Tarleton reduces study abroad barriers for first-generation students

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STEPHENVILLE (April 3, 2018) — Ah, spring break.

Hit the water, meet people.

Take time out from studying. Especially that.

A group of Tarleton State University students accomplished all of the above last month aboard a Carnival cruise ship while benefiting from learning experiences with a social media slant.

Most were first-generation college students and some lacked a passport (their birth certificate worked just as well). Sea travel reduces a typical barrier for students interested in study abroad.

Departing from Long Beach, Calif., the students met for structured lessons at breakfast, lunch and dinner to learn about social media as it relates to the travel and tourism industry.

Carnival’s national public relations office rolled out the red carpet for the Tarleton Texans, giving them a private tour of the vessel—with security escort—and providing time with the ship’s hotel director for questions and answers.

Each morning began with communication theory. The afternoon featured conversations on “becoming a millennial professional” and lessons exploring dining etiquette and dress. The evenings delved into social media analytics and tourism.

At one session resembling a press conference, the students asked the ship’s staff about their adventures and how various functions operate together. Later the students received a behind-the-scenes look at food storage and preparation, the massive kitchen, laundry facilities and the crew quarters.

It all made a lasting impression.

“This cruise was a great opportunity for me to experience a new country and cultural differences in both Catalina and Ensenada,” marketing senior Marilla Smith said.

It reminded Criessia Smith, a communication studies graduate student, to “always come prepared and budget accordingly.” Added David Gillespie, another communication studies grad student: “Be open-minded about everything and get out of your comfort zone.”

Tarleton’s Texas Social Media Research Institute (@TSMRI) sponsored the reduced-fare spring break cruise, designed to attract students who work while attending school or who are parents.

TSMRI will emphasize social media and millennial travel throughout April and will celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week with a Thursday Twitter Chat (#TXSocialMedia @TSMRI) 8 p.m. May 8.


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