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== Preparing to come to the US ==
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=== Is NC State right for you ? ===
  
=== Applying for and getting your visa ===
+
This question has a very subjective answer because it really depends on what you want to focus on.
  
Whole websites have been written on how to increase your chances for obtaining a F-1 student visa to the US. Some students practice mock visa interviews at coaching classes. If you browse through the archives of the ncsu-fall-200x yahoogroups, you will be able to read several students' accounts of their visa interviews; successful and otherwise.
+
Every year a Yahoo group is started with the id ncsu-fall-20xx. This is expressly for the new students to ask their individual questions to students already at the program. However, please remember that graduate students here lead busy lives and expect that you read these pages completely before posing your question. This is a collective effort and we try keep the information on these pages relevant and up to date. Join the Yahoo group for the year previous to the one you want to join because a lot of your questions are answered there. Take a look at the Files section in the Yahoo Groups for important documents and tips.
  
Students tend to think of the visa interview as one of the most stressful points in their lives. In reality, most students have very straight forward interviews which get over in a few minutes. If you have your documentation ready and are confident, obtaining the visa should not be a problem.  
+
Also, there is a Facebook page for the students this year. Join it [http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=121121131238030 here], you can probably figure out who you're going to hang-out with once you get here.
  
When you do get your visa, please ensure that all the information is correct.
+
=== Applying for and getting your visa ===
  
 +
Entire websites have been devoted to ways of increasing your chances for obtaining a F-1 student visa to the US. Some students practice mock visa interviews at coaching classes. If you browse through the archives of the ncsu-fall-200x yahoogroups, you will be able to read several students' accounts of their visa interviews; successful and otherwise - though I imagine there might be more successful accounts as opposed to unsuccessful ones.
  
=== Tickets ===
+
Read about people's visa experiences from NC State [[Ncstate:Visa Experiences|'''here''']].
  
Air tickets are best booked from the nearest metro city. Book far in advance of your departure date to get the best deals. You can place a hold on a tickets with several travel agencies without actually paying any money. Each such hold will have a specific deadline by which you need to decide whether you wish to convert the hold into a ticket. Usually when the hold needs to be converted, the travel agency will contact you to remind you about it.
+
Students tend to think of the visa interview as one of the most stressful points in their lives. So far, over the last 12-18 months you have battled your wits against the GRE/GMAT, applied for and got admission into the college of your choice - and now it seems, somehow unfairly, that one disaffected man or woman at teh Embassy who has no idea of all the struggles you've been through to get you to this point, can nix it all and send you home empty handed.
  
Around July and August, a lot of students leave for the US. Airlines try to lure these travelers by offering cheaper deals or carrying a third suitcase free. Evaluate your options well before putting your money down anywhere.
+
Even though nothing we can say will reassure you enough - the Consulate staff know what you have been through in getting to this point. Their job is to winnow out those who don't intend to study at all, but disappear into the wood work based on some false documentation. If you are not one of these people, you really should have nothing to fear.
  
Beware of the notorious tax that gets added on to your ticket after the ticket price. This can be anywhere from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 7,000. Always ask your travel agent about the tax. Flights are generally cheaper on weekdays as opposed to weekends.
+
How does the consulate make its decision? Here's what everyone agrees the staff is looking for - that you are who you claim to be and you do have a desire to study in the US and have the necessary funds and resources to support you while you are there. It is an unspoken reality that many students who come to the US get jobs and choose to continue to live here for some amount of time and contribute to the economy - but the consulate staff would like to know that you have an equally compelling reason to return to your home country - property, funds and family. In reality, most students have very straight forward interviews which get over in a few minutes. Many believe that based on the documentation you have submitted, the decision is already made and in the computer and the personal visa interview is just an added check. If you have your documentation ready and are confident, obtaining the visa should not be a problem at all.
  
Some airlines, Air India, for example, often will allow you to carry three suitcases on your flight if you show your I-20 during check-in. Make sure you confirm this with the airline beforehand though. Please verify with your airline whether the 3rd piece of luggage is checked-in all the way through till Raleigh and that you won't be charged an additional amount within the US. For example, almost all flights from India to Raleigh will come through Newark, NJ or New York's airports (La Guardia or JFK). This is your point of entry and immigration procedures will take place here before you can proceed to Raleigh. If the airline that brought you to the port of entry does not have a deal with the connecting airline, you may have to pay upto $100 as excess baggage for your third suitcase. It is best to contact the airline as opposed to the travel agent to verify these details.
+
When you do get your visa, please ensure that all the information is correct.
  
