Q: What can I bring when I come there, and what not?
Below is a consolidated list of things to bring. Remember to maintain your baggage within the weight limits as required by the airlines you travel. Otherwise you may have to pay a huge amount after you arrive here (at the port of entry). Usually, the limit is 23 kg (50 pounds to be exact) each, in two suitcases, and 8 kg in a cabin bag. (There are fixed standards for the size of this bag too). It is always recommended that you should check with the airline authorities to know about particular luggage limitations, since these are frequently changed by several regulations.
Be careful with all your documents throughout your travel. The following documents are quite important for a peaceful stay in the U.S.A:
- Original Form I-20.
- Original Passport with valid F-1 Visa.
- Original Form I-94
- Demand drafts, travelers’ checks, and currency.
- Any sealed documents that the US Consulate gave you.
- Other important documents, such as previous academic records.
- Vaccination Certificate.
- Letter of admission/financial aid (if applicable).
You must keep them with you at all times during the flight. Also, make copies of the relevant documents and keep one set at home. Carry one set and the originals with you along with essentials including a pair of clothes in your carry-bag in case the luggage is delayed at the airport.
Q: I plan to get my mobile phone from India. Is that advisable?
Do not plan to bring your mobile phones here. Please be informed that not all (non smart phones and non-quad band phones) mobile phones from India work here since the operating frequency might not be supported. Also, in the USA, prepaid mobile is expensive, while post-paid plans are generally available with decent and state-of-the-art phones for low cost or for free. In any case, getting a mobile from India is not recommended.
To be eligible for a post-paid mobile connection which does not need a deposit, you will need to have sufficient credit history. You can get a mobile phone on a senior’s or a relative’s Social Security Number (SSN) and later transfer the phone when you build your own credit. Another option would be to get a credit card as soon as possible and do all your purchases on it for one month. After you pay your first month bill, you should be able to get a mobile connection, without any deposit on your own SSN. You can check whether you need a deposit by trying to order a phone online by filling out all the required details. It will inform you if you need to pay a deposit. If your order is accepted, then you do not need a deposit.
Q: My travel agent mentions “port of entry” all the time. What is it anyway?
The first place you land at in your destination country is called the “port of entry”. Here, you check out all your baggage. You would not need to check your bags anywhere before the port of entry, once you board an outbound flight from India. Your baggage follows you without your intervention, only till the port of entry. Even if your bags are checked until a later destination, your bags must be claimed in your port of entry without fail. You would face the Department of Homeland Security/Immigration/Customs authorities at the port of entry. You would need to go through some major formalities here, like the customs check of baggage, getting the Form I-20 stamped, getting fingerprinted, etc. You will receive instructions regarding other formalities while in the plane before you reach the port of entry. Listen attentively and if you do not receive any instructions on how to fill the forms, ask co-passengers and/or the flight attendants. You may have to wait at the port of entry for a few hours for your connecting flight to your destination. See that there is a minimum gap of 4-5 hours before your connecting flight out of the port of entry, to be on safer side. Formalities at the port of entry consume more time than normal, with many students landing around this time of the year. Hence, plan properly rather than miss your connecting flight and cause trouble and tension for yourself and others. Remember to carry your baggage all by yourself from your port of entry to your final destination. You may have to spend $1 to $3 for a cart/trolley at the port of entry – have $1 currency notes handy.
Q: What is this Immigration Clearance at the port of entry?
The first thing you need to go through at the port of entry, after landing, is the immigration and customs clearance, after which you may board a domestic flight to reach your final destination. Before getting down at your port of entry, while you are still in the plane, you will be given two forms to fill up – Form I-94 (a long, white form) and a customs declaration form. Please keep the Form I-94 document very safe. It is more important than your passport, and you are required to keep it safe as long as you are in the U.S.A. On alighting from the plane, you may ask people or follow signs to get to the Immigration Clearance. Keep handy your passport, and the customs clearance form and the Form I-94 that you filled inside the plane. Generally, you do not have to declare anything. (That is, you write that you are getting dutiable goods of “zero” value; of course, if you are getting any dutiable goods, declare, and if you are not sure, ask someone.) Once you hand over the customs clearance form before reaching the counter for Immigration Clearance, keep your Form I-20 handy, along with your Form I-94 and the passport. There can be a long queue at the Immigration Clearance counter. If you do not have a lot of time for your next flight, request the people in the queue or the Department of Homeland Security staff at the queues – you may be able to bypass the queue. (If you are a group of people, it is, of course, not fair to ask to let the whole group by pass!) At the counter, present your passport, Form I-20, and Form I-94. Both the forms shall be duly stamped and returned to you. Only one part of the Form I-94 will be returned, and this is the part of the form that you need to carefully keep with you until you leave U.S.A. You might be asked some questions about what things you are bringing, etc. Do not lie. Give factual information to the Immigration Officer. Remember to identify, collect, and check out your baggage at the port of entry.
