All posts in Student Life

  • Tips: The University of Southern California

    University of Southern California

    Thinking of heading to California’s oldest private research university to study? The University of Southern California was established in 1880 and counts Frank Gehry, Will Ferrell, and George Lucas among its alumni.

    The student body also has one of the highest proportions of international students in the US, who like to take advantage of the beautiful grounds, excellent facilities, and California sunshine.


    Tips for transport:

    1. Public transport

    The Metro Expo Line is a light rail line with three stations in and around the USC campus, including the Jefferson/USC station, Expo Park/USC station, and Vermont/Expo station. The line operates from 5am to 12:30am on weekdays and up to 2am Fridays and Saturdays. The line will also be extended in 2016 to service between Culver City and Santa Monica.

    Getting the bus is a convenient option, and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation runs the DASH and Commuter Express bus lines around the perimeter of the USC campus as a cheap and easy way to get about downtown.


    2. Bicycle

    A hugely popular form of transport for students, especially for those living on campus, is riding a bike. Bikes are allowed everywhere outdoors on the USC campus and you’ll find bike stands and bike-friendly paths everywhere.

    You can pick up a bicycle at the University Store Village or Lion’s Bike Shop at 29th Street and Vermont. Don’t forget to always lock your bike!


     3. By car

    Travelling by car is by far the most popular transport option for the population of Southern California. To save money, many students opt to carpool with other USC students using services like Zimride, a private ride-sharing network for students and staff.

    Another alternative to buying a car is to rent a Zipcar, with membership for students at only $35 per year. The cars are available right on campus and you can easily reserve them online.


    Where to stay:

    1. On Campus

    Once you’re formally admitted to the university, you can then apply online for housing on the campus. The university has more than 40 facilities, including apartments, residential colleges, residence halls, and apartments.

    Although living on campus isn’t compulsory, almost all first year students do so for at least their first two years. Living on campus lets you take advantage of all the facilities close by, such as the recreation center and the library.


    2. Renting an apartment

    If you want to live off campus, then you’re in luck, because USC has partnered with Off-Campus Housing to provide you with apartment listings in the area. The site lets you search for apartments as well as potential roommates.

    You’ll also get information about the rental system, safety tips, and other tools and resources to aid your search. Living off campus could work out cheaper and give you more freedom than staying in a residence hall at the college.


    3. Temporary housing

    When you first arrive in the US, you may have to stay in temporary accommodation while you organize more permanent housing.  The housing office at USC may be able to provide you with temporary housing; alternatively, you can stay in one of the hotels or motels situated near the main campus. You can search USC’s website for listing in the area here.


    Food on a budget

    1. Campus food

    Save yourself the cost of transport by eating on campus. Meal plans can work out expensive but they offer the convenience of eating at the traditional dining halls within the campus. USC also has plenty of restaurants, diners, and cafés where you can grab a bite, with everything from fine dining to casual service restaurants.


    2. Cheap eats

    The Lab Gastropub located within USC’s campus won’t break your budget and if you’re old enough, you can grab a beer for $4 at happy hour. If you’re a fan of pizza, then you can pick up a pie for as little as $6 at The Pizza Studio on S Figueroa St. For a cheap lunch or an iced coffee, you can pop into Urbnmrkt and create your own sandwich or grab a burger for $6.


    3. Food shopping

    USC hosts a farmer’s market most Wednesdays on campus from 11am-3pm where you’ll find organic fruit and vegetables, as well as hot food. You can also join a collaborative that promotes local community-supported farming and have fresh organic produce delivered weekly as part of your share.

    Ralph’s downtown is a supermarket that’s part of a large chain of stores, so expect what you’ll typically find in a US grocery store. The free shuttle bus to and from campus is also a nice touch and the reason you’ll find lots of students shopping there. There are also plenty of Trader Joe’s in the area where you’ll find a large selection of fresh and convenience foods.


    Heading to the US to study?

    Download our free helpful guide for international students in the US below.

  • Tips for Yale University

    Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, has graduated five US presidents, 52 Nobel Laureates, and hundreds of high level US diplomats, including former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and current Secretary of State, John Kerry. Yale is a private Ivy-League University and the third oldest institute of higher learning in the US.

