Too Busy? How to De-stress and Achieve More

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Exams can be stressful – in fact, we need a bit of stress to help us perform to the best of our abilities.

 

But, attempts to be the best at everything we do, can lead to more stress than is good for us.

We think we are bound to achieve more if we can only do more – cram more and more into our schedules, juggle work and study, learn a new language – and the list goes on…

While this can work a some of the time, and we proudly boast to our friends that we are ‘just so busy’; in actual fact we are overdoing it and forgetting to find time for those things that we need to help us de-stress and achieve more.

 

Here are a couple of things to remember to help you find that balance:

 

You can’t do everything all at once

Trying to achieve a lot with the time you have is good. But if you think about it, multitasking means you can’t give your whole focus to one thing, so everything ends up below the high standard you’re aiming for.

Just focusing on one thing at a time however, can make best use of your time and allow you to do that one thing really well.

We can’t all spin plates like this guy, you know.

 

 

 

Give yourself time to unwind

Your body and brain need to recharge so they can work at their best. It is a simple thing, but we can all forget it and find ourselves slumped over our keyboard/books in the small hours of the morning. It’s better to get decent rest.

That doesn’t mean that every second of the day should be non-stop action either. Just as our bodies couldn’t run from morning til night without a break, our brains need moments throughout the day to wonder off and daydream.

Doing this means when we want to (like exams), we can sharper our focus and attention.

 

How to Get a Part-time Job as an International Student (Part 2)

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Image courtesy of Caleb Roenigk/Flickr

 

In the previous part, we spoke of four key skills (communication, customer service, time management, and numeracy) that could increase your chances of finding a part-time job in an English-speaking country.

 

Here are four more such skills that make you productive at work:

 

  1. Cultural awareness

In today’s business environment, it is common for an individual to work alongside people from different cultures. And where there are differences, people need to adapt. After all, a person’s culture influences their communication style and behaviour, so not being culturally sensitive can lead to problems. What is considered appropriate in one culture – for instance, regular eye contact during a conversation – may be thought of as rude in another.

 

  1. Working under pressure

Work and pressure go hand in hand; clearly, the way you handle pressure may decide just how well you perform a particular role. Do you, for example, panic if a long queue builds up in front of you? Or do you just remain calm, smile at customers, and continue working? The ability to perform effectively under pressure is priceless in certain jobs, especially customer-facing roles.

 

  1. IT skills

Given that most workplaces are computerised these days, the ability to use IT systems a prerequisite for most jobs, full- or part-time. If you are good at using computer software and internet-based tools, make sure it features prominently on your CV.

 

  1. Commercial awareness

This means an interest in the wider environment (customers, competitors, suppliers, etc.) in which a company operates. If you have commercial awareness, then you are in a way exhibiting your knowledge of a particular industry and the issues it’s facing.

 

Remember, companies nowadays weigh up applicants by looking for examples of these skills, so the more skills you have, the better your chances are of getting hired!

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

alongside
Form : preposition
Meaning : together with someone, in the same place
Example : During the war, some brave women fought alongside soldiers.

 

adapt
Form : verb
Meaning : to change your behaviour so that it suits a new situation or environment
Example : People sometimes have to adapt a lot after marriage.

 

hand in hand
Form : phrase
Meaning : if two things go hand in hand, they are closely connected
Example : Alcoholism and poor health go hand in hand.

 

panic
Form : verb
Meaning : to be unable to think clearly because you are frightened
Example : Molly panicked when she saw smoke coming out of the washing machine.

 

prerequisite
Form : noun
Meaning : something that must happen or exist before something else
Example : Practice is a prerequisite to successful learning of any language.

 

 

 

 

weight someone up
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to form an opinion of someone, especially by watching or speaking to them
Example : The security guard weighed me up as I walked into the lobby.

 

How to Get a Part-time Job as an International Student (Part 1)

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Photo courtesy of Steven Depolo (Flickr)

 

If you are an international student who has just arrived in the host country, one of the first things you may do is look for a part-time job. But has it ever occurred to you that you could be one among thousands who apply for part-time vacancies?

