Lizzie Fane Thirdyearabroad.com interview

Todays interview comes from the wonderful Lizzie Fane, the Founder of ThirdYearAbroad.com; the social network that helps make university year abroad students’ time away less scary.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I studied Italian at The University of Edinburgh and spent my year abroad in Florence studying at the university there and tourist-dodging on my bicycle writing reviews of popular sightseeing attractions for Time Out’s Florence guidebook. Since graduating a couple of years ago I’ve worked for two startup companies, mydeco.com and wexo.co.uk, to learn the ropes before launching my own online social network in January this year.

2. So where did the idea for www.thirdyearabroad.com come from and what’s it all about?
My year abroad was a wonderful experience, but it certainly didn’t start off that way. I needed a place to live, a tax code, and advice about what to take with me and how to matriculate at the university, but more importantly I needed someone to ask who’d been through the process already and could pass on their secret tried-and-tested insider tips!

Having failed to find advice of this kind anywhere on or offline, I decided to set up ThirdYearAbroad.com to provide all the information, help and support I needed – all in one place. You can find other people ‘in the same boat’ as you, read country, city and course reviews, get advice from people who’ve been there and done that already, get discounts off year abroad-related things and chat with others in the forum about everything under the sun!

3. What are the goals for the website where do you want it to be in three years time?
At the moment we’re focusing on helping students just before they go and when they arrive abroad. We want to expand this in both directions; encouraging sixth formers to study languages at university in the first place, and helping language graduates with their career plans and advice about finding their first job abroad. In three years’ time we’d like to be the one-stop shop for year abroad students where they can find answers to all of their year abroad-related questions and dilemmas.

4. Any predictions for the online travel industry in the future?
I think people will keep finding new ways of using social networks to solve travel problems, from reducing costs and congestion to being as environmentally-friendly as possible; Apps such as FourSquare, Facebook and Twitter will help with car-pooling and finding people to share taxis with when you arrive at foreign airports, and travellers can use CouchSurfing.org for free accommodation abroad

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