Before Arrival


Folder 1

  • Passport
  • Visa interview letter and fee receipt
  • I-20 (Student’s copy)
  • Admission letter from the University
  • Scholarship letter
  • Photographs

Folder 2

  • Admit/Reject summary.
  • Admit/ Reject letters.
  • CEAC (DS-160) confirmation page

Folder 3

  • GRE/TOEFL Scores
  • Resume
  • SOP

Folder 4

  • Affidavit of support
  • IT returns - Sponsor (Last three years)

Folder 5

  • Consolidated financial statement
  • Bank statements or passbooks
  • Loan sanction letter (if applicable)

Folder 6 (Liquid Investments)

  • Life insurance policy of a parent
  • Shares
  • National saving certificate
  • Fixed deposit receipt
  • Gold evaluation certificate

Property evaluation documents and gold evaluations are the least preferred because they are the ones which could be exploited in a wrong way. One cannot mess with the bank statements. The visa officers are well aware that you wouldn’t be selling off your property to fund education. Hence, I would suggest you to show most of the I20 amount through bank deposits, be it in the form of savings account or fixed deposits.

Folder 7

  • Fixed asset valuation report

Folder 8

  • Transcript(s)
  • Mark sheets
  • Degree certificate(s)

Folder 9

  • 10th and 12th certificates and mark sheets

Folder 10

  • Miscellaneous

Try your best to carry the original receipts of all bank statements, fixed deposits, and NSC. Don't take a chance.

* * * Please remember that this list is meant to help you gather and organize the documents you will usually need, but is not exhaustive. Depending on your circumstances you might need to produce special documents. * * *

Some information on Bank Certificates:

  • It is issued by the bank where your sponsor has a savings account.
  • It must be on the letter head of the bank.
  • All copies must be signed by the Branch Manager.
  • In case the bank issues only one original copy, all the photocopies must be signed.
  • Copies must be attested by the same Branch Manager.
  • This certificate is not required to be in a sealed envelope.
  • Usually the balance in the account is equivalent to the first.
  • Yearly expenses of the most expensive University that you have short listed.
  • You must request the bank to mention the balance in your account in US dollars.
  • It could be as per the market rate of the date of issuance of the certificate.

A sample format for the Bank Certificate.

***Keep in mind that this is a suggested format, a different format would still be valid. This is just a rough representation of the bank statement to give the reader an idea of how it is supposed to look. ***

FAQs regarding 221g administrative processing

Do not panic. You are not the only one who has been handed the pink slip, there have been others before you and they have come out of this just fine. It is not a reason to give up hope, hang in there! This list of questions have been answered by students who were issued an 221g. It might help to soothe your nerves.

These are the personal observations of a few students and the scenario might be quite different in your case. Still, we are trying to help.


1. What is 221g security check/administrative processing?
Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act is the provision of law that enables the consular officer to put a visa application on hold until the applicant provides requested documentation or the consular officer resolves an issue requiring further investigation, such as a security check/ administrative check (Google it to find an official definition). It is also termed as pink slip/yellow slip in some of the consular offices.


2. What is the reason that I was given a 221g security check?

Although there are many reasons a candidate can be issued a 221g security check, the most commonly observed reason in the case of F1 applicants is that their field happens to be listed on the Technology Alert List (TAL) and the visa officer needs a Visas Mantis Security Advisory Opinion on your application.

3. What exactly happens during the visa interview if I get a 221g?
If the consular officer decides that you need to undergo administrative processing, you will be asked about your current research, planned research, US academic advisor and other similar questions. You will be asked to send the responses to these questions as an email, to an email address provided by the visa officer.


4. What are the chances my visa is approved after being issued a 221g security check?
Quite high, do not panic. As a matter of fact, according to recent statistics released from the US department of homeland security, more than 85% of the 221g cases are approved a visa later on.

5. How long do I need to wait to get my visa after the 221g administrative processing is done?
The entire processing time might vary from anywhere between 3 weeks to 3 months. Once approved the visa is sent you through courier service in 3 days.


6. I have been admitted for the PhD Biochemistry / Chemistry program. In the DS-160 form there is a question that says 'Do you possess any training in firearms, explosives, chemical, biological or other related field'. Should I answer this question as a 'NO' to decrease my chances of getting a 221g?

Technically speaking, it is likely that you have had some biological/chemical training if you have been admitted into such programs, so the answer for this question should be 'YES'. However, it is your call whether to answer in the affirmative or the negative. Answering this question as 'NO' might not really decrease your chances of getting a 221g.

7. I have been waiting for a number of weeks since I received the pink slip. I am getting frustrated! What should I do?
OR
7. I've been waiting for so long, I am beginning to wonder if I'm going to get the visa in time. Should I defer my admit?
OR
7. I got a 221g in June. I have been following these other forums, and am seeing other people receive their visas without much hassle. Why is mine taking so long?
In case you're one of the unlucky ones who ended up with a pink slip during your visa interview (or know that you are going to end up with one, because of your academic background), there are a few things you can do to escape the inevitable feeling of disappointment and frustration.

First, even before your visa appointment, it is best to come to terms with the idea that you might be one of those receiving the pink slip, especially if you're from one of the bio-related fields.

In the off chance, that you're not from a bio-related field and ended up with a 221g, try to not over-analyze your responses during the visa interview. Just respond to the questions asked of you offline honestly, and send it across at the earliest.


While you wait for the visa... that it is, hopefully, (almost surely) on its way ...

There are preparations that you can do for the journey without investing too much money. Like, spending time in the kitchen and learning how to cook, trying to find potential roommates, gathering information about the travel and things to do once you arrive here, getting a health checkup along with the TB and meningitis formalities, making a to do/to buy list.

As far as possible, delay doing things that need you to spend a considerable amount of money for. Postpone things such as buying airline tickets or shopping. Keep yourself distracted, but be prepared. You will have to do things in a hurry when you finally receive that most-awaited-for visa!


Deferring admit
:

The question of deferring your admit doesn't need to come up until early August. There are cases of people who have received their admits as late as July, visa in the last week of July and then arrival in the US a couple of weeks after that. Keep International Student Services in the loop with respect to your 221g delays.

There are people who have managed to arrive during the last week of August and still got things done right!


***This is only a list of possible answers to the above mentioned questions. The reader must verify the information based on their specific situation.***

FAQ's regarding Immunization and Health Insurance

My Howdy Portal says I have an immunization deficiency hold. Will this affect my registration or immigration status?
All newly admitted international students automatically have an immunization deficiency hold placed on their account. The hold is removed once the appropriate documentation and/or test results have been provided to SHS. The immunization deficiency hold will keep you from registering for classes, but does not affect your Visa, immigration status, and admission to Texas A&M University.

What is the University policy on TB Screening and what kind of reports do I need to bring?
According to the Texas A&M University policy, T-Spot or Quantiferon Gold Blood testing is required for all incoming, high-risk students, domestic or international, who have arrived from countries where TB is endemic. India is included in one of the countries where TB is considered endemic, and hence it is mandatory for you to take the test. TB screening must be done within 12 months of enrollment. Even students with a prior BCG immunization require tuberculosis screening.
This information needs to be recorded on the University’s Tuberculosis Screening Form. Following is the link to the same:
https://dsacms.tamu.edu/sites/shs.tamu.edu/files/Tuberculosis%20Screening%20Form%20August%202014_0.pdf
It is to be filled by the in-house doctor/surgeon where you get the test done. In addition to the form, please bring the original test result document. Even though the test can be done here, it is pretty costly here compared to what it is in India.

What is the University policy on Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination? Is it true that it is compulsory for all incoming students to take the Meningitis vaccine?
According to Texas Senate Bill 1107, effective January 1, 2012, all students entering an institution of higher education (public and private) are required to either provide evidence of vaccination against bacterial meningitis or a signed affidavit declining the vaccination. This requirement applies to all first-time or transfer students beginning January 2012.


- Students are exempt from the vaccination if any of the following apply:
- Student is 22 years of age or older (effective October 1, 2014)
- Student is only a distance learner (online)
- Medical reasons do not permit the student to take the vaccination (must be verified with a physician)
- Student declines the vaccine due to reasons of conscience, including a religious belief


If you intend not to take the BM vaccine, you will need to submit a signed affidavit stating that the student declines the vaccination for bacterial meningitis for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief. This conscientious exemption form from the Texas Department of State Health Services must be requested here https://corequest.dshs.texas.gov/. The delivery of the affidavit might take several weeks, so act early.


If you anyways intend to take vaccine against bacterial meningitis, you can ask the doctor to fill this form up.
http://admissions.tamu.edu/admissions-staging/files/9d/9de27ca7-04d4-4505-a19e-83225ad6cb48.pdf


Vaccination must be received at least 10 days prior to the first day of the semester. The BM vaccine is also available at the TAMU student health center, but is costlier compared to what it is in India.
If you plan to live on campus, you will not receive a housing assignment until one of these two documents is received by the Department of Residence Life. Specific information on how to provide this documentation will be provided by the University after a student has been admitted and has applied for housing.


Should I send the Immunization Record/TB test results to A&M right away?

You can send the results and forms to SHS by either fax or by email. Please fax completed TB form(s) to Patient Services at (979) 458-8319 or email to patient-services@shs.tamu.edu and the Meningitis form should be sent to admissions@tamu.edu. However, it is not compulsory to send these documents to the University right now. You can even do that after you arrive here. Just make sure that you fill in all the necessary information before you come here. After your check-in with the International Student Services (ISS), you will be asked to go to the Beutel Health Centre and get your medical block removed. Hand the Immunization record to the concerned individual at that time, and they will clear your block.


I have received a letter from TAMU regarding Immunization record. Now the question is from whom should I get the form signed as you may have done that?
The University used to send an Immunization Record form along with the admission offer mail during the previous years. We are not sure if this practice is still on. So, if you didn’t get one, please don’t freak out. And if you did get one, It is advisable to get it filled by your family doctor, if you have one. In case you don't have a family doctor, get it signed by a doctor from a good hospital (not any small clinic). In some cases you probably won't remember all the dates of the various immunization shots (unless you have records of it). If this is the case, make sure that the dates are adjusted well. For e.g.: first set of immunization shots should be in the first 3 months of birth and so on.

I am taking the vaccination for Hepatitis-B for the first time. It needs three shots to be taken and I may not be able to take all of them by the time I come there. Can I carry a vaccine vial with me so that I can reduce the cost? Will they provide me just the injection if I give them the vaccine?

No. The Preventive Medicine unit at Beutel Health Centre (TAMU Student Health Services) has strict guidelines and hence they cannot give you an injection for a drug that you bring with you. They will inject you only with drugs that are available here. (The only exception to this rule is an allergy serum and that too with proper and valid documentation from a doctor in India). If you are not able to take all the necessary doses before you come here, then the only option is to pay and get it done here. Please remember to bring proper documentation of previous vaccination schedule as it will make it easier for them to administer the next shot.


My doctor said that Indians take only one MMR vaccine (when they are about a year old) and Americans take another dose when they are five. So what do I do alongside MMR#2 in the Immunization Record? Do I leave it blank?

This is only if you are filling up the Immunization record form. You can leave the second one blank or you can write the date for MMR across the fields for both MMR#1 and #2.
What kind of checkup should I have before I come to the US?
Get a complete medical check-up done, especially dental and eye-checkup. These are very expensive in the US and it is best you do them in India. If you use reading glasses, make sure you have at least 2 pair of glasses, because if they happen to break, you’ll pay a lot getting them fixed. (It costs around $160 to get a spectacle made.)


Do I need to bring my medical records with me?
Yes, you should. You are going to be here for some time now, and if you have had a specific medical condition in the past, remember to bring the doctor's record sheets, prescriptions, etc. You don't need to bring a huge file for this. You know your health best. Get what you feel might be useful in case you have a medical condition once you come here.


