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How to apply for a student visa to the U.S. with 6 easy steps

Whether you come from China, India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia or Denmark, and whether you are planning to do a Bachelor of Science, Master’s degree, MBA or Ph.D., the first step to moving to the States is getting a student visa - and it’s a long process too. With so many universities in the USA and research and job opportunities, it’s no wonder that American higher education institutions have become a meeting point for international students to share their knowledge and advance their professional career. But with all of these opportunities, there's also quite a bit of homework to do. So if you’re feeling lost and confused about approaching the bureaucratic process of getting a visa to the United States, here are six steps that will simplify it for you:

1. Is your school is approved by the SEVP?

Before you start, make sure that the study program you got accepted to is approved by the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program).

The SEVP is a part of the National Security Investigations Division, working also with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of State.

Its main purpose is monitoring international students during their stay in the United States and making sure that they abide by the immigration laws and regulations. International students are only allowed to enroll in schools that are approved by the SEVP, which are thoroughly checked to make sure that they have all of the necessary facilities for foreign students.  

2. Understand which visa you’ll need and consult:

The type of visa you will get is determined by the school you go to and the study course and program you attend.

Types of student visas:

  • F-1 Visa - This visa is for students who are planning to study in an academic institution such as: college, university, high school, elementary school, seminary, conservatory or any other academic institution.

  • M-1 Visa - This visa is for students who are attending any recognized nonacademic institution.

  • J-1 Visa - This visa is for students who are on exchange programs.

Before you do anything, consult! Call the American Embassy or Consulate in your home country to get an understanding of the type of visa that you’ll need and the process you are going to go through.

3. Apply online for a visa:

Fill out the visa application form. After speaking to a delegate from the Embassy or Consulate and understanding the criteria and requirements for receiving a visa, fill out the online visa application form (also called DS-160).

4. Schedule and pass an interview.

After filling out the visa application form, you’ll be required to pass an interview in the local American Embassy or American Consulate near you. Schedule the interview for as early as you can before your course starts, so that you’ll have enough time to prepare and receive your visa in time.

5. Get interviewed:

This is not a job interview, so don’t get too nervous. You do need to come ready though. When I say ready, I mean, bring all of the right paperwork.

You’ll need your passport, visa application form, visa application receipt, a photo of yourself and a certification from the school which you plan to study in. There might be some additional documents which are necessary. To make sure you have everything you need, call the embassy or consulate.   

Keep in mind that digital fingerprint scans will be taken as part of the application process, and further processing might be necessary.

Visa fees:
The visa application process requires some additional fees. Depending on the country you come from and the type of visa you’ll get, there’s usually a fee before the interview and also when the visa gets issued to you.

6. Receiving the visa and moving abroad:

If you're waiting for your student visa, just know that you’ll receive it up to 120 days before your course starts. Hold your horses though! You’ll only be able to enter the United States only 30 days before you start your studies.

After getting your visa, make sure that you made all of the necessary arrangements, that you have health insurance, an apartment waiting for you and you're all set to get on the first flight to the U.S.

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The 5 character traits you need to have to study abroad

What does J.K. Rowling, Matthhew McConaughey, Bill Clinton, Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein have in common? Other than being famous, the answer to that question is that they all studied abroad. Oxford University, Harvard University, University of Paris-Sorbonne, and King’s College, are only some of the places that celebrities have studied abroad in. So what makes them so successful? What qualities and character traits do they posses that allowed them to study abroad, and then later on go on to achieve a successful career. What do you need to have, to study abroad and do you have what it takes? Here are the main character traits that people who move abroad share:   

1. Courageousness.

Courage is one of the most useful leadership qualities necessary when studying abroad. Courageous people aren’t immune to fear, but unlike the rest of us, they don’t let that emotion stop them. When encountering a challenge, as scary as it may seem, they tackle it until they achieve their goal. Living and studying abroad requires courage due to the many unknown factors and question that lay along the way. Some unknown factors include whereto live, dealing with a different culture, navigating in a new land, meeting new people, and so on. If you are planning to study abroad, you need to be patient, and solve each problem as you go. Don’t let these question overwhelm you. Don’t be afraid to apply to any university or any scholarship, even if you are not sure is you’ll be accepted. By trying, you’re already half way there.  

