Archive for January, 2015

  • Music for studying

    Music and the brain: What does the research say?

    Are you one of those students, jacked in with plastic cables running from your ears to your phone or laptop during long late night study sessions? Or do you find any kind of background noise distracting when trying to get down to study?

    The question of whether or not listening to music while studying can benefit your concentration and performance remains hotly debated. The bad news for those who pick a playlist, before even opening a book is that most of recent research suggests silence is actually the best atmosphere for studying.

    Mozart Effect, Shmozart Effect

    Sadly, it turns out the popular idea that listening to classical music can enhance people’s intelligence and performance – the Mozart effect, is a tabloid-created fable. Listening to one particular composer or genre is highly unlikely to transform your intellectual powers.  The whole “play classical music to your unborn child” craze, turned out to be almost entirely contrived by the media.

    Psychologist Frincis Rauscher, whose experiment on music and the brain in 1993, reported in a single page paper that listening to Mozart’s music improves spatial reasoning for about 10 minutes. She also says the most effective music will vary depending on the person. In short: “If you hate Mozart, you’re not going to find Mozart effect. If you love Pearl Jam, you’re going to find Pearl Jam effect.”

    Dr. Nick Perham, from the University of Wales, on the other hand, concluded that listening to music while studying – regardless of how much you love or hate the sound is “worse than the quiet control condition”. He’s also found that music containing lyrics is especially disruptive during any task involving reading – a point also argued by Stanford University professor Clifford Nass.

    Before you put your iPod away, feeling like you’ve lost the only thing about studying, that makes it bearable, consider this: both Perham and Nass acknowledge the potential of music to help create the perfect state of mind for studying, somewhere in between relaxation and excitement. So it seems that listening to some favorite music before commencing studies could help, even if silence is golden during the actual brainwork.

    You know what else will help you focus on your studies? Sprintax, of course! Sign up with Sprintax, to prepare your tax return in no time, so you can concentrate on the forthcoming exam period.

    If you are still convinced that your headphones are an essential study tool, share with us your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • End of 2014 Tax Year Is a Fact

    Time to get serious about taxes

    With 31st December already behind us, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming filing season.  We know, we know… It’s hard enough to readjust to school after the holidays, without having to worry about taxes. And that’s why Sprintax is here to help!  Below, we’ve listed some useful tips to save you time and energy when it comes to taxes.

    Stay updated

    The tax season for Non- residents like yourselves doesn’t officially start until the IRS has released the tax forms for the new financial year. This usually takes place in the second half of January. In order to keep you informed, we created an option for you on the Sprintax website, which allows you to sign up for an instant update, the minute the IRS announces the new 2014 tax year is open. We will let you know, so you can focus on other important things. So sign up today

    Be one of the first to file

    As soon as we send out the word about the new tax filing season being open, we strongly advise you to visit the Sprintax website and get your tax return done as early as possible. The sooner you get this off of your To-Do-List, the better. April 15th seems far away now; however the deadline will be knocking on our doors in no time. The good news is, this way your documents will be processed fast and you will avoid any delays. The even better news is, if you’re due a tax refund, you’ll be getting it right on time for Spring break! Awesome, right?

    Be prepared

    Once you sit down in front of your computer to start completing your tax returns, here’s what you need to have handy:

    • Passport – Sprintax will need to gather some details about you and your Visa, which will be reported on the first page of your tax return
    • Entry/Exit dates in the US – reporting the history of your entry and exit dates is very important, as it has a lot to do with your residency status for tax purposes in the US.
    •  Payment documents – if you have received any income during 2014, you should have received a summary payment document. For example – W-2 from an employer if you worked; 1042-S from you university if you received a scholarship, etc. Check out our FAQ page for more information on payment documents.
    • Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). (If you don’t have any of those assigned to you, Sprintax will help you out. Check out how by contacting the team.)
    • Form DS-2019 (for J-Visa holders) or Form I-20 (for F-Visa holders)
    • If you are using Sprintax for your State Tax Return(s) preparation only you will need a copy of your already prepared Federal Tax return.

    Most importantly, don’t forget the Sprintax team is available 24/7 to help you, guide you and answer any questions you may have about US taxes.

    We hope you find these tips useful, in the meantime, if you think of any questions or you need additional information, visit the Sprintax FAQ section or contact the team via the Live chat or by email.

  • A Guide to New York City on a Student Budget

    If you’re a student in New York City, you might have already noticed New York is expensive.

    Well we’ve got news for you – it doesn’t have to be! What can $12 get you in this town? Plenty!

    If art is your passion

    New York’s Museums have in store something for everyone. Classics such as American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and the Cloisters are a must-see, especially on the days/times when students get free passes.  It is always fashion week in the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It possesses an impressive gallery of clothes dating from the 18th century to present, as well as student collections. The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens explores the history of film and The New Museum on the Lower East Side has a collection of offbeat, modern art.

    Not just a library

    One of the most magnificent landmarks in New York City is a home to more than 15 million items, including priceless medieval manuscripts, ancient scrolls, contemporary novels and poetry and many others including the Declaration of Independence – The New York Public Library. Formally known as the Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, the Library represents the heart of history itself and provides its visitors free access and the chance to explore extraordinary historical collections.

    Central Park

    It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to figure out that a park is free to visit – most parks are. But most parks aren’t Central Park. To make exploring the park easy and fun, Central Park has its very own app. It is an audio guide using celebrity voices that direct you to over 40 areas of interest like the Strawberry fields; the “Imagine” mosaic near the Dakota or where John Lennon was killed in 1980.

