New York English Academy Rookie blog

PC TECH staff member Tamila shares some tips on seeking advancement through higher education.  Here is the first of two parts:

We all know about the importance of education.  It is the key to success, self-confidence, money, and simply a better life.  In my family education has always been the number one priority.  So the question of attending or not attending a college was never raised after I graduated from high school. I completely agreed with that; however, my only wish was getting my higher education abroad. Thankfully, for my parents it wasn’t a problem at all.  One thing you have to know about studying in another country is that every country’s system of education differs from that of others, and you have to follow it if you want to succeed.  If you do so, you will not only have a great learning experience, but also can enjoy being around people from various cultures.  So based on my personal experience, I want to describe few simple rules that will help you to choose a place of higher education and to succeed if you decide to study at a college in the United States.


  1. Choose your college carefully.  Choosing a college that you want to attend is never easy, unless you have dreamed about a particular one since you were ten years old.  The first factor you want to consider is if the college offers the major you want.  And if so, how good it is at this particular major?  For example, the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”) is famous for its nursing and engineering programs, Rutgers University has a great business program, etc.  You can always visit specific websites that give you the relevant information.
  2. Tuition. You should plan for the money you are able to spend on education. You also may want to compare tuition fees of several schools that you like and choose the one that suits you best.  Also, almost all colleges in the United States can offer help for the payment of tuition, such as grants, scholarships, and work-study programs.
  3. Location. Do you want your school to be located in a big city, such as New York, or in the countryside where it is quieter?  Think about what you prefer more:  what do you want to see while getting your higher education?  Some colleges are located near cities, often have bigger campuses, and offer dorm living.  Some are located in a city, and you can choose to rent or share an apartment without worrying about everyday commuting, using convenient public transportation, such as trains, buses, and subways).

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Two of PC TECH’s students, Taeko from Japan and Flavio from Spain, write about a few etiquette rules and customs in regards to public transportation in their countries:

 Taeko:   I will introduce you to the Japanese taxi.  First, Japanese taxi drivers are basically kind, amiable, and talkative.  They have a lot of information for visitors.  I think it’s so much fun to talk with them.  Please try that out!  I think there are a lot of polite drivers in Japan.

            Second, how to get a Japanese taxi:  We put up a hand and can [hail] a taxi.  In Japan we can always get a taxi, day or night.  This is the same as in New York.  But when we pay, we don’t need to tip.  And also, we don’t need to open the door.

It’s different in New York.  If we pay tips, they are very pleased.  That’s very unusual in Japan.  If you ride a Japanese taxi, please remember these [customs].


Flavio:   When I arrived at JFK [airport], I could see a big difference between the taxi in Spain and in the USA.  Taxi drivers here [in New York] are very polite.  They say Hi!, Please!, How are you?, How are your travels going?, I thank you very much.  Have a nice day!

In Spain, people speak more directly.  But one thing is very similar in the two countries: taxi drivers phone while they are driving.

On the other hand, the subway here [has] more different rules of behavior.  For example, most people in Spain don’t normally eat in the metro, but the rules don’t say that eating is not allowed.  It’s only one rule of behavior.

The main difference is that the subway in Spain is cleaner than New York’s.  Another rule is the tip:  In Spain, people don’t have an obligatory tip.  But here, if you don’t want “death” after your dinner, you [should] tip about 18% of your bill.

[Of course, Flavio is only joking about the “death” after a meal.  However, restaurant servers (waiters and waitresses) in New York are usually very helpful and respectful.  Their salaries are not high, and they really need the extra income.  A tip is a thoughtful way to say “Thanks” for good service.  If the service or the food is poor, you should mention the fact to the server before giving a smaller tip.  —Editor]

           PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Category : Student Essays

Getting Around in Barcelona August 25, 2014

Two of our PC TECH students from Barcelona give their suggestions for riding public transportation in that corner of the world.  [Their teacher has done some correcting and editing]:

Ramon:   If you go by bus in Barcelona, you read as you enter, “Please don’t disturb the driver.”  After that, if you don’t have a bus card, you can buy a ticket from the driver.  This is not normal:  you are disturbing the driver.  Sometimes the driver gives you change while driving.

In the bus, your behavior must be polite.  Don’t speak loudly, don’t litter, don’t make other riders uncomfortable.

Going by bus is more interesting than by subway.  You can see the streets with the  monuments [e.g. statues].

In the past, if you wanted the bus to stop, you said something to the driver.  Now there is  a “ring” to stop the bus.  It is more quieter and more polite.

Pets aren’t permitted without a [container] and without a ticket too.  Both [carry] a big penalty.


