Part-1 How International Students from developing countries can save money while being at GCC by Zerin Firoze

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I was born and raised in a developing country, Bangladesh, and it was my dream from a very young age to study in the US. A lot of youths like me from developing countries also aspire to study in the US. It is extra challenging for poor students from developing countries to be able to afford to study in the US. Students from developing countries cannot remit money to a foreign country. The US government is also notorious for imposing sanctions in certain countries. Exchange rates plus foreign transaction fees by banks also add up. For example, 1 US dollar is 84 takas in my country Bangladesh. There is no legal way to remit money and corrupt middlemen charge high fees. I am a student from a developing country and here are the following things I have learned after coming in the US. I hope these tips will help you to save both time and money.

Choosing the right college

I would encourage all students to start at a community college first. You can literally save thousands of dollars and still get the same degree and classes at a cheaper price. Many community colleges like GCC do not even charge admission fees. It is completely free to apply for admission. You just need to apply online. So, apply to as many colleges as you want.

Learn to drive in your home country

Many cheaper colleges in the US are located in rural areas with little to no public transportation. You can save a lot of money by choosing a rural location. The cost of living in large cities is extremely expensive. It is not possible for students to pay out of state tuition fees and still afford thousands of dollars per month for rent, food, and other basic necessities. According to American Infrastructure Report Card, the US infrastructure is crumbling and has a rating of D+. Driving schools in America are very expensive. Private one-hour driving lessons are also very expensive and are not available in all rural US counties. So, try to get some driving time before coming to the US. Ask your family members or relatives in your home country to teach you driving for free.

Try to learn about car maintenance and repair before you come to the US. Then, attend a defensive driving course and Driver’s Education course in the US to get your license. You will be very busy being a full-time student once you come to the US. So, try to learn basic life skills while waiting for your acceptance letter from US colleges or for your visa interview.

Learn how to cook and preserve food before coming in the US

I lost thousands of dollars in wasted food. I had no idea how to preserve food. I had no experience in estimating the shelf life of certain food items. I cried when I had to throw away tons of fruits, frozen meat, and cartons of milk. I have been in the US for two and a half years now and I still did not find the time to read all the articles or watch all the videos that I always wanted to watch about food preservation. You can save a lot of money by learning to preserve food. Cooking skills are also important. Next time, hit the grocery store with your mom and learn about basic spices and ingredients if you are not a cooking pro.

Learn how to use coupons and rebate apps

I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first landed at JFK airport and very quickly I became busy with campus life. I had no time to read blogs about saving money in the US as a full-time student. I had no leisure reading time outside college textbooks. Hence, do yourself a favor. Read blogs and website articles about saving money in the US while you are waiting for a decision from US colleges or for your visa interview.

Coupons and rebate apps are not used in my country at all. I became familiar with coupons and rebate apps after coming in the US. It took me two years to learn to use coupons and rebate apps. Now, I am the ultimate coupon queen. I received $54 cashback from Ebates and $55 from Ibotta just for buying groceries and other necessary items. Groupon is also a great website to save money. Learn to use coupons and rebate apps before you even come in the US. Read articles about rebate apps and coupons on the Internet.

I will share more secrets and life hack in part-2 of the same article next week!

 

 

 

 

Come one, come all! Housing Survey!

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housing batavia

Hey y’all! It’s time to participate in something. Let your voice be heard in this online survey. Basically, it’s a survey given by Genesee County and they’re trying to decide what type of housing and additions to add to Batavia!

If you or someone you know would like to participate in helping the town of Batavia develop and grow, please fill out this short 11 answer questionnaire given in the link below. It has to be in by the 17th of November.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XZBVSXP

Thanks and have a great day!

How to Travel on a Budget

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Everyone wants to get out and about every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with that! Somehow, getting out of your humble home to travel and experience new things makes you feel more at home when you finally get back. Stronger social skills, feeling more at peace, and becoming more creative are all linked to people who travel. With that being said, if you have the time, do it! Go see some stuff and come back feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

If money is an issue, take my blog as a survival guide to traveling on a budget. Lodging, food, and transportation can all be calculated to make an affordable trip.

First – Place to stay…

Try www.airbnb.com to find someone who is renting out their home for the duration of your trip! It’s definitely better than staying in a hotel and cheaper too! Since it’s someone’s home, you’ll be able to use their kitchen! – which goes into my next topic.

airbnb

Food – what to eat and how

Since you’re getting to live in a home you found on Airbnb, try cooking most nights! To learn how to cook like the people of the place you’re visiting, consider taking a local cooking class to buff up your skills.

Silverado-Cooking-School-cooking-classes_3

 

Transportation

This is a little tricky. If you’re in the US, try either renting a car, bringing your own, or taking the public transit! When I lived in Vegas, I didn’t have a car, so I used the bus. It was only $5 to ride all day! Many cities have this option, you just have to do a little research.

public transit

Shopping

When you’re out on the town shopping, I suggest buying goods from stores that you don’t have back home. The point of traveling is to see new places, so the material you accumulate should reflect the uniqueness of the place you visited.

shopping

If you’re ready to get out and about, you should! There’s no reason you can’t do something like travel. Our planet is home to all of us, so we should feel like we can visit it whenever we want!

