A Fantastic International Resource: GoAbroad.net

Bert Maxwell's picture

Do you have students and faculty going overseas? I've found an extraordinary resource for students, faculty, and international offices. I've delved deeply into the site and found both travelers journals and a new way to interact with students. The site? www.GoAbroad.net.

I recently was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Troy Peden, one of the founders of GoAbroad.net and GoAbroad.com. Here's what he had to say...


WE:
  How did the site get started/come about?

TP:
We had a few specific goals in mind when we created the site.  We wanted a site that would allow the traveler the ability to create the ultimate ‘postcard’ for their family and friends back home including some advanced journaling, photo and interactive map tools.  We also wanted to recreate the experience we had years ago when we travelled abroad and learned about the next destination from the bulletin board at the hostel or from the guy you met at the ruins who shared his contacts because he had just come from your there. Finally we wanted to create an administrative tool for travel and study abroad coordinators who rather than fearing blogs could embrace the experience and use it to interact and communicate with their travelers and participants.  I think we have accomplished all those goals.

We developed an interest in creating a site like GoAbroad.net in 2001. At the time, we partnered and gave advice on a similar site, but it lacked the features and functions we thought were necessary. We wanted a professional-looking travel blog site that would also be a social networking site, and a communications tool for study-abroad offices and travel groups. We wanted it to be easy to navigate and geared toward experiential travelers — people looking for a deeper travel experience than the average tourist or vacationer. No site like it existed by 2007, so we decided to invest and create it ourselves. 


WE:
What are your goals for the site?

TP: Our goal is not to become the biggest site, but the best. We want to focus on meaningful travel journals, and to provide the best platform and most advanced programming for people to document their travels. We want to add more blogging tools to the ones we’ve already developed, like MyTravelBio or MyTravelMap. We also plan to provide more tools for organizations in our field, who use GoAbroad.net to create and manage online communities for their travel or study-abroad groups.


WE:
What are some of the things that people are talking about, on your site?

TP:
  Our members are interested in “meaningful” travel, and so they are involved in a really diverse range of activities. Many of our bloggers are living or working in developing countries. A large percentage of our members are involved in study-abroad programs or internships, and for some of them, it’s their first time overseas. They talk about what strikes them about the country they’re visiting. There are cultural observations and personal reflections that come from being a foreigner. We also have well-seasoned travelers who talk about how places have changed since they’d been there last, or how one place compares to another. People are sharing travel advice and experiences. We have non-members who visit the site quite a bit to read blogs about countries that they plan to visit.



WE: 
How can educators get involved with GoAbroad.net?

TP: They can start an Advisor Group. This means they create a main program page for all study-abroad programs, and act as the moderator. Their students then become group members. Students can blog, post their photos, etc., but a huge advantage is that they are now linked online to their advisor and to other students in their program. Advisors use the site to contact students, send announcements and bulletins, and that type of thing. They can store all their documents on the program page so students can download them anytime. Many of our advisors require their students to submit regular online journals as part of their study-abroad curriculum. Since they moderate the page, they approve all blogs and photos. It’s all free. We reproduce the look and feel of their university or travel organizations’ home page, or we create co-brand partnerships, also free.

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TP: GoAbroad Network is, in our opinion, unique among travel blog sites and social networking sites.  While we have made several of our features into Facebook applications, so that members can use the GoAbroad Network simultaneously with Facebook, our users can choose to interactive in a very exclusive group of those similar travelers on their programs or in their destinations while still sharing their travel experience with the their ‘friends’ and the world.

The GoAbroad Network was designed be more thoughtful and progressive than the average travel blog site or the social networking site. We try to keep the focus on world travels and experiences, and not necessarily on being goofy or sharing music or hooking up. There are sites like Facebook that already fill that niche, and we have no interest in reproducing it. We have made several of our features into Facebook applications, so that our members can use the GoAbroad Network simultaneously with Facebook, if they want. What we’ve come up with is an interesting travel site that is fun to join, or just to browse through.


WE:
Thanks so much, Troy! I've been so excited to interact on your site with people, and explore all the offerings that are there. You've got a fantastic resource for both travelers and educators!

To explore the site in greater detail, please see: www.GoAbroad.net

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