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International Students

Flag of the Week - Andorra

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra, is a landlockedmicrostate in Southwestern Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 km2 (181 sq mi) and an estimated population of 85,000 in 2012. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 ft) above sea level. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Created under a charter in A.D. 988, the present Principality was formed in A.D. 1278. It is known as a principality as it is a monarchy headed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish/Roman Catholic Bishop of Urgell and the President of France/President of the French Republic.
Andorra is a prosperous country mainly because of its tourism industry, which services an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually, and because of its status as a tax haven, although it is in the process of reforming its tax regime. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is the de facto currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. The people of Andorra have the 3rd highest human life expectancy at birth in the world – 84 years.

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Flag of the Week - Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan, officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a contiguous transcontinental country in Central Asia. Kazakhstan is the world's largest landlocked country by land area and the ninth largest country in the world; its territory is larger than Western Europe. It has borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea. The terrain of Kazakhstan includes flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock canyons, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. With 17 million people (2013 estimate) Kazakhstan has the 62nd largest population in the world, though its population density is less than 6 people per square kilometre. The capital is Astana, where it was moved from Almaty in 1997.

    The territory of Kazakhstan has historically been inhabited by nomadic tribes. This changed in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan occupied the country. By the 16th century, the Kazakhs emerged as a distinct group, divided into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories). The Russians began advancing into the Kazakh steppe in the 18th century, and by the mid-19th century all of Kazakhstan was part of the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, and subsequent civil war, the territory of Kazakhstan was reorganized several times before becoming the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936, a part of the Soviet Union.

The current President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been leader of the country since 1990. Since independence, Kazakhstan has pursued a balanced foreign policy and worked to develop its economy, especially its hydrocarbon industry.

   Kazakhstan is ethnically and culturally diverse, in part due to mass deportations of many ethnic groups to the country during Joseph Stalin's rule. Kazakhstan has 131 ethnicities, including Kazakh, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Uzbek, Tatar, and Uyghur. Around 63% of the population are Kazakhs. Islam is the religion of about 70% and Christianity is practiced by 26% of the population. The Kazakh language is the state language, while Russian has equal official status for all levels of administrative and institutional purposes.

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CLG workshop-History of Durham

Japan, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, China, England, Korea or Spain…we may come from all over, but we are coming to call Durham home. But with many of us never venturing beyond the ‘Duke Bubble’ what really do we know about our new home? Well, after CLG’s last workshop…lots!

We were lucky enough to have Michael Verville, weekend manager at the Museum of Durham History and marketing coordinator at the Visitors Center in Hillsborough, share his knowledge with us about Durham. We learnt all about the history of Durham from colonists, Washington Duke and tobacco and slavery and Civil Rights. It turns out that Durham has a really rich history with all sorts of interesting people and events.

Some of the questions from the audience brought out fun facts about Durham. For example: Is Durham related to the city of Durham in the UK? The answer is no, Durham is named after the Durham family who lived on the land where Durham railway station was built. Another: Why is Durham called “Bull City”? Durham was very famous for its world-class tobacco industry, and one of the tobacco companies used a bull for its trademark, launching the famous brand “Bull Durham Tobacco”.

If you want to know more about the history of Durham’s tobacco industry, visit the Tobacco Museum inside Duke Homestead where the Washington Duke family lived and farmed. Other interesting places to visit: Stagville, North Carolina’s largest pre-Civil War plantation and Bennett Place, where the Southern armies surrendered to the Union, ending the American Civil War.

And that is only the tip of the iceberg! Go for a walk around Durham, check out its amazing restaurants (dinner at ‘Toast” and then ice-cream at “The Parlour” is my personal favorite!) and embrace its quirky atmosphere.

Durham is our home. Start making an effort to get to know it!


Tierney Marey
Class of 2017 at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences
Sydney, Australia
 

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Flag of the Week - South Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of Africa. It has 2,798 km of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian oceans. To the north lie the neighboring countries of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe; to the east are Mozambique and Swaziland; and within it lies Lesotho, an enclave surrounded by South African territory. South Africa is the 25th-largest country in the world by land area, and with close to 53 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation.

South Africa is a multiethnic society encompassing a wide variety of cultures, languages, and religions. Its pluralistic makeup is reflected in the constitution's recognition of 11 official languages, which is among the highest number of any country in the world. Two of these languages are of European origin: English and Afrikaans, the latter originating from Dutch and serving as the first language of most white and colored South Africans. Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fourth most-spoken first language.

About 80 percent of South Africans are of black African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different Bantu languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian, and multiracial ancestry. All ethnic and linguistic groups have political representation in the country's constitutional democracy, which comprises a parliamentary republic and nine provinces. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa's unique multicultural character has become integral to its national identity, as signified by the Rainbow Nation concept.

South Africa is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank, and is considered to be a newly industrialized country. Its economy is the largest and most developed in Africa, and the 28th-largest in the world. In terms of purchasing power parity, South Africa has the seventh-highest per capita income in Africa, although poverty and inequality remain widespread, with about a quarter of the population unemployed and living on less than US$1.25 a day. Nevertheless, South Africa has been identified as a middle power in international affairs, and maintains significant regional influence.