    It was founded in 1701 in Saybrook Colony and renamed Yale College in 1718 in recognition of a gift from Elihu Yale, Governor of the British East India Company at the time.  It has over 12 constituent schools, including the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and ten professional schools.



    1. Train

    New Haven is a small city of 130,000 residents two and a half hours south of Boston and is easily accessible by train, bus, car, and airplane. Union Station is minutes from Yale and the regular Metro North will take you between New York and New Haven. Amtrak runs from New Haven to Vermont, Providence, and Boston.  Search Metro-North and Amtrak for information on ticket prices and discount passes.


    2. Bus

    You can hop on a Greyhound or Peter Pan bus out of New Haven at Union Station. Yale also provides shuttle transport for students all year round, except for holidays, and the service is free.  Buses are reasonably priced and offer student discounts. Search for routes here.


    3. Bike

    If you want to use a bicycle, there are several places where you’ll find shared bicycles on campus. The university has partnered with Zagster, a bike-sharing scheme, so you don’t have to worry about buying a bike when you get there.

    It’s easy to navigate Yale on a bike and you won’t have to worry about parking. A Bike-to-Work-Breakfast event takes place every third Friday of the month where cyclists get the chance to meet, have coffee, and enjoy breakfast with other cyclists. Find out more here.



    1. Campus

    Most freshmen live at Yale’s Old Campus, which is made up of 14 buildings, including eight dormitories, two chapels, and a four-acre courtyard. Before you start your freshman year, you’ll be assigned to one of Yale’s twelve residential colleges and be affiliated with this college for the next four years. Once you become a sophomore, you’ll be moved into your designated college.


    2. New Haven

    Home to Yale University for nearly three centuries, New Haven is a busy center for business and arts and a great place to live and work. Freshmen mainly live on campus, but many graduates choose to live in the city.

    You can start your search for apartments in New Haven by looking at Yale University’s affiliated website listings on Elm Campus Partners and OffCampusLiving. Both websites have authenticated student reviews.


    3. Hotels

    There are a number of hotels close to campus where you can stay and many are listed on Yale’s website here. You are free to drop into the Yale Visitor Center to find out more information about Yale and get a guided tour of the campus.

    Foreign language and private tours are also available by appointment. If you’re not sure about Yale, but are considering applying, this is a great way to get to know the university!



    1. Campus dining

    Yale serves a wide selection of food on campus at its various dining halls for students and the style is all-you-care-to-eat. As an undergraduate, you can choose from a number of meal plans to suit your budget. You can use these meal plans at a variety of restaurants and café across campus. For more information, check out their website here.


    2. New Haven

    New Haven offers plenty of choice when it comes to cafés and restaurants, and there are a number of places that won’t hurt your pocket. For example, Moe’s on Whitney will give you free chips and salsa with any order, and you can grab a burrito at La Conchita for as little as $5.

    For a cheap bagel or muffin for breakfast, try the Book Trader Café before 10 am or Patricia’s restaurant on Whalley Ave. China King do a great lunch special, and if you like sushi, then Mizu offers an all you can eat special you can share with your friends for $20.


    3. Grocery shopping

    You’ll find all the basics, such as meat, fresh veggies, and canned food at Stop & Shop on Whalley Ave, within walking distance of the campus. Elm City Market co-op on Chapel Street will save you a lot of money in the long run, especially if you plan on cooking a lot of your own meals throughout the year.

    For relatively cheap prices and pre-prepared meals, go to Trader Joe’s on Boston Post Rd. Whole Foods Market on the same road also have a variety of retail stores, serving fresh, healthy produce.


    Good luck! And don’t forget to download our free guide for international students in the US below.


  • Tips for Harvard University

    harvard university

    Harvard University is one of the oldest universities in the US and has produced no less than eight US presidents. Situated in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the private Ivy League research university’s history, wealth, and influence make it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.


    Where to live

    1. Harvard University housing

    Living on campus at Harvard offers many rewards, including easy access to public and Harvard transportation, free high speed internet, laundry facilities, fitness rooms, and after hour’s emergency care. You’ll find an overview of Harvard housing options on their website.


