Study Abroad-new visa alert story

Hello, how are you doing, I hope you are well, and keeping safe. How is work? How is business? I am okay. Just glad that another Friday is here! I get to rest and send more time with my family. I also would get a chance to write and work on some projects for my clients. This week, I got a new visa alert! This student is special to me because I had empathy for her and her situation. She applied to study an Engineering program at Postgraduate level and needed to be on campus asap! One because there were practical courses she need to be there for and two because everyone else was already on campus so she felt like she was missing out a lot by not being there.

Normally when I get a student assigned to me, I ask them how they plan to fund their studies and immediately begin to let them know the embassy requirements for their study visa in terms of financial proof. That way, they start planning to make sure all is order. However, with this one, she was referred to me, through the company I work for, by a university representative of where she applied to. She was stuck. Her bank statement didn’t meet up. So she couldn’t get her CAS letter. I then set up a meeting with her and then had a long call with her to explain what was really required and other things she needed like the TB test and all. She got the bank account sorted but we needed it to mature for 28 days! That seemed like 28 years to her but we waited. There are some situations in life where one just has to wait. When we applied for CAS, she was told that due to exchange rate, she was short by 168GBP. I am sure you can imagine how she felt! I had to think on the spot for a quick solution, we surely couldn’t wait another 28 days. I spoke to the university and suggested that she paid the difference towards her tuition fee rather than into her bank account to avoid the wait. That worked out and she got her CAS.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Next was the actual visa application. She rushed and put in the application, didn’t really check with me and made some errors that could no longer be changed as she had already proceeded to the payment stage. It was either she canceled and start over or applied like that. I suggested that she write a letter, called an addendum, to explain the two mistakes to the visa officer. She did that and then we started another waiting period. After 3 weeks, she received an email to inform her that a decision had been made and she could collect. She went there and her passport couldn’t be found! Yes, missing passport. She went again after 2 days, still nothing and was told she would receive a call when the passport was found. Anyway, it took almost two weeks before she finally received her passport with her study visa!!! She was really excited. It was a “victory at last” situation. Now we still have to wait till when we get an all clear information that she can travel to the UK for her studies. There has been conflicting information and we think it’s better to wait.

That was quite an experience for me as a study advisor, never experienced anything like that but I’m really glad that we got the desired outcome. I’ve come to find out and accept that I don’t give up on anything. I prefer to keep trying until it works out. There was a visa situation where the student had been rejected twice before being referred to us. With the looks of the situation, it seemed pointless to assist and no one wanted it. I took it up and she got the visa and is now in her second year in the US.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

If you need a study advisor or know someone who does , feel free to contact me by email contact@oluseungsc.biz and I will offer a free consultation to get the process started. Thank you for stopping by. Please leave a comment of questions if you have any. Until next time, eat well, rest well, drink lots of water, smile and be happy. Bye for now

7 tips for Homeschooling while working from home

Hello I hope you are well and are keeping safe. I hope you had a good weekend. I did. Mostly resting. It was an absolute necessity for my body to rest! This is a brand new week and I am grateful. The weeks seem to be flying this year or is it me? Well, like it or not, this is another week of working from home plus homeschooling the children. For some, it has been the norm for them before Covid but for some, it was brought upon us and we have to find ways to cope with it. For those of us who started homeschooling due to Covid, we definitely need to find ways to adjust and make it all work out nicely for ourselves and for the children. Working out nicely means being productive while working from home, here’s a link to my previous post about how to be productive working from home https://oluseungsc.biz/2021/01/11/how-to-be-productive-working-from-home/ and the children getting educated while studying from home. It has been close to a year since I started homeschooling my five year old son, almost six, and I find these 7 tips quite helpful.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

1. Planning ahead

Apart from planning meals for the day, which I believe most moms do, planning for homeschooling will afford you the opportunity to prepare tasks for your child/children to do. By Sunday evening, all tasks should have been assigned, on paper. This way, you would be able to assign different tasks for them to do and mix it up so that they will not get bored. Allow time for exercise as well, I feel like we need to make an extra effort to achieve that but if it has been planned ahead, then it makes if easier to fall into. This brings to my next point. Routines before actual schoolwork.

