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6 Amazing Quotes that Best Describe the Study Abroad Experience


Studying abroad and living in a foreign country is an impactful experience which left footprints on the world’s thinkers and intellects over history. The reoccurring theme of being foreign in a new land has repeated itself in literature, theaters, movies, speeches and more. Whether it’s a quote of a personal opinion or taken from a book, we’ve compiled the most relevant quotes for the ambitious international student studying abroad yearning to complete their MBA, Ph.D. Master’s degree, or Bachelor’s abroad. If you are far from home, these quotes will not only allow you to relate and hold your head saying “wow that’s exactly how it feels” but also inspire you on your journey to graduating from university abroad.

1. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." 
    - Lao Tzu 

Getting accepted a top universities in the United States, UK, Australia, Canada, China, Germany or France is a marathon - not a sprint. The curious and determined will need to walk slowly down the road to achieving their dreams. The process entails multiple steps, demanding attentiveness to technical and bureaucratic procedures. Those who have fought through the battle successfully know that persistence is the ultimate key, so take each step at a time and concur each challenge one by one.

2. "Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow."
    - Anita Desai

Time spent in a new land leaves a mark on your overall life perspective. After the first culture shock, going back to who you once was is impossible. Meeting strangers from different worlds, sharing experiences and ideas especially in academic fields shapes the future you. The memories which you'll collect will go on with you forever. 
   
3. "When you travel remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It's designed to make its own people comfortable." 
     - Clifton Fadiman 

Language barriers and culture differences are a part of the  student abroad experience. If talking to locals is important for you, take the time to learn about the place you're living in. Follow the news, read books, take intensive language courses and learn the small cultural gestures to understand where you landed and why people act the way they do. If you get uncomfortable, just remember that growing only happens when you leave your comfort zone. 

4.   "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience." 
     - Eleanor Roosevelt 

What's life for if not to make every experience count. Living abroad makes life so much more vibrant and meaningful. Tasting new foods, traveling, visiting museums, going to art galleries, discovering yourself and the new place you're in. 

5. "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
     - Mark Twain

The vast exposure to a new society will tear down all the stigmas that you ever had. Instead of imagining how people may act in a certain place, you’ll actually be able to talk to people from different nationalities and find out for yourself. You’ll realize that even after seeing and witnessing things first hand it’s still only the tip of the iceberg and there are still missing pieces to the puzzle to fully understand the picture. 

6. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." 
    - Mark Twain

Yes, studying abroad is a once in a life time experience. Go out there, be yourself, enjoy your life and have no fear. If you're unsure about what you're doing, remember that others before you accomplished this dream and so can you. 

Diagnosing culture shock

A recurring trend is leading millions of students from all over the world to pack their school bags, say goodbye to their family and friends and wonder off to flock universities in the USA, UK, Australia, China, Germany and other attractive destinations. After landing their target country, many start to develop a very strange sensation which many doctors in their country haven’t been able to give a clear diagnosis of.

If you’ve just arrived in a new land and have been feeling a little confused, dizzy, out of place or awkward, you might be experiencing culture shock. Culture shock as well as reverse culture shock are very common phenomenons faced by many international students while making their dream come true and studying abroad. Culture shock is part of the four stages of cultural adjustment in a new country. Here are some questions to ask yourself while looking for common signs and symptoms to help you diagnose the problem.


Are you distracted?
Overdosing on information is one of the most common symptoms of culture shock and can cause  some serious distraction. Learning about a new place which you've never been to is extremely exciting and thrilling. Tasting new foods, discovering the coolest neighborhoods, getting used to the currency differences or ordering coffee in the spoken language is all a part of that experience. Getting introduced to all of this new information is intensely stimulating and before you know it, you’ve overdosed.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is extremely fun! It is also the cause of travel addiction many wanderers experience, causing them to get on flights to new destinations over and over again. So why are you feeling so weird? Well, living in a constantly distracting reality can be quite exhausting over a long period of time. On the positive side though, once you recognize that your tiredness is just a result of culture shock, you're guaranteed to feel better.
Are you feeling awkward in social situations?

