Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter break (sigh of relief)

Oh the glorious winter break is almost upon us. I plan on sitting in my pajamas, watching movies, and relaxing. The semester was quite busy - paper upon paper and endless amounts of research and reading.

What do you plan on doing? Please share!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Final Exams

It is that dreaded time of year: final exams!

How to you cope? Do you cram? Drink a lot of coffee?

Do you have any test taking tips?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Time to eat! Turkey, gravy, stuffing (or dressing), cranberry sauce, pie...

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States and Canada, and springs from the harvest festivals of years past. In the United States, the holiday celebrates the assistance the Native Americans gave early English settlers after the first harvest of 1621. The Wampanoag tribe taught the pilgrims how to grow local crops (corn) and live off the bounty of the new land.

The holiday, as known in modern times, is a day to give thanks and celebrate with family and friends.

As an international student, you may be a long way from home and unable to gather with family. There are many things you can still do you celebrate the holiday, such as:

You may have heard people talk about 'Black Friday'..but what is it? It is the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day in the United States. Where does the name come from? Retailers typically used red ink in ledgers to show shortfalls and black ink to denote profit. The Friday after Thanksgiving was typically the day retailers made huge profits and could use black ink.

Look for the ads in the newspaper on Thanksgiving and you may be able to score some deals. Black Friday ads are also listed online:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

International Education Week 2008

It is International Education Week! There are events happening all over the Lone Star College System, so be sure to check them out:

Monday, November 10, 2008

New President

As many of you know, Americans elected a new president last week. As an international student, was it exciting to watch the election process? What is it like in your home country?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cold and Flu Season

I was sick over the weekend (and still sniffling) and thought I would dedicate the post this week to staying healthy!

How to stay healthy:
  • Wash your hands frequently and often
  • Exercise
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Consider a flu shot
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Manage stress

How to recover if you catch a bug:

  • Know the difference between a cold and the flu
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get plenty of rest
  • See a doctor if you are experiencing flu symptoms or your cold gets worse after a few days.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Christmas Already?

I took a trip out to the stores this weekend (to pick up some Halloween candy) and was shocked to see shelves already stocked with Christmas decorations!

Ornaments, trees, gifts, wreaths, wrapping paper galore! But Halloween and Thanksgiving aren't even here yet....

Do you have any highly commercialized holidays in your country? Do you think holidays are too commercialized in the United States?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Saving money and watching the budget!

As a graduate student, I am juggling different ways to pay tuition each semester and buy costly books. International (F-1) students are usually not allowed to work, and paying tuition can become a more difficult task.

Here are some tips for cutting spending and doing more with less:

Prepare meals at home. Buy groceries and turn on the Food Network! Experiment with different cooking techniques and styles, and go easy on pricey ingredients.

Buy in bulk. Have a friend with a Costco or Sam's Club card? Tag along and stock up on items you use regularly. Be wary of buying perishable items that you may not use before the expiration date.

Comparison shop online. Did you fall in love with a pair of expensive shoes at Macy's but cannot afford them? Carry a pad and pencil with you and write down the brand, style, and sku of the item you are interested in. Hop on the computer and comparison shop at home! You would be surprised the deals and steals you can find on the Internet! If you are going to purchase an item online, make sure to look for coupon codes first!

Websites to try:

Plan your purchase! The end of summer is the best time to buy a discounted swimsuit, a jacket at the end of winter, etc. Black Friday is usually the best time to buy electronics

Hit the outlets! Outlets can be a great place to snag some deals. Check out the outlet malls in the Houston area and don't forget to get a coupon book from customer service:

Frequent the yard sale or flea market in your area. You will be surprised what people are selling or giving away! Don't forget resale or consignment stores.

Scan online classified ads for great deals.

Look for student discounts! Some movie theaters, museums, and stores have student discounts!

Share some of your tips and tricks with me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I love when Halloween rolls around! Candy and costumes galore, even though I am not really into the blood and gore.

Halloween is a fascinating holiday, with Celtic, Christian, and Pagan roots In the United States, the holiday was not introduced until the 19th century and the commercial mayhem did not begin until the 20th century.

If you like to be spooked, check out haunted houses:

Are you dressing up for Halloween? What will you be? I am not sure what I will be yet!

Monday, October 6, 2008

International Events this Weekend

Splendid China III - Discovering China
Oct 10-11
Miller Theater, In Hermann Park, 100 Concert Drive
"A showcase of the cultural riches China has to offer in history, dance and music, featuring Dance of Asian America and special guest artists from the Shanghai Dance Company. 8:00 p.m."

Indo-American Association Concert - The Ultimate String Jugalbandi
Oct 11
Wortham Center, 501 Texas
"Featuring Sitar Maestro Ustad Shujaat Khan, Sarode Maestro Pandit Tejendra Majumdar, and Tabla Maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. 8:00 p.m."

Festa Italiana
Oct 11-12
Houston Farm and Ranch Club
"Enjoy a feast of sight, sound and wonderful tastes. Share the heritage, culture and the romance of Italy. Rain or shine, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. SAT and 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. SUN."

