Why Social Networks are Important to International Students

By StudyLink

Social networks are becoming more and more prevalent; in 2012, Internet users spent more time on Facebook than any other site. But what happens when you’re thinking of studying abroad? How can social networks be harnessed to work for you, rather than just wasting your time looking through your friends’ timelines. In this article we take a look at how to use social networks wisely before you study abroad and how they can help in the planning stage of your study abroad journey, but then also how to use social networks once you’re studying abroad and how you can use sites such as LinkedIn once you graduate. If you find it useful, why not be sociable and share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter?
Before You Go
When you’re planning to study abroad, there are an endless amount of tasks that need to be completed; from finding your ideal study destination and choosing your course, to working out how much it will cost to study abroad. Social media can definitely be used at this stage of your study abroad experience. You can use sites such as Twitter to find out more about what current international students are saying about particular institutions. You could even reach out and ask them about their experiences directly. Search for key terms, such as ‘studying abroad’ and add in the name of the university you are interested in. You could also follow the institutions you’re interested in studying at to hear their latest news.
Watching YouTube and Vimeo videos of campus tours is the best way to get a feel for an institution if you can’t physically go there yourself, and it can give you an idea of the size of classrooms, recreational zones, and even how far away the halls of residence are from the main campus.
Finally, you can use social media to get in touch with expert advisors like us and ask questions! We’re on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and our team of experts help thousands of people who want to study abroad every month.
While You’re Away
Once you’ve made it to your study destination, it’s easy to think that social media then just becomes a tool for keeping in contact with your family and friends from home. Whilst this is definitely a great use for the likes of Facebook and Google+, and Google+ Hangouts are a great way to get the family together in the place, we’d also recommend joining groups on the respective social sites. Find sports teams and societies by using the search tools of Facebook and Twitter and engage with the group. LinkedIn is also great for this, particularly if you’re looking to join a professional group; a great way to enhance your knowledge of business in your study destination. Perhaps you’re studying accountancy or law; if so, find the relevant professional associations and take part in discussions. There is no better way to learn than by talking to like-minded individuals, whether it be through social media or in the real-world.
Of course, all the time you’re doing this, you are actively improving your language skills of that country, making you more employable. You’ll also find you enjoy the time you spend studying abroad far more.
When/If You Return
Once you’ve graduated, you may choose to return home. If you do, you’ll want to reverse the role of social media, and instead of keeping in touch with the friends and family you left behind when you went to study abroad, you can keep in contact with your new friends and lecturers you got to know whilst you were studying abroad. They will be able to keep up-to-date with what you are up to now that you’re back home, and you’ll be given friendly updates from them, keeping you up to speed with the latest goings on at the university you studied at.
Many universities also offer alumni groups on social networks, sometimes even specific accounts, in order to stay in touch with their graduates. By joining these groups, ‘Linking’ the pages, and following the accounts, you’ll stay up to date with the university, receive special graduate offers, such as discounts on postgraduate courses, and develop your own international network.
If you are able to stay abroad once you graduate, you may wish to use LinkedIn to search for jobs. LinkedIn has thousands of job adverts that are updated regularly, so keep your eye out for any that you could apply for. If you’re also already taking part in discussions in LinkedIn groups, you may also be able to reach out to other users to ask if any jobs are available within their companies.
What about you? How are you using social media to make your study experience better? Why not let us know… on social media. We’re on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, and we’d love to hear how you utilise social networking for studying abroad.

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