Not knowing what’s the right and wrong way to act in social situations is normal when arriving in a new country. Different cultures have very different social norms and to add on to that, there may also be a language barrier.
Standing out as a foreigner when you first arrive can be fun, but after a few months of trying to integrate, it might get a little annoying to be the strange, different one.
Do you miss your family and friends at home?
Feeling homesick is an integral part of living abroad as well as culture shock. Missing your home will lead you to idealize even the things that you didn't really like and sometimes even stereotype the new culture that you are living in. You’ll probably want to talk to your family and friends way more than you even did while you were at home and before you know if Facetime, Skype and Watsapp will become your best friends.

Don't worry, this is completely normal and happens to a lot of students who move abroad. Once you settle down and find some new friends you'll feel much better.
Do you find yourself obsessing over the culture that you’re in?
Many people choose either one of two approaches when entering a new culture – either become it or block it. In both cases, the result is that you end up obsessing over this new culture, for the good or the bad.
Those who choose to become like “one of them”, will do everything they can to dress, talk and act the way they see locals do. This group usually consists of fast adapters who are not afraid to learn and be influenced by the new culture that they are in.   
On the other end of the spectrum are the deniers – those who aren’t so keen on letting go of who they are or feel that the new influences are a threat to their own identity. These people will normally stigmatize the new place that they are living in, the culture and the way people behave. They will also have a harder time when trying to fit in, and might even find themselves living in the expat bubble, surrounded by people who moved abroad just like them in places that feel more like home.
If you answered positive to three out of the four questions asked above, you have most likely been experiencing culture shock. If this is true, the best tip we could give you is to try to surrender to the feeling of not always having control. Try to embrace the differences in culture and language that the new country you are in has to offer. Only with an open mind, can you really allow yourself to integrate and get the true studying abroad experience.

Feel free to comment below or let us know what you think about this blog by sending us a message to: info@gradtrain.com.







Foreign students caught up in the US elections

International students who study in the US have taken a stand in response to the first, second and third presidential debates and the overall feel of the US elections. In just a few hours, broadcasts of the final presidential polls will air in every news channel and the election results will be revealed. Until then, here are a few things you should know about international students in the United States and prospective students and what they think about the presidential election.

The US is the number one study abroad destination for international students, hosting hundreds of thousands of students from countries like China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Brazil, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam and Mexico. 

These students are doing degrees study topics like business and management, engineering, mathematics, computer science, social sciences, education and agriculture. Students move to the US because they know that studying in the US will enhance their academic skills, help their career and in general, improve their lives. International students contribute over $30 billion to the US economy and are a huge asset to the intellectual academic community.   

International students on campus: 

Although they can't vote, international students have been active in the presidential campaigns on campus and off campus. They took part in promoting the candidates on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit and Quora, to influence the opinions of their American peers. They were also encouraged to participate in rallies on campuses across the US campaigns for either the democratic candidate or the republican candidate.  

This year, foreign students made efforts to help American citizens register to vote by providing IT support. Some even provided rides to vote, to make sure everyone has a chance to get their voice heard.  

Many foreign students saw this as a way to support not only their ideology but their interests too. A lot of questions which were relevant to them were raised during the presidential rallies. Many thought that this year's election will determine their fate in their academic life in the US due to potential future immigration restrictions and new foreign policies which the US might adopt, depending on the candidate that wins.

Prospective international students:

Prospective students know the many benefits to studying in America, but just like the international students who are already studying in universities like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Duke, Trinity, Stanford and more, they are also influenced by this year’s election. 

A research done by FPP EDU Media, surveyed more than 40,000 prospective international students from 118 countries. 60% of these students said that they would have less of an affinity towards studying in the US if Donald Trump was elected, while 3.8% said they wouldn’t want to study in the US if Hilary Clinton won.  

The main root of their concern is the possibility that their rights to student visas, work opportunities and options to stay will be threatened. After Obama created the immigration reform, many international students were happy to find out that they can stay in the United States after they graduate. They now fear that possible immigration restrictions might change the law.  

