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6 of the Best Independent Coffee Shops in London’s City Centre


laptopcoffeeAs a student, there’s nothing better than finding a great spot where you can relax yet get inspired to do that mega exhausting essay. The library isn’t for everyone, so for those who struggle to get started on that crazy word count, many head to a nearby coffee shop to get started…and lap up the free wifi.

If you’re lucky enough to study in London, there are thousands of amazing coffee places at your disposal to get your work done along with your caffeine fix. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite central coffee spots as they’re near the major student flats in London at uk.urbanest.com and the other major student halls.

Look Mum No Hands!

The name was certainly enough to grab our attention, but it did make sense once we saw the bicycle repair shop that’s attached to the side. It’s not just full of cyclists, though! This is one loved by people of all ages as they offer lots of different dishes and drinks, from salads to full dinners.

Address: 49 Old Street, EC1V 9HX

Workshop Coffee Co

As well as this Marylebone branch, there’s also one in Clerkenwell, yet they’re extremely different. The Clerkenwell version is a bustling must-stop for locals and buzz, yet the Marylebone one seats just 14 people. This tiny hideaway is therefore perfect for those who crave peace and quiet while they work alongside a perfectly crafted coffee.

Address: 75 Wigmore Street, W1U 1QD

Foxcroft & Ginger

If your palette craves a more vintage taste, the Foxcroft & Ginger is a must just for the floral teacups alone! Take a peek at their delicious savory and sweet treats too, because, after all, what accompanies an essay better than a croissant?!

Address: 3 Berwick Street, W1F

Lantana

Enjoy a drink with a continental difference in this Australian coffee house. Students are always made to feel welcome in here as it’s so laid back and fresh, yet the coffee beans have certainly not been compromised. Their source for beans includes Brazil, Guatemala and Ethiopia so you know you’ll be getting a high quality brew, whether it’s a coffee or just a tea.

Address: 13 Charlotte Place, W1T

Timberyard Seven Dials

The Timberyard experts have done it again, opening a second shop to match their Shoreditch original, complete with the same charm (and wifi!) as the first. Each mug of tea comes with its own timer so you can always be assured you will have the perfect brew to go with your hard work. The cakes certainly aren’t bad, either!

Address: 7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9DL

Prufrock Coffee

Filled with the hustle and bustle of London commuting life during the weekdays, this idyllic coffee spot is a surprisingly relaxed haven when the weekend comes around. Situated on the quieter Leather Lane, this can be a good place to go if you seek a serene environment, yet fancy yourself as a bit of a coffee connoisseur as they brew the finest blends using the finest methods, including using the Chemex filter system.

Address: 23-25 Leather Lane, EC1N 7TE

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Finance 101: Paying for Your Study Abroad Trip to the U.S.


studyabroadThe prospect of studying overseas in the United States is certainly an exciting one for international students — but it’s also daunting. There’s a lot to figure out and take care of before you hop on the plane to America. One of the biggest items on that list is finances: You must set up a budget — and figure out where your money will come from — before you can make any other concrete plans. Read on for a few tips about what to budget for and how to ensure financial security during your study abroad trip to the U.S.

Research

It’s a good idea to first research the average cost of living in the areas where you’re considering going to school. The numbers can vary widely from state to state and city to city; the cost of living in, say, Ohio or Indiana is going to be far less than in New York or California. You might even find such a wide variance that it affects your decision about which school to attend.

Be practical and honest with yourself about how much you can truly afford; if your dream school is located in a particularly expensive city, you might have to accept that it’s out of your reach, and adjust your plan — and your dream — accordingly.

Plan

Once you’ve figured out the average cost of living in your adopted city, it’s time to start breaking down your individual expenses. Make a list of every possible thing you’ll have to pay for during your time in the U.S. It should look something like this:

You should also leave a little room in your budget for any unexpected expenses. You never know what might come up during your time abroad, and having a little cash to prepare for those contingencies — both good and bad — will surely come in handy.

