Differences When Living Abroad



Whether it be for study abroad, for work experience, or for any other reason at all, moving abroad can be both an extremely stressful and exciting opportunity in life. Once abroad you will find that many things are different and that some things that to you seem small and insignificant could be a big deal in another country. Here are five things you learn when moving abroad.

What Things Are Worth Can Be Different


Things cost different amounts in different countries but the changes can be a lot more drastic than expected, especially if you are moving from a country with high costs like the U.S.A to a country such as Greece where the economy is struggling and prices are relatively low. It is a good idea to check conversion rates and the cost of living in the country that you are moving to in order to figure out how much you will need to spend.

People May Judge You


Although everyone likes to think that they don’t have any predispositions towards other races, everyone has their own stereotypes and views of different cultures and races. It will be different being in a foreign country where people are not the same as you, and you are likely to be seen as different and judged based on where you are from. The liability of foreignness is a concept that says that being foreign is a liability in another country based on cultural views of what it means to be a native.

Other Cultures Aren’t Always as They Seem


As mentioned in the previous point, you may have predispositions towards other races when going abroad. However, it is often nice to see that some of these can be completely wrong and may catch you by surprise. Although some cultural tendencies and stereotypes may come from a true place, it is important to keep an open mind as you never know how people may behave.

Actions that Seem Trivial May Not Be So


Things that may seem small in one country, may have a much greater level of importance in others. In Europe and many other countries, check kissing upon greeting is very normalized. The amount of kisses varies from country to country and even within countries. However, this action within the United States would often be seen as an unwarranted familiarity that is inappropriate.

Things Can Mean Something Completely Different


Signs, phrases, and actions in one country that are deemed appropriate may be completely inappropriate in others. One example of this is gift giving in India. In the United States there are not many real rules to gift giving, but if you hand somebody a gift in India, it can be seen as dirty as that is said to be the hand you use when utilizing the bathroom. The backwards peace sign in the US also means relatively nothing but is a extremely rude gesture in the United Kingdom.

There are a lot of things that might surprise you when living abroad, so do some research on the country and culture to be prepared!

HOW TO: Study Groups


studygroups1Utilizing the “study group” can make or break your semester grades. Although generally college students aren’t a fan of “group” stuff (such as work, projects or presentations), the “study group” is the unique situation in which students, like yourself, may actually find more helpful than harmful.

Step 1: Find a Study Group – if you can’t find one, make one. Email the people in your class (who you can find on a class website or in class). Find people who can work with a similar schedule to your own and then schedule.

Step 2: Meet up – Find a place to meet that is central or well known. Also, if you are expecting a lot of people, make sure you meet in a place that has the capacity for that amount of people (don’t meet up in the library if you are expecting 20 people to show up)!

Step 3: Get people’s names and emails – Make a list, with people’s names, emails and numbers so that they can be contacted. A good way to do this is to use Google forms and send it out asking for this information.

Step 4: Get Studying! – Once you have a list of people’s names and numbers, rather than complaining about the class, or discussing how much you hated what the dining hall served for dinner you should get down to business. People have lots of work to do and other classes so try to be as productive and efficient as you can.

Step 5: Get Notes – If you’ve missed class or don’t understand something a study group is the PERFECT time to get this information. Your classmates might understand better than you did and you will be able to discuss information until you do understand it.

Step 6: Wrap Up – Don’t spend longer than 2 hours (unless studying for a test or midterm, in which case take a break after 2 hours) in a study group. 2 hours is a good block of time that you can get through information, but with reasonable amount of other time so that people can hope to get to there other homework as well.

Study groups are a good place to discuss, understand, and organize information from class and lecture. If you bounce information off other students in the class, you’ll likely do better in the class yourself!

Healthy Studying Habits


We all know how important it is to spend time studying, but how effectively are you spending that time? If you aren’t using healthy studying habits, your time could be wasted. Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your study break.

 Keep Highlighters Handy


Sometimes you don’t have time to rewrite what you’ve read in a summarized form. This is when highlighters come in handy. Having at least two different colored highlighters on hand while studying can make note taking faster, more efficient and allow you to color code as an added bonus.

Master Skimming Readings


Knowing how to skim a reading can be very useful during exam time. You should read the material thoroughly the first time of course, but when you ready to review the reading, it’s better to have a quick summary to recall facts. One way to do this is to read the introduction paragraph, the first and last sentences of each body paragraph, then the concluding paragraph. This should give you a broad overview of the reading and remind you of what you have already read as a whole.

