October 7th, 2013 by Ross Mason
Fancy yourself as a budding movie director? Want to win $4,000?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you should take a look at the 8th Annual InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest! Run each year, the contest is now in its 8th year and provides international students and travelers with the opportunity to showcase their film making skills and explain why they want to travel or study abroad. The entries over the past few years have been excellent, as you can see from the previous year entries, but for an international student its a great way to showcase your education abroad and potentially win some money.
So whats involved?
The setup if easy, in under 5 minutes you need to explain why you want to study abroad (if you have not done so yet) or if you are a student already studying abroad you can explain why you want to travel somewhere in the world. That is essentially it – but you need to be creative and original, and explain your story in the best way possible to catch the eye of the judges.
Full information on the requirements and how to enter are on their website, but good luck and hopefully you can be in with a chance to win $4,000!
September 30th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
The October 2013 travel warnings are a listing of any warnings that have been posted by the US Department of State in the month of September, warning travelers who plan to visit those countries. Remember to exercise extra care if you are visiting these countries, and check with your travel insurance provider to make sure you still have coverage in place – sometimes some benefits can be excluded for countries under a travel warning.
Countries listed through the month of September 2013 include:
Kenya – September 27, 2013
In light of the recent attack on at Nairobi shopping mall, the US Department of State has issued a travel warning which warns US citizens of the risks of traveling to Kenya. The levels of risk vary throughout the country. Citizens in Kenya or who are considering traveling to Kenya should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of crime in some areas.
Turkey – September 6, 2013
The US Department of State warns US citizens traveling or living in Turkey that the US Consulate General in Adana has been authorized to draw down its non-emergency staff and family members because of potential threats against US government facilities and personnel. The Department of State recommends that US citizens defer all non-essential travel to southeast Turkey, and citizens traveling or residing in Turkey should be alert to the potential for violence. US citizens are encouraged to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings, although there have yet been no direct attacks on US citizens.
Lebanon – September 6, 2013
US citizens are urged to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and security concerns. US citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. The Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to potential threats to US Mission facilities and personnel on September 6. The potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains, and Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly.
Pakistan – September 6, 2013
The Department of State warns US citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning from August 9 that reminded US citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan. Public and consular services at the US Consulate General in Lahore remain unavailable, although routine consular services are available at the US Embassy in Islamabad or the US Consulate General in Karachi.
Iraq – September 5, 2013
The Department of State warns US citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq. Given the current security situation, travel within Iraq remains dangerous. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning from February 25, 2013, to update information on security incidents and to remind US citizens of ongoing security concerns in Iraq, including kidnapping and terrorist violence. The ability of the Embassy to respond to situation in which US citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.
While traveling, please keep these September 2013 travel warnings in mind. Travelers are also advised to enroll through the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to stay up to date on travel security information.
September 27th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
When preparing to study abroad, there are a number of concerns that students need to take into consideration. Not the least of these concerns is the matter of health insurance. It is important for students to be familiar with the health system of their host country, so that they are prepared and know what to expect should they become sick or injured during their stay.
Since 1988, everyone in Brazil—including legal foreign residents such as international students—has guaranteed access to medical care. The Brazilian health care system is composed of a large public, government managed system, the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), which serves the majority of the population, and a private sector, managed by health insurance funds and private entrepreneurs.
SUS sits on three basic principles of universality, comprehensiveness, and equity. Universality states that all citizens must have access to health care services, without any form of discrimination regarding skin color, income, social services, gender, or any other variable. People who make use of the government’s free public health system pay nothing for doctors’ fees, lab fees, hospitalization, surgery, or prescription drugs.
However, because wait times are long and the private system provides better care, the more affluent Brazilians generally use the private system, which covers about 20% of the Brazilian population. Though foreign residents in Brazil are covered by SUS, the majority of them choose private health insurance in Brazil. We recommend that international students invest in private health insurance before setting out on their study abroad.
Many insurance firms in Brazil offer four principle types of medical insurance plans: private health insurance, prepaid group practice, medical cooperatives, and company health plans. Costs of private insurance in Brazil vary according to the provider, coverage, and region. The plans also offer varying terms and conditions. For example, some private health insurance policies require the policy holder to pay the hospital bill up front and then obtain reimbursement from the insurance company, while other insurance companies will pay the bill immediately.
Another option is to choose to purchase student health insurance back home before departing for Brazil. You might find that your current health insurance provider has participating doctors and hospitals in Brazil, and extends coverage to you during your travels. If this is not the case, we offer a number of plans to students who are planning on studying, traveling, or visiting in Brazil, including the Atlas Travel and Student Secure plans. Make sure to examine a policy carefully before purchasing it, to ensure that it meets your specific needs.
