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Why is it so hard to rent an apartment in New York?

It's notoriously hard to lock down a lease without U.S. credit or a steady paycheck, so how exactly can a student from a foreign country go about landing an apartment?

If you were not born in the United States (or have no U.S. credit) you can forget trying to rent your own apartment,  unless you’re able to put up at least 6 months of security or live as a roommate in someone else’s apartment, but who wants to do that!
So what can you do?

For starters, "You'll need a copy of your visa, your passport, a few months' worth of bank statements, and a letter of enrollment or class schedule from school," explains J.Miller, an NYC broker. Landlords want proof that you have consistent funds—rather than a bank account with temporary cash deposited by parent, as well as some sort of proof that you’re either studying or working in the city.  
And this is just the tip of the iceberg because most landlords require, at minimum, that you have a steady income of at least 40 times the monthly rent, not just that you have that much money in savings. Finally they will want to see that you have a credit score of around 700 or higher.  But since you'll be a student (and presumably not earning a full-time income) and don't have any credit history in the U.S., you'll almost certainly be required to bring a  guarantor, or someone who will agree to be responsible for your rent if you default. Unfortunately, many landlords require that the guarantor be a US citizen, earn a salary of 80 times the monthly rent, and reside in the New York tri-state area.

One way around this is to sign up for HelloRented, a service that will act as a guarantor instead of a US friend or relative. Dr. Jeremy Esekow, CEO of HelloRented, tells us that “the vast majority of international students can qualify for an HelloRented guarantee by having their parents act as responsible parties with HelloRented who will be the actual co-signer and guarantor on the lease."
There is a small fee to use the service, but the cost is quite small compared to having to deposit 6 months additional security deposit and far cheaper than broker fees in NYC and Boston. In the end the HelloRented guarantor service gives you the freedom to choose the apartment you actually want to live in without having to put down a ton of cash or live somewhere with less strict requirements.
Alternately, you can see if the the landlord is willing to accept a bigger security deposit up front—generally three to six times a month's rent, instead of the usual one month's rent, says J.Miller seek out a sublet or roommate share so you don't have to deal with getting on a lease at all.

In the end you want to make sure you have a comfortable place to live so that you can focus on your studies without the hassle or inconvenience of a difficult living situation.

HelloRented is a rental finance solution which makes renting an apartment easy.  They offer a guarantor service to help students get approved for the apartment of their choice without having to bring an outside guarantor.  They can also get the security deposit waived as well so that the student or tenant doesn't have to hand over a large cash payment their lease.  HelloRented wants to make renting an apartment quick and easy for students. For more information go to

Funding your international studies - mission impossible?

Funding your international studies can seem intimidating and sometimes even downright impossible, but as you work through finding and applying for scholarships and loans, you’ll start to understand the system and find scholarships that are the best fit for you. What kind of student you are, what school you’re looking to attend and your general profile all have a tremendous effect on what kind of scholarships or loans you will be able to receive.

Although you would probably prefer to find scholarships before you find your dream school, this is rarely possible. In most cases, students search for scholarships while simultaneously seeking out schools that are the best fit for them. Finding the right scholarship depends heavily on what type of school you’re interested in attending and on your background. For example, Ivy League universities generally do not give academic/merit based scholarships, rather they only provide need-based scholarships (i.e. for people with financial difficulties). Depending on the university your applying to and if you are an academically successful student, programs like Prodigy Finance can provide loans that are right for you. A helpful place to start is at their frequently asked questions page, where international students just like you ask the same questions that you might have.
If you are not interested in attending an Ivy League university, look for other good schools that prove to provide substantial scholarships for their international students. These schools will not only be a great fit for you academically, but also financially. You might have to be open to schools you hadn’t previously thought about and be less particular about which school you will eventually attend, but you will find some schools that can make your study abroad dream a reality.|

Aside from academic scholarships, there are many scholarships out there that you don’t even realize exist. If you have a unique hobby, or have a talent in a specific area, there are a vast amount of scholarships that award students with money for university for athleticism, art, writing and so much more.

Because there are so many different types of scholarships, it’s important not to limit yourself to just one. You are able to apply for as many as you want, and you should, considering all of the expenses you will have to cover while studying in the US. In order to get a better understanding of your expenses and how you will cover them, create a budget. Calculating your living and learning expenses will give you the chance to see how much you will be spending and how many scholarships to apply for.

The reality is that the majority of international students end up paying for their studies from their personal or family funds. You need to be realistic and prepare to bear most of the costs yourself.

Funding your international studies may seem difficult and confusing, yet there are many scholarships out there. Spend the time searching for one or more that fit your background and goals. It will make your study abroad experience much more doable.

Have any questions about moving to study abroad? Go to

Eating healthy while studying in the US

Arriving in a new country can be confusing in so many ways and the last thing you want to worry about is your most basic necessity--food. But simple food plans and grocery lists can help guide you through an American grocery store.
First come up with with a healthy meal plan at the beginning of each week. Not only will this save you valuable time throughout your week, but it will also save you a lot of money, as you will only spend money on food that you need. Planning your meals will also minimize wasting food. Your meals and snacks should have an emphasis on fruits, vegetable and proteins like meat, poultry (unless you are a vegetarian of course), dry beans, eggs and nuts. You should also drink water throughout the day. Carrying a reusable water bottle with you will get you to your eight cups a day and will also minimize plastic waste.