Asian American Festival
Oct 11-12
Downtown, In Front of City Hall
"Annual festival at Hermann Square, in front of City Hall, fromm 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. both days. Featuring free entertainment, delectable cuisine, and international Asian arts."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Best of Houston

The Houston Press has released their Best of Houston 2008 edition. They rated rated shops, bars, restaurants, shows, museums, sporting events, and much more!

Check it out:

Monday, September 22, 2008


I hope everyone fared well with the storm and stayed safe. How did you do? Do you have power? If so, when was it restored?

I lost some oak trees and sections of fence. After my power was restored, I volunteered at a POD in The Woodlands. I loaded cars with ice, MREs, water, and hot meals. A good deal of the folks were dealing with no power and water, but some were unable to live in their homes due to damage. I am very proud of the people in this community. I have seen generosity, patience, sacrifice, and kindness from almost everyone I have come across.

In my community, businesses and schools are opening and grocery stores are stocking shelves. A little normalcy is definitely welcome. Checking email, cooking, and doing laundry are things I took for granted and I applaud their return.

At the same time, having a candlelit dinner with friends, enjoying conversation, and reading were wonderful ways to pass the time (when we weren't cleaning the yard). The activities made me realize that we all need to take a break from our hectic lives, enjoy simple things, and realize we are lucky to be alive.

Please feel free to send me stories and pictures of your experience.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hey students!

Want a heads up on a professor? Check out

Some reviews will give you an idea about teaching style, methods, exams, etc.

In the past, I used this website to choose professors and learn their teaching styles.

Good luck!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Elephant or Donkey?

Did anyone catch the Republican or Democratic Conventions? I have to admit I did not catch much as I have been preoccupied with the onset of the semester.

What did you think? Will it be the elephant or the donkey?

If you are an international student, what do you think of the political system in the United States?

Confused about the symbolism of the elephant and donkey? Read more:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav, Hanna, Ike, and Josephine... Oh my!

The tropics are showing their strength and the storms appear to be lining up to take their turn! Hanna is projected to take out her anger on Florida and Georgia, and Ike/Josephine are up in the air (no pun intended). We all know what happened with Gustav and the onslaught of wind/rain in Louisiana.

One thing that puzzles me is the determination of meteorologists to look as uncomfortable as possible in order to show viewers the horrible weather. I watched reporters dodge flying debris, get nearly blown over, and get pummeled with rain. I guess someone has to do it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School!

Time to go back to school!

How can we tell?

For K-12: frantic parents in school supply aisles at retailers, clogged roadways in school zones, and tax-free weekend.

For College students: busy bookstores, registration rush, busy phone lines, and nerves!

How do I cope with the madness? I bought my books on, registered online, sent emails to my professors, and tried to calm my nerves with breathing exercises. Minus the breathing exercises, I solved all of my problems on the Internet. If only I could figure out how to use Blackboard...

How do you cope?

Monday, August 18, 2008


Anyone following the Olympics?

I have been totally blown away by the achievements of Michael Phelps .

Are there any events you are keeping your eye on?

Certain Olympic events are more popular in the United States and are given more media attention (basketball, Track and Field, Swimming). Are there any events that are comparably more popular in your home country and given more media attention?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tropical Storm Aftermath

How did everyone fare with the tropical storm? Lone Star College System was closed yesterday and I was overjoyed to stay off the slick roads. We received a good amount of rain and my plants revived themselves during the heavy downpour. This morning I stepped outside into a steamy bath of humidity and took 5 minutes to clear the 10,000 pines needles covering my car. Other than rain and the occasional stray branch, I fared OK.

How did you do? Did you lose power? Experience any flooding?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hurricanes Revisited

It looks like I will be blogging about tropical disturbances again! An out-of-nowhere storm developed in the gulf and appears to be heading right towards Houston and Galveston. Don't rush to Home Depot and Lowe's for plywood just yet. It appears this storm may not reach hurricane status before landfall.

What does that mean for Texas? Rain, rain, glorious rain. My last blog consisted of my gripes regarding my parched lawn and perhaps it will get some relief. If the rain is plentiful, please pay attention to flash flood warnings and avoid areas prone to flooding.

Are you prepared for a storm? Make sure you have plenty of drinking water, food, and batteries. Be prepared in the event of a power outage.

In the meantime, try to count how many times Scorpion's "Rock You Like A Hurricane" is played on the radio. Let me know how many times you hear it!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Heat Wave!

My grass looks parched, my flowers are drooping, my car is an oven, and my air conditioner is on overdrive. I don't need a heat advisory to tell me the obvious: it is hot! A Saturday shopping trip is like preparing for a camping excursion: light-weight clothing, adequate fluids, sunscreen, cooler for perishable items, sunglasses, and a baseball hat.

Students from cooler locales may find this weather overwhelming and find it harder to acclimate. Here are some tips:
  • Refrain from physical activity during peak hours.
  • If you must be outside, try to schedule activities in the early morning or late evening.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Park in shaded areas.
  • Avoid heavy meals. Try eating smaller meals more frequently.
  • Wear light-weight clothing and avoid dark colors.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, even when you are not thirsty.

