After receiving numerous video entries for the InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest, the 12 finalists, including the Viewers’ Choice Winner have been announced!
Like every year, students from around the world put all their effort, time, dedication and creativity into their video entry to express their desire to experience life outside their home country. Each entry was thoughtful and the InternationalStudent.com team had a difficult time narrowing the list of entries.
We invite you to meet the 12 finalists and hear their stories, as from that bunch three lucky winners will be chosen for the first, second and third place! As in past years, this year we have an incredible judging panel who will determine the three winners which will be announced on the last day of the International Education Week: November 16th.
Make sure you watch the Viewers’ Choice winning video: Leaving Routine Behind, where Kaleema Lowery shares with us how her life has become a routine that doesn’t bring her greater happiness. She wants to see the world, meet new people, learn new languages, make new memories and especially leave the routine behind! But she can’t do everything at once and for now, she chose South Korea where she’ll have the opportunity to live an experience different from what she has been living at home.
If you’re interested in entering this Travel Video Contest next year make sure you sign up to receive the latest alerts from InternationalStudent.com.
October 16th, 2018 by Felicity Bradstock
Ways to Save Money as an International Student
It’s never too early or too late to think ways to save money as an international student. Whether you’re just applying for colleges, in your second year or close to graduation, it’s always good to have a loan repayment plan. It’s something many of us take for granted, something you don’t have to think about until after university. However, planning ahead makes for better financials once you have to start paying back the debt.
Avoid Unnecessary Spending
Sure, it’s tempting to spend all the money as it comes in. I mean, that’s what it’s there for, right? But think ahead, that money can help you out in an emergency, or be saved for you to use once you graduate.
That’s not to say don’t spend your loan on college essentials like books and living costs. And make sure you enjoy your time in college; socialise, take part in extra-curricular activity. But try to avoid spending your loan frivolously where possible.
A couple of great ways to do this is to look for student discounts when shopping and eating out, and buy second hand – books, sports equipment, home decor etc. Why spend a fortune on new books when students from the previous year are earning some extra cash by selling their one-year-old copies?
Get a Savings Account
Different loans come with different conditions and some may require a certain type of bank account to pay into. However, where possible, look for the bank account with the best interest rates and with no withdrawal restrictions. If you’re think about saving some of your student loan each month, the interest you earn in a good savings account can balance out the interest you’ll eventually owe on your loan repayment. It’s a great way to earn extra money by really doing nothing. Check out some of the best options here.
As much as you may want to ignore your loan, keeping on top of it will prepare you for repayments once you finish university. Check out the National Student Loan Data System to see how much you owe and learn about repayment options early on.
Get a Part-time Job
Once you’ve got into the swing of college life, look at your schedule and see what free time you have to earn some extra cash. A part time job will help build your resume as well as giving you some extra money to save or spend on leisure activities while saving your loan.
With high university costs, it’s common for students to work while studying. Have a look at jobs available on campus and in the local area. Just make sure, if you’re an international student, that your visa conditions allow for part-time work. Alternatively, consider remote working opportunities from around the world through companies such as FlexJobs. Remote work gives you the opportunity to work from home and often helps you avoid issues with your visa status. Just remember to declare taxes on your earnings in your home country.
Your New Best Friend – Tax-deductibles
If you decide to work in the US once you graduate, it’s important to learn all about tax deductibles. This might sound dull but it can actually save you thousands of dollars! If you’re paying off a student loan, you might be eligible for an interest deduction on your federal taxes. This is based on the interest paid on your student loan.
If you plan ahead, start saving early and take time to learn about the student loan terms and repayment options, you’ll be financially prepared once you graduate. So, don’t let the debt hang over your head, there are many simple ways to save money as an international student. Prepare early to fully enjoy the college experience!
Yes, it’s that time of year! The InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest is back and you have another chance to win $4,000! From August 31st until October 9th, you can submit your video to participate in the contest and be one of the four winners:
1st Place Winner: $4,000
2nd Place Winner: $500
3rd Place Winner: $250
Viewers’ Choice Winner: $1,000
To be eligible you must be 18 or older and already enrolled or planning to enroll in college or university outside of your home country.