    2. Off-campus housing

    It’s good to research what areas are close to Harvard before you go searching for apartment listings off campus. Members of the Harvard community can research off-campus housing on You can also search for potential roommates, but first you must register as an incoming student.


    2. Homestays near Harvard

    If you’re curious about what life is like for an American family and want to brush up on your English, renting a room in a homestay could be the answer! You’ll get fed each day and have access to laundry facilities. The family will also act as your guide should you have any questions.


    Harvard transport

    1. Harvard shuttles

    During the academic year, Harvard offers shuttle services through the Cambridge and Allston campuses. MASCO operates Harvard’s medical school shuttle which runs between the Longwood medical area campus and Harvard University campus.


    2. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

    Harvard offers students a 50% subsidy on MBTA passes which form Greater Boston’s public transport system. You can order transit passes for this service and private transfer providers once you’re enrolled on a course.


    3. Bike

    Harvard is constantly working to provide a safe, secure campus for bicycles and there are thousands of bike parking spaces, including covered locations where you can secure your bicycle. If you don’t want to purchase a bike, you can join the Hubway Bike Share Program, which has more than 1,300 bikes at 140 stations throughout Boston.


    Harvard dining

    1. Campus

    Harvard University Dining Services is the oldest collegiate food service in the US and one of the largest, so there will be no lack of choice when it comes to your dinner! As part of the campus dining experience, Harvard offers a single, unlimited meal plan for students with food made from fresh, quality ingredients.

    They are committed to accommodating people with allergies or special dietary requirements, and students should go to their dining hall manager to discuss their needs. You can explore Harvard’s dining services on their website.


    2. Dining out

    There are plenty of great restaurants in Cambridge, including the eclectic and always lively Café Luna on Massachusetts Ave, the excellent Veggie restaurant, Veggie Galaxy and Vegan Bakery, and the upmarket Oleana on Hampshire Street. A great place to start your search is TripAdvisor.


    3. Shopping

    If you’re looking for something healthy and organic, try Boston Organics in Harvard square. You can sign up to get a home delivery of fresh produce to your door as often as you like. Market in the Square reputedly sells the best sandwiches and for everything else, you’ll find a Trader Joe’s on Memorial Drive.


    Good luck! Don’t forget to download our FREE guide below!

  • Fort Hays State University

    Fort Hays State University

    Originally located on a frontier military outpost in Hays, Kansas, Fort Hays State University was founded in 1902 and is still partly located on a portion of the former military reservation from the fort. The public co-educational university has around 11,200 students attending at the 200 acre campus.

    The university’s Forsyth library has a large collection of fiction and non-fiction on the American West and frontier life and the Sternberg Museum of Natural History houses interactive natural science exhibitions and over 100,000 square feet of dinosaurs, fossils, and prehistoric animals from over 70-90 million years ago.


    Where to stay

     1. On campus

    There are various options for first year students who wish to live on campus, and in your first year at university, this is the easiest and most convenient option as you’ll be close to everything.

    McMindes Hall provides housing for 620 students in rooms with private pod-style bathrooms and showers, and has an on-campus dining facility. Other options include Stadium Place apartments, Tiger Hall, Wiest Hall, and the family-friendly Wooster Place. You can research all types of campus living here.


    2. Off-campus housing

    If you want to live off campus you can search for an apartment in the areas close to the university in the city of Hays. Living off campus grounds could be cheaper and give you a bit more freedom. You can start your search at or


    3. Homestay

    Living in a homestay can work out a lot cheaper than living on campus and the experience will be helpful to your English language skills. For a monthly fee, you’ll get a set number of meals per day, a private room and bathroom, and access to laundry facilities. It’s also a great way to get to know the American culture.


    Getting around

    1. Tiger Transport

    The free Tiger Transport van will take you from Wiest Hall to the Mall and Wal-Mart and back and runs every half hour from 2pm-7pm Wednesday to Friday and 2pm-9pm on Saturday.


    2. Shuttle bus

    The campus is small and the city only has 20,000 people so it’s easy enough to get around on foot or on a bicycle. The university provides a shuttle service for a small fee to take you to and from campus.


    3. Biking it

    Fort Hays State University has a bike-sharing scheme called ‘’Take a Bike/Leave a Bike’’  where you can use designated bicycles parked at bike racks for free anytime to get around campus. You’ll recognize these bikes as they are painted blue and gold with an orange flyer and basket.