2. Routines

Routines are great for children, and adults too! Once children get used to routines, it makes things easier for them and they automatically know what next to do. For my son, once he wakes up and says his prayers, he comes to say good morning to us and then goes to do his couch chores (basically tidying up the living room~ I try to leave one or two things lying around for him). He then brushes his teeth, picks out his clothes and asks for help to take a bath. Next is breakfast. And then, school time! If he mixes any of this up, he mentions it because he has become used to a particular way of doing things. And if he plays with his sister in between, it’s okay, it’s all love.

Children will be soothed by routine, structure and normality. Getting them back to routine is typically considered good- Catherine Cooks

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

3. Schedules

In this context, schedules are the actual school work and activities cut out into different chunks of time. However, I find that flexible schedules work better for us. He starts at 8:30am and ends around 1pm. A sample of his schedule is

8:30-8:45am~ exercise (something we make up or watch on TV)

8:45-9:00am~ teachermommy shows him what he should do for the next two hours

9:00-11am~ he does his assigned work which combines using an abacus to do sums, activity books and some coloring

11:00-11:30am~ educational TV time

11:30-12:00pm~ Lunch and we squeeze in a short walk when possible

12:00-1:00pm~ reading time. It is my break time so we do his readings together.

His schedules vary slighty each day and I change the subjects or what he has to do. I found some activity books very useful because they combine spelling and math and coloring activities, all in one book! Pictures of some pages attached. One thing to note, is to pace yourself and pace your child. Everyday will not be the same.

4. Lunch/Short walks

Fitting in lunch break to the same time helps as it gives me a chance to have a quick look at his work so far and also spend time with him. If he were at his actual school, this would be the time to play with friends and interact so this time, we have a quick snack and then go for a short walk. Most times we walk for 10 minutes just for an outdoor experience. We also play ball when we can’t for go a walk. Then we do some reading. He loves reading and actually started reading before age 4 so I let him do the reading and ask him questions to make sure he comprehend the story. After the reading session, he gets to have time for free play.

Photo by Sven Brandsma on Unsplash

5. Designate work space/classroom

I mentioned this in one if my previous posts. It helps s great deal to have dedicated work spaces. He has his table and chair corner in his room for school time. And I have my office desk in my room. We currently live in a small apartment so those spaces have to work and they to! Once I’m in my space, my brain knows it’s time to work and same for him. He keeps his books and pencil case there and easily gets into school work mode once there. He calls that corner his classroom.

6. Take it easy

All these tips did not work out on day one so please take things easy. Pace yourself and encourage yourself. It is not as easy. It takes been intentional about it to actually make it work. Pat yourself on the back for your success with it, even if you think it is not much success. You will get there and will be surprised to see how easier homeschooling will become for you and your child .

7. Plan for the following day

Yes, go back to step one and plan tasks and activities for the following day. With you being the one to teach your child school work, you would have noticed where he needs extra support. Focus on that. For my son, I have found that he needs extra help with writing so I give him tasks that encourage him to write and master the skill.

These tips have proven to be helpful and I believe it should help in one way or another. Combining working from home with helping the children learn from home at the same time requires mental effort and patience. It is doable. We are in it together and have to find ways to cope and adjust. What tips help you cope better with work from home and homeschooling? Feel free to share. Thank you for stopping by. Please like, share and leave a comment. I would like to read from you. Keep well. Stay safe. Be kind. Exercise. And have a blessed week! Bye for now 👋

How to be productive working from home

Hello, I hope you are doing well. How was the weekend? Was it restful? Was it busy?

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I know people are different and react to things differently and also cope in various ways. Working from home has been in existence before Covid but used to be seen as convenient jobs and doesn’t pay as much as work in the office. With Covid came hard lockdown situations in which every company that could function from home had their staff start working remotely. It was an unplanned situation in which people had to device ways to cope with working from home.

For me, when I started my current job in 2018, I started working from home but had to go out about two to three times a week to attend events such as career fairs, meetings with high school counselors, face to face consultations with parents and students and mini fairs I organized for university representatives who visited from time to time. As the agency I work for has partnership with over 250 universities, I had to attend to so many of them on a monthly basis. I sometimes had to host about three universities and take them on high school tours so students could meet with them and ask all the questions they had. All these events, combined, meant that my work from home was not 100% work from home however, I did my follow ups, university applications and everything else from home.

