Pitt Study Abroad Blog Guidelines and Requirements

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As a blogger for Pitt Study Abroad, your posts not only represent your experience abroad, but those of thousands of Pitt students' each semester.  With that in mind, we expect that your posts will meet the following guidelines: 

  • Must include at one photo per entry which relates to the topic or question. 
  • Must be finished by:  September 31 for Summer programs, June 30 for Spring programs and January 31 for Fall programs  
  • Must answer a minimum of 5 of the 10 topics or questions listed below. You may not repeat a topic for the required 5 posts. 
  • You may include additional or repeat topics or questions if you choose but these are not included in the required 5.
  • Each post should be a between 400-1000 words. Each posting must mindfully address the topic or question.  All language in the posting must be culturally appropriate and adhere to the Study Abroad Student Code and the Student Code of Conduct.  

Topics to Choose

These questions were chosen to guide you in creating thoughtful posts about your experience and are based on the questions that we are most frequently asked by students. 

  1. What stands out to you about your new university or academic program? What stands out to you about the culture of your new city?  (list at least two items with explanation)  
  2. How is the academic culture within your new classroom environment?  For instance, what are your classes like? How are they different from Pitt?
  3. Explain a challenge you faced when you studied abroad (for example: understanding a new city, buying groceries in a foreign language, being on your own for the first time, etc.). How did you overcome the challenge? What advice would you give to others facing similar challenges?
  4. Tell us about where you are living! Do you live in a dorm with roommates from your host country? How did you find this new home? What types of challenges are you having with this new home? What do you love about it? 
  5. Tell us about interacting with locals.  Did you make friends with students from your host country and if so, how?  What has that been like? Explain being an “American” abroad.  What types of conversations have you had about being “American” and how has that made you reflect upon your identity?
  6. What do you wish you had known before going? What surprised you most about your specific study abroad experience? 
  7. Describe your daily life (shopping/banking/travel)? How do you budget and save money?  
  8. Is “food the window to the soul”?  Where do you eat – do you cook or eat out?  Have you tried new foods?  Do the foods reflect the new city where you are living? In what way?  
  9. What advice would you give to others who are planning to study on this program?
  10. Has studying abroad changed or influenced your academic, career, or personal goals? If so, in what way?

Guidelines for Photo Submissions

Like your written words, the photos you submit are important in helping other Pitt students understand what study abroad is like but also become important representations of you and Pitt.  Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that you are submitting interesting and ethical photos.
DO’s : 

Think beyond typical photos: Seeing landmarks like Big Ben, Temple of Heaven, or Cristo Redentor are bucket-list level experiences and make for great photos, but we want to see the photos that are unique to your experience.  You've seen the Pitt Study Abroad website and Instragram and the types of photos we've received in the past - help us diversify these photos and make them more personal to you and your program! 

Research: Be informed of the places you are documenting. Research will save you time when trying to figure out what is OK to photograph and what isn’t. Get familiar with the places you will be traveling to and what their customs are. Not all countries have the same rules and regulations regarding photography. For example, in Islamic culture, photographing women is highly discouraged, even with permission. But in other cultures, it is perfectly fine with their consent.

Ask: Make sure to always ask permission before you take a snap of someone or their property. Unsolicited pictures of people is a huge invasion of privacy. You never know if their religion or culture permits it, and that sick shot you want out of them, is totally not worth it without asking.

Show The Subject the Photo: There is nothing more rude than having someone take your photo then just walk off, even if they say thank you. Sharing the portrait you just took of your subject with them lets them know that you truly appreciate them letting you. It also is almost guaranteed to generate a laugh and a bonding moment.

Delete the Photo if Asked: If a subject changes their mind and asks you to delete the photo, don’t put up a fight. Respect their wishes and actually delete the photo. 

Respect comes first: Be deserving of the photograph after you receive permission.  For example, if you were to take a photo of a temple, you should pay your respects first. If you were to photograph someone in their country, first begin with respectful eye-contact, then introduce yourself, ultimately making them comfortable with your intentions and expertise before snapping away. This does go a long way in honoring the subject of your photo, whether it be another individual or landmark/object.


Use people as props: One big mistake traveler’s make is using brown and black children as props in a selfie or group photo.  You may not realize that your posts, from the photo to the caption to the hashtags, can perpetuate stereotypes and rob the subject of dignity or privacy.  A seemingly innocent selfie with African kids, for example, can perpetuate the idea that only Western aid, charity and intervention can "save the world".  Be cognizant of the photos you take with human subjects in them and the caption you post along with it.