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Preparing for the US
Before you leave
Packing your Bags
Traveling to the US
Arriving at NC State
Living at NC State
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Welcome to the US (almost !)

You must be very excited about coming to NC State and the US. You've probably even begun to cook up dal and sabji for the first time in your life. Enjoy this time with your family - they'll miss you and vice-versa!

That said, We've compiled a few things for you to remember so that your trip is uneventful and largely hassle-free.

Before you leave

  • Inform Maitri of your arrival date, time, airlines and flight number at maitri.pickup@gmail.com. Make sure you email your details only after your bookings are final. We don't want to come and pick you up a day before you get here.
  • Understand that all stopovers on your itinerary mention time in the LOCAL TIME OF THAT CITY. For example, the time which you will touch down in Paris is in Paris local time. This is important because unfortunately for you, you cannot stay in Paris but have to catch a connecting flight. Again the departure time of this flight from Paris will be in Paris local time but the arrival of this flight in New York will be in Eastern Daylight Time (local time in NY). Don't miss your connecting flights because you were browsing in the Duty Free.
  • You will gain time as you travel from East to West, which means you will possibly arrive on the same day you left India even though you have been sitting in flights for 27 - 30 hours. The flip side of this wonderful way to cheat time is that when you visit India again you will arrive almost 2 days late. You will have plenty of time to ponder these and other quasi-temporal anomalies in airport bucket seats all across Europe.
  • Haven't packed yet ? If saying bye bye to bhabhi and bhaiyya is just too traumatic, it doesn't even begin to compare with the rage you'll feel when you realise that you can't take your favourite rock collection because it has a non-zero mass. Don't put off packing to the end. Here's an excellent packing list : http://www.ncsu.edu/stud_orgs/maitri/checklist.htm. Keep stuff which you don't really need up on top so that if they ask you to reduce the weight of your bags you can quickly take out these items and stuff it into a handbag. Weighing your suitcases is a lot of fun and you get really good at balancing a suitcase, looking at an unsteady needle and subtracting your own weight from the numbers in ten seconds. And oh, don't throw your back out lifting those huge suitcases. It is speculated that most pre-departure accidents involve being sandwiched between a weighing scale and a 23 kilo suitcase.
  • Keep a list of all important telephone numbers of anyone who you'd possibly need to call in the US and India. This includes the phone numbers of the people who are picking you up and who you're staying with. This would also be a good time to sit down with your cellphone and painstakingly copy down numbers till your fingers hurt.
  • Call the airline and confirm your reservation. Using your 6 digit reservation code on your itinerary (e.g KAS45J) you can even reserve which seats you'd like at your airlines website. May help to get a window instead of being stuck with a baby in the centre aisle. www.seatguru.com usually has some good suggestions to offer about the best seats.
  • Get Travel Insurance. Lest your bags get lost or you get sick or hurt, you need travel insurance to take care of you till the the first day of school (when your BCBSNC insurance kicks in

Up, up and away !

  • Tie colorful ribbons to your luggage. You cannot believe how 30 hour flights can play havoc with your ability to recognize your own luggage from hundreds of similar looking suitcases. And forget about those large paper labels. I guarantee they will have fallen off before you get the bags into the airport.
  • Make sure you have all your travel documents with you. Make copies and put them in all the suitcases. All your original documents (marksheets, certificates, et al go in your carry on baggage - never checked in). Docs you must have are your :-
    • Air Ticket
    • Passport with valid visa
    • Valid I-20
    • SEVIS payment receipt
    • Money - currency notes and quarters (for phone calls)
    • Keep three dollars in change ready because you have to rent a trolley at your port of entry
    • Keep a number of quarters to make phone calls and buy small stuff
    • Travel Insurance papers ( you can buy this online these days)
    • Passport sized photographs
    • Phone book
  • Every time you land they will make you fill out an arrival card (even in a connecting flight) - keeping your passport information on a small card is useful.
  • Arrive at the airport early (3 hours before departure). The later you arrive, the crankier the staff get and the more unlikely it will be that they allow you to carry on a heavier than usual bag. I hate to be a downer but I've heard that in majhee Mumbai they are not allowing you to come back out once you're checked in because of the recent bomb blasts.
  • A shameless plug for Bluwiki here http://www.bluwiki.org/go/Ncstate:Traveling_to_the_US#Getting_to_the_Airport
  • On the plane, one of those horseshoe shaped neck pillows is an unmitigated blessing besides making you look like a rather attractive duck. If you're on a 777, knock yourself out with the in-seat TVs. If you're not so lucky, figure out which overhead television will give you the best view of Cars.
  • I had made a persuasive argument for not drinking onboard in the Bluwiki, but I'm sure no one is listening.... In any case, please drink a lot of water and take every opportunity to wiggle your toes. Another fascinating activity is convincing yourself that an airplane restroom is built for normal sized people. Vikram Kone had an amusing anecdote about tissue paper. What can I say - get used to it.
  • This may seem unreasonable but try setting your watch to US time and sleeping according to that - you'll have no jetlag.
  • When you arrive at your port of entry (first flight into US airspace), take a moment to congratulate yourself on getting this far. You will then have to stand in an interminably long line for immigration usually manned by just one officer. When you get to his counter, tell him what he needs to know and then make sure he staples that little card to your passport and writes D/S on it. If he doesn't, say I said so. Check if your connecting flight to Raleigh-Durham (RDU) is delayed. It will typically be a 4-digit flight number.
  • Take the free time you have to call the guy/gal who is picking you up. You may question why you are spending all of 50 cents (Rs.23!!!) to do this but be kind and pay forward. To dial a phone in the US you have to put the money in first ($0.50 or more) and then dial 1-(area code)-(7 digit number) e.g 1 919 555 4500
  • Another fun thing to do at this time is figure out US currency and try and logically reason why they would make a dime (10 cents) smaller than a nickel (5 cents) or even a penny( 1 cent). It will still take you a couple of weeks to learn how to pay people. At this point, amuse yourself flipping switches the other way.
  • When walking in a corridor, fight the desperate urge to walk to the left like you were taught in school. Unless this is something you want, you will end up banging into people. This country is right-aligned in more ways than one. This is a good principle to remember for later.
  • When you arrive in Raleigh, breathe a sigh of relief and affix the provided "Seasoned Traveller" label firmly to your right shoulder. Your hassled pickup will be waiting for you in the lobby. He probably has work the next day. Pick up your bags, look grateful and exit stage left.

I've reached, now what ?

  • Good question. Call your parents and tell them that you haven't been left behind in Frankfurt and you already miss idlis. You can ask the host you're living with to give you a few Reliance India minutes. Or you can ask him to buy a King Card for you from SDI card . These cost $2.00 and you can talk for 30 mins. In your spare time, practice talking really fast.
  • There's a couple of things you have to do as soon as you feel physically able after your journey.In no particular order this is :-
    • Check in with the OIS (Office of International Students) at Daniels Hall
    • Get your student ID made at West Dunn Bldg
    • Open your bank account at Wachovia Bank
    • Check in with your department (probably on Centennial Campus - ask around)
    • Start looking for your own accomodation

Here's a helpful map I made which will let you see all the sights in one day. Thank me later with copious wads of cash and big boxes of mithai.

NCSU Starter Map

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This page was last modified on 2 January 2010, at 02:24.
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