College Study Abroad Program Blog Breaks Ground, Premieres Revolutionary New Education Tool

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A popular college study abroad program blog is changing reality programming and educational recruiting by publishing weekly live audio updates from students studying abroad, all in the hopes of making students more excited about the prospect of studying abroad.

The successful educational and interactive college study abroad program blog, BlogAbroad.com (http://www.blogabroad.com), is premiering StudyAbroad Live, a revolutionary new media initiative aimed at improving foreign relations by increasing study abroad opportunities.

Every week, four students studying outside the U.S. will call from the countries they are visiting on Telestial, Inc. world phones and leave live updates of their experiences on the number one college study abroad program blog in the world. These phone calls will be recorded as podcasts, which are on demand audio entertainment available via the Internet, and compiled into an educational and informative show that will teach people what it’s really like to study abroad.

“Podcast is the hot buzz term of the year,” says Mark Shay, president and CEO of StudyAbroad.com, the company behind BlogAbroad.com. “Overseas study is such a vital aspect of today’s foreign relations and we hope that combining the study abroad experience with this massively popular technology will entice more students to take the leap and travel out of their comfort zone.”

StudyAbroad Live is a new “live at the scenes” addition to BlogAbroad.com, which is a Web-based reality college study abroad program blog in its third season that consists of interactive Web logs in which students explore the many aspects of their study abroad experiences through online journals complete with pictures. Visitors to the site are able to respond to the stars of this online reality show and ask questions or make comments.

What made the first two seasons of BlogAbroad.com so successful was that for the first time ever, the audience could interact with the stars of the show. As a result, the audience actually became part of the supporting cast. The new season will improve on its predecessors with even higher levels of interaction.

“The first season was a breakthrough for the reality show genre,” says Shay. “The second season continued to innovate and give the audience an influence over the show like never before, and this third season will take everything to a new level, letting the viewers really get familiar with the students. No one has ever done anything like this.”

He continues, “Plus, while being highly entertaining, BlogAbroad.com is a terrific educational tool. It is a way to show firsthand what it is like to study abroad, and we anticipate our new bloggers will take us on amazing and unique adventures, expanding our understanding of the world.”

The newest cast of bloggers includes Jeff Samotny, who is going to Prague, Czech Republic; Tamara Newcomer, who is traveling to Costa Rica and Nicaragua; Taylor Benjamin-Britton, who arrived in Tokyo, Japan, just after the New Year; and Sarah Berkowitz, who will be studying in London, England. They were chosen from over 150 students who competed for the part. Five judges selected them based on a 250-300 word written audition as well as responses to a series of follow-up questions. Over the course of season 3, they will compete against each other in a series of entertaining and educational online contests.

New episodes of the college study abroad program blog will be posted three times per week and all of them will be available for viewing 24 hours a day at http://www.BlogAbroad.com.

"I've been eager to study abroad since I entered college and am very excited to be able to share my experiences with students all over the world,” says Samotny. “If my travels and pictures inspire others to sight-see a little more and learn a new culture, then I have accomplished my goal with this project.”

Jonathan Jackson, one of last season’s bloggers and the focus of an article in the February 2006 issue of Kiplinger’s, echoes the sentiment. “BlogAbroad.com is a fantastic, innovative way to experience a foreign country through the eyes of a peer,” he says. “Instead of gathering dry facts from books and pamphlets, readers of the blogs are given the opportunity to ask questions (and actually have them answered), give tips, advice and encouragement, and otherwise interact with the bloggers.”

The first two seasons of BlogAbroad.com were critical successes, garnering recognition in newspapers and magazines such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Kiplinger’s, and University Business. According to Merriam-Webster, “Blog” was the most searched word of 2004, and “podcast” was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year for 2005. They are both recent technologies that allow users to stay connected via interactive journals and voice recordings, even when they are oceans away from each other.

Blogging has been on the rise ever since reporters covering the 2004 presidential campaign first popularized the medium, and Podcasts hit the mainstream when Apple’s iTunes allowed free downloads and subscriptions. StudyAbroad.com college study abroad program blog takes full advantage of both of these technologies for the benefit of current and future students, whether they are interested in studying abroad or not.

The podcasts are being made possible by Telestial, Inc. (http://www.telestial.com), which donated the satellite phones as well as 1,000 minutes of air time to each of the bloggers, and Audioblog (http://www.audiblog.com), which is donating the streaming technology and bandwidth that makes listening to the podcast on and offline possible.

StudyAbroad.com

StudyAbroad.com is the Internet’s leading source of information on educational opportunities for students who wish to study in other countries. It is a comprehensive directory of study abroad and intensive language programs organized by subject and destination. StudyAbroad.com is a service of Educational Directories Unlimited, Inc. (EDU), a leading Internet company serving higher education. Based in suburban Philadelphia, EDU’s steady growth since its inception in 1989 has led to its inclusion in the Philadelphia 100, Inc. Magazine/ICIC Inner City 100, and Inc. 500 lists of fast growing businesses.

Telestial, Inc.

Telestial, Inc. (http://www.Telestial.com) provides convenient, cost-effective telecommunications services to North American business and recreational travelers. Incorporated in the United States of America and headquartered in San Diego, California, Telestial is the brainchild of Ken Grunski, a former telecommunications consultant and committed globetrotter.

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