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Greenhandshake is a trusted community marketplace for new US arrivals to connect, find local help of the same ethnic group, offering us to live smarter.

Things to Do and Avoid When Studying in the US

Studying in a foreign country – especially in the United States – is an exciting endeavor. But it can be very stressful too. However, you can minimize all the foreseeable problems and the anxiety that comes with it if you prepare for this well. The dos and don’ts for this are listed below so… please, read on!

The Things to Do:

1 – Have copies of all necessary documents.

These include your passport, travel documents and health insurance, just to name a few. Originals should be in your carry-on but do make copies which should be kept in your other bags.

2 – Do your research especially when it comes to transportation.

Getting stranded is bad enough. Getting stranded with a bad jetlag is even worse. Make sure that you have a place to go to as soon as you land and a comfy ride that will bring you there.

3 – Have a medical plan.

This is one of the things which a lot of visitors and tourists often disregard when they are traveling to the US. And this is one of those things which they spend so much on in case of illnesses and injuries. Be prepared for this. Get at least the minimum plans for hospitalization and prescriptions, especially for emergency.

4 – Get Funded

You wouldn’t be allowed in the country unless you have shown the government proof of your funds. But see to it that you are prepared for extra funding just in case some unfortunate circumstance occurs (frozen funds for international students has happened to so many before). Scholarships and student loans can help you with this so, as soon as you land and get comfy, look for those as soon as possible.

5 – Be mobile ready!

International roaming fees will make you destitute in a day. See to it that you have set up the telecom service that you need to use in the US even before you get there. If you haven’t done this yet, take advantage of WiFi connections.


The Things You SHOULDN’T Do:

1 – Packing Light.

Generally, this is a great idea. But do remember: you will be living in another country for quite a while. See to it that you have everything which you need (take note that operative word is need) so that you would not have to tap into your savings anymore.

And please pack smart too. While that pair of neon orange stilettos would look amazing with your party dress, it’s really not perfect for the rest of your laid back and comfy school clothes.

2 – Not doing your research.

We’ve got Google now. Ignorance, in these days, is a sin which could kill you. And we are not exaggerating. See to it that you know everything there is to know about the place you will be living in during your stay in the United States.

3 – Winging it.

If this is utterly inadvisable to tourists who would be staying in the country for a week or two, it would follow that it’s completely imprudent to students who will be staying in the country for six months to a year – even more.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake

Vietnamese 8X is on American newspaper thanks to this creative model which connects immigrant community – America’s prestige newspaper, Bloomberg once introduced a new utility, useful for immigrants around the world to America, named Greenhandshake. The founder of this model is Son Nguyen – a Vietnamese man

The idea to ​​start a business comes from personal impasse

Son Hoang Nguyen graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Informatics and Computer Engineering from Russian State Technological University and moved to the US to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration specializing in Information Technology Management and International Business, at California Lutheran University in 2009.

After graduation, Son once participated in product development technology with Harvard University and experienced, through a number of industries such as import-export, e-commerce and finance, before starting the business, Greenhandshake.

The idea of ​​founding Greenhandshake – a community network connecting the United States with people immigrating overseas to the US, formed when he decided to stay in America to work as he faced numerous barriers in paperwork as well as lack of information.

As a student, sources of information mainly came from friends, but this time, Son realized that everyone was in the same situation with him, and could only try to share pieces of experience they collected by themselves.

“When you have to start integrating with a completely new life, new lands and new language … then even the tiniest things sometimes became difficult. Lack of information is the most dangerous thing. Then I wonder, is there any way to find someone who had walked the same road with you that can share his experiences, procedures, etc., ” Son said.

At that time, the Vietnamese boy immediately thought of a certain paid service for procedure advisory, because in the long term, it would help to save lots of time and money. But he could not see any current services which could meet that need.

Thus, Son rushed to fulfill his dream to build a Vietnamese product to become an effective tool for immigrant communities in the United States from countries all over the world.

In 2014, Son invested $50,000 to build Greenhandshake using the model of sharing business. Unlike traditional advisory channels, this model has played a mediating role in classifying and connecting fellow newcomers in America.

Besides consulting on various topics over the Internet, immigrant communities also have the opportunity to connect directly with each other through real-life jobs such as transportation, tour guide, tutor, etc.  Once in the United States, immigrants need help with even the simple things, such as airport transfers, driver’s licenses, university enrollment procedures, studying advice, etc., to immigration paperwork problems.

Although Greenhandshake has been running for almost one year, it has gathered more than 1,000 members covering all 50 states, including Hawaii and Alaska. Although it was never promoted outside of the US, every month this model received more than 10 requests to help new immigrants and students outside of the US.

The model would be “dead” without the sharing method

As a completely new model, when Son Hoang Nguyen founded Greenhandshake, he had to start from scratch. There were many concerns for Son, such as outsourced algorithms; how to connect immigrants back and manage them in general; how they were to pay; or how to manage participants comfortably and safely as well. There were times when the website was almost complete, but there was still an error in a certain step. Son had to correct all of that from the start.

Another major difficulty was capital. Initially, Son had come to the US company’s IT to seek support, but they required a lot of money for the start-up project up front. IT companies in Vietnam did not want to take a risk with a new project like this either.

Greenhandshake is appreciated because every year in the US there are thousands of new ideas. It was born to serve everyone, but there have been no technology products dedicated to serve the immigrant community, whether those immigrants are Americans and they are sensitive subjects, or if they need help the most.

This network brings to light new ideas that should become infectious to other companies, such as the sharing of help for those that need it. On the other hand, Greenhandshake can also offset the deficiencies of the non-profit models.

