If you receive a scholarship from the Office of International Programs for a semester abroad, you are required to blog five times during your study abroad experience. Each blog must be at least 350 words. You must complete:
- 1 blog before you depart (see below for required prompt)
- 3 blogs while you are abroad (about once a month)
- 1 blog after you have arrived back home, within two weeks (see below for required prompt)
Please note that if you do not stay on track with your blogs your scholarship will be revoked. If you are experiencing technical difficulties or are otherwise unable to upload, it is your responsibility to follow the troubleshooting guide below and/or contact the Office of International Programs.
Logging into the Blog
Instructions for logging into the blog is included below
- Navigate to the login URL: http://social.rollins.edu/wpsites/letters/wp-admin
- Then type in your username, which is your Rollins ID
- Then in the next line, enter your password, which is your Rollins ID password
- Click enter and if successful, you’ll be taken to the Dashboard
- Be sure to not add @rollins.edu when you log in. This will give you an error.
- Your username is not case-sensitive. Your password, however, is.
- If you are receiving an error that your password is incorrect but you believe it is, you will need to contact the Help Desk (contact information is provided below).
Adding New Content:
- Log in following the instructions above
- Once logged in to your Dashboard, select +New from top menu bar.
- To add a new blog post, select post from drop down menu under +New.
- To add a photo or video, select Media from the drop down menu.
- If you are on the “Letters to America” generic home page, the +New option still appears across the top of the screen as long as you are logged in, making it possible to move directly from viewing others’ blog posts to writing a new entry of your own.
- From your Dashboard (your personal home menu) a menu across the top allows you to navigate to the Letters to America blog site, see messages you have received on your profile, +New posts, and View your personal blog page.
- On the side of your Dashboard, another menu allows you to view Comments, Search Live media on the Letters to America site, and alter the Appearance of your personal blog profile.
- On the side menu, you can view other site users and view your own Profile.
- Don’t be afraid to test different options and click through different effects available on the side bar menu! If you run into any problems, contact the help desk (contact information listed below).
Help Desk Assistance
If for any reason, you’re still unable to access the site, the Help Desk is here willing to assist you.
- Phone Number: 407.628.6363
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Monday-Thursday: 8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Sunday: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Although you might be overseas, there is still available tech assistance. E-mail the Help Desk and they can schedule an online session with you at your convenience. This will only require an internet connection; so no long-distance charges for you!
Need Help or Ideas for Blogging??
This prompt is required for your pre-departure post. Please read it carefully before completing your first blog:
When you applied to study abroad, you completed a short activity that asked you to choose some words to describe your different identities, as well as some values you associated with those identities. In the pre-departure orientation, we looked at some different values and placed ourselves and US culture on a spectrum between them. We also discussed what aspects of our identities informed our place on the spectrum as well as how US culture evolved to have certain values.
Thinking back to both of these activities and looking forward to your study abroad experience, how does your identity impact how you see and experience the world? Does your identity afford you any advantages and/or disadvantages? What other identities do you expect to encounter abroad? How might the people you meet abroad experience the world differently from you? What advantages and disadvantages do you think their identities might afford them?
First Couple Weeks Abroad
1. Describe why you wanted to go abroad. What has the process been like preparing for your departure? If you’ve never gone abroad before, what are you expecting your experience to be like? If have gone abroad before, how do you think this experience will be different?
2. What do you think you will learn during your time abroad? What goals do you have for the study abroad experience? What skills or competencies do you want to gain through study abroad?
3. Describe your level of comfort with trying new experiences outside your comfort zone. What are you excited for? What are you afraid of?
4. Make a list of everything you know about your host country. What do you perceive to be its cultural norms, values, and traditions? What aspects of your host country’s culture are you hoping to learn more about? What still confuses you? What do you think will be the easiest/hardest adjustment?
1. When was a time you felt very aware of any of your personal identities while in your host country? How did it feel to be the “outsider” and what did you learn from that experience?
2. Have you experienced homesickness? Discuss how you’ve sought support from family, friends, and peers both home and abroad. How did you try to connect with your host culture to make it feel more like home?
3. How are your language skills progressing? Are you able to make calls, ask for directions, etc.? What is it liked to use another language regularly, to live in a place where you aren’t fluent?
4. Describe the most impactful assignment you’ve had to complete as part of your coursework. This could be related to learning a language, conducting research, connecting with a chapter in a textbook, making discoveries in a paper you’ve written, or anything else. Explain how your studies abroad are connecting with your academic experiences at Rollins or even with your intended career field.