How to enter
Create an original 4 minute video specifically for the 2018 InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest and submit it before the deadline. If you are a current international student, your video must describe any trip you would like to take. If you are not currently studying outside of your home country, your entry must describe your proposed study abroad.
The deadline to submit your application for the 2018 Travel Video Contest is 11:59 PM, EST on Tuesday, 9 October 2018. Don’t forget to have a look at:
Get more information on InternationalStudent.com.
If you need financial support to study abroad it’s important to find the right scholarship for you. There are several different scholarships to which you can apply, but as you search through the various options you’ll realize each has different requirements. Below are just a few categories that scholarships often put requirements and limitations around.
Many institutions and organizations offer scholarships based on the course you’re studying. It is common for fields that require greater numbers of graduate workers to incentivize study in that subject area. For example, some states or institutions may be lacking in qualified specialist nurses or criminal justice and finance managers, therefore providing grant opportunities such as the Global Nursing Research Grant.
Scholarships in specialist fields encourage students to make their studies more tailored to their future career by alleviating financial pressure. Therefore, graduates studying more general subjects, such as literature or history, may have a better chance of finding a scholarship based on different criteria.
Institution Specific Scholarships
Each institution has its own scholarship(s). Many universities provide financial support to students based on family income or academic success and potential. The criteria for these types of scholarships is usually to show you are a candidate of distinction – to have great grades, experience in an internship or volunteering program, to have extra-curricular hobbies and to show the institution what you can bring to the department by studying there. As well as university-wide grants, some departments offer scholarships only available to students within that specific department, reducing the competition.
Check out the 2017 rankings to see which institutions offered the most financial aid to their students last year.
If you have a specific talent or extra-curricular interest you can apply for a talent-based scholarship. Many universities and companies offer grants to students with extraordinary skills in sports, the arts, and other areas outside of major work. You will be expected to prove your talent and be part of the sports team or music department, as well as maintaining excellent grades, to be eligible for this type of scholarship.
Companies, particularly big multinationals and law firms, often offer scholarships for students who intend to work in the company after they graduate, or as an intern. This is particularly common for MBA students (Master of Business Administration).
Consider internships with big companies near the institution you are going to attend to get your foot in the door. Also reach out and contact the department you are interested in for your future career to see if they have any grant opportunities. The worst they can do is say no, at best they may offer you a grant, internship or part-time job.
International Student Scholarships
Maybe surprisingly, some grants are provided for international students to gain valuable life experience by studying abroad. That’s right, you could be paid simply for attending an institution in the US as a foreign student. Employers recognize that traveling out of your comfort zone, learning to study in more than one language, and engaging both academically and culturally, are great qualities in employees.
Visit the Study Abroad Scholarship search engine for a comprehensive list of scholarship opportunities for international students.
No Cosigner Loans
May 16th, 2018 by Felicity Bradstock
You’re set on going to College in the US. But you’ve been told you need a cosigner to get your student loan approved. This is the experience many international students face when looking for a loan to support their study costs. However, all hope is not lost. Some schools and lenders are now offering no cosigner loans to meet the growing demand from international students who want to study abroad.
Why a Cosigner?
A cosigner is a person who guarantees that if you (the borrower) are unable to repay the loan, they will be responsible for the repayment. The loan company often asks students to find a US-national cosigner to act as their guarantor. The cosigner must guarantee the loan will be re-payed if the student cannot make the payments. It is a big responsibility for any cosigner, as they are responsible for any debt incurred by the student.
It is harder to prove the income of the international student and most do not have savings in a U.S. bank account. Therefore, many loan providers require a cosigner to ensure that the loan is re-payed in full. This means loan providers to not have to rely entirely on the student for repayment.
