Five things to do before you leave to study abroad

Five things to do before you leave to study abroad

You’ve bought your plane tickets and your bags are ready to pack. The excitement is building: Your adventure abroad will be starting soon! But before you leave on this journey of a lifetime, be sure to check off these important items from your to-do list:

  • Talk to your academic advisor about the courses you will be taking abroad, and what courses you will need to take when returning. Make sure you establish that the courses you take abroad count for credit at your home college or university.
  • Download a video-chat service like Skype and get a web cam. It’s probably the easiest and least expensive way to communicate with people from home. You could also look into purchasing an overseas calling card.
  • Make sure that you have transportation planned from the airport to your overseas university.
  • Make photocopies of your passport information. Carry one in your bags (separate from your passport) and leave another copy at home.
  • Plan for what to do in case of an emergency. Find out how to contact the police, the fire department and any other emergency services available in your host country. Share this information with your family as well.


Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism

Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism

Physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages is a great asset to the cognitive process. The brains of bilingual people operate differently than single language speakers, and these differences offer several mental benefits.

Below are seven cognitive advantages to learning a foreign language. Many of these attributes are only apparent in people who speak multiple languages regularly – if you haven’t spoken a foreign tongue since your A levels, your brain might not be reaping these bilingual benefits. However, people who begin language study in their adult lives can still achieve the same levels of fluency as a young learner, and still reap the same mental benefits, too.

You become smarter

Speaking a foreign language improves the functionality of your brain by challenging it to recognise, negotiate meaning, and communicate in different language systems. This skill boosts your ability to negotiate meaning in other problem-solving tasks as well.

Students who study foreign languages tend to score better on standardized tests than their monolingual peers, particularly in the categories of maths, reading, and vocabulary.

You build multitasking skills

Multilingual people, especially children, are skilled at switching between two systems of speech, writing, and structure. According to a study from the Pennsylvania State University, this “juggling” skill makes them good multitaskers, because they can easily switch between different structures. In one study, participants used a driving simulator while doing separate, distracting tasks at the same time. The research found that people who spoke more than one language made fewer errors in their driving.

You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia

Several studies have been conducted on this topic, and the results are consistent. For monolingual adults, the mean age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4. For adults who speak two or more languages, the mean age for those first signs is 75.5. Studies considered factors such as education level, income level, gender, and physical health, but the results were consistent.

Your memory improves

Educators often liken the brain to a muscle, because it functions better with exercise. Learning a language involves memorising rules and vocabulary, which helps strengthen that mental “muscle.” This exercise improves overall memory, which means that multiple language speakers are better at remembering lists or sequences. Studies show that bilinguals are better at retaining shopping lists, names, and directions.

You become more perceptive

A study from Spain’s University of Pompeu Fabra revealed that multilingual people are better at observing their surroundings. They are more adept at focusing on relevant information and editing out the irrelevant. They’re also better at spotting misleading information. Is it any surprise that Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are skilled polyglots?

Your decision-making skills improve

According to a study from the University of Chicago, bilinguals tend to make more rational decisions. Any language contains nuance and subtle implications in its vocabulary, and these biases can subconsciously influence your judgment. Bilinguals are more confident with their choices after thinking it over in the second language and seeing whether their initial conclusions still stand up.

You improve your [Native Language]

Learning a foreign language draws your focus to the mechanics of language: grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. This makes you more aware of language, and the ways it can be structured and manipulated. These skills can make you a more effective communicator and a sharper editor and writer. Language speakers also develop a better ear for listening, since they’re skilled at distinguishing meaning from discreet sounds.


16 New Openings in Orlando in 2016

16 New Openings in Orlando in 2016

Hold on tight! We’ve got your front row seat to all that’s new in Orlando in 2016.

From the icy wonders of Disney’s “Frozen,” the chilling thrills of Universal’s King Kong to Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster, 2016 is building up to be a year of epic new thrills in Orlando. We’ve gathered a list of 16 new openings of exclusive experiences mix with activities specifically for kids and families across the theme park capital of the world.

Universal Orlando Resort

“Skull Island: Reign of Kong” will honor one of the most monumental figures in movie history, King Kong. Guests at Universal’s Islands of Adventure can explore ancient temple structures while encountering hostile natives and fending off unspeakable terrors beginning this summer.

Opening this summer is the new Loews Sapphire Falls Resort. It will be the fifth onsite hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, featuring 1,000 rooms and suites with a casual Caribbean theme, built around a lagoon and towering waterfall.

Walt Disney World Resort

Epcot guests will journey on an icy trek through kingdom of Arendelle when the highly anticipated attraction “Frozen Ever After” opens this spring in the Norway Pavilion. The family adventure welcoming guests to the magical world of “Frozen” will feature the popular story of the royal sisters, hit songs and new technology.

On Soarin’ Around the World guests on board the popular Soarin’ attraction will journey to far-flung lands and fly above some of the world’s most unique natural landscapes and man-made wonders when the new Soarin’ Around the World makes its debut also at Epcot.

The popular Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park will be extended for a new nighttime adventure. Travel aboard the Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun, and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.

“Rivers of Light” is an innovative experience unlike anything ever seen in a Disney park, combining live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. The show will be performed on the Discovery River, and will be finale to a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Walt Disney World Resort will complete a multi-year transformation of Disney Springs. Featuring an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands, this new expansion will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, to more than 150 establishments.

The new restaurants to be added this year to Disney Springs include:

The Edison, similar to its sister location in Los Angeles, centers around a 1920s-period electric company with live entertainment, classic American food and craft cocktails. The industrial gothic space will have 35-foot ceilings and a number of themed areas.

Frontera Fresca also opens at Disney Springs, the creation of celebrity Chef Rick Bayless who is known for his authentic Mexican cuisine. Bayless’ menu includes specialties such as hand-crafted tortas, tacos, salads, fresh-made guacamole and classic Mexican braised meat entrees, all crafted with his time-honored recipes.

Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine is celebrity Chef Art Smith’s new restaurant opening in summer at Disney Springs. After 25 years of preparing award-winning meals for celebrities and heads of state and appearing on television, Smith is returning to his home state of Florida with this rustic-chic restaurant featuring Southern classics and whimsical cocktails, punches and coolers.

STK plans to open in the early part of this year is an upscale steakhouse that blends two concepts into one-the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge. Features include a live DJ, high-energy atmosphere and a sleek environment designed to encourage guests to interact and mingle.

SeaWorld Orlando

Mako, a brand new 200-foot-tall coaster is under construction at SeaWorld Orlando to open this summer. It will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster, reaching speeds of 73 mph as it races along 4,760 feet of steel track. The surrounding area will be fully shark themed, providing guests with the opportunity to learn about the impact humans have on sharks and why these animals are critical to the environment.


“The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure” is premiering at LEGOLAND Florida Resort on Jan. 29. The new 4D animated film will bring the film’s main characters, Emmet and Wyldstyle, back together with their friends for another awesome adventure and use elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

The addition of a new attraction, Heroes and Legends is underway at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. It will showcase the heroism of America’s early space pioneers while guests experience the thrills and dangers of America’s earliest space missions through high-tech elements and special effects.

New Dining in Orlando

A twist on the classic French brasserie, DoveCote in downtown Orlando is the next project for James Beard nominated chefs, James and Julie Petrakis, who also own Winter Park’s Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder and Swine & Sons, set to open in spring.

Cask & Larder at Orlando International Airport will be the airport outpost for the popular Winter Park restaurant that was named one of Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants in America in 2014, will open in the summer.