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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.

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.

Why Study Artificial Intelligence – A New Age, or the End of Humanity?

Perhaps it is because I am a closeted conspiracy theorist, or perhaps it is because I have seen too many episodes of ‘Black Mirror’, but I am not very trusting of Artificial Intelligence (AI). From a manipulative computer in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ to a murderous robot in ‘Ex Machina’, we have a tendency to portray AI as a threat to humans.

But how real is this threat?

Well, people like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have come forward and said that they believe that AI could potentially be very dangerous, as we can’t control machines that are more powerful to us. Elon Musk compared AI to “summoning the devil” at a lecture at MIT. Nick Bostrom is a philosopher at Oxford University who came up with a thought experiment called the ‘Paperclip Maximiser’ which illustrates the risk of AI through Instrumental Convergence. He said this:

“Suppose we have an AI whose only goal is to make as many paperclips as possible. The AI will realise that it would be much better if there were no humans because humans might decide to switch it off. Because if humans do so, there would be fewer paper clips. Also, human bodies contain a lot of atoms that could be made into paper clips. The future that the AI would be trying to gear towards would be one in which there were a lot of paper clips but no humans”

– Nick Bostrom, Artificial Intelligence May Doom The Human Race Within a Century, The Huffington Post.

(Suddenly paperclips look a heck of a lot more threatening, don’t they?)

However, this being said, there are so many benefits to AI. They could do half a century of research in an hour, identify illnesses better than any human, and create more jobs.

Perhaps it is these benefits, and more, that is inspiring more and more young people to study Artificial Intelligence at University. There are so many benefits to AI that it would be hard to deny that it is worth developing.

With more research, more diversity in researchers, and more voices being heard we may be able to create a world where Artificial Intelligence and Humans can live peacefully and prosperously. AI needs to be researched carefully and nurtured by the right kind of person.

If you, like many other students recently, feel inspired to help develop AI in a safe way, and want to study it at University then by all means go for it!

According to Nature Index, the best Universities in the world to study AI are:

  • Harvard University, USA
  • Stanford University, USA
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
  • Max Planck Society, Germany
  • University of Oxford, UK
  • University of Cambridge, UK
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • University College London (UCL), UK
  • Columbia University in the City of New York, USA
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA

Perhaps I was too quick to judge Artificial Intelligence and dismissed all the positives it could bring. We already are experiencing some of the benefits of AI in the algorithm YouTube uses to recommend you videos, to your email putting things in Spam (although, this is not always perfect), to directions, to predictive typing!

AI does not seem nearly as daunting when we realise that it is already a part of our lives, and we may not have even realised it!

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Top 10 Most Popular Countries for International Students 2020

So you want to go to university, but you’re not sure where. Don’t worry, we’ve got you. You’ll be pleased to know that living and learning in a different country can bring SO many benefits, personal and professional. According to Statista, these are the top study destinations for international students in 2020. Are any of these on your list?

1. United States – 1,075,496 International Students

From New York to LA, Florida to Seattle, America is one of the most expansive and diverse countries in the entire world. It is home to some of the very best universities. Though the cost of studying and living in America can be tear-jerkingly high, the freedom to explore and the sheer quality of the courses is surely worth it.

2. United Kingdom – 551,495 International Students

The United Kingdom is known for having some of the best universities in the world and boasts a strong employability rate. Though tuition fees are high, the courses are only three years (as opposed to four like the USA). The UK has a fantastically rich history and is one of the most diverse countries in the whole of the world. Plus, it is the home of the English language, giving you the perfect opportunity to hone your language skills.

3. Canada – 503,270 International Students

In Canada, you can polish up your English skills as well as your French, as these are the two leading languages. Canada is often voted as one of the top countries for the quality of life and happiness of its citizens and it also has a low crime rate. It proudly boasts some of the very best Universities in the world.

4. Australia – 463,643 International Students

Australia is always one of the top destinations for International Students. It has low living and tuition costs, and Australian universities often offer scholarships that help to lower prices even further. They also allow students to work up to 40 hours a week with their student visas. Australia has beautiful landscapes, great weather, lovely beaches and big party culture. It is always very popular with students.