September 25th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
How well you sleep at night can greatly affect how you feel during your waking hours. If you feel sluggish or moody during the day, it could well be because you are not getting a good enough sleep at night. Many times, the secret to improving your sleeping habits can be found in your daily routine. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day-to-day lifestyle choices can make an enormous difference in the quality of your nightly rest. We’ve compiled a list of ways you can get a better night’s sleep so you can be productive, mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long.
1. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day—even on weekends, holidays, and days off. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps to promote better sleep at night. However, if you don’t fall asleep within about 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing. Agonizing over falling asleep can make it even more difficult to sleep.
2. Create a nighttime ritual.
Do the same things every night to tell your body that it’s time to wind down. This might mean taking a hot bath or shower, reading a book, or listening to soothing music with the lights dimmed. Relaxing activities can promote better sleep by easing the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.
Try not to use a TV or other electronic devices before bed; some research suggests that doing so may interfere with sleep.
3. Avoid daytime naps.
Long naps during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep—particularly if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality at night. If you do nap during the day, try to limit yourself to about 10 to 30 minutes and make it during the midafternoon.
4. Include physical activity in your daytime routine.
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep by helping you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Careful, though; if you exercise too close to bedtime, you might find that you’re too energized to fall asleep. If you find that this is an issue for you, try to exercise earlier in the day.
5. Try to manage your stress.
When you have too much to do—and too much to think about—your sleep is likely to suffer. To help yourself get a better night’s sleep, consider healthy ways to manage stress. Start with the basics, such as getting organized, setting priorities, and delegating tasks. Give yourself permission to take breaks when you need them. Before bed, jot down what’s on your mind and set it aside for tomorrow.
September 20th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
Many international student assume that if they have health insurance, their health care costs are either fully covered or at least a good portion of their medical bills will be paid. Unfortunately, this is not always the case where plans have “exclusions” which tell you what isn’t covered under the health insurance policy. A health insurance exclusion refers to anything that the insurance company will not cover. This can range from anything from a type of drug to a type of surgery. These exclusions vary from plan to plan, so it’s important to read through all of the plan exclusions – as this can be even more important than the benefits listed out in a plan!
There are a number of exclusions common to health insurance plans. When shopping for an insurance plan, keep an eye out for these exclusions so you know exactly how you are covered.
- Maternity – Make sure that you check the exact working as to what will be covered and excluded when it comes to maternity. In some cases, the delivery is covered but the pre- and post-natal care is excluded. Some plans may only cover complications for maternity within a certain period of time – others will exclude it entirely. Most plans will also exclude maternity coverage if you are already pregnant at the time of purchase.
- Pre-Existing Conditions – A pre-existing condition is any illness or injury that you had before you purchased your plan. If you need coverage for a chronic condition, check to make sure that pre-existing conditions are included. If they are, make sure you are familiar with any waiting period that may apply before these conditions will be covered. If this is not a problem, then you can look for a plan that doesn’t cover this, and in many cases, the plan will be less expensive.
- Sports Coverage – If you will be playing an organized sport for your school, check to make sure that sports are covered, the sport you will be participating in is not excluded and that you understand any exclusions that are listed related to sports. This is one of the more common exclusions.
- Outpatient Prescription Drugs – If you are prescribed medication to help the healing process of your injury or illness, make sure you double check to make sure that that specific drug is covered under your plan.
- Mental Health – Before purchasing a plan, look into the mental health coverage, just in case you need to visit a provider for a mental health disorder in the future. If so, know what is covered and what is not. Keep an eye out for treatments that are often excluded, such as substance abuse.
Your plan may exclude more than what is listed here, so make sure to check and double-check your list, to make sure you are fully prepared in case the unexpected should happen.
September 16th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
As an international student in the US, you know that you need health insurance for the duration of your stay. However, did you know that your health insurance likely doesn’t cover dental health? This doesn’t mean that dental care isn’t expensive; a crown may cost $1,500, and a root canal may cost you between $300 and $1,000. Dentists certainly aren’t cheap, which is why dental insurance may be a good choice for you.
How Dental Coverage Works
With health insurance, you pay your deductible as well as a significantly smaller portion of the rest of the bill. Dental coverage is exactly the opposite; you receive a certain amount of coverage, and after that you’re on your own to pay the balance of the bill. Once you hit your yearly maximum, you have to either wait until next year for more work or pay the expenses from your own wallet.
If you do not have the option of dental insurance through an employer, you will have to pay for your own coverage. This will likely cost between $12 and $50 per person per month. Other plans, while they may not be insurance, allow you to pay a yearly fee that qualifies you for discounted rates at member dentists. These plans generally cost between $75 and $100 per person per year. According to The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, each plan comes out to about the same out-of-pocket costs once all dental bills are paid. As with any product, shopping around for the best rate and terms may be time consuming, but may result in significant cost savings over time.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, your teeth can get expensive. For this reason, dental insurance might be the best idea for you and your family. Check online for the best rates and call and speak to each of the providers. Ask to see the policy before enrolling and make sure that your dental benefits provider will cover your trips to your dentist.
