I’m sure by now, most of you have heard of StumbleUpon. You probably use it as an alternative to Facebook when you need to procrastinate, or just click away at the Stumble button when you’re bored in the middle of class. (For those of you that haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, I’ll introduce it later.)
What most people don’t realize is that StumbleUpon is actually a really valuable resource if used correctly. The great thing about StumbleUpon is that you can tailor your stumbles to your interests.
See, SU (StumbleUpon) works like this: After you first install the toolbar you’ll be asked to choose topics that you are interested in and whenever you Stumble you can click a “thumbs up” button (either on the toolbar or the page itself if there is a SU button) on pages that you like. Eventually, the SU algorithm – big word, I know, don’t worry about what it means – learns the kinds of pages that you like and the pages that pop up become more and more targeted to your individual interests.
So why is this valuable to you as a study abroad student? SU can be a wealth of resources for your abroad experience if you choose the right topics under you interests. Here are some good options: University- College, Travel, Europe (or location of abroad university), and don’t forget to include your own personal interests. You never know what will pop up; maybe you even found this blog on SU! Don’t see a specific topic under interests? The great thing about the SU toolbar is that you can type in just about any keywords, and SU will adjust your stumbles accordingly. Next to the thumbs down button on the toolbar, you’ll see the word “all” with an upside down triangle next to it. Click the triangle, then the search option, then fill in whatever keywords you like.
Joining SU is easy. Just head to StumbleUpon.com and click Join StumbleUpon in the top right hand corner. You’ll be asked to fill in the usual: email address, password, birthday, and gender, and you’ll need to pick a StumbleUpon username. You’ll also be asked to if you want to let friends find you by email, and if you want the website’s ratings and reviews to show up in your search results – I would check both of these options. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your interest in joining. Click the link in the email and you’re one step away from Stumbling.
Lastly, you’ll need to install the SU toolbar. It’s currently supported by Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. It’s a basic add-on which you can download here “Download StumbleUpon”. Just click on the download link for the browser you’re using, and the rest is pretty standard.
A few quick notes: StumbleUpon is a social networking site, so, like Facebook, you can subscribe to friends, join groups, and customize your profile page. Becoming involved in the SU community is the best way to take full advantage of everything it has to offer. Also, StumbleUpon is a twofold operation – you stumble sites then rate them. After you click “Stumble” don’t forget to give a thumbs up or down on the toolbar or give a review if you’re the first person to stumble the site. It’s the only way StumbleUpon can adapt your stumbles to your interests, and it helps other stumblers find popular sites.
Lastly, feel free to add me as a friend, and if you’d like, stumble this post and any others you find interesting on The Study Abroad Blog. Happy Stumbling.