5. France – 358,000 International Students

France is one of those countries where you can go skiing in the morning, and then have a vineyard tour at sunset. It is so vast and has so many fantastic regions, each with its own identity and culture. The education costs are very reasonable compared to other top destinations, and it is the home of some of the world’s largest corporate brands.

6. Russia – 353,331 International Students

Russia values education very highly, and around 54% of its population have or are studying degrees. The country is so large that there is so much to explore. One half of Russia is very European, whilst the other has strong Asian influences. Russia is a very modern country, however, its values are traditional and so this mix is otherworldly. It is becoming more and more popular over the years and is definitely one to consider.

7. Germany – 302,157 International Students

Germany has a wide selection of highly ranked Universities and promises strong employability. German universities offer a lot of degrees at a low, or sometimes no, cost! It has a long and rich cultural heritage, a fantastic art scene and unmatched nightlife.

8. Japan – 228,403 International Students

Japan has always been a popular destination with students. It is often seen as the epicentre of technological innovation, and so is popular with students interested in science and technology. Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and the health service is very inexpensive, and so it is pretty safe there. The food is amazing, the culture is so interesting, and the landscape is endless.

9. Spain – 125,675 International Students

Spain is becoming an increasingly popular destination for international students to choose to study in for many reasons. One is that the education system is very well-organised and straightforward. Another is that the cost of living in Spain is cheaper than most of its European counterparts. A key reason is also the beautiful year-round weather, which goes perfectly with the gorgeous Spanish beaches. Spain has a lot of rich history to explore, and a huge party culture so there is something there for everyone!

10. Netherlands – 94,236 International Students

Studying in the Netherlands is fast becoming a popular choice with students from all over the world. It boasts a very high standard of education and a lot of degrees are taught 100% in English, making it very popular with students from the UK and USA. The Netherlands is a very safe place to live and learn, with a big international student community and good employability rates.

 

5 More Must-have Apps for International Students

Gone are the days of turning up to class with a notepad and a pen. Thanks to modern technology, our studying habits are becoming far quicker and easier. Studying apps are a fantastic way to make writing, reading, referencing and notetaking that little bit easier. Here are our 5 must-have apps for international students.

Grammarly

Grammarly corrects your grammar in real-time and offers you better words to make your writing even stronger. You can download it onto your phone, tablet, and laptop! A must-have for all students, whether English is your first language or you’re still learning. Find out more.

Cite This For Me

Use Cite This For Me (RefMe) to get the perfect book citations every time. Either download the app on your phone to scan a book’s barcode or use their web version to search for your book in their online library. Choose between MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, or whatever format your school uses. Find out more.

myHomework Student Planner

myHomework is a digital student planner that lets you track your classes, homework, tests and projects so you never forget an assignment again. You can download their free version, which allows you to track your classes and assignments, receive reminders and use homework widgets. Find out more.

Otter

Otter is a fantastic app that records when someone speaking and converts it into text in real-time. It’s perfect for sitting in class or a lecture theatre if you struggle to take notes quickly. You can simply record the whole class. This is great if the tutor is not speaking in your first language, as you can go back and reread what they have said.

Office Lens

This app from Microsoft takes pictures of documents, whiteboards, blackboards, magazines, receipts, and more and converts them into editable, shareable text. It can read images from an angle and it cleans up glare and shadows too. Very useful for group projects or on-the-go editing. Find out more.

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Why Study At A College

The word ‘college’ means different things in parts of the world. In the USA, it’s often used as another term for university. In the UK however, it means institutions that offer further education courses, higher education courses and trade qualifications. In short, UK colleges, or ‘FE colleges’ offer lots of different courses to lots of different people. There’s something for everyone at college.

