When she is not in class, Baruch College student Liana Leahy runs a blog, www.averynylife.com, that is geared toward international students. The blog has sections on housing, student discounts, cheap eats, colleges in the state of New York and her contact information. Leahy revealed her inspiration for starting the blog, her future goals and what she wants students to take away from the site.
Maya Yegorova: Can you tell us about yourself and your blog?
Liana Leahy: I am an international student from Brazil. I study business communication, and this is my last semester at Baruch College. My blog is a combination of my experiences and tips for international students living in the United States. It is very focused on students.
Can you describe how you first got into blogging?
I have always loved technology. I started writing 13 years ago in 2004. My first blog post was in Portuguese, because at that time I was still living in Brazil. But when I moved to the United States in 2010, I turned my blog into a website because I wanted to expand my viewers to international students. Since I was speaking Portuguese at that time, I was limited to a Brazilian audience. I started writing in English when I turned it into a website so more people could find my blog through online searches.
What inspired you to start a blog?
I think one of my biggest inspirations was being an international student myself. It is very difficult to move here — we do not have family, so I always tried to look for a platform that provide[d] help. It was very hard to find people in the same situation as me, so I thought that by sharing my experiences I could inspire and help other international students across the United States.
What topics do you write about in your blog?
In my blog, I write a lot of content related to international students — my experiences, any culture shocks and the differences between American culture and Brazilian culture. I also think it is really important to share with other students how they can use their student ID to get into events, museums and cultural activities in New York City. I try to share anything that I have done or anything I want to do in the future so people can see this and try it as well.
How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
I am not posting as much as I would like to because I have to focus on my grades, but I write whenever I have time. I am trying to write at least twice a month now, and usually write on Sundays.
How much time do you spend blogging?
It depends because I divide my free time between writing for the blog and producing videos. I have been working on minidocumentaries on international students lately, so I do not spend as much time as I would like to, but if I were to write a blog post, it would take me three to four hours.
How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
I think my biggest motivation is knowing that if I stop writing and sharing my experiences, I may not help other international students across the country. This blog also serves as my personal diary so that I [can] look back on my experiences.
Do you have any specific future goals for the blog?
My biggest goal is to turn my blog into a book because I want to help international students in the United States. I definitely want to write and publish this book by next year.
Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?
I will still be blogging five years from now, but by that time I also would like to have one to two books published. I also want to speak about my experiences and be a motivational speaker to international students.If I can help one student with anything, then it is already a rewarding experience for me.
What do you want Baruch students, especially international students, to take away from your blog?
I want students to know that they can do whatever they want. This may seem cliché, but it is true. I came here from Brazil with nothing but a dream and worked really hard for my goals. When I started school at CUNY, I got involved on campus and I saw the possibilities for my future and education. I want students to look at my experiences and think, “Okay, I can do that. Or I can be even better.” My goal is to inspire people to not give up because I see a lot of international students here who feel that the language barrier is too much and think that they cannot continue their dreams because the culture shock is too big.
I want to show that there is always a way to overcome your fears. If you have a goal and a positive mindset, then you can do anything you want.
What do you think is the best service an international student blogger can provide to her readers?
International students have so many questions and some do not know who to ask. As a senior, I can give tips on how to apply for college, how to get a job while you are still a student because we are not allowed to work outside of campus or how to get a work permit after you graduate. I am more than happy to give answers to other students. I feel that there is no need for me to keep all this information to myself. I need to share everything I learned and I need to give back to other international students.