Anton:   In my country, there are different ways to move around in the city where you are.  I will explain these ways – more or less – in the most famous city in my country – Barcelona.

There are two principal ways to move through the city: subway or bus.  You should choose one of these.

If you want to travel quickly, you should take the subway.  But if not, you could take a bus.  If you take the second option, you will enjoy the sights of the city.

Both methods are good.  You will find people with good manners wherever you go.  Sometimes you can find an impolite person, as in any country.  But in general, the people of Barcelona are very polite.

Finally, if you don’t like either of these options, you can always take a taxi.  But of course, the price will not be the same!

           PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Category : Student Essays

About Stereotypes August 22, 2014

PC TECH students have come to us from every continent except Australia…(and Antarctica, so far!).  At times friendly discussions about national and cultural stereotypes come up in class.  Acknowledging and defeating these stereotypes can lead to increased understanding of and respect for the various customs of the English language learners who share their traditions with one another.  Here is an example from Russian-born Tamila:

As I have written  in previous posts, learning English in New York City gives you a great opportunity to meet many different people from almost every part of the world.  You understand that every culture is unique and has its own traditions, customs, and lifestyles.  Moreover, many are victims of stereotyping.  So now I would like to break some stereotypes about people from Russia.

  1. All Russian people are Russians.  Alright, I know that it sounds a little bit weird, but that is true. Being Russian means being a citizen of Russia; it does not refer to the ethnicity (russkiy  refers to that).  It also includes 21 republics, each with its own culture, language, and customs.
  2. All Russian people (citizens of Russia) drink vodka.  No, not at all.  In fact, many of us don’t like it and try to avoid it.
  3. In Russia, bears walk on the streets. This is one of the funniest one.  I have never seen a bear walking on a street in my life.  Only at the zoo, in a cage.


  1. It is extremely cold in Russia.  Winter is not the only season in Russia. There are four seasons, and summers can be really hot there.  Although in some northern regions the temperature may be lower, overall the climate can be really quite pleasant.
  2. Russian people smile very rarely.  Well, there may be some truth to that; however, it all depends on the individual.  I do smile and I smile a lot!

How about you out there?  Do you have any stereotypes about your cultures that you want to break?

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Two of the best things that you get when you study English as a second language in the United States are (a) how many interesting people you can meet – people from so many countries with different cultures and interests; and (b) how many amazing places you can see.   It has been almost six years since I finished  my studies at a language school, but I still keep in touch with the people I met there.  One of my best friends lives in Japan.  She is a very talented clothing designer (Hi Yohko, if you are reading this!).  Unfortunately, we don’t see each other very often, since we are both busy with schools, jobs, and – the major obstacle – are separated by thousands of miles.  However, every time we have an opportunity, we talk on Skype, KakaoTalk, WhatsApp, and other instant messengers.  Having said that, I think you understand how we get excited when she or I come to visit each other.  Yohko was in NYC last October.  She was here for only few days, but we still had so much fun!


First of all, we decided to visit Central Park.  This was one of the most wonderful trips I’ve ever had.  With the map and a Starbucks coffee in our hands, we started the exploration of one of the most beautiful places in New York City.  Of course, I’ve been in Central Park before; however, I never really tried to see its real beauty and learn its history.  And there is so much to see!   We started  walking at the duck pond, where Salinger’s character Holden tried to figure out where the ducks go during winter; we visited Belvedere Castle, built in 1869 and now a weather station; John Lennon’s memorial, Strawberry Fields, where I could finally find the name of my country; we saw The Obelisk that is known as the oldest monument in the park (it dates back to 1450 BCE!).  We gazed on beautiful sculptures of Alice in Wonderland and Balto; and finally took a walk on the Bow Bridge, which I knew about, thanks to the famous movies.  Of course, there are many other famous and beautiful places in the Central Park, and one day is definitely not enough to see all of them.  However, even seeing at least some of them as my friend and I did will bring you so much pleasure.  And it is not only about having fun, it is much more; it’s like becoming a part of history, a part of something exciting.   My friend and I took a lot of pictures that day, but even all of them cannot show how beautiful Central Park really is.  You must see it with your own eyes!