 

The UK, for instance, welcomed well over four hundred thousand new students in 2014-15. So, how do you stand out in a crowd? One way is to make sure you have enough employability skills – abilities that make a person productive at work.

 

Here are some that employers look for:

 

  1. Communication skills

The ability to express ideas and views clearly is extremely important, especially in customer-facing jobs. If someone doesn’t have sufficient language skills, they may sound impolite or unfriendly to a customer. Of course, no business would want to hire such an individual.

 

  1. Customer service

Many part-time jobs require you to interact directly with customers. This usually involves answering questions, getting them to buy something, dealing with complaints, etc. Only individuals with good communication and problem solving skills may be able to offer great customer service, and those are the kinds of people that companies want to recruit.

 

  1. Time management

This skill is all about developing methods to manage your time well at work, balancing various demands of the job. Most people who have it prioritise their work – they focus on urgent tasks first before moving on to other less important work.

 

  1. Numeracy

Whether you work in a shop, restaurant, or pub, it is essential to be good with numbers. Staff in such businesses use numeracy skills in a number of ways, right from giving customers the correct change to checking stock.

 

Remember, just adding these skills to your résumé alone won’t help; if required, you’ll have to prove that you actually possess them.

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

host country
Form : noun
Meaning : a country where foreign students go to study
Example : The UK attracts more international students each year than any other host country.

 

occur to (someone)
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to come into the mind
Example : When they spoke of pizzas, it occurred to her that she hadn’t eaten all day.

 

stand out
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to be noticed easily
Example : Melvin is so tall that he stands out in a crowd.

 

customer-facing
Form : adjective
Meaning : dealing directly with customers
Example : If customer-facing staff are friendly, people usually have a great shopping experience.

 

 

numeracy
Form : noun
Meaning : the ability to do basic mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, etc.
Example : Numeracy is one of the most important skills that children learn at school.

 

The View From Campus: Researching U.S. Degrees

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This month’s interviewee Anna Wise, Assistant Director of Admissions, University of Delaware

 

University Quick Facts

Describe your institution in 5 words? Innovative, Engaging, Community, Opportunity, Passion.

What is your institution best known for overseas? It’s best known for Engineering, Business and being in a strong location.

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? Our top programs are: Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Hotel and Hospitality Management, Physical Therapy, and Masters of Business Administration.

How international is your institution? We have 4000 international students, from 116 countries. The top countries are China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Mexico.

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process? Our admissions requirement is IELTS 6.5

 

 

Researching Options 

What do prospective undergraduate international students struggle with most when researching the thousands of college options in the U.S.? 

Students can struggle getting past the idea of rankings and “name brand” schools.

How do you define what a public institution means for an international student? 

Public institutions have funding for research and facilities from the government, so that means more research opportunities for you!

What do prospective international students who are beginning their research need to know about public/state universities in the United States?

Public universities are often great places to go for internship and research opportunities. Attending a big state school often also means more clubs and sports teams on campus, which means greater school spirit!

What are the advantages of attending public institutions in the U.S.?

It means there is a wider variety of degree options, more specialised degree programs, research and internship opportunities – as well as a larger alumni base for possible jobs after graduation.

 

Why Studying in Ireland Could Be For You

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World Class Universities

With all of its universities ranked in the top 5% in the world, Ireland can be a great choice to study with your IELTS score.

Though the Irish language (Gaelic) is spoken by around a third of the population and you’ll find it written regularly, the predominant language is English, and so is a great option for international students wanting to study degree programmes in English.

 

Research Excellence

More than 780 million euros is spent on research programmes at Ireland’s universities each year, helping to make it one of the leading countries for research across a number of subjects. From the arts and humanities to the sciences, this excellence is attracting talent from around the globe to Ireland’s shores. In fact, Ireland is now ranked 2nd in the world for both Chemistry and Nanotechnology.

