Tips on Social Media
• Read up on Japan! Follow Twitter accounts or Facebook pages that provide news, politics, culture, and events about your future home.
- Twitter: @JapanTimes, @JapanNewsDaily, @YahooJPNNews (JPN), @NHK_News (JPN), @JPN_PMO (Prime Minister’s official Twitter)
- Facebook: JapanCenter, HikonyanOfficial (JPN), Go.Biwako, VisitJapan
• Get a Twitter. Twitter is widely used in Japan. If you don’t already use one, consider making an account. It’s a useful resource for keeping in contact with your Japanese friends as well as your friends & family back home.
• Share your contact information to those you trust. Tell friends how they can reach you via Tweets or Facebook posts. JCMU has a mailing address listed on the website so people can send you gifts and care packages.
• Get LINE. LINE is the most popular chat app in Japan. It’s lightning-fast, has adorable stamps, and almost everyone in Japan with a smartphone uses it. If you have a smartphone and plan to use it in Japan, LINE is a great tool for connecting with your Japanese friends. You can also use LINE internationally as long as there is Internet connection.
- Other options for chatting via WiFi include WhatsApp, iMessage, and Viber to communite.
• Use Skype. Skype is one of the most well-known tools for making calls internationally for free. You can call someone if an Internet connection is available, or you can buy Skype credit to communicate with family and friends as needed.
• Write a blog. Blogs are a great way to publicly display your journey to Japan before, during, and after study abroad. They can also often be set to private so you can write about your experiences without anyone having to see them.
- Blogspot, Weebly, Wordpress, Tumblr, Blogger
• Carefully choose your privacy settings. Consider making your social media account settings more private (especially on Facebook) so that only your chosen audience has access to your account.
• Try Instagram. Instagram is another great tool for showing your experience in Japan through pictures. You can share pictures with your other fellow JCMU peers as well as any friends & family back home, and when you’re back home, it’s a nice way of reminiscing over photos of your trip to Japan.
During Study Abroad
• Get in touch with friends and family! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement but everyone wants to know you arrived safely.
• Document your experiences. Use the social networking sites listed above to take pictures and write notes, especially in the beginning when everything is new.
• But DON'T get too attached to contacting home. Remember, this is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore Japan! It's important to record your journey, but it's also important to get off your smartphone or computer and simply enjoy the experience.
• Keep in touch with friends. Whether it's the friends you made at JCMU or the Japanese friends you made at nearby universities, keeping in touch is the best way to get the most out of your trip to Japan. Many JCMU alumni frequently contact their friends upon return to their homes. Some even return to Japan to visit, or have their Japanese friends come visit their homes instead. With tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, there's no reason not to stay connected!
• Continue blogging. Blogs don't have to end just because you're back home. Some of the most interesting blog posts from past JCMU alumni have including reflections on studying abroad and updates on how study abroad has impacted their lives.
• Advise future JCMU students. Share your pictures and blogs with the JCMU staff in East Lansing. We are always looking to share your work on our website and Facebook for prospective students to look at. If you're interested, shoot us an email at JCMU@msu.edu.
Have fun, be safe, and use social media to your advantage! We want you to record your experiences, but don't become consumed with social media to the point that you forget your surroundings. Remember that social media is a tricky tool--be smart by only using it to show the best of your experiences and to protect your reputation!
Based off of Mandy Reinig's handout Tips for Using Social Media While Studying Abroad.