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Dinnertime Etiquette August 19, 2014

Students in PC TECH’s ESL classes find that comparing customs and etiquette from various countries and cultures can be fascinating.  Here is an example:

People from different countries have different cultures.  When you have friends from different countries, it is very important to know some of their traditions and the basic rules for what they consider good manners in their countries.   Nobody wants to come to somebody’s house and make a bad impression on the whole family.  And that would not be because you don’t know the simple rules of etiquette.  It would be because you don’t know enough about their culture.  I want to write about the simple rules of etiquette when you are invited to dinner in the Dominican Republic.  So if you want to make a good impression, follow these suggestions:

Let’s say you are invited to a dinner at 5 p.m.  The first question is what time should you arrive?  In the Dominican culture, never arrive early because hosts would not be ready to greet you.  The best time to arrive is on time or around thirty minutes late.  You should bring a gift too.  It can be good liquor or an additional dish that you cooked yourself.  Dress in something nice and attractive, but don’t dress in an overly casual style, as in jeans or a t-shirt.  Don’t take off your shoes when you enter the house.  It is bad manners in the Dominican Republic.  In Dominican culture, on a traditional dinner table you will always will see two kinds of rice (white and brown), beans, salads, and two kinds of meat.  Drinks can vary: soda, wine, water, or fresh juice.  Dominicans serve their table in family style, so you can put on your plate whatever you want.  After you finish your first plate, always ask for seconds, because in this way you show that you really like their food.   Never take your dishes to the kitchen.  Hosts could consider that disrespectful, because you are their guest.  Smoking after dinner when nobody else smokes is also bad manners.


Now one of the most important questions is how long you should stay after you have finished dinner.  Usually, if hosts invite you not only for dinner, you can stay late.  If not, stay around thirty minutes more.  Never leave immediately after dinner!  Hosts can think that you come only to eat and they won’t invite you again.   Topics for conversation can be varied.  But do not discuss political points of view.  The Dominican people are very passionate about this and usually different political points of views can cause arguments or even fights.

I hope that after you read these simple rules you are ready for dinner with Dominican friends.  Follow these instructions and you will make a very good impression!

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Making New Friends August 18, 2014

English language learners discover that sharing classes together at PC TECH is a fine way to develop friendships with an international flavor.  Here are some common-sense tips for forming new relationships:

Every person has the need to communicate with other people. We all need someone whom we can trust, share our secrets, and be close when we need help.  Those people we call friends.  With those whom we have been friends with since the childhood, we know how to behave and what to talk about.  Despite that, sometimes we need to expand our social circle: meet new people and become friends with them.  However, without knowing the basic rules of communication with new people, we might fail to realize our needs.  Therefore, in order to make friends with someone, you should remember several rules that will help you to succeed and establish good relationships with people.

First of all, you should be a good listener.  People who have the ability to listen usually make friends very easily.  Being a good listener means to listen and to hear what the other person tells you.  This is a very important part of  good communication. By paying attention to a person’s words and asking questions based on what you hear shows that you are really interested in conversation.  Also it will give you an opportunity to know a person better, because people love to talk about themselves when they are listened to.

Another very good tip for making friends is having a good sense of humor.  People who have this great ability have always been found attractive.  If a person can make you smile when you want to cry, isn’t he or she the one who is considered a good friend?  Of course, yes.  No matter how people are attractive physically, if they have a good sense of humor, they will always be interesting.

The third very important rule is body language.  We express our feelings by using nonverbal communication.  Sometimes this type of communication has more value than the words you say.  When having a conversation, people look into each other’s eyes, perceive the tone of voice, intonation, facial expression, and gestures. If you are invited to a party, don’t fold your arms or stay in the corner or the back of the room.   Don’t look troubled and disinterested, because this will alienate people from you.

One of the most important parts of nonverbal communication is a smile.  It has always been associated with openness, happiness, and kindness.  “Friendship starts with a smile,” as is sung in an old Russian song.  And this is absolutely true.  So don’t forget to smile!


And the last very important tip is just being a good friend.  If someone close to you needs your help or a shoulder to cry on, be there, be next to him or her.  Pay attention to this person and perhaps very soon you will find a friend who will help you in return.  People often say that you start knowing your real friends when you get into trouble.  This is true.  You always expect someone to help and simply support you.

In conclusion, making new friends is a very important part of our lives.  We need friends to help us feel more safe, happy, and calm. Real friendship is a gift, and true friends are those who reflect us.  So before considering expanding your social circle by making new friends, you should ask yourself if these people are those with whom you really want to become friends. Think about it.  And if yes, use these simple rules that will help you to succeed.

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Location: Queens, Brooklyn
Room rate: $1,250/4weeks includes breakfast and dinner
Application fee: $200

An international student house is a residence style homestay; A house owner and his/her friends jointly care for the house.  There are a total of 10 rooms in the house. This home provides a friendly environment for students of differnt nationalities to socialize and help each other.