For more information about international students in the US, feel free to leave us a comment below or contact us at: info@gradtrain.com





With only a few days left for the election, American students abroad are feeling exhausted

With only a few days left for the final results of this year's election, many American students studying around the world are left exhausted. During these crucial past months for America’s future, many found themselves facing obstacles which they normally wouldn’t face back at home.

There are about 2.2 million U.S. citizens overseas eligible to vote in this election. Most of them live in Australia, Germany, the UK, Canada, South Korea, Israel, Mexico, France, Switzerland and Costa Rica. According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), 6% of them are between the ages of 18-24, and 17% are between the ages of 25-34. 

With recent encouragements to study abroad in the form of grants and scholarships, many of these millennials are students who are taking part in exchange programs, or completing their Bachelor’s degree, MBA, PhD or MA. Many of their fellow peers back home had a chance to get involved in the Republican or Democratic campaigns on their campuses, but because they live in a foreign country, their experiences have been very different for a number of reasons.

Keeping up with the elections

Getting updates on the elections wasn’t at all hard for most American students living abroad, as long as they had constant access to internet. With YouTube videos from the first, second and third debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump on their Facebook feed, many testified that they would constantly hear about the news through their social media accounts (mainly Twitter, Instagram and Facebook).

According to a study done by Pew Research Center, most Americans find that cable TV news is the most useful source for learning about the elections, but most millennials said that social media is their main go-to source. 35% of Americans between ages 18-29 found social media platforms to be most helpful to learn about Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

Many American students living abroad have also mentioned that they would prefer watching funny shows rather than watching the conservative TV news channels like CNN, BBC, Fox News, etc. Shows like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, are all examples of sources that students are getting their updates from as well as entertainment. 

Defending the United States

US citizens who are studying abroad have said that part of the challenge of studying abroad this year has been the responsibility they felt to defend and explain the political situation in the United States. Students say that they get asked about who they are voting for almost everywhere they go, and without meaning to, they have transformed into ambassadors. This pushed many students to make a firm personal choice between the two main candidates, even if they are normally not very personally involved in politics.

Students have also mentioned that with so many controversies and conspiracies about the candidates, it was almost impossible to give satisfying explanations about what’s going on to anyone who isn't familiar with the current political situation in the United States. 

Defending the statements and ideologies of the candidates was a difficult task, especially for those students who are studying in a country that has very different political views on similar matters. Students confess that they felt like they had to either make excuses for the different statements that were made, defend the American political system or condemn either candidates.


Adopting new perspectives

Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience. By getting exposed to different cultures, students were able to form new opinions on foreign affairs as well as adopt local attitudes and opinions of the country they live in. The values which were represented by the candidates this year didn’t always align with values in the countries that the students were living in. 

In the foreign policy debate, the world witnessed Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump show their opinions on different global issues. Along with other topics discussed, they also talked about their perspective on foreign trade (on topics like NAFTA and TPP), countering terrorism, nuclear weapons, relationships with Russia and relations with China. Students who live in countries which are greatly effected by these policies, felt like they were forced to chose sides, and defend either their host country or the US.  

It was greatly felt on their end, that the elections reflect the American society and their personal identities. This caused a strong need to defend their chosen candidates or otherwise condemn the other one.
Elliott Stallion


 

5 Fun ways to collect memories from your study abroad trip

If you are studying abroad and you have already traveled around the globe, you are probably no stranger to the feeling of having to leave a place before even arriving. It’s as if the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” becomes your reality when you’re exploring a new country. As nostalgic creatures, we humans tend to hold on to memories so that we can relive experiences over and over again. So here are ways to make your study abroad experience one which you’ll never forget.

1. Writing a journal:
Nothing will remind you more of how you felt and what you thought about in a certain moment, than keeping a daily journal. Whether you jot down your daily activities or choose to reflect on your goals and decisions, writing a diary will allow you to go back and remember situations which you were in.
If you're new to writing and you need a little inspiration to start, there are plenty of ideas on pinterest on how to make your journal fun and exciting. Explore different ways of expressing yourself and get creative.

