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5 Surprising Benefits of Studying Abroad (Including Affordability!)

5 Surprising Benefits of Studying Abroad (Including Affordability!)

Most young people dream of seeing the world and experiencing cultures vastly different than their own. While traveling is a great opportunity to do this, it pales in comparison with actually living abroad, which is a tad bit more complicated than organizing a journey as tourist. What most students in the US don’t realize is that studying abroad is a very real and very affordable solution.

Studying abroad, especially when seeking higher education, is a solution with a lot of benefits.

So what are the positive aspects of studying in a foreign country?

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1. You can actually save money by studying abroad

It may seem like sending a son or daughter abroad to get an education is a tremendous strain on the family budget, but when you do some number crunching, things stop looking so grim. First of all, tuition costs in the USA are very high for higher education institutions, especially for those that are considered to be the best. Parents dish out around $60,000 per year to provide their children with a proper degree. After all, statistics show that almost 50% of people in the UK  are struggling with debt. The situation isn’t all that peachy in the US either, being that the average credit card debt is $15,706 and the average student loan debt is $32,953. These, and other financial struggles, are things most households experience first hand. Hence, it’s easy to understand why alternative solutions need to be available.

In Germany and many other European countries, the government covers most of the costs, and their schools provide great programs in English for graduates and undergraduates, including testing. There are 900 programs to pick from just in Germany. This is just the peak of the iceberg, and if you do your research you are going to realize that the cost of studying abroad is actually quite affordable for a lot of American families.

2. You get foreign language exposure

We all learn a second language at school, but due to the lack of a proper language-learning environment most of us end up with only a rudimentary understanding of another language. Only those talented enough, or motivated to do extra work on their own, manage to hold on to a more tangible skill-set. This is why moving to a foreign country and being exposed to a foreign language on a daily basis will give any individual an opportunity to bring their language skills close to native. Learning a new language can seem frightening to a lot of people but if you do your research and prepare for the process it will go quite smoothly.

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People who speak two or more languages are highly valued at most companies, and this kind of skill can provide young students with an edge when scouting for a job.

3. You become independent and self-sufficient

There are few things that can prepare you for living alone and looking after yourself, like actually living alone and looking after yourself. I mean yes, there is a transitional period which can be stressful and annoying, but you’ll get used to it soon enough. Not having anyone else to blame for your dirty room, laundry, smelly sheets or whatever chore you choose to disregard on a regular basis really helps strengthen your character. And you need these things in order to gain the confidence to make important life decisions. In some cases parents may be concerned about their children’s safety while studying abroad but truth be told a lot of European cities that have a “reputation” are actually quite safe, Amsterdam being the prime example.

Being abroad means no friends, no parents, no neighbors and a completely new culture that demands you adapt. It is a big change, and it will move you to the core, but once you manage to surpass these differences you’ll come out a different person, ready for any new challenge thrown your way. Getting organized and focusing on your studies is something you need to get under control as soon as possible, so you can adapt quicker. There are more than a few things that can help you out. Once you get things under control and adapt to the educational system of your school of choice, then you can use your spare time to explore the interesting culture you are exposed to.

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4. You gain connections across the sea

You will develop connections all over the world. Chances are, if there are students from the US attending that school, there are students from other countries as well. It is an invaluable business asset for any professional to have business connections in their own niche, spread out across the globe. It gives these young souls the chance to play off each other’s environments and broaden their understanding of the work they pursue. It can also open up some pretty great business opportunities in the global job market.

5. You discover yourself as well as the world

Immersing yourself in a foreign culture, and spending a couple of years in an environment you are not used to, gives individuals an opportunity to grow. You think about things you never would have thought about before, and you realize how different, yet similar people everywhere are. Once you’ve spent some time abroad, you begin to understand how cultural differences can cause breakdowns in communication between cultures. This can then create an impression of another country being foreign and alien, when, in truth, all that we need to do is devote more time to understanding each other. Becoming a true cosmopolitan (citizen of the world) is rarely something that you can do without getting in touch with a culture that is foreign to you. Experiencing a culture that is new to you comes creates insights and even regular travelers learn something about themselves and the world within limited time frames; imagine what will happen when you decide to take your time.

Choosing to study abroad is a big move, and an ambitious one at that, but it isn’t something that is impossible to achieve. If you are not sure that you can pull it off, do your research before actually giving up on the whole idea. After all, there are thousands of great schools out there, and you might run into something you like and can afford.

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Furthermore, I see no reason why the country a school you like is located in should be a factor. Don’t let your fear and anxiety, or even worse, other people’s doomsayer attitudes impact your decision. This is a step few decide to take, but very few regret it as well- so, that’s something to think about.

Featured photo credit: summer idyll / Charles Clegg via flickr.com

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Published on September 28, 2018

The Top 21 Kids Websites to Teach Responsibility and Life Skills

The Top 21 Kids Websites to Teach Responsibility and Life Skills

Letting your children navigate the internet on their own is like throwing them into the Wild West for them to fend for themselves. The internet can be a dangerous place for children if they are on the wrong websites.

