How to best share your study abroad experience

Julie Schwietert Collazo is the managing editor of Matador Network and Glimpse, and is lead educator of Matador’s new media school, MatadorU.

People who know me well are surprised to learn that I never studied abroad while I was in college.

Julie Schwietert Collazo

Me: The American who married a Cuban on a deserted beach in Puerto Rico. The serial expat who has lived in Puerto Rico and Mexico. The mom who filed her baby’s passport application the week after she was born. The occasional trip leader who takes school kids on educational immersion vacations. The travel writer who has helped write two guide books and who is the managing editor of MatadorNetwork, the world’s largest online travel magazine. The lead faculty member of MatadorU‘stravel writing program.

I know it sounds incredible, but studying abroad never even occurred to me. I loved my college, my professors, my friends, my activities– I couldn’t imagine leaving and nobody suggested I consider it.

I traveled extensively before college, having won several scholarships that took me to places as far-flung as Costa Rica, China, England, France, and Switzerland. And I convinced college friends who’d never crossed the ocean to get on a plane with me and take advantage of travel deals: Amsterdam. Lisbon. Dublin.

API student on excursion in Cinque Terre, Italy

I always kept a journal on these trips; these were the days before blogs. If I were studying abroad today, though, I’d be setting up a blog, creating an audience, and learning how to use my blog to build my personal brand. I’d use my writing and photography skills to develop an online portfolio that would show prospective employers exactly what I’d gotten out of my study abroad experience.

Maybe you’ve already thought of doing something similar. There are dozens of free tools online to help you do so. If you want to tell the best stories, take the most compelling photos, and share your experiences with a large audience, though, then taking MatadorU’s travel writing and/or travel photography course is an investment worth considering.

Anyone can write a blog post that tells their friends and family what they did when they studied abroad. But not everyone can tell an engaging story that makes their personal experiences meaningful and relevant to their readers. That’s what we teach in the MatadorU courses.

MatadorU is a 12-week online learning program you can access from anywhere in the world. You’ll learn the most effective techniques for turning your experiences into unforgettable stories and photos. You’ll work on weekly assignments and receive feedback from our faculty, all of whom are published travel writers, photographers, and editors. You’ll also receive the support of your peers. Our students are from all over the world. Some are published writers interested in learning new media skills; others are total beginners. Together, they form an incredibly supportive community of people ready to promote and share one another’s work. And several have had their writing or photography (or both!) published by outlets such as CNN and Lonely Planet.

Students who have been accepted on a study abroad program through Academic Programs International (API) receive $100 discount on the MatadorU program, and API and MatadorU have teamed up to offer scholarships to the program as well!

Here’s what some students have said about MatadorU:

  • “This course have helped me become more critical not only with what I write but with what I read too. Well, that’s why we’re here, right? I’m glad I decided to take this course because it has improved significantly my writing confidence…. And I hope it keeps improving!” – Norbert, writing student
  • “Just wanted to make sure I expressed my appreciation for all your assistance; it’s been a great help these past few months. I really feel like I’m stepping into a nurturing community of travel writers. And it’s lots of fun figuring out this world!” – Wailana, writing student
  • “THANK You to our Matador instructors, for doing what you do! Were it not for my leap of faith to go on a travel sabbatical two years ago, I would not have come across the Matador Network nor met some amazing Matador folks like Lola Akinmade and Julie, and I may never have taken the leap to push my travel photography further.” – Lily, photography student

If you’re interested in learning more about MatadorU, please visit the website and API landing page at [], and feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]

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  1. Jeramy Johnson says

    Thanks Julie – your story is an inspiration for those who want to break into the travel writing/photography fields or who just want to better relate their experiences to their friends and family (not to mention have a great resumé builder!).

  2. Thanks, Jeramy! I look forward to working with more API students!

  3. This sounds like a great opportunity and a great program. You know me, the more people that share their experiences abroad in a meaningful way, the better!


  4. I have heard so many great things about this program. What a valuable way to not only capture your experience for your family and friends, but also as part of your lifelong story.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jeramy Johnson says

    We just learned that MatadorU is going to be launching a video course next spring! Another great opportunity for API students! 🙂

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