You Moved to America – Now How do You Meet Americans?

Moving to a foreign country to improve your language skills is an incredible opportunity. Whether you only have a short time in a foreign country, plan to stay for a year or more, or will be able to come back many times in the future, making connections in another country is a rewarding experience. A native speaker of a language may be your gateway into a new culture, meeting other native speakers, and getting to practice the language you are studying in a classroom.

In a way, the classroom is like a gym or sports training program where you exercise and practice what it will be like in a real game. But playing the real game on a real field is where the excitement truly is.

Similarly, if you study English for hours every week, but rarely use it out in the “real world,” you are missing critical time to practice, improve, and – most importantly – GROW.

There are many types of people and personalities, not to mention cultural and other influences which may predict how much someone is willing to go and talk to strangers. If you are very shy in your own language, speaking a foreign language can be intimidating.

On the other hand, we would not be giving you good advice if we said it was enough just to attend classes or practice on your own.

The following are five ways to start to meet and talk to Americans. America is a very diverse country with many types of people. Sometimes it may seem easy to have simple, quick, polite conversation with Americans but more difficult to become real friends. What are some ways to make a deeper connection?

Try to be realistic. Making great new friends quickly is hard. If you find a way to keep seeing the same person or people many times, we believe this is a key way to developing a deeper friendship.

You may have to push yourself a little bit, but all of these are ways to meeting new people and friends that you can spend time with again and again. When you know each other a little better, don’t be shy! Tell them you are new to the country and really want to spend more time with Americans. Whatever you heard about Americans in the news or thought from TV, etc., the fact is we are all just people, and we all enjoy making new friends.

1.) Volunteering: This allows you to practice your English, learn about the city and do meaningful work. There are many different types of volunteer jobs, so in order to find the best fit for you, try a volunteer site like www.volunteermatch.org. Try to pick a volunteering position which will let you speak English or meet other volunteers.

2.) Participate in Festivals and Events: Every weekend (and really every day) we see some type of activity in and around Atlanta that will have large crowds of people. Many are free while others may carry a low cost. This can also help you experience American and Atlanta culture, including music and food. Here is a good Atlanta events calendar: https://www.events12.com/atlanta/

3.) Join a Sports Team or Hobby Group: This is a great option for meeting new people, practicing your English and staying active. I’ve joined a baseball team and ultimate Frisbee team in the past and I had the best experiences learning a new sport and making friends. There are many websites to help you find the perfect sports team. Want to join a bowling league? Want to play Ultimate Frisbee? Find a good search website like this one http://www.atlantasportandsocialclub.com/ and find the team for you!

4.) Make New Friends With Social Media: It is easier than ever to make new friends when you take advantage of social media. Meetup is one site that helps people make new friends in a new city. But there’s also tons of sites that give you good ideas or specific places. https://www.meetup.com/GotANITM/?_cookie-check=msnD5ucXTsuOiK4j

5.) Find a family or roommate who DOES NOT speak your same native language: One mistake we can make when moving to a new country is living by ourselves or with someone we know or who speaks our own language. An amazing way to meet Americans is to live with an American family during your studies. Living by yourself may seem appealing or easier, but you may already be feeling lonelier in a new country and having others to socialize with is very important. American Homestay is one organization that helps you find a safe, friendly American family to live with. https://www.homestaynetwork.com/

If you have more questions or want advice, just ask us!

6 Ways to Reduce Test Anxiety

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If you experience some level of anxiety before or during an important test, well, you are normal! Whether or not tests are even good at evaluating what we know, they are used in real life for important decisions. Whether or not you can pass a class. Whether or not you can get a score high enough to go to a certain college or degree program. The TOEFL is a good example. It might not even be a very good tool for assessing how well you can understand and communicate in English, but if you don’t get the right score, you may miss out on an important opportunity.

I used to proctor TOEFL tests and I could see some of the basic things that hurt students. For example, during speaking, many other test-takers in the room are talking and it is disruptive. Usually there is no separation between you and the other test-takers; they are just a few feet from you. Test-takers didn’t take enough notes. Test-takers didn’t talk loudly enough. Test-takers didn’t stretch and breathe during the big break.

What are the TOP FIVE things you can do to feel more relaxed and confident on test day?

#1: The most important way to reduce stress on test day is to be prepared. This means having studied extensively, well in advance. (By the way, we offer prep classes which also teach test anxiety reduction techniques! https://ccbatlanta.edu/testimonial/toefl-program/)

#2: Believe it or not, research has shown that writing about your anxiety before a test results in substantially higher relaxation during the test and higher scores too. What to write? Write about how you feel and what the reasons are for this test being so stressful to you. This writing activity is kind of like a breathing activity… it pushes some stress out of you.

#3: Like we just mentioned… breathing pushes stress out of you. Weeks before the test, start a regular routine of relaxation breathing. Search Google for “relaxation breathing techniques” and also “free guided meditation” and you will find many wonderful resources. Here’s a good one: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html

#4: Expect some anxiety… it’s normal! But once you acknowledge that, you don’t have to focus on it either. If you start thinking about the anxiety, move your thoughts to another topic.