Do I need to take any sort of Health Insurance while staying at TAMU? Does TAMU have any standard plans for international students?
All international students must have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation coverage. International Student Services is responsible for monitoring verification of international students' required health insurance. F-1 students are required to have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation coverage each semester they are registered. However, F-1 students and their dependents are strongly encouraged to maintain insurance coverage at all times (even not when registered). J-1 students and their dependents are also required to have medical health insurance and evacuation/repatriation at all times.


All international students are automatically enrolled in the System Student Health Insurance Plan (SSHIP) unless they apply for and are granted waiver. Through automatic enrollment in SSHIP, students are covered under the University’s International Insurance Plan which includes medical evacuation and repatriation coverage. According to last academic year plan, you might have to pay $369 per semester towards the plan, but this can change by the time the fall semester starts.

Is insurance purchased from India, say from ICICI, accepted at TAMU? This works out to be pretty cheap. Can I purchase it?
No. According to recently approved laws, TAMU no longer accepts other external insurances. You will need to enroll in the University’s SSHIP only.


I have got admit with an assistantship and my offer letter says I am eligible for health insurance benefits. Does this mean I don’t have to sign up for any insurance plan?
Some students employed through the TAMU system (GANT, GAR, GAT, some fellowships) are eligible for health insurance benefits. (Please contact your employer department to verify if your position is benefits-eligible).


Students who are benefits-eligible may choose a TAMU medical insurance policy within 60 days of their employment. Students who do not choose a plan with the 60 days of employment will be automatically enrolled in the University’s Care Plan. Please note that choosing this plan means that you will have a monthly premium of $45 (might change by the time fall semester starts) deducted from your paycheck. All other plans will cost you more than that.


However, benefits-eligible students will be receiving a monthly employer contribution only on the first of the month after their 90th day of employment (according to Texas State Law). During this 90-day period, all the students will be auto-billed $369 (or whatever it is at the time of enrollment) for a semester coverage of the A&M International Insurance Plan (irrespective of whether you have benefits or not). Only the students who enroll in the Grad Plan (University’s Graduate Employee Insurance Plan) are eligible for partial reimbursement through the Texas A&M University system provider AIP after the 90 days. Please note that any time there is a break in employment, monthly employer contribution will start only after 90 days of the employment.

Following are some FAQs that might answer some common questions on Visa Finances.

a) How much funds do I need to show for my Visa Interview?

For the entire duration of your stay which is equal to the duration of your program as mentioned on your I-20. This will be 24 months or 2 years for most of the programs and 16 months for specific ones, which again is Univ specific. The estimates on the I-20 come with a 9-12 month period or a normal 12 month period, the latter being a common occurrence. So, the thumb rule is twice the I-20 amount in most of the cases which should be covered by liquids and non-liquids funds. For cases where your program duration is 16 months, do your math and show an appropriate amount.

b) What if your I-20 mentions bloated program duration?

For cases where your I-20 states something like your program duration as 36 months but it’s common for people to finish the program within 2 years or even before that. Check if you can get a written communication from the Univ stating this or an e-mail version/soft copy of the same. Also, take supporting documents to back your claims that you need to finish the program in 2 years to maintain your F-1 status while you are at the Univ by taking appropriate credits each semester. The VO's have got every right to buy this argument or even reject them and hence be prepared for any sort of explanation that the situation may demand.

c) Showing Actual Source of Funds for Visa Interview:

In several cases, the fund that you show for your Visa interview is not the actual source of funds you will be using for your education. While it is of course highly recommended to show your actual source of funds, this may not be a practical thing to do. Here are a few reasons why this may be the case:

1) The living expenses on the I-20 are much higher than what you will actually be spending. (This is true for almost everybody)

2) You will have some degree of reliance on on-campus jobs.

3) Your funds may not be readily available at the time of the visa interview, but will be ready by the time you have to pay the fees.

4) You are taking funds from a source which might raise suspicions for the Visa Officer (such as loans from US banks)

There might of course be more reasons.

d) How much money do I need to show at the Visa Interview?

This amount is dictated by your I-20. The cost estimate on the I-20 is for the first 12 months only. Hence it is important to consider the course duration mentioned on the I-20 while calculating the amount to be shown. Sometimes, the course duration on the I-20 is more than what it actually might take. In this case, you still should prepare sufficient finance for the written duration.

e) In what forms can these funds be shown?

Technically, they say that funds for the first year must be shown in the form of Liquid Funds. Funds for the remaining duration of the course can be shown as Non-Liquid Funds. Also, it’s better not to show the property as a source of funds as one hardly sells it for funding his/her studies. However, properties/lands can be shown as an asset to establish strong home-ties, a reason for the VOs to believe that you have a strong base in your native country and won't immigrate to the country for which you are requesting a visa.

LIQUID FUNDS:

Liquid Funds are those funds which are at your instant disposal. The following is a list of sources which can be shown as Liquid Funds along with the necessary documents required for each of them.

1) Savings Accounts:

This is considered as good as cash in hand. But few people actually store huge amounts of money in Savings Accounts for obvious reasons. You will most likely be transferring money from a non-liquid source into your savings account to show for the visa interview. In this case, carry documents as proof of transactions.

In any case, be prepared to justify any significant deposits in your Savings Account with necessary document

Documents Required: Original Passbooks with transactions of at least last 6 months, Bank statement (optional), Proof of significant transactions Note : Some banks do not provide passbooks. In this case, you can do either of the following:

a) Get a printed transaction history of the past 6 months from the bank (Recommended)

b) If you have Internet banking, print the bank statements over the past 6 months.

2) Fixed Deposits:

A fixed deposit is a long term deposit with a bank which yields a higher rate of interest. You can show either the Principal Amount or the Current Amount of a Fixed Deposit as Liquid Cash. Current amount will be higher than Principal Amount due to accrued interest, but will require an official bank statement as proof.

The Maturity Amount of a Fixed Deposit cannot be considered as Liquid Funds unless the Maturity Date is before the time when you will be needing the funds.

Documents Required: Original Receipts, Bank Statements for Current Value

3) Bank Loans:

A bank loan which has already been sanctioned can be shown as Liquid Funds. Maximum Bank Loan available in India = Rs. 20 Lakhs

Be ready to explain what was used as collateral to obtain the loan, if required.

I would strongly advise against showing a loan from a foreign bank as source of funds.

Documents Required: Original Loan Sanction Letter with the name of the university mentioned

4) Scholarships:

Any monetary scholarship is also counted as Liquid Funds. These can be granted by various organizations, both from India and abroad. Make sure you are prepared to explain how you were eligible for the scholarship and your ties with the awarding organization.

Documents Required: Original Scholarship Letter, Documents proving ties with the awarding organization (especially for caste specific trusts etc.)

NON - LIQUID FUNDS:

These are funds which are not available instantly, but can be made available in the near future if required.

1) Provident Funds: There are several provident funds and it is beyond the scope of this document to discuss each one of those in detail.

Provident funds will pay you a certain amount of money at a given date. A percentage of this final amount is immediately available. Only this percentage can be shown as Liquid Funds. The rest is counted as Non-Liquid Funds.

There are also Public Provident Funds (PPF). Funds available through PPF can be shown as Liquid Funds

Documents Required: Original Passbooks or Original Statements as applicable

2) Policies: All policies are considered as Non-Liquid Funds.

Documents Required: Original Policy Letter

3) National Savings Certificate: NSC's are Non-Liquid Funds.

Documents Required: Original Certificates

4) Bonds: There are again several kinds of bonds and each of them will have specific conditions. Unless you dissolve these bonds and transfer them to savings accounts, they are counted as Non-Liquid.

Documents Required: Original Bond Certificates

5) Shares: The value of these assets is constantly fluctuating and hence have to be shown as Non-Liquid Assets. I would recommend you calculate the value of the shares approximately one week prior to the Visa Interview. You can do this yourself also and do not need to pay any professional to do it.

Documents Required: Original Share Certificates (if possible), DMAT Account Statement

6) Mutual Fund Investments: These are also constantly fluctuating in value and to be shown as Non-Liquid Assets.

Documents Required: Original Mutual Fund Investment document, Investment Portfolio (if you are investing through an agency)

7) Other Investments: Any other investments not covered above or later can be counted as Non-Liquid Assets only.

Documents Required: As per investment

NOTE: Most of the above Non-Liquid Assets can be dissolved into Liquid Funds. If you do so, make sure you carry the necessary proofs for the dissolution of these assets so that you can explain the influx of Liquid Funds in your Savings Account.

PROPERTY: Property is not directly included in Non-Liquid Assets since you will rarely be selling property to generate funds. While it is not compulsory to show property, it is highly recommended. There are two reasons:

a) It shows strong ties to your home country.

b) In case you are falling short of funds for 2nd year onwards, you can show property as a collateral for loan.

Documents Required: Original Proof of Ownership, Evaluation Certificate from a Registered Evaluator (Optional, Will cost money to obtain)

ANNUAL INCOME: Along with all the above assets, you will also need to show the annual income of your sponsors. This is generally required to prove that your sponsors can sustain themselves while providing money for your education.

The annual income may include income from one of your Liquid assets such as FD Interest, or pay-offs from other investments. In this case, make sure that their income excluding these sources is sufficient.

Documents Required: Income Tax Returns of the past 3 years of each sponsor. If IT Returns of the current year have not been filed, carry salary slips, bills, receipts or any other proof of income over the past year as applicable.

f) How do I show these funds to the VO?

There are two ways:

1) Prepare a consolidated statement in tabular format. It should have three columns - Asset, Value in Rupees, Value in Dollars. Have four separate sections for all the above four forms of funds.

2) Prepare a Fund Flow Statement. State the funds required for your education semester-wise and the source of funds for each semester. So you will have three columns - Semester, Funds Required, Source of Funds

I would recommend option 1, since I have heard cases where VO's get suspicious about involvement of a counsellor on seeing a Fund Flow Statement. You do not need to get these documents from any CA. You can make them yourself.

g) What other documents do I need from my sponsor?

The most important document you will need from your sponsor is an Affidavit of Support. Mention only the amount of Liquid Funds made available by each sponsor on the Affidavit. Do not mention Non-Liquid Funds.

Here is the format:

Quote: AFFIDAVIT OF SUPPORT

This is a Financial Affidavit of Support for Mr/Mrs/Ms. (Self). I Mr/Mrs/Ms. (Sponsor), (relation) of (Self), am willing and able to pay a sum upto USDXXXX/- equivalent to Rs. XXXX/- (In Words) for my (Relative's) education at (University Name). Please find enclosed the necessary documents that support the same.

Sincerely,

(Sponsor)

The Affidavits must be printed on a stamp paper of minimum Rs.20 value and then signed and notarized. Alternatively, you can print the affidavit on a paper and get Franking done. Notarize it after that. It is recommended that each sponsor have a separate Affidavit made, since each will have a separate set of documents.

Some information on Bank Certificates:

  • It is issued by the bank where your sponsor has a savings account.
  • It must be on the letter head of the bank.
  • All copies must be signed by the Branch Manager.
  • In case the bank issues only one original copy, all the photocopies must be signed.
  • Copies must be attested by the same Branch Manager.
  • This certificate is not required to be in a sealed envelope.
  • Usually the balance in the account is equivalent to the first.
  • Yearly expenses of the most expensive University that you have short listed.
  • You must request the bank to mention the balance in your account in US dollars.
  • It could be as per the market rate of the date of issuance of the certificate.

Following is a format for the Bank Certificate:

To whom it may concern

This is to certify that Mr/Ms ___________________ is/are having a Saving Bank Account Number _______________ with our Branch/Bank for the past ___________ years. The transactions in this account have been satisfactory since then. The balance in the account as of _________(date) is Rs.______________ which is equivalent to ___________ US dollars as per today's market rate.

