite receivers, music players” and even more (1). Smartphones can manage these things as well with the download of appropriate applications. Mobile journalists can report news updates from anywhere around the world, at any time. Mobile journalism allows for a more flexible communication of updates and events since news rooms and entire production crews are not needed to effectively spread the information (1).

For mobile journalists who are working with a phone, there are some techniques that they must follow in order to create a credible and effective piece. According to the Missouri School of Journalism, there are five basic execution tips that, if followed, can lead to a piece that is enjoyable to watch. Even though mobile journalism is considered a less structured way to produce news pieces, there are still guidelines that reporters need to follow regarding camera angles, microphone usage, light and stabilization.

From the article “Five mobile journalism basics” by Judd Slivka

Mobile journalism has been described as a way for reporters to get “closer to the story” as stated in an article about the up and coming journalistic style. In the article attached in the tweet below, Geertje Algera, a mobile journalist at Geertje Algera Media explains the benefits of mobile journalism. Algera mentions how the absence of bigger cameras, entire crews and logistical planning leads to more raw and quickly delivered news update. Algera also brings up the fact that mobile journalism allows for less intrusive, more personal interviews of people. Now, the story can be produced from purely the journalist and subject of interest’s interaction, and not be affected by any intimidating cameras, newsroom sets or large crews. To read the full story about what this mobile journalism professional has to say, click below:

With the rise of mobile journalism, journalists must have knowledge of this practice and the skills to “…gather news with mobile devices, use them to interact with the social media audience, and how to format content appropriately for the medium” (2). Researchers collected more than 700 job postings from TV and newspaper companies in the United States and found that most of the positions require these skills in order to be considered for hire (2). Students who are studying to become journalists also must learn a whole new set of skills compared to those who were studying journalism before.

The rise in mobile journalism makes it so that important news updates can be spread across the world, even if a news room or camera crew are not available at the scene. This rather spontaneous and versatile way of communicating news makes it so that more real and less staged interviews can be shown, breaking news can be reported, and voices can be heard.

Sources:

  1. Cameron, David. “Mobile journalism: A snapshot of current research and practice.” Artigo consultado a 19.04 (2009): 2011.
  2. Wenger, Debora, Lynn Owens, and Patricia Thompson. “Help wanted: Mobile journalism skills required by top US news companies.” Electronic News 8.2 (2014): 138-149.