2. Being Adaptive.

To study abroad, you need to be able to adjust yourself into any condition. Whether you decide to study in Australia, China, India, Germany or Denmark, no matter how close the culture may be to your country’s, you’ll still need to adjust to a lot of changes. Different weather conditions, new people, a different culture, food, and almost every aspect of life. If you’re a culture freak, and you’ve already bought the latest version of the language learning book, make sure not only that you can speak the language, but that you also understand social norms and even certain dress codes.   

3. Curiousness.

Curiosity can trigger people to face life and take on the journey of exploring. This is a core trait that can change a viewer’s perspective and make people search for the “why” rather than accepting the norms. The passion to explore new horizons is usually the outcome of one’s curiosity. Technology has allowed us to get a glimpse into what’s happening on the other side of the world. Surfing the internet and watching the news or our favorite show on TV can expose anyone to different cultures, but to witness and experience them first hand, is a gift reserved for the curious and adventurous souls.

4. Being optimistic.

If you are planning to study abroad, you can’t live your life according to Murphy’s laws. Of course it is a clear possibility that some things are going to get out of hand, but you can’t sit there waiting for it to happen so. Instead, face challenges with humor. It will help you get through things (and life in general). Condition and train your mind to think that good things are about to happen to you, and you’ll see that they do. If you do happen to face a stressful situation, take a minute to think about the worst thing that could happen. International students know how to think like winners, with positive thoughts that allow them to overcome any challenge.  

Moving abroad builds character, and can teach you a lot about who you are. If you are thinking about studying abroad, take a look at these four character traits, and think “do I have what it takes?”. Doing this can motivate you to make personal development and achieve any goal you set. 

Still not sure what university is your best fit? Visit or download the GradTrain apps to try our university matching predictor! 

7 ways living abroad in Copenhagen will change your life

Are you planning to move abroad to study and live in Copenhagen? Then be prepared to never be able to view certain things the same way. From must-see tourist attractions (like the Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen Zoo, The National Gallery of Denmark, Tycho Brahe Planetarium, and more), to participating in the community life around the city, the Danish capital will no doubt leave you with a strong impact. Whether you come from China, the United States, Brasil, Canada, India, Russia, Japan or Australia, moving to the Scandenavian paradise will leave a stamp on your heart, which will change the way you think and live.
Written by Danielle Neubauer 

Here are the 7 ways living in Copenhagen will change your life: 

1. You’ll never want to drive a car again.

Biking has for years been a popular choice of transportation in Copenhagen, but also a lifestyle – some even call it a cult.

Whether you are a politician, a musician, a student, lawyer or a doctor, if you live in Copenhagen you will most likely be biking to work or school tomorrow morning regardless of the weather forecast. If you manage to adapt to the biking culture, you will surely find yourself immune to riding your bike in the cold snowy winters, warm summers and during the rainy days. 

While your friends back home take taxis on a night out (as to not ruin their hair, shoes, bags, makeup and clothes), don't be surprised if you find yourself riding your bike to a stylish cocktail party or a fancy dinner. You won't be the only one who dressed up either. Suits, ties, dresses and heals, can all be spotted on the biking lanes around the city.  


Being the world’s most Bike-Friendly city (after Amsterdam), the city finds innovative ways to provide VIP facilities to its bikers. Investments are constantly made to improve and build biking infrastructure (bridges, links across harbors, lanes and more). The city even shifts the way traffic lights work to allow a better bike flow.

This bike culture reveals the awareness that the Danish society has towards staying environmentally friendly and reducing global warming effects. Biking is also seen as a way to maintain fitness, without needing to hit the gym.

So if you want to live in Copenhagen, don’t expect to avoid a guilt trip when returning home and driving your car.    

2. The way you view your role in the community will never be the same.

Among the many travel advises for traveling in Copenhagen (sightseeing, tourist attractions, visiting museums), nothing can compare to taking part in some of the city's vibrant communities. For many foreigners, this is one of the most unique aspects of the city. 

These community centers include: public kitchens - where people gather in the evenings to cook food together, garden communities - where people grow and nourish plants, art centers - to get creative, and more. You will also start to notice the community activities taking place in the city, like people setting up art installations or decorating the streets.

Some of Copenhagen’s inhabitants even live in one of these communities (in designated apartments and even in boats on the river).

Don't be surprised if you start waking up in the mornings and asking yourself: "what can I do for the community and the world today?". 

3. Freedom will get a whole new meaning.

If you've visited Christiania, you might start to question the way governments in the world work today. After turning its abandoned military base into a massive social experiment, Freetown Christiana became one of the biggest hippie commune in the world. 