Signature and Name

Branch Manager


On-campus or Off-campus housing facilities?

On-campus housing facilities are mainly used by undergraduate students. These are expensive and hardly any Indian graduate students stay in the on-campus dorms. Many of these do not have kitchen facilities.

Most Indian students here stay in Off-Campus housing facilities as they are more affordable. Most apartments are within 5-10 minutes walking distance to the University. They are available as 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments. They come with kitchen, a hall and a bathroom. The rates vary from $550 (single bedroom apartment) to $800 (2 bedroom apartment). Four people can comfortably stay in the 2-bedroom apartments so the rent gets divided by 4.

Note: Do keep in mind that College Station is a college town and most apartment complexes fill up very fast. So you will usually have to book an apartment few weeks before your flight. (As opposed to some downtown universities, where you get the option of coming here and then looking for complexes). To be fair, it is really easy to get reviews on any of the complexes used by Indians very easily.

Which one is a preferable one, Off-campus or On-campus?

· Factors for choosing an apartment complex would be:

· Cost. College station is fairly cheap when compared to most other universities. Do factor in the utilities that are included in rent.

· Maintenance. You will want to know if the apartments are well maintained and if the staff is friendly.

· Distance from your university building. Some complexes are a walking distance away from the engineering buildings while someothers are well connected by the bus service.

· More Indians stay close by. Most Indians live in the Northgate area. Most apartment complexes are walking distance to the Engineering building are on the bus route (to the Business school and other parts of the campus).

· More facilities like kitchen, spacious rooms, etc.

· Safety. Do not take unnecessary risks for at least the first semester.

Here is a list of apartment complexes along with the web links:

1. College Main apartments - ( Rent for 2 bedroom $720-750) (Online applications accepted)

http://www.dtiproperties.com/apartments/texas/college_station/college_main/

2. Country Place Apartments - ( Rent for 2 bedroom $745-900)

http://www.countryplaceapts.net/

3. North Ramparts ( Rent for 2 bedroom $750-800)

https://aggiesearch.tamu.edu/view/complex/id/100

4. Casa Del Sol / Normandy Square / Cherry Hollow Apartments ( Rent for 2 bedroom $850)

http://www.mycasadelsolapts.com/.

5. Scandia Apartments (Rent for 2 bedroom - $ 770-850)

https://aggiesearch.tamu.edu/view/complex/id/144

Since I intend to come with my wife, could someone also suggest me a few locations where I could find Indian population close by?

Most of the Indian students stay in apartment blocks that are close by to the University. These are good for families and there are many Indian families staying in these apartments. Once you come here, you can apply for an apartment in the University Apartments. These are maintained by the University and are especially for married couples. The only drawback is that it has a waiting period of sometimes up to a year, so book for this as soon as you come here.

What kind of food is available on campus and off campus?

The University has a lot of cafeterias that serve food from morning till evening. There are also snack bars and vending machines that you can use. College Station has so many options when it comes to fast-food outlets and restaurants. You get nearly everything out here - Chipotle, Schlotzsky's, Subway, McDonalds, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc. Name it, you have it.

Most students cook by themselves and have food at their homes. This is more economical and is better for your health too. There are many stores from where you can get Indian food (rotis, paranthas, sabjis etc.)

I know a friend of mine who stays about 15 minutes away from campus. Isn't that a bit far to walk in the hot summer?

The University buses have routes that run through most apartment complexes. You can use the bus facilities to commute to and from University.

How about the transportation facility on campus?

The University has its buses that run through a couple of routes, off-campus and on-campus. It covers all the campus and most locations out of campus. The fee for transportation is already included in your fee statement so you don't need any separate bus pass to use this facility. (Ironically, even if you don't use the service it is still charged to your fee statement!). During the semesters bus frequency is very good almost every 5 mins

Once you come here you can also buy a bicycle (Americans call it bike!) for a cheap price. It's a common mode of transport for we desis here within the campus. You can either get a new one from Wal-Mart or you can buy a used one.

Tip:

1) You can decide your roommates and look out for subleases on TAMU housing groups on facebook.

2) Keep an eye out for IGSA deals on the facebook page – files section.

What are the things you need to GET DONE in the week before you travel?


Soon, you will say farewell to our beloved nation and set off on a new adventure. It is critical for a smooth transition to KEEP CALM and READ ON! Following is a guideline of what steps you need to complete in the week before you take off.


Important things that need to get done:

  • Prepare a power of attorney or certain authorization letter(s), giving a chosen person to act on your behalf. You could choose to give the authority to your parent(s), sibling(s) or the one person you trust.
  • Initial or place your signature on 10 blank sheets, write your name below, and keep them in a safe place. These may be needed for several purposes such as authorization to collect marks sheets on your behalf or certain certificates from the university or other purposes.
  • If you have an individual bank account, make arrangements such that either you have access to it in the US or your parents have authorization to use it, if the need arises. Making it a joint account is an alternative you might opt for.
  • Arrange to collect/redirect mail from your room/hostel (if applicable).
  • Get sufficient change for dollars (in 1c, 5c and 10c). A monetary exchange or bank will be able to provide this for you. Also, remember to carry at least 5 dollars in quarters (25c).
  • Scan all the documents you are planning to bring along and keep them in a protected drive online.

A list of things you might need to provide your family with:

  • List of addresses/phone numbers through which information about you can be obtained. It can contain your future roommates, or you can include the numbers on this list.
  • A copy of all the relevant and important documents, especially the ones you are carrying with you. If it is a photocopy, you might consider self-attesting it (True Copy - Signature).
  • A copy of the relevant parts of your medical history files.

The Last Three Days:

  • Confirm your flight schedule by calling the airlines, or checking online. Find out if there is a possible change of schedule for the flight. (Inform IGSA of any such change, if you have opted for temporary accommodation). Ensure that you have selected seats and chosen your meals for the flight. Online check-in is usually 24 hours prior to the time of journey.
  • Arrange for the conveyance to the airport. You might need to reach a few hours before the time of departure, since immigration check usually takes time due to long queues.
  • Please wait for communication from people here regarding pickup and temporary accommodation.
  • Make your own checklist for the last day of travel.

One Last Review:

  • Keep your ticket, Passport, I-20 and a copy of your admit letter ready, and in your hand luggage.
  • It would be better to put all the cash (or any form of money) you are carrying in your hand luggage as well.
  • Make sure you have ALL your documents in place.
  • Make sure you have completed the health documentation such as the immunization records (if applicable), that you may have to submit when you arrive there.
  • Check that you are carrying your travel insurance papers, if you chose to be insured.
  • Keep a printout of the confirmation mail of your Groundshuttle booking, or whichever ground transportation you might have booked to get to College Station.
  • Keep a written list of emergency and necessary contact information in your hand luggage.
  • All suitcases and boxes are packed well and secure. TSA-approved locks are available in stores, if you insist on locking your suitcase, these are your best bet. You might want to label your luggage. Add your name, university and email address on the label.
  • Get ready to face the long journey. Have sufficient sleep. Keep the partying to a minimum!
  • RELAX!

***This is a suggested checklist to help you get everything in place on the day before you leave. Note that while it is comprehensive, it may not necessarily cover everything.***

The Day of your Travel

On the day of the Flight :

  • Since it is going to be a long flight wear something comfortable.
  • Wear your shoes, (easier to walk around a big airport and saves space in the bag).
  • Check all the documents once again and keep them at appropriate places.
  • Be at the airport three to four hours before the departure.
  • Check-in your luggage at the counter. Make sure the label on the bag has the name of your port of entry, like BOM- IAH for a flight Mumbai to Houston.
  • Collect your boarding passes. If you have a connecting flight, you might get two.
  • You will go through an emigration check. Answer the officer any questions they might ask you. Most of the times, they will let you pass after taking a photograph.
  • Find your boarding gate.


On Board
:

1. What should I keep in mind on the day I travel?

  • Check all the documents once again and keep them at appropriate places so that it is easy for you to take them.
  • Since it is going to be a long flight wear something comfortable (cotton dress + full sleeves shirt). Wear your shoes - in flight you can remove them (some airlines give in flight shoes - else relax in socks).
  • Be at the airport 3-4 hours before the departure.
  • If you were not able to get change for dollars, get them at the airport. All international airports have authorized money exchange counters.
  • Relax during flight, sleep as much as possible.
  • For vegetarians - watch out before you eat - you may get non-veg even if you had asked for Veg. It is always a good idea to state your meal preferences beforehand. You can do so online, on your airline's website or calling their customer service center upto 48 hours before your flight. Asian Vegetarian is a safe option to get food closest to what our Indian taste-buds are used to. If you're OK with eating eggs, you can try the Lacto-ovo Vegetarian option. If, for some reason, you haven't done this, make sure you mention your meal preference at the check in counter. If you miss out on that also, you can let the air hostesses know about your meal preferences on the flight and they will try to accommodate you as much as possible. However, it might not always be to the best of your preferences. So your best option is to have your meal preferences set up on the airline's website or by calling in ahead of time.
  • Once out of India, be very careful. Don't trust anyone. Keep your eyes on your baggage and documents all the time. Don't hire a taxi (unless emergency) till you reach your destination. If required don't hesitate to spend money.
  • If in doubt at any point, ALWAYS ASK QUESTIONS to the staff.

2. I have a connecting flight with a layover. What should I do when I get when we land for transit?

  • When you book a flight make sure you have a layover of a minimum of two hours.
  • When your flight reaches your transit, listen carefully to any instructions given by your flight attendants before you disembark. You will hear information about departure time and gate number. All of this information can be acquired by attendants on the airport as well.
  • Proceed to the terminal from where you will depart. All airports have well-marked sign boards and you should be able to find your way. You will only need to worry about your cabin luggage, the check-in will be transferred by the airlines.
  • Although you can move around in the airport, be at the designated gate within 1 hour of your flight's departure for the onward journey.
  • Do not leave your baggage unattended even for a short while. If you need visit the restroom, carry your hand baggage with you.

3. Jet lag : what is the real deal?

  • When you're flying from India to the U.S., you will cross nearly ten time zones. This messes up your circadian rhythms, mainly your sleep cycles.
  • The suggested way to counter is to sleep throughout or when it is night-time according to the Central Time Zone.
  • Jet lag is different for every individual, ranging from a few days to negligent. You should plan your trip such that when you reach College Station, you have a buffer of a few days to adjust to the cycles here. :

4. Which forms do I have to fill out during my flight in the USA?

  • In the final part of your trip, just before you land in the US, you will have to fill out Customs Declaration form.
  • Customs Declaration : It must be filled out and surrendered to the U.S. Customs inspector at the port of entry into the United States. It is a declaration of the items you are bringing into the country. Fill it out faithfully, there will be instructions displayed on screens nearby when you land or you could ask for help from a flight attendant if you are in flight.

5. I have finally reached the Port of Entry. What do I need to do first?

  • The first thing you need to go through at the port-of-entry ( international airport where you first land in the U.S.), is the immigration and customs clearance.
  • Once you are out of the plane follow the signs for non-residents and head to the immigration desk. Try not to dawdle because the queue are long and it can take from one to three hours.
  • Keep your I-20, passport and visa, admission & aid letters ready. Also make sure that you have filled out the Customs Declaration Forms.
  • The kind of questions you might encounter are :"Is this your first time in the US?", "Where are you going to reside in the U.S?" "Are you a student? Do you have an F! Visa?", "Is this your first time in the U.S?"
  • Answer in a concise and accurate manner. Do not be scared, you have a valid visa and documentation.
  • If your port of entry is not Houston : Even if you have a domestic connecting flight as the last leg of the journey, your port of entry will be an internal airport. If this is far from the university, or in a different state, you might be questioned as to why that is so. If you are planning on meeting relatives or friends elsewhere before heading to college, give the correct reason. You might be asked to tell the address of the place you are planning on visiting. Talk with your relatives or friends, they will help you out to answer the questions.

