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Pre Departure Orientation

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First things first

Being admitted to an international college or university and getting a student visa are the first steps of major development in your life. Your preparation for this experience began when you applied for admission to the school and for the visa.

The next steps take place while you are still in India. "First Things First" is about things you can do before leaving India in order to better prepare yourself for your new life. It is also about things you should do as soon as possible after arriving in the destined country.

"First Things First" contains much information and many suggestions. You may not be able to follow all the suggestions because you will be busy. But, the more you can follow, the better. Here's a quick reference of this session. But it is suggested strongly that you go through all the topics carefully.

  1. Read Your School's Information
  2. Practice Your English
  3. Make Travel Arrangements
  4. Make Financial Arrangements
  5. Contact Your School's Indian Student Association
  6. Obtain Medical, Dental, and Vision Examinations
  7. Pack Properly
  8. Arrange for Housing
  9. Purchase Health and Accident Insurance
  10. A Pre-departure Checklist
  11. Reflect
  12. On Arrival

We conduct a seminar on all what is mentioned here. You can find much assistance live from our counsellors there. Please do try to make it to the session to find updated and much detailed information.

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Read Your School's Information

Your school has probably sent you some printed information. Be sure to read that information carefully. If you have questions, direct them to the office that sent you the information, unless that information itself tells you to send your questions somewhere else. It is most efficient to e-mail your questions.

Use your school’s Website to learn more about the institution. Some schools’ web sites are comprehensive, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. Others are less. So, whatever the quality of your school’s site, you ought to review it.

Probably you have already reviewed the parts of the site concerning admissions and your own field of study. You should also look at the site for the International Student Office (ISO).

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Practice Your English

Current and former Indian students studying abroad strongly agree that the most important factor in a successful Student experience abroad is English proficiency, both spoken and written. As soon as you know, you are moving abroad for higher education, you should seize every opportunity to practice speaking English. In particular, practice understanding spoken English and speaking it with other people.

It is best to practice with native speakers of the country you are moving, so you can hear their pronunciation and intonation and adjust your pronunciation so they can understand you. If you cannot find a native, look for tapes, CDs, DVDs, radio or television programs, or movies. Do everything you can to practice the language every day. This may be inconvenient while you are busy preparing for your trip, but it will prove invaluable later.

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Make Travel Arrangements

If you are going to fly to your school, make sure you get a ticket for the airport nearest your school. Otherwise, you may have to spend precious money and time getting to your school overland.

Be sure you know how you will travel from the airport to your school or to the place you will be living. The information your school sent you should include detailed instructions about this.

In many cases, new students from India get a ride from the airport with a Indian Student Association member. However, you should not assume that someone will pick you up at the airport unless you have made a specific arrangement.

Not all new students fly all the way to their new school. Some fly to a coastal city or some other place away from the school. New students do this in order to visit friends or relatives or to see tourist sites. Then they continue to school via air, rail, or bus.

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Make financial arrangements

Your school has sent you information about the costs of living and studying there. Read that information carefully. In addition, keep the following in mind.

  1. In your application for admission and for a visa, you provided documents assuring that you had enough money for all your expenses. From the Country's viewpoint, this documentation means you actually have the money, or at least have ready access to it. If you do not actually have the money or access to it, you should not go to the country. Living is expensive abroad, especially if you have a spouse and/or children who cannot work and need health insurance, and financial aid for foreign students is in very short supply.
  2. Do not assume you can obtain more financial aid from the school after you arrive in the country. You might be able to, once you have proven your academic merit, but you should not assume you will.
  3. If you will have a graduate assistantship from the start of your studies, remember that
    1. Some of your salary will be withheld for income taxes;
    2. Before you can be paid you will need to go through some procedures to obtain the Country's social security number and to “get on the payroll” at your institution;
    3. you may not receive any pay until sometime in the month after school opens; and
    4. your assistantship may last for only one year even though your program continues for several years.
  4. It is wise to have a budget, a plan showing how much money you will spend for each major aspect of your life, and where that money will come from.
  5. Obtaining a credit card in most of the countries can be impossible or at least prohibitively expensive for a foreign student.

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Contact Your School’s Indian Student Association

On most medium- or large-sized university campuses there is an organization of students (and, if relevant, scholars) from India. It may be called the Indian Student Association, the name used there. It may have some other name instead, often including the word “friendship.”

Indian Student Associations (ISAs) provide many services for their members, usually including transportation for new students arriving at the airport, train station, or bus station. ISAs typically have web sites that include information for newcomers. ISAs sponsor social activities and serve as a link between students and scholars on the campus and Chinese embassy or consular officials.

You will want to contact the ISA before leaving India to find out what information they offer about your campus and what services they can offer you.

Keep in mind that ISAs are not official college or university organizations. Some are better organized and more helpful than others. Some provide more complete and accurate information and a wider range of services than others. Use your own judgment to decide how much involvement you want with the ISA at your school.

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Obtain medical, dental, and vision examinations

Medical, dental, and vision care are very expensive abroad. The student health insurance at your school may or may not cover dental and vision care. You can save money and get service in a more familiar setting if you receive medical, dental, and vision examinations and treatments before you leave India.

