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Top Free Apps for Students

Be it eating, sleeping or studying, we’re always looking for ways to make our time as a student quicker, easier and more interesting. Luckily we’ve found the perfect list of apps for students.

Alarmy

A lot of students struggle to wake up for their early morning lectures at the best of times, and this is only made harder when battling against jetlag. Alarmy is a free app that forces you to wake up with challenges. Your alarm will not turn off unless you solve a maths puzzle, shake your phone 40 times, take a picture of your sink, the list goes on. Select your challenge, set your alarm. The idea is that by the time you have completed your challenge you will not be feeling super sleepy anymore.

Once you turn your alarm off, Alarmy opens a dashboard where you can read your daily horoscope, read the news, and see the weather for the day. This is such a fantastic free app and we think that every single student should download it. Find out more.

Google Translate

Everyone knows about Google Translate, but do they know what it has become. Instead of just typing in what you want to say, you can speak or handwrite. There is a conversation mode specifically designed for chatting to someone, and it saves what you say so that you can look back over the conversation. You can save set phrases and translations to use offline. Find out more.

Tasty

Tasty is an app created by Buzzfeed, and it is the best recipe app out there. There are thousands of recipes, which can be searched by diet (vegan, gluten-free, etc) and difficulty. There are very clear step-by-step instructions, with overhead videos to make it even more simple! There is something on there for everyone; from recipes for beginners to Michelin-star chefs showing off their recipes for those who want to develop their skills. Find out more.

DuoLingo

Duolingo makes learning a language fun and simple. It is a free app, which has an abundance of languages to choose from. It has games and rewards! It jumps between testing your reading, speaking, and listening skills in order to keep it interesting and help you become a well-rounded learner. You can have more than one language on the go! Find out more.

SoundNote

This is only available for iPad, but we had to put it on the list as it is soooo helpful! You can record the whole lecture, take notes as you go, and draw diagrams. These are perfect for revising as you will never miss something important again! Find out more.

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Australia – Essential Guide for International Students

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International students researching their options for study are faced with numerous – often confusing – options and factors to consider. Is the climate right for me? Do I want to live in a Central Business District or a coastal area? Which territory do I want to study in – Western Australia, Queensland or even the Australian Capital Territory? We’re here to help you answer such questions, and ensure that the process of choosing a path for study is smoother and more intuitive for students, parents and counsellors alike.

This guide will prepare all international students for living and learning in Australia. Find out everything you need to know about studying down under such as living costs, student visas, top universities, things to do and much more. Let’s start with the basics.

General Information

Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD) (1.45 AUD to every 1 USD)

Language: English

Capital: Canberra

Population: 25,399,300

Geography: South of East Asia

Annual Costs (approx.)

Study Australia predicts that your 12-month costs will be:

Undergraduate Bachelor Degree (AUD): 20,000 – 45,000

Postgraduate Masters Degree (AUD): 22,000 – 50,000

Cost of Living (AUD): 21,041

Total (USD): 42,093

Want to know more? Use this Cost of Living Calculator to work out how much money you’ll need for your accommodation, transport, food and lifestyle.

Top Universities

According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, these are the top 5 universities in Australia.

  1. University of Melbourne – Melbourne
  2. = Australian National University – Canberra
  3. = The University of Queensland – Brisbane
  4. Monash University – Melbourne
  5. University of Sydney – Sydney

Visas

If you want to visit Australia to explore or attend a university Open Day, you will need a visitor visa. This will allow you to look around your chosen universities and get a proper feel for what it’s like to live and learn in Australia. This is also an excellent opportunity to look for housing or visit different neighbourhoods to see what your options are for accommodation.

Once you apply for a place at university and are accepted onto a course, you can apply for a Subclass 500 Student Visa. This visa costs AUD630 and will allow you to study in Australia for the duration of your course, up to five years. It also allows you to work alongside your studies for a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight. To explore your options and for more information, visit the Australian Government website

Things you HAVE to do

  • Great Barrier Reef – Rent a scuba diving kit and prepare to be amazed by the Great Barrier Reef. It is insanely beautiful, vast, varied, and totally alien to anything else you would have ever seen. The perfect activity to do on your own or go exploring with your new friends.
  • The Great Ocean Road, Victoria – The road trip of a lifetime. Rent a car and drive along this 150-mile stretch. It’s a very popular activity and a must-do for any tourist hoping to make the most of their time in Australia.
  • Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory – Australia is known for its unique and amazing wildlife. Kakadu National Park is the home to so many different kinds of birds and reptiles found solely in Australia and the tours are very highly rated.
  • Red Centre, Northern Territory – The backdrop to so many Hollywood blockbusters, the Red centre embodies that classic Aussie outback. Let out your inner Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and take a hike around the beautiful red sands and rocks.
  • Bondi Beach – One of the world’s most famous beaches, and the epicentre of surfboarding. A beautiful beach surrounded by quiet secluded coves, white silky sand and clear blue sea.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge, New South Wales – Climb over the bridge for a fantastic view of one of the most iconic cities in the world. Going over at night promises a breathtaking view of the city with a light show.