It is common practice for loan providers to ask for a cosigner for any student loan. However, some schools are now offering no cosigner loans to meet the growing demand from students.
Many international students find it difficult to get a cosigner from the US to act as a guarantor for such as large amount of money. Therefore, some schools have created programs that evaluate the academic success of the student, as well as career potential, instead of credit history. They use the student’s background to determine whether they are eligible for a no cosigner loan.
Alternative lenders are now offering no cosigner loans to students who have worked hard to prove their academic potential, but are unable to find a cosigner.
The main no cosigner loan provider in the US is MPOWER. This provider has a fixed interest rate of 11.99%-13.99%. Students can borrow up to $25,000 per academic period or $50,000 in total. To apply, you must state how much you are intending to borrow on the application form. If approved, all loan money will go directly to your college institution. On average, it takes around 6 weeks to apply for a no cosigner loan.
So, if you want to study in a US university without relying on a cosigner, check out the loan comparison tool to see if you are eligible for a no cosigner loan.
If you’re moving abroad to study, you probably want to know the best options for money transfer for international students. Ideally you want to avoid the high bank fees often involved with international money transfer but don’t know the best alternative. There are now several options for transferring money from your home country to your foreign bank account that won’t cost you an arm and a leg! Here the 5 best options currently on available.
TransferWise, a UK-based money transfer site, has become increasingly popular in recent years because of its low fees and fast transfer options. It generally charges a 1% fee on the total transfer, which is much cheaper than many of its competitors. It’s only if you’re sending large amounts that it can get pricey. It uses real time exchange rates, ensuring you always pay a rate that’s fair and accurate for currency conversions.
TransferWise offers a mobile appfor Apple and Android so you can track your money as its being transferred. Most transfers are completed within 2 business days, depending on the bank you’re sending it to and the conversion. To check how long a payment will take TransferWise has a handy transfer calculator.
Paypal is widely trusted for online payments, such as online shopping for websites like Ebay, and is even used to pay the salaries of remote and freelance workers. Now they have a new website, Paypal Xoom, which offers a money wiring service. This is about the fastest online money transfer service around, with most transfers being completed within one hour.
Xoom promotes itself as a place to send money, reload phones, and pay bills using their website and mobile app. If you have a Paypal account already, you can sign into Xoom using your existing details, making registration easy. Xoom allows you to track all transfers, offers 24/7 customer support and also has a fee calculator. Fees vary from country to country so it’s always best to check before committing to Xoom.
Australian money transfer service OFXoffers real time currency conversion and waives many of its transfer fees as part of its service. OFX has global support teams to answer any of your questions and an appto track your transfers.
OFX is good if you want to send larger amounts of money as the minimum transfer is around $200 US. Transfers typically take 1-2 working days depending on the recipient bank.
Chances are you’ve heard of MoneyGramor seen one of its offices. MoneyGram has been around for a while and is now competing with the new online options for money transfer. Keeping up with the likes of TransferWise and Xoom, you can now transfer online, on the app, or through Facebook using MoneyGram. If you prefer to wire money the traditional way, in person, there are over 30,000 MoneyGram branches across the US.
Fees can be slightly more expensive than online competitors but you have the guarantee of MoneyGram’s well established reputation for money transfers. You can check MoneyGram feesonline and can pay using your credit card or checking account online, or cash in store. Always check the exchange rates as they are often not calculated at real time conversion prices.
MoneyGram is fast. If you transfer money to a specific location, it is typically ready to collect within 10 minutes! Online transfers are also guaranteed to be faster than many competitors.
If you need money to be transferred fast and reliably, then Western Unionis considered as the ‘old faithful’ of money transfer. In branch and online, Western Union offers fast and simple transfers that can be tracked through the app. You can make transfers in cash, by debit or credit card of from your bank account.
Western Union provides money transfer options in 130 currencies to over 200 countries and territories. It also has 500,000 agent locations around the world if you want to wire the money in person. However, with the well-known and reliable name comes higher fees and, often, longer transfer times. This is a good option if you want to use an established transfer service or go to the branch. However, new online transfer services generally offer cheaper and faster services.
