TO DOs AFTER VISA & LANDING - Graduate Student Association

Start your packing well in advance
- Usually doesn’t work :) We guys did not. We can gladly advise you to.
Buy two good boxes - they should be able to withstand a lot of mishandling. They should be as
large as possible within the size limitations (however most airlines are not very strict about
baggage size). Put identification marks and labels both inside & outside the boxes (apart from this
the airlines will also provide you with adhesive labels).
Box specifications
As an example the Air India economy class baggage specifications to the USA are given below.
Note the specifications may be different for other countries/airlines.
2 pieces of baggage with total linear dimension (l+b+h) not exceeding 270cm (106"). Moreover
the total linear dimension of each piece should not be over 158cm (62").
The weight of each bag should not exceed 32kg (70lb) [note: they are not very particular about
this when it comes to students, but you can exceed by too much]
Carry on baggage: In addition you can carry a bag with linear dimension not exceeding 115cm
(45") onboard (fits beneath the seat).
If you are taking a break outside USA/Canada contact your travel agent or airlines for details.
- The baggage sizes are almost standardized. Be careful about the weight of your baggage. You
might save frustration at the airport when you are leaving.
Do tie the suitcases with nylon ropes, as the boxes are thrown when changing flights and can
very well be damaged / broken. The airline authorities will repair / replace accordingly
Things to be kept in the boxes - checklist
Copy of all certificates/documents (originals in hand baggage)
Important application materials (SOP, reco letters, admit letter, etc)
Necessary books/notebooks (some suggested books are - Clark's Tables, a good
dictionary/thesaurus, a booklet for units conversion) [note: there should be no legal
hassles taking Xerox copies of books - but don't flaunt them to Americans/Profs]
Copy of address book/telephone book/diary
- Leave important phone numbers of people both in the US and in India with your
Some stationery and related items suggested (not absolutely necessary - just for the first
few weeks) screw driver - a tool kit might help.
Medical history files
Gifts (suggested: rollable pictures, handicrafts, etc)
- a gift for your advisor would be appreciated by him greatly.. Especially if he is an
American...make it ethnic...
Non-technical books (fiction/religious). [note: second-hand story books are cheap in the
1 pair leather chappals, 2 hawai chappals (+ extra straps)
Soap (bath), toothbrushes (slightly costly in the US - 1 or 2 bucks) etc Do not bother to
bring washing soaps / products. You will be using washing machines here and you can
get the detergent here.
- get just one soap cake and one toothbrush... If you are choosy about some Indian brand
soap or something due to medical reasons or preference, carry lot of them. You can
actually get good razors and shaving foams here...but if you already have a real good
razor, bring it along...
Usually clothes are machine washed once a week (Laundromat) - hence one week
supply of clothes (+ one week backup) is needed. Get all clothes little loose - clothes may
shrink in machine wash & you will probably grow fatter.
- clothes will shrink and you will grow fatter...the frequency of washing will actually
depend on you...
1. 14-15 sets of undergarments, socks, handkerchiefs
- Get some 2-3 pairs of socks. Socks are quite cheap here and available at $5 for a 6
5 sets of good shirts, pants
- Maybe more if u are lazy & do laundry once in 2 weeks.
- you get good jeans here from $10 onwards unless u are too brand name conscious...
a good swimming trunk + few shorts
a tie + 1-2 belts
- get the belts in india
3-6 ordinary towels
a bed sheet
- Should say bedcover. Also get a couple of pillow covers.
- the pillows here are of a different size than those in India...
lungies/dhotis/pajamas/night wear
thermal underwear (1-4) Though Buffalo is very cold, not all people use thermal wears.
Depends on your ability to bear cold. Costs around 10 bucks a set here. one set should
do, at most 2. U can buy it here, since u won't need it till November end.
extra woolen sweaters. Winter wear is also relatively cheap here, so don’t bother carrying
jackets from India.
Food stuffs
Below are some food stuffs that may be taken :
1 - 2.5 kg packets of "Sambar Powder"
1 packet of "Rasam Powder"
0.5 box of "Masala Powder"
1 box of "Upma powder", "tamarind rice Powder"
Get some instant powders...for tamarind rice, rava idly, idly, dosa, rava dosa etc..
mustard packet
tamarind paste
different daals in small quantity for initial phase
asafoetida powder
Indian instant coffee + Indian tea (takes some time to get used to American stuff)
Elaichi, clove, cinnamon
Note: most of these items are available in the Indian stores in Buffalo. However you need
to carry them for use in the first few days.
actually pickles are not allowed - but you can take them in solder-sealed tins. [students
are usually not checked for these] - students are almost never checked.
take all dry food stuff in sealed plastic packets
- some of the instant stuff is not so good, the sambar esp...but rava idly ad tamarind rice
mix are good...