6. I have heard about an issue with some students not getting "D/S" written on their passport. What is this all about?

  • VERY IMPORTANT : This is the most important thing to do once the official okays your entry into the country is to see if they have stamped and signed your passport.
  • Near your visa, or on some page of the passport, there should be the seal of Department of Homeland Security, and the words "F-1 D/S".
  • If this is not present, go back to your immigration official and tell them.
  • DO NOT leave the immigration counter if you don't have this written. Many students in the past had to make trips again to Houston because of this small mistake. Be aware!

7. I got the passport stamped. What do I do next?

  • Once you are done with the immigration, go to the baggage counter to fetch your luggage.
  • Use a cart to carry the bags. (At some places the cart is free, at some places you may have to pay).
  • Pick up your bags as they come out on the conveyor belt. Tie a rope or ribbon of a bright color to make it easy to spot.
  • If you don't get your baggage, inform the inquiry section. You may have to wait an hour or so here, it happens in rare cases though.
  • Cart your baggage to the nearby customs desk.
  • If asked tell them that you are a student, F-1 visa, coming to US for the first time.
  • Normally they don't ask students to open their baggage, but if asked to open your baggage do so calmly. If asked about the "powders", give them an appropriate answer.
  • Note: Based on previous student's experiences, in most cases, you will not be asked to open your boxes at all & you will be simply waved through.

You are officially in the clear to enter the United states! If you have a domestic flight, follow the signs. If you wish to exit the airport, look for signs leading to ground transportation (shuttle) or parking (personal). Cross check with the people who are coming to pick you up, specify a terminal and door number.

If nobody turns up, call the contact number given to you. You could use pay phones (quarters are useful here). Or you might ask someone on the airport. Never leave your baggage unattended. Don't go out of the airport until somebody comes and picks you up.


Once home, rejoice! A new phase of your life has begun.


***The questions are answered subjectively, based on experiences of the members. You might have special circumstances, needs or issues. Please use this only as a guideline.***

The List of Things you Need to Bring Along

You are going to come to the United States with nothing but the bags in your hand and the resolve in your heart! Make sure you have enough ammunition to last at least a year so you can live it up in College Station!   
There are so many things one needs to carry, it might make sense for some to share certain possessions between roommates or friends (but keep in mind that you might have to go another town for an internship!). Most commodities are available here, however when you have the constant conversion of dollars to rupees going on in your head, you find that you end up buying less. Take heart in the fact that things here are not as overpriced as they seem, so in case you forget to pack something you can always buy it here after a few months. The list is basically what you might need during your stay here: 

1. Medicines

Medicines in the U.S. are slightly more expensive than in India. But remember you have MEDICAL INSURANCE! Your doctor's visit and prescription will be partially covered by insurance, however you might have to pay some amount as co-pay. (Student Health Services will guide you better for the exact figures.)

It is better to have a small medical kit at home for emergencies and backup. Make sure you have a doctor's PRESCRIPTION for everything mentioned below here. Use whichever brands that you are comfortable with, but get medicines to cure: 

  • Fever : Crocin (paracetamol)
  • Headache :  Saridon (ibuprofen or methyl salicylate)
  • Bodyache : Combiflam (ibuprofen)
  • Cold : Sinarest
  • Cough : any syrup or lozenge
  • Nausea/ Motion Sickness : Avomine
  • Diarrhoea : Lomotil
  • Acidity : Digene
  • Vomiting : Domstal
  • Weakness/ Malaise : Electral
  • Any allegry medications
  • First Aid : Band-Aids, Soframycin, Savlon, crepe bandages, cotton balls
  • Vitamin B deficiency : Becosule
  • If required, eye drops
  • Any personal medication, or homeopathic medicine or ayurvedic medicine that you may feel that you need.

***Disclaimer: The brands are just a suggestion based on common preferences. Please consult a certified medical practitioner for the correct quantities and dosage of medicines.***

 

  1. Clothes:
    Dress according to your style. People in College Station are laid back and come casually dressed to college. You get a lot of free t-shirts here and there, you end up wearing these everywhere. However, you might want to buy some clothes from India :

 

  • Formals : Keep two sets as the career fair lasts more than one day and you would be smart to have a backup. 
  • Tops and Bottoms of your liking : Jeans or shorts or skirts or palazzos or trousers, pair these up with shirts and kurtas.
  • Undergarments : Just keep in mind that usually people do their laundry once a week, so have enough to last. You might want to buy some extra, as they wear off in a year due to the dryers here. 
  • Sweaters, scarves, shawls : Texas winters are not cold by American standards, but not many people in India can call zero degree Celsius "nothing". So just be prepared with one basic set of warm clothing. 
  • Thermal wear : In case you decide to travel to another state in the winter break!
  • Raincoats, windcheaters, umbrella : It can rain when it pleases, so have some protection from the showers. 
  • Belts, wallet, handkerchiefs, towels, napkins among other miscellaneous clothing items. 
  • Bedsheets, pillow covers, thin cotton quilts : Cotton linen is hard to come by ad make sure you buy what you are comfortable sleeping in. 
  • Comforters or Blankets : But these in the U.S, they are available at fair prices and this way they won't take up half of your suitcase. 

3.Footwear:
You do get excellent footwear in America, and if you have a chance to go to San Marcos or even online during the Thanksgiving and Labor Day sales, you will get it for a fair price. For now though, you will need to buy a few pairs : 

  • Sports shoes: At least a pair. This is a necessity since you end up walking quite a bit in and around the campus. 
  • Weatherproof shoes: You can get really good snow shoes here and since these are really heavy to carry it is generally not advisable to carry these all the way from there. Preferrably, do not carry boots, keep some money aside to buy these here. 
  • Formal shoes : for the career fair again! Expensive, so it is better to get a pair, along with some slick socks.
  • Open toed sandals might be different than what you are used to, get  a pair fi you are accustomed to them. 
  • Flip flops to wear around the house : or buy them at Walmart for 99 cents!
  • Indian shoes to match your ethnic wear! 
  1. Personal accessories :

You should bring along personal toiletries to last for the first two months, till you find apt replacements. Here is a list to make sure you don't forget anything!

  • Combs, shampoos, conditioners and hair oil
  • Soaps, face wash, lens solution (if you use contact lenses)
  • Nail clippers, small scissors, safety pins, needles, thread, buttons
  • Beauty products like make-up, tweezers, pluckers or electronic eyebrow trimmers, cold/hot wax or epilators (tip : buy a roll-on wax heater here instead)
  • Sunscreen is essential, you may want to carry moisturizer, lip balm and other lotions according to your habits. 
  • Bathing mug : This is not easily acquired but you might buy paint bucket and mug in Walmart, those work just fine!
  • A tip for girls, you will find sanitary products of all kinds in various stores and at reasonable prices. You do not need to stock up for months and let those things take up valuable space in your bags. 
  1. Utensils :

Try to get flat bottomed vessels for cooking as most of the apartments have electric coil stoves. You might want to check with your landlord.         

The cooking habits are unique to each individual, but keep these few things in mind : 

  • Rice cookers are what most students buy. An electric cooker is quicker and hassle free, but buy that in the U.S since the power ratings are different here. If you buy a pressure cooker to cook dal or vegetables, buy a few spare gaskets and other spare parts since they are not available in America as easily. 
  • Pans, tavas, bowls, plates, spoons, forks and knives will be needed but not more than a few each. You can but this after you come here, but most students bring at least a few along.
  • Tongs, spatulas, serving spoons, peelers and mashers are easy to get. 
  • Buy kitchen pincers, graters, rolling pin in India, if you need them. 
  • Metal scrubbers to wash dishes are not available here. 
  • Containers are cheap and you should buy those in the U.S itself.
  1. Food Items:
    Try to stock up for the first two months. Try to stick to packed items, and if at all you do carry home-cooked goodies, try to get them packed from a local grocer. Your food preferences are your own, however you must check the U.S customs and Border Protection website
  • Some of the common food items that students carry are raw spices like clove or cardamom or black pepper, readymade masalas like garam masala or kitchen king masala, instant food packets like rajma chawal or pav bhaji or instant dosa mix. 
  • You might want to get basic kitchen ingredients like mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric powder and chilli powder. 
  1. Bags:
    You are usually allowed two bags, weighing 23 kilograms each on an international flight, some airlines offer a third bag if you present your I-20, some might allow just one. Check this before booking your flights, or call once you have booked to check. Start your packing well in advance. Put identification marks and labels on both the inside & outside the suitcases apart from this, the airlines will also provide you with adhesive labels. Check with your respective airline about the dimensions and weight of the bag. 

Buy suitcases with inbuilt TSA locks or buy those locks separately, so that suitcases could be open for custom checking. If you have a domestic flight in your itinerary, there might be different baggage allowances. 

Things to be kept in the suitcases 
:

  • Copy of all the certificates/documents (originals in hand baggage)
  • Textbooks are expensive, most will be available in the library, but if you have some specials needs for a particular course, try to find out. 
  • Medical history files.
  • You do not need to carry a lot of stationery, perhaps just a folder to take on interviews, a few pens, pencils and eraser. 

Things to be kept in the cabin luggage :                
Check the airline policy for things that you can carry in the cabin luggage. (Some airlines allow you 23 kgs! Confirm with your airline and pack accordingly.)

  • A change of clothes (in case something goes wrong with your baggage, let us hope not!)
  • Some light reading, in case you are not a movie fan. 
  • Sweater or some shawl
  • A few dollars, just in case.
  • Travel adapters, for things with Indian plugs


Things to be kept on person :    
It is advisable to get a small slingbag/fannypack to carry passport, copy of I-20, some cash and boarding passes. This does not count as one piece of baggage if it is just enough to fit your passport in there!

  • Important numbers and addresses, especially of people in the U.S; here are some
  • Handbag or Laptop bag as the personal item (Usually 8 kgs are allowed, confirm with the airlines you have chosen.)

Documentation :             
This should go inside the handbag, not in your check-in luggage

  • Original I-20(s) - Take all I-20s, if you have more than one.
  • Admission Letter from University
  • Other documents that were needed to obtain the I-20 : mark sheets, sponsor letter, degree certificate and such. 
  • Travel insurance, if you have any. 
  • Do not throw away your boarding passes, carry them with you all the way out of the airport.

Lastly, some tips :

  • Bring your original Indian driving license along and ensure that it is valid for at least two years after your date of arrival here. Or bring along your Internal Driving Permit. 
  • Get your application material if you wish to transfer to another university next semester.
  • Get a set of transcripts in case you apply all over again for a PhD.
  • Do not forget the original Bachelor's or Master's Degree certificate, since you need to show that at the University. For those of you getting this later on in the year, make you have the Provisional Certificate.
  • Have a set of copies of visa, passport, I-20 in each piece of luggage.
  • Carry some Indian currency too, in case you need it inside the airport before boarding your flight.
  • We repeat that do carry a medical prescription for all the medicines you bring along.
  • If you have glasses, get a through eye-check-up before and get an extra pair. Get extra sets of lenses if you have the habit of wearing them. You will get the solution in the US, but if you insist on carrying it with you, put it in the check-in bag.
  • Keep passport, visa, I-20, and other admission documents in the handbag you'll carry on your shoulders all the time.
  • Confirm your ticket a couple of days prior to the flight directly through the airlines you are flying no matter how reputed your travel agent is.