Keep Neat Notes


It’s important to keep your notes neat and readable, otherwise they can be next to useless as it will take you longer to decipher your notes than it would have taken to reread everything. If you must write quickly to keep up during lectures (who doesn’t?) then try setting aside time later on to re-write your notes legibly. It will pay off in the long run.

Be Alert


Pay attention to what times during the day you feel the most energized and motivated. Try to tailor your study sessions to these times during the day. Nothing is worse than trying to study with drooping eyelids! Plus, you probably won’t remember anything you read while you were tired anyway.

What are your sure-fire study tips? Let us know in the comments below!

eTextbooks May Save Money But Not Necessarily Time


Recently at we conducted a survey to find out reasons why students might purchase an eTextbook over a traditional one. With this growing textbook trend we were curious to know what factors were going into student’s decision making. Our findings showed that “lower price” outweighed both “instant access” and “portability.” This is an interesting find because textbook rental is still the most cost effective way to get a textbook. Although students found eTextbooks to be a money-saving option, they may not be the time-saver many assume them to be. Survey results show nearly half of all respondents saved only one hour or less per week by using eTextbooks. has seen a gradual increase in eTextbook popularity since they were first introduced a few years ago. now carries more than 100,000 eTextbook titles on its site all available for instant access. Typically, an eTextbook can save students anywhere from 20 to 35 percent off of the list price of the physical textbook which is very attractive to most college students. Another feature that students enjoy about eTextbooks is the ability to take notes and highlight, or copy and paste text and print pages. When asked students participants found the “search” feature to be the overall favorite, followed by “highlighting” and “copy/paste.” Everyone knows that college students are all about saving money when it comes to school, so it is no surprise they value the lowest priced option for textbooks.

Read full press release and view infographic.

The Caffeinated Campus


When we think of military-grade performance enhancers, secret trials in the desert come to mind, cover-ups, and maybe a sprinkle of spooky side effects, but you might be surprised to learn that the focus of cognitive enhancement studies for soldiers is none other than caffeine!  As college students, how can we use this knowledge to our advantage?

A quick survey of classmates and coworkers revealed an astonishing discovery—most people don’t consume caffeine regularly.   The aversion to drinking caffeine regularly is logical in the sense that you might think that when you really need it, say during finals, your pinch hitter will be out of the game with a sore shoulder.  Furthermore, caffeine is rightly labeled a drug, and as such has side effects and warnings.  Perhaps illogically, these same students had no problem chugging down Four Lokos like it was a gift from the party gods, but in our defense, college is about honing our decision-making skills, right?

If this is your worry, and I suspect it’s a common one (our parent’s generation tended to be leery of long-term OTC therapy), a little information can help you gauge how effective your caffeine usage is.

First: Know your target effect.

You want to feel alert, focused, and faster than normal.  If it were a “this is your brain on drugs” commercial, there would be a hyper-focused squirrel in the frying pan.  Caffeine is called a “stimulant” but it’s actually an antagonist–it blocks the adenosine receptor from receiving signals of tiredness and blocking up neural pathways.  Of course, too much caffeine and the results go haywire as too many pathways are opened up, leading to stress and confusion.

Second: Dose effectively.

From a New York Magazine article: “Women generally metabolize caffeine faster than men. Smokers process it twice as quickly as nonsmokers do. Women taking birth-control pills metabolize it at perhaps one-third the rate that women not on the Pill do. Asians may do so more slowly than people of other races.” In The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug, authors Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer hypothesize that a nonsmoking Japanese man drinking his coffee with an alcoholic beverage—another slowing agent—would likely feel caffeinated “about five times longer than an Englishwoman who smoked cigarettes but did not drink or use oral contraceptives.”

The second consideration is timing.  Research supports small, measured doses throughout the day rather than large amounts all at once that lead to a rollercoaster effect of peaks and dips in energy.  Those soldiers I mentioned chew caffeinated gum with small doses all night long, a technique researchers say could help civilians as well, if caffeine weren’t the cultural phenomenon it were.  Going out for caffeinated gum doesn’t have the same dating possibilities.

Third:  Get some sleep.

The rule of thumb to not drink caffeine after midnight drives me crazy.  Not one adult that I know has trouble falling asleep after a cup of coffee after dinner.  Trust your gut and use your common sense.  One-size-fits-all is nearly always a misnomer.


I’m reading Precalculus with Limits: A Graphing Approach