Son give an example, “I’d love to put matters such as, someone greets me at the airport and directs the way to rental accommodation is normal, but when it comes to money, both helpers and people in need of help are very cautious in this matter.”

People who help find it embarrassing to suggest payment in cash; they also help with willingness and do not know how much money is enough, and the people who need help suffer the risk of authentication information. They do not know the helpers or how to behave. Therefore, there should be an intermediary standing between to handle this matter.”

Explaining the name Greenhandshake, Son explained: Greenhandshake is made up of two words: “green” and “handshake“.  “Green” symbolizes the color green, which is a symbol of youth and hope and familiar to immigrants in America as the Green Card – a symbol of freedom; and “handshake” as a symbol of cooperation.

“I chose the word handshake. Throughout history, handshake is the culture of both the East and the West as a symbol of cooperation. And I think it fits the criteria of Greenhandshake, which is an appreciated collaboration and sharing. Lacking of money cannot kill this model. But this model will die without helping mindset of the immigrant community, ” Son confirmed.

Talking about the initially successful entrepreneur story in America, Son, said, “Many people say I cannot afford the money or I will give many reason to delay. But I think that it is because they are lack of ambition. If we really love or passion with the work, these barriers can be erased.”

Starting a business is not about chasing that business or project immediately, even when their project is lacking of capital and experience. It is about how you concern and manage to find the most viable solutions for this situation and try your best ways to make it come true .”

Requirements for International Students


When Applying for College in the US

You probably have a school (or a list of top ten schools) that you want to attend in the US so that won’t take you an hour to research about. The difficult part would be applying for those schools. And it is better that you know now how tough this process could really get.

Even if your parents can afford to send you off to the US in a heartbeat, you will still need to gather all those listed below if you want to study in the country. Each college or university will have a specific set of requirements but these are the basic ones which all have in common:

* Application Form

Personal and family information, education history including your testing scores and all your extracurricular activities will be asked for in those forms you must fill. See to it that you make yourself look as appealing to the school. But you also have to ensure that everything noted there is accurate.

* School Transcripts

These official documents will show your educational history, especially your grades. Take note that your country and the US may have different credit systems. In fact, this is often the case. So it’s best that you ask your school to convert the necessary information based on the credit system of the school which you are applying for.

* The SAT Score (aka ACT Score)

A lot of universities in the US require either or both of these scores as a minimum requirement. If you don’t have this, take the test so that you can submit the scores together with the application form and other necessary documentations.

* Proficiency in English

You’re in the United States so you will need to be competent in the usage (verbal and written) of English. All those coming from countries wherein English is not the primary language will be asked to take the IELTS or TOEFL. Like the SAT and / or ACT, you have to undergo this test beforehand and include the paper proving you passed the test with the rest of the documents.

* An Essay for Admission

The admission essay is one of the requirements that all schools will ask of hopeful applicants, international students or not. The only difference per school is the topic and the length of the essay.

Important Tip Here!!!

Never reuse a single essay when applying in different schools. Even if they are not strict about the topic for you to write about, you have to come up with an original write-up for every single university that you have applied for.

* The Application Fee

All universities and colleges in the US do ask for this since they need it for processing and other clerical work. Again, the only difference is the price although the good news is that most do not ask for more than $100.

Important Tip Here!!!

You don’t want to be spending a thousand bucks by applying in ten or twelve different schools so see to it that you go for maybe three of your most-desired university or college to attend.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake

How to Plan Your US Education

international-student-usa-insuranceGetting an American education is not easy. You have to plan ahead especially if you want to study at the right school. It takes a year or more to plot your course and we’ve listed some advice you will need in making your dream a reality.

* A year in advance, it is recommended that you’ve researched the school you would like to attend. You should have requested for an application form and have a list of other school requirements. You should also prepare your F1 visa. This cannot be processed if you don’t have an I-20. What is an I-20? This is issued by the school that has accepted you to take their program. Once you have this, you can apply for your F1 visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

* In terms of school requirements, do note that universities have different admissions processes. You may need to take additional entrance exams such as SAT, IELTS or GRE. You have to prepare for these exams approximately a year before you submit them to the school. If the college has a prerequisite or preferred SAT score for example, then you may have to take the exam again to obtain higher scores. This will take months ahead of preparation.

* Other document requirements include school transcriptions, essays and letters of endorsement. Make sure you have allocated enough time to complete the school requirements. Contact your school and have them ready weeks in advance.
Remember to submit your application to the American school on time. Do take note of the deadlines since missing it would be a waste of time. Your application may be considered for the next semester.

* After you have been accepted by a school, prepare for your F1 visa. This allows you to enter the US and stay sixty days after you’ve completed your course. Do expect an interview from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You have to bring all your documents to prove that you are studying in the United States. This may include financial papers to illustrate how you will be paying for your American education. Prepare ahead of time the possible questions and practice.

* Remember it is not guaranteed that you will be given an F1 visa. If you are denied, do not be discouraged. You can apply again but be sure to know the reason of you denial. You may have not presented a particular document or poorly answered a question. Do not forget you are applying to study in the US and not migrate.  Your answers should reflect a sincere desire to obtain an American education.

* Once your F1 visa is approved, you should start preparing for your housing and travel plans. Colleges usually have an international student office which you can contact for housing information. You may also want to be picked up at the airport. The international student office should be able to give you accommodations and provide you with the data you need. It is also recommended that you obtain a health insurance for your stay in the US. Prior to your trip, there may also be immunization requirements that you need.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

Learn more about Greenhandshake