***This list is not exhaustive, it is only a suggestion based on the various generations of members who wrote and rewrote this list.***

 

Tickets: After receiving your visa and I-20, the next step is to buy your tickets. (Do note that there may be delay in getting your admits and hence I20, in which case you might have to book flights before receiving both documents in hand to get the best deal.) It is true that the ticket rates will increase (fairly rapidly) as the dates come closer, so start looking out for deals as soon as you have decided to come here. Oh and do ask for student discounts.

Airports: College Station has its own airport but the flights that land therusually very expensive. People generally plan their flights to the closest international airport, Houston (or if desperate, Dallas). Houston to College station is less than a 2 hour ride, and possibly the best means for this commute is the ground shuttle that moves between the Houston and College Station airport (and also do home drop-offs for an extra 10$.) Other means include the Greyhound bus or the TAMU cabs but with the luggage, it’ll usually cost you some extra bucks. You can also try using ZimRide or any of the TAMU Facebook Rideshare pages to see if you can get a much cheaper ride, just don’t wait around too long and let the ground shuttles get full.

Documents and Luggage: Keep all your immigration documents in your hand/cabin bags at all times. Airlines generally allow three bags to students travelling for the first time. However, some tickets might need you to buy the third bag. Also, see if all connecting flights have the same rules (they usually do, this is just to be safe). Do check if your bags are the right dimensions and below the weight limits.

There have been cases (although very rare), of students losing their bags. So do prepare for it in advance and try to keep a pair of clothes and necessities in your cabin bags.

Port of Entry: You will be given immigration documents in your flights. Fill these out in the plane and have them when you get to the customs lines. Be honest with your declarations in the forms, as concealing items can lead to penalties. Make sure you have no fruits, vegetables or anything raw with you. Spices, pickes can declared as non-perishable and dehydrated items. (Do pack and seal them right.)

Map of College Station One of the first things you notice when you near the hallowed grounds of Texas A&M University!
THIS!
This is a map of College Station. You might want to see the website for some more information! Have a look at the information given by the International Student Services for all you need to know about this town

Kinnaresh Patel

Some things that might come in handy for you:

  1. There is nothing like a particular center/window is more likely to give you a visa than the others. So don’t waste your time.
  2. Do not be nervous. I know it is easier said than done. Try and make as less of a deal of it as possible. Start your day as you would start your normal day. Listen to your favorite music. That would help to put you in a relaxed mood.
  3. Try and take the earliest slot in the morning.
  4. If you take the earliest slot, you would most likely join a large queue standing outside the embassy before it opens. Don’t forget to take an umbrella with you especially if your center is Mumbai. If it rains you don’t want to get wet while waiting in the queue outside.
  5. As far as the questions are concerned I was asked the following 4 questions:

§ Which University?

§ What undergrad major?

§ How are you going to fund your educational expenses?

§ What do your parents do?

6. The interview took about 40 seconds. I didn’t even have to open the folder that I had so carefully prepared. Remember that TAMU is a reputed university, and the interviewers know it, sojust relax and give the answers.

Arjun Shanker

Venue: US Embassy New Delhi

Me: A very Good Morning (smiled as usual. Ensured eye contact, though anxious)

VO: (Wishing me back) Which University & program are you applying to?

Me: Texas A&M University; Masterof Agribusiness

VO: Ok. So what was your previousdegree in?

Me: Masters in Biotechnology

VO: So why a 2nd Masters? (NOTE: this Q might pop up if you hold a previous masters)

Me: It's like an MBA in Agricultureafter a science major (told him want to pursue a Biz line)

VO: (replies with a Hmm) Could I see your documents (I-20, passport, financial)

Gave it

VO: I see you have a scholarship letter as well (impressed & smiles)

I just smiled back.

VO: Keeps passport & says the golden words: "Congratulations your VISA has been approved"

Me: Thank you so much & have a nice day (breathe sigh of relief)

Utsav Talati

Me: Good Morning Madam!

(I was still stressed, nervous and as well as excited but confident)

VO: Good Morning, pass me your I20 and Passport

I passed the required docs.

Seeing the I-20, VO: So you are going for Texas A&M, great school. So you want to be a Aggie (Aggie is the name of sports team of Texas A&M, so all students are called Aggies who belong to the Texas A&M)

Me: Yes Madam Howdy! (Howdy is the way of saying 'how are you?' in Texas)

VO: So, why Texas A&M?

As I was going to answer, she rephrased the question "why MS in IE at Texas A&M University?"

This sudden rephrasing of question confused me and i forgot some info. in anxiety. Still i managed to pull it off.

Me: having wide array of research experience through my research papers, research interns as well as research projects my interested in IE grew tremendously. The networks and logistics research lab under the guidance of Dr. Cetinkaya and Dr. Wang se Hung are well-known in the field of. (VO interrupted me here)

VO: How many universities you applied to?

Me: 10

VO: Name them

Me: G.Tech (I told the short name first then realized my mistake and told them the full name), Penn state, TAMU, Purdue, Rutgers....she interrupted me again

VO: how many admits

Me: 5

VO which?

Me: RIT with full first year fullfunding, Texas A & M....suddenly she asked me another question

VO: Then Why not RIT with full scholarship?

Me: Madam, Financial Aid has never been an option for me, I believe in investing in better knowledge, because i know better knowledge would reap me far more better benefits in the future.

VO: Sir i know you are excited and nervous, you are speaking very fast, please calm down.

I was thinking, madam about me speaking very fast? Mein aisa hi hoon

Me: Smiling, yeah madam.

VO: What about your funding?

Me: out of the total asset of XXCrores (she interrupted me again)

VO: Ok

Then she started typing for 1-2 seconds and then the words came "Congratulations, I am approving your Visa"

Srinath Nadimpalli

Me: Good Morning!

VI: Good Morning, how're you doing today?

Me: Am doing well. How've you been doing?

VI: Doing good. Thank you! Please pass the documents (i20 and passport)

VI: Texas A&M, I see. That's a good university!

Me: Yes indeed.

VI: Okay. What did you do at XYZ(the company I worked for)?

Me: I explained the project that I worked on, my roles and responsibilities in the project

VI: Sounds good. How many colleges did you apply to?

Me: I told him all the colleges I applied to - the status of each of these colleges. I reckon he wanted to check how honest I'm. I also reckon they already have this information with them.

VI: Alright! Looks good. I'm approving your Visa. Have a great stay there.

Me: Thank you!

Rishav Choudhary

Me: Good Morning Sir

VO: Good Morning, How r u?

Me: I am doing well

VO: So which university have u got admission into?

Me: Texas A&M University

VO: How many Universities did u apply to?

Me: Only this one

VO: Why?

Me: I thought with my GRE score I won’t get admission into other colleges which I actually wanted like Stanford etc. so applied to only this college.

VO: Show me your GRE score card

VO: Okay. Your visa is approved. Have a nice stay in US.

Ankit Katiyar

Me: Good morning sir

VO: Good Morning, pass me your documents

Me: Passed my Passport, I-20

VO: Which University are you headed?

Me: Texas A&M University, College Station

VO: How many universities did u apply?

Me: 5 Sir

VO: Who will fund your education?

Me: My father and I have a loan too.

VO: Ok, I am approving your Visa

Me: Thank you sir, have a good day!

Sanjeev Singh

Consulate: Kolkata

Time: 9:15 am

Date: 5th June

A piece of advice to all who have opted or are going to opt for Kolkata consulate - Please reach early in the morning. Earlier you reach earlier you will get the slot. So, your scheduled time is actually immaterial.

At counter no. 6 - VO was a goodlooking American guy in his 30s.

Me: Good Morning sir!

VO: GM and passed him the basic docs (at another counter you will be submitting those docs and recollecting them. It includes Passport, I-20, Interview letter, HDFC receipt and Sevi's fee receipt)

VO asked me to put my left hand's four fingers then right hand's and then both the thumbs on a machine. (A sound of 'peee' suggests that you have put your fingers in correct way on the machine :D)

VO: Where are you currently staying?

Me: Bangalore

VO: Then why not the nearby consulates?

Me: I am basically from Patna and I had to collect some original financial documents from my home.

VO: Oracle is a brilliant company to work for, why do you want to go for higher studies? (I think they already have most of the information regarding us - may be the DS-160 form that we fill is accessible to them)

Me: Sir, I have been involved in development work since last two years at Oracle and now I want to pursue a career in the field of research.

VO: So, you would like to build your career at US?

Me: After finishing my master's I would like to come back and join HP Labs where good research is being carried on in the area of Pattern recognition.

VO: Why can't you join HP labs now?

Me: They prefer people with research experience and that's the reason I want to pursue my MS with thesis.

VO: What all admits you have? (Started typing something...)

Me: Apart from admit from TexasA&M University, I have admits from North Carolina State Univ., University of California, Irvine, State University of New York Stony Brook and University of Waterloo at Canada.

VO: Btw, from where you did your engineering? (He was still typing)

Me: Sir, Birla Institute of Technology and Science - Pilani, Goa Campus.

VO: Your VISA is approved. Enjoy your stay at Texas (with a wonderful smile on his face). You will get your passport in a week's time.

Me: Thanks you sir!

I felt overjoyed and ran away from the consulate :)

On the basis of my experience, I will suggest rather than spending time n energy in getting different kinds of certificate (CA, CE blah blah, which I found useless), prepare a few questions well. A day or two preparation should suffice.

Golden rule: Don't hesitate, don't stammer. VI will be a cake walk :)

Thanks

Sanjeev Singh

Vinayak Lalwani

Status: Approved

Date: 01 June

Mumbai 07:45 am

For all those who are tensed about their interviews, don't be..!

It's Texas A&M University, and those people know the importance of its name!

Me: Hello Sir, Good Morning!

VO: Good Morning, pass me the documents.

Me: Here (passed the passport and i20)

VO: So, Texas A&M univ? Why?

Me: Sir, TAMU because obviously going with the rank, secondly because some of the subjects particularly interest me over there and seniors suggested it’s the best!

VO: Which other admits you receive?

Me: UW, USC, MSU, IIT, NYU

VO: Was your previous job related to construction management?

ME: yes Sir (stopped me when i was explaining how.)

VO: Your VISA has been approved Sir, Enjoy your stay at TEXAS!

(That’s it)

Danish Khan

Status: 221(g) Administrative processing

Location: US Consulate General Kolkata

Program: PhD in Biochemistry

I would have been surprised if they hadn't issued the orange slip. Anything even remotely related to biology isissued 221g these days, and I was no exception!!

After a Hi/Hello, the VO asked me to give my thumb and hand impressions; asked for my docs - I gave my Passport, I-20, Offer Letter, SEVIS receipt, HDFC Bank receipt.

"So, you are going to TexasA&M"

"Yes"

"Are you married?"

"No!"

"What kind of research are you going to do at Texas A&M?"

"Well, it’s basically going to be related to proteins. Trying to find new proteins in living organisms and knowing more about their structure, annotating them some functions etc."

(All through the VO was typing vociferously, and even before I finished speaking, picked up an orange form)

"All right, please wait for your call"

They called me at another counter and a VFS officer handed all my docs back and explained that I'd earned myself a 221(g) and what I need to do.

They didn't ask to see any other document. No mark sheets/transcripts, neither GRE/TOEFL scorecard, nothing else. Financial documents were not required in my case.

They retained my passport.

Ravi Chawla

Venue: The Embassy of United States, New Delhi

Interview Duration : Less than a Minute!

Status: Approved

VO: Good morning.

Me: Good morning sir!/(with a big smile)/ How are you?

VO: Fine./(Responded back with a big smile)/

/(Then I passed the passport and other documents stapled to it)/

VO: /(After taking the docs)/ Where are you headed?

Me: Sorry I could not hear you properly!

VO: /(He repeated)/ Where are you headed?

Me: Texas A&M, College Station

VO: So you are not going to UT Austin?