Want to learn more? Check out our Dental Discount Plans.
September 15th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
If you are given the opportunity to study in Spain, you have a unique chance to explore and learn about an incredibly interesting and diverse region. With over 46 million people, Spain is home to a variety of regional identities including Baques, Catalans, Galicians, and Castilians. If you are hoping to learn Spanish—or maybe the second most commonly spoken language, Catalan—Spain could be the perfect study abroad location for you.
Before you depart from your home country, there are a number of considerations that you will need to get in order. Not the least of these considerations is purchasing a study abroad insurance for Spain. You will want insurance that will provide you with coverage even if you spend your weekends making use of the inexpensive public transportation and exploring Europe.
Entrance into Spain can be difficult if you are not properly prepared. You will need to present proof of your travel health insurance showing that it meets the minimum requirements specified by the Spanish government. Most consulates require that you show a minimum of 30,000 euros coverage for medical expenses as well as repatriation benefits. This means that if the worst should happen, and you should die while abroad, your insurance company will pay for your remains to be transported back home.
The Atlas Travel plan is designed to cover your education overseas in Spain, as well as outside of your host country. In addition to meeting the minimum requirements of 30,000 euros with repatriation, the plan will provide you with a customized visa letter immediately, which you can present as proof of coverage and obtain in our Student Zone after purchasing the plan. The plan provides translation services around the clock, and includes coverage for sicknesses such as colds and the flu, as well as major emergencies including hospitalization, emergency room visits, urgent care, and much more.
September 9th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
No matter whether you’ve paid for your charges to your medical bills up front or if the insurance company will pay your doctor or hospital directly, you will need to submit an insurance claim form to the insurance company. This insurance claim form informs the insurance company about the situation, what medical treatment you have sought, and what they need to reimburse you or your provider. To help you along, we’ve compiled step-by-step instructions to help you submit your insurance claim form.
1. Obtain itemized receipts and bills. First, you will need to ask your doctor, clinic or hospital for an itemized bill. An itemized bill lists every service that your doctor provided as well as the cost of each of the services. Your health insurance company will need you to attach the original itemized bills and receipts to the claim form.
2. Get your claim form. Next you will need to obtain a health insurance claim form, which you can do so from the brochure section of our site. Here you will be asked questions such as your insurance information, to whom you want the payment made, what was the visit for (accident/illness), etc. Your claim form will also provide you with additional instructions as to what other information they may need from your doctor or health care facility.
3. Make copies. This is very important. Once you’ve filled out your claim form and have received your itemized bill from your doctor, make copies of everything. This will help avoid any errors that might be made in the claim process and will make it easier for you to re-file your health insurance claim should it get lost.
4. Review then send. Read the claims form again and make sure that you’ve completed all of the necessary fields and attached the necessary receipts and bills. Claims can take approximately 30 business days to process and you may want to contact the number on the back of your card a week after submitting the paperwork to make sure they aren’t missing anything. Once you have everything in order, send out the claim form to your insurance company. The address on where to send the documents are listed on the form. We recommend emailing the claim as this can expedite the process.
September 6th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel
Going through the visa application process is always stressful, made worse by the possibility of having your application rejected, which generally leads to panic and anxiety. Some countries are more lax with visa applications, while others are stricter. Other factors in the ease of the application process include what passport you carry and diplomatic relations between countries.
We have collected some tips to help make your application process as simple and seamless as possible.
1. Do your research.
Most foreign embassies provide information on their websites regarding their Schengen visa application and requirements. You can find everything from application requirements to visa fees, as well as timetables for visa processing. Some countries have specific or different requirements based on your nationality, so make sure you’re aware of these things beforehand. Talking to people who have had experience in applying for the visa you want can be helpful, as well.
2. Make a checklist of requirements.
Some embassies include a checklist of requirements in their Schengen visa application form, which can be extremely helpful in keeping track of which requirements you have and which you need. Not every embassy has this, but it shouldn’t be difficult for you to make your own. This is also helpful when compiling everything for submission.
3. Give yourself enough time.
This will vary depending on where you are as well as where you are going. It’s generally best not to have to worry about deadlines being too close for comfort. Try to give yourself enough time so that if your initial application is rejected, you have enough time to re-apply and get your visa before your scheduled flight. Take note of when the visa of your host country expires, so you can get your next visa and leave before that date.
4. Have a Plan B.
Things don’t always go as planned, so it’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan. If your visa is running out and the country you’re planning on going to next has a long visa turnaround time, go to another country or try to find a way to extend your current visa.
5. Look presentable and act confident on application day.
Some countries require a personal visit for visa processing. Some embassies have a strictly-enforced dress code. Some also conduct an interview as they collect your documents. Try to look your best and make a good impression.