Source

Once you’ve outlined your budget, your next task is to start figuring out where the money to cover all those expenses is going to come from. It’s crucial to start researching financial aid and scholarships early; it becomes far more difficult to obtain financial help from your chosen university after your arrival, so try to take care of these agenda items as soon as possible. There are often numerous scholarship options available for international students, so work with your school’s international student affairs office to find out where and how to apply.

Studying abroad is one of the best things you can do as a part of your overall college experience: You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture and community while still pursuing your academic goals. But before you ever leave your hometown, you must figure out how to finance your trip. The above steps will help lead you in the right direction so that you can make your overseas study dreams a reality.

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Be a Cheap Scholar While Studying Abroad


studyabroadmoneyMany people are smart enough to use their studies to travel and see the world. The common misconception, however, is that you need to have money if you want to study in another country. With the many opportunities being given to students and scholars by schools and other institutions, studying abroad is very possible. Add to that the things you can do to make international studying so much more affordable for yourself and you can create the perfect formula for an exciting adventure in a new country. Here are the top 5 things you can do lower your costs of studying abroad.

Get a Scholarship

The first thing you can do if you want to study abroad and do it within your means is to get outside help. You can apply for international scholarships such as scholarships offered by Diversity Abroad. They offer five $500 scholarships for fall and another five in the summer. The great thing about this scholarship is that it targets economically disadvantaged students who really want to study abroad. The list for requirements are available in their website and as long as you have the requirements you have a good chance of getting in.

Find Housing Close to Your School

The next thing to think about after you get approved for a scholarship would be to start looking for a place to live if living accommodations are not shouldered by the scholarship. There are many scholarships that offer housing allowances for its scholars but you have the option to choose the place where you want to live. Programs like these are ideal for anyone who wants to save since you can scour places that are inexpensive yet near the school where you live. An apartment that is within walking distance to the school can save you hundreds of dollars for cab or bus fare in the long run.

Cook Your Own Meals

Food is often one of the major areas most students tend to spend on. However, it would be severely impractical if you decide to eat out for the majority of your meals. You can save a lot if you simply cooked your own meals. Experts also recommend cooking meals by batches so you only need to reheat meals when you get home. This works well whether you are living alone or living with a group.

Make Friends with the Locals

The locals are the best people who can teach you the most efficient ways to buy, eat and spend in their city. Not only do you gain more friends during your stay, you are also creating an important support network for yourself who can help you adopt an efficient way of living in a new country. Once you know where the best and cheapest places to shop and eat are, sticking to a budget will not be so hard to do.

Stick to a Budget

Most scholarships give out allowances every month. It is important to know how much you are likely to spend each month on food, utilities and other needs and set aside money for those needs. You also need to set money aside for emergency situations. Budgeting may seem like a tedious task, but having a system allows you to look at how you spend the money that comes in so that at the end of the month, you can avoid wondering where all your money went.

Getting an education in another country is not really as hard as it sounds. There are many organizations and schools that offer attractive scholarships for students who love to experience how it is like to study in another country. Start scouring for scholarships now and be on your way to another academic adventure in a new country.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Ryan Ayers. He is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education. In this article, he offers financial tips to students studying abroad and aims to encourage further study through Norwich University Degrees for Diplomacy.

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So You Want to Be an Overseas Student Volunteer


volunteerStudying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to expand your horizons and travel the world while still pursuing your academic goals. Volunteering overseas offers the potential to help people outside your own community. But what if you decided to do both of those things at once? Like peanut butter and chocolate, popcorn and M&M’s®, or french fries and milk shakes, studying and volunteering abroad pair surprisingly well. If you’re considering volunteering during your study-abroad trip, read on for a few ideas on how to prepare.

Budget concerns

Before you get too far into your plans to volunteer as an international student, sit down and make a list of every possible expense you could have overseas. This might include items like

Once you have this list prepared, you can begin to create a budget. This will depend on numerous factors, including the amount of cash you have saved up beforehand, any monetary assistance you receive from your parents and your level of financial aid. Bear in mind that volunteering will take away from—or even eliminate—any time you might spend working at a paying job.