Useful links:

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Why Study Marine Biology in Australia?

With the Great Barrier Reef on your doorstep and hundreds of opportunities to conduct your own marine research, Australia is one of the most exciting places to study marine biology. 

Why study Marine Biology? 

Marine biology (or marine science) is the study of aquatic life – the animals, plants and microorganisms that are found in our oceans. 

We can tell a lot about our world from what happens underwater. As a marine biology student, you’ll explore the impact of climate change on marine life such as rising water temperatures and rising sea levels. You’ll also study the impact of human actions on our sea life, such as overfishing and plastic pollution. 

By doing your own research, you can come up with new ways for us to protect our oceans and help to reverse the effects of climate change. This is a course for those who want to change the world. 

Why study Marine Biology in Australia?

On-campus courses

Australia has the benefit of being surrounded entirely by sea, and so there will be plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning. You’ll join a large community of students and academics from around the world that are conducting world-leading research. In Australia, you won’t be restricted to learning in a classroom. You can explore your course hands-on through regular diving trips and research cruises. 

Great Barrier Reef

Australia is home to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living thing! It’s 2,300km long and is made up of thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands. Home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 215 species of birds and 6 species of turtles, it’s the perfect place to live and learn about marine life. The closest state to the Great Barrier Reef is Queensland, so look into studying here if you’re particularly interested in diving. 

Save the turtles

Australia is home to many Turtle rescue centres. Here, turtles that are sick and hurt are taken care of until they are fit enough to return to the sea. This is an excellent opportunity to find volunteer work alongside your studies and get experience working with marine animals. 

Australia is the epicentre of Marine Biology

Australia boasts some of the world’s best marine biology courses. It’s also home to some of the biggest employment opportunities in the world. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, the best universities in Australia for geology, environmental, earth and marine sciences are:

  1. Australian National University
  2. University of Melbourne
  3. UNSW Sydney
  4. The University of Queensland
  5. Monash University
  6. University of Sydney
  7. University of Western Australia
  8. University of Adelaide
  9. University of Wollongong
  10. Curtin University

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Why Study Politics in the UK?

The UK has one of the longest and richest political histories on the planet, and so it is easy to see why there has always been a strong amount of students studying Politics degrees there. With Brexit and its many complexities, British Politics remains in the public eye.

Politics is drastically rising in popularity and awareness amongst young people. This is largely due to social media and the ability to share information. Young people are becoming more informed about social injustice, and so turn to politics to help change the world they live in. Voter turnout is higher than it has even been before within the younger demographics, with the UK leading the way.

What are the best UK Universities to study Politics?

This is the list of the top ten Universities for Politics, according to the Guardian University Guide 2021.

  1. University of St Andrews, Scotland
  2. University of Oxford, England
  3. University of Cambridge, England
  4. London School of Economics, England
  5. King’s College London, England
  6. University of Warwick, England
  7. University of Bath, England
  8. Durham University, England
  9. Canterbury Christ Church University, England
  10. Aberystwyth University, Wales

What qualifications do I need to study Politics in the UK?

  • Typical International Baccalaureate requirements: 34 points
  • Typical A-Level requirements: ABB
  • Typical IELTS requirements: 6.5 overall

We had an interview with Aaron Duncan, a recent Politics and International Student, about why you should study Politics in the UK.

Tell us a little about yourself

“My name is Aaron Duncan, and I have just graduated my Politics and International Relations joint honours at the University of Sussex. I have recently undertaken full-time employment as a Senior Operations Resourcer at a tech company in London, in addition to working with a UK political party.”

Aaron Duncan, Politics and International Relations graduate, University of Sussex

Why did you choose to study Politics?

“I picked Politics as I want to leave my mark on the world. Politics shapes everything from health and science, to business and trade, to civil rights, and power relations. I wanted to gain perspectives from others, as well as enrich my own understanding of how and why the world works as it does. As a young adult, the decisions made by the government of today will affect my life tomorrow. There is nothing I find more exciting than to play my part in the momentous changes to come; both domestically as well as internationally.”