=== Baggage ===
+
=== Tickets to the US ===
  
Check your airlines' website for details on size, weight and other restrictions. According to recent changes, the weight of the bags has been reduced from 32 kg to around 23-24 kg per bag. So confirm with your travel agent.If in doubt, the most accurate information is always from the airline.
+
Air tickets to the US are best booked from the nearest metro city. Book far in advance of your departure date to get the best deals - since your dates are fairly flexible, shop around and ask them to tell you dates you can get the lowest fares on. You can place a hold on a tickets with several travel agencies without actually paying any money immediately. Each such hold will have a specific deadline by which you need to decide whether you wish to convert the hold into a ticket. Usually when the hold needs to be converted, the travel agency will contact you to remind you about it. You will then have to pay for the ticket.
  
One important rule that is strictly enforced on domestic flights in the US is that your baggage (check-in) should not be locked. As far as possible, leave your baggage unlocked. If you must lock them, then the workaround is to use Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, which can be opened only by airport authorities. A list of TSA approved locks can be obtained at the [http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?content=0900051980119c07 TSA website] or from the following websites [http://www.travelsentry.org Travel Sentry] and [http://www.safeskieslocks.com Safe Skies].
+
Around July and August, a lot of students leave for the US. Airlines try to lure these travelers by offering cheaper deals or letting you carry a third suitcase free. Evaluate your options well before putting your money down anywhere.
  
=== Books ===
+
Beware of the notorious tax that gets added on to your ticket after the ticket price. This tax can be anywhere from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 7,000. Always ask your travel agent about the tax and the total price of your ticket INCLUDING the tax. Flights are generally cheaper on weekdays as opposed to weekends.
  
Textbooks are very expensive in the US so you might want to find out the assigned textbooks for the courses that you wish to take and buy those in India. The cost of textbooks varies from $50 - $100 for used versions; new versions can cost upwards of $100. Some professors insist on a particular edition of the textbook to ensure that content of the course and the homework problems given are in sync with the textbook. However, it does not always justify buying the latest edition.
+
Please check the information regarding permissible baggage weight. This has been reduced to 23kg from 32kg. Some airlines, Air India, for example, often will allow you to carry three suitcases on your flight if you show your I-20 during check-in. Make sure you confirm this with the airline beforehand. Please verify with your airline whether the 3rd piece of luggage is checked-in all the way through till Raleigh and that you won't be charged an additional amount within the US. For example, almost all flights from India to Raleigh will come through Newark, NJ or New York's airports (La Guardia or JFK). This is your point of entry and immigration procedures will take place here before you can proceed to Raleigh, NC. If the airline that brought you to the port of entry does not have a deal with the connecting airline, you may have to pay upto $150 as excess baggage for your third suitcase. It is best to contact the airline as opposed to the travel agent to verify these details.
 +
 
 +
=== Baggage ===
 +
 
 +
Check your airlines' website for details on size, weight and other restrictions. According to recent changes, the weight of the bags has been reduced from 32 kg to around 23-24 kg per bag. So confirm with your travel agent.If in doubt, the most accurate information is always from the airline.
  
If you must buy a book here, check out [http://www.campusi.com CampusI], a price aggregator which searches all the bookseller websites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and eBay for the lowest possible prices including shipping.
+
One important rule that is strictly enforced on domestic flights in the US is that your baggage (check-in) should not be locked. As far as possible, leave your baggage unlocked. If you must lock them, then the workaround is to use Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, which can be opened only by airport authorities. A list of TSA approved locks can be obtained at the [http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?content=0900051980119c07 TSA website] or from the following websites [http://www.travelsentry.org Travel Sentry] and [http://www.safeskieslocks.com Safe Skies]. Your bags may be forced open if they need to be searched.

Latest revision as of 19:52, 30 May 2010

H O M E
Preparing for the US
Before you leave
Packing your Bags
Traveling to the US
Arriving at NC State
Living at NC State
Finances
Academics
Questions?
Checklist
About
This Navbar

Is NC State right for you ?

This question has a very subjective answer because it really depends on what you want to focus on.