#5: Make sleep a priority. Even if you are a night owl, a week or two before the test, make sure you are going to bed a little earlier and getting around 8 hours of sleep each night. This is a “no-brainer!” – in other words, it’s easy to do and there’s just no reason not to do it.

#6: Last but maybe most important: Start an aerobic exercise routine. Aerobic exercise not only improves your mood and lowers stress, it also improves your brain performance, focus, and confidence. For example, simply jogging for 20 minutes, 3x per week, will make a huge difference if you currently don’t do any physical activity.

We hope you like these tips! Oh any here’s one more: take the test again! Just taking it again will usually result in a significantly higher score.

Please ask us for any more advice.

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What’s So Great About Atlanta? 9 Reasons

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The U.S. is the third largest country in the world in terms of total area. It also has the third largest population of any country. That means that there are many, many places to choose to live. There are cheaper places and there are more expensive places. There are places with more to do, and there are places with much less to do. There are places with more people to meet, and there are places with very few people to meet. There are also many language schools to choose from.

So why choose Atlanta?

There are so many positive things to say about Atlanta, that actually, we won’t list them all here. At a later time, we will try to compile a list of all the reasons we can think of, but that would be a huge list with probably over a 100 reasons.

Here are nine reasons, in no particular order, why we think you should seriously consider living here:

1. Housing is affordable and in demand.
Atlanta boasts a very reasonable cost of living, particularly in comparison to some of the other cities on the Penske list. According to RentJungle.com, the average rent for an apartment in metro Atlanta is $1,003 per month, which is tied for lowest (with Phoenix) among the top 10 moving spots.

2. There are many good jobs
If you have the chance to move to U.S. as a legal resident or, eventually, as a citizen, Atlanta takes the number one spot for top 10 U.S. cities for recent college graduates and young professionals, according to MarketWatch.com. Cash Bonus: The median salary for recent college grads is over $50,000 per year in Atlanta, CNBC reports.

3. So many “Fortune 500” companies
If you’re in the market for career opportunities, consider looking south. Atlanta is home to the third most Fortune 500 companies in America, and 16 of the 18 Fortune 500 company headquarters based in Georgia can be found in metro Atlanta, including Mercedes-Benz, Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Aflac.

4. There is no reason to be bored
Atlanta may be the zombie capital of the world — popular AMC series The Walking Dead is filmed here — and home of the World of Coca-Cola, but the city has tons of other attractions. World’s largest aquarium. The 10 million-gallon Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the world – and is listed in Patricia’s Schultz’s bestselling book 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die. Hot spots for foodies. The ATL is the fast food capital of America, and its food scene has something for everyone. Enjoy the unique Atlanta Food Truck Park and Market, farm-to-table eateries like Bacchanalia and critically acclaimed restaurants like One-Eared Stag. So many sports. Atlanta has no shortage of diehard sports fans. The area has six iconic professional sports teams, most notably the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Falcons. The Braves and Falcons are now in in new, world class stadiums. Easy escape. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the world and totes the most passengers (96 million per year!).

5. The weather is seasonal and nice
The city enjoys four distinct seasons while avoiding the winter cold extremes we see in the Northeast and Midwest, offering the perfect amount of variety for those who are trying to escape the snow: Rainfall: 53.7 inches per year Snowfall: 0.3 inches per year Sunny days: 217 per year Average summer high: 89 degrees Average winter low: 34 degrees During the mid-summer months, expect humidity in the high 80s.

6. Atlanta is diverse
“Atlanta is fast becoming one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the southeast, challenging the inveterate black-white dichotomy that typically frames how people see the south,” Charles Gallagher and Karyn Lacy wrote in their essay, The Changing Face of Atlanta. Atlanta has large populations from around the world, especially large Korean, African, Latin American, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Brazilian, and other overseas countries. You can find every type of food in the world.

7. Atlanta has a lot of higher education, and it’s some of the best in the country. There are amazing programs for MBAs, the hard sciences, medicine, law, and really any field you are interested in. Here are a few of the world class institutions which Atlanta and Georgia are famous for:
-Emory University
-Georgia Institute of Technology
-University of Georgia
-Georgia State University
-Mercer University
-Georgia Gwinnett College

8. Atlanta has a fantastic MUSIC scene!
Maybe you don’t think of Atlanta right away when thinking of hot music scenes in the U.S., but Atlanta is home to an expansive and impressive music scene — with many underground hip-hop and indie artists flocking to the city to get their start in the industry. This is due to Atlanta’s proximity to the ever-hip Athens, Ga. (where bands like of Montreal, Azure Ray, R.E.M., the Black Crows, and Louisiana’s Neutral Milk Hotel gained fame) and what used to be its vibin’ college radio scene.

9. CCB is in Atlanta… well, Duluth!
Duluth is located just outside Atlanta and has been one of the fastest growing cities in the entire U.S. for the last few years. Why? For all the reasons we already said. Plus, Duluth has even cheaper rent and gas prices than inside the city of Atlanta. There are so many great things about Duluth, that living here is like the icing on the cake of Atlanta!