Decide where to give your time

Once you have your budget squared away, the next step is deciding where to volunteer. This might be contingent upon where you’re studying; teaching English to school children is a great option in South America, but not exactly necessary in English-speaking countries like Australia or Ireland. Look into options close to where you’ll be living in order to keep your commute time short, and try to consider how you can best give back to your adopted community.

Form follows function; volunteering follows education

Since you’ll be taking classes and volunteering, you might give some thought to finding a way to allow your volunteer work to supplement your education. For example, nursing students might apply to work with an organization like Nurses Without Borders to gain experience in the field, or pre-med students might volunteer with Doctors Without Borders or a similar organization. Students of archaeology might consider volunteering to help at a dig site.

Volunteering while studying abroad is a great way to make the most of your time overseas. Numerous considerations go into such a trip, and you must plan for every possible contingency. Do your research thoroughly before you ever set foot on a plane, and trust your instincts. You’re sure to enjoy a productive and memorable study-abroad trip—and, with any luck, your memories of it will be every bit as delicious as that handful of popcorn and M&Ms.

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5 Tips for Saving Money While Studying Abroad


studyabroadmoneyA life-changing study abroad trip can turn into a nightmare if your finances start running low or run out completely. It’s tempting to spend money on fine ethnic dining, a trip to the café every morning or buying expensive souvenirs for all your friends and family back home. But being smart about budgeting saves you from worrying about whether you’ll even have enough money to pay the baggage fee at the airport. Here are some tips for saving money while studying abroad.

1. Leave the cellphone at home

Most cellphones won’t work in other countries, anyway, and buying a cellphone abroad can get pretty expensive. Instead, take advantage of online communication. Email, blogging, social media and Skype are good alternatives – and they’re free. Skype, and even some email and social media sites, allow you to video chat with friends and family if you’re feeling homesick.

2. Walk whenever possible

There is no cheaper method of travel than walking. If you’re staying in a city, hoofing it is fairly easy and saves you money you would’ve spent on taxis or buses. Walking also lets you experience the country’s people and culture firsthand. Just make sure to pack a sturdy pair of walking shoes.

3. Eat cheaply

It’s okay to splurge on fine dining every once in a while, but eating at expensive restaurants every day will drain your finances. If possible, buy groceries from local stores or vendors and cook your own meals. When that’s not an option, eat at inexpensive restaurants, preferably those with student discounts, lunch and dinner specials.

4. Give yourself an allowance

Calculate your monthly expenses – including transportation, food, textbooks and entertainment – and withdraw the amount you’ll need each month. Don’t forget to withdraw a little more than needed in case of an emergency. This helps you keep track of your spending so it doesn’t get out of hand.

5. Safety first

It might not seem obvious, but staying safe while traveling is another way of saving money. Taking measures to hide your money and not wear expensive clothing or accessories makes you less likely to be robbed. Not jumping off that 20-foot cliff into the nearby lake reduces your chances of being rushed to the hospital. Being covered by an international student health insurance policy helps you avoid paying expensive hospital bills if you do decide to jump off said 20-foot cliff.

Being frugal while studying abroad is possible. Don’t let your trip abroad be ruined by making poor financial decisions. Make an effort to stick to your budget and take advantage of affordable or free activities, and you’ll be heading back to America with an intact bank account.

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4 Quick Pros and Cons of Studying at the University of London


Light Reading with Your Tea and Biscuits:UniversityofLondon

When the travel bug bites, some of the first fantasies that come to mind are exploring the Amazon Rainforest, worshipping at Hindu temples in India or running with the bulls in Spain. So, given all of these adventurous possibilities, why would anyone choose to go to the rainy U.K.? This is often one of the first reactions among students looking to study abroad and travel enthusiasts alike, but let’s look at some of the pros and cons of what the U.K. (specifically, the University of London) has to offer for travelers with a thirst for culture and adventure.

