7.6 Case Studies
Question: I am on my way to the US. I have been accepted into an MS program in Computer Science. I was also fortunate to get research assistantship. My understanding is that this assistantship would be sufficient for me to sustain myself. Is that correct? Also, I would appreciate it if you could help me with what I should do in preparation for my departure, and upon arrival? Any helpful hints on this transition would be very helpful.
Answer: Congratulations! Getting research assistantship with admission is a great news for you. Unlike other countries, the offer of research assistantship in the US typically comes with tuition fee waiver. We are assuming that is the case for you. If so, you are all set, with some qualifiers. As in every country, the cost of living would determine how far your financial assistance goes. For example, living costs in Mumbai are much higher than they are in, say Bhopal. Similarly, the cost of living in New York or San Francisco is much higher than it is in, say Dayton, Ohio. Without knowing more details, we are inclined to say that you would be able to sustain yourself financially, albeit hand to mouth.
In terms of transition from India to the US, the single most important issue is the visa and entry into the US. You should have obtained all the visa-related paperwork and instructions from your school. You must file this paperwork with the US embassy in India. You must be fully truthful with the Immigration authorities. Barring unforeseen issues, this a fairly straightforward process. Having the authorized student visa does not guarantee an entry into the US. You are questioned at the port of entry for the US. Again, be truthful and forthright with the immigration officials at the airport. There is no need to be nervous about it. Unless you have something to hide, or you are being less than fully truthful, entry into the US should be fairly straightforward as well.
Here is some more basic information. You should carry at least $1,000 US in cash or traveler's checks, depending on what provisions you have for accommodation, especially for the first week or so until you are settled in. You can get a bus or taxi from the airport, but the bus would of course be cheaper than a taxi. Many schools in the US have [a target="_new" href="../../../education/usa/isa/use.htm"]Indian Students Associations[/a], which can be very helpful to incoming students. You may want to contact them prior to your departure. This could provide you an instant social network for on-going help and support.
In terms of what you should bring with you, our recommendation would be that you bring just the appropriate clothing and basic necessities of life. The weather in the US varies considerably from being extremely cold to extremely hot, depending on the location. You would be better off buying winter clothing here in the US because it is made for the harsh weather you would face if you are going to northern or mid-western states.
Keep in mind that the Foreign Student Advisor at your school is your best ally. He or she will be helpful with any questions or issues you may have.