With Covid though, things changed. All prior scheduled physical events were cancelled and I had to work from home 100% which meant back to back meetings. All those meetings I had to go for at different schools still went on- on my laptop. University representatives who couldn’t fly down, organized several zoom sessions. At some point, it felt like my work had tripled and even though I was no longer going out, I had so much work to do that just wouldn’t end. I was constantly tired, out of breath from non stop meetings and phone conversations. I think students and their parents also felt like I was home and should be able to pick my call and answer their questions 24/7. I was also struggling to keep my home together, couldn’t keep up with meal times, couldn’t clean as frequently as I used to and knew that I had to do something. I had to take some urgent steps to put myself in a better place. Below are the steps I took.

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  1. To-Do List: I realized that I had to focus on my to do list and put only things that were really important and couldn’t be moved to the following day. It simplified my life a lot. It is easy for us to think we can do this and that but are they really important or urgent?
  2. Dedicate a work space: having a section of your home aa your office space can make such a huge difference. It did for me. I won’t lie, I used to carry my laptop with me every where and worked everywhere~ on the dining, on the couch, on my kitchen table and even on the bed. I thought that was easier and thought I was enjoying working from home by being able to work anywhere around the house. I found out that actually worsened things for me. What I did then was to bring out my study table I used during my Honors and Masters programs about 6 years ago, dust it off and polished it nicely and put it in a corner in my bedroom. Yes, bedroom as that was the most quiet place in the house- it’s a really small apartment so I don’t have a study or a spare room to use. Also, it is a room where JBoy knows that he has to knock before entering and when he opens the door, he peeks and asks if I’m in a meeting or if he can ask me something quickly. That worked for me like magic and made my life easier. When I got to that table, I knew it was work time.
  3. Pace yourself: Another thing I had to do was to pace myself. I no longer RSVP’D yes to all video meetings and conferences. Rather, I asked if they could be rescheduled or if the session would run again on another date. When I did this, I realized that those on the other side of the screen are humans like me and simply set a date that worked for us both. My calendar events became reduced and clearer. I was able to select meetings that needed me to RSVP yes to such as fixed meetings and the likes.
  4. Strictly 9-5: I kept my work hours strictly 9-5. I no longer worked outside of those hours except in some very rare occasions that I just had to assist a student after hours. I always made sure to let them know that I had closed for work but willing to assist. What I found was that if I said to a student that I had closed for the day but would assist you, they end up saying that they would contact me in the morning. So I made it a habit and believe when I say this, most have really reduced reaching out to me after 5 and when they do they start with “hi ma’am, I know you have closed for today but…..” or “sorry to bother you after work….” It worked like magic. My work is mostly done through emails and phone/whatsapp so it’s hard to ignore some messages and I prefer to send a quick reply to messages like “why don’t we talk about this at 9am tomorrow ” and they get the message. This step really helped.
  5. Break time: I no longer took my break at some point because everything got muddled up and some calls ran into another meeting and would feel lucky to get a sandwich in or some juice. I stayed being intentional about my break time and made sure to take 30-45 minutes at least on break doing something totally unrelated to work. Maybe just read a novel or drink rooibos tea or play games on my phone.
  6. To-do list again: just before 5 and before closing my laptop, I did a to-do list to help me remember the emails I wanted to start with or students that I wanted to submit their applications the following day. I made sure I was clear on what needed to be done the following day and also gave allowances for any urgent situation that may pop up.

These steps have helped me a great deal and I believe they might work for someone else too. It has made me more productive at my job and I feel less stressed than I was before. I get jobs done more efficiently and my students and parents love me for my job or more like love the work that I do for them ☺

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What has worked for you since you started working fully from home? Are there any steps you took that made you more productive or merely just simplified your work life? Please leave a comment so we can learn more from you.

Thank you for stopping by. Keep well, stay safe. Be kind. Laugh often. Until next time, bye for now 👋

Study Abroad- New Visa Alert

Hello, how are you doing? The week went by pretty fast. I am so excited that today is Friday! End of work week. But is that really the cause for my excitement? Partly. The main reason I am so excited is due to the fact that one of my students got his study visa last Wednesday!! No, it’s not my first visa, I have actually done quite a few few, however, it is my very first family visa. The student, in his mid forties, is going for a Master’s program with his wife and three children. We put in the application on the 7th of December 2020 and received the outcome on 6th of January.