Once you have planned your meals for the week, start drafting a grocery list based on those meals and what ingredients and foods you will need for each one. Cooking meals that require similar healthy foods will make your trip to the grocery store more convenient and less expensive.

But which grocery store should you bring your food shopping list to? There are several options depending on where you live, but the same rules still apply everywhere. Try to avoid small convenience stores, which are usually more expensive and should only be visited in last minute food-related emergencies. Bigger grocery stores are your best and cheapest option. They have huge selections of food and a variety of options for every kind of food, but be careful and stick to your list--it’s easy to get carried away in the vast food options and buy items that were not originally on your shopping list. Trader Joe’s is a well-known grocery store that can be found in most areas. They are considered a healthier grocery store, with many organic options, and also a considerably cheaper health food store, compared to Whole Foods, which can get pricey.

You can and should, of course, indulge in your guilty pleasures throughout your study abroad adventure, as there are so many exquisite restaurants that you will definitely want to try, but the key is indulgence in moderation. Indulging in unhealthy food or restaurants in moderation will help keep your US experience within your budget while also keeping it exciting and healthy.

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Applying at the last minute to study abroad: Is it possible?

The application deadline for most international programs is just a days or a few weeks away and you just realized that your dream is to studying abroad in the US! Is it possible to fulfill your dream in a mere couple of weeks?

Tip 1. Timetable: Before anything else, build a calendar. You must maximize your valuable time in order to be successful in this rapid yet tedious process. Applying to graduate school in two weeks is possible, but requires a great degree of dedication to the process, without focusing on anything else. Create your timetable and ensure that you dedicate most of your time to it in order to achieve your application goals.

Tip 2. Prioritize: Be conscious about how much time you actually have to apply--there is a lot of information to learn and not so much time. Because you don’t have a great deal of time, it’s important to focus only on the information of utmost importance. When shuffling through university websites, aim your attention at the information that is most relevant to you. You also might want to focus on schools that might not require a GRE or GMAT test, if you haven’t take it. Signing up for and taking a GRE or GMAT test in only a few weeks is doable, but you may not receive the scores you’d hoped for, or may miss the deadline for application.
One of the first things you should do is figure out who you want letters of recommendation from and ask them immediately because the time restraint will affect them tremendously. It is proper to give your recommenders a few weeks notice so that they have enough time to craft a well-written letter that speaks to your strengths and captures your spirit and success.

Tip 3. Work on your resume and essay: Your resume and essays are a crucial component in your application, as they tell the university who you are and what you have done to get there. They’re one of the first parts of your application that the admissions committee will look at, therefore you’ll want to perfect them. When you’re done drafting them, have a native English speaker proofread and edit them with you. American universities prefer superior writing skills and proper grammar, and poor English can make you look bad and unprofessional.

Tip 4. Talk to the right people: Don’t ask everyone for advice. You don’t have time to listen to everyone’s opinion on why they think you can’t or shouldn’t apply to university abroad. You have better and more important things to focus on during these few weeks. You should get in contact with the international admissions counselor and speak to them about why you’re applying late and ask if they have any advice specific to that school. Also use GradTrain to talk to a mentor who studied at that school and may be able to give you the edge when applying to that school.

Tip 5. Focus: Buckle down. Find caffeinated coffee. Get good WiFi. Cancel your plans. Understand that you will have to devote all your time in these two weeks to your application, but, as you know, your dream is worth it. You will feel good at the end of the two weeks knowing that you gave the application your all.

Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduation?

2018: A year full of new opportunity for international students

Get ready to bid farewell to 2017 and ring in the new year, with all of its new possibilities and opportunities for improvement in 2018 to make your study abroad dream a reality and a success:

1. Take care of yourself
You should be your number one priority before anything else because it will be hard to succeed academically and professionally if you don’t succeed personally. So start rethinking your eating and exercise habits! Put a greater emphasis on brain foods and a lifestyle that will fuel your ambitious goals. Simple dietary improvements can make a world of differences, and your budget should not be an excuse to treat your body and mind poorly, there are several ways to have a healthy diet on a budget.

2. Start saving
Studying abroad as an international student can be costly, which can cause plenty of stress. But you can easily relieve a lot of the stress by drawing up a personal budget plan and sticking to it! By having all your finances in front of you, you’ll be able to pinpoint unnecessary expenses and use the money toward something that you actually need or you could save it for later. There are a plethora of ways to minimize your spending and get your financial life in order.

3. Make new friends
American university campuses are full of intriguing and diverse people who are also looking to meet new people. Find a committee that interests you or a club that you would love to learn more about and you will definitely meet interesting people who you might not meet otherwise. You’ll have new, stimulating conversations, combat loneliness and you might even create a lifelong friend!

4. Improve your English
If you haven’t started working on your English, there’s no time like the present! As an international student, improving your language skills can only benefit you and your future. There are many ways to expand your English language arsenal, so find the best way for you and get to it!