    1. Campus dining

    All freshmen and sophomores living on campus must participate in a meal plan at Fort Hays State but there are various options to choose from based on your budget and schedule.

    You can use your meal plan at various locations, including Outtakes Snack bar, Starbucks, the Union Station, McMindes Cafeteria, and Mondo’s Subs.


    2. Eating out

    Hays is the cultural center of Kansas and you’ll find plenty of cafés, restaurants, steakhouses, diners, and bars. For a budget-friendly dinner try Gella’s Diner and Lb Brewing Co, where the service is rumored to be excellent, and if you’re over 21, you can grab a nice cold beer from their extensive selection.

    For coffee enthusiasts, there’s Union Station on Vine Street or for something more substantial, try TK’s Smokehouse for a BBQ or steak.


    3. Grocery shopping

    One of the best ways to save cash as a student is to cook your own meals. There is lots of choice when it comes to grocery shopping in Hays, such as Dillon’s Grocery Stores, Schwan’s Food Co and you can take the free Tiger Transport to the large Walmart Store.


    Good luck! And don’t forget to download our free guide for international students in the US below.

  • Tips: Pennsylvania State University

    Pennsylvania state university

    In 2014, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) had over 95,000 students enroll at its 24 campuses, making it one of the biggest universities in the US. Founded in 1855, Penn State has two law schools, a College of Medicine, 19 Commonwealth campuses, and five Special Mission campuses.  The public research university has an academic record on par with many Ivy-League schools in the US and has been labelled one of the ‘’Public Ivies’’.

    Every year, Penn State hosts a 46 hour dance marathon to raise funds for children and families affected by pediatric cancer. It has become the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising $13,343,517.33 alone in 2014.



    1. Campus

    For first year students at University Park, Penn State, living on campus is mandatory. As a freshman, you’ll be sent to live in either North, South, East, West, or Pollock Halls. Once you accept your offer of admission to Penn State, you are in effect signing a housing contract also, which means you’re obliged to live on campus. Here’s more information.


    2. Students with families

    Undergraduate students with families can apply to live in the White Course Apartments in University Park. The park features three-bed townhouses and one and two-bed apartments designed for singles, families, and couples. Among the facilities are a community center and garden, children’s play area, and laundry facilities. Eligible students can submit a lease application to be considered for the apartments.


    3. Short-stay accommodation

    If you’re on a short trip to Penn State or your family wants to pay a visit, there are a number of good hotels close to campus. The Penn State Conference Hotel offers comfortable rooms close to the university with free Wi-Fi, dedicated work spaces, a fitness center, and a free shuttle service. You’ll find a comprehensive list of accommodation near campus here.



    1. On campus

    If you’re a freshman at Penn State, a meal plan is compulsory, and you’ll spend much of your time eating at the campus dining halls. Once you accept your offer, you can log onto their ‘’eliving’’ website to choose your campus meal plan.

    The dining halls are in the all-you-care-to-eat buffet style but the campus also provides options for casual dining, such as the Blue Chip Bistro, Au Bon Pain, The Nittany Lion Inn, the Penn State Bakery and many more listed here.


    2. Cheap eats

    In the mood for something cheap and vegetarian? Pay a visit to Pita Canaba Café to grab a falafel sandwich or a slice of something authentically Middle Eastern like the Lebanese Chipotle.

    For cheap, diner-like food, go to Baby’s Burgers and Shakes on S Garner St and stick a song on the jukeboke as you dig into a juicy burger.

    There are also plenty of Asian restaurants and pizzerias close by, such as Little Szechuan on W College Ave or Faccia Luna Pizzeria on S Atherton St. Check out TripAdvisor or Yelp for a comprehensive list and reviews.


    3. Grocery shopping

    There are four major grocery chain-stores located in the State College, including Wegman’s, Trader Joe’s, Weis Markets, and Giant Food Stores. You’ll find a comprehensive list of the big supermarkets here.

    Eat healthy and support local farmers by shopping at The State College Farmer’s Market that takes place from 11.30am-5.30pm on Tuesdays and Fridays, May to Mid-November.


