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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

The top 8 books to read before you study abroad in the USA

Moving to study abroad in another country is a major change in your life. One way to prepare yourself for the cultural transition, is to better understand the culture of the country you will be living in for several years. A big body of knowledge about this matter can be found in books (if hardcover or paperback books seem too outdated for you, you can read the e-books). We have compiled for you a list of the top 8 books to read before setting foot on your future American Campus.
You may already be familiar with the classic American authors such as Washington Irving, Fennimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London and Mark Twain whose representations of the USA are hard to beat for their remarkable depictions of American life.
Still, before you study abroad, you may want to broaden your library with the modern authors who provide analytical and relevant depictions of the USA, influenced by differing personal experiences and views that reflect upon current affairs.
These 8 books will help you to get to know new things about the USA and to build a first connection to the American society:

1.    Making Our Democracy Work; by Stephen Breyer
You like politics and were passionate about the recent American presidential elections? You are dreaming about visiting the White House and want to know more about the US Supreme Court? Please read number one on our list. Stephen Breyer explores the role of the US Supreme Court in creating a full-fledged society, even if this society doubts the decisions, legitimacy and relevance of this court.
2.  Contemporary American Cinema; by linda Ruth Williams, Michael Hammond
If you are a fan of American cinema or a future student in the area of cinema this book provide the first comprehensive introduction to postclassical American film. Illustrated with more than 50 color and black-and-white stills, it takes a close look at all aspects of the genre, including influential movies, directors, producers, and actors.
3.  Black Flags; by Joby Warrick
If you are interested in current political situation in modern world and the US influence on it, this book is definitely for you. The reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, Joby Warrick, explores the origin of ISIS starting with a distant prison in Jordan.
4.  The Book of Unknown Americans; by Cristina Henriques
If you want to know more about the personal experience of immigration and integration into the US society, this book beautifully depicts a fairy tale about immigration from Latin America. Maribel Rivera, a 15-year-old Mexican girl, experiences a terrible trauma that forces her to immigrate to the US to get the medical care she needs.
5.  Undocumented; by Dan-El Padilla Peralta
Thinking about studying at Princeton University? This is a real story about the immigrant who has risen from a homeless shelter in New-York to the top of his class at Princeton University, a top Ivy League university.
6.  All the Truth Is Out; by Matt Bai
Another book for those who are interested in the American political system. Matt Bai tells us about American political system in general and about the presidential election process in particular. He describes how American values have evolved through a long historical process.
7.  The Senses of Humor: Self and Laughter in Modern America; by Daniel Wickberg
Whether you like American humor or need help in understanding it, this book will give you a brilliant observation of its history. The history of the sense of humor is, like the study of keywords, an avenue into a significant aspect of the cultural history of modernity. Take this book as a great way to prepare your future networking and making  connections on campus.
8.  Regional American Food Culture; by Lucy Long
Studying abroad is not just about cultural shock it can also be a food shock! Don’t miss this great book, even if you are not such a foodie, after reading it, your burger will not taste the same anymore. Food is one of the most common ways of expressing culture and often helps us to recognize different regions. You will then want to travel all over the country to explore the different places known for their food: sweet tea and barbecue in the South, baked beans and clam chowder in the Northeast, red and green salsas in the Southeast, fusion cuisine in California, and salmon bakes in the Pacific Northwest. You see - American food is not just burgers and fries!


We hope that these books will be of great help for you in preparation for your study abroad experience in the USA.
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

Study abroad and enjoy campus sports life




You have been studying for finals, searching for scholarships, and waiting for the application process to come to an end. Basically, all you want to do right now is kick back and relax. And, while you are dreaming away during your newfound free time, have you by any chance been fantasizing about being a rugged American Football player, or perhaps becoming the next Stephen Curry?

Sports life in an American University is a really big deal. Moreover, if you were not raised in the US, you most likely have developed a few preconceived notions about American sports. We have all seen them, the cute cheerleaders in the TV series, the annoyed coaches during the Super Bowl, or the cool Basketball player in the movies.

As you already know, sports is extremely important in an American student’s college experience and in American culture in general. Many students join a sports team during their time in undergraduate or graduate school. It is known that North American Universities have a wide range of sports teams on their campuses, more than you would ever be able to find in any European University.


Here are some ways in which you can find out if you are cut out for an American University campus and its sports life:

You are an adventurous person who sees sports as a way to get new friends and to connect to the local culture, fellow students, and campus life. Well, then you’re going to love America! Have you ever heard of Lacrosse? Beer pong? Okay, maybe not beer pong, but it does take skills.  Many Universities offer a wide range of sports for beginners. As soon as your application package is accepted, you can start contacting the head of the Student Sports Organizations or even the teams you are interested in.  This way, you will get a global vision of each sport on that particular campus and find out where you could learn a new sport.

You are all about team spirit and are longing to be a part of a sports team. Select some of the teams you would like to join and contact them before your arrival. When you finally get there, make sure to ask the other foreign students what their impressions of the campus activities are. Playing sports while being a University student is a real commitment. you have to be prepared to juggle both studies and training. But, if you are serious about it and motivated, you can definitely achieve your goals. Without this experience, your study abroad program just will not be the same.

You are already an Athlete and you are preparing your application to study abroad programs, your first contact in America should be the National Collegiate Athletic Association. This organization is ruling the follow up of athletes for all Colleges and Universities. Try to get familiar with them and get the maximum information you can, especially if you are considering getting a scholarship as an athlete to apply for a study abroad program. In North America, more than in many other countries, being an athlete and studying for a Graduate or Post Graduate Program can be a reality, but requires many efforts.

You are not such a sporty person….but you are interested in big sports events: Do not miss all the planning of the sports events and get familiar with the sports seasons in the United-States. This can be a rich experience for you on Campus during your time studying abroad.

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