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Some Useful Pre-Departure Tips

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From the pre departure orientation booklet by USIA:

  • "If you have been admitted to a program of study in a US college, you should bring with you any syallabi, catalogs, bulletins, course descriptions or other relevant materials issued by the secondary school or university you have attended most recently."

  • "When travelling to the US and while in the country, it is important to carry all important documents on your person. Do not put them in a suitcase. Do not loan or give them to anyone unless that person can show you some form of identification that he/she is authorized to receive them."

  • "Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to have funds transferred from your bank at home to a bank in the US - even with a Demand Draft".

  • "Host Family Programs pair a US family with a foreign student for the purpose of friendship and culture sharing. They provide for student visits to a family home for meals, esp. During occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas." I am personally opting for such a program at my university, and I think it is a good idea to get to know the people better, to see where to take a house, where to shop locally etc and other local tips that only resident families can give you.

  • "Clothing Banks: Some community programs organize a clothing bank, a collection of used clothing donated by people who assist newcomers to this country. Many of these banks exist in the Northern areas of US, where the cold winter climate requires heavy winter clothing."

  • "For festive occasions, bring a traditional dress and accessories from your country. You may also want to bring any musical instruments you play, pictures of your home, recordings of traditional music and examples of arts and crafts of your country."


From the Video Show and Panel Discussion:

  • Carry some books on Indian Culture and religion. Be prepared to answer questions, often in depth, say on your religion.

  • Indians tend to stick together when in the US. While this is helpful in getting used to a new place, you tend to lose out on learning about new cultures and countries. Try to make friends from other countries too.

  • Get an Income Tax Clearance Certificate (ITCC) before leaving. This is a mandatory requirement under Indian Law. Though sometimes people are not asked, you could be stopped at the airport. By law, everyone over 18 years of age buying a one way ticket requires an ITCC even if he/she has never earned a single rupee or paid tax . An ITCC is issued by your Area IT officer and takes about 24 hours to process.

  • In case you forgot to get a photocopy of your I-20 before getting a visa, you can still open it and get one made if your foreign exchange dealer asks for one. You can go back to the US embassy and ask them to reseal the I-20. They do this routinely, so it should not be a problem.

  • British Airways usually allows students to carry an extra piece of luggage, over and above the mandatory 2 suitcases and a handbag. If you haven't already chosen your airline, go for BA.

  • Keep your identification on all your luggage, inside and outside. Missing luggage isn't as rare as you expect it to be. For this reason, it also helps if you keep all important papers and cash in your handbag only, not in the suitcases.

  • Don't carry $100 bills. People do not usually have change for a 100 in cabs and most shops. It is preferable to carry $10, $20 notes instead. Also do not carry more than $200 in cash if you can help it. Use a credit card, ATM card or travellers cheques. Less chance of loss or robbery this way.

  • Even an international demand draft usually takes about 2 - 4 weeks to get cashed. Carry enough money with you to last you for the first month or so.

  • Get an International Driving Permit if possible. It is needed to get a driver's license in the US. A driver's license is an important identification card in the US, right after your passport. Since you do not want to carry your passport everywhere, it makes sense to get a license. You will need one for cashing a cheque, even issuing one, for renting a car or a house, in fact for most transactions. If you do not know driving, you can even ask the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a non-driving license to you, used only as an ID card.

  • Learn to ride a bicycle in case you do not already know it. Students on most campuses ride bicycles - they're cheaper and healthier than cars. An old bike costs about $50 - 60, while a new one will set you back by $90 or more.

  • Keep a day's change of clothes in your handbag. This way, if the airline screws up real bad and loses all your luggage, you will not have to buy clothes immediately.

My suggestion: Buy only half the clothes of what you will need in the US. Buy the rest from there, at garage sales, post-Christmas and other season discount sales etc. Not only will you get what is in fashion, you will get newer clothes (as compared to carrying so many from here - they would be old by Christmas time) and spend the same amount of money as you would in India (probably even lesser). To get an idea of what clothes to buy from India, go through brochures of the university you are accepted to. If you don't have them at home, go to USEFI as see.


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Last Updated July 1, 1999