Virtual guidebook – API study abroad trips on Gowalla

APIstudyabroad Doha trip pin

You may have noticed that we at API are HUGE fans of social media, and have been leaders in encouraging the widespread adoption of social media technologies in the study abroad field. One of the most recent examples of this is the fact that API has joined the geolocation game with gusto. If you follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed us checking in to various locations on popular geolocation apps such as Foursquare and Gowalla – so let’s take a moment to explain what this is all about.

Gowalla app

Geolocation apps work by utilizing the GPS signal of a mobile device to determine one’s location. From there, the apps can figure out what points of interest (monuments, restaurants, museums, etc) are nearby, and can provide the user with directions or information on those places. Many of these apps also allow users to generate and contribute to content, by leaving “tips” or comments at points of interest to assist future travelers.

API Gowalla Stamp

Gowalla and Foursquare have partnered with travel and tourism agencies to build custom “trips”, where users may follow a guided tour through a city as they “check in” to certain locations.When users check in to a location, they are often awarded with a pin, stamp, or badge, which is added to their virtual passport. Indeed – those who visit the API offices in Austin and “check in” can earn an API “stamp” for their Gowalla virtual passport (fitting, as the API logo itself resembles a passport stamp!).

As with Twitter and Facebook, users can elect to share their information through other social networks, only on the geolocation app with friends on Gowalla or Foursquare, or not share their data at all.

API has created several “trips” for current and prospective students, parents, advisors, and others interested in our locations through Gowalla (who like API also happens to be based in Austin, TX :). One of the reasons we chose to build our first trips on Gowalla was that Gowalla believes their app is about more than games, pins, and badges (which are fun, don’t get us wrong). Rather, they view their app as both a virtual postcard – a way to share one’s travel experiences with their friends and build a virtual passport; and also as a virtual guidebook, providing information on major attractions, but also illuminating places that friends and strangers alike find interesting or important. We’ve patterned the goals of our trips on Gowalla’s philosophy, and have solicited participation from our on-site staff, stateside staff, and former students to contribute their favorite spots in their host city (to be continuously updated) such as Sugarplum Cakeshop in Paris, the House of Terror in Budapest, or the Hyde Park Cinema in Leeds. These local favorites are featured alongside more well-known destinations for a balanced look at the host cities. The trips serve as a “preview” of the on-site experience, and can help guide students’ research of their host community prior to departure. Students or visitors on site can also access these trips via their smartphone devices on-site to independently learn more about important spots to the API program.

APIstudyabroad Doha tri

API has created 7 such trips to date, with more to be unveiled in the coming weeks and months (until we’ve created one for all 30 API study abroad locations). People have already begun to discover and participate in our trips as soon as they were published, with several completing the APIstudyabroad London trip during the recent Royal Wedding festivities, while others have completed our APIstudyabroad Doha trip!

We hope that you will join us in discovering these fantastic study abroad locations as seen through the eyes of API staff and students – and maybe add tips/comments from your experiences too!

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  1. This is really cool! I’ll have to ‘critique’ one of your trips the next time I’m abroad =)


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Jul 30, 2021 @ 16:16
API is hiring! If you’re interested in joining our API family, check out the link below to apply today!
#ispyapi #apiabroad #nowhiring
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Jul 28, 2021 @ 12:15
Our API London students living a fairytale at Leeds castle!

#ispyapi #apiabroad

📷 by @api_london
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Jul 27, 2021 @ 11:49
✈️ Today's #TravelTuesday is brought to you by UWL student Emily Link who studied abroad with API in Ireland! Head over to API's Instagram to check it out!

#studyabroad #uwl #explore #travel #learn #grow #wanderlust #ispyapi #APIabroad @apiabroad
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Jul 21, 2021 @ 13:12
If it weren’t for the masks, you would think this picture was taken years ago…
Our customized spanportumass group has just arrived, and they’ve just met their host families! We couldn’t be happier to host such a great group in Salamanca!!
📷 by @api_salamanca
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The API Abroad Blog