Brief history, the student had applied on his own to a different country and had received visa refusal twice, and that alone was a cause for a little panic, because most of these embassies work together, however, I am a visa queen and mostly only receive visa and not rejection or a refusal. He said to me that probably study abroad was not for him and I said to him him, this time, it is for you. He also has a close knit family and didn’t want to leave them behind as it was a two years Masters program. We started the process. We searched for courses that he had experience in but that would also allow him learn something new. We found it and we applied, he received a conditional offer within the week and we submitted the documents that were requested. He then received the unconditional offer and he made payments. For some reason, it took a while, almost 10 days because before the university received his payment of about 75% of the tuition fee. He had the money that is why he paid that much. Some pay 100% of the tuition as well. What is required is a small fraction of the tuition, usually about 25-35%, to show commitment to the university.

The next part was to make sure that his financials were in order because he had to show funds to prove that he had enough to cover and cater for his wife and children so we calculated the amount and then left the account to “mature” for the stipulated number of days. During the wait, they did the health check required and we worked at getting other documents in place. Long story short, we put in their application on the 1st and 2nd of December and they did their Biometrics on the 7th of December, and the second waiting period started. The wife, a friend of mine, just wanted to start packing, which would be a lot of packing as they had young children so would need to do almost all the pacing. And for me, despite the fact that I was sure I dotted all the “i”s and crossed all the “t”s, I would prefer they received the outcome first before doing that to avoid a “just in case it doesn’t work out” situation. She trusted me. On the day we calculated and thought that they would receive the outcome, the main applicant was emailed and asked to bring in documents for their second child and that the ones they had were not clear.

That was where my doubts started creeping in. We looked through all the documents a thousand times, there were no unclear documents, why would they say the second child’s documents were not clear? Is this a sign of another rejection? Also, some other students who applied after them had received theirs so what could be wrong? He called me a lot to ask, as if I was the visa officer at the embassy : ) but never did I allow my doubts show in our conversations. I allayed his fears and let him know that they would receive it.

First thing on Wednesday morning, he sent me a screenshot of the email he received asking him to come receive the outcome and was setting out. Almost two hours after he sent a message that got me screaming for joy with singing and dancing ( that is how I rejoice). As my husband heard my joyful noise, he knew the visas had come through! It was worth the wait!

Another visa success, this time a family visa and guess what, they are recommending me to everyone they know! Yet again, I have proved to be a visa queen. Sometimes getting visas are tough on the side but I believe that if one is meticulous, which I know I am, especially with work, then visa outcomes would be positive. My colleagues are also excited when I shared the news because we were in it together, they kept saying “Seun, you’ve got this/ you are good at this/ trust yourself more!

Yes, I need to trust myself more. I need to know that I am good at what I do, I need to tell myself to show more confidence in myself. I type this because I know that I need to praise and trust myself more and give myself more credit for what I do. Women (and men), wear many hats and need to function properly- at work work I am an International Student Advisor who deals with about 10-20 students/leads per day through emails, whatsapp and phone calls and even though not all of them convert however, I need to be nice and professional at all times. My job is interesting, used to be more interesting BC (before Covid), or maybe same.

Thank you for stopping by. Feel free to like, if you liked it, or like just to support me while I keep at this. Leave a comment, f you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer or research it for you. I enjoy research so why not. Bye for now, keep well, keep safe. Until next time.

Work from Home Video Meetings

Hello, how are you doing? I hope you are doing well and keeping safe. With the rate at which this new variant is spreading, it might be best to really be safe until all calms down. The numbers keep increasing and more and more people that we know are getting infected on a daily basis.

Yesterday, the 7th of January, I got dressed and my children thought I was going out. I said that I wasn’t and only got dressed up for work. Truth is, I spoke with myself that there would be no more office shirt and pyjamas bottom anymore this year. If covid caused work from home would be longer than usual then we better find ways to work around it and try to be more organised. My actual job is where I am most organised. Anyways, here I was, working, feeling all dressed up and pretty, working at my desk and then a call came through at 1:05pm. It was from a mom, asking to be let in to our scheduled meeting! I said “okay, I will let you in just now, sorry about that, day is going by so quickly, I can’t believe it’s 1pm already”.

