SAT Exam to be Redesigned

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Thursday, February 28th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

The president of the College Board announced plans to redesign the SAT exam in an email to College Board members earlier this week, which was also posted on the group’s Facebook page.

“We will develop an assessment that mirrors the work that students will do in college so that they will practice the work they need to do to complete college,” David Coleman wrote. “An improved SAT will strongly focus on the core knowledge and skills that evidence shows are most important to prepare students for the rigors of college and career.”

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I’d Rather Be Cleaning: Why The Easy Life Isn’t For Everyone

by Rin Ichino - Posts (3). Posted Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at 10:57 am

Rin Ichino is a Japanese exchange student from the University of Tokyo spending a year at Bates College in Maine. When she arrived, she found that there was something about her new campus life that made her uneasy – the lack of chores. From cleaning the buildings to emptying the trash, there are maintenance staff to take care of almost everything.  But is her discomfort about it a difference between the Japanese and American cultures, or something else? Here’s Rin’s story:

On the first day I arrived at Bates College, I found myself alone in my new house. I was the only one of the twelve students who would be living there to arrive before classes started. Every room was empty, dark, and quiet as I walked around the house by myself.

It was a hot day for the end of August in Maine, and after going in and out of a couple of rooms looking for an air conditioner, I heard a cheerful voice asking, “Hey, how can I help you?”

This is a picture of my house. It was taken in the fall - the house doesn't look as pretty as this now because of dirty snow.

My house. This picture was taken in the fall – the house doesn’t look as pretty as this now because of the dirty snow.

I turned to find a woman with bright blue eyes in a blue shirt and blue jeans. She was the housekeeper for my house, with two other houses under her care. We introduced ourselves and by the time she finished showing me around the house we had made friends. She told me I wouldn’t need to clean the house, buy our daily goods, or worry about messes after parties. She would not come to our house everyday but told me to ask her for any help I needed.

Living the easy life

Once everyone else arrived on campus and the year got started, it didn’t take much time for me to find that this situation was not unusual. I need to do almost nothing for myself in this campus life.

I can run into the dining hall almost anytime and fetch anything to eat and drink; I can grab a mug with coffee or tea and throw the empty mug into one of the big cans placed all around campus. I don’t need to clean, I don’t need to take the garbage out, I don’t need to do my dishes, I don’t need to go shopping for food. All those things are in the facility service staffs’ hands.

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Show Us: Where Do You Spend Your Time at School?

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Monday, February 25th, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Do you have a favorite spot on campus? A place you wish you could escape but just can’t get away from (the dreaded library cubicle)? Someplace only you know about?

We want to see it! Send us a picture of the place where you spend the most time. We’ll post our favorites next week. Send a photo plus a short description of what it is, where it is and why you picked it, to jstahl@voanews.com.

Here’s one of the most unusual we’ve gotten so far. Any guesses as to what it is or where it was taken? (hint: the school this is at was founded and designed by a U.S. president, and this guy hangs out in one of its departments – as does the student who sent the photo)

Brooks Hall- the anthropology department at UVA

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8 Free Online Events for International Students: Feb. 24-Mar. 2

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Friday, February 22nd, 2013 at 6:00 pm

And here we go with our Friday round up of online webinars and virtual fairs for prospective or current international students.  This week features a lot of variety – everything from sports scholarships to historically black colleges/universities to “Big 10″ schools – plus an interesting-sounding event from the College Board for those who are college-bound.

As always, if you attend any of these events, report back and let us know what you learned! (Use the comments, the Facebook page or just email me – jstahl@voanews.com). And please share any online events you’ve found that we haven’t.

Coming up this week:

February 25

EducationUSA: Sports Scholarships for International Students
3pm US eastern time
More details:  https://events-na1.adobeconnect.com/content/connect/c1/1011637095/en/events/catalog.html?folder-id=1238074207#currentSearchTag=1312381515

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Fawad and Buzkashi Boys: Does Hard Work, or Fate and Coincidence, Create Success?

by Abuzar Royesh - Posts (5). Posted Thursday, February 21st, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Fawad Mohammadi, star of the short film Buzkashi Boys, boards a plane bound for Los Angeles and the Academy Awards. Co-star Jawanmard Paiz is in the background. (Photo: US Embassy Kabul)

Fawad Mohammadi, star of the short film Buzkashi Boys, boards a plane bound for Los Angeles and the Academy Awards. Co-star Jawanmard Paiz is in the background. (Photo: US Embassy Kabul)

As I surf my Facebook newsfeed, a photo catches my attention. Two Afghan boys smile broadly as they board a Turkish airplane. The boys are Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz, the lead actors in “Buzkashi Boys,” an Oscar-nominated short film about friends who dream of becoming horseback riders in Afghanistan’s fierce version of polo. These two young actors are traveling from the dusty streets of Kabul to the red carpet at the 2013 Academy Awards in Hollywood.