The population of Christiana is not constraint to social, judicial and governmental norms that have been implemented for years in societies around the world. Instead, Christiania was created as somewhat of a utopia, focused on mindfulness, individualism, and basically complete anarchy, freedom and some would also say, chaos.

A big sign at the entrance of the town informs the visitors that they are leaving the European Union, and entering an autonomous neighborhood, with its own flag, currency and laws. Art, museums, beautiful cafes and interesting people can be found on every corner of the streets. 

4. Free medical health insurance seems obvious.

In many countries health insurance is not cheap. As international student, it's even more expensive. The initial purchase of the insurance costs a lot of money and additional payments may also be necessary if you actually use the medical services.  

In Denmark things are very different. As an international student, getting health insurance before arriving is unnecessary. When you get your student visa, you also get a little card with your doctor’s information and phone number. In case you get sick or need to see a doctor, all you need to do is call and schedule a doctor’s appointment. There is no need to pay ahead of time or when you see your doctor.

5. Renting out a board game in the library instead of a book will seem totally normal to you
Libraries in Copenhagen, such as the KΓΈbenhavns Biblioteker, Royal Library, Black Diamond Library and more, are designed to store books and be a place to study in, but also to be a socializing and a meeting center. 

These beautiful public libraries are free and allow the visitors to borrow more than just books. Among the many stored items in their archives, are DVDs, computer games, board games, music, newspapers of different publications and more.

The libraries in Copenhagen are a place to get together to socialize and connect with people.

6. You'll have no shame 

In Copenhagen, there's a phenomenon called "dumpster diving", which is the anti-capitalist alternative to grocery shopping. This is a way to shop for free and save money, but also to salvage mass production of eatable goods which would normally be thrown to the trash because of a small harmless error during the manufacturing process. 

Although this is not a socially acceptable norm in many countries, in Copenhagen, it's done in an organized form and therefore involves no shame at all. The opposite is true. Society sees a core value in staying environmentally friendly and preserving unnecessary waste. 

Designated bins are scattered around the city where huge manufacturers and brands put their packed products (only if they are in good conditions of course). When a big company decides to put their products in a bin, people can get notified on different Facebook groups. 

7. You’ll never want to live anywhere else.

According to this year’s World Happiness Report, by the Earth Institute of Columbia University, Denmark is starring at the top number one spot, right before Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia.

In this Scandinavian paradise, people expressed their feelings of freedom and were shown to have high life expectancy rates, living on average till the age of 80.   

So if you plan on living in Copenhagen, be prepared for things to never be the same again. 

Are you interested in studying in Copenhagen? 

With more than 598 programs and 1288 courses taught in English, it's no wonder that Denmark made its capital an attractive destination to international students among other top study destinations in Europe. Universities in Copenhagen include: the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), the Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Technical University of Denmark (DTU),  IT University of Copenhagen (ITU), Roskilde University (RU), Aalborg University (AAU), Aarhus University (AU) and more. 

For more information about studying in Copenhagen, don't wait till it's too late. 
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What is a U.S. "credit score" and why should you care?

You’ve done everything you need to do in order to apply to university in the States. You finished writing your personal statement, statement of purpose or MBA essay and you’ve already taken your GRE test, GMAT (if you've applied for a business school), TOEFL or IELTS. You’ve sent the recommendation letter that your professor wrote you and now you’re only waiting for Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia university or MIT to let you know that you’ve been accepted for the next study year. So you think that the hard part of moving to the US is over?

As you may know, there are a few things about studying in the United states that are different to studying abroad in other places. So before you jump on the first flight to New York, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania or Alaska, to pursue the American dream, there are a few things you need to know. If you’ve already started the search to find an apartment, get a job or buy a car in the States, you might have encountered some problems. Getting a car loan to buy a car, for example, will be determined by your credit score. Don’t know what that is? Well, read on and find out.  

In the U.S., your creditworthiness (meaning how likely you are to pay your debts), is represented by a number – that is your credit score.

It starts building only as soon as you enter the country, disregarding any financial history you may have abroad. When you apply for a loan, a mortgage or a credit card, prospective lenders, such as banks, will use this number to assess the risk in extending you credit.

Your credit score provides an overview of how you are maintaining and managing your credit. A good credit score is a must for anyone looking to get a credit card, a car loan, or even renting an apartment.

The higher the number – the better. Your credit score plays a crucial role in determining whether or not you’ll be eligible for a loan, and at what interest rate.