Me: /(Shocked for a sec! I was thinking how did he know that I applied there! I responded spontaneously without thinking much)/ With a smile I said: sir I applied but did not get an admit from Austin. Texas A&M was my best admit. I also got an admit from Michigan State!

VO: /(Nodded positively)/ Which program?

Me: PhD in Chemical Engineering.

VO: So you know they are the people who hate your school the most! /(I assumed he was talking about UT Austin, and gave my answer as follows)/

Me: Yeah sir, I know about the rivalry, Aggies vs. Longhorns! /(I read this while I was researching the schools at the time of Application in December)/

VO: /(Surprised on hearing this)/ With a smile he said your visa is approved, you will get it in 5 days!

Me: Thank you. Have a nice day! /(I smiled again) /(Actually I got confused because my Interview started just 30 seconds back! I was staring at him if he wanted to ask more but then my legs automatically moved away from the counter(lol).)/

(The Interview lasted for such a small duration I don't even remember what the Officer looked like!!! He obviously knew a lot about Texas A&M and UT Austin. He didn't bother to see any documents.

All this short duration of time I answered very honestly because you have so less time to come with a lie, so I spoke whatever I felt like and as a result was very fluent in expressing myself! )

Vangmayee Sharma

Status: 221(g) Administrative processing

Location: US Consulate New Delhi

Program: PhD Chemistry

VO: Hello! Good morning! How are you today?

Me: Good Morning Sir! I am good!

VO: Ok. So which university are you going to?

Me: Texas A&M

VO:Ok! Which campus? (Looks at i-20 & says himself: ) Oh! College Station.

VO: Ok so you will be called an aggie now...

The interview was interrupted because a person behind me stepped too close to the counter & VO had to warn him.

VO: So have you finished your masters or btech.?

Me: I have finished my masters.

VO: What will you be studying?

Me: Chemistry.

VO: Ok. You are going for your PhD.

VO: (Smiling) I am approving your visa however you are required to undergo administrative processing. Proceed to counter 30 for that. Its way over there at the end of the lobby.

Me: Thank you Sir!

VO: Have a pleasant stay!

*******************************************************

Hyderabad

Interview 1:

VO: Pass the documents. Wait here. I'll be back in a minute.

Me: ... [He didn't even wait for my response]

VO came back after a minute

VO: Hi

Me: Hello sir

VO: What are you going to study in the US?

Me: Master of Science in Management Information Systems sir

VO: Any back logs?

Me: No sir, none.

VO: What is your percentage?

Me: 77%

VO: Can I see your mark sheets?

Me: Passed the memos.

VO: Why do you want to study Information Systems?

Me: I've working as S/w Engg. for past 3 yrs. I want to get expertise in information systems along with management exposure. This will really help me grow quickly in my career.

VO: What universities did you apply?

Me: Ok State, U of Arizona, UI -Chicago, SUNY - Buffalo, U Cincinnati

VO: But why this university?

Me: TAMU is very reputed university sir. It offers balanced curriculum and also Assistantship offer made my decision easier.

VO: Ok sir, your visa is approved. You will get it in couple of days by courier.

Me: Thank you sir.

VO: Good luck.

Interview 2:

Hi, how are you today?

Hello, I'm fine. Thank you (I forgot to reciprocate!)

He's busy with his computer - After what seemed like 2 minutes,

What is your UG percentage?

81 percent

Could you please pass your mark sheets?

Sure. Do you need my degree certificate as well? (I tried talking through the window but apparently he didn't hear me. He must have seen me talk though, because)

Please talk into the intercom loud and clear

Sorry... ( Didn't know what to say since I realised I was asking a stupid question )

And do you have any backlogs?

Yes, one.

One backlog. Hmm.

He's busy with his computer again...A minute or two passes

What do your parents do?

My father is a retired professor and my mother is a home maker

Retired professor of what?

Electrical engineering.

Uh huh.

Okay you'll receive this in about five to seven days.

Interview 3:

VO: Which university you are going to?

Me: Texas A&M, College station.

VO: Which all universities you applied?

Me: TAMU, UOA, UIC, IU.

VO: GRE, TOEFL scores?

Me: Said, (picked the file up expecting a question to show score cards, but he dint)

VO: who is ur sponsor?

Me: father and have a bank loan sanctioned for 16L.

VO: Your VISA has been issued.

Me: (I was shocked rather than delighted, thought what did he ask me to issue Visa to me) Thanks..Thanks sir

(looked at VO while leaving so as to reconfirm if he is sure of his last words!!).

************************************************************

Mumbai

Interview1

VO: Good Morning, How are you

ME : Good Morning Officer, I am fine, How about you

VO: (was typing something) Why are you going to USA ?

ME : To pursue my Master of Sciencein Managament Information Systems from Texas A&M University.

VO: Why did you decide to go to this University ?

ME: Having completed my Diploma and undergraduate Degree in Information Technology; and after working in the ITsector for more than 2 yrs, I believe that the MS MIS course at this university will be a logical extension to my career goal of becoming a Business and ITexpert when I come back to India.

VO: Where else have you applied ?

ME: TAMU, Suny Buffalo, UC, CMU and UIUC (MBA)

VO: Why did you choose TAMU then ?

ME: TAMU was my first choice. Also I have researched about this university by speaking to prof. (Dr. XXX, Dr. YYY, Dr. ZZZ) and after getting first hand experience from a couple of current students, I decided to go with TAMU.

VO : Who is sponsoring you?

ME: My parents will be sponsoring me for my education. I will also use my savings and I have a education loan sanctioned.

VO: What is your GRE score?

ME: I did not give GRE. I gave GMAT and scored 650 out of 800.

VO: Ok. your VISA is approved, your passport will be sent to you via courier.

ME: Thank you Officer. Have a good day.

Interview2

VO: Good Morning!

ME: Good Morning!

VO: What is this program you've applied to?

ME: (I explain)

VO:(after 2mins) Any relatives in the US?

ME: Yes (I explain)

VO:(after 5 mins) What are you goingto do after graduating?

ME: Come back home! (I explain)

VO:(smiling) Your visa has been approved!

ME: Thank you! Have a great day!

Interview 3:

VO: Why are you going to Texas A& M

Me: To pursue Master's in Management Information Systems

VO: Why Texas A & M?

Me: Texas A & M University has a good course curriculum for the MIS program which is aligned with my field of interest which is data management.

VO: Which other universities did you apply to?

Me: Told her.

VO: Where did you get admits from?

Me: Told her.

VO: (Again) Then why Texas A&M?

Me: Repeated the above answer. She asked me to repeat my field of interest and looked a little skeptical. I added "Because it is cost effective as compared to other universities".

VO: *Nodded her head* What do your parents do?

Me: Told her.

VO: What is their annual income?

Me: Told her.

VO: I am sorry ma'am, how do you expect them to fund your education with an annual income of *?

Me: Told her about their savings and also mentioned financial aid from the university at this point.

VO: Why did you get this financial aid?

Me: It was merit based.

VO: *Nods* But why will your parents expend their entire life savings to help you do your MS in the United States especially when you have a good job at Symantec?

Me: The reason I want to do MIS is because so far I've had good technical exposure and now I want to learn about the management aspects of a business.

VO: I understand that Ma'am but I really don't understand how they will be able to fund your education.

Me: They also have investments in the amount...

VO: *Cutting across* When you return from your MS you'll be earning a maximum of 10-14 lakhs per annum in India. How do you expect to regain the amount of the cost of the program which is almost $60000 which is 30 lakhs in INR!

Me: *Very confidently and a little indignantly at this point* It is not 60000, it is 48000 because of the financial aid which is 20 lakhs in INR. I believe that I can regain this amount within two years of working in India and I also believe that my parents are sufficiently financially secure. I always have my parents savings to bank upon.

*Longest 30 seconds of my life while Ms. Curly Hair types away into her screen....*

VO: Your VISA has been approved and your passport will be couriered within 5 to 7 days...

Me: Thank you very much Ma'am *Almost running out of the consulate to tell my dad*

Interview 4:

Me: Gm maam

VO: GM(no expression), So ur goin 2 TAMU.....y?

Me: To complete my master's in MIS

VO: Y TAMU?

Me: Course structure blends with my interests and great faculty along with amazing brand name.

VO (impressed): When did u complete your UG?

Me: In 2009

VO: Which stream?

Me: EXTC

VO: Any backlogs?

Me: yes...I had backlogs but cleared them a long time back (Hoping against hope that the next obvious question would not be asked)

VO: How many backlogs?

Me: 3 (Ouch)

VO (Not so impressed now): Reason for the backlogs?

Me: (I was just speaking.......I really dont remeber what.....It went like) I got a KT first and got the other 1 while trying to clear the 1st KT and got the 3rd KT trying to clear the 2nd (But all this was said with a lot of confidence :).....and a meaningless smile across my face).

VO: What was you undergrad percentage?

Me: 57.2

VO (Nodding her head): Any other universities you applied to?

Me: Named all the other univs and the other admits.

VO (Now she appeared impressed again): So y TAMU and not the other Univs in the list?

Me: Repeated the same answer as to how the course is great, and the university has a great reputation.

VO: How much did you score in GRE?

Me: 1410 maam and explained the sectional marks.

VO: How do plan to fund your education?

Me: Parent have saved enough and told her my savings bank details.

VO: Where does you father work?

Me: Told

VO: Annual income?

Me: Told

VO: Your Visa has been accepted and you will get in in 5 days.

Me: Thank you maam (For the first time with a genuine heartfelt smile :))

*******************************************************

Chennai

Interview 1

Me - Good Morning Sir….(Passed on My docs)

VO – Good Morning

Me – Smiled Back…(Looked through my I20, GRE and TOEFL Scorecard)

VO - Why US?

Me - I want to study Masters in Management in Information Systems at Texas A&M

VO - Why you want to do Masters, sir?

Me – Sir, three years of work ex has given me good technical and functional exposure. Now want to understand the Management side of the Business.

VO – When did you graduate, sir?

Me – 2008, Sir

VO- How many Backlogs?

Me – 0

VO - Who is funding your education?

Me - Parents

VO - What do they do

ME - Answered that

VO - Sir your visa is issued and you would be getting your Visa in week's time.

Me - Thank u sir

Interview 2

Me: Good morning Sir, how are you ?

Officer: I'm good, how are you ?

Me: I'm good.

Officer: So why Texas A&M ?

Me: A & M consistently scores among the top in ranking in United States. A course work that was resonant with my career objective and a good balance between the cost of the program and the education imparted.

Officer: Okay

Followed by usual questions like:

Any other colleges you applied?

Which course?

How you are planning to pay for it?

What do your parents do ?

Officer: I'm approving your Visa ..(I could not follow the rest)

Me: Thank You.

Interview 3

Me: Hello sir, How r u?

VO: very well. how abt u?

Me: doin fine sir.

VO: Y do u want to go the US?

Me: to purse MIS in TAMU. (explained abt the course like its a techno managerial course etc).

VO: you have work exp?

Me: yes sir. about 3 yrs in IT industry.

VO: Can i look at your college marksheets?

Me: Sure. [Gave Him] (glanced through it. meanwhile, i was just mentioning that i had a first class with distinction and no backlogs)

VO: Who is sponsoring ur studies?

Me: parents and myself. Told them they hav been earning for 20 yrs and myself for 3 years.

VO: So u have been to australia?

Me: Yes sir. I was sent from XYZ company to develop a module for an Australian client. In fact, I was in sydney same time last year.

VO: Congrats! You have been issued a visa!

Interview 4:

VO : So how many univ did u apply to?

Me : told them the names

VO: How many admits and to which univs?

Me : told them

VO : Why ths univ?

Me : Told them good reputation, course structure, good faculty-student ratio.