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CLG workshop at IHouse - Immigration Issues

H-1? Green card? Immigration? Intercompany transfer? Treaty countries? L-1?

Getting to the U.S involves enough paperwork, but what about if you want to stay? Just looking at the lists of forms and deadlines can be daunting enough! Luckily for those who attended the CLG workshop this week, we got an expert to tell us all the information we need to know.

William Stock from Klasko Immigration & Nationality Law came to give international students and employees the low down on working visas and green cards.

There are possibly thousands of important and interesting facts that we learned that evening but here are some of the most important:

1.    Go to klaskolaw.com; it will tell you what you need to know.
2.    You can apply to change to H1 status to work in a specialized professional capacity if you are currently in the U.S on a legal status (and have an employer willing to sponsor you for such visa).
3.    There is a cap on the amount of H1-B visas that are given out and this quota can be reached as early as mid-May.
4.    In order to get the best chance at securing this visa, you need to have filed by April 1st.
5.    You can remain in this status a maximum of six years.
6.    An L-1 status is used to transfer from one branch of a company outside the U.S to a different branch of the same company within the U.S.
7.    You need to have executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity in order to gain this L-1 status.
8.    There are fees, deadlines and wait times involved with all of these processes, amongst others.

This is a complex and lengthy process and involves work from both you and your potential employer. As such, your employability may be lessened a little. Never fear! Make sure that your employer knows that you are worth this extra work; you may have a specialized skill, work in a unique field, have lots of experience or just be generally fantastic!

It is never too early to start thinking about the future…and definitely never too early to start thinking about visas!

Make sure you go to klaskolaw.com and read up on all you need to know.

Tierney Marey
Undergraduate at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences
Class of 2017
Sydney, Australia

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Flag of the Week - Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country located on the fertile Bengal delta in South Asia. It is bordered by India to its west, north and east, by Burma to its south-east and by the Bay of Bengal to its south. Bangladesh has the world's eighth-largest population with more than 160 million people, also making it one of the world's most densely populated countries. Dhaka, one of the world's most populous cities, is the capital of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is also known as "the land of rivers." Together with the neighboring Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The Bengalis form the country's predominant ethnic group, whereas the indigenous peoples in northern and southeastern districts form a significant and diverse ethnic minority.

Following years of political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination, and economic neglect, a surge of nationalism and civil disobedience led to the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, resulting in the separation of the region from Pakistan and the formation of an independent Bangladesh. After independence, the new state proclaimed a secular multiparty democracy. The country then endured decades of poverty, famine, political turmoil and numerous military coups. Since the restoration of democracy in 1991, the country has experienced relative peace and economic progress. Bangladesh is currently a politically polarized parliamentary republic.

Bangladesh is identified as a Next Eleven economy. According to the United Nations, the country is making major strides in human development, including significant progress in the areas of gender equity, universal primary education, the empowerment of women, reducing population growth, food production, health and renewable energy. The poverty rate has declined considerably since independence. Bangladesh is also the world's largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations. However, the country continues to face a number of major political and social challenges, including endemic bureaucratic and political corruption, widespread poverty, political instability, overpopulation and vulnerability to global climate change.

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CLG at IHouse - Purchsing a Pre-Owned Car

These boots are…not made for walking! Whilst getting around on foot can be fun and keep you fit and healthy, it isn’t always the best option. Cars are a hot commodity here on campus and so this week at International House we discussed tips on buying a pre-owned car, presented by Annette Moore, program coordinator at IHouse and Paul Cornsweet, a local mechanic.

Now moving on from all the licensing laws, we were asked to consider whether we really needed a car and if so what for? Do you want to get to and from class or work? Or do you need a vehicle for late night Cook-Out runs? What about all those college road trips you’ve heard so much about?

Once you’ve figured out whether you need a car, thinking about what you need it for will give you a good indication of what type of car you should be looking at.

As was pointed out, cars are expensive and since neither cars nor money grows on trees here are some expenses you need to consider when buying a car:

1)    The cost of the car itself (this may vary depending where you buy it aka at a dealership or from an individual.
2)    Insurance, you need at least liability insurance which can be especially expensive if you are an international.
3)    Maintenance – tire checks, oil changes, routine inspections and registration etc.
4)    Parking, especially here at Duke-campus parking passes don’t come cheap (Blue Zone anyone?)
5)    Typical costs, the occasional fine, gas etc.

If you have considered all these factors and still want/need a car here are some important tips:
-    Shop around, don’t just grab the first car you see. Do your research!
-    Test drive the car
-    Get it inspected by a mechanic
-    Run the VIN number to make sure it hasn’t been in a major accident or flood
-    If you do decide to buy the car make sure you have completed the necessary paperwork, get the title in your name etc.

Remember a car is a significant investment and so make sure you are happy. Ask questions, try and get a better price, and most of all don’t ever feel pressured into buying.

You want to hop in the driver’s seat, buckle up and drive away knowing you made the best choice possible. For more information check out the IHouse website!

Tierney Marey
Undergraduate at Trinity School of Arts and Social Sciences ‘17
Sydney, Australia
 

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