Flywire Friday: The Week’s Key Headlines for International Students – October 9, 2015


Last week we kicked off a new blog series, Flywire Friday, and we’re back this week to bring you our favorite news of the week for international students.

Here’s what we’re reading:

U.S. colleges want to make their Chinese students more comfortable. The Associated Press reports that colleges including Purdue University and The University of Illinois are working closely with domestic students and faculty to better integrate Chinese students into American college life, following a huge rise in overall U.S. college enrollment from China. We hope they’ll soon expand their focus to all international populations!

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Tips for Taking Effective Classroom Notes in Your Second Language

It’s no secret that good notes are one of the keys to good grades. Effective note-taking – especially when taking classes taught in a language other than your own – can be critical to your academic success. Doing this requires great focus and discipline, but there are some ways to make note-taking just a bit easier. Here are five suggested note-taking tips.

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Flywire Friday: Top News of the Week for International Students – October 2, 2015

Students meeting each other

We’re excited to introduce a new feature on the blog: Flywire Friday! Each Friday, we’ll bring you a quick download of some recent news that may impact international students, and we’ll even summarize it for you!

Here’s what we read this week:

Did your college make the cut? U.S. News identified the 10 universities that offer international students the most financial aid. These schools offer international students an average award of $54,718 per school year. That’s some serious money!

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The International Student’s Guide To American Holidays (Fall Edition)


This fall, Americans will celebrate three major holidays: Columbus Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Here’s an overview of each.

Holiday #1: Columbus Day (Monday, October 12)

Columbus Day commemorates the landing of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Columbus is credited with having discovered the Americas, also known as the New World. For many Americans, the holiday is a way to honor Columbus’ achievements. The holiday is also celebrated in Spain, Italy and Latin America.

How do American students celebrate?

Columbus Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. The federal government and most educational institutions are closed for the day. Since the holiday always falls on a Monday, students get to enjoy a three-day weekend. Some students use the three days to head home to visit family. Others use the time to visit friends in other cities or, in places like the northeast, head up north to see the fall foliage.

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A New Journey


Today we are proud to announce that peerTransfer is changing its name to Flywire!

peerTransfer was started by an international student who encountered difficulty wiring money from abroad to pay his university tuition in the United States. Today, we serve international students paying from 200 countries and territories, attending 750+ educational institutions around the globe.

As we expand our roster of universities and schools, add new features, and provide new ways to make payments around the globe easy and transparent, we have concluded that now is the perfect time for us to create a new name that better reflects our product.

Rest assured, while our name has changed, our payment solution has not. There will be no impact on any in-progress payments, and the process for sending future payments remains the same. You’ll continue to enjoy the same great online experience, dedicated service, and economical foreign exchange rates.  Please continue to visit any time. At some time in the future, we’ll phase out the peerTransfer name and will ask you to go directly to Regardless, your account credentials will remain unchanged.

Thank you for your use of peerTransfer in the past, and of the new Flywire going forward. If you have additional questions about the new Flywire name, please contact us at


The peerTransfer (now Flywire) Team

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Securing a Job in the U.S. as an International Student


JobStudentThe process of securing a paying job upon graduation from college can be difficult and stressful under normal circumstances. As an international student, the process is even harder. There are at least 900,000 foreign students attending U.S. colleges and universities right now, and 225,000 foreign students graduate from U.S. institutions each year. As the numbers of international students rise, the competition for post-graduation employment increases.

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International Students: 4 Simple Ways to Put Your Family at Ease

person-woman-hand-smartphoneFew events elicit as much excitement as leaving home to study abroad. Making a long distance move is a wonderful way to explore new cultures and make memories that last a lifetime, but your family may experience some anxiety and worry about your wellbeing while you are away. To keep your family feeling confident in your safety while you’re at school, consider the following four useful tips. 

#1 Share Important Contact Info
Sharing important contact info will go a long way towards easing your family’s nerves, but the key here is to go beyond the basics. In addition to the phone number and address of the place you’ll be living, provide your family with information for your assigned academic advisor, residence hall monitor (also known as an “RA”), and the International Student Office at your school. This may feel excessive, but for your parents it offers added peace of mind.

Once you arrive at school, figure out blocks of time that work for regular catch-up conversations with your family. If you are not a big talker, consider setting times when you can be reached in case your family needs to speak with you. Be sure to give them a general idea of when you may be out of range (for example, during your gym workout). Finally, let your family know if there are certain times or places where your phone does not get reception. Maintaining regular contact with your family is the best way to keep them from worrying. Email works too, of course.

#2 Research the Culture Together
Before leaving for school, spend some time with your family researching the communication nuances of the region you’ll be living in. For instance, sitting in the back seat of a taxi and chatting on your cellphone is perfectly acceptable in New York City, but in some parts of the world such as New Zealand, this will offend taxi drivers. Using a “thumbs up” gesture is a positive one in many countries including the U.S., but it’s considered offensive in Israel, South America and Italy.

Work together to dig into the unique customs, gestures, and language of your new country. Your family will feel better about your safety if they know you have done your research into the region’s customs.

#3 Prepare for Unforeseen Costs
Before you leave home, work with your family on a financial contingency plan and discuss what will happen in the event that unforeseen costs arise. These may include costs associated with medical or housing emergencies, or mundane occurrences such as a laptop repair or lost phone. Connect with your bank, credit providers, and other fiscal institutions to ask questions regarding services offered. Setting up an emergency fund with your family for unforeseen situations will go a long way to ease your family’s nerves, not to mention reduce your risk of getting stuck halfway around the world without the ability to pay for services. It’s also worth investigating the emergency services offered abroad by your school before you leave, as well as services offered by your bank or credit provider once your arrive.

