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Big city universities vs. rural universities: what is the best choice for me?

You finally received the answers from all the universities you applied to. Congratulations! It is now time to make the final choice. Many foreign students target different kinds of universities for a study abroad program and find it difficult to choose between a city or a rural university. You like the countryside but also want to experience the active American life? You want to enjoy life on campus and find new local friends, but traveling in the States or flying to the countries near by for Spring Break is also part of your plan? If that dilemma sounds familiar to you, read our below tips to choose the type of university for your study abroad experience.


A rural university is for you if:
You want to deeply immerse yourself in American Culture and to connect with local people. A Rural University will surely be the best place for you to improve your English and to experience a new cultural environment.
You like the outdoors, the countryside and are dreaming of playing sports in your university. Usually, rural Universities have huge campuses with very impressive stadiums and a strong sports culture, and you should not miss the Friday night football game experience while you are there. Some campuses are close to amazing nature preserves, such as the University of Colorado in Boulder which is practically in nature and is a car ride away from Rocky Mountain National Park.
If you prefer quiet and want to focus on your studies rather than being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a big city – a rural university in most likely the right choice for you.

A city university is for you if:
You want to experience a cosmopolitan atmosphere and are a big fan of Melting Pot. Studying in New York city, Boston or San Francisco is a once in a lifetime experience and you will have the opportunity to make new friends from all over the world. You will end up celebrating Chinese new year and eating turkey for Thanksgiving!
You like museums, exhibits and concerts and you see your study abroad experience as a cultural exploration. Exploring cities like New York City or San Francisco can take your entire year abroad. You will never have enough of all the different cultural events big cities can offer.
You have a large budget and are ready to spend more on hobbies and every day activities. Student life is definitely more expensive in big cities. You should prepare your budget in advance and have it in mind once you make your final choice. Food, hobbies, transportation, housing, are not all on the same level when comparing certain big city universities.
Another advantage of choosing a city university is that you will likely be able to walk to school every day as well as walk to other attractions around town. If you like to walk, this can make a difference for you.
The major metropolitan cities in the US also have airports that reach most destinations worldwide, so if you plan to travel during winter or spring break, or plan to visit home during your time abroad, it will be easier to reach your destination from the big cities.
Before making your choice, remember that the US is a very different place than most other countries. Going to a remote city can be much farther away than what you know from your home country, and on the other hand, a big US city can be much bigger than any city you have seen, and may be overwhelming for some.
We hope these tips will help you to make the best choice for your study abroad experience. Whatever choice you make, the study abroad experience is sure to have an impact on the rest of your life and career.
Want to know more? Need help with applying to universities abroad?

Trump’s H-1B Visa changes: should you care?

Whether you are an international student, a prospective student, a faculty member or an employer in the United States you need to know (and care) about the H1-B Visa. Student visas such as the F-1 visa, the F-2 Visa, J-1 visa, J-2 visa allow foreigners to study (and in some cases – work for a set period of time) in the US, but the H1-B visa gives the permit to stay and work even after graduation and after the completion of CPT or OPT. The ability to obtain a work visa can be a determining factor for international students aiming to come to the US, for financial reasons and for career development reasons.

