10 Essential Apps for International Students

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From planning trips home to calculating currency exchange rates, studying abroad comes with its own set of unique challenges. Luckily, the app market is chock full of apps that will have you navigating your new life as an international student like a local.

1. Google Maps
This free map and navigation app will quickly become a favorite as you explore your new city. Use it to get walking, driving, or public transportation directions and locate shops, restaurants, and landmarks nearby. Get voice prompts, traffic alerts, and best route suggestions. This app is free for Android and iOS.

2. Converter+
Wondering how much to tip the waiter? Need to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit? Converter+ contains over 100 converters and calculators including temperature, length, weight, and currency. It’s simple to use, and invaluable for those adjusting to a foreign country. Download Converter+ for free on iTunes.

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How to Ace the TOEFL Speaking Exam

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If you’re an international student looking to study in the United States, you’ve probably heard of the TOEFL exam. The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is a standardized English language proficiency test for non-native English language speakers wishing to enroll in U.S. universities. Most universities require it as part of their admission criteria, so passing the test is a must if you plan to study in the States.

Though the TOEFL Speaking section is the shortest section of the TOEFL test, many students struggle with it the most. Speaking in English, into a microphone, under a time constraint, in a room full of other test takers—it can be stressful if you’re not prepared.

Luckily, there are a lot of ways to prep yourself. By understanding the format of the TOEFL Speaking section you’ll be able to answer all six speaking questions in the allotted time. Check out the infographic below for a preview of the test format, question types, scoring, and tips for boosting your performance. If you’re a parent or friend of a student about to take the TOEFL test, be a hero and pass this post along.

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How to Land a Summer Internship for College Credit

Student working at internshipCollege internships are a great way to get ahead of the game. Students with an internship or two under their belt have a leg up when it comes to applying for their first post-college job because employers increasingly want to see experience in the new college grads they hire. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 95% of employers saying candidate experience is a hiring factor with college grads.

That said, it’s important to have a game plan when preparing for your internship. If you’re looking to gain college credit from your internship, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to ensure your credits are accepted.

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Quiz: Find the Right Job for You After College

Excited college student looking for a job after college

When figuring out your first move post-college, it’s natural to feel a little lost. You’re still discovering what your strengths are, what kinds of roles could be a good fit, and even what industry resonates with you. But, at the end of the day, you still need to find a job, which we know can be even more challenging as an international student. And in order to find a job, you need know what kind of job you actually want.

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U.S. Tax Information for International Students

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The U.S. tax system is complicated; there’s no doubt about that. If you’re an international student attending an educational institution in the United States, that process may seem even more convoluted. With tax season in full swing, we’ve broken down the basics that you should know about filing a tax return.

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Spring Break Travel Safety Tips

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It’s time to start planning spring break! If you’re in school in the wintery Northeast or Midwest, sunny climates such as Florida, California, the Caribbean and Latin America are attractive. Research, plan your trip, book reservations and have a fantastic time. Travel is a great learning experience and an opportunity to discover different cultures and to meet new people.

Most cities and popular tourist destinations in the US are completely safe with friendly, helpful locals. The same is true for most international travel, too. But that is not always the case, and travelers today should be as savvy as possible when venturing the world.

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Discover Higher Education in the United States

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University, college, liberal arts, community college… you may have heard of these different types of institutions and programs of higher education in the United States. But what are they all, and what does each mean for you when applying or transferring to a U.S. program of study?

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Where and Why Do International Students Study in the United States?

International students

The United States is the most popular destination country for international students. During the 2013-2014 school year, the U.S. hosted 886,052 international undergraduate and graduate students. Students from other countries choose to study in the U.S. for a number of reasons, including the opportunity to enhance career opportunities and to gain experience for future employment, the reputation of academic qualifications and degrees from the U.S., and the ability to find a specific program in their area of specialization at a U.S. university.

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Venezuelan International Education Payments: CENCOEX

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If you’re a student from Venezuela trying to study outside of the country, then you’re most likely familiar with the difficulties of obtaining foreign currency from the Venezuelan government branch responsible for approving funds for education payments, CENCOEX (previously known as CADIVI). peerTransfer has successfully processed hundreds of payments from Venezuela, and we know the process can be difficult and lengthy. Despite changes and uncertainty regarding CENCOEX, we will continue to process payments from Venezuela and provide assistance whenever possible.