#4 Plan a Family Visit At Your School
If possible, plan a time for your family to visit you at school once you’ve settled into your classes. Many students find that Parents’ Weekend is the perfect time for a family visit. Most schools host a broad range of activities and programs designed specifically for Parents Weekend. Students often report that a campus visit – offering a chance to familiarize your family with the campus, the locale, and your friends − was the perfect way to ease their family’s concerns.


Joy Miller Photo 1
About the Author
As the lead editor for Accelerated Degree, Joy Miller reviews schools offering fast-track degrees and courses through online study.

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Travel Europe on a Budget

shutterstock_279759455For the international student studying in Europe, the expression “the world is your oyster” is especially true. A flight from London to Paris takes only an hour; a drive from Milan to Zurich takes only three. With so many cities offering equal doses of history, culture, food, architecture, and nightlife, you’ll never find yourself lacking for excitement while studying – and traveling – in Europe.

Traveling across Europe is fast and easy – but keeping your travel costs reasonable requires a bit of planning. Read on to discover expert tips on taking in the sights across Europe without draining your pocketbook.

Travel Off-Peak, Book Early, and be Vigilant
If you don’t want to pay peak fares, avoid traveling on Fridays and Sundays. Leisure travel peaks on Fridays and Sundays, resulting in flight, train, and hotel rates that can be 2-3 times higher than other days of the week.

Whether you’re traveling by train or plane, buying your ticket early can save hundreds of dollars. Prices can fluctuate daily, but almost always spike as your departure date approaches.

If you want to be spontaneous, frequently check the travel rates to destinations you hope to visit to get a sense for the fares. Fares and hotel rates sometimes drop at the last minute if bookings are slow. As a result, booking at the last minute can save you lots of money, but it requires you to be flexible with your plans. It may also mean that you have to finish a key assignment while on the road!

Find the Right Hostel
Hostels are a great option when traveling on a budget, and most are clean and reliable. Keep in mind, however, that the location of a hostel can make or break your travel experience. When researching your hostel, consider its distance from the city center and key attractions. Hostels farther out will be cheaper, but the transportation costs and hassle of getting into the city may outweigh or eliminate the cost benefit.  Spending a few extra dollars per night on a hostel located downtown may be the smart decision, especially if your time in a particular city is limited. Again, be sure to book early if you’re looking for the lowest nightly rate.

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The International Student’s Guide to Madrid Nightlife


Welcome to Madrid: capital city of Spain, world-class provider of fine cuisine, and haven for nightlife that is second-to-none. Madrid is the perfect city for the international student with a strong sense of discovery. Exploring Madrid can be a full-time job, and the daily routine in Spain may be very different than what you’re used to at home. Read on to learn what to expect from a typical day and night in Madrid.

Similar to other Europeans, Spaniards wake between 6 – 8 AM on work or school days. But that’s where the similarities end. Breakfast is typically on the light side. A small snack follows in the late morning or early afternoon, tiding you over until lunch, which does not start until 2 PM.

After lunch, Spaniards like to take naps known as siestas. Try making time for a siesta or two — you will enjoy it. After siesta, it’s common to enjoy merienda, a small meal such as pastry and coffee, to fill the gap between lunch and dinner.  Dinner takes place late, between 8 and 11 PM.

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Communicating at Australian Universities – What to Expect

Queens College

So you’re headed for an Australian university.  Maybe you’ve passed the TOEFL or IELTS exams and will be taking degree classes, or maybe you’re going to study English. Either way, congratulations! Australia is a fantastic country with a world-class university system.

As you get ready for your adventure down under, remember that Australia is an island nation, quite a distance from other native English-speaking countries. Australian English is not the same as other types of native English. And beyond the language, Australia has its own unique culture of communication.

English in Australia is closer in sound to British English than to North American English. While North American English is “rhotic,” with strong “r” consonant sounds, Australian English is not rhotic. The “r” sound is generally dropped at the end of words, similar to the UK.

Australian vowels are also different from both British and North American English vowels. One of the most distinct differences is the sound of the long “A,” which Australians often pronounce more like a long “I.” So the name “Kate” in UK or U.S. English would sound more like the word “kite” in Australian English. But there are many other things that make Australian vowels unique. Australian English teacher Hal Hopper’s YouTube Channel can give you a good look at all of these differences.

When compared to other forms of native English, Australian vowels and Australian communication (in general) tend to be shorter. Australians like to speak in brief, direct sentences. Be ready to hear a LOT of Australian slang and abbreviations. For example, ‘breakfast’ is “brekkie’ and ‘barbeque’ is ‘barbie’.

Australian language is very direct and to-the-point, as is the culture. The very polite, indirect speech you sometimes hear in Great Britain and North America (especially Canada) is not used as much down under. Australians say what’s on their minds, and make statements that may seem rude to people from cultures that employ a less-direct approach. In fact, Australians regard directness as a sign of honesty and trustworthiness. Be ready to make lots of eye contact with Australians, regardless of their social status or authority, and prepare to give your honest opinion about things, especially when you are directly asked.

Above all, expect diversity.  Australia is a culturally mixed, open society. You won’t just meet Australians— you’ll meet people from all over the world, and find yourself learning about communication and customs from many cultures.

Cheers mate, and have fun in ‘Straya!

This post was written by David Recine, TOEFL and ESL expert at Magoosh. For advice on TOEFL preparation, check out Magoosh’s TOEFL blog.

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