You might essentially need your Passport, Admission Letter, Form I-20, Form I-94 (after you receive it), and Vaccination Certificate (issued by your doctor) when you disembark at the port of entry. Keep them all handy, on your person. It is safe to carry by yourself your cash and monetary instruments (drafts, checks, etc.).
Q: Now, how do I make a phone call?! Is there someplace in the airport that I can call from?
All airports have public telephones at various locations. You would need money in small change (coins) to make a phone call. If you have currency notes, you can probably get some change in any store in the airport or at counters that sell foreign exchange. Some airports also have wall-mounted machines that give you coins if you deposit currency notes – look around, or ask someone. Even if it might cost you a bit, please understand that you would save a lot more money (see above) if you call! If you have friends/family in the U.S.A, you may ask them to buy you a calling card for calling within the United States, and ask them for information on using the same to place a call. Remember to get the calling card before you leave India, and carry the details of the calling card with your essential documents (and do not just leave it stored in an email!)
Make sure that you are in touch with the person at whose place you will have your temporary stay. Send all your travel information and itineraries to them. Use the calling card only to touch base with your relatives if you need it in an emergency. Else most seniors will be good enough to allow you to use their cell phones to call landlords/your relatives (in USA or back in India) in the first few days of your stay.
List of things to be brought:
The following list has been generalized to meet the requirements of students hailing from various geographic locations of India. Specific comments are made as and when necessary. Needless to say, our family can be a good guide for us in such matters as this. Remove the batteries from all your electrical appliances such as calculators, clocks, shavers or you will be forced to do it at the airport.
Where to put stuff:
- All your original documents must be in your carry-on luggage in a harmonium folder.
- Photocopies of all original documents must be in each of your check-in bags.
- Expecting the worst, you should have enough stuff in your carry-on luggage to survive for a day if both your checked-in bags get lost.
- Leave sufficient photocopies of all documents especially I20, passport and mark sheets at home.
Most important – Textbooks
- Fill up all your text books first before anything else.
- These are the most important and also very expensive here.
- Don't compromise by leaving your books behind.
- Most students here prefer to borrow books from their school/department library in order to cut down on costs. In the US, many universities also have tie-ups with other schools, and you can borrow books from other universities through this system. This is called as an Inter-Library Loan in most places.
- Even so, if you feel the need to buy a book for some reason, and are staying with people from the same course/program, buy a book in common. Not recommended, but can be done to save up on costs. That way, if there are 4 books you need, each of you can get 1 or 2 of them and distribute the book load.
- You may not need textbooks to such an extent. I have never bought a textbook from India in all my 3 years here. You can definitely take it from the library or might get a copy from a senior or get cheap textbooks online.
1. Kitchen & Food
In most cases, mothers would be the best judges for this section, fortunate for us.
a) Pressure cooker (3litres/5litres):
At least 2 per room.
If you have decided about your roommates in advance, plan to get ONLY ONE OR TWO (two being the maximum) pressure cookers for the apartment. Almost all students tend to buy an electric rice cooker in the U.S.A. soon after they land; it is not very expensive, and it proves to be a good and reasonable investment. A pressure pan/cooker which can accommodate an idly stand might be an ideal choice for students who might want to make idlies. Do not forget to get 2-3 spare gaskets and/or safety valves or other wearable/replaceable parts that suit the pressure cooker you may bring.
You can buy a good set of steel/nonstick utensils (that can be used for cooking) in the U.S.A. for a reasonable price. If you prefer to get some utensils from India anyway, get at least some vessels of various sizes – to store and to cook food (1 small/medium kadhai), and (meals) plates (Melanin microwavable eating plates, important - can buy here also) and tumblers. You may also get at least, but not more than, a few spoons (2-3 small size, 2 big spoons/serving spoons), 2 wooden stirrers, 1 serving ladle, 1 strainer spoon for deep frying, plastic soup bowls, coffee mugs and some forks. If space/weight is a constraint, reduce the number of utensils you carry – you may buy them after settling in.
