Hello Geobloggers, study abroad-ers, Penn State students, family and friends!
My name is Andy Gabriel and I am a new adviser in the Education Abroad Office here at Penn State. I am a recent graduate of Penn State with a B.A. in journalism, and a B.A. in religious studies. As an undergrad, I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan, where I took courses in Arabic language, contemporary Islamic thought and the Arab-Israeli conflict. I also kept a personal blog during my time in Jordan, which you can check out here
As part of my position as an adviser, I will be taking over as editor of the
Geoblog. While this is not exactly like being the editor of a magazine,
newspaper, etc., I am very excited to take on this role! I hope to
enhance the value of this blog from both the student-blogger perspective
and the audience perspective.
I know from experience that keeping a blog while abroad is rewarding for both the blogger and the reader. For the blogger, it is a useful tool that can help you contextualize, organize and reflect on your time in a foreign country. Ultimately it can lead to a more profound experience. Of course, it is great to keep a record of any kind -- whether a personal journal, diary, blog, vlog, etc. -- that you can refer back to later. Memories fade over time, no matter how extraordinary!
For those of us in the U.S., reading the Geoblog is like a small gateway to the numerous countries and cities that are hosting Penn State students. For some people, reading the Geoblog, and looking at the many pictures and occasional video, may be the closest they come to experiencing a foreign country! For those of us who have had the opportunity to travel and spend a significant amount of time abroad, there are still many
unfamiliar locations and always
new insights to explore. And, of course, friends and family members of students abroad want to know as much as possible about how their child/friend is spending their time in the new environment!
Maintaining an interest in and the relevance of the Geoblog requires a commitment from both the blogger and the reader. For the reader, I ask that you be an active
audience -- make comments (if possible) and ask questions; try to have a dialogue with the bloggers.
To the bloggers, I ask that you too become active audience members. Visit the Geoblog on a regular basis -- not just when you have something to post. Read about other students' experiences in different countries and cities all over the world and engage in lively conversation via the Geoblog. Being a global citizen is not just about relating your experiences to others; it is just as important to have an open dialogue with people from all over the world. Try to expand your horizons even more than your study abroad program is already doing; if you are studying in Western Europe, try reading some blog entries from students in East Asia or Africa. Bloggers in Australia or New Zealand may want to check out the scene in Paris or Rome.
A few quick notes to bloggers on quantity and quality:
I understand that balancing one's time while abroad is a difficult task considering the new environment and unique challenges that study abroad presents. I myself did not write as much as I would have liked while in Jordan. However, I ask that you do take the time to post regularly on the Geoblog; a short post is better than no post. Ideally, each entry will be well thought out, organized and follow a single theme. The entries that are the most interesting to read are those that attempt to explore aspects of the local culture that are unique, confusing, enlightening and/or in stark contrast to aspects of U.S. culture. I want each blogger to feel the freedom to write about anything; I will not edit any post before it is published. However, I remind each blogger that you are all representative of the U.S. and of Penn State; as such, I expect a high level of maturity and responsibility from each author. I will be monitoring the Geoblog regularly, and will remove any post that is racist, culturally offensive or otherwise inappropriate.
The Penn State Geoblog is just a small channel in the larger river of global communications. No matter how many people utilize the Geoblog as an author or a reader, there is always room for it to improve and become more relevant in the lives of students, friends and family. I believe that there is the potential for this blog to expand beyond the scope of Penn State and affect a larger audience. In this respect, the Geoblog is a continual and dynamic work-in-progress. Change does not happen overnight. I will do my part, but I am always open to suggestions, comments, concerns and the like. Bloggers, readers and anyone else interested in the Geoblog should feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I will occasionally post entries to update the status of the blog, announce significant changes or just to check in. Until that time, keep up the good work, and make the most of your time abroad!