Due to the recent political and financial instability in Venezuela, the government is struggling to manage its sovereign debt, making it harder to obtain foreign currency. CENCOEX was created to replace CADIVI in the wake of allegations that funds were being illegally moved outside the country. In its strict efforts to reduce any potential illegal activity, CENCOEX is now denying many currency disbursement applications, including those for education abroad. Only certain studies considered “vital to Venezuela’s future” will be funded, and the Ministry of Higher Education is trying to keep students in the country to attend university. Therefore, students will mostly be authorized only in very specialized academic areas that are not offered in the country (source: The PIE News).

According to education officials in the U.S. that work with international students from Venezuela, this is the first time there has been a mass refusal to grant the Venezuelan currency for students. During the first week of October, CENCOEX emailed notices of denied application to thousands of international students all over the world, citing “Article 8 Ruling No. 116,” which states that “the granting of the authorization is subject to availability by the Banco Central de Venezuela (Central Bank of Venezuela) identified by the National Executive Decree 2320”. The government does not see international students as a priority at the moment because the country does not have enough foreign currency (USD, GBP, etc.) at the moment and will be using available funds to purchase necessities like food and medicine. Even students whose applications were approved have to wait for funds, depending on the availability of foreign exchange by the Central Bank of Venezuela.

Schools are understandably concerned that students won’t receive funding in time to begin their courses. There have been delays of up to four months for some students waiting to begin their courses and of students already overseas having to cut courses short because funds were not received in time. To lessen the delay as much as possible, students should enroll at least five months before their course starts in order to have time to apply for their visa and wait for CENCOEX. Students should contact the school to which they’re applying because some institutions have begun making temporary exceptions to their pre-course payment policies in the case of Venezuelan students.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty and few to no answers. Some Venezuelan students have taken their cause to the Internet, creating online crowdfunding campaigns requesting help to fund their education outside of the country. As the situation becomes clearer, peerTransfer is here to support both our educational clients and their students. We continue to process payments from Venezuela, and our Customer Support team is always ready and available to answer any questions that Venezuelan students may have regarding making payments to their school.

Other informational resources:
http://blog.peertransfer.com/2012/12/03/cadivi-well-help-make-it-easy/
http://thepienews.com/analysis/venezuela-what-are-the-roadblocks-to-outbound-study/
http://prodavinci.com/2014/10/17/actualidad/que-esta-pasando-con-los-dolares-para-los-estudiantes-por-nicolle-yapur/ (in Spanish)
http://www.elsiglo.com.ve/article/92494/Revisan-casos-de-estudiantes-en-el-exterior-que-no-reciben-divisas (in Spanish)

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Celebrating International Education Week 2014

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If you’re studying in another country, have done so in the past, or have classmates and friends from other parts of the world, then you’re benefiting from international education and exchange. As the world has become more connected and education in other countries more accessible, students are leaving home in pursuit of education not only outside their city, but beyond their country’s borders.

There are currently millions of students studying abroad and taking advantage of all the benefits the international education has to offer. These students will become the future leaders across all industries, disciplines, and opportunities and will be better prepared for the challenge due to their international educational experiences. Check out the top destination countries for students in higher education below!

Destination country

Total number of students

1

US

886,000

2

UK

427,686

3

France

271,399

4

Australia

249,588

5

Germany

206,986

6

Russia

173,627

7

Japan

150,617

8

Canada

120,960

9

China

88,979

10

Italy

77,732

Sources: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Pages/tertiary-education.aspx and http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors/Data/International-Students

Next week is International Education Week (IEW), which is celebrated in multiple countries around the world. International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to provide “an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States.”

All types of organizations such as schools, colleges and universities, embassies, international organizations, businesses, and community organizations are encouraged to participate in IEW. Many universities will host events during IEW that are open to the whole school community. To see if your school is hosting an event, check this page.

Here are what some of our current clients are doing during International Education Week:

Murray State University

  • Murray State’s theme for this year is “Understanding One Another: A Global Endeavor”.

  • Session where you can learn the traditional Japanese aizome (tie-dyeing)

  • Trivia night with questions from around the world

University of Missouri

  • Short film screening and discussion

  • Study abroad slideshow and Study Abroad Photo Contest awards

  • Presentation on “Growing Global: Preparing for a Cross-cultural Career”

Lock Haven University

  • “Maori People of New Zealand”: Come experience Maori culture through storytelling, rituals, dance, and song. The presentation will begin with a traditional greeting by Maori dances, followed by a brief history of the Maori people, song, and demonstrations.

University of Buffalo

  • International Fashion Show

  • How to Write Your Name in Cantonese

University of Bridgeport

  • International Talent & Fashion Show

University of Regina (Canada)

  • International Photo Contest

  • International Coffee Break each morning during the week

If you’re looking for events happening at your school in the UK, check here: https://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/content/international-education-week-iew-2014

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