You will be required to declare the things that you are carrying, on landing at the port of
entry. You can say dried Indian spices and that all that you are carrying are sealed.
Big pressure pan and cooker (with spare handle, 3 safety valves, 2 weights, 1 base plate,
3 gaskets)
You can get good electric rice cookers here.
Idli plates
Make sure the idly plates fit into the cooker...the pressure cooker is usually used only to
cook dhal or idlys...
Dosa turner, charani (server with holes), rice server & other servers
Small bowls
Kadaie (optional)
- Costs some 20 bucks for a nonstick huge kadai. Bring stainless steel vessels of varying
sizes, for rasam, sambar,... & lids for each of them + karandis. SS karandis r not availble
here. Also SS spoons. U might get some micro containers for ghee/o il, sugar, spices....
People usually buy a full non-stick kitchenware set after they come here...a tumbler
would help...once you get the non-stick stuff you wont be using the stainless steel can also get the micro/macro containers here...
Non-stick kitchenware is cheap in the US. You can buy a full set, sharing with your
List of medicines recommended by a Doctor
Crocin tablets - 3 strips
For fever, body ache, headache
One tablet three times a day as necessary
Erythrocin 500 mg tablets - 2 strips
One tablet twice a day when necessary, as advised
Sporadix 500mg capsules - 2 strips
One capsule twice a day when necessary, as advised
Actified tablets - 3 strips
Cosovil tablets - 2 strips
For common cold & cough.
One tablet three times a day.
Avomin tablets - 1 strip
For air sickness.
One tablet as necessary.
Lomotil tablets - 20
Digene tablets - 30
For diarrhoea & stomach discomfort.
One tablet of each three times a day.
Baralgam tablets - 2 strips
For abdominal colic pain, backache, etc
One tablet every six hours as necessary.
Dorstal tablets - 10
For nausea & vomiting.
One tablet three times a day.
Electral powder - 2 packets
One teaspoonful mixed with drinks to make up loss of
electrolytes after vomiting or diarrhoea.
Novalgin tablets - 2 strips
For headache & bodyaches.
One tablet as necessary.
Stomatil tablets - 1 strip
For vertigo (giddiness)
One tablet three times a day as necessary till relieved.
Isogel (Glaxo) - 1 box
For constipation.
One teaspoonful in a little of water at bedtime.
Brufen 600mg tablets - 2 strips
For arthritic joint pains.
One tablet three times a day after food.
Avil tablets - 1 strip
For allergy.
One tablet as necessary.
Sepmax tablets - 1 strip
For sore-throat.
One tablet twice a day after food, till relieved. NOT TO BE TAKEN WHEN ONE IS
Relaxyl ointment - 1 tube
To be applied as a pain balm.
Band Aids assorted - 12
Soframycin skin ointment - 1 tube
Things to be kept in Hand Baggage
Some medicines (including for air-sickness)
Novels/mags/books for in flight reading
Original important documents (I-20, visa, tickets ...)
Enough money (little cash, travellers' checks)
Address book/phone book (Indian & US)
Copies of your photo (passport size)
Enlisted steps to be followed in case of emergency (accident, theft, etc)
Things to survive for a week in case luggage gets misplaced / You miss a connecting flight (two
sets of clothes/towel), addresses etc)
Things to be kept on person
Shorter extract of contact addresses - especially of people coming to pick you up.
GISA contact phones and addresses.
Receipt got along with travellers' checks - in case you lose the TC's
A pen
Have your passport and visa number in your wallet too...
Things to be left at home
List of addresses/phone numbers at which info about you can be obtained (GISA
Contacts / Emergency contacts)
One copy of all your important documents
A copy of all relevant parts of Medical History files
Arrange to collect/redirect mail from your room/hostel
Arrange to apply/collect/mail your transcripts (about 20 in number preferable)
Your tailoring measurements
A few blank signed papers - so that your parents can be authorized to look after anything
on your behalf
Things to be done in the last week before the flight
Call up & find if there is any delay or change of schedule of the plane (inform the people coming
to pick you up of any such change)
Rest well - ready to face the long journey/jet lag
Bid bye to all concerned
On the day of the flight & in-flight + later
Since it is going to be a long flight wear something comfortable (cotton dress + full hand shirt).