Why would you recommend studying Politics in the UK?

“British politics is the most interesting to study regardless of your background, age, or gender. Studying politics in the UK offers incentives that are simply not available in other countries. It’s rich political history provided by controversial leaders (such as Thatcher, Churchill, Blair, and even May) not only gives one the chance to appreciate the changes the UK has endowed onto the world but how it has also provided global political and social norms in doing so. The UK sets the precedent in terms of how the world now views socio-democratic values. For example, Brexit was a decision never seen in political history. This offers those studying Politics in the UK, such as myself, perhaps the most unique opportunity to analyse, debate, and forecast such an event first-hand.”

What experience do you have with Political work experience in the UK?

“The majority of my political work experience comes from working with UK political parties and local councils. Experience within UK Politics is as accessible as you make it. However, planning your career paths within this area is possibly the most important aspect. In other words, think of your end goal and work backwards- and start volunteering! That’s the key to getting your foot in the door of the field.”

Careers in Politics range from the local, national, and international government. As well as a wide range of other professions as well as teaching, media, advising, finance, and banking.

If you’re interested in studying politics in the UK and would like to know more, visit Study International UK for a free consultation.

Enjoyed this article? Check out our other Arts and Humanities subject guides.

Top Cities in Europe for International Students to Visit

One of the greatest things about studying in Europe, especially in continental Europe, is that it is so easy to travel between countries. Yet, it can be hard to know where to start, and where is particularly good for students. Well, worry not as this list will give you all the information you need.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is the beautiful capital city of the Netherlands. It is absolutely covered by canals, and so you can get some fantastic (and cheap) canal tours! Have fun exploring the red light district, grab yourself a freshly made stroopwaffle, or hire a bike and cycle around Vondelpark. It is the perfect weekend getaway for students.

London, England

Though it isn’t continental, no trip to Europe would be complete without visiting London. Afternoon tea on the Shard, a wander around Borough market, and selfie in front of Buckingham Palace cannot go amiss. Discover the beautiful parks hidden in the city, and try to navigate the complex Underground!

Paris, France

Paris is not as expensive as you may think! it is not all about the Eiffel Tower; why not pop in to see the Mona Lisa at the Lourve, or hear the bells at Norte Dame, or snack on delicious macarons in a cafe overlooking the river Seine. I recommend booking your tickets to the attractions ahead of time as it can get very busy!

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is becoming one of the most popular destinations for students, and it is easy to see why. It is a party city, very popular with stag parties (and not to mention it has some of the best and cheapest beer in Europe!) For those who are more into the cultural side of Europe, Prague has an excellent selection of art galleries and museums- not to mention some gorgeous bridges!

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a fantastic country to visit for you history buffs out there. It has some truly provoking WWII exhibits, famous music halls, and beautiful gothic architecture. And if you get tired of walking around museums all day, why not relax in the evening in the famous Szechenyi thermal baths?

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the epicentre of innovative modern art, and world-famous beer- what more could a student want? With thought-provoking WWII displays, museums detailing Germany’s rich history, and fantastic food Berlin is certainly a student favourite.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is probably the only destination on the list to visit if you want guaranteed good weather. It has amazing cathedrals and museums, and a beautiful beach to sunbathe when you feel like doing nothing. Barcelona is famous for being a party city, so don’t expect a quiet night!

Multiculturalism at University – Why It Matters

One of the benefits of studying at a university or college is learning in a classroom with students from all over the world. This can bring challenges but also many benefits to you, both personally and professionally. Let’s take a deeper look at multiculturalism at university and why it’s so important.

Language

Studying at university, whether in your home country or abroad, is a fantastic opportunity to make friends that speak different languages. With a multicultural friendship group, you’ll be exposed to lots of different words and phrases which will enhance your language learning skills. At university, you may need to find a ‘common’ language such as English to communicate in for university work and group presentations. This will present you with the opportunity to learn a new language – surrounded by your friends who can help you to practice your pronunciation. 

Travel

With friends from different parts of the world, you might also be invited to stay with them in their home countries. You can visit their family, learn about a different culture and explore a new part of the world. This will help you to broaden your horizons, become independent and learn about the world by getting out there and seeing it.