One house in Queens: The 3 stories brick house has a quiet study lounge on the 3rd floor, a spcious dining and living room area, a nice tranquil backyard that we occasionally have BBQ party, as well as a coined laundry facility in the basement.

Please feel free to contact PC tech housing staff for application.



From Sochi to New Jersey August 15, 2014

PC TECH staff member Tamila compares her life in Russia with her current residence in New Jersey:

I never thought that one day I would leave beautiful and never-sleeping Sochi for a quiet life in suburban New Jersey. However, that day came.

I was driving from JFK airport to New Jersey.  As for any person who leaves a big city, it was very difficult for me to adjust to this suburban life.  However, almost five years have passed now, and I find Fair Lawn, my new hometown, the place that I never want to leave.

My parents had moved to Sochi long before I was born.  They held jobs in the city, so they never planned to move anywhere else.. Life in Sochi is a life of never-ending noise, hurrying people, and endless traffic.  Despite all that, it opens a huge opportunity for entertainment: theatres, museums, shopping centers, etc.  Comfortable transportation, such as the subway, takes you to any point in the city. My parents and I loved the rhythm of Sochi and appreciated all the opportunities that it presented.  I could study at the most prestigious universities and schools without leaving my family.  And I really enjoyed being at concerts of the most famous celebrities, because they all visited the city.

However, like most people in Sochi, my family and I felt unsecure because of different crimes that happened every day.  If I was out of the house, I had to call my parents every hour and always come home before ten o’clock.  As for the people, they are not so friendly and open. Life in a big city has each person separated rather than as a part of a friendly community. Nevertheless, when you grow up in such environment, you get accustomed to this life and never notice that.

 New Jersey

            In contrast, life in the suburbs is totally different.  Based on my experience, I can describe it as a small place of paradise, where you can relax.  I enjoy living in Fair Lawn.  Of course, at first, I missed my life in Sochi.  For me it was unusual to see so many trees, grass, and even squirrels jumping across the roads.  And most of all, I was shocked by the silence: you can sleep with open windows on summer nights without worrying about outside noise.  Here you will not see big crowds of people or people walking and driving after midnight.  People who live in my town are very friendly and will always help you if you ask them.   I know all my neighbors and sometimes we organize barbeques together. I love this feeling of being a part of a small friendly community.  With all that, life in the suburbs does not limit you to a choice of places where you can go.  Here are so many good restaurants, movie theatres, shopping malls, and more.  Another important aspect of living here is security, because everybody knows one other.

In conclusion, now if I had to choose where to live, I would never choose a big city. Comparing my life in Sochi and here in New Jersey, I have come to the conclusion that the quiet and safe life here attracts me more than the lights of a big city.  Since New York is very close, I can always go there for entertainment and spend the whole day there.  However, when I come back to my town, only then I feel at home.

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City

Tamila came to us from Russia, sharing her experiences as an English language learner:

Have you ever wanted to visit a country that is thousands of miles away?  Well, I would guess yes.  During my childhood, my greatest dream was to see New York City.  So I registered for a language school, applied for a visa, and soon I was walking out of JFK airport.  You know, the funny thing is that many people who study English in their home countries are pretty sure that they will at least be able to understand something once they come to an English-speaking country.  And this was what I thought: of course, I had been studying the language for ten years in Russia!  However, when a taxi driver asked me where to go, I barely could tell him the address. I was terrified!  I was eighteen, and I was alone in one of the biggest cities in the world.

The next day I started my ESL program at the language school.  The only thing I hoped for was that the program would help me to improve my English.  However, the school itself did much more.  First of all, I realized that I am not the only person who was nervous to be here.  I made a lot of friends from different parts of the world with whom I still keep in touch.  Later, I even visited them: I was in Japan, South Korea, and France.


Second, I really improved my English.  And I guess I will be forever thankful to my ESL teachers: because of them, I was able to study further and get my associate degree.  Third, my first four months in NYC was a time of great exploration, fun activities, and learning about different cultures.  Where else you would have the opportunity to learn about so many cultures at once?  Well, this is the place.  Finally, the most important thing that has happened to me was that I’ve become more confident about myself (hey, not every girl would come here at eighteen =)), because I realized that if a person really wants to do something, he or she will do it.

So it’s been already six years that I am here.  Many things have changed since that time. However, I have never regretted coming here.  What I want to say is that you should never hesitate about going somewhere, seeing something, and exploring things.  I know you might be scared at the beginning and that’s normal.  However, soon you will realize that it probably be the most exciting experience in your life!

PC TECH: English Language School in New York City