PRO: London is a burgeoning business hub

If you’re interested in becoming involved with the world of international business, London is an ideal destination for your specific professional pursuits. London offers virtually unlimited access to nearly 375 million European Union consumers, which naturally carries opportunities for developing experience and sharpening professional skills. London is the second largest financial capital in the world, home to more than 13,500 overseas companies from more than 90 countries and the base of over 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies.

CON: The weather can be a drag

Let’s face it: If you’re in London, you’ll probably experience some rain. This might be annoying at first, but after a while you’ll get used to it. In fact, it may even start to become part of the city’s charm. Remember to forget your umbrella some days to experience London like a true native.

PRO: You’ll be welcomed with open arms

It can be tough for international students to adjust to a new overseas culture, and that’s why the University of London strives to make overseas students feel as welcome as possible. Students are encouraged to take advantage of on-campus accommodation, which includes a modern, single-student bedroom with a shared kitchen and bathroom. International students are fully integrated in the classroom and outside of it with both UK students and the 200+ study abroad students the university draws in each semester.

CON: London is expensive

Good things in life don’t come cheap, and London is one of them. This land of opportunity for international students comes at a pretty high price tag—and that’s without the daunting conversion rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound. The cost of living in London is even 10 percent higher than the cost of living in New York, which might put a dent in the savings of many American students.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether London is the right city for your study abroad trip. Although everyone will approach these problems and benefits in a unique way, one non-negotiable factor of studying in England is the need for insurance for studying abroad in the U.K. It might add an extra minor expense before your trip, but it could end up preventing a major one throughout your stay.

Study abroad isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience, so be sure to give this decision a lot of thought before committing to our friends across the pond. Regardless of your destination, a study abroad trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will teach you far more than you could ever learn in a domestic classroom.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article is provided by Kristine Esser. She enjoys writing about study abroad opportunities for college students.

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College Admissions – Opportunities to Engage Abroad


studyabroadmoneyWith college admissions rates dropping across the board, today’s college applicants are looking for ways to diversity their applications and land a coveted spot at one of the top schools on their list. Likewise, college admissions committees faced with thousands of student portfolios are looking for ways to narrow down a pool of applicants. Volunteer experience, especially volunteer abroad experience, is one such way that you can stand out from the crowd.

Why Volunteering Works

Volunteering teaches life and leadership skills, including interpersonal skills, written and oral communication, public speaking, team building and group management, and time management. Travel volunteer experiences allow you to get to know another culture and perhaps even practice foreign language skills. All of this adds up to a college admissions candidate who is caring, well-socialized and on the path to becoming a leader. This is exactly the type of student that colleges want! Students who serve abroad have demonstrated that they are willing and able to step outside of their comfort zone and have new experiences.

Translating Experiences Back Home

While you obviously gain plenty of life experience on a short-term volunteer abroad opportunity, the learning isn’t something that has to end back home. In fact, you may be a more impressive candidate if the service learning doesn’t end when you return home. Volunteer organization Do Something published a 2011 study revealing that admissions committees look particularly favorable on students who had a memorable volunteer experience abroad and were able to translate that experience into something back home. So if you particularly enjoyed teaching children to read in Ethiopia, you may find fulfillment back home by becoming involved in literacy tutoring or with new immigrant programs. You’re taking the interests and service learning skills from your travel experience and incorporating them into your everyday life. In short, you have a passion for this type of service, and you are demonstrating it.

Likewise, if you take steps before you leave to gain skills related to your volunteering abroad, this will impress college admissions committees. For example, you may take six months of Spanish language classes or become involved in academic tutoring in your school, with the goal of traveling on a service learning program and using these skills to serve internationally.

Demonstrating Experience in a College Application

While you may have experience in student government, extracurricular clubs, international volunteering and volunteering at home, college committees want to see more than a laundry list of student service. The key to selling service learning in the application is communicating the depth and the meaning of the experience. Committees want to see that an experience was meaningful to you on a personal level, and not just an obligation. Since many high schools have a community service requirement as part of graduation, taking the time to communicate the personal tie to the experience is key. A teacher, parent or even a friend can help you craft a strong personal essay that explains how your volunteer abroad opportunity has transformed and enriched your life, and how you plan to continue your passion in college.