Avoid getting steel utensils since they are painful to clean, most students here use non-stick pans which cost about $20 here. Non stick utensils can be purchased from WALMART store at a nominal price of 10-20$.
It would be a good idea to get in touch with your future roommates and decide upon the utensils. Almost everything else is available and it would be a sheer waste of space packing in too many utensils.
c) Raw materials for cooking (ask your mother or whoever might cook):
You get everything mentioned below at the Indian store. If you get these things, you might save some money (things here I guess are expensive than in India even after the Dollar boom). So make a wise decision of how many things to get and what should be the quantity. If you have decided on room-mates, you can split things up and each one gets a small quantity of each of these things. If you have other important things/you are worried about the weight get food sufficient for a week.
(Please note: When it is said “as per preference”, it means that the items enlisted are unavailable except in Indian stores; see the note above.)
- Do not bring rice, not even in small quantities.
- Sambar/Rasam powder may be brought as per preference, quantities ~1 kg each.
- Tamarind (1-2 kg, preferably seedless) and/or tamarind paste might be necessary.
- Haldi/Turmeric (250 gms), hing/asafetida (20-30 gms), etc. might be necessary for at least a few students.
- Mustard seeds (raee), cumin seeds (jeera), etc., would be among the necessary commodities for a few sections of students. Around 0.5-1 kg of each should meet a moderate requirement.
- Dried curry leaves might be a good choice for some; they do not take up much space or weight. If you are bringing this, make sure the leaves are thoroughly dry before you pack them, as even little wetness can attract fungus. (Coriander can be bought locally!)
- Some students may also want to get coriander and cumin powder(s) (available as a mixture of both too), quantities ~1 kg, and cardamom (elaichi), cloves, papads (2-3 packets), etc.
- Get all the pickles (if you bring this, make sure that the packing is good and leak-proof), chutneys, or edible powders and 5-6 packets of masalas (Garam Masala, Meat Masalas, whole spices or Khara Masala, Chole Masala - recommended, because chole is cheaply available here and is cooked frequently, Pav Bhaji Masala - recommended, because fast to cook) as you can. (There is always a risk of they getting left out at the port of entry or somewhere in the transit because of restrictions on the type of luggage you bring in, but that is really very rare – you do not need to declare any food items such as these.)
- Get rava/suji/poha and small packets of salt, sugar and red chilli powder, since they are very useful in the beginning.
- Do not get noodles. Students following vegetarian diet might prefer to carry a few packs of masala ("Tastemaker" as referred to by Maggi®) though, as vegetable noodles are not common here (Maggi® or Top Ramen® noodles can be bought from Indian stores), but the masala can be added to any locally bought noodles.
Grater, a small chopping board, a pair of kitchen tongs, sieve (for atta/flour), tea/coffee filter (personal choice), and knives (good ones can be bought here as a set, esp. if you also use knives for non-vegetarian food) can be considered as optional stuff you might want to get.A peeler can prove to be useful anyway.
e) Make sure you do not carry any knives or peeler in your cabin baggage. Do not bring any electrical appliances, as they do not fit in the electric sockets here and do not work at 110 V.
f) You might need deep fry pans or flat pans for your use in the kitchen. Remember that all your cookware should be useful to cook for 4 persons at a time, without mentioning any “guests”. You may buy one after you land here, if you cannot accommodate one in your baggage.
g) Sweets & Savories:
Remember that you cannot really store such fast food for long, not because of the weather conditions but because of the temptation to eat them off. Of course, students might still want to get some, and more commonly parents might want to send some! Keep them coming, you would find many thankful souls too. But save your luggage space for something more lasting, say, pickles. And, also be informed that sweets or any foodstuff may be disallowed anywhere on the transit when your bags are scrutinized.
h) Bringing a cookbook will be of help.
i) Most of the spices and lentils (dal) that we use in India are available here at the Indian grocery stores.
j) It would be a good idea to bring with you some ready mixes
k) Don't go overboard in stuffing your bags with food items.