Exciting new Public Speaking workshop on Wednesdays!

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Do you or someone you know have trouble speaking in front of an audience? I know I do! We are now in luck! Come get over your public speaking anxiety in the Student Success Center (G200) and finally get a handle on presenting. 

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What to bring :

  • Bring your presentations/notes in electronic or paper based projects.

 

What to expect :

  • Expect to share your presentation as a group or talk one-on-one.
  • Get free and friendly feedback
  • Polish your public speaking, interview skills, “elevator speeches”, and project presentations
  • No sign ups needed!
  • Open dialogue format

 

DSC_8402[1]When :

  • Wednesdays (3-5PM)
  • October 18, 25
  • November 8, 22, 29

 

 

 

 

If you have further questions please feel free to contact the lady in charge. 

  • Kate Trombley
  • Email: kbtrombley@genesee.edu
  • Phone: 585-343-0055 ext 6285

 

With this workshop available, there’s no reason you should have trouble presenting in front of your class. Take advantage of the resources given to you and watch your own garden begin to flourish!

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Everyone Has A Hidden Agenda. Except Me!

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If you’ve read my previous blog posts on the GCC site, then you know that I thoroughly enjoy sharing my tips with you to be successful academically and otherwise. You also know that I love organizing my school materials, especially in such a way that helps catalyze academic success. My planner is basically my life written down! Everything about my school, work, and social life goes in this little book that follows me everywhere, and it is amazing!

I used a planner throughout high school, but I kept it quite simple. I just wrote down homework and anything school related I didn’t want to forget. However, when I entered college I really needed to step up my planner game.

Not only do I recommend that you have and use a planner, but I’m also going to share some tips to use it the most effective way!

To start I’ll share with you what planner I use, mine is by the brand Ban.do. This is the second “agenda” I’ve purchased through this ‘girl boss’ company and I love it! There are stickers and illustrations among other things that make organizing fun and aesthetically pleasing to look at. If you aren’t about the glitz and glam, or the higher price there are tons of options that can suit anyone! Agendas can be found at any store that carries school supplies or online.

Note: I recommend an agenda with weekly layouts, and a monthly calendar view.

Daily Organization: 

As for daily organization, I recommend highlighters and pens in multiple colors. I personally write everything down in black pen, but another technique that would prove extremely helpful would be to get an assortment of pens, and dedicate a color to each class; then write each classes assignments in that respective color. Another extremely useful technique I use is to use highlighters for due dates. On the day that an assignment is due or I have an exam, I write on the top of that day what is due or exam is scheduled and highlight it bright yellow. This allows easy scanning to see what is coming up.

weekly view

A peak inside my agenda! This is a old weekly layout.

As I mentioned before, I recommend writing down all of your homework or reminders for classes in the weekly spread, and to keep track of what has been done, what you didn’t get to, and what you partially completed. I use a checkmark (finished), an ‘X’ (still needs to be done), and a check mark with a dash through it (partially finished). I then carry whatever I didn’t get to or didn’t finish to the next day’s box to be completed.

Monthly Organization:

The monthly view in my agenda wasn’t something I used at all throughout high school or even my freshman year of college, but as my life has gotten crazier so has my agenda. I have far more to write down and keep track off, so the monthly view has proven extremely useful.

monthly view

Another look at my agenda! This is my monthly view that I had set up for August.

This is another section of your agenda that I would recommend an assortment of highlighters or colored pens for. Similar to the weekly spread you dedicate a color to each event, and again this will make it super easy to know what you have going on throughout the month or on a particular week.

My monthly spread usually tracks appointments, my work schedule, and any social events. I would also recommend crossing off days that have already passed in the monthly view so when you give it a quick glance there is no confusion from extra data on the page.

Overall, my agenda has become my sidekick and my life would most likely be in shambles if I were not so extremely organized which is why I highly recommend you take the time to purchase and set up an agenda using these tips to help use it to its fullest capability.

There are tons of different ways to help organize your thoughts in agenda, but these are just some of the ways I’ve found most effective!

Being organized is being in control, so take control of your life now.

-Danielle

How to Take Control of Your Busy Life

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Being a college student, working, staying involved on campus, amongst other things sounds great; and you probably came into this semester thinking it would be great. But 3 weeks in you’re probably feeling super overwhelmed, and realizing it’s easier said than done. With the millions of opportunities in and out of school, it’s actually quite normal to have a busy lifestyle. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way that have allowed me to enjoy my crazy life a bit more, and I thought I’d share them with you!

Prioritize

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At this point in my life, I never thought I’d have such a massive list of to-do’s every single day, but the reality is that I do. And the even bigger reality is that most likely half of it won’t get done in 1 day. The key is to figure out what is most important, for example homework and work, then go from there. Do whatever must be done first, and try to figure out what can wait.

 

Note: I love writing assignment due dates in my agenda and highlighting it, so I can take a quick glance and see what’s coming up and what can wait.