    Need some advice on studying in the US?

    Download our free guide for international students in the US below.

  • Essential Tips for Studying in the U.S.

    Heading to the U.S. to study? You’re about to embark on an amazing adventure, with big campuses, sunny summer days, and lots of new friends.

    Here are some quick tips to take the stress out of preparing for the big trip:

    Untitled design (39)

    1.    Most important is, of course – The Passport – a “Must’’ when you plan on studying or travelling abroad. Remember to check the expiry date well in advance of your travel date.

    2.    Obtain a Visa – before applying for a visa, students must be accepted and approved by their school or program. Once accepted, educational institutions will provide each applicant with the necessary approval documentation to apply for a student visa. You can research what types of US student visas you can apply for here.

    3.    Health Condition – visit a doctor before you leave to get a clean bill of health. If you need to pack medication, make sure it’s in the original container, clearly labelled, or with a doctor’s prescription.

    4.    Take care of your Banking Needs – get the latest currency exchange rates from sites like, and make sure you take enough US Dollars and/or travel checks with you.

    5.    Airline Tickets – purchase airline tickets early to avoid high airfares, and plan how you’re going to get from the airport to your destination, especially if your flight arrives in at night.

    6.    International Students ID Card – this could save you a lot of money. The ISIC card is the most internationally recognized student card and will get you discounts on sights, accommodation, shops, transport and more.

    7.    Make a list of Emergency Contacts – keep a list of emergency contacts and provide them to your roommate, host institution or someone close by, just in case.

    8.    Make Photocopies of Important Documents – copies of all your essential documents are never useless. Keep copies of your passport, visa, other forms of identification, and important phone numbers and email addresses.

    9.    Keep in mind the Electrical Voltage System – electrical sockets in the US supply between 110 and 120 volts, so remember that your electrical devices might need voltage converters and adaptors to work. You can even purchase adaptors with in-built voltage converters, which could come in very handy.

    And last but not least:

    10.  Housing Options – It’s very risky leaving your country and travelling thousands of miles from home without securing accommodation.

    Optimized-Untitled design (37)

    Consider the following options:

    Dorms – no doubt your university has dorms and this is the most common and popular housing option for newly admitted students. It’s also the most convenient, as it means living right on campus. Dorms also supply meal plans so you don’t have to worry about organizing your breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    Off-Campus Housing – it may sound strange, but renting an apartment off campus costs less. You can choose your roommates, the area, and have more control over who you meet and when. Remember, when choosing this option over a dorm, you will have to cover any additional expenses – utilities, transportation, food, etc.

    Homestay – this is quickly becoming a popular option among international students. Staying in someone’s home will make it easier to interact with native English speakers and experience their culture more closely.

    If you need help arranging accommodation, there are Housing Offices at your University you can turn to. You can also contact your International Student Advisor for information regarding on-campus and off-campus housing.

    In addition, many universities provide resources on housing and apartment rentals on their websites.

    So far so good! You’ve done everything to make your transition to the US easier, but now what?

     Firstly, don’t forget to call home – make sure your phone is loaded with enough credit to make a quick call. This will make you feel better and reassure your friends and family.

    Take a walk – after you’ve settled into your new home take some time to explore your new campus or neighbourhood. Getting some fresh air and exploring your surroundings will help you feel human again after a long trip.

    Don’t fall asleep – after a long flight you will feel the urge to fall asleep and your body clock will be totally messed up. Try to stay awake ‘till at least 10 or 11 p.m. to beat the jet lag.

    Lastly, have fun, enjoy US student life, and who knows? You could make some great new friends to last a lifetime.

    Make your life as a student even easier by signing up to Sprintax for a simple solution to preparing your tax return.

  • 3 Smarter Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund

    save-or-spend-your tax-refund

    Wondering how to spend your IRS tax refund?

    A big refund might feel like you’ve hit the jackpot, but it’s not always wise to spend it all at once. We’ve given you three awesome ideas for amazing life experiences, but if you’re not the ‘adventurous type’ or don’t feel like spending it all in on go, you might consider a more practical plan for your cash.

