The following guest post (and preceding photo) was submitted by Isabel Eva Bohrer.
When people think of travel writing, they usually think of hotel reviews, restaurant critiques, vacationing on a budget, going on a luxury cruise, or at best, a travel essay detailing a particularly memorable experience. One aspect, however, doesn’t always spring to mind immediately: educational travel writing. And yet, with the rising importance of cross-cultural communication, educational travel writing is becoming an essential part of travel literature.
Though frequently associated with personal reflections on study abroad experiences, including the numerous student blogs that publish pieces from foreign countries. In more general terms, however, educational travel writing can touch on any experience overseas that involves learning. Whether it is volunteering, working, interning or intensive language study, all these can fall under the educational travel writing umbrella.
To get started in the educational travel writing niche, it helps to have first-hand experience. In May 2009, the ink on my diploma hadn’t even dried when it caught my attention that TransitionsAbroad.com was accepting Study Abroad Participant Reports. That is, students returning from a program abroad write reports which evaluate the program based on their own first-hand experience. The purpose of such reports is so that other students can plan a similar experience, making use of the informational sidebars, which provide further details on the program (contact info, costs, etc.), as well as a selection of similar programs.
Carefully adhering to the writer’s guidelines, I penned down how I had “lived la vida local” while studying abroad in Madrid. At this point, little did I know that this first article would pave the way for a fruitful collaboration with Transitions Abroad.
One thing led to the next, and I found myself hired as the Assistant to Editor-in-Chief, Gregory Hubbs. As the Student Advisor, I contribute a regular column on all aspects of educational travel, and furthermore, oversee the promotion of the annual Student Writing Contest. Transitions Abroad holds three writing contests each year, the other two being Narrative Travel Writing and Expatriate Writing. In addition, submissions for Participant Reports and other Educational Travel pieces are accepted year-round.
Further publications that target educational travel include: Verge Magazine, Matador Abroad, Student Traveler, Abroad View, and Glimpse. In collaboration with National Geographic, the latter is currently accepting applications for the foreign correspondent program. Aimed at talented writers and photographers, this program is open to anyone who will be working, volunteering or studying outside of their home country for at least 10 weeks. If accepted, correspondents receive a $600 stipend, professional editorial support, career training in travel writing and photography, as well as publication on Glimpse.org and the Matador Network.
But the educational travel market transcends far beyond these publications. It is an entire industry, beginning with universities and language schools to volunteer initiatives, internship and work abroad placement programs. Numerous businesses, too, have arisen to fill the demands of students before, during, and after their study abroad.
Therefore, in addition to editorial opportunities, the educational travel niche offers many more employment options. Particularly, marketing and advertising professionals are currently highly sought-after. Whether it is a university or a calling card business catering to educational travel participants, all of the institutions involved need to promote themselves internationally. One after the other, they are recognizing the need for social media marketing, advertising and public relations.
Thus, if you’ve worked with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and have experience abroad, a transition into the educational travel niche could be within reach. To get started, consider becoming a member of NAFSA the association for international educators, and check out the job postings at IEE Network, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Higher Education Jobs, and Top School Jobs.
Those with more extensive experience abroad, as well as an entrepreneurial inclination, can even consider setting up their own business. I’ve already mentioned the calling card industry, with examples such as cellularabroad.com or affordablecallingcards.net. But there are many other options. After studying abroad in Florence in 2005, Clarke Nobiletti co-founded Rollinglobe.com, a platform where young travelers can exchange tips. Similar ventures include Jen O’Neals tripping.com, Shana Zheng’s triptrotting.com, and not to forget, Michael Schutzler’s Livemocha.com, which prides itself on following in Mark Zuckerberg’s footsteps in virtual language learning by making learning a language a social experience.
The possibilities abound. Yet having worked, studied, volunteered and interned in over twenty countries across five different continents, let me give one last word of advice: don’t compromise your real experience abroad for a virtual one. Travel plus technology is a cocktail to be treated with care; make sure you get offline, meet the locals, and live their culture. Because ultimately, whether you write about it or market it, that is what Educational Travel is all about.
Isabel Eva Bohrer is a freelance writer and photographer who has dispatched pieces from over twenty countries across five different continents. She specializes in Educational Travel, and is the Student Advisor for TransitionsAbroad.com. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter @isabelevabohrer, or through her website at www.isabelevabohrer.com.