VO : he was smiling and said that is a regular answer. Now tell me why actually do u want to go to ths unis?

ME: my aim is to bcome B.A. and the course structure will help me in achieving my aim. Told him names of 2-3 courses.

VO: Ok. are u currently working?

ME : yes

VO : since when?

ME : from past 2 yrs

VO : where?

ME : told them

VO : do u plan to join back the company?

ME : yes sir

VO : do u hav the offer?

ME : Actually they said I can join back the company once you return after completing the graduation. I may also join as a B.A. to other companies as well (named a couple).

VO: Ok, ur Visa is approved.

Me : Thank u sir. (a sigh of relief)

Interview 5:

Got docs checked and finger prints done by 7:45 went to VI building... saw my token no. in the monitor and went to that counter... VO was an american lady in late 20's she was on an approval spree... approved 3 visas b4 mine...

VO: Good Morning

me: Good Morning :) how are you

VO: fine... and u ?

me: i am fine too.. thanks for asking :)

VO: why USA ?

me: told

VO: what r d admits u got ?

me: told

VO: why tamu?

me: spoke abt tech + business coursework and abt my work exp in logistics domain and abt profs research in tat area...

VO: pass me ur marksheets

Me: gave... (was worried at this point tat she may look at my backlogs had 2 in 2nd year but she did not :) )

VO: wen did u graduate?

me: 2009

VO : wat have u been doin since ?

me working as a programmer analyst in cts since

VO: how r u gonna sponsor ?

me: told abt dad's business, turnover and savings, loan... asked her if she wud like to see my docs... she refused politely...

then she asked me abt my dad's business and later said ur visa is approved... please travel wit max of 30 days from course start date...

thanked her and came out...

If you haven’t done so already, find the three IGSA webinars on the Facebook page. There is also a guide posted on how to configure them. The webinars cover a lot of important questions asked by incoming students to seniors and might just include something you were looking for or something you may have missed out.

How to configure your computer/smartphone to connect to the Webinars
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5CA7yLUI5BSSkNLSFk0R3ltUXM

Webinar 1
Recorded Transcript link
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1PEvR0kwtUIToO6ajkWGPpepbXar0qZ-SZq2jXcZCLkA
Chat transcript link
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1mKqWA4q8Znz7HvddJQUveJNHm3ybdDqXU7rI70LHBX4

Webinar 2 Coming soon

Webinar 3 Coming soon

Welcome to Texas A&M University


What is Aggieland?
College Station for a long time has come to be known as Aggieland, land of the Aggies. Students enrolled at Texas A&M University are called Aggies, and hence the name.

What does A&M stand for?
When the University was founded in 1876, it was called as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (AMC) — the first public University in Texas. A&M therefore stands for ''Agricultural and Mechanical''. Years later, the college was turned into a University and many more departments were added. However the name stuck and so it is still called Texas A&M University. (Don’t be surprised if you find some of the mechies constantly bragging about how they put the ''M'' in ''A&M''!). We even have songs that address the college as Texas AMC.

What is Howdy?
Howdy (How are you doing in short) is the Aggie (let’s say Texan) way of greeting everyone. Y’all better get used to the Texan way of mixing up the words. It's common here even for strangers to exchange Howdy. So whenever someone greets you, put up a smile and reply back Howdy!

I have heard that all Universities in the US have a lot of traditions behind them. Does A&M have any?
''Does'' A&M have any?! Gear up fellas! Texas A&M University is probably one of the only Universities where a lot of emphasis is placed on traditions. Many things like The 12th Man, Gig 'em, Midnight Yell, Silver Taps, Muster, etc. have come to be a cherished part of A&M.
There is a lot to write about these, so we encourage you to visit these websites to learn more about Aggie Traditions. It's always good to sink in the Aggie spirit before you come here.
To learn about Aggie Traditions:

  • http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/
  • http://traditions.tamu.edu/traditions/ (this site has illustrations)
  • You will anyway be exposed to lots of the traditions during the orientation and new student conferences.

Who is the mascot of Texas A&M University? Reveille, the first lady of Aggieland, is the official mascot of Texas A&M University. She is the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, and she is a Five-Star General. Having said that, may we point out that Reveille is a dog! Reveille is the most revered dog on campus. Though it seems humorous, Company E-2 has the privilege of taking care of Reveille. If she is sleeping on a cadet's bed, that cadet must sleep on the floor. Cadets address Reveille as "Miss Rev, ma'am". If she barks while the professor is teaching in class, the class is to be immediately dismissed. No less than any celebrity, a pic with Reveille is what most of the students vie for badly.

How big is College Station?
College Station (CS) is a city with a population of about 70,000. The neighbouring city, Bryan, is very close by (just about a mile) that these two are usually called the twin cities. CS has all sorts of facilities, lots of good restaurants, shops and a mall too. It’s not as big as metro cities, but it’s still a good place to live in.

What is the weather like in College Station?
College Station has a varied climate from really hot summers to really cold winters. Right now it’s the end of Winter and it will get pretty hot by the time you reach CS. For those of you who are from North India, the climate of College Station is more or less like what we have in New Delhi (that's for a reference in case you need to know what to expect).
More or less this is the year-round climate: April mid-Sep: Summer Season (Temp reaches 35deg-40degC; very hot in the afternoon, occasional rains) Sep-Nov: Fall Season (Warm in the afternoon, but pleasant otherwise; occasional rains) Nov-Feb: Winter Season (temp goes as low as 0deg-3degC. It's quite windy here, due to which the weather gets chilled and the temperature may actually feel like sub-zero. It doesn't snow here, but there have been rare incidences of ice formation. Feb-April: Spring Season (Best time of the year. Weather is pleasant and there are occasional rains)
Remember to bring a good umbrella as the rains are pretty heavy out here. When it rains, it pours!

Are there Indians in College Station?
Oh yes! The Indian community is the second largest international community in Texas A&M University. In addition to the students, there are many Indian families living in Bryan/College Station.

Are there Indian stores in College Station?
Yes. We have nearly 3 Indian stores here and you get nearly every Indian foodstuff and grocery that you need. (Even Parle-G biscuits and Maggie noodles!). They are open for most time of the day and are all in walking distance of your apartments.

What about the safety issues attending evening classes and moving back to the apartment? Are there any emergency services available?
College Station is a pretty much safe place and we don’t have issues like racism. There have been stray cases of problems so we suggest that you try not to stay very late out by yourself. Emergency services - 911, Campus Police, EMS, Corps of Cadets Escort service are available 24/7; 'round the clock.

What is the time difference between India and College Station?
College Station comes in the ''Central Time (US and Canada)'' time zone. Here they use the concept of Daylight Saving Time - DST (a correction factor used to accommodate for duration of day during winters and summers). When DST is switched on, College Station time is 10 (ten and a half) hours behind Indian Standard Time (IST). When DST is off, CS time is 11 (eleven and a half) hours behind IST.

What is this DST - Daylight Saving Time?
As the name suggests, the time is set in such a way that maximum daylight could be used. Eg. During summer, the sun rises at around 5 o'clock. So the clock is set forward by one hour. This forces all activities to start one hour early so that maximum daylight is used till late in the evening.
Therefore: The clock is set back by one hour on the first Sunday of November 1 (Fall Season) at 2:00 am. Clock is once again set forward by one hour on the first Sunday of April at 2:00 am (Spring Season). The easiest way to remember this is FALL BACK, SPRING AHEAD.
By the way, Arizona is the only state, which is not affected by day-light saving. People there do not ever change the time in their clocks

Saumya Thakur· February 8, 2016

Computer Science and Engineering: Jyotikrishna Dass, Biplab Patra, Deep Desai, Srinath Nadimpalli, Akshay Kulkarni

Computer Engineering- Electrical dept: Swarup Rath, Manasa Rao, Bhanu Khera, Shruti Bagaria

Construction Science/Management-Architectural: Saumya Thakur, Krupal Bhatt, Neeraj Yadav, Siva Sakthivel, Karan Chugh, Ankit Katiyar

Management of Information System: Rakesh Kaushik, Sagar Chandra Reddy, Mayukh Majumda, Rachna Gohil, Ajita Maru, Esha Dutta, Aarushi Verma

Electrical Engineering: Biren Parmar, Anuj Chaudhary, Akhil Kumar, Radhika Saraf

Construction Engineering Management-Civil Engineering: Siddharth Chougule, Varun Shah, Kinnaresh Patel, Aparajita Sharma

Biochemistry & Biophysics: Sreyashree Bose, Rohit Kongari

Structural Engineering: Sagar Dalal, Vishrut Gandhi, Mihir Mishra, Jaynee Jhaveri

Geotechnical Engineering: Sayak Sinha, Pavan Akula

Industrial Engineering: Meghana Maddipati, Sudhanshu Deshpande, Gurnoor Singh Kakkar, Bhushan Metha, Nipur Bhatt, Chinmay Joshi, Roshan Rathi, Manas Tiwari, Utkarsh Pandey

Agri-Business & Agricultural Economics: Arjun Shanker, Priyamvadha Sivakumar

Economics: Dipti Paranjape, Anup Meshram

Bio-Technology: Fareen Pasaya, Gipshu Dave, Yogesh Abichandani, Anusha Balakavi

Transportation-Civil Engineering: Rudraradhya Swamy Hiremath, Darshan Padmanabha, Sukrit Narula, Sarang Vasishth, Kartikeya Jha

Petroleum Engineering: Gibran Hashmi, Mohit Dholi

Visualization: Rushil Kekre

Mechanical Engineering: Ronak Mohanty, Bansal Shah, Nihar Kotak, Deepesh Gupta, Srivatsa Chakravarthy

Public Health: Abhishek Dave

Architecture: Pranav Shauche, Sakshi Gandhi, Rajvi Rajesh Patel, Gauri Nadkarni

Materials (Civil Engineering): Atish Nadkarni

Environmental Engineering: Keval Satra, Darpan Chorghe

Chemical Engineering: Smit Shah, Chiranjivi Botre

MBA: Vishal Gangarapu

Urban Planning: Sanjana Jasti, Gulafshan Ghori, Gopika Nair

Health Policy and Management: Shweta Ambwani

Land and Property Development: Riddhi Doshi

Landscape Architecture: Manasa Hegde

Aerospace Engineering: Aritra Biswas, Niladri Das

Physics: Sunny Guha

ELPE (English Language Proficiency Exam)

1. I got my I-20, but there is something mentioned about the English Language Proficiency requirement. What is ELPE?
Even though you submitted your TOEFL scores well in advance, there is a good chance that you may have the I-20 mentioning about the English Language Proficiency requirement. The ELPE (English Language Proficiency Exam) is given at the Texas A&M University, and is required by most of the departments if their international students are applying for assistantships, especially Graduate Assistant - Teaching (GAT) position. Certain departments such as Architecture have it mandatory for all students to take the ELPE, while some require it only if you are applying for an assistantship.

2. I want to know if a good TOEFL score helps in the granting of a GAT, or is it only the ELPE that matters?
A good TOEFL score does help you to get an assistantship, but this alone won't help. Since TOEFL scores are valid for a couple of years, the University wanted to have a standardized test specific to its requirements, where all the scores are current and taken at the same time. This is why it is necessary that you take the ELPE. Most positions for assistantships (RA/GAT) require that you only clear the ELPE. They won’t look at your exact scores. It’s just enough for you to pass in all the sections of the exam (at least 80% on each section).

3. When and where do I take the ELPE?
The ELPE is given at the Texas A&M University. New students take it upon their arrival approximately one and a half weeks before classes start. This makes sure that the students have some time to appear for the test before the registration for the classes start.
Note: Only one ELPE Registration date is open at a time, which is the most recent date.
Information about dates can be found on http://dars.tamu.edu/Calendar.