Recently, on April 18th, 2017 President Donald Trump issued a specific Executive Order in which he orders to prioritize the hiring of American citizens and added some conditions and provisions to the H1-B visas in this context. If you are in the process of applying to a study abroad program, or are planning to apply for this specific visa after your graduation, read the below article and first of all - do not panic!
The H1B Visa
Already found a job in the United States? If so, this visa is for you. Among different work visas in the US the H1-B visa is given to foreigners in "special occupations" with a request from the employer with a preference to international graduates who studied in the US and have a master’s degree. The visa is given out by “lottery” and the process can take about six months.
There are three requirements for this visa
1. You need to at least have a bachelor’s degree. You will have an advantage if you have a higher degree related to the job which you are hired to do.
2. You need to already have a job offer when applying for this visa. The job position needs to be in the field of math, engineering, business, medicine and other STEM fields and related to what you studied.
3. You must be paid the prevailing wage for the position which you will be working in. You cannot ask for a lower salary just to get sponsored for an H1-B visa.  
Not everyone can get an H1-B
There is a cap on the H-1B visas given out and it’s only handed to 85,000 people each fiscal year. But, if you are seeking to obtain the visa to work in a higher education institution, a nonprofit organization related to education or a government organization, you should not worry since these institutions are cap-exempt.
You should also know that this visa is given for up to three years. It can be extended but usually not for more than six years.
The recent Trump Executive Order is mostly a warning given by the Trump administration regarding the recruitment of programmers in the field of Information Technology and the consequences for foreign students are not yet clear. For the moment, it will probably add some more time to an already very long process.
Why this is important to international students
Choosing a study destination is based on parameters such as the study program, location, weather, university ranking, and more. As a prospective student who is thinking about a future in a new land, you should also take into consideration immigration policies. The fact is that most international students move back to their home country after graduation and do not pursue a career in their country of study, in many cases due to immigration issues.
Due to the high costs of studying in the US for international students, having the opportunity for employment in the Unites States and being able to stay for work and even one day to immigrate, should be a major factor towards deciding whether or not to study in the US in the first place (unless of course you have an endless amount of cash).
Want to know more? Need help with applying to universities abroad?

Want to study abroad? How to get started

The idea has been on your mind for weeks, you have been speaking about it seriously but have no idea where to start. Studying abroad is a big decision, which requires making decisions based on many factors that you cannot fully predict. The more useful information you get, the better prepared you will be for this process. If you want to know more about the process but feel a bit lost in all the information online, here are a few tips to help you start your experience abroad in the best way possible.

1. Identify your real source of motivation: Why do you want to study abroad?  It sounds simple but identifying your source of motivation is key to keep you on track in the long and hard application process. Are you excited by the life on an American Campus? Or are you dreaming to get a degree in Finance to enrich your resume? Are you looking to become a Professor? A lawyer? A Software engineer at google? Are you simply bored with your current job or looking for a change in your career? Having the right motivation will help you significantly through the long application process and once you make the transition to you new campus and need to adapt to the North American student system and culture. Be honest with yourself upfront.
2. Read and read again: sources on internet, blogs, forums. The more you read about the study abroad adventure, the more you will clear your mind with your objectives and figure out if this is what you really want. Getting a lot of information at the beginning will help you to focus on a specific field later. This will also help you see if your profile is a good match for joining a foreign university (grades, level of English, available funds). You can also use our admissions predictor to get a better idea of your chances of acceptance.


3. Prepare your timeline and plan: When are you willing to join a study abroad program? Planning is key and will help you to achieve your goal in this adventure. You need almost a full year to complete the standardized tests (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL / IELTS) and apply according to the University application calendar. Check if this is compatible with the time you will finish your current degree or the time in which you plan to leave your current job to embark on this adventure.
4. Think about…after: Studying abroad is a step is your life, not just the objective. Try to think about the time after you complete your studies and graduate. If you make the right choices along the way, this can be an exciting experience and can enrich your career and education path. A good method to bridge the information gap is to contact some previous students who went through the same experience and get their feedback and see how their choices impacted their career and their life.
These are a few steps to get you started in the process. If you want advice on student life in America and need guidance of an admissions predictor or a mentor who has gone through the process, please visit https://www.gradtrain.com

Waiting for the acceptance or rejection letters – what should you do?


Checking your email 10 times a day, counting the days, the hours…If you are in the admissions process for a study abroad program, that might sound familiar to you. To keep your cool, read the following 3 scenarios that will help you prepare for the news, now that we are at that time of year where you will start hearing from universities.

