Posts Tagged 'Gulliver'

Welcome to Gulliver!

gulliver_halo3Welcome to Gulliver!  We’re incredibly excited that Gulliver is now up and running and helping students Study Abroad, and we figured it was about time that we started a blog for the site.  I’m James, the founder of Gulliver, and in this first post, I’m going to explain what Gulliver does, and why.

(By the way, you can go here if you’d like to learn more about Gulliver’s mission, team, or history.)

What is Gulliver?

Gulliver is a brand new website for students interested in Studying Abroad.  Our mission is to help students do three things:

  1. pick the perfect Study Abroad program
  2. get ready to go abroad (and not forget anything!)
  3. meet other Study Abroad students, travelers, and locals around the world

Gulliver was born out of the team’s own experiences and those of our friends.  In 2005-06 I spent an amazing year living in Lyon, France, and teaching English through CIEP’s “assistant de langue” program.  It was a life-changing experience.   I became fluent in French.  I came to know and understand deeply a new city and culture – one that will for the rest of my life be a second home.  I made a dozen new friends, both French and American.  And I had more fun than I’d ever had before in my life.  

Shortly after coming back to the U.S., I realized that I wanted to help more people have the same awesome experience that I did.  So I decided to figure out what was keeping students from going abroad, and how I could help.

The problems we want to solve

I started out by thinking about what problems I had during my year in Lyon.  Just because my year was great doesn’t mean it was easy!   There were lots of issues along the way, but the big ones all seemed to be logistical.  I had a really tough time trying to figure out the answers to questions like:

  • “How do I find a place to live?”
  • “Can I get a second job?”
  • “What do I do about health insurance?”  
  • “Which is the best bank for me?”
  • “Do I get a pre-paid or a post-paid cell phone?”

My college and CIEP had both helped some, but there was only so much they knew.  I thought it would be great to have a website that could tell me everything I needed to do in order to get ready for my trip, and to get settled once I was there.  

Then I started asking my friends and family about their experiences.  My brother Andrew had a different problem.  He wanted to Study Abroad in Russia two summers ago.  His school didn’t have any programs there that were right for him, so he was on his own finding something.  His research took forever, and he had no idea if the options he found were legit or not.  Andrew finally found something, but he wished there were a website that had lots of information about all the programs out there, real student reviews of those programs, and an easy way to search through programs and compare them.

Then there was my friend Jeff.  Jeff spent a semester on a program in Grenada, Spain.  He had a great time, but his biggest regret was that he didn’t meet more people during his trip.  As he wrote me in an email: 

It has been incredibly difficult to meet people here.  I know there are other Americans because we see them in restaurants and bars, but there is no easy way to find them.  Likewise it is incredibly difficult to meet Spanish students.  We don’t take classes with them and the way their university system works is very different so its sort of hard to even know where to go.

Jeff wished there were a website that could help him meet real Spaniards, other travelers, and people on different programs.  

These are just a couple examples – over and over again friends and the students that the team and I interviewed came back to the same three issues: they wanted an easier way to pick a Study Abroad program, plan their trips, and meet other people before and during their time abroad.  So, we decided to build exactly that.

Our solution (version 1.0)

11 months later (and 2 weeks ago), Gulliver opened the doors, starting its public beta.  Here’s what we’ve got for you:

Picking a program: 

  • extensive profiles for almost 900 Study Abroad programs in over 60 countries
  • a search interface that lets you find programs by country, language, subjects, price, season, and student rating
  • a “comparison matrix” that lets you easily compare programs side by side
  • search result tailored to your school – enter your school’s name and we’ll show you the programs that your school has pre-approved for academic credit transfer
  • a personal basket so you can save programs you’re interested in to review later
  • discussions forums and programs reviews that give you the real, unfiltered opinions of other students

Planning your trip:

  • Gulliver Trip Planner – comprehensive, country-specific To Do lists that tell you everything you need to do to go abroad, and how to do it.  Imagine Lonely Planet specifically for Study Abroad. We already cover the Top 10 Study Abroad destinations, and add a new country almost every week.
  • Interactive tools – you can set the status of each item in your Trip Planner to make sure you’re on top of everything.
  • More discussion forums to ask questions and get answers

Meeting people:

  • See who else is going on your program, to your destination, and from your school
  • Add, find, make, and invite friends
  • Send private messages

We think Gulliver should be pretty darn useful already, and we’re incredibly excited about several additional, top-secret features that we’ll be launching shortly.  We’re also excited that we’re already working behind-the-scenes with a bunch of your schools to tailor the site for you – stay tuned for more on that soon!

the blog of

Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!