    Short Trip to an Island

    New Yorkers can take a day trip over to Governors Island, a 172-acre island in the heart of New York Harbor. The five-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan is free and offers spectacular views of New York Harbor. On Governors Island, there is something for everyone, whether it’s enjoying a free concert or kayaking along the Hudson River. The visit is ideal for anyone who wants to take a break from the the big city, while enjoying beautiful lawns and fun activities that are well within a student budget.

    Bargains galore in the Big Apple

    Make sure you’re updated on the best deals around the city, never mind if you are looking for a cheap bite, shopping discounts, free concerts or a Broadway show. There are tons of websites and apps, which will help you explore New York and stay within your budget.  Www.nyc.com is a website that will prove to you, not everything in New York will break your wallet.

    Staying close to campus is a not a good idea.

    Don’t stick only to the main attractions. If you try to get to know the city better, you’ll come across things just by chance: street fairs, galleries and museums, or a show you didn’t know about. In fact, the best way to get a flavor of New York is by taking long walks. Downtown, around Greenwich Village, East Village and West Village is a good place to start and place like Chinatown and Little Ukraine are full of hidden treasures. Just keep an eye on where the crowd is going; the busiest restaurants or the loudest bars – a lot of time they will have signs in the door saying you can get a discount with your Student ID.

    We know you’d love to take a bite from the Big Apple and the cost doesn’t matter. Boost your budget! Sign up with Sprintax to complete your tax return and get some extra cash if you are due a tax refund. Just in time for Spring break!

  • Top 10 Most Beautiful Campuses in Winter

    Winter is definitely not the best time for travelling, but it is one of the most beautiful seasons.

    If you are stuck in your dorm and you don’t have the chance to do anything because of the bad weather the only thing left for you is to enjoy the nice scenery that your campus offers you.
    Or at least envy your colleagues who have the chance to study in one of most beautiful colleges in USA. So pour yourself a cup of hot liquid and check out our list. Don’t forget that winter has its charm after all.

    University of Colorado

    University of Colorado is situated on one of the most spectacular college campuses in the country – the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Boulder. The University of Colorado combines sweeping views of the snow- capped Rocky Mountains and Flatirons; a gorgeous natural setting that includes a serene lake and two creeks, and ruggedly beautiful buildings to match. The city of Boulder is in Boulder Valley where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. The University’s geographic situation puts its campus on top listings for beauty.
    For winter sports enthusiasts, the University of Colorado—Boulder offers world-class ski and snowboarding resorts.

    1

     Dartmouth College

    Dartmouth College is situated in the rural town of Hanover, New Hampshire, located in the Upper Valley along the Connecticut River in New England. Its campus is centered on a former field of pine trees cleared in 1771. Dartmouth’s buildings are designed in the Georgian American colonial style, which add even more charm to the campus especially in winter. Dartmouth College is famous with their Winter Carnival, a great tradition that involves students in different winter sports, snow sculptures and other interesting events.

    2

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury’s campus is located in the Champlain Valley between Vermont’s Green Mountains to the east and New York’s Adirondack Mountains to the west. The campus is situated on a hill to the west of the village of Middlebury.
    Middlebury’s students take advantage of Vermont’s snowy season during the school’s winter term.  Last year the college took first place on Buzzfeed’s list of the “Most Winter Wonderful College Campuses.”

    3

    University of Montana

    The campus of the university is bordered to the east by Mount Sentinel and the north by the Clark Fork.
    The Mount Sentinel is recognized with a large hillside letter “M”, the Missoula’s most memorable landmark. Cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling all within a short distance of the campus. The college town also celebrates New Year’s Eve with a winter celebration called First Night, which includes music, crafts, and an ice sculpture competition.

    4

    University of Virginia

    The university of Virginia has won prize for its unique Jeffersonian architecture; The New York times said: “it was incomparably the most ambitious and monumental architectural project that had or has yet been conceived in this century”; the American Institute of Architects called it “the proudest achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years.”
    What we think is irrelevant, so we will just quote David Neuman, Architect for the University of Virginia: “A beautiful campus is defined by a sense of order, though this doesn’t necessarily mean right angles. There should be a green space, an area of respite that is not immersed in the day to day. And the architecture should be compatible with both the scale of other buildings and the students whose endeavors they house.”

    5

    Cornell University

    Although it has a relatively small campus, Cornell has some prime real estate on a hilltop in central New York State, with Cayuga Lake and two large gorges surrounding it. The impressive Sage Hall, freckled with snow, and the already-unique Johnson Museum of Art, both look incredible in winter season.

    6

    Duke University

    Duke University or also known as “the Gothic Wonderland”, a nickname referring to the Collegiate Gothic architecture of West Campus, is one of the most beautiful winter campuses. The iconic Chapel Drive which contrast with the white snow make the surrounding magical.

    7

    Bowdoin College

    Bowdoin College is a private arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick. Bowdoin is located on the shores of Casco Bay and the Androscoggin River, 12 miles (19 km) north of Freeport, Maine, and 28 miles (45 km) north of Portland, Maine. The Campus is famous with its museums’ buildings and with its constant ranking among the top ten liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report.

    8

    Boston College

    Boston College is a private Jesuit Catholic Research University situated in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; 6 miles west of Boston.

    The main campus includes over 120 buildings that bring the Collegiate Gothic architecture spirit in the present. The 175-acre campus is located on a hilltop overlooking the Chestnut Hill Reservoir – a gorgeous view, that many young students have the prestige to observe every day.

    9

    University of Utah

    University of Utah is located on the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley, close to the Wasatch Range and approximately 2 miles east of downtown Salt Lake City.

    A campus filled with unique architecture and interesting design solutions situated in region perfect for educational inspiration and spitirual comfort.

     10

    Share with us which one is the most beautiful in your opinion?