“Today I saw the Spanish steps and explored the Via del Corso. The view from the top of the steps is amazing. It was just about sunset when I reached the top and saw the sun dip behind the horizon.”
Philip Henry Assetto, a finance major from Penn State, returned to his Italian roots this spring through the Temple Rome program. When he auditioned for a blogging-contest hosted by studyabroad.com, little did he know that hundreds of other students would follow his daily excursions through his blog. One of the chosen three out of more than 100 applicants, Assetto’s blog receives an average of 400 visitors per week.
Banking on the popularity of blogs among high school and college students, Studyabroad.com decided to try to communicate the benefits of studying abroad through blogs.
“We saw student blogs as the perfect opportunity to use the emerging technology of blogging,” said John Duncan, product manager of Studyabroad.com.
This was the very first time Studyabroad.com has featured student blogs. The experiment has been so popular that Studyabroad.com said “we are planning to continue.”
Assetto agrees with the philosophy.
“My study abroad was an opportunity to share an experience that I think other people can enjoy reading about or even find it useful,” he said.
Although he is not sure if he will continue to blog after his return, he definitely plans to continue to write. Assetto updates his blog at least three times a week, often more. Mindsay.com, the Web site that hosts the blog, nominates the six most popular blogs at the end of each day.
“Phil’s blog has been nominated almost every time he has posted,” Duncan said.
Assetto’s writing is engaging and powerful, describing the intricacies of living in a new country.
“Some of my best entries are when I force myself to describe something I had seen or comment on something I had been thinking about.” Assetto’s blog has become the living, breathing study abroad handbook that Studyabroad.com had visualized through this project.
With traveling, school work and the excitement of being in a new country, it is sometimes difficult for Assetto to set aside time for blogging. But with the wireless network at the Temple Rome campus, he composes entries whenever he can and posts them online. Assetto’s blog allows readers to leave comments which sometimes are harsh and critical.
“I have the habit of keeping them in the back of my mind when I write,” he said. “Sometimes I edit myself for fear of upsetting someone too much.”
Temple officials at the International Programs office are very excited that one of their students was chosen.
“This is a great idea to reach out to students about studying abroad, and here we have our own Temple spokesman,” said Kelly Dougherty, outreach and marketing coordinator for International Programs.
Dougherty thinks an endeavor like this is especially positive because most students report that they find out about study abroad programs through friends and peers.
Jinal Shah can be reached at Jshah28@yahoo.com.