2. General Wear:
a) Get more casual dresses, like T-shirts, jeans, cargos, khakis, etc. (Regular fit is the best for guys. Avoid tight-fits/bell-bottoms if you do not want to stand out from others!). 10-15 T-shirts/casual shirts, and 5-8 trousers/jeans are a minimum suggested lot.
b) Students tend to buy more apparel locally over time, for nominal expense at clearance sales and/or discounted prices.
c) Plan on bringing full sleeved and half sleeved formal shirts depending on your personal choice. You need not get more than a few pairs of trousers. A suggested maximum is 5 pairs.
d) Get 1-2 ties, a blazer or a suit is recommended. If you are getting a blazer, get a matching tie and suitable formal trousers that can go with the blazer. If you are getting a suit, get a matching tie. Take care that your formal shoes would look fine with the rest of the formal attire. A business-style black suit is recommended, if you are considering bringing one.
e) Shoe polish and shoe polishing brush for formal shoes.
a) Get at least 1-2 pairs of traditional (Indian) dress. Remember that there would be more than a few occasions a year where you might have to represent your culture. And you might prefer not to repeat the same attire on all such occasions.
Most students do their laundry once in a fortnight, or even less frequently! Apply this estimate to all the garments you bring, including miscellaneous items like socks, kerchiefs, undergarments etc.
a) Get a pair of formal leather shoes (black, preferably, but choose the color according to the shades of formals and/or blazer/suit you would get; we recommend that you bring it from India, they might be expensive here) and/or a semi-formal pair of shoes that can serve dual purpose. Apart from that, get a pair of sneakers/sport shoes for regular use. Sprint shoes, canvas shoes, or other special purpose shoes may be bought here as per personal preference. We suggest you get 1-2 sets of slippers/sandals to be worn on your ethnic dress, and 1-2 sets of regular slippers.
b) Get 2-3 belts that might be necessary for all your pants/trousers - broad ones for jeans, narrow ones for formals, black, brown, etc. as per preference. Offering a comparison, good leather belts in U.S. cost a minimum of $10 each!
4. Assorted Hobbies:
a) Do not neglect your hobbies; you would regret later when you feel bored, and that is going to happen too often, particularly when the school is not in session!
b) Get any portable (literally as in “able to be carried”) sports/games-related items like chess board and coins (Chess boards and coins may also be bought in the U.S.), swim shorts/swimsuits and swimming goggles (absolutely essential if you want to swim – chlorine in the pool is in higher content than in India) and swimming cap, table-tennis/tennis racquets, etc.
c) For other hobbies like painting or music, bring stuff that you cannot get here easily or inexpensively, which includes the likes of paintbrush set, paints, mixing template, charts (yes, if you can roll them up in a carrying case!), etc. (You can buy pencils and erasers here, of course!) or flute (a set of flutes, rather – which flutist would carry only one flute?), a small violin, etc. Collectors of stamps, coins, currency notes and the likes may want to display some Indian stuff to foreign friends you might soon make here. You may also put the collection to display on more than one occasion a year, when there are international events on the campus.
d) If you have any certificates pertaining to your hobbies, at least get a few prominent ones; sometimes, they might fetch you some kind of funding in remote places such as the School of Art.
a) Get Reynolds pens or any pens (in bulk quantities, and remember to preserve them!) that you might prefer to use. (Reynolds might be called "The pen that the world prefers" but is not seen much in the U.S.A, unfortunately!) If BiC or Paper Mate are your choices, you would, of course, not need to get any, as they are U.S-based brands!
b) The punching used for papers (for filing) is of 3 holes here unlike 2-hole punching in India. Thus, avoid getting files and punches, and you can buy the corresponding things here! Of course, you may get zipper folders in which you do not necessarily punch and file your documents!
c) Stapler, staples, glue stick, adhesive tape, bonded/clutch pencils, lead box (0.5 mm), erasers, steel ruler, etc. may be carried or may be bought here for a comparable price.
d) Notebooks would not be necessary to be brought from there, unless you prefer for some reason; they are reasonably priced here. Plain papers for fair/rough work are absolutely unnecessary. You would get them for comparable prices here.
a) Get a mug (or two) for use in the bathroom. You may not need a bucket anyway, and if need be, you may buy a pail here.
b) Get soapboxes. Soapboxes are not very uncommon in the stores here, but the soapboxes in the U.S.A. do not generally have drain outlets for remnant water after use!