It’s then no wonder why the international student population has reached around 35,000, with people coming from more than 161 countries to further their studies there.

 

Beyond the classroom

Downtime from study could never be boring in Ireland either.

It’s a country with a rich cultural history, producing giants of literature, science and song. It also boast some of the most welcoming people on the planet and a rugged and beautiful landscape to explore. Around half of Ireland’s total population is under 28 years old too, so there is plenty that cater to people of a student age!

Ireland will welcome you with open arms!

 

 

 

 

 

Student Life in London Made Affordable (Part 2)

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In the first part, we looked at ways to spend less while travelling or shopping for food in London. Read on for some further money-saving tips.

 

  1. Take full advantage of your student status

Being an international student in the United Kingdom can be expensive, but it has its own privileges too. Discounts and great deals are to be had just about everywhere. Restaurants, museums, art galleries, cinemas, retailers, banks often have something exclusively for students. So, take advantage of your student status by flashing your identity card as frequently as possible.

 

You may also want to join student discount schemes or clubs such as ISIC or NUS. An ISIC cardholder, for example, could get benefits in over 125,000 locations worldwide currently. Although there’s usually a fee to join these schemes, it’s worth spending the money because you’ll be entitled to innumerable discounts while your card remains active. Of course, how much you save would depend on how frequently you choose to take advantage of the offers you receive.

 

  1. Use the internet to help you spot discounts and offers

London undoubtedly provides an uninterrupted choice of free events and discounts all year round  but how do you get to hear about them before it’s too late? After all, if you can’t be in the right place at the right time, none of those benefits can be enjoyed.

The internet can be a great help in this regard: there are several websites that tell you where to find the best student discounts in the UK. A couple of popular ones are StudentBeans and UniDays, both of which are also available as mobile phone applications. Most university students download these apps on their phone so that they don’t miss out on great deals, even on the essentials like laptops.

 

So if you follow these useful tips, enjoying student life in London shouldn’t cost you a fortune!

 

 

GLOSSARY

 

privilege
Form : noun
Meaning : a special benefit that a group of people has
Example : If you become a full member of this club, you can enjoy many privileges.

 

exclusively
Form : adverb
Meaning : for only one particular person or group
Example : This café is exclusively for staff; visitors have to go out of the building to get food.

 

flash
Form : verb
Meaning : to show something, such as an ID card, to someone very quickly
Example : The police officer flashed his ID card at the security as he entered the private building.

 

take advantage of (something)
Form : phrase
Meaning : to make full use of something
Example : Josie’s kids took advantage of her absence to play in the rain.

 

 

in the right place at the right time
Form : phrase
Meaning : be in the best position to make full use of an opportunity
Example : Miguel isn’t very skilled, but he got the job because he was in the right place at the right time.

 

miss out on (something)
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to fail to benefit from an opportunity 
Example : It’s sad that you won’t be attending the party – you’ll miss out on all the fun.

 

fortune
Form : noun
Meaning : a large sum of money
Example : Siobhan’s new motorbike cost a small fortune.

 

Back to School: 5 Tips to Kick-Start Your University Life

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Before you start university, especially if you’re in a foreign country, things can be quite daunting.

Here are five ways to make sure you start off on the right foot…

 

  1. Get organised

This is an obvious one, but it can be easy to overlook. From making sure you know when and where your lectures are, to what time the library is open, it is rule number one to be organised. Student life is so much easier when you have it together.

 

2. Read ahead

Falling behind on the required reading for your studies is a no-no. You won’t be able to engage in the topics properly, and your grades will suffer as a result. The great thing about reading ahead is that you can have longer to think. Mastering complex problems or concepts early on can give you time to be creative and come up with something original!

 

3. Get to know your classmates

Of course, you should get to know as many people as possible during your time at university! If English is not your first language, then this can especially beneficial to you and how valuable your time there will be. Classmates can also be good allies when it comes to exam time as you can help each other in study groups or simply discussing the course itself.