Empathy

Meeting people from different countries will help to break down any subconscious stereotypes you might hold about people from that country. And there’s no better way to break those stereotypes than to speak to people face-to-face. Learning to understand other people and have empathy is a very important life skill. But with tolerance, kindness and compassion, it’s our young educated generations that are breaking down barriers of hate and discrimination.

Culture

Be it food, music, TV, fashion, or cultural traditions, there’s so much to learn from mixing with people from different cultures. Being open-minded to experiencing different cultures will benefit you as a person and help you to learn and grow. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you can experience a multicultural lifestyle and become very knowledgeable about different parts of the world.

Education

Surrounding yourself with a diversity of languages, cultures, ideas and perspectives can help you to grow as an academic and become a truly international thinker. As a student, it’s important to consider a variety of opinions and learn how to think critically about what you’re learning. Being able to communicate and connect with people from different countries isn’t easy but it’s a very important skill that will become useful later in life – when working on your career.

 

Your Mental Health at University – How To Get Support

May is Mental Health Awareness month, so we wanted to take the opportunity to talk about mental health at university. According to UCAS, there has been a 450% increase in student mental health declarations over the last decade. With more awareness and acceptance of mental health conditions now than ten years ago, this isn’t surprising. But it does show that students at university are particularly vulnerable to having poor mental health.

Joanna Dale, a Student Advisor at the University of Sussex, tells us about the University’s approach to Mental Health.

“I’m an advisor in the Student Life Centre, which is part of a wider Student Experience Team at Sussex University. The Student Life Centre supports students during challenging or difficult times which often affect their mental wellbeing. We want students to feel they can open up about their mental health and talk honestly about what they are going through.

“Sometimes students come to the Student Life Centre and have never spoken to anyone about their mental health before. That is a very important moment for them and we take what they tell us very seriously and listen carefully. We talk with students about how they experience their mental health issues and what might help them. This can include other University services such as the counselling service, the specialist disability unit or the campus & residential team. We also signpost to a range of external resources in the local area and support students to engage with those services.”

“We encourage students to develop their autonomy and find ways to boost their wellbeing and build emotional resilience. Fostering a culture of openness and acceptance around mental health is a core value in our work. We all need support at times and no one should feel they have to manage on their own. We want students to feel part of a community where we all care about each other”.

If you’re worried about your mental health at university, we hope Joanna’s words will inspire you to talk to someone about it. University can be a very stressful time for young people that are studying at a high level and living away from home for the first time. It’s very normal to feel down or put out by the university experience. All universities will run specialist services for mental health, counselling and learning support, so it’s important to use these services if you feel like you’re struggling. Confide in your friends and others, and don’t ‘deal with it’ alone. You’re never alone.

Why not read our article about Mental Health Awareness Month.

5 Things You Should Know About Your IELTS Results

IELTS prep is ultimately all about exam results; getting that qualifying score is always the end goal. So, let’s look at five very important things you should know about your IELTS results.

1. With IELTS Listening and IELTS Reading, What You See is What You Get

When you practise IELTS Listening and Reading question sets, you can easily figure out your band score. You just need to look at the number of questions you got right. In other words, there are no secret adjustments to your IELTS band after you complete the test. For each section, the number of correct answers you get out of 40 is your score, and this will be converted directly into an official IELTS Band ranging from 1 to 9.

So, you can take your IELTS Listening and Reading results at face value. But you don’t need to just take our word for it. The official IELTS website itself has published a table where you can convert your raw score – the number of answers correct – into a band score. Take a look at the official conversion tables for IELTS Listening and Reading (these are found in the “Component Band Scores” section of the page).

As long as you’re able to maintain good skill and accuracy in these sections, you can be confident that you’ll get the score you need. For more information about how to get top Listening and Reading results, check out this guide to the IELTS Listening test and these IELTS Reading tips.

2. The IELTS Speaking Test Brings You Face-to-Face with the Person Who Will Calculate Your Results

Yes, the person who conducts your IELTS Speaking interview is the very same person who will rate your speaking and assign it an IELTS band score. Don’t let this make you nervous, though. Talking directly with your IELTS scorer actually gives you a unique opportunity you don’t have in other parts of the exam.

You can pay close attention to how your interviewer reacts to what you say and adjust your speech accordingly. Does your scorer seem confused? You can slow your speech or focus more on your pronunciation. And if the reviewer seems able to understand you and is engaged in what you’re saying, keep doing more of what you’re doing.

Of course, if you want the best IELTS Speaking result, it’s good to prepare in advance of meeting your scorer. How can you prepare to really wow your IELTS Speaking interviewer? Well, this complete guide to IELTS Speaking is a great place to start.