So, what makes a college a great place to study at? I currently work for the Association of Colleges (AoC), and we represent publicly-funded (i.e. government/state-funded) colleges. From my own experience both studying and working at colleges I can safely say that international students can expect to be part of a welcoming, diverse community when they come to college. Here are some of the reasons why:

The Study Experience

More often than not, you’ll join a class with local students, so you’ll get to meet students living in the local area. If you’re taking an English language course, this will include students from different countries whose first language is not English. 

Classes tend to be for 20-30 students at college, with groups of only 15 or 16 students in some workshop and kitchen-based subjects. You can expect a good level of contact with your tutors and to be in class for an average of around 15 hours per week, with additional time you’ll spend studying independently.

You’ll be usually taught by lecturers who have worked in the industry you’re learning about. They will have links to employers and will often organise industry visits for your class. Some courses may have the option for a short work placement. 

If you choose a traditional academic course at college, such as A Levels, you’ll be taking a recognised qualification for university entry. You will be supported to decide which degree programme and which university are right for you.

When you come to college, should you feel unwell or encounter any personal problems, support and advice is available from colleges staff. 

The Living Experience

Colleges are located in big cities, small towns and rural areas, all across England and the rest of the UK. There’s the right location for everyone depending on the kind of experience that you would prefer. Colleges have cafeterias and coffee bars on site, WiFi, quiet areas to study and a library. 

It’s affordable to study at college, with the annual course fees costing on average £7,000. You’ll need money for your accommodation too, and whilst some colleges do have student residences onsite, others offer the chance for their students to live with a local family whilst studying. ‘Homestay’ is a really great way to see what British life is like and to improve your English (if it isn’t your first language). 

Amazon Rainforest Fires: How YOU Can Help

The Amazon rainforest has been on fire for the past month, and Brazil has declared a state of emergency in the region. The fires are destroying the homes of indigenous tribes and threatening millions of animal species.

The fires are so big now that the smoke can be seen from space.

Since January more than 70,000 fires have been detected in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, up 84% from the number tracked in 2018, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research. This not only threatens the region’s future, but could also speed up climate change, since the rainforest significantly helps reduce the world’s carbon dioxide levels.

The situation could get even worse, according to the World Resources Institute, since 62% of Brazil’s forest fires traditionally occur in September through the end of the year.

The record number of fires is garnering international attention, with French President Emmanuel Macron organizing a $22 million fund at the recent G-7 summit. Celebrities are also weighing in. Madonna took to Instagram to urge Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, to change his policies and actor Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $5 million to help, while rapper Lil Nas X and and supermodel Cara Delevingne have raised awareness via social media.

But what can I do to help?

Deforestation is one of the biggest drivers of these fires. We recommend you eat less meat (since the farmers have to clear some of the forest so the animals have grazing land), use less paper (recycle!), and do what you can to cut your emissions so that we can try to balance out the damage to the planet that these fires have caused.

You probably don’t have $5m to spare like Mr DiCaprio, but that doesn’t mean that your donation isn’t invaluable and necessary. There are a few organisations that you can donate to:

Rainforest Alliance

They announced earlier this month that it would be redirecting 100% of its donations to frontline organizations in Brazil working to “protect the Amazon and defend the rights of its Indigenous people”.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