 

4. Budget

Running out of money can throw everything else off-track. The added stress of worrying about bills or where your lunch is coming from will affect your health and your work. Budgeting everything from your travels costs and books, to that occasional(!) night out will make sure you’re happier and can concentrate on what you’re there for – learning!

 

5. Get everything you can from your University

Beyond the classroom there are a host of other societies, clubs, events and academic support that universities offer to students, that can give a challenge or take some of the stress off. Take these opportunities – they’re there for you! And try your hand at something new, you could discover you have a hidden talent or passion…

 

The View From Campus: What Do U.S. Women’s Colleges Provide?

 

Image courtesy of Evonne (CC Flickr)

Image courtesy of Evonne (CC Flickr)

We are searching for women that want to grow and learn…

Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN

We spoke to Mona Bowe from Admissions at Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN) about what makes Women’s Colleges different.

Describe your institution in 5 words?

Catholic, residential, women’s, liberal arts.

What is your institution best known for overseas?

Providing quality education and leadership skills for women looking for undergraduate education opportunities.

What are your top academic programs (undergrad & grad)? 

Our grad programs are too small, as we are only in our second year of the programs. The largest, however, is the Master’s in Speech Pathology. At the undergrad level, the most popular are:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Communication

What are the top 5 countries represented at your institution after the U.S.?

China is our most represented country, but currently we have students from Rwanda, Morocco, Japan, Jordan, Myanmar Vietnam, Ukraine, Guatemala, Panama, Colombia, Peru (one from each country).

How does your institution use an IELTS result in the admissions process?

We use IELTS results to measure English Language ability and proficiency.

 

If a female international student comes across women’s colleges in her search what does she need to know about these institutions?

The number one difference I point out to domestic and international students alike, is that they should understand that an all-girls high school, and a women’s college, are two completely different animals! While both might have in their mission “educating females”, women’s colleges in the US do so inside and outside of the classroom. Students will receive a world-class education in their major area of study (or two, or three), but in addition will gain invaluable leadership skills that are hard to develop in a co-educational environment. The students themselves challenge each other to develop into empowered, confident women.

Other than the obvious one, what are some major differences between women’s colleges in the US and the greater majority of other post-secondary institutions?

Data shows that the majority of leadership and research opportunities at co-educational institutions have traditionally gone to men, because they tend to be louder and more assertive at this time of their development. At a women’s college, all these positions of leadership, and all the opportunities for research, are taken by women. The skills gained from these kinds of experiences, will prepare graduates of women’s college to work alongside, and compete against, men and women for positions in graduate school, careers, and their communities.

How selective are women’s colleges in the admissions process?

It varies, but they all have one thing in common: we are searching for women that want to grow and learn; who are interested in pushing themselves outside of their comfort zone, and are not afraid to try; who understand that they have an opinion, and a powerful voice to make it heard.

Sounds like a very tall order, but if you have ever met a graduate of a women’s college, you know what I mean by “they know they can change the world.”

Student Life in London Made Affordable (Part 1)

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London is one of the most exciting cities in the world, and attracts people from all corners of the globe each year. It has a rich history to discover and caters for every taste.

Unfortunately, London’s popularity means it can be an expensive city to live in, so for most students, getting by on a limited budget is essential.

It can be hard to avoid tourist traps as an international student, so getting to know the place can save you a lot.

 

Here are a few London transport tips to avoiding throwing money down the drain as a student.

 

Two Wheels Good

Cycling is perhaps the cheapest way to get around a major city. In fact, over a million Londoners own a bicycle and use it regularly. A word of warning though: only cycle if you are competent cyclist – London traffic can be difficult to handle. But there are many parks, group lessons, and a growing cycle highway system which can help you gain the confidence and practice you need.

You can also hire one of London’s 11,000 ‘Boris Bikes’ (named after the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson) from one of the 750 docking stations across the capital. It costs £2 to rent the bike for 24 hours and the first 30 minutes of your journey is free.

 

Mind the gap

The city’s public transport network is extensive and well-developed, but some may find ticket prices a bit high. No need to panic though if you’re a student: just get a Student Oyster photocard to enjoy a 30% discount on travel cards as well as tube, bus and rail fares.