If your school requires any vaccinations, find out whether you can get them before you leave India. For instance, some schools require students living on campus to obtain a meningitis vaccination before they are allowed to begin their studies. Such a vaccination can easily cost about $100 in the United States.

If you are currently taking any traditional medicine, you will want to take a supply with you. Such medicines are available in large American cities, but not elsewhere.

If you have dependents accompanying you or joining you later, they too will want to get these examinations and treatments before leaving India.

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Packing

What clothing and household items you should pack for your trip will depend on your destination country — What the climate is like and what shopping possibilities exist in the place you will study. Refer to information from your International Student Office and Indian Student Association.

Wherever you are going to attend school, you should take certain documents with you in your carry-on luggage, in case your checked luggage is lost.

A note about “lost” luggage: It is not rare for checked luggage to be “lost”. Usually, it is found and returned to the owner within a day or two. If your luggage is lost you will be asked to fill out a form that includes a description of the bag—size, color, material, design and also the address to which you are going. Once the bag is found, it will be delivered to that address, usually free of charge.

The airlines have limits on how much they will pay a traveler for a bag that is lost permanently. Airlines provide information about these limits.

Remember that Department of Homeland Security personnel at the port of entry are authorized to search you and all your luggage when you seek admission to the country.

Additional items to consider packing: Recipes; Tapes or CDs of favorite music; photographs of family and friends; items that reflect life and traditions in your part of India, such as photographs, music, musical instruments, artwork, or folk costumes.

Remember that your luggage will be subject to security clearances during your trip. Be sure to follow current guidelines (which your airline should provide) for packing your luggage so you do not create problems for yourself and perhaps suffer travel delays.

Label your luggage, inside and outside, with your name and your address at the school you will be attending. (If you do not have an address yet, you can put your name c/o the address of your International Student Office.)

Also, please be sure to learn about your airline’s policies concerning luggage: size, weight, and any other matters.

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Housing

Pay close attention to the housing information your school sends you. The student-housing situation varies greatly from one educational institution to another. For example, some small colleges require students to live in college residence halls, leaving few housing choices to the students.

On the other hand, some large universities have little student housing and are located in urban areas with limited housing. New students bound for such schools are encouraged to arrive at least a week or two early to allow time for finding a place to live.

Some schools have deadlines for applying for on-campus housing. So, first, you need to understand what housing situation you will face.

Most new students will have several other matters to consider:

  • Arrange Temporary Housing,
  • Selecting Permanent Housing,
  • Leasing conditions prevailing in the destined country.

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Purchase Health and Accident Insurance

Health care abroad is extraordinarily, sometimes unbelievably, expensive. It is Only foolish or being impoverished if you fail to buy health insurance to help protect themselves and their dependents from large medical bills. And even if you buy insurance, you should be sure that you have enough savings to pay for some medical bills. Many insurance companies require you to pay the bill first, then request a reimbursement from them. Reimbursement checks sometimes take several weeks to arrive, and sometimes do not cover the total amount you spent.

You should buy traveler’s insurance to cover you during your trip and the early part of your stay abroad, unless you already have insurance that will cover you outside India.

Many higher-education institutions require foreign students (and sometimes all students) to buy health insurance. The immigration regulations require students and dependents to have health insurance that meets specified standards. Your school should inform you about those standards.

Your International Student Office will provide information to you about health-insurance policies that are available to you at the school you will attend.

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A Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Obtain a passport for yourself and any dependents who will accompany you.
  • Obtain a student/exchange visitor visa from the country's counsulate.
  • Make arrangements for health and accident insurance that will cover you (and your dependents) during your travels and the early part of your stay.
  • Learn how to get to the school you will attend, and make your travel arrangements.
  • Reconfirm your flight reservations 72 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • Give your family a contact number in the destined country, such as the number of the International Student Office or an officer of the Indian Student Association.
  • If doing so is possible and reflects your preferences, apply for School-Sponsored Housing(residence hall or apartment).
  • Pack you carry on bag.

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Introspect and Retrospect

Before you leave for the country, you may want to think about your goals and expectations for the experience. Doing so can smoothen your adjustment process and help you get maximum benefit from your stay.

You can think about these matters in your own mind, write for yourself some notes about them, or discuss them with someone whom you think can be a good advisor for you.

First, what are your goals in studying in the country?

Second, what are your expectations?

Whether you are aware of it or not, you have in mind ideas about what your experience as a student in the country will be like. Those expectations help determine your reactions to the actual experience. Your expectations may be realized, but they may not be. Your experience can be more positive if you are aware of your expectations and think about how appropriate they are.

To help you consider in more detail your expectations or assumptions about being a student in the country, you can introspect and retrospect a hundred times before you actually start. You will not know the answers to all these questions now. Even so, it helps to think about them.

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On Arrival

For most new students, the days immediately following arrival in the country are extremely stressful. The students are tired. They have pressing concerns about where they will sleep and eat. They are overwhelmed with the large number of new things, from the climate and the smell of things to the workings of the transportation system. Their ability to communicate in English is limited, probably more so than they expected.

And, they have many things to do:

  • Visit the international students' office.
  • Find Housing.
  • Open a Bank Account.
  • Apply for a Social Security Number(If Necessary).
  • Attend Orientation Program(s).
  • Visit Your Academic Department.

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