This journey is especially auspicious for Fawad, a 14-year-old who sells maps to foreigners on the streets of Kabul, and was chosen for the role because director Sam French, who lived in Afghanistan, would bump into him on the street (French described him as “the kindest and most warm-hearted street-kid”). The youngest of seven siblings, but also a breadwinner for the family, Fawad is about to make his Oscar debut beside prominent movie stars such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence.

Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz filming a scene for Buzkashi Boys in Kabul (Photo: AP)

Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz filming a scene for Buzkashi Boys in Kabul (Photo: AP)

However, this picture soon kindles other thoughts in my mind. I ponder over the matters of destiny and coincidences; what would have happened if director Sam French had not met Fawad on the streets of Kabul? Was it fate or mere coincidence that took Fawad to the red carpet?

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Aditi Describes What Happens at Sorority Rush Week

by Guest Post - Posts (71). Posted Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 at 7:02 pm

What is “rush week” at an American university? Aditi Bhowmick, a writer for International Student Voice, went through rush at Cornell University, and had this unusual description of the phenomenon:

Rush week is basically seven days when one will see the most number of girls you have ever seen in your entire lives trudging through snow ridges.

In plainer terms, “rush” is the process of applying to join a fraternity or sorority.  In a typical sorority rush, all the potential pledges visit each sorority house, participating in activities and meeting the sorority sisters, as the sororities figure out who they want to take and the pledges figure out where they want to join.  Aditi explained her rush week like this:

…if nothing else, rush week is exciting. As you pass through the doors a sister will sweep you into the most picture perfect parlors. For all you know, you could be starring in a Victorian play where your coats are taken and the most creative drinks are served in champagne glasses. One gets to meet an army of upperclass-women and have conversations about everything from the weather to theses on biology and neuroscience! I have never been so polite and well-mannered in my entire life; my mother would be proud.

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The US in Words #7: YOLO (Finding a Better Version of Myself)

by Paula - Posts (11). Posted Tuesday, February 19th, 2013 at 10:54 am

The seventh in a series looking at U.S. life and culture through its idioms.  View previous entries.

YOLO = You only live once

Yolo tattooA friend who I had met at a hostel in Philadelphia recommended I get a tattoo with the inscription “YOLO,” which stands for “You Only Live Once.” I hadn’t heard the phrase before, but suddenly it seemed to capture something about my life.

Through my experience in the U.S. I have come to be, not someone else exactly, but a more defined, and perhaps better, version of myself, who seeks adventure rather than comfort, and who prefers new experiences over routine.

The person I was a few months ago wouldn’t have been friends with someone I’d met in a hostel, and the person I was a few months ago definitely wouldn’t have been genuinely considering getting a tattoo.

I don’t think it’s the U.S. itself that has made me change, but rather to the opportunity to gain some distance from my normal life and look at it from the outside, gaining a different perspective. I’ve left my country and my family, I’ve adapted to a new environment and culture, I’ve made new friends, I’ve assimilated to different work practices, adopted new habits, learned about other people. All of this has forced me out of my comfort zone and made me question who I am and what I used to believe.

This process of self-examination led me to one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made in my life, which was to break up with my boyfriend. We’d been together for ten—yes, ten—years, lived together for three (in a house we own together and built from scratch), and every single memory since I was sixteen is by his side.

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4 Free Online Events for International Students: Feb. 17-23

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Friday, February 15th, 2013 at 6:44 pm

It’s time for our Friday round up of online webinars and virtual fairs happening in the next week.  This week features the semi-regular International Day virtual college fair over at CollegeWeekLive for prospective undergraduates.

As always, if you attend any of these events, report back and let us know what you learned! (Use the comments, the Facebook page or just email me – jstahl@voanews.com). And please share any online events you’ve found that we haven’t.

Coming up this week:

February 19

mbaMission: MBA Interview Workshop
9pm US eastern time
More details: http://www.manhattangmat.com/EventShow.cfm?EID=3&eventID=11584 

February 20

CollegeWeekLive: International Day Virtual College Fair
More details: http://collegeweeklive.com/en_CA/Guest/CollegeWeekLive_INTERNATIONAL_DAY 

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Shopaholic’s Guide to US Measures: 10 Inches = 2 High Heels

by Anna Malinovskaya - Posts (17). Posted Thursday, February 14th, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I was and still am used to thinking about the world in terms of meters, centimeters, grams and kilograms. Even though I had to memorize the conversion system when I was preparing for my SAT, I quickly forgot it because it felt very unnatural to me. So, in my first year in the U.S., every time I encountered inches, miles, pounds, and ounces, I was lost.

Of course, you can always do the conversion online or on your phone, but after a year in the States, I developed my own system of approximation that I can keep in my mind without any effort whatsoever.

Shopaholic's guide to inches

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Replay: Our State of the Union Watch Party

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 at 9:28 am

Thanks to everyone who joined our State of the Union watch party last night.  We had an amazing group that included some of our Student Union bloggers and other international students from around the world who got together right after Obama’s speech to discuss what he talked about … and what he left out.  If you missed it, we’ve got the replay for you right here.  Check it out!

1 Degree Fahrenheit: Could You Take It?

by Javaria Khan - Posts (6). Posted Monday, February 11th, 2013 at 10:34 am

Our campus after snowstorm Nemo hit on Friday

Three weeks into the spring semester and guess what? A major snowstorm, called snowstorm Nemo, has already hit and my college had to shut down operations. Yes, I definitely enjoyed the lazy day thoroughly, but the cold? Not so much.

I was a spring admit, so I got to America towards the end of December last year. However, since 2011 was such a mild winter, I really did not get to experience the New England weather that everyone kept talking about. Yes, it did snow. And yes, it was a very new experience for me. However, for the most part the cold was bearable, and I was just about fine with how the semester went.

This year I got to experience the full force of the snow. You can see how deep it was.

This year turned out to be a very different experience though. The very day I got back from my winter break, which I spent further south in Washington, D.C.,, I found myself very much under-dressed for the cold that had hit New England. The first week of classes turned out to be a disaster with the temperature falling as low as one degree on one of the days. Classes were not cancelled (people here are used to it) and I was left with no other option but to trudge in the cold.

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Nhat Describes Why Celebrating the Lunar New Year in America Just Isn’t the Same

by Guest Post - Posts (71). Posted Sunday, February 10th, 2013 at 12:49 am

Around this time last year, Nicholas regaled us with tales of spending his first Lunar New Year in the U.S. – the reunion dinner his Asian friends cooked together, the traditions he taught his American friends, and why it wasn’t so bad to be away from home during the holiday. But Facebook fan Nhat had to disagree. There’s one important thing missing from new year celebrations in America, he wrote:

I would say the old tradition is essentially important. The new way is not so bad at all, but to me it can never replace the feeling of the old one.

Even though we can manage to have an old traditional way to celebrate new year in a foreign country with friends, it’s still not original. We still miss our family. The meaning of this Lunar New Year is family and friend reunion. I’ve been away from home, Vietnam, where most of my family live, and I dearly miss this moment of the year.

They do celebrate Lunar New Year here in the US, but something is still missing, family…

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10 Free Online Events for International Students: Feb. 10-16

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Saturday, February 9th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Maybe it’s the Lunar New Year that’s got the internet in a giving mood, or the loving glow of Valentine’s Day.  Either way, this week is jam-packed with webinars for anyone thinking of applying to a U.S. school.

As always, if you attend any of these events, report back and let us know what you learned! (Use the comments, the Facebook page or just email me – jstahl@voanews.com). And please share any online events you’ve found that we haven’t.

Coming up this week:

February 11

Kaplan: LSAT Personal Statement Workshop
9pm US eastern time
More details: http://www.kaptest.com/enroll/LSAT/online/events 

February 13

CollegeWeekLive: All Access Zone Virtual Fair
More details: http://www.collegeweeklive.com/en_CA/Guest/College-Events-February 

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To My Muslim Friends: Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into

by Mohammed Al-Suraih - Posts (5). Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Muslim students at Rutgers University in New Jersey (Photo: AP)

Muslim students at Rutgers University in New Jersey (Photo: AP)

When I started the process of applying to undergraduate schools in the United States, I never thought about whether America would be a welcoming place for a young Muslim student. I read articles that talked about the diverse America, the melting pot America, and the land of dreams America.

I had conversations with friends who were already studying at American institutions; they reassured me that there was nothing for me to worry about.

When I received my acceptance letter from the College of St. Scholastica, a Catholic school in a very small town in northern Minnesota, I did not even look up how many Muslims go to the school.

But maybe I should have looked for these answers. Muslims have a lot of differences from Christians. Like Jews, Muslims are not supposed to eat pork, and we can only eat Halal meat. Halal meat is meat slaughtered or prepared in the manner specified by Islamic law. Muslims do not drink alcohol at all. We also pray five times a day between sunrise and late evening, and must be cleaned and showered before each prayer.

If you are studying in the States right now, look around and see if your campus is warm and welcoming to Muslim students. Is there an Islamic center or a mosque? How about even just a small prayer room? Does your cafeteria know that Muslims do not eat pork? How many special dishes for Muslims do they make for every meal? Let me help you by mentioning some food that contains pork: pepperoni pizza, sausage, hot dogs, ham.
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6 Videos Explaining How to Get a Student Visa (One For Every Mood)

by Jessica Stahl - Posts (449). Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2013 at 12:00 am

In need of some advice about how to apply for your student visa? You’re in luck! Not only are there some great ones available on YouTube, but there’s one to match just about any mood.

There’s a video…

For when you need a bit of excitement in your life

For when you don’t

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