Subscribe Popup

- See more at:

Navigating your first days as an international student

As an international student, the process of applying to study overseas is now over and the day that you have been waiting for is finally here. You arrived abroad in your new country and after months of applications and tests and resumes you are standing in your new campus. So now what? The hard part of applying and getting accepted and choosing your university is over. There are no more plane tickets to buy or scholarships to apply for. It is finally time to settle down in your new home and start your study abroad experience.

The very first thing you need to do is become familiar with your campus. Get a map and find where your dorms are or where your off-campus housing is, where the dining halls are, and where your classrooms are. Grow accustomed to the area and do not be afraid to ask for directions. Everyone gets lost on their first day! Go around and try the dining hall food and explore the empty classrooms that you will soon spend many hours in.

It is very important to settle into your dorm or apartment as quickly as possible. Unpack everything from your suitcase and fold your clothes into the drawers. Make yourself at home because this will be your new home for a while. It is very common for Americans to put a lot of posters and pictures on their wall so if you want you can also decorate your room to your personal taste. Meet your new roommate and organize your room however you want.

Go meet new people! You’re finally in a new country so go and meet the people and see how they are both different and similar to you. On the first day, everyone is very friendly because everyone wants to meet some new friends - so go and be social. The sooner you make friends the easier life will get at university because now you have someone to walk to class with, eat dinner with, join a sports team with, and study with. More than 50% of international students are still in contact with their friends from the U.S even after their studies ended. Universities also use social media and email in order to update students on events so make sure your social media and email accounts are up to date in order to stay in touch with friends and be connected and involved with what the university does. Your university may have an app to download which will be helpful. Also, if you can, download all the social media and email apps on your phone so you receive the notifications on a daily basis.  
Have fun and explore on the first day but don’t be fooled! Classes are right around the corner so make sure you have everything you need such as a computer, pencils, a notebook and a calculator which can be bought at the campus bookstore. Read the syllabus for all the classes you are taking so you can be prepared on the first day and have everything you need. Professors really like students who read the syllabus in advance.
Need more help with planning your studies, internships and the steps following graduation?

International students: Trump’s support of the RAISE immigration act may give you a slight advantage

President Donald Trump's support of the new RAISE immigration act may have you wondering - is this going to affect me as an international student? Should I be worried? The answer is simply that this new policy will have little affect on your student visas, however, if the bill passes it may affect you after your time abroad. You may find some connection to your second home and decide that you want to work in America as well. This is where the new act may affect you, though not necessarily in a negative way. See the full text of the bill here.

Positives of being an international student
This new immigration policy will favor those with a higher education, especially with a degree from an American university, in addition to earning potential and ability to speak english. This is good news for you because you will have a degree from an American university, which will give you extra points in the new system, and because of that you will have a higher earning potential and you will likely be able speak English pretty well. Additionally, if you win some outstanding achievements during your studies abroad, that will also work to your advantage. This is due to the fact that President Trump's new policy is point based and you will have earned some points right away.

The point system   
Mr. Trump’s system will make it a little harder to get green cards, nevertheless, your studying overseas will have already given you the upper hand.

Applicants would have to get at least 30 points in order to apply for immigration, as judged by their:

  • Highest educational qualification: maximum of 13 points for a US doctorate; one point for a US or foreign high school diploma.
  • age: people over 50 would get no points, with younger people being judged on a sliding scale from two to 10 points, with the ideal age being 26-30 according to the proposal.
  • English proficiency, as judged by a test. Between 0-10 points with 10 for fluent English.
  • Future salary: 13 points for a job offer that paid 300% of the median for their destination state.
  • Investments into the US economy: 12 points for a $1.8 million and above investment in a US business.
  • Achievements: 15 points for an Olympic medal, 25 points for a Nobel prize

This system will make it more difficult to obtain a green card, however, it is also similar to other countries’ immigration policies, such as Australia and Canada. Whether you agree with this new policy is up to you. Fortunately for you, as an international student, you will have a better chance than many. You will have a degree from an American university, you will likely be of a younger age and you will likely speak English well, all of which will grant you some additional points.

The bill has not been passed yet
Note that the bill has not yet been put through the Senate and Congress, and until then it will not be in effect. There is a pretty good chance that it will not pass at all. Regardless, it is an indication of how this administration views immigration policy and may be followed with additional bills if it does not pass.

Have fun during your time abroad and good luck on obtaining your work visas, if you choose to stay and work in the US after you graduate.

Need more help with planning your studies, career, internships and the steps following graduation?
Visit us at

An international student's secret weapon - the smartphone

Do not underestimate the use of your smartphones while you study abroad. There are thousands if not millions of applications out there that can help with a wide variety of things, including the GradTrain site and app that has great tools, tips and mentoring which you will find useful before and during your studies abroad. When traveling to a new place, especially for long periods of time, applications can be your best friend. Google Maps, for instance can be an amazing tool for initially finding your way around. Aside, from Google Maps there are applications for finding restaurants, for translating words you do not understand, for finding entertainment and obviously for calling or texting friends if you need help or just want their opinion on a great restaurant in the area. Apps are also a key way for staying in touch with your family and home country while studying abroad. Below are a few key ways to leverage your phone while studying abroad.

One of the most well known applications for translation is google translate. However, there are many more like it, but no matter which one you use they can really help you during your studies abroad. For example if you are in a grocery store and you are looking for something and do not know the word for it or if the cooking instructions are in a language that is not your first language all you have to do is type in the word to show it to someone or take a picture of the instructions in the google translate app. Also there may be times that you are in a conversation and do not know how to say a certain word or phrase - you just type it in. the little things like that can help a lot and you can learn from it to the point where you will need to use it less and less.
Applications: Google Translate, TripLingo, iTanslate, Waygo, etc.

When you first get to a new country traveling around may be confusing as an international student. You do not know how the bus or subway works yet or you simply do not know how to walk back home from class or how to get to a building at your university. Eventually you will not need to use these as much, but they are helpful in the beginning and later on, to explore new areas. With the exception of maybe the bus or subway applications that you may need to use regularly for bus numbers, timetables or which rail to get on, and the shared economy transportation apps that you may want to use instead of public transportation in some areas.
Applications: Google Maps, Waze, Uber, Lyft, NextBus, Moovit, Transit - NYC, etc.

Your friends who live in the country you are studying in will probably know all the best restaurants and entertainment, though there are many apps that can help if no one is available or if you just want to see reviews or ratings before you decide to spend your money. You can reduce the chance of wasting your money on a restaurant or anything else you are planning to spend money on by using applications like Yelp and others.

Modern technology has made life so much easier so take advantage of. Your smartphone has internet access practically everywhere. Even if you do not have mobile data there are always wifi hotspots near by. The internet, along with the millions of phone applications out there, are useful when you are in your home country, so why would it not be useful in a new country. Take advantage of all the tools at your disposal during your studies abroad and your life will be that much easier.     

Need more help with planning your studies, internships and the steps following graduation?
Visit us at