5. Stop procrastinating
It’s finally time to break the vicious cycle of procrastination. In order to succeed personally, academically and professionally, you need to get on top of your game. Putting off until tomorrow what you can do today adds a significant amount of unnecessary stress to your life and can hurt your overall wellbeing. In order to actually achieve your new year’s resolutions, you must be committed to fulfilling them. Take the first steps toward making your dream a reality - do some research, choose the programs that are right for you and talk to someone who has been through the process who can guide you.

Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduation?
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Lonely Living: How to combat loneliness while studying abroad

Everyone has felt lonely at some point in their lives. Loneliness is a normal feeling, especially when you are living thousands of miles away from home in an unfamiliar and maybe even daunting place. It’s okay to feel lonely at times, but it becomes a problem when your loneliness debilitates you and stops you from enjoying your daily life. There are many ways to combat loneliness when you go abroad before it reaches such a severe degree:

1. Join a club, committee or team
There are a multitude of clubs, committees and teams on every university campus, full of people who are eager to make new friends and partake in interesting events or fun activities. These committees are also full of international students just like you, who understand your feelings of loneliness. You could pick a club that is centered around something that you have always been passionate about, where you can meet like-minded people who are just as excited about that subject as you are. Or you could join a committee with a topic that you are unfamiliar with in order learn more about that subject and meet interesting people that you would have never met otherwise. You could even do both! The opportunities to learn, meet new people and build close relationships on campus are endless.

2. Connect with fellow expats via expat Facebook groups
Although it may feel like you are the only one in the world dealing with loneliness, you are definitely not alone. You may not realize that there are hundreds of people just like you who are also trying to overcome loneliness and they are only a click away. There are Facebook groups dedicated to expats living in foreign countries, where they discuss what it’s like living in a foreign country and how to deal with any problems you might face. Many people who are studying and traveling abroad join these groups to be a part of a community that understands them. Expat Facebook groups are an excellent source of human companionship and these people know exactly what you are experiencing and would love to help you. You may find that you talk to someone in the group and want to meet them in person or even attend an event organized by the group. You should also stay in touch with your GradTrain coach who has gone through a similar process and experience just a few years back.

3. Stay in touch with your friends from home
Talking to your friends from home is the simplest way to fight your lonely feelings. Your closest friends, those who know you best, are only a Facetime call or text message away. Set up a convenient time for both of you, despite that annoying time difference, and dedicate an hour or so to catch up with them, see what they are up to and share all of your exciting American adventures with them. Although it’s important to keep in touch with your friends from home when you’re feeling sad and lonely, you shouldn’t be talking to them constantly, as it could be a distraction from meeting new people and having amazing experiences. You should find the right balance between speaking to old pals and making new friends in order to settle in and finally feel comfortable in your new environment.
Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduations?

The importance of improving your English before attending university abroad

Improving your academic English can be one of the most advantageous favors you could do for yourself before arriving on your American university campus. You might have known how to speak colloquial English throughout your life, but while engaged in a lecture or writing an essay, you will need to have a superior understanding of academic English. The English skills that you developed for the TOEFL or IELTS are definitely useful but it does not stop there. The academic words that you learned for the test are not enough, despite having a high score.
Procrastinating your language development would only be a disadvantage to yourself. Your classmates have not only spoken informal English their entire lives, but they have also written, attended class and spoken with professors in high-level academic English many more years than you have. In order to reach, and maybe even surpass, your peers’ English level, follow these preliminary steps.

1. Research and start to learn the vocabulary that is specific to your area of study. You should begin to gain a deeper understanding of your specific academic words and in which context they are used, in order to understand the high-level books you will be reading and the complex lectures that you will have to interpret. Reading academic publications about your area of study is a great way to start. They are full of necessary words and information that you will be expected to know when you arrive on an American university campus. Creating a personal dictionary or glossary is a helpful way to remember the words that you learn.
2. English lectures, classroom discussion and intellectual arguments require a greater level of communication and listening in academic English. In order to communicate effectively with your classmates and have a profound debate, you must develop an ear for conversational and argumentative flow. Listening to English podcasts, such as TED Talks and RadioLab, pertaining to academia or related topics is a helpful.

3. Improving your reading and writing skills before attending university abroad is crucial because you will need to write various essays throughout your application process, such as your personal statement, even before starting university. You should read classic and academic English books, American news and articles. This will expand your knowledge of American academia and how scholars use certain topics or phrases to cultivate a convincing argument and ultimately prepare you to read graduate-level textbooks and write collegiate papers. Programs like Grammarly are helpful for checking proper English spelling and grammar.

4. One of the most beneficial ways of improving your English is taking online classes. There are a multitude of online services that provide private lessons with language experts at a low cost, such as: Verbling, italki and Verbalplanet. Taking courses online will increase your familiarity with conversational English and therefore increase your confidence when speaking to your new American friends on campus.

Don’t wait until you arrive in the US to advance your academic English. Starting early and learning from various resources is crucial for your success and will help you adapt to your new surroundings and achieve academic success.

Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduation?