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  • Nutrition tips for (future) student athletes

    If you would like to be a student athlete, it means you will have busy schedules filled with classes, training sessions and competitions all the time. The demands of this dual life-style make it even more difficult to stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan. But staying fuelled is essential and is the key to success in the classroom as well as on the field. As a student athlete you will have all the resources to eat well - meal plans usually allow you to eat as much as you like and you won't need to do your dishes! After you finish a gruelling training session you and your teammates will go together to the cafeteria. You can eat whatever you fancy but sometimes you will have to be careful what you choose. Today we would like to share the 5 most important nutrition tips with you to help you prepare for your future student athlete life! Nutrition tips for student athletes Never skip breakfast! One of the most common nutrition mistakes people and many student athletes make is not eating breakfast. Leaving the house without having breakfast will make you feel tired and exhausted. Not to mention it will have a serious effect on your athletic performance! A good balance of carbs and protein is the best to take in the morning, so you kick-start your metabolism and the day feeling energised! Moreover research has shown that college students eating breakfast achieve better grades. So if you would like to perform well academically and athletically make sure you grab something for breakfast in the morning! Stay hydrated and drink water! You probably heard your coach telling you a hundred times how your water consumption is very important during training and competition time. However we cannot emphasise its importance enough! The body of an average adult consists of 60% water which drops quickly during a heavy training due to sweating. If you are dehydrated, your athletic performance declines, your body temperature goes up and you may have headaches and muscle cramps. Always make sure you are in your best shape, try to plan how you hydrate yourself during the day! Women should drink 2.7 liters of fluids a day while men should drink 3.7 liters to keep their metabolism flowing. So take a bottle of water with you all the time no matter where you go! Have a balanced and varied diet! Another common dietary issue is eating the same meals over and over again on a weekly basis. Having a plain and unvaried diet is not only boring but results in depriving your body of some essential nutrients. If you are going for a meal plan in your college or university, always make sure you choose something new. Try to fill your plate with lots of fresh vegetables and unprocessed food as much as you can. In general, limit foods with added sugar and saturated fats; you should rather stick to lean proteins and whole-grain carbohydrates instead. Eat frequently and pack some healthy snacks! One thing you have to make sure is that you eat multiple times during the day. This way you will not feel hungry all the time and you won’t be binge eating late at night. It is handy to have a couple of healthy snacks to pack next to your water bottle in your backpack when you go to school. Think about having a banana or apple, cereal bar, nuts or dried fruits on the go. If you don’t eat frequently your blood sugar level drops and you will not have the energy to perform to your maximum potential. Post-workout recovery and rest Intense training is exhausting your body so you have to eat carbs and protein to recover your muscles and energy level. Utilise your “window of opportunity” (usually 15-45 minutes after your workout) when nutrients are absorbed more efficiently. Also think about getting enough sleep, 6-8 hours a day to ensure proper recovery.

    29 June 2017
  • How to Prepare for Your F1 Student Visa Interview

    So, you’ve finished the entire student visa application process, including the affidavit of support and gotten your I-20 form from the school.  The next steps towards studying in the United States as an international student is the F1 student visa interview.  While it is highly unlikely that a genuine student with financial means to study in the United States would fail the F1 visa interview, it is still important that you prepare for it.  Here is what you need to know to make sure your interview goes off without a hitch and you get your student visa.   What to Bring to Your F1 Student Visa Interview There are certain documents you absolutely must bring with you to your student visa interview.  If you don’t bring these, you will  fail your interview! Required documents for your student visa interview include: A valid passport; must be valid for at least 6 months after you plan to enter the USA Non-immigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160 (you can print the confirmation page online) Receipt of your application payment Receipt of your I-901 SEVIS fee payment Two passport photos (see photo requirements) Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status, Form 1-20 (issued by the school where you will enroll The visa interviewer may also ask to see other documents.  While they aren’t required, make sure you are prepared and bring: Letter of acceptance from the college Academic transcripts Any degrees or certificates you have Standardized test scores TOEFL scores (if English is not your native language) Documents which prove your income or ability to pay for college. Examples of these documents include: Your scholarship offer (if you received a scholarship), letters from your parents’ employers explaining what they do, bank statements, letters from the bank saying how long the account has been open.   Reasons You Might Fail Your Student Visa Interview If you aren’t prepared for your student visa interview, you could fail!  You can always request another interview.  However, it is best to avoid this and pass the interview the first time around.    There are three main reasons why you might fail your visa interview.   Reason 1.  You Seem Like an Immigrant, Not a Student The number one reason that people fail their F1 visa interview is because the interviewer doesn’t believe they intend on returning to their home country after completing their studies.  So, that would make you an immigrant, not a student. The visa interviewer will ask you specific questions about what you plan on doing after you finish the school program in the USA.  Be clear that you intend on returning to your home country!  Talk about specific plans you have for your future career – making sure to mention the town/city where you want to enact those plans. For example, if you dream about opening a physical therapy facility after finishing school, be sure to mention that you dream of opening it in XYZ city in your home country! But what if you aren’t sure of what you want to do after college? Remember that having a degree from a USA college can greatly improve your chances of getting a good job offer in your home country.  Mention that employers in your home country look for people with experience living abroad, especially from reputable colleges, and that having a degree from a USA college will greatly improve your employability at home.   Reason 2: They Don’t Believe that You Can Afford to Live and Study in the USA You must be able to prove that you or a sponsor has enough money to cover the costs of living in the USA as well as the costs of the school program. In many cases, your studies will be sponsored by your parents.  If your studies are being sponsored by someone who is not a parent or guardian, then you have to show why that person would sponsor you.   For example, in this case here, an Ethiopian man was denied his student visa because his sponsor was a “brother of my aunt’s husband.”  It seemed suspicious that such a distant relative would agree to be a sponsor. Do ample research on how much studying in the USA will cost (including costs of housing, food, transportation, travel, and healthcare).  Compile all of these costs in a spreadsheet (as well as information about how you calculated the costs, such as links to real estate websites or cost-of-living websites).   By showing this spreadsheet to the visa interviewer, you will show that you have carefully considered all of the costs of living and studying in the USA. The visa interviewer will want to see proof that you can cover those costs.  Contrary to common believe, having a huge lump sum in the bank is NOT always sufficient proof of financial support.    The visa interviewer is more interested in whether you have a STABLE source of funds. In addition to bank statements, consider bringing to the interview: A letter from the bank stating how long the bank account has been open and what the average account balance has been. A letter from your sponsors’ employers stating how long they have been employed there and what their position is.   Reason 3: You Don’t Seem Like a Genuine Student One of the questions which you will likely be asked at the visa interview is: “How many colleges did you apply to?”.  You will also be asked many detailed questions about why you applied to those colleges, the courses, and even the names of the professors at the college. If you only applied to one college, you won’t seem like a serious student.   However, if you really only did apply to one college, have a good explanation why.  Do not lie and say you applied to other colleges if you actually did not! Additionally, you must be able to prove that you are a serious student who will likely succeed at school in the USA.  Prepare to prove this by showing your academic transcripts. Plus any degrees or certificates you have, test scores, and TOEFL scores (for non-native English speakers).   Example F1 Visa Interview Questions Also, the visa interviewer will ask you a variety of questions related to your study plans, your ability to support yourself financially, your family and relatives, work, and future plans. Remember to answer each question as specifically as possible.  However, keep your answers clear and concise.  The interviewer doesn’t need your entire life story! Here are some great webpages with sample interview questions.  Read through them, prepare your answers, and REHEARSE!  Sample Visa interview questions from Immihelp 65 Sample Visa interview questions from Happyschools Sample Visa interview questions and answers from US Visa Talk   Final Tips for a Successful Student Visa Interview Finally, remember that first impressions matter!  Dress appropriately for the interview by wearing dressier clothes. Have all of your documents clearly organized, and rehearse your answers so no question takes you by surprise.  If you take all of the steps to prepare for your interview, you’ll have no reason to be nervous and it should go off without a hitch.

    29 June 2017
  • Complete Guide to TOEFL for Studying in the USA

    TOEFL stands for “Test of English as a Foreign Language." If English is not your native language and you want to go to college in the United States, then chances are you will need to take the TOEFL test.  Here is everything you need to know about TOEFL to get you started.   Do I Need to Take TOEFL? Most colleges require foreign students to take TOEFL in order to be considered for admission.  If you are from a country which speaks English (such as the UK, Australia, Canada, or New Zealand), then you won’t have to take TOEFL. However, most colleges will also waive the TOEFL requirement in certain situations.  For example, if you have already gone to school in the USA or have a very high verbal SAT score, then you may not need to take TOEFL.  You’ll have to check with the college to find out what their requirements are.   What Is the Difference between TOEFL PBT and TOEFL iBT? There are two types of TOEFL tests you can take: TOEFL PBT (Paper Based Test) TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test) The structure and grading system of these tests are completely different.  Note that the Paper Based Test is the original test.  Many colleges in the USA only accept TOEFL PBT!   However, the PBT test is slowly being phased out. *Before taking the TOEFL test, see which version is accepted by the colleges you intend on applying to!   TOEFL PBT Measures listening, grammar, reading, and writing Takes approximately 3 ½ hours to complete Given at test centers where iBT test is not available Score scale 310-677 TOEFL iBT Administered via the internet Takes approximately 4 hours to complete Measures reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills Given at online testing centers Score scale 0-120 You can read a detailed account of the differences between the TOEFL PBT and iBT here.   What TOEFL Score Is Required By Colleges in the USA? The required TOEFL score varies depending on the college or university.  Here are some examples of TOEFL requirements. You’ll see that most schools require a minimum TOEFL PBT score of 500 to 600 and a TOEFL iBT score of 61-100.   TOEFL PBT Test Score Requirements Arizona State University: 500-550 Boston University: 550-600 California Institute of Technology: 600 Columbia University: 600 Georgetown University: 600 Harvard University: 600 Indiana State University: 500 Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 577 University of Colorado – Denver: 525   TOEFL iBT Test Score Requirements University of Arizona: 61 Boston University: 100 Columbia University: 100 Georgetown University: 100 Harvard University: 100 Indiana State University: 61-80 Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 90 University of Colorado – Denver: 71   How Long Are TOEFL Scores Valid? Your TOEFL scores remain valid for 2 years after you took the test.  After this timeframe, you will need to retake the test if you need it to apply for college.   What If I Don't Do Well on the TOEFL Test? If you don’t do well enough on the TOEFL test to meet the minimum requirements of your chosen colleges, then you can choose to “cancel” the scores.  You can also request (for a fee) for your TOEFL test to be reviewed.  You can find more information about canceling and reviewing TOEFL scores here.   Can I Retake the TOEFL Test? Yes, you can retake the TOEFL test as many times as you want.  However, you can not retake the test more than 1 time in a 12-day period.   How Much Does the TOEFL Test Cost? Note that, even if your English is fluent, you should still take a TOEFL practice test.  You can find some free practice TOELF tests online, but most require you to pay for them.  You'll probably want to get some TOEFL practice books.  So, be sure to factor in these costs as well! As for the actual TOEFL test costs, the registration fee will vary depending on your country.   The TOEFL costs include registration and sending the scores to 4 institutions. Here is a breakdown of how much you can expect the TOEFL test to cost: TOEFL iBT: $160 to $250, depending on location TOEFL PBT: $160 (same cost at all locations) Additional Score Reports, Per Institution: $17 Where Can I Take the TOEFL Test? The TOEFL test must be taken at approved testing centers.  You will have to search online to find out where the nearest testing center is and what testing dates are available. TOEFL Tips Even if your English is “perfect,” the TOEFL test can still be difficult in parts.  Make sure you take some time to do practice TOEFL tests and be sure you understand each of the sections before you sit for the real test. Schedule your TOEFL test in advance in case you need to retake the test.  If you don’t do well on your first TOELF test, you want to make sure you have time to retake it!

