In August 2015, the US federal court ruled against the validity of the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) 2008 regulation update for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. However, the court gave the DHS until February 10, 2016, to begin the implementation of necessary changes. In January 2016, the court extended the date for implementation until May 10, 2016. What does this really mean for internationals students? Let’s break it down.
What is Optional Practical Training?
Optional Practical Training, or OPT as it is commonly referred to, is a program that was created to provide international students with the opportunity to extend their visas to gain 1 year of US work experience in a professional setting that is directly related to their field of study. This work experience can be achieved either while they are completing their studies or post graduation. Read the rest of this entry »
Compared to the rest of the world, the U.S. has a pretty big emphasis on car culture. The country has always been car-obsessed, and recently a study showed that the U.S. has a record four cars for every five of its citizens.
Unless you’re in a city like New York or Washington D.C., the infrastructure for public transportation is lacking — if it even exists at all. However, attending college in the U.S. without a car is still doable without public transport. Here are some ways to manage it.
Ask a Friend
You can always ride shotgun with one of your friends — or if none of your friends have cars, make a new friend. There are colleges where over 90 percent of students have cars on campus. There’s sure to be someone else you can find who wants to go to the same place you do or has tickets for the same event. If you still have trouble finding someone, you can always offer a few bucks for gas money or to do the person a favor in return for a ride.
This definitely shouldn’t be abused, though. You don’t want to be known as the person who’s always asking people for rides. Americans do love their cars, and while they love to have an excuse to drive around, it’s bound to get old after awhile.
These days, ridesharing apps are just as important as our social media apps and profiles. With the recent rise of the ridesharing app, there are tons to choose from to help get you around. If you need to run errands and don’t have a friend to help out, these apps give you an affordable and accessible option.
These apps also give you the freedom to have more of a life off-campus. Though it’s guaranteed that things will almost always be happening on-campus, this is helpful if you want to go see a concert downtown or attend other events.
Ridesharing apps are becoming a more popular way for college students to earn extra cash, too, so there’s bound to be multiple cars to choose from in your area.
Walking or Biking
In a lot of college towns, there are amenities a short distance away because they want the college students as customers. If what you need can be found at a grocery store or Wal-Mart, then chances are it’s within walking or biking distance.
Walking and biking aren’t a permanent solution, though, as those can depend on the weather. But when it’s nice enough, they’re a great solution. They not only help with your health, but that of the environment as well.
While most places in the U.S. don’t have the infrastructure they should, there’s still usually at least something there to help you out. If you look on your school’s website, there will often be a schedule for campus-run buses or shuttles. Schools usually have these to travel from farther away dorms to campus, or from campus into town for students to stock up on supplies.
If you want to go a bit farther than the school shuttle is going to take you, look into what public transportation your city does offer. Even if they only have a few bus routes, they still may be able to take you where you want to go.
The travel culture in America can impact you as well. Road trips are a huge college staple. They’re known as a traditional coming-of-age ritual, so they’re definitely popular around this time in students’ lives. Road trips are always an amazing experience, so you should jump on the opportunity if one arises.
However, make sure the group you’re going with knows the importance of planning and budgeting. When my friends and I went on a cross-country road trip, we were so focused on the exciting parts of the trip that we didn’t figure in how much money we would need for everything on the drive. We ended up staying in a casino’s 24-hour café to take a rest from the road.
Cars can be awesome, but they don’t have to be a necessity. There are plenty of ways to get around off-campus without having a car yourself — it’s one less thing to worry about, too!
One of the benefits of working an on-campus job when you’re an international student is that you get a great feel for the culture. You’ll make new friends, learn how things are done in the U.S. and earn some spending money.
Still, the most authentic experience you’ll have after working on campus is filing taxes with the rest of America. The tax forms, which need to be filed to the Internal Revenue Service by April 18, can be a little confusing even to people who have filed in the past. Here’s how to do it. Read the rest of this entry »