2. Taking photos:
When living abroad, there's probably no better way to let your friends know what you are up to than by sharing a few photos on Facebook or Instagram. Whether you decide to show your photos to the world or keep them private, they are the best way to remind you of sites you’ve visited, people you met and activities you took part in. Choose the medium that you love the most, whether it's with a film camera, Polaroid or a GoPro.
A photo posted by Murad Osmann (@muradosmann) on


3. Collecting post cards:
It’s always fun to bring home souvenirs from trips around the world. Postcards are especially unique since they allow us to connect to a place through its art. In many art fairs and markets, there’s usually a postcard stand where artists sell their art. Send your family and friends postcards to tell them how you are doing, or collect a few to remind you where you were.

4. Keeping a daily video journal:
Getting a glimpse from your daily life is an amazing way to remember what the atmosphere where you visited, felt like. Apps like 1 second each day let you record a second from your day to put together a video of special events from your trip. At the end of your trip, you'll have a video with your most memorable records.

5. Getting a world map scratch poster:
If you're such a frequent traveler that you can't remember which and how many countries they've been to, a world map scratch poster will help you. It allows you to scratch off the countries which you've visited.

A photo posted by Anne Sellรจs (@annslls) on


6. Saving wine corks:

As an international student, you'll probably get plenty of chances to go out and party with your friends. Instead of throwing out the cork of the wine bottle that you drank from, keep it as a memory to remind you of your favorite wine in the country you are studying in. Here's a cool example of what you can do with these corks when you get home:
A photo posted by KORK (@kork_cph) on

For more information on studying abroad, contact us: info@gradtrain.com.

5 Tips to make relocating easier and cheaper

Photo by: Ashim D’Silva

Sorting out the logistics of how to make your dream come true of living abroad and studying in one of the best universities in the world, isn’t the easiest part of the process. Whether you got accepted to Phoenix University, University of Chicago, University of washington, Berkely, Harvard, Yale or Princeton, there are certain procedures which you’ll need to to follow to make your relocation successful. Here are a few tips on different services you'll need and how you can invest your money and time in the best way possible:

1. Get the best deals on flights:

  • There are many tips and tricks to finding cheap flights. Among many myths, there is one element that certainly affects the cost of the flight, and that is timing.
  • What you need to know is that the less people that fly, the cheaper the flight will be. When there's a low demand for flying, airlines lower their prices to fill up the planes. Avoid flying before big holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve or when everyone goes on vacation to get some sunlight, like in July and August. 
  • Airlines know that most people want to fly on the weekend, so the cheap flights will most likely be in the middle of the week and in the early morning or late at night. 

If you can’t be flexible, but you do want to get a good deal on a flight, just click here, and you can get 5% off of the price you paid for your ticket.

2. Get Health insurance:
  • If you’ve read our previous blog about how to stay healthy and safe abroad, you probably know that getting vaccinations and medical health insurance is really important to do before you get to your destination.
  • Seeking medical care abroad as a foreigner, will cost you twice (if not way more) the amount you would be paying if you had medical health insurance. Whether you had an accident, order an ambulance, need medications or just want to set a doctor’s appointment, you could save a lot of money by having the right health insurance to pay back these expenses. 
3. Getting a car:
  • The city that you decide to study in will determine how you get around it, whether it’s by bus, a train or if you’ll need a car. 
  • In cities like New York, Boston and New Jersey, the public transportation is so efficient, that trains and buses reach all areas inside the city and even outside the city and it’s preferable not to have a car and not have to worry about finding parking spaces and getting around traffic. 
  • In the West Coast though, it’s very hard to get around if you don’t have a car. Los Angeles, and San Francisco, for example are very spread out, and the public transportation doesn’t lead to all areas of the city. 
  • Many student buy a car to have the freedom both to travel around the United States and also have the freedom not to be dependent on public transportation. 
  • One of the main problems that international students face in the US, is the fact that in order to get a loan for buying a car, a certain amount of credit score (which takes months to build) is necessary.
Many students chose to get help from Lendbuzz, who help foreign international students get a loan to buy a car, based on their educational background, employment history and potential future income.  