We all want to protect our children, so knowing the websites that are safe for our kids is of utmost importance. What we also want as parents are websites that teach our children life skills and responsibility.

There are great websites, geared for children, that will engage your child and have them learning at the same time. Below are the top 21 websites for teaching children life skills and responsibility. All of the sites have been vetted and approved by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization whose mission is to “empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.”

Always monitor children when they are using the internet. Parental guidance for age appropriateness is recommended when your child uses any of the websites listed below. What is appropriate for an eight year old is not always appropriate or suited for a four year old.

These 21 websites can have your kids engaged, entertained, learning, and developing new skills.  Most of them are intended to engage children of various ages, so look for the content on each site that is appropriate for your child’s age and ability level.

1. PBS Kids

    This website is loaded with games, educational activities and videos that will please both child and parent.

    This site engages children in activities and videos that teach them about citizenship, different cultures, geography, global awareness, hypothesis testing, investigating, self-reflection, personal growth, empathy, respect for others, labeling feelings and more.

    For example, the Webonauts Internet Academy teaches kids how to be safe online and Wild Kratts teaches kids about different habitats around the world.

    There is a great deal of content on this website. Head to their site today to discover what your child could be missing out on!

    2. Curious World

      This site is geared for kids ages 2-7. The main character guiding kids on an educational journey is Curious George. If your child is a fan of the books or cartoon, then you should check out this website.

      There are eight key areas of learning covered on this website including math, reading, and science. This website makes learning fun with games and child appropriate online activities. It also includes hands on activities for parents to do with their child.

      Activities such as crafting, cooking, and art projects with detailed instructions are provided, so that parents can interact with their children to build important life skills.

      3. News-O-Matic

        This is a news website geared for kids. The content helps them learn about the world and its happenings, in a website that is made for kids.

        There are daily editions of which include new articles every day on a variety of subjects and topics. The articles are written to grab the attention of a child reader. You will find that even reluctant readers find this site entertaining.

        If you have a passion for the news and keeping up with the changing world, then you can ignite this passion in your children by getting them started on the News-O-Matic website.

        Some of the skills that kids can learn while utilizing this site include reading comprehension, increased vocabulary, geography recognition, critical thinking, perspective taking, reasoning, and cultural awareness.

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        4. National Geographic Kids

          The National Geographic Kids website teaches kids about animals, space, the natural world, dinosaurs, insects and more. They use games, videos, and online activities to connect children with learning about our natural world.

          There are valuable skills reinforced in the online activities including the use of logic, memory, applying information, investigation, problem solving, and imagination.

          There is a great deal of free content on this website that can be utilized without being a paid subscriber.

          5. ABC Mouse

            This website is geared for children ages 2-7. This is a learning website that covers the subjects of reading, math, social studies, science, health, writing, art, and music.

            Some of the skills that are taught on this site through the website activities include following directions, letter recognition, word recognition, phonics, reading comprehension, speaking, memorization, solving puzzles, measurement, goal achievement, rhythm, and more.

            This website boats that it contains a comprehensive curriculum with more than 8,500 learning activities. It is a great tool for preschoolers preparing for kindergarten.

            There are also lessons and activities that are more advanced beyond kindergarten.

            This is a subscription based program. It has won many awards because of its comprehensive nature and successful curriculum.

            6. FunBrain

              This educational website has a great deal of free content, so your child can access hundreds of activities without a subscription.

              There are games and activities for kids to play while they learn at the same time. Kids will use the following skills while playing on this website: problem solving, puzzle solving, reading, vocabulary, math, and reasoning.

              What makes this site unique is that there are online versions of popular kid’s books including the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

              7. Nourish Interactive

                This website is geared toward nutrition for children. It is a free website.

                There are games, printable activities, recipes and tools on this site that teach children about nutrition.

                The goal of the site is to help children learn to make healthy eating choices at a young age, so they can have this skill for life. The site also teaches about cooking, with many healthy recipes available free.

                8. Arthur Family Health

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                  Arthur is a favorite cartoon character on PBS. The Arthur Family Health website is for kids to learn about resilience, fitness, peanut allergies, asthma, and more.

                  Health is not an easy topic to address with children, but this website does a great job by utilizing games, videos, and activities that are age appropriate and fun.

                  9. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

                    This website uses the popular PBS cartoon character Daniel Tiger. This website has games, activities, and videos geared toward younger children.

                    The skills that are taught on this site include expressing emotions appropriately, eating healthy, making friends, brushing teeth, dealing with disappointment and toilet training.

                    There are stories with a narrator for kids to listen to, simple games to play, videos to watch, and songs to engage younger children.

                    It is an entertaining site for younger kids and the topics teach great life skills for little ones! This is a free website.

                    10. BrainPop

                      This website is geared for children in the fourth grade and older. It is a paid subscription site. However, there are some games and videos that are available free on this site.

                      This website helps kids academically. There are also life skills and lessons addressed on the site. They address even the most sensitive and tough topics such as war, terrorism, sexual development, and alcoholism.

                      Reviewers of the site say that this website is useful for kids all the way through high school.

                      11. Arcademic Skill Builder

                        This website is geared toward helping young students acquire math, language arts, English and critical-thinking skills. This site is filled with games and activities to keep kids entertained while learning.

