A couple of weeks ago, I offered a social media audit to a Chinese student in BCU, who wanted to grow her social life in the UK and become more visible to employers. A few days ago, I was in a workshop with a number of internationals, some of them lived the experience of being an expat, I spoke with 5 women about the ways they used social media to support their lives away from homes.
1– Anya (Canada)
Anya uses Facebook and My Space for her travel planning, by extending her network to the friends of her friends who live in the city she is visiting or moving to, and then she meets them in reality. Anya uses social media to plan out her accommodation and network, what spare her of living the tourist life.
This Azerbaijani woman focuses on using Facebook for her travels, as she considers herself one of the first users of Facebook. Arzu finds this social network really helpful in keeping her connected with old colleagues and fellows in the countries she stayed in, also in finding school friends and maintain her family ties. Arzu pointed to Facebook as a source of news, which her international friends share
3- Rebecca (USA)
During her stay in cities in three different continents, Rebecca used social networks to make friends and to find out about cultural events and getting around the city she moved to, as well as to communicate with friends. In Berlin, she got to be a part of a community of English-speaking expats.
4- Aoife (Ireland)
She opened her Facebook account after moving to Palestine in 2008, especially for following the coverage of demonstrations and marches she attended, Aoife found Facebook useful in networking with internationals as well as local activists in the Palestinian Palestinian territories. After moving to Nicaragua, the Irish journalist is planning to create an account on Twitter, only for professional goals, as she is to be a freelance journalist in Central America.
5- Kara (USA)
Kara uses her accounts on social networks to keep in touch with friends at America and stay connected with family. However, she thinks that keeping in touch all the time with people from home all the time distracts her feelings of being in a different country. Kara thinks that using social networks for making new friends is more useful than mere message exchange with the people she already knows; she used Couch Surfing for her stay in India and got to make a friend through it.
However, the young American educator is conscious with some challenges in keeping up a cross-culture friendship using social media, she gives the example of one of her Arab peers, who used to show a high interaction on her Facebook activity, to show his friendship, but Kara didn’t feel comfortable with it, especially if it comes from people she is not very close to.