Different services offer different perks. It’s always useful to check the fee calculators and conversion rates of a couple of services before committing. If the speed of the transfer is important, opt for one of the faster services, which might have a slightly higher fee. Look into your options before you run out of money so that you’re well prepared and don’t have to rush the decision!
InternationalStudent.com just announced the winners of their 12th annual Travel Video Contest! Two weeks ago the International Student Team announced the top 15 finalists, including the $1,000 Viewers’ Choice winner, Juan Sebastian Bayona Carrillo. Today, we are proud to announce the final winners have been selected. Choosing three winners among those 15 amazing videos was a difficult decision for the judges, but we are sure you will be pleased with the videos chosen. Are you ready to find out if your favorite video was chosen as one of the winners? Let’s check it out!
The $4,000 grand prize winner was Dini Restyanti for her video “Finding My Ikigai”
Dini studied Visual Communication but even after she got her degree she never felt completely fulfilled. She was missing something in her life and that is when she realized that she needed to look for her Ikigai, which in Japanese means “a reason to wake up in the morning”. And she found it! Dini will walk away with the $4,000 grand prize to help her study animation in Japan.
The second place winner ($500) was Laura Rey for her video “Drawing My Trip”
At the age of 16, Laura decided to study Film and Television since she always felt admiration for Disney movies. Today, her biggest dream is to become a producer in the cinema industry and that is why she wants to study in Los Angeles. Laura will receive $500 to help her pursue her dream!
The third place winner ($250) was Eliel Freer-Sullivan for his video “New York, New York, My American Dream”
Eliel is an aspiring musician with both vocal and musical talents. He is already studying in Atlanta but he is looking to pursue his passion by attending a music school in New York City. Watch his video and get to know his story through his song!
Congratulations to each of the winners of the 2017 InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest! Next year InternationalStudent.com will host again their annual Travel Video Contest and you won’t want to miss it out! Check back September 2018 for your chance to enter the contest!
November 17th, 2017 by Felicity Bradstock
For a student on a budget there’s nothing better than sales shopping. Black Friday is here, Cyber Monday will follow shortly and Christmas is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts!
Battling the crowds in-store might sound like a nightmare but as a student you likely have to budget and there are many fantastic online deals for you to snap up over the next couple of weeks. So, think about what you want and follow our game plan for this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Where to shop?
When is Amazon ever a bad idea? The great thing about Amazon is that everything’s in one place. Also, there’s free delivery if you spend over $25! Black Friday deals last for the whole week and span across all departments.
If you’re a first-time Amazon Prime (Amazon’s premium service) user you can sign up for the free or discounted trial and get free delivery. With Prime you can also access their video, music and kindle services for free. Just make sure you cancel at the end of your free trial so you don’t get charged! Amazon makes it easy to cancel with an option through your Prime account that allows you to set up an automatic cancellation on the last day of your trial from the very first day.
n.b. It’s might be worth keeping your Prime membership if you regularly buy College books from Amazon. Think about saving further by using all the Prime services and cancelling parallel memberships such as Netflix and Spotify.
Uniqlo is a great store for affordable winter-wear. With much of their heattech (thermal) clothes and winter jackets on sale this is a great place to buy all of you last minute winter warmers. Not only do you get discounts online from 17th – 22nd November 2017 but if you’re a first-time buyer they also offer a $10 discount (with a minimum spend). To save money you can collect in-store if you leave nearby, otherwise shipping is generally priced at $5.
Maybe the king of Black Friday, Walmart offers in-store, online and in app offers across all departments. Whether you want to splash out on a TV or buy a stocking filler, there’s an option for everyone. To check out the best deals from your phone, Walmart has released a handy app (available on iOS and Android).
Finally, we come to BestBuy. Another tech-heavy option but with some excellent promotions for cyber Monday. There’s a huge variety here, from quirky gadgets and cheaper games to high-end consoles. This is a great shop for Christmas gifts, or something for you!