Every year a Yahoo group is started with the id ncsu-fall-20xx. This is expressly for the new students to ask their individual questions to students already at the program. However, please remember that graduate students here lead busy lives and expect that you read these pages completely before posing your question. This is a collective effort and we try keep the information on these pages relevant and up to date. Join the Yahoo group for the year previous to the one you want to join because a lot of your questions are answered there. Take a look at the Files section in the Yahoo Groups for important documents and tips.

Also, there is a Facebook page for the students this year. Join it here, you can probably figure out who you're going to hang-out with once you get here.

Applying for and getting your visa

Entire websites have been devoted to ways of increasing your chances for obtaining a F-1 student visa to the US. Some students practice mock visa interviews at coaching classes. If you browse through the archives of the ncsu-fall-200x yahoogroups, you will be able to read several students' accounts of their visa interviews; successful and otherwise - though I imagine there might be more successful accounts as opposed to unsuccessful ones.

Read about people's visa experiences from NC State here.

Students tend to think of the visa interview as one of the most stressful points in their lives. So far, over the last 12-18 months you have battled your wits against the GRE/GMAT, applied for and got admission into the college of your choice - and now it seems, somehow unfairly, that one disaffected man or woman at teh Embassy who has no idea of all the struggles you've been through to get you to this point, can nix it all and send you home empty handed.

Even though nothing we can say will reassure you enough - the Consulate staff know what you have been through in getting to this point. Their job is to winnow out those who don't intend to study at all, but disappear into the wood work based on some false documentation. If you are not one of these people, you really should have nothing to fear.

How does the consulate make its decision? Here's what everyone agrees the staff is looking for - that you are who you claim to be and you do have a desire to study in the US and have the necessary funds and resources to support you while you are there. It is an unspoken reality that many students who come to the US get jobs and choose to continue to live here for some amount of time and contribute to the economy - but the consulate staff would like to know that you have an equally compelling reason to return to your home country - property, funds and family. In reality, most students have very straight forward interviews which get over in a few minutes. Many believe that based on the documentation you have submitted, the decision is already made and in the computer and the personal visa interview is just an added check. If you have your documentation ready and are confident, obtaining the visa should not be a problem at all.

When you do get your visa, please ensure that all the information is correct.

Tickets to the US

Air tickets to the US are best booked from the nearest metro city. Book far in advance of your departure date to get the best deals - since your dates are fairly flexible, shop around and ask them to tell you dates you can get the lowest fares on. You can place a hold on a tickets with several travel agencies without actually paying any money immediately. Each such hold will have a specific deadline by which you need to decide whether you wish to convert the hold into a ticket. Usually when the hold needs to be converted, the travel agency will contact you to remind you about it. You will then have to pay for the ticket.

Around July and August, a lot of students leave for the US. Airlines try to lure these travelers by offering cheaper deals or letting you carry a third suitcase free. Evaluate your options well before putting your money down anywhere.

Beware of the notorious tax that gets added on to your ticket after the ticket price. This tax can be anywhere from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 7,000. Always ask your travel agent about the tax and the total price of your ticket INCLUDING the tax. Flights are generally cheaper on weekdays as opposed to weekends.

Please check the information regarding permissible baggage weight. This has been reduced to 23kg from 32kg. Some airlines, Air India, for example, often will allow you to carry three suitcases on your flight if you show your I-20 during check-in. Make sure you confirm this with the airline beforehand. Please verify with your airline whether the 3rd piece of luggage is checked-in all the way through till Raleigh and that you won't be charged an additional amount within the US. For example, almost all flights from India to Raleigh will come through Newark, NJ or New York's airports (La Guardia or JFK). This is your point of entry and immigration procedures will take place here before you can proceed to Raleigh, NC. If the airline that brought you to the port of entry does not have a deal with the connecting airline, you may have to pay upto $150 as excess baggage for your third suitcase. It is best to contact the airline as opposed to the travel agent to verify these details.

Baggage

Check your airlines' website for details on size, weight and other restrictions. According to recent changes, the weight of the bags has been reduced from 32 kg to around 23-24 kg per bag. So confirm with your travel agent.If in doubt, the most accurate information is always from the airline.

One important rule that is strictly enforced on domestic flights in the US is that your baggage (check-in) should not be locked. As far as possible, leave your baggage unlocked. If you must lock them, then the workaround is to use Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, which can be opened only by airport authorities. A list of TSA approved locks can be obtained at the TSA website or from the following websites Travel Sentry and Safe Skies. Your bags may be forced open if they need to be searched.

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