3. In IELTS Writing, Content is More Important than Word Count

If you want good results in the IELTS Writing section, what you say is far more important than how much you say. However, Writing Task 1 has a minimum word count of 150, Writing Task 2 has a minimum word count of 250, and both of these word minimum limits must be met to get a top score. But as long as you’re at the minimum, you can stop worrying about word count.

What you really need to focus on is well organised, clearly written ideas. An IELTS general training letter that is, say, 155 words long and very well written will always get a better score than a 200 or 3300-word letter that is confusing or disorganised. And a nice 300-word Task 2 essay can still get a pretty bad score if it fails to answer a key part of the essay question.

Putting together good, organised content can be especially challenging for the first IELTS Academic Writing essay. There, you need to summarise and organise very detailed information from a chart or table. To rise to this challenge and get good results on test day, use this tutorial on IELTS Academic Writing Task 1.

The second IELTS Writing Task, which is the same on both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, can be a real challenge too. Be sure to go through some good prep materials to the second task, including this helpful article all about IELTS Writing Task 2.

4. Good IELTS Prep = Good IELTS Results

As a general rule, your results are as good as the preparation you put in. And IELTS preparation isn’t just about taking time and working hard. You also need to plan your time well and work with the right kinds of IELTS study material. This sample IELTS preparation schedule is a good model for how to prepare for the IELTS. Check it out. You can use it as it is, or let the study schedule be a model for a personal IELTS study plan you make for yourself.

5. A Well-Chosen Practice Test Can Help You Predict Your IELTS Results

A practice test is perhaps the best way to predict what your real IELTS test results might be. But remember, practice tests are only effective in predicting scores if such exams are high-quality. You’ll want to take tests that resemble the real exam. You can purchase some very well-made and realistic practice tests from Cambridge, the official maker of the IELTS. You can also buy good practice tests from reputable unofficial IELTS prep companies such as Magoosh.

But don’t reach for your wallet just yet. You can get your hands on some good, high-quality IELTS without spending a dime. There are free official exams on IELTS.org and the British Council website. Magoosh has also published a free IELTS practice test to its IELTS Blog.

Special thanks to David Recine for providing us with this article. David is a test prep expert at Magoosh. He has a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has been teaching K-12, University, and adult education classes since 2007 and has worked with students from every continent. 

How To Meet People Who Speak Your Language While Studying Abroad

Going to University is a daunting enough task as is. However, when you are on the other side of the world from everyone you know and love, everything seems a million times harder. Of course, it is important to attempt to learn the language of the country you have moved to for ease. Yet, soon enough the homesickness kicks in, and you want to be able to speak your own language. Here are just a few tips on finding someone in your new country that speaks your language:

Join a Language Class

“I don’t understand,” I hear you cry, “I thought this list was to help find people who speak my language. Why would I learn another one?”

Well, think about it. If you are studying in Italy and attend an ‘Italian for Beginners’ class, chances are there won’t be any Italians there. There is a chance, however, that there will be some people who speak the same language as you!

University Events

Your University will usually hold events for people of the same language to meet. I would definitely attend these events as it seems like the easiest way to meet people who speak your language. If your University does not seem to hold such events, contact them and ask why.

Join a Society

Whether it is a specific language (ie. Spanish Society) or a general International Students society, you are bound to meet someone. If your University does not have a society- make one! Contact them about how to do this.

Plus, if you set up the society yourself, you have more control over it (and it looks good on your CV/resume)

Teach your Language

If you are struggling to find people who speak your language, then hold a club or a class and teach other people! Not only will it help to ease any homesickness you may be feeling, but your students may be grateful for the opportunity to learn a new language.

This is a great opportunity to also teach them about your country’s culture and traditions, and perhaps get them to partake in them!

Say Yes

Seize every opportunity. Those people from your seminar who invited you out for drinks may know someone who knows someone who knows someone who speaks your language. Be a social butterfly, ask around, and get yourself out there.

All this being said, there is a possibility that you will not meet someone who speaks your language. Especially if your language is not widely spoken outside of your home country. Accept this, and work out what your next step will be.

Will you make a strong effort and learn a new language? Will you learn to enjoy your own company? It really is not the end of the world, and you will slowly pick up the language without really trying. Focus on your studies, have fun, maybe get a job, and make the most out of your time studying in this new and exciting place!

Enjoyed this article? Check out our recommendations for inspiring talks to watch if you’re studying languages.