All your hard work has been paid off and it’s time to bid adieu to India and leave for the States. You’ve successfully managed to cross all the hurdles right from GRE to the Applications, never-ending wait for the Admits and the nerve wrecking VISA interview/s.
Now before you leave for a new country, there are obviously a lot of things you need to consider as you’re going there to study and NOT FOR A HOLIDAY. Moreover, you’re going to stay alone (okay, we know it’s fun) from your home. So, we’ve done all the homework for you. Get your shopping shoes on, get the credit cards ready because it’s time to spend on shopping.
Here is a general guideline to do everything before your departure:
- Full body check-up: Treatments are very expensive in the US, in particular Dental and Eye Care
- Immunisation: Each university has its own list of mandatory vaccinations, so check that out and start early
- Insurance: Travel insurances are offered by many Indian companies. However, a full health insurance from your university is highly recommended as Indian policies don’t cover everything and the claim process is much difficult.
- Medicines: Get as many basic tablets as possible. Some of them are expensive in the US
- Cold, Fever - Crocin
- Body Pain - Crocin, Combiflam
- Indigestion, Gastric Problems - Gelucil, Zinetac
- Throat Infection - Erythromycin
- Allergies - Avil .25
- Vomiting - Avomine
- Tooth Ache - Combiflam
- Cold, Head Ache – Amurtanjan, Crocin, Vicks
- Stomach Pain - Cyclopam
- Sprain - Esgypyrin
- Book your tickets immediately after you receive the I-20 and book your Visa interview (Generally in the month of May end/June first week)
- Try getting a single direct flight if possible
- If it is not working out/expensive, then make sure you leave at least 3-5 hours gap between the arrival of the first flight and the departure of the next.
- Some travel agents give discounts on group bookings
- If you’re amongst those who miss your mom a lot (certainly you’ll in the first few months), then it is recommended to book a return ticket (for December). If not, be prepared to shell a lot of money if you book in the last minute in December.
- Total linear dimensions of each check-in bag should not exceed 158 cm (62 inches).
- Total weight must not exceed 23 kgs (50 pounds). Again, this varies from flight to flight but anything around 23 kgs should do good for you.
- You are allowed to carry one hand baggage plus a briefcase, laptop, purse.
- Maximum weight of hand baggage should not exceed 8 kg (variable).
- Students with I-20 are allowed to carry 3 bags each of 23 kgs on some airlines.
- It’s generally a good practice to split luggage amongst your frien
- The most preferred brands are: American Tourister (AT), Samsonite, VIP.
- VIP is the cheapest but quality is OK. American Tourister is mid-range but the quality is very good. Samsonite is very expensive. Choose the ones which is the best for you.
- There is hardly any difference between hard and soft cases. Stick to soft ones as hard ones get easily scratched too.
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA) locks are a must.
CLOTHES AND APPAREL:
- Take a few pairs of clothes with you as finding a laundry or washing them will be difficult till you settle down in the apartment
- Pack a few casual t-shirts, jeans, few formal shirts and trousers, one suit and tie and some shorts and a traditional dress
- Other than this, pack some towels, napkins, belts, handkerchiefs, formal and casual shoes, sneakers, socks.
- Warm clothes are a must. Take clothes that you can wear in layers. Sweaters will also do.
- Blankets (only if you don’t get sleep without it), bed sheets and covers. You may completely skip this point if your luggage is exceeding.
- Avoid packing oily stuff in the baggage
- Take one nail-cutter, scissor, comb, your shaving kit, toothbrush and toothpaste.
Start learning to cook as soon as possible. Basic items like dal, rice, chappati and vegetables comes first. Other things to include:
- Pressure cooker of 3 to 7 litres
- Masala and spices. Take as much as possible.
- Carry some instant food packets in case of emergency
- Rest of the items like Rice, Dal, Vegetables, Spoons, Knives, Plates, Cups, and Bowls are easily available in the USA. DO NOT pack them. They are a waste of space.
- Applicants should also pack a lot of theplas for the first few weeks as it becomes really handy in the early days. So, drop in to your Gujju friend’s place right now.
Electronics are mostly cheaper in the US but you may take these from India, if you want:
- External Hard Drive Disk
- Laptop: If you have your own laptop, bring it. You may sell it later. Many Universities have specific requirements with respect to laptops. Make sure to check with them.
- Indian pin to US pin converters – 2-3 (very important)
- Your current sim card. Basically, this is needed just for the travel.
Talk to the seniors in your university and carry only the important books from India. Get some fundamental books for revision.
- Passport photocopy (5 copies)
- VISA photocopy (5 copies)
- IDP photocopy (5 copies) (Optional)
- I-20 (5 copies)
- Air Ticket (2 copies)
- Original mark sheets
- Attested mark sheets
- Original transcripts
- Degree Certificate (3 copies)
- Immunization form (specific to university)
- University specific letters like admit, aid, forms.
- SEVIS fee receipt (3 copies)
- GRE Original + photocopy copies (5 copies)
- TOEFL Original + photocopy copies (5 copies)
- Final Year Project Report
- Syllabus Copies
- Recommendation Letters
- Carry about $500 in cash and rest about $1000 in Travellers’ Checks.
- Get a lot of quarters from a local money exchanger in India.
- Carry some loose change for calling and eating/drinking during travelling
- For tuition fee, it is best to wire the money directly to the university
- Take these only if necessary. Most USA operators now offer lucrative International calling plans.
- Skype, WhatsApp, Viber are always at your rescue.
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You never know when you will get sick or have an accident and need to see a doctor. The average cost of a trip to the emergency room is $700 and getting tests or prescriptions can push that cost well over $1000. So getting insurance not only protects your health, it also protects your pocketbook.