    Here are some tips on how to spend your tax refund wisely:

    Make a plan

    Firstly, think about your current financial situation and how your tax refund could influence your short and long-term financial needs. Having a clear plan on how to spend your tax refund can greatly improve your future financial health and help you develop financial management skills.

    Pay off your credit card debt

    This might be the first and probably smartest idea that comes to the practical mind when it comes to getting a tax refund. And yes, paying off your high-interest credit card debt should be number 1 on your “smart-ways to-spend-your-refund” list. It might not be ‘fun’, but it will be such a relief to start afresh financially and when you finally have the money you need, you should definitely get your debt matters in order.

    Start your emergency fund

    Maybe this idea sounds better suited to someone in their forties? Well, you might think this way until the ‘emergency’ arises and you realize there isn’t a penny left in the piggy bank. Emergencies don’t just happen to people in their forties, and often occur suddenly, so an emergency fund will give you that welcome cushion to land on when you need it. That’s why putting aside part of your tax refund money (not necessary all of it) will prevent you from getting off-guard.

    Finance your education

    Using your tax refund to buy college or university textbooks, to start additional qualifications courses or sign up for an eBook subscription service, is a really smart way to spend it. The price of textbooks is constantly rising and next semester these could burn a hole in your pocket unless you’ve set some money aside. This could save you the usual money troubles you’ll likely encounter at the beginning of the semester and what’s more, will pay you out hundred times in future.

    Save or spend your tax refund? The final say is yours. Sprintax can only help you get your refund. Sign up here!

  • 3 Awesome Ways to Spend your Tax Refund

    The 2015 US tax season is officially over, so if you’ve filed your tax return you’re probably both relieved and eager to see if you’ll get a refund.

    About 13% of Americans will put their tax refund towards an amazing vacation and 39% will use it to pay down their debts, according to a recent study conducted by the National Retail Federation.

    How will you spend yours?

    Enough with the stats, let’s start with the best part of every tax season – how to spend the money you could get back from the IRS! This year, our advice is to unleash your creativity and do something memorable instead of splashing out on a rainy afternoon.

    Why not try one of these awesome ideas:

    ’’StartUP’’ your future


    Remember that amazing business idea you promised to develop when you got enough money? Well now is the time! Startups are a huge part of the business world and if this is what you’ve been dreaming of, why not start today?

    If you’ve got the idea, now you have the budget to make it happen! Get a pen, draft your first business plan, and give your dreams a head start.

    A voyage of discovery

    8986414_mlNothing pushes you to grow as much as seeing the world. Travelling will open your mind up to new cultures and experiences, so why not try somewhere off the beaten track? If you’re planning on putting your tax refund towards an amazing adventure, we suggest something a little bit different than the well-known tourist destinations.

    How about a Jungle Safari in Borneo or a Cycle Safari in Tanzania? You could brave an Ocean Exploration course in the deep blue waters of the Caribbean or an overland adventure in West Africa. It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? And if you’re a true explorer and adventurer, you should go on at least one epic trip during your lifetime.

    “On the edge of life”

    2786043_lDoes jumping out of an airplane sound fun? Then extreme sports might be the answer. Adrenalin is sometimes all you need to awaken the power within. What if now is the time to meet “The Brave” in you? Get your tax refund and put it towards a sky diving session, balloon flight or bungee jump.

    The adrenalin is guaranteed as well as your safety if you rely on a recognized company, so keep this in mind when searching for exciting “on the edge of life” experiences.

    Whatever you decided to do with your US tax refund, don’t forget Sprintax can help you, not only with great ideas but with filing next year’s return!

  • Top 10 Apps to Survive Student Life in the U.S.

    From planning trips home, to speaking a new language, studying abroad comes with many unique challenges.

    Luckily, technology provides us with lots of cool applications to help navigate student life – reminders, calendars, dictionaries, study apps, etc. Check out our top 10 apps to make life easier as an international student in the US.

    1.    Google Maps

    google maps

    An excellent, free map application and a handy travel guide, Google Maps will quickly become your best buddy in unfamiliar places and help you locate shops, restaurants and landmarks nearby.

    The GPS navigation with voice prompts will guide you to your destination, and traffic alerts will help you avoid heavy traffic. The app maps out the best routes, depending on whether you’re driving, walking, or prefer to bike it. To keep your mobile data, you can save your favorite maps for offline use. The app is free for Android and iOS.