c) Tongue cleaners may be classified among things that are not available in the U.S.A. Get about a half a dozen to dozen tongue cleaners, depending on the type/material of tongue cleaners you prefer to use. Do not carry metal tongue cleaners in the cabin baggage – if it is sharp, it can be considered as a “security threat”! (Yes, there were such cases in the past!)
d) Talcum powders and hair oils are among the rare commodities here, unfortunate for some! Get your choicest ones, even if it is the seemingly "most common" Parachute Coconut Oil or Denim Talc. (Well, actually, you would not get coconut oil for your hair anywhere than in an Indian store, though something similar might appear with a strong odor in local stores!)
e) One can buy one’s bath soaps, shampoos/conditioners, toothpastes, toothbrushes, shaving foam (or a shaving gel/cream), razor/cartridges, nail cutter, talcum powder, deodorants/perfumes, etc. here or there. The costs are not very different. If you have been loyal to particular brands, you might want to carry a few numbers of each of those for initial use. You may not ever need a detergent cake while you are here, though you might want to carry one. Do not carry detergent powder; liquid detergent is cheaper here.
a) Get at least 2-3 pairs of prescription spectacles if you use them; as a comparison, prescription glasses cost about $100 per pair in the U.S.A.!
b) Get any portable (literally taken) relics/memoirs that might represent your culture, which can be useful for display on relevant occasions. As mentioned above, stamps and/or currency can be a part of these too. The items can be specific to a remote place in India or to a remote culture, or even common culture or place, of course! Almost anything is welcome, but do plan to get something at all. Statuettes of gods and goddesses, photographs of interesting places to visit, handicrafts, etc. may also be brought for this purpose.
c) Get general medication that can serve as a makeshift first-aid kit. The best guide would be a medical shop attendant or a general physician (or a family doctor, of course). A sample list of medication that you might find useful is presented here:
Crocin/Disprin/Erythrocin/Sporadix/Cosovil/Febrex Plus (fever, and related ailments such as cough, cold, and body-/head-aches), Baralgam (abdominal colic pain/backaches), Avomin (air sickness), Avil (general allergies), Eldopar (to prevent loose motions), Zandu Balm/Amrutanjan (body-/head-ache), Soframycin (superficial wounds), Lotomil/Digene/Eno (digestion/gastric trouble), Band Aids, nasal inhaler (Vicks), pain relief spray, antiseptic lotion (Dettol), painkiller tablets (Combiflam/Brufen), burn ointment (Burnol), B-complex tablets and moisturizing lotion (Vaseline/cold cream - highly recommended for winters).
d) International credit cards might be carried as a financial backup, but might not be useful for all your purchases and payments. American Express card cannot be used to pay fees, though it can be used for other purchases and expenditure. Please note that a Visa Electron card (such as “Viswa Yatra’ from State Bank of India) is not regularly usable here, since there is a pay-per-use transaction fee for the same. Some may still see the card as a safer way of carrying money; you may use it only once – to transfer all the money into your local bank account that you open here.
e) Do not bring any electrical appliances because the appliances here run with a different electric socket/plug and at 110 V @ 60 Hz.
f) You may get as many audio/video CDs (of Indian movies or music) for your use. This includes mp3 CDs that you might have burnt on blank CDs. Copyrighted or not, CDs are not generally questioned about (by the U.S. Customs). However, do not declare them unasked, and be informed that you may have to forego the collection if questioned (You may try to convince them that is just a collection of all your “legally owned” music/software.) Audiocassettes are okay, but videocassettes have a different format in the U.S.A, as you may already know.
g) Get a headset (headphone, preferably stereo, with microphone) for voice chat with parents and friends back home or just to listen to songs (even if you do not plan to voice chat, get one with a microphone). Offering a comparison, a similar appliance may be bought here for prices $12 and up.
h) Get 2 wallets that have enough pockets to hold credit cards that you have to carry in future.
i) Get a college bag to suit your daily needs. Remember that the bag might have to accommodate bulky books that you may carry from/to library or even large quantities of printed out papers sometimes! College bags cost $10-$20 here. A wiser idea might be to get a laptop bag instead, so that it can serve the purpose of a college bag, and it can help you carry a laptop when you might eventually buy one. Make sure that the bag can fit a 15.4” laptop (though you might prefer a 14.1” laptop anyway).
j) Get your photos. I do not mean passport-sized photos that you might seldom need while you are here (until the time you are applying for jobs). You might want to cherish the memories of home and family (and get nostalgic, sometimes).