Financial Benefits of Studying Abroad

An additionally, more practical positive application of studying aboard is the inherent savings and academic reward you will receive. Below are some interesting statistics taken from Indiana University in a study they did on those who study aboard:

  • Using the entering cohort from 1999, 95.3% of students who studied abroad graduated within 6 years as compared to 68.5% of students who did not study abroad.
  • Study abroad students earned higher grades and completed degrees in four years at a higher rate than their peers.
  • The average study abroad student earned a cumulative GPA of 3.21 compared to 3.12 for peers who didn’t study abroad.
  • Study abroad students had a probably of .91 of completing a bachelor’s degree in four years compared to .84 for peers.

Completely school faster with better grades will work towards higher-income out of college and lower student debt. That, coupled with the invaluable experience, is a total win.

Plan ahead when looking for volunteer opportunities to select the right opportunity to meet your personal goals and impress college admissions officers. Choose something about which you are truly excited. There are so many interesting and unique ways to serve that you don’t need to volunteer somewhere just because you think it will look good on an application. A successful service learning trip will be something that is first and foremost meaningful to you, then geared toward resumes or college admissions second.

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10 Colleges with the Highest Rate of Study Abroad Programs


studyabroadA Campus of Another Country

At one time not so very long ago, the usual college student’s exposure to other cultures consisted of a requirement to take either Music History or Art History. Most college students also informally counted frequent meals of pizza and exposure to foreign beers as a more popular and entertaining form of cultural exposure.

Now, however, it seems that nearly every four-year college or university offers at least an abbreviated overseas class to be taken either between or during regular semesters. It has become the norm for many college students to spend a semester or even an entire academic year studying in a foreign country, adapting to cultural mores, learning the language and gaining a far greater understanding of the world than could be picked up in a domestic classroom.

The Lessons Students Learn

Among the first lessons students learn as they prepare for their overseas educational journeys is that of bureaucracy. Passports must be located, reported as lost or applied for in the first place. Student visas must be obtained from the countries in which the students will study and a study abroad insurance policy will need to be purchased for any required medical care while abroad. Depending upon the country, immunizations and prescription medication may be required to help protect students from indigenous diseases. Only after all these details are completed can a student put down his book bag and take a good look around.

Academic Communities That Encourage Studying Abroad

According to an article by Kelsey Sheehy on the “U.S. News & World Report” online magazine website, around 23 percent of college students reported a study abroad experience at some point during their four or five year undergraduate quest. Sheehy’s top 10 list of schools with the highest proportion of undergraduate foreign study includes two schools that absolutely require satisfactory completion of a class taken abroad to be awarded a baccalaureate degree. The last two schools on the list reported identical rates of 70 percent of students having taken some coursework abroad at some time during their college experience.

As identified by Sheehy’s article, the schools and their reported rates of undergraduate participation are as follows:

  1. Goucher College in Maryland, 100 percent
  2. Soka University of America in California, 100 percent
  3. Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, 94 percent
  4. Loyola University of Maryland, 84 percent
  5. Kalamazoo College of Michigan, 82 percent
  6. Centre College of Kentucky, 80 percent
  7. Bethel University of Minnesota, 75 percent
  8. Elon University of North Carolina, 71 percent
  9. Carleton College of Minnesota, 70 percent
  10. University of Denver in Colorado, 70 percent

Long-Term Benefits

A recent study by IES Abroad, a nonprofit organization that provides study abroad programs for U.S. students, revealed that graduates of the group’s programs pull in an average of $7,000 more each year in their starting salaries than students who never studied abroad. Studying abroad is indeed beneficial in the long-term, giving graduates an edge when it comes to scoring better and higher-paying job opportunities after college. This can help to justify some of the up-front expense of a study abroad trip; even though it might cost a bit more up front than a typical semester or year Stateside, the benefit of traveling the world as a student will pay off in the form of salary gains down the line.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article is provided by Kristine Esser. She enjoys writing about study abroad opportunities for college students.

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