4. How do I prepare for the ELPE?

There are reference materials in the Sterling C. Evans Library at Texas A&M University. Except for the oral interview and composition segments of the ELPE, students may prepare ahead of time by studying for the Michigan Test Battery (book may be available in India), since this standardized test makes up a large part of the ELPE.

5. Is the ELPE difficult?
Relax. ELPE is very similar to the TOEFL exam and you should be able to do fine in it if you did well in TOEFL. Go through Barron’s TOEFL material once and you will be good to go. It is also a good idea to refresh the word list from GRE (just go through it once, you need not memorize it all over again).

6. What are the various sections in the ELPE?
The various sections in ELPE are as under:

  • Oral Skills Assessment
  • Assessment of Writing Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Listening Comprehension
For more information on ELPE: http://dars.tamu.edu/Testing/ELPE
A passing score for graduate students is 70% on each of the six proficiency areas. However, for GAT/RA you need to score 80% in each area.

7. In case I don’t pass ELPE the first time, what should I do?
As per the easiness of the ELPE, we don’t see any reason why you would not pass the exam. In any case, if you don’t clear the ELPE the first time, you can always take it again. Note that the ELPE may only be taken once every three months.
If your department states that it is mandatory to take the ELPE and if you don’t pass, then you must take ELI courses (in at least one of the areas not yet passed) no later than your second semester enrolled at the University. Taking the ELI is equivalent to taking a course; it will both cost you money and will add to your workload. Hence, don’t take the ELPE very lightly. It is better to pass it in the first attempt.

8. You’re saying that ELPE is easy, yet I heard from many seniors that they could not pass it the first time. Why so?
If someone who is good at English did not make it through the first time, then there is a very good chance that he/she did not do well in the ''Oral Skills Assessment''. Texans have a very slow accent and they seem to emphasize each word when they speak. As a matter of fact, Texans think that they are the only ones who speak English; everyone else speaks God-knows-what!
We people, who come from India, speak fast and the Texans can't comprehend it. This is actually true. We speak really fast and most of the times they fail us because they don't seem to understand us. When you attend the preparatory class for ELPE (once you come here), one of the first things they will tell you is to slow down!

9. What is the Oral Assessment all about?
In the Oral Exam the following sections would be present:

  • Read out a passage from a book - this tests your skill to speak clearly so that if you take a GAT position up, students will be able to understand you well.
  • Make a short presentation - A handout will be given to you covering some material from a basic course from your background. (For instance, this student from Electrical Engineering was given material from the general area of microprocessors.) You will be given the chance to make notes and present the material for about 10 minutes - look at this as an opportunity to convince the panel that you can convert literature to presentable material. Speak as much as you can in your allotted time - as long as you make sense, it should be fine. Remember, the content of your presentation is not being tested.
  • Interview - This section is somewhat similar to the independent speaking tasks of the speaking section of TOEFL. (Example question: If you can go to a country new to you, what is the one item that you would definitely take with you?) Again, no wrong answers to the questions asked in this section. They're testing your ability to think and present ideas on the spur of the moment, and without a lot of preparation. Be fluent and clear in what you say.
These sections may vary and need not necessarily be the same. However, this should give you an idea about what to expect.

10. Is there any place I can get more information about the ELPE?
The official University website for details on ELPE is: http://dars.tamu.edu/Testing/ELPE

TAMU App: If you haven’t done it already, install the official TAMU apps. It has a variety of features for students to explore. Most commonly used feature would be that of bus routes. You should be able to see the bus schedules and also be able to track the buses in real time. The names might be new to you and so I would suggest you to ask seniors in/near your apartment complexes for common routes for the first time.

The Campus: Do note that the college campus is the third largest in the country and can be really overwhelming for new students. We’ve all been there, but the good thing is that you will only have to remember routes to a few buildings that are relevant to your field of study and that will not take time. Till then, do not hesitate in asking anyone on the campus for help. Oh and always use a ‘maps’ app. (I know Google apps to have a fair number of our common buildings registered).

Orientation*: Lots of students and staff members come together in the week and plan a considerable number of presentations that will help ease your transition into Aggieland. These will include meals and opportunities to interact with various clubs on-campus (do seek out the IGSA stall!). Extremely helpful and it’s recommended that you take the whole day out of your schedule and attend every stall you can. You should have a department orientation too.

Campus Tours*: A small tour of the most common buildings on campus and also brief information about the traditions and history of the school.

MSC/Trigon area: The Memorial Student Centre is a building that you will have to visit time and again. It has a small art gallery, various food joints and air hockey/pool tables in the basement (there’s so much more). Another important thing to note is that the MSC/Trigon area is where almost all of the buses stop, so try to make this the first place you memorise.

ISS*(a 5-7 minute walk from MSC/Trigon): You will want to go for the ISS check-in soon after you land. Ideally, book a favourable slot before you arrive in the United States so you can be done soon and be able to register for your classes. Do not miss out on the documents they have asked for (the passport, admit letter, your transcripts as far as I remember, please confirm.)

General Services Complex: There is a lot to do at the GSC and considering the fact that it’s located away from our usual spots, try to complete all your tasks in one trip. To get there, take bus no. 6 from the MSC and again, do not forget the documents you need.

  1. ID card: Be prepared to get your ID card picture taken. Make sure you remember your UIN and check for details on your card once you receive it.
  2. Heartland ECSI: It is mandatory for all students to set up their direct deposits with Heartland. You will need a bank account before you do this.
  3. Submit your transcripts and (provisional) degree certificate at the Admissions office to clear your hold.

Holds: To be able to register for classes, you will have to clear your holds. I have covered all but the vaccination/test holds but students usually get those cleared before they come here. Once removed, you will be able to register for classes. Use your howdy portal – my records – Add/Drop Classes to search for your classes and register. Look for your departmental mentors on the IGSA facebook page if you need help with selecting your courses.

Bank: You will want to open a bank account soon as having a debit card does make your life easier. Besides, you will most likely have cash on hand that you would want to deposit. It’s a fairly simple process and you will usually just need your passport and UIN (call up a bank and confirm!). There are various bank options available. We at IGSA, also try to find some added benefits/deals for Indian students which should be posted here or on the new students’ page on FB.

T-Mobile connection: Find a group of people to buy your family connection with (as those are usually the best rates). You will need a group of 5, and it is usually easy to find people on whatsapp/FB groups as soon as you arrive. You may also join groups of seniors who have an SSN number (as you can add more than 5 people if you have one). You will need to go to the T-mobile store and ask for an IGSA deal. Choose your plan and get your number right away.

Following is a list of important contacts and forums that you may want to check out while preparing for your journey to Aggieland.

International Student Services (ISS)
(979) 845- 1151 | iss@tamu.edu

Admission related queries
(979) 845-1060 | admissions@tamu.edu

Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS)
ogaps@tamu.edu | (979) 845-3631

IGSA Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/igsatamu

IGSA Website and email
http://igsatamu.com/ | mentoring.igsa.tamu@gmail.com

TAMU Fall 2016 New Indian Students - Girls Forum
https://www.facebook.com/groups/842...

Indian Aggie Classifieds
http://www.facebook.com/groups/igsa...

Indian Aggie Roommates forum
https://www.facebook.com/groups/ind...

Indian Aggie Ride Share
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Igs...

Indian Aggie Alumni Network
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Ind...

InDiaspora
https://www.facebook.com/groups/IGS...

* * STAY TUNED ON THIS DOCUMENT FOR MORE INFORMATION * *

On-Campus Jobs and Scholarships

Do you need a dollar, dollar and is a dollar all that you need?

Hey! Look no further. Here is how to get the Indian Ags manage to make a few bucks and line their pockets with moolah!

A few guidelines on on-campus jobs, scholarships and financial aid at the Texas A & M University.

Funding, Scholarships and Student Worker Positions

Will I get funding and what are the types of assistantships that I can get?

Getting funding depends on the department you are joining. Some offer it, some don't. We're sorry but while we can provide you with information that will be helpful to assist you, we do not have details of assistantships that are currently available. There are mainly 4 forms of financial support that students can get.

  1. Scholarships: This is awarded by either a department or an organization (like International Student Services, Former Students Association, etc.). If you get a scholarship, then you will get to pay tuition at in-state rate. Certain departments offer scholarships to all incoming international students as a way to help them in their first year of study. Contact your department Graduate Program Advisor to know more about this.
  2. Teaching Assistantship (commonly known as TA): These are awarded by a department and it is for the requirement of professors who take large classes. You will have to assist in grading, teaching, etc. for undergraduate students. TA pays between $900-1200 a month, and you get your full tuition waived. You may have to only pay the fees (stuff like sports fee, transport fee, etc. that the department won't pay). This is generally the only assistantship that you can get in the first semester. Keep in mind that a professor can only recommend a student for TA. It is the department's final decision on who they want to give it to. A professor can't directly help you on this, so contact the department for TA availabilities.
  3. Graduate Assistantship Research (GAR - also called Research Assistant or RA): These are offered by individual professors when you work under them on a research project. You will get your tuition, and in some cases your fee, waived. (If you're lucky you won't pay anything at all). You also get paid anything between $750-2000. You will have to contact individual Profs for this, but you have a better chance only from the second semester onwards.
  4. Graduate Assistantship Non-Teaching (GANT - Also called GA): This is similar to scholarships and is offered by departments and organizations. Generally for folks who are to work as web programmers for their website or something like that. Tuition (and sometimes fee) is waived. Pays about $700-1400 a month. This has to be followed by looking at the websites and University public listservs regularly.

How will I manage my expenses if I do not get an assistantship? Can I work on campus?
Even if you don't get an assistantship right away, you can still work as a 'Student Worker'. There are many positions that open up during the Fall semester and you are pretty sure to find something. We suggest that you don't be too choosy about what you get. If you get a job, take it up anyway. You can always leave it any time you want, when you find another better job. The money you earn will be good enough to take care of your monthly rent and grocery expenses.

What should I keep in mind when I apply for a Student Worker position?
Important things to note for Student Worker positions for Intl' students:

  • You are allowed to work ONLY inside the campus. That means you can't work in an establishment that is not part of Texas A&M University , even if it pays you a lot more. Don't violate this rule. You will be deported if caught!
  • You are allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours per week. This is strict. The only exception is break weeks (the weeks in between semesters), when you may be allowed to work full time (40 hours), if your hiring department agrees.
  • Your work permit has to be authorized by the International Student Services (ISS). This is normally taken care of by the department that hires you.
  • Your pay scale will vary from $7.25 (State minimum) to up till $12. The higher paying jobs are mainly for web programmers so it will be a good idea to learn some web programming before you come here.

Is there anyway I can search for a job before I reach TAMU?
Jobs that are posted by various departments are generally put on this website:
https://jobsforaggies.tamu.edu/

You need to login with your NetID and you can look at the various positions available. REMEMBER to look only for on-campus jobs. This website posts positions for all students, so it may include off-campus positions which you cannot apply for.

It's enough that you look for a job after coming here. You can go through the site, but you won't be able to apply without being here, as in most cases you have to submit an application form, or may have to meet with them for an interview.

What kind of jobs (positions) are available?
There are a lot of job profiles available that include:

  • Food Services (many take this as you get a good pay $7.5/hr and a free meal)
  • Web Programmer (highest paid @ $10/hr-$12/hr)
  • Lab Assistant (assist undergrad lab - about $7.25/hr-$8.5/hr)
  • Library Assistant (lowest paid $7.25/hr, but easiest and relaxed job)
  • Article writers (for TAMU's newspaper Battalion - pays @ $25 per article)
  • Office Assistant (file papers, attend calls, carry small boxes - @$7-$8)
  • Administrative Assistant (more or less like office assistant)

Scholarships? FAFSA? and more.