k) You may want to get trivial things like extra buttons for your clothes, needles and threads (black/gray, white, brown, etc. – “universal” colors are enough), safety pins, nail-cutters, scissors, mirror (a classic hanging mirror - a small one, about 8” x 4” should do), etc. Except the buttons, most other things can be bought locally too.
l) Get a couple of bed sheets/ pillow covers. Get slippers to wear around in the house. DON'T get rugs/ thick blankets. You get good blankets (comforters/ rajais) here for reasonable prices.
m) DO NOT carry hangers (they occupy a lot of space and anyway they are available here for almost no cost)
n) Whether you plan to transfer or not, get extra sets of transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. that you might need if you need to apply to a different school.
o) Please bring all your original certificates of your Bachelors degree (and above). If you have a consolidated marks memorandum, you may not need to bring individual marks memoranda. Similarly, if you have your original degree certificate, you need not bring your provisional degree certificate. You would not really need the certificates prior to your Bachelors degree, but you may want to carry them anyway just so that you do not forget where you put them in India.
p) Photocopies of books is piracy. Get them at your own risk.
q) Copy of address book/telephone book/diary and contact list.
r) Medical history file.
a) Get travelers’ checks (travelers’ cheques, to sound more "Indian", or TCs) totaling to around $2000. A suggested breakdown is as shown below.
$1000 x 1 = $1000
$500 x 1 = $500
$100 x 4 = $400
$50 x 1 = $50
$20 x 1 = $20
$10 x 3 = $30
b) Get currency of $500; you would not need more than this amount initially, before you open a bank account. If you will, you may carry some more money in travelers’ checks, which is as good as cash most of the time.
c) Try to get as many $20's, $10's and $5's as you can. They don't take $100 bills at some places. And lower denominations will help you convert them to quarters (25 cents), dimes (10 cents) and nickels (5 cents) at the airport. It will also be easier to pay at your transit airport (London/Paris/Frankfurt), in case you want to buy some food, or call up your parents using a pay-phone.
d) There, apparently, is no practical limit of any kind on the amount that can be carried in various forms, except as currency. However, if you are carrying more than $10,000 in all currency and other “monetary instruments”, you are required to “declare” it when you land. Do not forget to ask the flight attendants and/or the Department of Homeland Security about it, if you are carrying amounts larger than $10,000. There could be similar requirements set forth by the Reserve Bank of India, in order to allow you to carry the same – ask your bank about it.
9. The Day of the Flight:
- As it is going to be a long flight, wear something comfortable - preferably cotton - a full-shirt and trousers. Wear your shoes and a jacket.
- Be at the airport at least 2 hours before check-in time.
- Relax during flight, sleep as much as possible.
- For vegetarians, watch out before you eat - for you may get non-vegetarian food even if you had asked for vegetarian. Always ask about the food before eating - if you are particular.
- It you want something vegetarian specify that you want "No Meat". They may not understand if you say "Vegetarian" or "Veggie".
- Never hesitate to ask questions. People are friendly and helpful.
- But Trust No One. Be wary of strangers who appear to be extra friendly.
- Drink lot of fluids to get over with the jet lag as soon as possible.
- Walk around the aisle every two hours to prevent leg cramps and deep-vein-thrombosis.
- Do not joke irresponsibly on the flight.
- In case your baggage does not arrive when you landed, do not waste too much time hunting for it. Mention it to the airline representative and give them a forwarding address with phone number where you can be reached. They will take care of your luggage. In any event, do not miss your connecting flight.
- In case your flight landed late, or the onward flight is cancelled, it is the responsibility of your airline to arrange for another flight. If the delay involves an overnight stay, the airline will pay for your stay as well as for your meals.
Note: Please don't panic if it so happens that your flight arrives late and the time for the connecting flight is too near (say, within the next 10-15 minutes) for you to make it due to Immigration and Customs delays. Simply follow the same actions outlined above and get your airline to arrange things for you. Don't be rude, but be firm while dealing with the airline representatives.
10. Things to be carried in cabin luggage:
- Original I-20, copy of passport, copy of ticket, financial documents (CA certificate, Bank Statements), admission letter, affidavit of sponsor, all college or school mark sheets and related certificates.
- Original documents except (passport, tickets) (see below).
- A book for in-flight reading.
- Portable hard-disk (if required).
- Address book/phone book.
- Copies of your photo (passport size).
