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Soccer (Football) in America on the Rise With 2026 World Cup Bid

Fans of international soccer, or football as they probably call it, living in America have new cause for celebration. The United States, along with Canada and Mexico, just secured the right to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. This landmark decision by FIFA comes just eight years after the governing body of international soccer chose Qatar over the United States to host the 2022 World Cup. It will be the first time the United States has hosted a World Cup since 1994, when most of the college-aged kids playing in the 2018 World Cup were not even born.

By Luca107 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (],
from Wikimedia Commons

The United States’ successful bid to host should positively impact not only the U.S. Men’s National Team, but soccer in America as a whole. Fans of the sport living in the U.S. can get excited to see the sport prosper long before the tournament even starts. If you are a soccer fan considering a move to the U.S., now is a great time to make the change. Soccer has been thriving recently on American college and university campuses and with America’s youth.

The plight of the U.S. based soccer fan has been well-documented over the years. From waking up at odd hours to watch your favorite club or country take the pitch, to being forced to watch lower-quality football be played in person, even to seeing the U.S. eliminated in the World Cup Qualifiers, it seems like soccer has never quite caught on in the States. International football fans, and U.S. born soccer junkies used to be forced to the fringes of sports culture in America. But, this has been slowly changing over the years. Fans hope that the World Cup, and the excitement surrounding it, will spark more interest in the beautiful game in America.

In 1988, the United States Soccer Federation promised to create a legitimate professional league as part of the deal for FIFA to host the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) officially launched in 1995 and in its first season in 1996, the league had just 10 teams. Back then, you would almost never see soccer team gear anywhere. People just were not exposed nor interested in the sport. Although MLS took a while to gain traction, the league now has 23 teams and has made huge strides toward competing both with the NFL, MLB, and NBA and with international soccer leagues. Now it is common to see soccer jerseys worn out, especially around university campuses. The sport is played recreationally by people of all ages throughout the United States, and professional games are broadcast on television all the time. This, along with the fact that soccer is the second most played sport (behind basketball) among kids ages 6-18 in America (Wall Street Journal, 2012), illustrates that there has never been a better time to be a soccer fan living in the United States.

As far as the MLS is concerned, U.S. born players such as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey have become household names. But, arguably the biggest step in the growth of American soccer has been the arrival of international players in America. Notable megastars such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Kaka, and most recently Zlatan Ibrahimovic have made the transition from various international leagues to MLS. This has caused a sizeable spike in the sport’s popularity in America. Further evidence of soccer’s growth in America is the fact that in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, more tickets were sold in the U.S. than the host nation. One can only imagine how a World Cup hosted in America will impact the sport’s popularity.

If your burning passion towards soccer (football) has held you back from going to study in the land of American football, Baseball and Basketball, fear no more - there is a place for you in the US with the rising popularity of the sport.

For any help with questions related to moving to study in the United States, visit:

Connecting with your dream university on social media

We live in a very well connected world, with a steady stream of social media updates and alerts right in our pockets. Some may view the constant connection to the world as distracting, but for an international student interested in studying abroad in the US, social media can be a significant tool in deciding which university is the best fit.

There are many types of university accounts throughout Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, which include accounts with serious and useful information about the school and others with more fun and entertaining posts. Most American universities have well-updated accounts for both aspects of their campus, which can be easily found on their websites. It’s useful to follow these accounts while applying to American universities in order to gain a better understanding of the specific school you’re interested in. While scrolling through their photos on Instagram or their tweets on Twitter, you will get to know the school’s personality a bit more, see what kind of students attend the university, and learn more about the programming and events that the school runs. You can better visualize yourself attending the school. Ask yourself, “Do I see myself studying and living here?” Connecting with universities via social media before applying will give you better insight on the personality of the school. You will see what kind of atmosphere the university is trying to create and if you see yourself fitting in with their environment.

A university’s social media pages are also dedicated to answering questions and interacting with prospective applicants. If a comment or question on a post piques your interest, you can comment and ask your questions and they will be happy to give you more information or guide you somewhere else for more help.

Before interacting with a university on any platform, make sure your social media profiles are clean. When you like a photo or share a post, they will have full access to your profile. Go through your profiles and delete anything you wouldn’t want universities to see. If your page contains images or words that are inappropriate, the university will take that into consideration while reviewing your application. In our modern world, presenting yourself in a professional manner goes beyond just your resume and extends into your personal profiles.

Many universities will publish important dates and deadlines on their social media profiles - such as application deadlines and when decisions on admissions are provided. Follow the admissions pages to ge this data.
Staying connected with your university via social media even after you’ve arrived in the US is a great way to get updates on campus events and stay involved with your school beyond the classroom.

As you go on the journey of studying abroad, connect with GradTrain and you will get live updates and news about studying abroad. Go to or download our android or iOS apps now.

Need more help with getting accepted, planning your studies, and the steps following graduation?
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Best Tips for TOEFL/IELTS Success

Your TOEFL or IELTS exam date is just around the corner! As an international student interested in attending university abroad, It’s important to improve your English, prepare thoroughly, and create personal testing strategies to help you achieve the score you’ve been working hard toward. Here are a few additional tips to help you get ready for the big day:

1. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Take advantage of the free and paid practice tests that both the TOEFL and IELTS exams offer on their websites. The more practice tests you take before the real exam, the more comfortable you will be with the specific testing style, various questions and sections of the exam and the overall experience of taking an English language test. You don’t want to be bombarded with unfamiliar questions and foreign material when you arrive at your exam.
2. Because both exams have listening comprehension sections that require you to take notes and then answer subsequent questions, English note-taking is an important skill to hone before test day. You should be able to take notes as you listen to the audio. In order to keep up with the pace of the speaker, take down only shorthanded keywords that will be important later. Writing in shorthand with abbreviations and symbols will help you take crucial notes faster. Develop your own system of writing shorthand, and familiarize yourself with it so that on test day you don’t waste time trying to decipher your own notes. Good note taking skills are also useful for the future when you need to take English notes in university classes in the US.

computer, drink, iphone
3. In order to expand your vocabulary and get comfortable with reading English, read high quality and engaging content that you’ll enjoy. News outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Forbes and The Economist will not only help you improve your English, but will also provide you with a deeper understanding of US news, politics, economy, culture and lifestyle. Reading best-selling English books can also advance your understanding of the English language.

headphones, man, music

4. Practicing listening to English is also an essential step in getting ready for TOEFL or IELTS. You will want to feel prepared for all of the English you’ll be listening to during the test, rather than feeling unfamiliar with the academic and informal jargon. Listening to podcasts such as NPR, BBC, TED Talks, and RadioLab will keep you engaged with intriguing topics while you learn spoken English.

All of the preparation and studying that you do for the TOEFL or IELTS will not only help you get a high score and improve your chances of acceptance to universities abroad, but will also strengthen your English reading, writing and speaking for university in the US.

Have your TOEFL or IELTS score already? See how it impacts your chances with our admissions predictor.

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

Have any questions about moving to study abroad? Go to

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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