In my mind though, I was like what meeting? I completely forgot that I had a 1pm Google meeting. Quickly, I opened my calendar tab on the laptop and saw that I set up the meeting myself for Thursday, 1pm. Then I opened my email to scan and have an idea of who I was about to speak to and remind myself about the background. And then I opened my laptop and allowed them into the meeting. It was a mom and her son who would like to study abroad by September. I took them through the process and the meeting went successfully.

Moral of the story, it was good that I started this new year with this resolution of getting properly dressed for work, every day. I was easily able to just join the meeting straight away, without scrambling to look for what to wear, style my hair, put on a bit a make up, it wouldn’t have worked. I would have had to make an excuse or something of that sort. It felt good. This year, I plan to be more organised and so far, it is looking good. Week one, done and dusted!

Thanks for stopping by and do have a lovely weekend. Make the best of it. Do what you love. Take care of yourself. Spend time with friends and family, where possible or call them on video (even with pyjamas, haha). What are you doing differently in 2021? What do you plan to do differently? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Back to Work- 4th of January 2021

Hello, I hope you are doing well and keeping safe. I am well, actually feel better in my body as I have always struggled with one thing or another in my health but really feel as healthy as I can feel this morning. Today is the 4th of January and I am back to work! Yes, wish I had one more week to “not work” and just play with my kids and keep sharing my husband’s latest music as much as I can as we are are our own marketer and promoter for now. However duty calls and with the nature of my job, I can’t really stay away for long.

I work from home as an International Student Advisor, that is my job title. What do I get to do with my title? I pretty much assist students who want to study abroad. How do I help them? I help them by speaking to them about what they would like to study, where they see themselves in the next five years and all that just to get an idea of what they really want to be. I find that some students are very clear on what they want. Some say to me “I would like to study Business Administration in Netherlands this November” and that’s it while some say ” I think I want to study Engineering or Law or maybe even Economics anywhere nice”. With the latter, it is more work in terms of calling such to students to find out what they really want to do or become and sometimes help them find them double majors or combined programs where possible. This brings me to the next stage.

At the next stage, I help them search for universities in the specific countries they indicated. Like I said earlier, some students are straight to the point and want to apply to just one university in one country while some want to apply to a million universities in 100 countries. With those, we cap applications to about five and assure them that they will get in because as an advisor, I make sure that they meet all requirement to make sure they receive an offer. So this stage is university search and application where I help them put in an application on our agent portal. Some can apply on their own but would just need to put in our details as their agent so we can help them follow up to get a quicker turnaround time.

Once they receive their offers and meet all the conditions on their offer letter, they pay their course deposit and then begin we the visa process because the company I work for also assist with that which is really awesome. Different countries have different outcome time so we wait but usually within a week to four weeks, they receive their visas and they go. Sounds easy but it is a lot of paper work from start to finish.

Does the job sound interesting to you? Well it does to me, I love the job so much especially as I get to actually counsel students along the line. The job sounds like just advise, apply to universities and get them their visas and they go. No, not that simple. I have had to speak to a dad on the phone for 58 minutes. A dad who had the funds to send his 18 year old abroad to study but was really anxious, hesitant and had so many conflicting emotions that I had to help resolve. One of the cons of this job is that on whatsapp, students reach out to me at any point in time to ask me a work related question. I receive a message on a Sunday at 10:35am for example, during church service or even a call. I will talk more about other things I do in my job some other time but now really have to go start. I start from 9am and end at 5pm.

My five year old, turning 6 in February is my timekeeper, at 5:00pm, sometimes 5:32pm or 5:48pm (examples) he comes to say to me “mummy, didn’t you say your work ends at 5:00pm, look up at the clock” and of course, I get to close my laptop! I some times sneak back to work because I might need to quickly send an application form to a student at night so they they get it completed and send it back to me by morning or anything that comes up. I have to go. Thank you for stopping by. I will be back and will actually post more this year about my experiences with work, life, parenting, and many more. Stay tuned. Please like, if you like it and follow, if you would like to read more from me. Do have a lovely day and a wonderfully blessed week. Cheers.