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.

Read More

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.

Read More

4 Time Management Hacks for College Freshmen


A common tendency among college freshmen is to overcommit during the first semester. Between classes, clubs, intramural sports, and making new friends, you may find yourself strapped for time as classes pick up speed and exams roll around. Here are a few tips to help you manage your time and avoid end of semester burnout.

Screen Extra-Curricular Activities Before Joining
At the beginning of the year, your school will likely offer an activities fair featuring an endless supply of exciting clubs and sports for you to choose from. In the first week, when your class schedule is light, go to as many club and sports meetings as you can to find the best fits. After you get a taste for each of these activities, narrow your list to the top one or two (or three at most) and sign-up. While extra-curricular activities are important, juggling five extracurriculars alongside a full time course load is a recipe for burnout. If you do find yourself with extra free time, keep in mind that you can always add more activities during your second semester.

Read More

What to Expect When Moving into a U.S. Dorm

Moving into DormStudents beginning their studies at a U.S. college or university have a lot on their minds. Whether American or international, incoming students arrive on campus with a dose of nervous anxiety, accented by a host of concerns about roommates, dorm rooms, class schedules, even food!

International students have even more to consider, including getting a visa, acquiring translations of academic transcripts and personal documents, managing foreign money, and shipping their belongings cross-border.

Packing college supplies can be especially difficult for international students.  Unlike your U.S. counterparts, you can’t pack a car-load of stuff and simply drive to school. Since you’ll likely be limited in how much you can pack, stick to the basics – clothes and personal electronics. School supplies, linens, toiletries and the like can all be purchased at reasonable prices when you get to school.

Before you send everything you own (or a little less!), consider the shipping costs, how much luggage you can physically carry, and how much is provided and furnished by the school. Consider shipping clothing such as winter coats which are light but bulky — and will cost less to ship than some of your smaller but heavier items.

Read More

How to Answer 5 Common Interview Questions

Job InterviewWhether you’re applying to work at the campus bookstore, or interviewing for your first professional job post college, it’s likely you’ll need to conduct an interview to land the position. To help you nail your interview, we’ve rounded up 5 of the most common interview questions. Read on to find out what hiring managers are really looking for and get a head-start on preparing thoughtful responses.

1. “Tell me about yourself.”
This question seems simple, so many people fail to prepare for it, but it’s crucial. Here’s the deal: Don’t give your complete employment (or personal) history. Instead give a pitch—one that’s concise, compelling, and shows exactly why you’re the right fit for the job. Start off with the 2-3 specific accomplishments or experiences that you most want the interviewer to know about, then wrap up talking about how that prior experience has positioned you for this specific role.

Read More

Everything International Students Should Know About Working in the U.S.

shutterstock_244632844Are you an international student studying in the U.S.? Are you looking to gain experience or make extra money by working while attending school? If you answered yes to both questions, you should know the U.S. has specific rules about how and what type of work you can do as an F-1 student.

The U.S. government takes working illegally very seriously, and for F-1 students work eligibility is often dependent on your visa and program of study. Read on for the 4 main types of work opportunities available to you as an international student in the United States.

Read More

10 Essential Apps for International Students


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.

Read More

How to Ace the TOEFL Speaking Exam




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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More