🚨Amazon S.O.S.🚨THANK YOU to everyone who donated in response to our post yesterday—and to all who have helped raise awareness by sharing our post. We have committed to redirect 100% of donations made in August via link in bio to these frontline groups working to defend the Brazilian Amazon: @coiabamazonia (Brazil chapter of our partner COICA, the federation of Amazon Indigenous leaders), @imaflorabrasil (our longtime sustainable agriculture partner), and @socioambiental @ipam_amazonia @imazonoficial @saudeealegria (Brazilian orgs working to defend the Amazon & Indigenous rights). 🔥The fires in the Brazilian Amazon have called worldwide attention to the ongoing crisis of tropical deforestation. Although we are devastated by recent surge of fires in the Amazon, we are also heartened by the overwhelming global response to this crisis—signaling growing awareness that 1) tropical forests are a powerful “natural climate solution” we all depend on, and 2) deep concern for the rights of Indigenous people. 📷 This photo from the Brazil-Peru border in the Amazon was taken by @mohsinkazmitakespictures in 2015. We post this older image to remind our followers that tropical deforestation is an ongoing global emergency that began in the colonial era and rages on today throughout the Amazon, Indonesia, Central America, and other regions where the Rainforest Alliance works. [In the interest of transparency: our work in the Amazon is concentrated in Peru (in the Brazil border region) and Colombia; our work in Brazil focuses on sustainable agriculture in other landscapes.] 🌳Through decades of partnership with Indigenous, forest, and farming communities throughout the tropics, we’ve learned (and scientists have confirmed) that the best defense against deforestation and forest fires = thriving, community-centered rural economies that allow people to make a decent living through sustainable activities. This approach requires deep collaboration and sustained investment over the long term—and it reaps big rewards, as seen in our previous posts about Guatemala. Let’s keep the momentum going! ✊🏽✊🏿✊🏼✊ #prayforamazonia #savetheamazon #rainforestalliance #climatejustice #climateaction

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Earth Alliance

On Sunday, the organization formed an Amazon Forest Fund.

The fund will be focusing resources toward local communities and groups working to protect the Amazon, as well as those affected by the fires. Earth Alliance noted five groups so far that will receive funding, including the Kayapo people, the Brazil chapter of Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin and the Instituto Socioambiental.

Amazon Watch

An organisation that works with the aboriginal people is Amazon Watch. The group has supported the community’s efforts to stop the proposed dam, and this year, helped convene an assembly of Munduruku youth with Munduruku chiefs.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature

The well-known conservation organization is urging people to not only pay attention, but also shop smart and reduce your fossil fuel consumption. WWF is also encouraging people to speak up, creating an online petition you can sign to call on the governments of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname to “protect the Amazon, combat deforestation and reduce the causes of fires.”

Support businesses that support the rainforest

In addition to donating to specific organisations, experts are urging consumers to put their money to work by supporting business and companies working toward sustainable goals.

Rainforest Alliance has a list of over 700 companies that the organisation certifies as meeting rigorous environmental and social standards.

What Charities Does eduKUDU Work With?

5th September is International Charity Day! In spirit of this, we thought we would share with you the four amazing charities that we work with.

Make sure you visit our other post about things you can do to get involved with International Charity Day here!

KOTO, a not-for-profit social enterprise, transforms the lives of 200 disadvantaged and at-risk youth in Vietnam each year through our 24-month holistic hospitality training program.

KOTO stands for ‘Know One, Teach One’, and reflects their belief that if you’re in a position where you can help someone less fortunate, then you should help them; and the greatest thanks you can receive is to one day see that person be in a position to do the same for someone else.

Founded by Jimmy Pham, an Australian-Vietnamese man whose desire was to provide 9 street children with training, a stable income and a safe workplace in a small unassuming sandwich café in Hanoi, has evolved and grown over the last twenty years. After two decades, KOTO continues to be recognised as a dynamic organization producing well-trained graduates who are highly sought after by the tourism and hospitality industry, both within Vietnam and abroad. Almost 1,000 strong alumni network work across the world in leading resorts, hotels, and restaurants. Many have also started their own hospitality and tourism businesses and are employing KOTO graduates themselves. A number of their graduates have received scholarships to further their studies in Australia, thanks to the accreditation of their qualification by Australia’s Box Hill Institute.

Visit KOTO’s whySTUDYhere page.


Lights for Learning is a UK charity based in Cricklade, Wiltshire. They build and install solar-powered lighting in places of education. They work mainly in areas of the world where artificial lighting is impossible or hard to obtain. This benefits positively the entire communities in which these schools or clinics are based. They also provide solutions, with training to fit them, to other charities who have their own projects that are also aimed to help lift the education & health standards of similar communities.