Scenario 1: You are still waiting for an answer from the admissions committee
Depending on which schools and program you applied to, according to the admissions calendar of US  universities, you should start receiving you first answers during the month of April.
Check out your application status on the application portals of the different universities you applied to. If you see that you should have received an answer, do not hesitate to contact the Registrar’s Office directly by email or phone. Being proactive in this process, is crucial. Your application is not only sending your grades, essays and GMAT scores, it is also following up on it. Too many students realized that they received some important emails that went to their spam folder.
Scenario 2: You did not get accepted to your dream school
Do not panic! Read the letters you received, try to check if you are on a waiting list or not. Two situations are possible: First, you do not have a backup (“safety”) school, or you really cannot see yourself at the schools that did accept you. Be realistic and honest with yourself, ask yourself the following questions: Can you improve your grades? Is it because of your GMAT score? Are you motivated to work again even harder and re-apply next year? If yes, go for it and take this opportunity to use our Predictor and to get help from a coach. Second, you got accepted into other schools, and are not sure if you should go to them. You should know that most students do not get accepted to their top choice schools, and still end up very happy with the result once they move to study abroad in the school they ultimately choose.


Scenario 3: You got accepted to the school/s you wanted
Congratulations ! It is time to celebrate and to prepare the next steps for your transition to your future campus.
Read all the documents you received carefully and verify the process to confirm your enrollment. Deadlines are also important in the acceptance process, not only in the application. Do not miss them. You might also need to wait for answers regarding scholarships. Note that usually financial aid award notifications occur with the offer of admission, by early April-mid-May for future students. Once you have sent back all the documents to confirm your registration, it is time to prepare for your life on campus : dorms, apartment, living on or off campus...You will have to choose the best option for you. Prepare your budget and start getting familiar with the different organizations for foreign students.
Last important advice, get ready quickly for the immigration process and the student visa you might need. This process can take longer than expected.
If you want advice on student life in America and need a mentor to guide you through the process, please visit https://www.gradtrain.com

Understanding American cultural values through proverbs


Thinking about studying abroad in the United States? One way to prepare yourself for the experience is to understand the American culture through commonly used proverbs.
Understanding cultural aspects through proverbs is an effective tool for exploring cultural aspects of living in a foreign country. Through comparing local proverbs with the similar proverbs of your native language, you can understand more about life in the country you are moving to. This activity will help you with better intercultural communication as you make your transition to your destination.
When you will be speaking with your new friends on campus, you will need to employ intercultural communication and will need to connect to a different value system. At first, it may be challenging to understand each other, and to build strong and deep relationships.

Let’s have a look at some popular American proverbs that will provide some insights into common American perceptions:
  • Genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration.
  • No pain, no gain.
  •  Keep your nose to the grindstone and your shoulder to the wheel.
Commentary: working hard is highly valued is America and receives exceptional recognition.
  • Where you are going is much more important than where you have been.
  • A change is as good as a rest.
Commentary: Americans associate changes with development, growth, improvement and progress. The ability to keep up with changes requires one to take an “out of the box” and flexible approach towards solving problems, as can be derived from these proverbs:
  • The proof is in the pudding.
  •  There are many ways to skin the cat.

Americans typically tend to a competitive, especially in sports, but not only:  
  • Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.     
  • No one remembers who was in the second place.
Americans generally believe that one controls his/her own destiny:
  • You can’t keep a good man down.
  • Who says you can’t have it all?
  • The sky is the limit.
Self-reliance is also part of American culture, which is generally quite individualistic:
  • Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
  • Toot your own horn.
  • If you want a job done right, do it yourself.

As you can see, among Americans, energy, enterprise, optimistic attitude towards change, and the ability to effectively solve problems are highly valued. When you will start your study abroad program in the United States, understanding these values and keeping them in mind will be of a great help for your cultural acclimation.

Once you move abroad you will experience these cultural aspects firsthand, until then, studying and preparing yourself will make the transition much easier.

If you want advice on student life in America and need a mentor to guide you through the process, please visit https://www.gradtrain.com