5. Curtis S. Chin, a former United States ambassador to the Asian Development bank, wrote a New York Times op-ed piece titled “Studying Abroad Can Be an Expensive Waste of Time” (2013). He said, “Studying abroad is not essential to a good education or to helping one better understand the changing world we live in. Studying abroad can be a nice ‘add on’ in theory, but it also can be a waste of time, or simply a good time, for an unfocused – and privileged – high school or university student. Education is about instilling knowledge, increasing opportunities and opening the eyes of our young people, and that can be done without fancy and expensive study abroad programs.” Based on your experience, describe the extent to which you agree or disagree with Mr. Chin’s thoughts.
6. Describe your interactions with locals while at a market, restaurant, public transportation… Or interactions with other students, in class, study groups, sporting activities, extracurricular clubs, student union…
7. Tell us about your routine. What is it like shopping for groceries? Running errands? Commuting? How do you spend your time? Do you have a favorite place to relax or hangout?
8. Thinking back to “The U-Curve of Cultural Adjustment” from orientation, have you experienced any moments of Cultural Euphoria, Cultural Confrontation, Cultural Adjustment, or Cultural Adaptation? What triggered these moments? How did you deal with them?
9. Thinking back to the Iceberg Metaphor from orientation; what have you discovered “below the surface” in your host country and culture? What has surprised you the most? What strategies have you used to see “below the surface”?
10. Reflect on your time abroad and identify one or more specific experiences directly related to a cultural behavior, habit or value you observed.
a. Describe: What happened? Describe the experience(s) objectively, without using any judgmental language.
b. Interpret: Why? Articulate your interpretation of what happened from at least two perspectives: Your perspective—this may involve positive or negative language. You can make judgments here; it’s most important to be honest in sharing your own viewpoint. The perspective of your host culture—you will need to draw on your knowledge of the host culture/country to try and explain the incident from this viewpoint.
c. Evaluate: How does this help you better understand your experience and the host culture?
The following is the required prompt for your return blog. Please post this blog within two weeks of your return home:
Before you studied abroad, we asked you to write a blog post about your own identity and the people you would encounter abroad. Go back and read your post.
Now that you have spent a full semester abroad, and looking back at your original thoughts, have you changed your mind at all: does your identity impact how you see and experience the world? Does your identity afford you any advantages and/or disadvantages? What other identities did you encounter abroad? How do the people you met abroad experience the world differently from you? What advantages and disadvantages do their identities afford them?
If you want to write more, here are some other prompts you can use to reflect on your time abroad:
1.Describe a time you felt you were fully immersed in the culture of your host country. How did it feel to be comfortable in a place that isn’t your home?
2. What’s the most important experience or lesson you learned from being abroad? What skills or competencies have you acquired that will help you when you return to campus? Or in your future career?
3. Are you experiencing any culture shock as you transition back to life at home? If yes, how are you handling the transition? Are you surprised by anything?
4. Make a list of the top misunderstandings you believe Americans have about your host country/culture and explain why you think so many people have these misunderstandings. How about misunderstandings people in your host country have about America or Americans?
5. Which aspects of your host culture did you connect with the most? Discuss which of these aspects you believe you can easily continue practicing now that you are home and which will be difficult to continue.
Ideas for Photo and Video Blogs
Instead of creating a written blog consisting of a minimum of 350 words, you have the opportunity to develop and submit a video blog or photo essay instead. For a video or photo essay, you must choose any one of the blog prompts. Videos must be 3-5 minutes in length with Narration. Photo essays must include at least 6 photos, which are fitting and supportive of your blog’s ideas, and at least 150 words describing the photos either in captions or in an introductory or concluding paragraph.
* Photo: Post a picture of a special object, symbol, statue, historical area, or anything of significance to your host culture and explain the meaning behind the photo. Provide context about the image based on information you’ve learned formally in class or anecdotally from locals or peers.
* Video 1: Chronicle your daily path from home to school (or study site, research site, etc.). Either with or without narration, document what your home looks like, the buildings you pass, sights you see, and roads you use to travel. End your video when you arrive to school.
* Video 2: Have you learned how to make any local food or drinks? Either narrating your recipe or captioning your video, show the process from beginning to end and explain its cultural significance.
* Video 3: Visit your favorite restaurant or street vendor in your host country. Ask for permission to video interview the chef or vendor about the work they do or why they do it.
* Video 4: Everyone has a story. Are there any locals unaffiliated with your program who you seem to see frequently? Ask for permission to video interview them about what they do in your host country and what they appreciate most or least about their culture.
* Pecha Kucha: PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format in which a presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds each. The images advance automatically, and presenters talk along the images (see http://www.pechakucha.org/ for more information). Create a Pecha Kucha describing your time abroad either verbally narrating your photos or captioning them. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9zxNTpNMLo) describes how to create a Pecha Kucha presentation within PowerPoint.