In 2009, a ragtag group of travellers headed up Yala peak in Nepal. Seeing the faces of smiling yet poverty-stricken children was a bittersweet experience. These kids have no material goods and limited opportunities, yet still embrace the joy of life. Kathmandu Kids’ intrepid explorers felt a strong need to give something back. Back home in Perth, they joined forces with Sunrise Children’s Association Incorporated (SCAI). The result was Kathmandu Kids and a series of successful fundraising events. Every cent raised has gone towards improving the lives of children in Nepal. In recent years, the programme has expanded out to also provide education for children in the Jhapa and Nuwakot areas as well.


COCO provides sustainable sources of quality education to children living in poor and marginalised communities in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. They believe that education gives children the best possible opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. COCO was founded in 2000 by Steve Cram CBE after he witnessed first-hand the barriers to education for children living in poverty and since then COCO has raised over £4 million to fund sustainable, community-led initiatives, positively impacting on the lives of over 200,000 people. They are currently partnering with 15 remote schools, providing quality education from nursery through to college level.

Celebrating the International Day of Charity – A Student’s Guide

As university students, life can be pretty hectic. With lectures, seminars, essays and deadlines it would be understandable to focus on yourself all the time. After all, education is about bettering yourself and taking time to find out who you are. So perhaps it may be surprising – in the most delightful way – to know that many students aren’t just investing in themselves at uni. Instead, they are choosing to invest their time to help those less fortunate than themselves. Here are just some of the ways you can get involved in charity work as a student.

Beach clean ups

From Bali to Bondi, the plastic crisis that David Attenborough’s Blue Planet brought to the front of the collective consciousness is evident. But rather than wallowing in the inevitability of climate change, some students are fighting back. Nearly 30 years ago, Ocean Conservancy began work to clean up the beaches of the United States. Now, eco-conscious travellers are rewarded in numerous must-see destinations for their support of the cause. ‘Free beer’ is a sign that will attract a backpacker from 50 metres away. ‘Save our oceans’ attracts Millenials equally. Combine the two and you’ve hit the jackpot. It’s a great way to offset your jet-setting by helping preserve the beautiful locale you’re visiting. Click below to find out more. Find out more about a UK version. Find out about a Bali version here.

Supporting endangered species

There has been debate in recent times as to whether ‘voluntourism’ is ethical. ‘What’s that?’ you ask? The increasing range of opportunities to support animal charities whilst you travel. Understandably, many of these appeal to those people with an affinity for wildlife.

It can be a minefield. Taking the time to complete careful research can make finding ethical and worthwhile charitable opportunities even more rewarding. Life changing experiences are out there waiting for you! Trekking alongside rhino in Nepal or supporting anti-poaching teams in South Africa are all up for grabs. Prefer your animals a little smaller? Support turtle research in Costa Rica or visit and work with orangutans in Borneo. Visiting Europe? Support the bear sanctuaries of Romania for a few days, or longer still.

The choice is limitless, and the memories made will be with you forever.

Duke of Edinburgh International Award

Originally aimed at British young people, the Duke of Edinburgh International Award has taken the concept global. At it’s core, ‘D of E’ as it’s known in the UK, the charity encourages young people to build positive relationships with their communities. Students can get fitter, gain new skills, and gain camping experience. But more importantly (perhaps, for this article at least) they are also required to volunteer.

Some of the stories of international young people are incredible. From reducing feelings of isolation to helping peers escape life in the slums, the reach and impact of the Award is truly touching.

Looking for something closer to home?

All of the above opportunities are great if you’re on a term break – or even a gap year. You can also support the International Day of Charity from your campus or university though. Student Unions across the world need the support of their cohort. Freshers need tours, vulnerable students need a kind welcome, and there’s always a need for neon paint to be applied at a ‘full-moon’ style party. Some unis go further still. Some have a corps which supports the local community doing all sorts, from managing local areas of natural beauty to running tea dances for pensioners.

Simpler still, arrange a charity marathon: 24 hour dance off, all-you-can-eat cookie sale, sell badges to raise awareness. Any event can be a charity event. Raise funds, have fun and feel good in the knowledge you’re making a difference.

Look up the opportunities available at your university today. You’ll be amazed at how much is out there.

Celebrate the International Day of Charity – 5th September 2019.