    29 June 2017
  • What is the I-20 Form?

    You’ve finished with all of the applications and have been accepted to a college in the United States.  As a foreign student, you are required to submit certain forms in order to get your student visa.   One of these is the I-20 form.   What is the I-20 Form? In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security is in charge of keeping track of foreigners in the country.  They have a specific department in charge of keeping tabs on students.  This department is known as SEVP – or the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.   SEVP uses a system called SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) to keep track of foreign students in the country. The I-20, also known as Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, is basically a paper version of the SEVIS record.   As a foreign student, you will need to present the I-20 form in certain situations and update it as required. Who Needs a Form I-20? The form I-20 is only for F-1, F-2, M-1, and M-2 statuses. F-1 Status: For students who attend an academic or English-language program in the USA. F-2 Status: This is for dependents (children, spouses) of an F-1 visa holder. M-1 Status: For students who attend a vocational or technical school. M-2 Status: This is for dependents of the M-1 visa holder. If you are in the United States on another visa and decide to study, you do not need to get an I-20 form.  Your current visa status is adequate.   How Can I Get an I-20 Form? After getting preliminary acceptance to a certified school in the United States, you will be given an Affidavit of Support form to fill out.  Note that some schools call the form something different, like Undergraduate Sponsor Statement.  On the form, you will need to provide proof that you or your sponsor (which is probably your parents) have enough funds to cover the costs of your stay in the United States.   This typically means that you will need to get an official statement from your bank. After submitting the Affidavit of Support form, the school will review it.  If you are approved, they will give you a form I-20.   When Do I Need the I-20 Form? The I-20 form is very important and you will need it for various things, including: When paying your I-901 SEVIS fee At your visa application interview When entering the United States for the first time If you travel abroad (you need it to re-enter the US!) When applying for a driver’s license in the US During the hiring process for a job   How Long Is My I-20 Valid? Your I-20 form will list the date when your studies are to begin.  You may enter the United States up to 30 days before this date. When you enter the United States, you will be given a Form I-94.  This form will have an expiration date on it, or “D/S” (Duration of Status).  The expiration date will be the date your I-20 form indicates that the program will end. At this point, you will lose your student visa status and must leave the United States within 60 days.   What if I Lose My I-20 Form? If you lose your I-20 form, you can request a new one from the school.  However, it can take a few weeks for it to arrive.  This can be very problematic if you lose the I-20 form outside of the USA.  For example, if you lose your I-20 form while visiting family in your home country during school break, you won’t be able to re-enter the United States until you get your I-20 form.  You could end up missing classes while waiting for your new I-20 form to arrive!   When Do I Need a New I-20 Form? There are two situations when you will need to get a new I-20 form: When SEVIS makes changes to the I-20 form When your student status changes For example, SEVIS may request new information.  If this happens, then your school will issue you a new I-20 form. Or, you might decide to change schools, switch from a full-time to part-time student, or take a leave of absence from school.  All of these are considered a change of your status and you’ll have to update your I-20.  You can get a new I-20 from the school. Make sure you keep ALL of your I-20 forms.  You will only need to show the most recent version though, such as when traveling or applying for a driver’s license.  

    29 June 2017
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