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A Blog Where Foreign Students Can Get Answers



International students have a lot of questions about studying in the United States. But what do you suppose is the most common question? We asked an expert right here in our building. Jessica Stahl is editor of VOA's Student Union blog. Jess blogs for international students interested in American higher education. She says the number one question she gets is about financial aid and scholarships. Money is everyone's biggest concern.

But, unfortunately, that question is also the one with the most complicated answer. The short answer is this: Financial aid programs are often just for American students. But programs for international students do exist. You just have to look for them.Jess says probably the next most often asked question is about language skills. People want to know how to improve their English. Of course, one way many students improve their English is with Special English, like this program. But we like the Student Union's Glossary of Confusing Words used in education. Readers can send in suggestions. One newly added word is "catalog."

An international student adviser wrote to say that new students generally have no idea what a university catalog is. So the glossary now includes this definition: "A university catalog (or college catalog) is an official publication that contains all the information a current or prospective student might need about academics and student services at a university." Jess has a group of foreign student bloggers at American schools. Even they were unsure what a catalog is. The students share their experiences studying in the United States -- for example, how they feel when they face cultural stereotypes.

Simba, from Zimbabwe, recently wrote about going to lunch with a group of American students. Simba said he felt hurt when one of them was surprised to learn that Facebook is available in Zimbabwe. Jess says the Student Union and its Facebook page get a lot of comments. She hears from a lot of students from China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia -- "pretty much all over the world." Jess gave us a list of websites where you can research colleges and universities, financial aid and more. You can find that list at voaspecialenglish.com. She says the only "must-know" site for all international students is EducationUSA, from the State Department. The address is educationusa.info. And if you only know one other site it should be Study in the States, from the Department of Homeland Security. That address is studyinthestates.dhs.gov.

For VOA Special English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 10May2012)

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