Pinterest is one of our favorite places to find and organize inspiration. It's not all fluffy kittens and wedding decorations either. In fact, it's an excellent tool for study abroad, from the time the initial idea enters your mind to the days after your return to the States. Think of Pinterest as a collection of ongoing research.
A SHORT BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO PINTEREST
If you have a Pinterest account, skip this paragraph! For anyone new to Pinterest, it's simple to use and you'll be adding pins (like visual bookmarks) before you know it. Here's a brief Pinterest 101:
- Visit Pinterest.com and sign up with your name and email address.
- Choose a few interests from their list to get you started.
- Find pins that inspire you and click the Pin It button. You can install a Pin It button on your browser task bar so it's easy to pin images from any website. Click on the "+" next to your name at the top right of your page for instructions.
- The "+" next to your name is also where you can upload a new pin from your own photos or create new boards (topics for your collections).
- Start pinning!
- Note: If you click on a pin, it will open a larger version. If you click again, it will take you through to the original source, such as an article or blog post.
Before we dive in, here are 3 quick pinning tips:
- Use hashtags (#) to make key words searchable (ie - #London or #studyabroad).
- Use @ to mention another Pinner, to bring their attention to an image or article (ie - @CAPAStudyAbroad).
- Long images are more likely to be shared than smaller landscape images.
Below, we'll share 10 ways in which Pinterest and study abroad go hand in hand. We'd love to hear how you use this very visual platform as well.
1. DESTINATION INSPIRATION. Location possibilities are endless when you initially decide to study abroad. If you've narrowed it down to a couple of destinations, set up a Pinterest board for each of them and start collecting articles and images that will keep you excited during the pre-departure stage and help you make your final choice. Otherwise, a more general "Possible Study Abroad Destinations" board will suffice while you gather inspiration from around the world to help you decide where to go. Use the comments under each image to scribble pros and cons for each. We've set up boards for each CAPA global city destination to help get you started: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Florence, Istanbul, London, Shanghai and Sydney!
2. PRE-DEPARTURE PLANNING. Building a Pinterest board around the pre-departure process can help you stay organized. Keep track of what you'd like to bring along by pinning articles with packing lists, carry-on suggestions and packing tricks. You can pin infographics that show the best times to book airline tickets, a list of books you'd like to read or movies you'd like to watch about your destination before you go and perhaps some local style inspiration for the fashion conscious among you. Check out the CAPA "Travel Tips" board for starters. Have a look at the "Travel Safety" board as well for a few things to keep in mind before you go and while you're abroad.
3. ABROAD BUCKET LIST. Once you choose your study abroad destination, you'll likely be doing plenty of research on what you'd love to do while you're there, creating a study abroad wish list. Dig through travel articles and blogs and gather advice from friends or family who may have already been to your host city. An "Abroad Bucket List" board on Pinterest is a great way to keep track of your personal study abroad goals. Use the comments that come below the images to remind yourself what it is that has drawn you to a particular place or activity. It's also fun to go back and edit the descriptions once you're abroad with a "TICK!" so you can see how much you've accomplished. Check out our destination boards for some ideas: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Florence, Istanbul, London, Shanghai and Sydney.
4. LEARN A LANGUAGE. If you're heading to one of CAPA's global city destinations like Beijing, Buenos Aires, Florence, Istanbul or Shaghai where English is not the first language, you'll have a deeper , more meaningful experience if you learn a bit before you go. Pinterest can be useful here. You can pin articles you'd like to return to with language learning tips or with suggestions for the best language learning apps. You can also pin images from everyday life and use the comments to write out the vocabulary and a sentence about the image in your new language. The images will work as a visual trigger that will help you remember what you are learning. Start with our "Leaning Languages" board and personalize your own from there.
5. WEEKEND TRIP WISH LIST. Some study abroad students prefer to stay put and explore their local area, which is a wonderful way to get to know the culture in greater depth (you chose your destination for a reason, right?). Many, however, enjoy a weekend trip (or a few) to a nearby part of the world (or within the same country) that is now much closer than it would be if they were traveling all the way from the States. If that's something you plan to do, set up a Pinterest board with some of your favorite options, using the comments section for notes such as why you'd like to travel there, how much a flight would be, best restaurants to try while you're there, etc. You can share your board with friends you might wish to travel with so they can pin to the same place. We have a "Weekend Travel" board to strike up some inspiration.
6. MAKE LOCAL CONNECTIONS. Whether it's actually meeting locals from your host city before you leave home or simply reading their advice through interviews, blogs and articles, Pinterest can help form connections. You can search for pinners from your host city and pin images from their boards, commenting to engage with them. Pin from articles you've read about local hidden gems or off the beaten cafes, using the comments as notes. You might find that many of the bloggers who write about your host city also use Pinterest. Check for their social media icons and connect with them there.
7. THE OBLIGATORY FOOD BOARD. A favorite use of Pinterest is to keep track of recipes and oogle delicious looking local meals. Whether you're pinning images of your own afternoon tea in London, foods from abroad that you'd love to try or gathering recipe inspiration for when you're cooking for yourself in your accommodation, it's definitely worth having a food board on Pinterest. Check out Bon Appétit: Recipes for Study Abroad with CAPA’s Marion Aller, a new monthly column on the CAPA World blog where Marion, from the CAPA internship team, cooks some of her best cheap and easy recipes. We've gathered some more on our own "Recipes for Study Abroad" board on Pinterest as well.
8. ACADEMICS. Pinterest is even useful for academics. Researching for an essay? Use it as a bookmarking tool to pin relevant articles. Doing a group project? Set up a group board as a way to collaboratively create a useful collection of resources. Stumbled upon a book or article that might come in handy later on but no tie to read it yet? Pin it to your reading list board! If your major is very visual - graphic design, for example - you can also use Pinterest to gather real world inspiration (typography, website design, photography, interior design, etc). We've used our "Academics and Internships" board to highlight some students in their learning environments.
9. A PERSONAL SCRAPBOOK. As a visual platform, Pinterest is a fun place to share photos of your study abroad experience with friends and family back home. Mention your friends with an @ and they can re-pin your group shots to their own boards. If you're keeping a personal blog while you're abroad, you can pin an image from each post so you have all of your archives in a visual collection. We do this on the "CAPA World Blog" board with our own posts. CAPA ambassador and London study abroad alum Sally Isabella set up a "CAPA Study Abroad" board to share her experience. We love to re-pin, so if you have your own, feel free to share a link with us! We will follow you and share our favorite images.
10. HOMECOMING AND CAREERS. Returning home can sometimes be difficult. Everyone deals with this in their own way. Pinterest can be a tool to help you gather images that remind you of your time abroad or, alternatively, inspiration to ease your wanderlust by pinning the places you would love to explore in the States. On our "Returning Home" board, we share articles relevant to re-adjusting, finding your abroad culture at home, dealing with the reverse culture shock that some students experience and videos such as a TED talk on the idea of "home". On a separate "Careers After Study Abroad" board, we've pinned an infographic on marketing your study abroad experience, tips on how to have a global outlook, why study abroad can give you an advantage over your peers if you know how to talk about it and other articles related to jump starting your career after you graduate.
If you've set up a Pinterest page, share your links in a comment and we'll follow along. You can find us @CAPAStudyAbroad.