FYI: The Public Utility Commission of Texas has issued a yellow alert for electricity conservation.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hurricane Season

Since moving to Texas, I have been introduced to the uneasy onset of hurricane season and obsessive remote control clicks to The Weather Channel. When I lived in California, the earthquakes came with little to no warning and we were left with a devastated community in a matter of minutes. The early detection of hurricanes saves lives and cues evacuations, but it also allows a period of anxious waiting and suspense. I moved to Texas during the summer of 2005 and was warmly greeted by two formidable gals: Katrina and Rita. Wow! Since then, I have kept a closer eye on the systems entering the Gulf of Mexico.

Check out the SciGuy if you have not read his blogs already. He works for the Houston Chronicle and writes very informed articles on projected hurricanes.

Are you prepared for hurricane season? Read the City of Houston Disaster Preparedness Guide and find out.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Country Craze in France

I was browsing for interesting tidbits and came across this article explaining the Country Line Dance craze in France...

It appears the trend is so widespread that the government will be implementing control measures to regulate instructors and training courses. For example, professional teachers will be required to have 600 hours of courses under their belt buckles.

Does your home country have a Country-Western trend or sub-culture? I have heard of such trends existing in Australia, The United kingdom, Brazil, Japan, etc.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pain at the Pump

The price of gas has been a common topic of conversation among friends and co-workers, a constant source of news for the media, and a marketing tool for fuel-efficient vehicles and bicycles.

Here are ways Americans are coping:

How are you dealing with fuel prices? Do you think the Houston area needs improved access to public transportation? Please tell me about the transportation options in your home country.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Montgomery ISO Retreat

Were you at this Galveston retreat? Share some stories...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here comes the bride...

Wedding season is upon us! You may have noticed extra re-runs of Bridezillas on TV, bridal parties crowding local beauty salons, or bachelor/bachelorette outings at local establishments. Perhaps you have been invited to a wedding yourself, and need to navigate American wedding traditions. As a routine wedding guest, I can tell you wedding etiquette can be quite interesting! I have attended weddings all over the United States, and found traditions vary according to culture and region.

A great deal can go into being a wedding, even for the guests! A friend of mine attended an out-of-town wedding and had to schedule time off from work, book a flight, reserve a room, rent a car, board her dog, buy a dress, halt her mail, and purchase something off the wedding registry before everything was sold out. Whew!

Does anyone plan to attend a wedding this summer? Care to share?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I went to Chick Fil-A for lunch the other day and noticed a familiar flavor missing from my chicken sandwich. After removing the lettuce and bun, I discovered there was no tomato. What! No Tomato? The meal wasn't quite the same, but remembered tomatoes were vanishing from menus all around the country due to a salmonella scare. I realized the missing tomato wasn't such a bad thing, but made me ponder the food safety in the United States. I remember the cat and dog food scare that sent pet owners into a frenzy in 2007, and passing up fresh spinach at the grocery store in 2006.

How safe is the food in your home country? Do you think the United States needs to tighten food safety restrictions?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Like, do you speak American?

Check out this interesting article I found on PBS!

It discusses influences on modern American English:
  • Regional accents/slang
  • Immigrants
  • Popular music and media
  • Spanish
  • Culture
  • Technology

As an international student, what do you think of American English? Give me your perspective. If you are learning English as a second language, how have you been challenged by slang, etc.?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Isolated tribe spotted near Peruvian border

Amazing pictures! I wonder what the tribe thought when they saw the plane hovering over their village.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

LSCS Students in Italy, Philippines

12 LSCS students are exploring ancient Roman culture and Europe's most famous volcanoes with LSC-CyFair Professors Buck Buchanan (Geography) and Rob Coyle (History).

LSCS students in the Philippines! An exciting service learning program. Check out the blog:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mother's Day

Mother's Day in the United States is a big business. Millions of people buy cards, flowers, candies, and presents for their deserving mothers. Trying visiting a restaurant on Mother's Day and you will find crowded dining rooms and lengthy wait lists. Does your home country celebrate Mother's Day? If so, how do you show your appreciation for Mom? What do you think of the Mother's Day customs in the United States?'s_Day

Friday, May 2, 2008

Student-Visa Fees to Support Federal Surveillance Program Could Double

check out the article:

What do you think of this article? How will you (or someone you know) be affected if the fees are raised?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Montgomery ISO at SCONA-A&M. Anyone care to explain this event?

Northwest Chinese Association Chinese New Year Event

Montgomery ISO hosted the Northwest Chinese Association Chinese New Year Event. The photos are wonderful!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Montgomery ISO at Rodeo!

Looks like fun! Please share your experiences from this adventure.

Friday, April 4, 2008

5th Annual International Education Conference

Be sure to check out the 5th Annual International Education Conference! It will be held April 18th 8am-3pm at LSC-Tomball.
i like the pic page!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

If you see this post, then you've seen the new International Student Services Website! Your international student advisors have worked hard to pull all necessary information into this make it a little fun for you!

Be sure to give ideas about fun things to post and campus events you are aware of to your International Student Advisor.

Your site moderator, Sarah