Wear your shoes – in flight you can remove them (some airlines give in flight shoes - else relax in
It will get cold inside the flight have a sweater or sweatshirt handy
Be at the airport 3-4 hours before flight departure
Collect $20 at the airport (part of it in $1)
If you get Forex from banks you will get only 100$ & 50 $ bills. You better get smaller
denominations from some agency at Spencer plaza.
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.
Veg. food is generally bland - fruits/juice are good choices. (Before ordering anything on board
check if you have to pay for it separately for it). Don't hesitate to ask questions.
Once out of India be very careful (from sheer experience of seniors).
Don't trust anyone. No one is gonna help for free. Especially in the US, if someone (even with
airport id) offers to help you with your luggage, say No thanks. They will work only for tips – At
least 10 dollars.
Don't hire a taxi (unless emergency) till you reach your destination. If absolutely required don't
hesitate to spend money.
Sometime before landing the flight attendant will distribute customs declaration forms &
immigration forms as mentioned below. Fill these out on the plane (you will submit them to the
appropriate authorities when you land). Do not hesitate to take the flight attendant's help.
Form I-94 - fill in the plane. After seeing your documents immigration officer will indicate length of
stay, University, etc. This will be attached to your passport. Important: note the expiry date and
D/S (duration of status).
Form I-20 ID copy - all transactions regarding your non-immigrant status will be recorded in this
form. This should be retained at all times (not surrendered when you temporarily leave the US).
Your admission number will be given - memorize it & note it elsewhere. Usually they write it on
the visa. If not, write down and keep it in a sfae place.
Just before you land the correct local time will be announced - set your watch [dual time watch
will come in handy here]
Once you are out of the plane go straight to the immigration counter - rush for them to beat the
queue. It might take 0.5-1 hour here. Keep your I-20, passport, admission & aid letters ready.
They might ask a few questions like - is this your first time in the US ? Student ? F-1 visa ? Which
Univ ? They will attach an I-64 card to your visa.
Remember to give both the official copy & student copy of I-20. Don't forget to collect the sealed
student copy.
You are now in the USA !
Then go to the baggage are to fetch your luggage. Pick up a cart (you get this at a machine for
$1) to carry the bags. Then pick up your bags as they come out on the conveyor (suitable eyecatching labels help here). If you don't get your baggage in form the enquiry section - you may
have to wait 0.5-1 hour here.
Cart your baggage to nearby Customs. If asked tell them that you are a student, F-1 visa, school,
dept., coming to US for the first time. If asked to open the baggage do so slowly - do not mess up
the place. If asked about the "powders" tell them that they are "dried Indian spices" to make
traditional Indian food like curry. Rarely they might ask you to go to the agricultural department
customs, probably if you carry cumin - jeera - If asked about "vibuthi" tell them that it is holy Hindu
powder used for prayer.
Note : In most cases you will NOT be asked to open your boxes at all & will be simply waved
You might take another short flight to Buffalo in most cases.
After Landing - ONCE YOU ARE HERE
Now go to the baggage claim and wait at the nearest exit for the guys who are supposed to pick
you up. If nobody turns up after some time (say 0.5 hour) make a collect call (at the public phone
dial a '0', get the operator & ask for a collect call). Else call the GISA emergency cell phone
number or International Students' Office any Indian phone number you have. Go & ask for an
announcement to be made over the PA system. Get a card, write your name & hold it up.
Never leave your baggage unattended. Don't go out of the airport until somebody comes &
picks you up.
Once you reach your friend's house (or other destination) call home & inform them of reaching
safely. - call home immediately... Or you should be able to email. Ask for emailing where you are
temporarily put up.
Reaching the University from where you are staying:
You can walk down to South Campus from where you are staying if you stay near South Campus.
From South Campus you will get Blue Bird / Coach USA (Free bus service run by University
every 15 minutes during day or every 1/2 hour after 5 o'Clock during school) to go to North
campus. Other way is to catch someone who is going to north campus and get a ride. You can
get more info about the Blue Bird service on the Bus Stop. : Campus bus schedule
Finding a House and arranging for utilities:
You may stay near South or North Campus. Most of the Indian students stay near South
You can start looking for a house as soon as you are here.
0. Start looking for the partner's from the student's who came new with you. Make a group of 3-4,
as most of the houses are 3-4 bedrooms near south campus.
