Senior selected as study abroad blogger

| Contributing Reporter

One Washington University senior has been offered a unique opportunity for his study abroad experience. Josh Malina was selected to be a student blogger for the Institute of European Studies Abroad.

Malina, a philosophy major and prospective economics minor, was selected to be a student blogger for the company, a first for a Washington University student studying abroad with the institute (IES).

While abroad in New Zealand this fall, Malina will be working for the not-for-profit organization that enrolls more than 5,000 students each year. Malina was selected from a pool of 150 applicants.

“The application was easy. I think I just submitted a writing sample,” Malina said. “My interest is mostly financial, but I also enjoy writing, so it made sense in that way as well.”

Jessica Mervis, a study abroad advisor, explained that the program itself is one that is becoming increasing popular among Washington University students. Three students are in New Zealand this fall and 16 will be going in the spring.

The New Zealand experience

The IES New Zealand program helps students orient themselves in their new surroundings. It sets students up with housing, organizes activities and excursions, and even provides support services if necessary.

The organization has study abroad programs all over the world, but only the New Zealand program and one at Trinity College in Dublin are approved for Washington University students.

Malina has spent much of the first part of his nearly five-month stay in the country reading and attending classes at the University of Auckland and exploring New Zealand on his own. The program is relatively independent, with the exception of a few sporadic gatherings.

“So far I have earned a great appreciation for the natural beauty of New Zealand, less so for its people and customs, and a firmer understanding for the logistics of planning a successful trip, budgeting money [and] having fun,” Malina said.

The benefits of blogging

According to Mervis, study abroad companies have increasingly relied on student bloggers to record their experiences “to have students be able to hear the student perspective as opposed to study abroad professionals, especially their office staff, who [are] specifically trying to sell their programs.”

Students have responded positively to the blogs.

“It is much more helpful and informative reading a blog about someone actually on the trip, [rather] than reading a pamphlet or brochure by an administrator of some sort,” freshman Alex Chouraqui said.

Malina’s blog, for example, focuses on experiences related to his personal growth in New Zealand.

“The most important thing that I have got out of the program is a better understanding of the concept of ‘internationality,’ friendship and the constancy of my own emotions, at home and abroad,” Malina said. “The blogging has only enriched my experience insofar as I live my adventures not just for myself, but for the pleasure and pain of my readers, for better or worse.”

While Malina’s blogs have become more infrequent since he broke his computer, he continues to update the page regularly, approximately once every two weeks.

Malina’s blog can be found on the study abroad program page on the Washington University Web site and at

Malina’s blog can be found on the program page on the Washington University website and at

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