    2. Google Translate

    google translate

    Nobody doubts your language skills, but if you need a little help, Google translate will come to the rescue. Free for Android and iOS users, it translates over 90 languages, is simple to use, and usually reliable.

    You can speak, type, or draw words into your phone or tablet and this app will instantly translate it into your chosen language. A cool new feature called Conversation Mode will even translate your chats with friends in real-time. The Word Lens tool lets you hover your phone over menus, signs and other text to overlay the translated text on the image, though it doesn’t always recognise certain fonts.

    3. Converter+
    converter+Wondering how much to tip the waiter? Need to calculate the sales tax? You might know how many pounds are in a kilogram, but there are times when you’ll need to convert on the go. Whether you’re calculating a tip, or checking the weather in Celsius (°C), Converter+ is a really useful app.

    It packs in over 100 converters and calculators including temperature, length, weight, and currency. It’s simple to use, and could prove a life saver in a foreign country. It’s available for free on iTunes.

    4. LINE

     lineYou can chat to your friends and family for free with LINE. Send messages, make voice or video calls, and have group chats with other LINE users worldwide free of charge using its VoIP technology. ​

    As well as free messages and phone calls, it comes with an integrated social network and lots of cute symbols and emojis for your chats. A great, low-cost way to keep in touch with parents and friends, it will help you feel loved no matter how far you are from home. You can download it for free for Android or iOS.

    5. DataMan

    dataman Phone plans in the US can be confusing. You can avoid paying insane phone bills by using the DataMan app for iOS. DataMan Next will keep track of your data usage in real-time. Simply input your phone plan info and you’ll get warnings when you’re about to exceed your usage limits.

    DataMan Pro is an upgraded version that provides specific information on what apps are eating up your data. A small investment in this app could save you quite a bit of cash in the long run.

    6. Dropbox

    dropbox Never lose course work again with Dropbox, a superb, cloud-based file storage service that lets you upload files (documents, photos, videos, etc.) and access them on any device with an internet connection.

    It comes with 2GB free storage, and lets you share files and sync them from any computer or device. Dropbox can instantly save email attachments, photos and docs for safe keeping, and more importantly, the mobile app will automatically backup all your precious photos and videos. You can get it for free for both Android and iOS.

    7. CliffsNotes

    cliffsnotesCliffNotes have gone digital with their study guides in this iTunes app. If you’re taking an English Literature class, then these guides could prove very useful coming up to exams.

    You can download the app for free on iTunes and purchase notes with information on characters, plot, as well as summaries of every book you read. You can also listen to audio versions of the notes at your leisure, outside during walks, or even at the gym!

    8. Spotify


    With over 20 million tracks, Spotify is a sleek music streaming service essential for any music lover. Similar to iTunes, one of the biggest differences is that you can listen to all your favorite artists for free.

    Simply download the free app to your device and stream songs using a network or Wi-Fi connection. You can upgrade to the paid version, Spotify Premium, to stream and download songs to your device commercial-free. Spotify is free for Android and iOS.

    9. Studious

    studios Get organized with Studious, the perfect study companion. Studious will keep your class schedule, exam dates and project deadlines all in one place. It works like an alarm clock, so when you enter information on your classes, exam dates, and projects, you’ll get gentle reminders.

    You can choose how and when you’re notified, so your phone doesn’t suddenly start ringing loudly during lectures. Another useful feature lets you save notes and pictures for those times when you don’t have a pen handy. You can download it from iTunes for $0.99 or free on the Google Play store.

    10. Eventbrite


    Find out what’s happening in your local area with the Eventbrite app. Free on iTunes and Google Play, this app lets you search festivals, concerts, and upcoming events in your city. You can take a break from study and find networking events, classes and more fun things to do near you.

    The app lets you search and buy tickets for events based on interests, dates, what your friends are attending, and by popularity. You can share events with friends, make bookings, and get vital details from times to dates and location, all from the palm of your hand.

    Have we missed any apps that you can’t live without? Let us know in the comments!

    Don’t forget Sprintax can make your life as a student in the U.S. easier too. Sign up to Sprintax now for a simple US tax solution.

  • 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.