The top 10 colleges in terms of average financial aid award to international students, according to US News and World Report’s annual survey. Yale comes in first at $53,255.
These are some tricks Shree came up with when preparing for the TOEFL:
1. Chatting with friends
For the speaking section, I used to simply chat with my friend in English, asking random questions and taking turns answering. We would listen closely to each other and then give each other possible improvements. We made it like a game; the first one to fail to answer would be the loser.
2. Listening to the radio
Listening to BBC Newsalso helped me sharpen my listening skills. Often I didn’t just listen; I used to take notes as well, since note-taking is a crucial skill for the TOEFL.
3. Thinking about my day
To practice the writing section, at the end of each day I forced myself to write an essay summarizing all that day’s events. Sometimes I would write about the person I hated the most, just for fun.
4. Going to sleep
I also listened to the radio as I was going to bed as further practice for my listening skills, and used to listen to something that would bore me literally to sleep.
“What I realized while preparing for the TOEFL is that it’s not just a test you have to get through. It’s actually a measure of whether you will be able to survive in a college where English is the priority language. Each of the four sections corresponds to something you’ll actually have to do; like reading through a textbook for an assignment, listening to a teacher to take notes for a project, speaking with your friends, or writing homework in a rush.”
Example one. During my year as an exchange student in Pennsylvania, I had a good friend — the daughter of my host mother’s tenant. We spent quite a lot of time together until I moved to my second host family. In any case, we naturally grew apart over the 8 years I spent away from the US.
However, once I moved back to the US, I thought we could reconnect. So I started sending my friend detailed personal emails, asking what she was up to and telling her about where I was in life and what got me there. I used email and Facebook some 3 to 5 times — no answer.
I had pretty much given up on our friendship, but then I was going to fly to Florida via Pittsburgh, the city where I knew my friend now lived. So without much hope, I skipped the personal touch and posted a very impersonal and almost rudely straightforward message on her Facebook wall (something I don’t normally do) that ran “Can I stay with you in Pittsburgh on such and such dates?”
Need I tell you I got an answer this time? My friend checked with her roommates, and I stayed with her on my way to Florida. She explained that she had not answered my messages because she was at a point in her life when she didn’t feel like she had anything to share about her life.
Another example. Not once did my second host family, who I stayed with after the move, call me after I left the US at the end of my exchange year. I was always the one calling, asking how everyone was, and hoping to come back to visit. I had witnessed their previous exchange student come and visit while I was there, so kept thinking to myself, “What am I not doing right?”
After I came back to the US for grad school, I kept calling the family and kept getting the same polite but disinterested replies. My emails with updates largely went unanswered. I would only get a Christmas card with a picture of the family that otherwise never initiated communication with me.
I suppose you know where I am going with this. The moment I wrote a “dry,” factual email to my host dad, letting him know my new mailing address and not once asking how the family was I received a much more detailed response where he even said he might visit me when in the area."
Two interesting examples of communication in America. The blogger’s conclusion is that you shouldn’t approach Americans seeming like you’re asking for something: “to be talked to, you often need to approach others as an equal, even if it means acting more “callous” or disinterested than your native culture warrants.”
I also thought about the fact that Americans sometimes prefer casual friendships, and might feel uncomfortable if you share a lot of personal details or seem to be invading their personal space.
What do you think is the explanation?