1. Once you decide on your house partners start searching together. Start searching for houses
near South Campus (if you want). Just walk on the streets and you will see the signs saying
"House for Rent". Note down the landlord's phone number.
2. Call the Landlord to schedule for an appointment to see the house. Before making appointment
ask him few questions like number of bedrooms, rent he is expecting. Clarify things such as,
heating, utilities, electric bills, whether it is additional or it is included in the rent.
3. If you feel that rent is reasonable, schedule for an appointment to see the house.
4. When you see the house make sure all the things are working fine or if you feel that some of
them may need repair/improvement please clarify this with him/her. Inquire about the heating bill
that is expected during winter. It could be anywhere between $100 - $200 /month for the house.
5. If you like the house and the deal, ask your seniors with whom you are staying and make sure
that anyone of them is there while signing the lease. Lease is usually, signed for nine months or a
year. Check all the conditions in lease like security deposit, refund of the deposit etc.
6. Once you decide on the house you will be staying in, start calling Niagara Mohawk -1-800-9320301 (for electricity), National Fuel - 716-686-6123 (for Gas) and AT & T or MCI or Verizon
(whichever gives better deal) for the basic utilities.
7. Getting these connections may take 2-3 days.
More about phone connections... Verizon provides you service for the local calls. It is always
advantageous to take flat rate options service rather than taking limited number of calls service.
AT&T or MCI will provide service for your long distance (within USA) and international calls
(including India). Call both MCI and AT&T and discuss the deals they are offering and choose
best of them. Check for the service charges apart from the basic rate/minute. Take call organizer
service as it becomes easier to divide bills between your housemates.
Opening a bank account:
You can open a bank account at HSBC (at the junction of Kenmore & Englewood) or at M&T
Bank (near Tops) which is very close to South Campus. It takes 15-20 minutes to open an
account. Take your passport and I-20 with you. Open a checking account. Deposit all the
traveler's checks and cash you have brought with you. You will get a debit card from bank, which
can be used to withdraw or deposit money from ATM (Automatic Teller Machine).
Things to be done at university on the first day:
0. Get your SUNY UB card. Go to the UB Card office at the UB Mart in The Commons building in
North Campus. The fee for the card is $20. This can also be done in South Campus (Harriman
Hall) on particular days. Check it out. You can get your photo taken and get the card will be
issued immediately.
1. Swipe into any of the CIT centers (Capen, Lockwood in North, Diefendorf in South) and get
your email ID and password. This is important for finding a job and getting email access.
2. Those who are in Engineering School will get separate eng account after basic acsu account.
This account can be activated at Bell Hall room number 101.
3. Make your resume as soon as possible. Resume format that is required here, is quiet different
than that in India. You can print number of copies it in any CIT computing center. Do not waste
money copying at the copy machines.
4. During Orientation do not forget to apply for your social security number.
5. Try to register the courses you want to take as soon as possible, as many times courses get
full and you may lose good courses. You can visit the website and see the available courses in
your department. You can register for courses online. Initially you can register maximum of 18
credit hrs. So register for as many as you can. Later on you can attend classes and choose
between the courses. You usually have some 3 weeks time for this.
Food :
Those who are non-veg should not have much problem finding the food on campus or off
campus. You can get good food at Burger King and other cafeterias on campus. Keep 5-10$ with
you on the first day.
Those who are Veggie's can get Veggie Whopper at Burger King or plain fried rice at Young
Chow (Chinese Restaurant)
Finding Job or Assistantship:
To earn $$$ while you study there are two ways.
a. You can do part time job which pays between 5-8$ per hr. This job can be in library, computer
lab etc.
b. You can get assistantship from your department which will be either TA or RA .You can also
get assistantship from other departments or administrative offices which are called GA (Graduate
Assistantship) which covers your tuition and you will stipend depending on your position (it varies
from 600-1000$ per month).Initially your goal should be to get funding from the department itself.
If that seems not possible then you may try to find graduate assistantship and job.
0. As mentioned above first thing you should do is to get your resume attractive. As most of the
jobs (for engineering students) are in computers try to show good computer skills (as a lab
assistant skills means knowing windows and MS Office).
1. You can get GA in administrative offices and technical centers
2. You can do job as a computer lab assistant or in libraries. Try to visit as many offices as
possible and submit your resume to them. Do not forget to apply on South Campus. There are
many jobs on South Campus also.
3. You cannot work off campus during the first year of your study.