 

Don’t stick to the map

Another way is to just walk! Walking is the best way to discover any city’s secrets. You’ll soon realise that most things are nearer than you thought and you’ll get the added exercise and save lots of money! For instance, most Tube stations in the centre are within walking distance (around 0.5 to 1 mile) of each other.

 

Happy travels!

 

GLOSSARY

 

get by
Form : phrasal verb
Meaning : to manage, especially when facing difficulties
Example : Tom and Sally are able to get by with little money, as their needs are limited.

 

Cater for
Form : verb
Meaning : To provide what is needed
Example : The cabin crew catered for all passengers’ needs.

 

handle
Form : verb
Meaning : to deal with a situation
Example : Miguel doesn’t handle angry customers well.

 

throwing money down the drain
Form : phrase
Meaning : To waste money (especially by spending it on something useless)
Example :  ‘Why are you spending your wages on gambling? You’re just throwing money down the drain!’

 

 

competent
Form : Adjective
Meaning : Having the necessary skill or ability to do something
Example : Mathew was a competent swimmer and knew to stop when he felt tired.

 

 

 

 

3 Top Tips to Survive Exam Stress

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‘the strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown’

Have you ever been so stressed about an exam, that it stopped you from giving your best?

It’s a common trap and one that is easily fallen into. Often, the more you want something, the more weight you put on your own shoulders to accomplish it. You then risk burning out: losing sleep, skipping meals, and running yourself into the ground. And whilst a little bit of stress is good to keep you focussed and alert, what steps can you take to keep it under control? Here are three…

 

  1. Sleep well.

“Sleep is not a luxury,” says Dr. James O’Brien, medical director of the Boston SleepCare Center in Massachusetts, USA. “It’s a necessity for optimal functioning.”

It’s maybe tempting to burn the candle at both ends to fit in extra studying, but that could be eating into your chances of performing well.

Sleeping allows the brain to recharge and reset for the day ahead. Without it, your memory, mood and ability to concentrate will be severely hampered. So get plenty of rest.

Tip: 7-9 hours a night is just right.

 

  1. Keep it real.

For some exams, there is a real need to revise certain facts, dates, equations etc, so you need to learn these by heart. For IELTS, your knowledge is not being tested, only your ability to speak, write, listen and read in English. It’s a test of your English for the real world.

So, your study should be about widening that ability as best as possible. Yes, it’s important to know how to form past and future tenses etc., but this is best learnt through using real language. Knowing that you’ve studied in an effective way will give you more confidence and reduce your stress.

Tip: Read the newspaper every day and practice writing summarising the articles you read or start a conversation with a friend on that topic.

 

  1. Practice, practice, practice

The gothic horror novelist H.P Lovecraft wrote that ‘the strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown’ – and he should know!

This definitely comes into play when we’re faced with a test or exam. ‘Not knowing’ what the test will be like or how the exam is structured can leave us stressed out.

So, the simplest way to overcome this is to get hold of practice test papers and familiarise yourself with the test itself.

If you’re thinking about taking the IELTS test you can find lots of free resources and practice papers here.

 

Tip: Try recreating test conditions by timing yourself as you sit a practice test.

 

GLOSSARY

 

Running oneself into the ground
Form : phrase
Meaning : to make yourself very tired by working too much

 

optimal
Form : adjective
Meaning : Best or most favourable

 

burn the candle at both ends
Form : phrase
Meaning : The go to bed late and get up early.

 

Eating into something
Form : phrase
Meaning : To use or take away a large part of something valuable (eg, money or time).
Example : The high cost of living in London is eating into my savings

 

 

hamper
Form : verb
Meaning : to stop something happening easily
Example : Ankle injuries severely hampered Usain’s sprinting career.

 

 

 

Come into play
Form : phrase
Meaning : Becoming active or effective
Example : Conditions for workers will change once the new labour law comes into play

 

 

 

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