 

Plan Your Day

 

You most likely read this tip and thought “well, duh”, but I don’t mean just write a long list of everything going on throughout your day, I mean sit down and thoroughly plan it out. What you have going on, and when you’re going to do. It’s like a class schedule but instead of times blocked off for classes, it’s blocked off for your tasks. It doesn’t have to be exact, just a guess-timate in order to formulate some sort of plan.

 

Take a Break

 

Learn when to relax. Yes it is important to take care of your homework, go to work, and do your daily tasks; however, you and your sanity should come first. Know when you’ve reached your limit, and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy.

 

alarm block

Another tip is to use the site Tomato Timer, which sets a 25 minute timer in which you work on your homework or a task, when time is up you get 5-10 minutes to relax and do whatever you want. Then back to 25 minutes of your task, and so on. You repeat the loop until you’re done!

 

I also like that Tomato Timer gives you the option of a short (5 minutes) or long break (10 minutes).

 

Most Importantly: Take Care of Yourself

 

When life gets crazy, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves, and begin to skip out on basic necessities. Unhealthy eating and a lack of sleep will sooner than later, catch up to you. A night or two of staying up late is normal in college, but it is important to not let it become a habit. Unhealthy eating is another thing that can easily become a habit, but you have to fight the urge. It can be easy to pick up fast food at first, but you’ll regret it when you tack on the ‘freshman 15’, which will take much longer to lose than it would have for you to make a home cooked meal.

 

Your mental and physical health conquers everything else. Take care of yourself, love yourself, and never let anything distract you either of those tasks.

 

If you take these tips and use them, I know you’ll rock out this semester, and hopefully with a little less stress.

 

“The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…one step at a time.”

-Joe Girard

-Danielle

Nutrition 101: Fruit smoothies

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It’s no secret that fruits and veggies are good for your overall health. Packed with nutrients and flavor, they add a bold freshness to our lives that is a feeling that is hard to mimic. Since we oftentimes look past the abundance of variety, we are stuck eating the same Granny Smith apples or naval oranges all the time! Just like we enjoy different types of music, our bodies enjoy different types of food. To make this a tad bit simple, I’ve constructed this blog to be about smoothies to get you through Summer break.

Smoothies are delicious, colorful, and easy to make. You’d be surprised about the enormous variation of different foods that can go into a smoothie. Yogurt, seeds and nuts are just a few of the optional ingredients to mix in with some fresh or frozen fruits and/or veggies.fruit-veg-rainbow

When making a smoothie, it’s a good idea to pack it full of nutritious ingredients. To make your smoothies, you’ll need a blender. Hamilton Beach makes a good one! It’s just the right size; not too big, and small enough to keep out on your counter for impromptu smoothie nights!blender

When choosing your ingredients, do it in parts. Juice, thickener, fruit, extras. Choosing your juice shouldn’t be too difficult. Just choose one you like and buy a bottle of it to keep in the fridge. I like pomegranate juice because I like the antioxidants. Plus, it gives a nice flavor to the smoothie…almost like cranberry juice. Another juice I like a lot is aloe vera juice. It aids your digestive system… which is good for this because fruit has pulp that is hard for your body to break down. I feel like I’m doing my body a favor. Coconut milk or water is good to as well as orange, apple and pineapple.

greek-yogurt-should-you-be-eating-full-fat-yogurtA thickener is important to have in your smoothie too. It adds a heavier texture than would be if you had not used it. Greek yogurt is my favorite. It also provides a good amount of protein to make you feel full. If you don’t like the flavor of yogurt, you really won’t even be able to tell it’s in there. The fruit masks the flavor. If you’re still reluctant, try ricotta cheese! Bananas are also really good, as well as peanut butter.

Fruit is the star when it comes to making a great smoothie. Choose what you like and don’t be afraid to get creative! Whatever is in season is perfect. Peaches, mangos, blueberries and strawberries are all good… you name it! Get colorful and see what tastes good together.

980xNuts and seeds are considered to be extras. As well as different oils and powders. Even supplements! Sunflower and pumpkin seeds grind up nicely when mixed with everything else and the texture is nice too. A little crunchy, so just add a small handful. Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and don’t really have a taste. They expand in liquid though… So your small handful will turn into a bigger handful when added to the smoothie. Try putting some oils into your smoothies as well. Coconut and avocado oils are great. So are flax seeds or just the oil!

Below are some recipes to get you started:

Strawberry Banana Smoothiestrawberry banana

½ C strawberries

1 Banana

½ C Pomegranate juice

½ C Aloe juice

1 C Greek yogurt, plain or vanilla

1 Tbsp chia seeds

Directions:

Blend until smooth.

 

Mango Blueberry smoothieblueberries-and-mangoes

1 mango

½ C blueberries

½ C Orange juice

½ C coconut water

1 C Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp avocado/coconut oil

 

 

Pineapple Strawberry Grapefruit smoothie

1 C pineapple

½ C strawberries

½ of a grapefruit

½ C pineapple juice

½ C coconut milk

Small handful of unsalted sunflower seeds

Directions:

Blend until smooth.

 

So everybody, stay on track this Summer and cool down with a fruit smoothie! You ‘ll wish you had started this sooner, but that’s okay. Better late than never! J