Your credit score, which ranges between 300 and 850, is calculated based on 5 main factors:

1. The most significant factor is your payment history – late payments will drop your score.

2. The amount you currently owe lenders. Owing money doesn’t necessarily hurt your credit score, but using most of your credit might.

3. Your credit history, meaning how long you have been using credit. Well-established accounts will have a positive effect.

4. Also influential are the types of credit accounts you maintain, such as credit cards or installment loans.

5. Finally, new accounts and recent inquiries from creditors might hurt your score, especially if done several times in a short period of time.

The problem is, that building a good credit score in the US may take several months or even years. There are other solutions for international students who want to get a loan to buy a new or a used car. For example, platforms like Lendbuzz allow students and young professionals in the US to apply for a loan, and get it according to their educational background, employment history and their potential future income.

So if you’re moving to the States, and you’d like to navigate around the US, or buy a car to commute to work, worry about your credit score but don't let it limit your possibilities and freedom. There are still alternative ways for you to get a car loan and start to travel and get around.  

Lendbuzz is an online platform providing car financing for international students and professionals in the U.S. which offers attractive car financing solutions – for individuals without U.S. credit history.

We hope this was helpful.
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The international student guide to eating healthy and saving money in the U.S.

Studying abroad is the best opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and engage in a very different life from the one you have at home. You will experience new people, new schools, new way of learning, new customs, new places and, of course, new foods.

Eating habits vary in different regions and each country has its own typical foods. If you are planning to study in the United States, you probably know that its famous for its burgers, french fries, milkshakes and junk food. But that doesn't mean that there aren't any healthy alternatives. Supermarkets, restaurants and even fast food places are becoming healthier and shifting towards a more nutritious approach.

Eating healthy without spending a lot of money is a common worry among international students that choose the U.S. as their study abroad destination. Don’t worry though, we have a few tips that can help you!

1.      Find Where to Shop

Shopping for food in the States is an attraction itself. There are endless options and new products that combine your favorite food brands, which make it easy to get lost and buy more junk food than you can possibly handle. Spending more money than you should is also a common problem. 

The first step for smart shopping is: avoid small convenience stores! They are overpriced and usually don’t offer the healthy and nutritious food that you need. Leave those places for emergencies only.

Second step is: compare prices, variety and quality between supermarkets. Trader Joe’s is located in most U.S cities like Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago, and has a combination of organic food with considerably lower prices than other big and famous healthy food brands

If you want to dedicate time to your food shopping, a good idea to save money is to shop in multiple locations. Farmer’s Markets are usually the best options for fresh fruits and vegetables. Ask locals for tips. Remember that walking to the shopping location will make you burn some extra calories on the way while saving transportation money!

2.      Read the Packages

It is very important to know what you are eating. North America is known for using lots of artificial ingredients on their food which can make them less healthy and even more fattening. Remember to always check the nutritional information like percentage/grams of fat, proteins and carbs. According to the Institute of Medicine, for example, a balanced diet includes 7 to 12 grams of fat per meal, considering 3 meals a day.

The popular saying “If you can’t pronounce it, you can’t eat it” is a good “law” to go by while checking ingredients. Organic and non processed options with less chemicals are always healthier.

3.      Prepare Meals for the Week

Once you have figured out where to shop, the next step is: plan your shopping

Each person has their own needs and meal times, so keep in mind that what works for a friend might not work for you. Regardless, establishing a routine for making a big purchase will certainly make your life easier and help you save money while studying abroad.
You can use a simple food pyramid to estimate the quantities you need. Shop, for example, every Sunday (or once every two Sundays), and on the same day, prepare most of your meals for the week. This strategy helps you save money since you can buy bigger (family size) packages that offer better deals and freeze food for later. 

For lunch you could, for example, buy a big pack of protein, a healthy carbohydrate, like sweet potatoes or brown rice and vegetables. Cook everything and store small portions in your fridge on a daily basis. Benefits of preparing healthy meals ahead include knowing exactly what you are eating and saving money (and calories!), by not eating out everyday.

Lastly, remember that everything in life is about balance, it might take a while but you will definitely find yours. Allow yourself to try delicious foods and have drinks with friends. A good idea is to weigh yourself every week to make sure you know where you are at. Look for walking trails around your home to go on a walk and exercise once in a while. 

We know food is a big part of a new culture, but you CAN enjoy your graduate school experience with consciousness and no guilt! 

We know that there are many challenges when studying abroad but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences you can get. Get started on your journey today by finding a coach that will help you all the way through the process. GradTrain is here to help with everything you might need.

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