                        This website has a strong emphasis on math skills including addition, subtraction, counting, division, fractions, money, multiplication, ratios, and shapes.

                        If your child is struggling with their math skills, then this site can be of great help. Many of the games and activities are free.

                        12. Cyberchase

                          This website is based on the PBS show Cyberchase. It is geared toward children who can read or are learning to read. It helps kids acquire critical thinking and reading skills.

                          The site is filled with free games, videos and activities that keep kids entertained, engaged, and learning. Some of the games get kids to think about real life situations to utilize their problem solving skills. Brainstorming is a another skill that is utilized on this site. It is a free website.

                          13. Fact Monster

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                            This website was created in partnership with educational professional. It is a site that is a great help for children completing homework. They can find facts on dozens of subjects on this site along with dictionary and atlas.

                            The content is more than browsing and providing information. There are games and activities to entertain kids on the site while they learn. Interesting to note, the site contains more than 30,000 short biographies!

                            This website is a game changer for home work time. Some of the skills that kids apply on this site include problem solving, thinking, reasoning, and self-direction.

                            14. Maggie’s Earth Adventures

                              This website gets kids thinking and learning about the world and its vast ecosystems. It is a free site that teaches kids about the earth.

                              Real life situations are presented in short videos. Then kids play games that touch on the subjects of animals, earth, recycling, and injustice.

                              Some of the skills that they can acquire on this site include cultural understanding, global awareness, reading comprehension, spelling, vocabulary, investigation, prediction, and thinking critically.

                              15. PBS Lab

                                PBS Lab is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This grant requires them to research the games and their effectiveness in helping kids learn real skills. The result is a website where kids actually learn while they have fun.

                                This site teaches kids the skills they need to be successful in school. The website is useful for kids ages three and up. Some of the skills that kids learn on this site include math, reading, spelling, word recognition, measuring, and pattern recognition. This site is free!

                                16. Sesame Street

                                  This website is based on the TV program. Kids are entertained by their favorite Muppets in games, songs, podcasts, videos, and activities.

                                  This site can be used by children ages two and up, so it is one of the best options for very young children.

                                  Some of the skills taught on this site include empathy, labeling emotions, brushing teeth, hygiene, addition, subtraction, counting, measuring, recognizing shapes, understanding cultural differences, following directions, letter recognition, word recognition, spelling, respecting others, asking questions, problem solving, use of imagination, and making new creations.

                                  This site has a great deal of value for parents who want their children to be learning practical life skills while they are on the internet being entertained. This website is completely free!

                                  17. Star Fall

                                    This educational website is geared for children ages four and up. Although this is a subscription website, there is content that users can try out before purchasing.

                                    The website is run through a non profit organization and the price for subscription to the site is low because they want to make the content available widespread to benefit many children.

                                    Some of the skills that kids can learn on this website are addition, subtraction, counting, division, equations, fractions, geometry, grouping, measuring, multiplication, number recognition, shape recognition, reading, letter recognition, and word recognition.

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                                    There are games, lots of songs, and activities to engage young children. The primary focus on this site is math and literacy.

                                    18. How Stuff Works

                                      This website is geared toward older children. It is a site filled with articles, podcasts, games, quizzes, and polls. There is a wealth of information on this site, which makes it useful for homework projects.

                                      The articles are attention grabbing, which help to snag the reader and get them interested in everything from the history of specific holidays to learning how super-volcanos work.

                                      This site touches on eleven primary categories of learning: animals, health, science, tech, automobiles, culture, home & garden, finances, lifestyle, entertainment, and adventure.

                                      Some of the skills that kids can learn through using this site include: building, gardening, self-direction, creativity, researching, empathy, understanding different cultures, and developing novel solutions.

                                      19. Nick Jr

                                        This website is based on the tv shows from the Nick Jr network. Young kids can learn while they interact with their favorite characters on this website. Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol, Sunny, and dozens of other characters can be found on this site.

                                        There are games, video, stories, and printable activities found on this website. The site is entertaining for kids and they learn a variety of skills including math and reading.

                                        The content is geared toward preschool learning, and it is free.

                                        20. Space Racers

                                          This website is based on the show. The site is designed to get preschoolers excited about space and science.

                                          The learning on this site is based on STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). It comes through games, coloring pages, videos, music segments, lesson plans, and printouts from the lessons.

                                          There are a total of 17 lesson plans that use STEM concepts. The skills that kids learn from using this site include observation, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, mathematics, decision making, hypothesis testing, and goal setting.

                                          The science subjects taught on this site through the entertaining and engaging content include astronomy, rocket science, geology, and physics. This website is free!

                                          21. Crayola

                                            This website comes from the Crayola company. It is a free website.

                                            When kids click on the “play zone” they can find educational games and activities. The site has many free printable and coloring activities.

                                            The following skills can be learned by kids who use this site: following directions, drawing, painting, making digital creations, use of imagination, innovation, and making new creations.

                                            There are a great deal of DIY craft projects with detailed instructions found on this website.

                                            Featured photo credit: Ben Mullins via unsplash.com

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