- Once complete set of clothes, in case you need to change.
- Distribute your money - keep a certain amount in each piece of luggage, rather than keeping it all together. In your cabin baggage, keep clothing for 2-3 days, just in case your checked-in baggage arrives here later than you do.
- Have your name and destination and route and flight and date in all bags. Have them prominent and bold enough so that you can identify them easily from an ocean of similar ones. Some guys even put fluorescent labels, ribbons.
- Do not get too many clothes hangers (you might get a couple for starters, but they are of a different size here, and are available very cheap).
- Do not overload your baggage with blank notebooks, file folders etc.
11. Things to be carried on your person (pouch):
- All your money, change, travelers checks, etc.
- Original passport.
- Original boarding pass.
- Few Re 1 coins to make calls from the airport (India).
AFTER YOU COME TO USA
Open a bank account. There are primarily two types of account, checking (like current) account and saving account. Most students maintain only a single checking account since interest rates on savings account are really low in the US. You will need 2 forms of photo ID (passport and visa should be fine). You can request a student free checking account (free implying no monthly fee; yes, there are monthly fees to maintain most checking accounts in the US). Also recommended is that you apply for an ATM card. The safest and most convenient way to pay tuition fees is wire transfer. For this, you need a routing number which is provided by your bank at the time of opening an account. Once you open a bank account in a US bank, you can wire transfer the money to this account or you can transfer it to UB directly. You may also bring a demand draft however they may take several days to be processed. Check your Bursar statement to determine the exact figure.
Deposit most of the Travelers checks and extra cash into your bank account.
- Pay up your fees in time (Students with financial aid can ignore this).
- Once your permanent accommodation is decided, you can apply for a telephone connection and change electricity and heating to your name (from the name of the previous guy/girl who stayed in the apartment).
- If you get funding after coming here, you have two options:
- Return the dollar draft back to your folks in, or
- Submit the DD to the university and get a refund of your fees in USD.
Leave a copy of these things behind:
There are certain things that you need to keep safely at home along with your parents.
- List of addresses at which information about you can be obtained.
- A copy of important documents (passport, I-20, transcripts, admission letter)
- The numbers of your traveler’s checks and demand draft.
- A copy of all relevant parts of Medical History files.
- Arrange to collect/redirect mail from your room/hostel.
- Arrange to apply/collect/mail your transcripts (about 10 in number preferable).
- Your tailoring measurements.
- A few blank signed papers - so that your parents can be authorized to look after anything on your behalf.
American Currency Terms:
Penny = 1 cent
Nickel = 5 cents
Dime = 10 cents
Quarter = 25 cents
Half Dollar = 50 cents
Silver Dollar = 100 cents
Some information about banking terms:
Q: What is credit history?
A: Your credit history is the record of how you have paid borrowed and repaid debts. This information is obtained from one or more national credit bureaus. Your credit report may include information about your previous credit performance, current level of indebtedness, length of credit history, types of credit in use, pursuit of new credit, accounts in collection, defaults, bankruptcies, lien, judgments, charge-offs, and other applicable information. A creditworthy person is one who has a positive credit history and meets other requirements as determined by the lending institution.
Q: Why is credit history important?
A: Having a good credit history will be a central part of making a successful personal and financial future for yourself in US. Your credit history can help open doors to you or keep them locked. People and businesses will use this record of how well you kept your previous payment agreements to judge whether they can risk making a similar agreement with you. Cell phone companies, landlords, lenders, insurers, even possible employers often make decisions about your future based on your credit history. It is a good idea to check your credit report frequently. Except under certain circumstances, there is a small charge for this service. The three primary credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Use caution when requesting a copy of your credit report. Never give personal information to someone unless you initiated the contact, on the telephone, by mail or on the web.
Q: What goes into credit history?
A: Many factors are considered and put into a mathematical formula. These may include:
- If you pay your bills and loans on time
- How much money you owe
- How long your accounts have been open
- What types of credit you use
- How often and how recently you have applied for credit
- Collection notice and judgments (records of non-payments / disputed payments)
Establishing Credit History:
- Open a bank account. Open a bank account and use it responsibly. This is the first step in establishing a financial history. This will not appear on your credit report, but bank account numbers are often requested on credit applications.
- Put the utilities in your name and pay the electric, gas, telephone and cable TV bills on time.
