Students use blogs to journal travels

Nearly 5,100 blogs are registered through the University’s UThink service.

Lindsay Guentzel

Graphic design senior Mandi Caffery is already planning how she’ll stay in contact with her friends and family next semester, when she’ll live in Seville, Spain.

Her previous living abroad experience has taught her that Internet cafes are too expensive to be spending her time sending individual e-mails.

However, the Internet is still the easiest way to keep in contact, Caffery said.

“There are some great networking-blogging Web sites out there for travelers now,” she said.

Café Abroad, a new Web site that distributes a magazine to more than 300 universities, takes travel blogging to the next level: physical publication.

The magazine’s first issue was published in March, while the Web site was launched Sept. 7, Café Abroad’s media coordinator Thomas Arm said.

Students traveling abroad can apply for positions like travel reporter and photographer, Arm said.

“All of our content comes from students,” Arm said.

on the web

Café Abroad on the Web
www.cafeabroad.com

Free blogging sites
www.blogger.com

Mindsay
www.mindsay.com

Xanga
www.xanga.com

University of Minnesota Blog
UThink
blog.lib.umn.edu

The Web site, which has blogs and guides for cities around the world, connects student travelers, Arm said.

Students can talk to other students in their cities and share travel suggestions, he said.

While working together at a newspaper, Café Abroad founders Dave Schwartzman and Mark Travers decided to create the magazine and Web site.

“We recognized that there was no unifying space for students who were aspiring writers to share their experiences with friends,” Schwartzman said.

Articles and photographs are selected for the magazine from the Web site content, he said.

For students who would rather document their trip more leisurely, free sites like Blogger and Mindsay are other options.

“I think blogs are an ideal way to keep in touch while abroad because it’s a way of simultaneously documenting your trip and letting your family and friends know what you are up to,” Caffery said.

One benefit of keeping an online journal is people can comment on blogs and photos and suggest new places to check out, she said.

“I get comments like, ‘Hey, I’ve been there, you should try this place.’ That’s always fun,” Caffery said.

The University also caught on to the craze and started offering a blog server, called UThink, through the University library system for students and staff, starting April 2004.

With nearly 5,100 registered blogs, there were 65,534 entries added in August.

Shane Nackerud, the Web services coordinator for the University libraries, said there was a demand for course blogs, but students have been using the server to post personal blogs.

“I see a fair amount of blogs for students traveling abroad,” Nackerud said.

By using their x500 numbers, students can register their blogs in under a minute, he said.

Schwartzman said he hopes to expand the Café Abroad enterprise to 500 schools by the end of this school year.

As the magazine and Web site gain popularity, Schwartzman said he hopes students use the magazine and online city guides when planning a trip abroad.

“We’re hoping that aspiring writers will be inspired and ultimately apply to work with us,” Schwartzman said. “Also we hope that the publication will inspire more students to study abroad.”