Think about using a comparison app such as Honey or ShopSavvy. These kinds of apps provide information about the best online sales and often offer additional discounts. Honey is currently the market leader, although reviews are mixed to make sure you check the terms and conditions of any discounts you use. Shop Savvy gives you price and product comparisons for you to make your own decision on where to shop.
For the best technology deals this year check out the Wired article for reviews and price comparisons. Wired is a great source to use when searching for new technology, with reliable guidance and reviews.
- Remember to browse online before committing to a purchase during these sales events. As good as one promotion may look, there could be a similar deal elsewhere.
- Always shop at reputable stores. If you’re unsure about the credibility of a website, look for online reviews before entering your personal details.
- Don’t get carried away! Think about what you’re looking for and your budget before you start shopping. Remember who you have to buy gifts for before squandering all your cash elsewhere!
Have a great Holiday weekend!
Do you remember our post about the InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest? As you may remember, students from around the world submitted a short video sharing a proposed study abroad trip or for those already studying abroad, a trip they would like to take. The deadline was on October 13th and today we are ready to announce the the Viewers’ Choice winner along with the 14 finalist!
We are excited to announce this year’s Viewers’ Choice Award video: Making the US my new home where Sebastian Bayona. As an international student from Peru currently studying at Oklahoma State University, he shares his experience about what it means to move abroad and leave your friends, family, and home behind. He talks about how important it is to overcome homesickness, and how he’s really enjoyed the experience of making the US his new home.
Be sure to check out this great video, along with the other finalist videos. Every year, the contest gets bigger and bigger, and this year we had even more entries than last year! This year is not going to be an easy decision for our InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest judges as it’s now in their hands to choose who is going to be the winner of the 2018 Travel Video Contest. Stay tuned during International Education Week to find out who will be awarded $4,000 to help their travels abroad.
If you’re interested in entering this Travel Video Contest next year make sure you sign up to receive the latest alerts from InternationalStudent.com.
Out of Your Comfort Zone
Maybe you’ve already decided to break out of your comfort zone by applying to study abroad in the USA. But what if you could benefit even further from this opportunity? 100,000 Strong in the Americas, and other similar programs, provide great opportunities to students studying across the Americas to participate in field work abroad. This blog will give you all the information you need to know to find the right grant for you and take part in a life-changing experience.
What is 100,000 Strong?
100,000 Strong in the Americas is an Innovation Fund that encourages students to think of new ideas and make them happen. 100,000 Strong is funded by the U.S. government, the private sector, non-profits, and foundations, including Santander and Coca Cola. These organizations have participated in this collaborative program to provide students with the opportunity to apply for grants and make their dream a reality. Students can join the community and view all grant opportunities available in countries across the Americas. If your degree focus, passion or work relates to the grants available, you can apply for the grant and could have to opportunity to join other students in field work abroad.
Why is this a good opportunity?
Just because you’ve made it to the USA to study doesn’t mean you should neglect all the other great opportunities around you. Not only can you study at a great home institution but you can apply for grants and scholarships to participate in exchanges. Applying for a grant could give you the opportunity to travel and learn more from field research. By participating in field work in a different country, you can gain valuable experience that you cannot always achieve from behind a desk. Traveling to a new country helps you to experience a new culture and way of life. Beyond this, focusing in depth on a project related to your degree can help you learn better. You will have the experience to work with other passionate students in a professional manner. Moreover, breaking out of your comfort zone can show innovation and make you a good candidate in your future professional career.
Not only will you be expanding your horizons and pushing your boundaries by participating in an exchange program, but you could be helping others. Most of the programs focus on humanitarian action such as creating innovative ways to help the environment or to support local communities. So if you think you’re the right candidate for the this type of program, you can check out the grants available on their website.
You can register free with 100,000 Strong’s Innovation Network, and are required to register to apply for any grant opportunities. By registering, all new grants will be available for you to view and apply to.