- Apply for a credit card. To avoid being denied credit, apply only for those cards whose requirements you are likely to meet. Department store or gas credit cards are usually easier to obtain than a bank-issued card with a Visa or MasterCard logo because the balances do not generally revolve.
- Before applying, make sure the creditor reports account activity to the credit bureaus. As the purpose of obtaining the card is to establish credit, you want to choose a card that will help you do that. If you want to get a Visa or MasterCard, ask at the bank or credit union at which you have your account.
- A secured card is an option. If you have trouble qualifying for a credit card, you may opt to apply for a secured card. These cards have credit limits based on a required deposit made by you into a savings account. You use the card just as you would any other credit card.
- Department and Gasoline Credit Cards: Since gasoline credit cards are not revolving (cannot carry a balance forward month-to-month), often they are easier to obtain than regular credit cards. Similarly, some department stores offer revolving credit for a specific purchase and this is sometimes easier to establish. It is also a great way to establish credit.
- Co-sign: One way is to piggy-back onto someone who already has a good credit history established and is willing to co-sign. If you are fortunate enough to know of such a person, you are not only well on your way to establishing credit, but you are very fortunate indeed. But be aware that any default of credit on your part affects the credit of the co-signer. People who care enough about you to co-sign, do not deserve a bad credit incident through no fault of their own. Once the co-signing has occurred, you simply make payments on or before the due date. In time you will have established a credit history. If you want to accelerate the issue, payoff the debt in full when the first bill arrives but not before. Completion of the full billing cycle is important for a "pays on time" report card to be established. This will not only make your creditor happy but your cosigner as well. The next step is to ask the co-signer to repeat his generosity (if necessary). Then: create a debt, wait until the first bill comes, and pay it off in full. Keep repeating until you no longer need the co-signor. Credit history is now established.
Tips for Keeping Good Credit:
- Make Payments on Time - It sounds so simple, but life is hectic and things do slip our minds.
- Establish a routine for paying your bills and keep to it. Mail payments a week before they are due so they arrive on time. Those late fees can add up.
- Pay What You Owe - Of course it is best to pay the entire amount due each month, but at least pay more than the "Total Minimum Due." Never skip a payment.
- Do Not Overextend Yourself - Keep your "available balance" in mind. It is the difference between your credit limit and your balance due. Having an "available balance" means there is credit available in the event of an emergency and you can avoid incurring "Over Limit" charges.
- Before applying for a new credit card or loan examine your spending and work out a realistic budget. This will allow you to pay your bills and still live comfortably.
- Limit the Number of Credit Cards - Limit the number of credit cards you acquire to help limit your debt exposure and simplify your record keeping. Be aware that excessive credit inquiries over a short span of time may be interpreted as an indicator that you need more credit due to experiencing financial problems.
- Set your own credit limit and start to establish a savings fund for emergencies,
- Use credit wisely - Ask yourself the following questions before purchasing with credit: Is this something I really need, and do I need it now? Do I have the ability to repay? How long will it take me to repay? How much will it ultimately cost me?
- Be aware of the terms and costs when shopping for a student credit card.
- Review your statements carefully and immediately inform your credit card company, in writing, if you notice an error on a billing statement.
- Review your credit reports periodically and check for inaccurate, incomplete or outdated information.
- Dispute this information, in writing, with the credit bureaus.
- Be honest. If you can't pay your bills on time, contact the creditor and explain the situation. Creditors will often work with you to come up with an alternate payment arrangement.
- Always think ahead. Be proactive, not reactive, about your finances. Plan for different obligations now and after graduation.
- Be organized by filing your statements in a separate folder.
- Keep a list of your credit card account numbers and phone numbers in a safe place in case a card is lost or stolen.
- Report your card as lost or stolen as soon as you notice it's missing.
- Immediately inform your credit card company of an address change.
- Maintain a savings and checking account
- Establish your telephone bill under your name. Remember, you are responsible for additional people on your telephone bill.
- Develop a steady work record.
- Avoid opening joint accounts with a friend or significant other.
- Protect your account numbers, personal identification numbers (PIN's), and SSN. Do not let others use your cards and don't use your cards to pay for other people's purchases!
- Try not to graduate with credit card debt. If you do, make sure you will be able to afford that debt in addition to other new expenses (i.e. student loan payments, rent, utilities, etc.).
- Be sure to pay your student loans as agreed. This long history of paying your bills on time will also help you build a credit history and improve your credit score.