New Website Addresses Student Travel Safety

Posted by Ryan Palsrok
May 13, 2008
Students Abroad Website

About the Author: Ryan Palsrok serves as an Overseas Citizens Services Officer.

Every year more than 200,000 students from American universities travel abroad to pursue international experience in an academic setting. This constitutes a nearly 150 percent increase in the past 10 years, despite post-9/11 apprehensions. Many young people also go abroad on their own dime and outside structured University programs to volunteer, work, intern, and simply to take vacation. According to U.S. Department of State figures, more than 100,000 students spend their Spring Break in resorts across Mexico annually.

The increase of students traveling abroad can be attributed to many factors, but regardless of the "why" or "how" students go abroad, the number one concern among university officials, parents, and even students, is safety.
Responding to this concern, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has launched a new “Students Abroad” public affairs campaign targeting American youth who plan to travel internationally. The campaign centers around a new State Department website,"Students Abroad." The central goal of the campaign is to educate students about everything they should know before they go abroad.

The look and tone of the website is what distinguishes this new campaign from information already provided by the State Department. The Bureau of Consular Affairs aimed to build a website that would use a more informal language and be attractive to young people.

Check out the site. Did the State Department accomplish this? Will the site be useful to students, their parents, and study abroad programs? What else could the State Department do to spread the message?



May 13, 2008

James in Russia writes:

Html version better for older but flash good for students. Much as I love the girls, more pics of guys perhaps. Larger navigation up top.

May 14, 2008

DS writes:

Here's a link that you probably should include on your new website. Its called Locked Up Abroad - tales from the National Geographic about Americans incarcerated overseas. Not to scare the young travelers but to help ensure that they know that things can easily go bad overseas.

District Of Columbia, USA
May 15, 2008

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

This site will be useful to students and study abroad advisors. It might be worthwhile to advertise the site at STA Travel offices and ask colleges to link to the site from their study abroad pages.

I agree that the text at top could be larger or more prominent, but navigation of the site is user-friendly. It is great that you are seeking feedback, and hope the site is a success.

May 21, 2008

Lewis in Japan writes:

Wow, props on the extremely well designed site. I feel that the State Dept has excelled in taking advanatage of the opportunities provided by the Internet more than any other major government agency. The Youtube channel, attractive site design and this very blog will all benefit the State Dept by acting as a positive first impression to many curious about the organization.

Oh, and a bonus prop for using teen/youth vernacular while avoiding that awkward/condescending feeling one gets from reading a marketing-type trying to sound 'down' or 'with it'.

Hopefully this website will serve our students by keeping their experiences abroad safe and enjoyable.

Ryan P.
District Of Columbia, USA
May 21, 2008

DipNote Blogger Ryan Palsrok writes:

Thank you everyone for the comments and suggestions.

@ Lewis in Japan -- Your comment is going straight to my supervisor!

@ Anna in Washington, DC -- Good thinking about STA Travel. STA Travel now links to Students Abroad from their website. We'll look for additional ways to partner with them in the future.

@ DS -- Very interesting Nat'l Geographic special.

We're striving to continue to improve the site and our outreach efforts, so that Students Abroad is as useful as possible.

United States
June 14, 2008

Kate-Lynn in U.S.A. writes:

I really like the website, it's very informative and would definitely help any young person looking for information about going abroad. I have many friends who have no idea about the WHTI nor passport cards that are coming soon, so

I hope this website can give them the info they need. I also like the balance between encouraging young people to travel, but also gives the warnings and information that many people miss in the preparations for going abroad. The layout and navigation is simple and easy. It also gets to the point with the information.

Def. make sure you guys get this website out as much as possible. I think any student who's going abroad should know this exists.


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