4. Get access to your favorite content while abroad:
  • Although you may be far from home, you don’t need to disconnect yourself from your family, friends, culture and of course, your favorite TV show. While living abroad, many websites and media might be blocked (Netflix, Pandora, Amazon Prime, etc.). Having a VPN, allows you to still get access to these networks, and save a lot of money. 
5. Find an apartment:
  • As an international student, the three main housing options you have are to live in the student university dorms, rent a room in a shared apartment or rent an apartment by yourself. 
  • If you decide to live in the university dorms, you’ll need to talk to your university staff to reserve a room for you. 

  • If you decide to rent an apartment, things might get a little more complicated. You’ll need to figure out how most people in your chosen destination find their apartments. In some countries, the popular way is through specific Facebook groups, or sites.
To save time, money and effort in the process, just click here, and find the right apartment anywhere in the world, for you.  


Get more help and information on studying abroad at: www.gradtrain.com.  



7 Things students must know to stay safe abroad

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Photo by Steven Lewis
Now that you've chosen your study abroad destination, it's time to make this dream a reality. Whether you want to study in Australia, Asia, Europe, North America, South America or Africa, preparing and staying informed is the key to staying safe abroad. Different risks are common for different locations, but there are some procedures which are relevant to all areas. So whether here's a list that will help you expect the best scenario but prepare for the worst:
1.    Know where you’re going.

  • One of the most important aspects of your safety abroad is staying informed and aware of possible risks and dangers in the country you’re moving to. Search for your destination on liable online sources, for example, government sites, such as the US Department of State, to find out about the safety requirements for your move your new destination.


2.    Stay healthy!

  • Before embarking on your trip, get insured! This is very important, because if anything happens to you, someone’s got your back. Don’t travel abroad is you haven’t sorted this out first.   
  • There are various health procedures necessary for different countries. Do your research before hand to get all the information you need.
  • Taking medications? Well, make sure that your doctor writes you a note so that you won’t get stopped over at the airport. Some countries have very strict legislation on different medicines.
  • Make sure to find out if there are any necessary vaccinations you need to take before going to the country you’re going to. The Centers for disease Control and prevention are a good source to check before buying a flight ticket to your destination.  


3.   Know how to reach out if necessary.

  • Get a sim card, so that if you are in need of help, you are able to reach out to someone.
  • Make sure you know where the consulate or the embassy of your country is, in case something goes wrong. Keep a card with the address and phone number of the closest consulate or embassy in English and in the local language so that you can point it out to anyone. - Most embassies have a 24/7 service in case of an emergency for you to contact. Make sure to know what they can and can’t do for you.


4.   Keep a copy of your documents and make sure they are up to date.

  • Make sure that you have all the requirements you need before moving abroad.
  • It’s best to have 3 copies of all your bureaucratic files – one for your family at your home country, one which you should carry with you at all times and the third should be stored in a safe place where you are staying.
  • Keep an electronic copy in case you lose any of them.
5.   Store money in more than one spot.

  • If you’re going to a tourist attraction, make sure to leave your valuables at home, and try not to stand out. Places with a lot of tourists usually also attract scammers and thieves. Now, don’t get paranoid, but just keep your possession close.
  • Leave some money at home, and in different pockets, so that if something does happen, you still have some left.
6.    Tell your family and friends where you are.

  • Yes, everyone knows that you’re independent and you usually don’t need to report to anyone where you are or what you are doing. While abroad, it’s good to talk to your family and friends, and inform them if you are planning a vacation somewhere or are going to wonder off on a hike in the woods or anything like that. That way, it will be easier for others to track you down, if necessary.


7.  Stay alert and listen to your inner voice.

  • Don’t wonder off into shady places. If you know about areas with a high crime rate, just don’t go there. It’s easier to prevent dangerous situations than to put out fires.
  • Know your route home, and keep your eyes out for crowds of people or anything suspicious crossing your way.

If you have any valuable advice for other students who want to study abroad,
feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information, contact us at: info@gradtrain.com.

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