Student Stories

My First Week in the United States (Paid $175 Fine)

Sameer’s First Week in the Unites States as a Student. He has some very good advice to students and it looks like he just had escaped from huge trouble.

Usually, the excitement about the unknown is good. But believe me, you got to heed to the advice of your seniors. Otherwise, you can land yourself in big trouble. The real problem is that a simple wrong step can lead to a string of unwanted troubles.

$175 Fine

Just to quote an instance, it was just a week into the semester. I was issued an ID card by the university.

My roomie (who’s living here for close to 2 years) wanted to take a chance and use my card for a free ride on the rapid (local trains).

I was hesitating but he took the chance and got caught using my card. The officer on duty charged him with a fine of $175 (the ride would have cost him just $4).

Also, the officer called me up and gave me a good dress-down. I was left speechless. He warned me and had asked me to come down to his office to collect the card in person.

I was fortunate to come out unscathed from this, but I am sure this thing about me must be in the records.

There is no guarantee you won’t get worse than this. So keep by the rules. Stick with your buddies.

Stay Away from Bad Elements

Don’t do any venturing on your own. Do not get distracted when you are out.

Especially when you are walking alone, socially bad elements may try to catch your attention. You should not mind nor respond to them.

On Priority Tasks

  1. Self Care: Take care of your documents. Try finishing your paperwork quickly and store them in a safe place. Buy winter care products if you are to brace for cold weather.
  2. Part Time Job Search: Hunt for an income source right away from day 1.  This will take care of your living expenses. Campus jobs could be like:
    • Parking lot attendant
    • Lab monitors
    • Office attendants
    • Lab technicians (these may require certifications to be completed online)
    • Computer repair technicians
    • Special language instructors

    Hunt for those opportunities.

  3. Market yourself: Try knowing people from your department. Visit professors and department offices and try to know about opportunities available. Who knows? A professor might be looking out for a student with special skills in a certain subject.

Remember: College seniors are the best source of information as they have " been there and done that". Get hold of them, bug them, get information and make your own moves based on what they had shared. But remember to share with others what you have learned.

Related: How to Stay Healthy While Studying in the USA

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  1. Hi HSB,

    If we are going to US for the first time, definitely we are not going to have any friends there. So, are we going to find a lot of Indians over there ? How to find room mates…?? Will there be a lot of guys like us looking for room mates ??



  2. HSB and Sameer,

    Wonderful post. Can you give a few other anecdotes that you and/or someone you know experienced in U.S. (ex. some other cases where you/your_friend got fined or nearly got away with it…). I am from India and you must know that we here are lax when it comes to following rules. Posts like these give us an idea regarding U.S. system and help us when we ourselves go to study there. As they say, prevention is better than cure…

  3. Woow… this is the best post ever.. So many advices were very valuable.. thankya.. Im a person who tries to follow the rules strictly by nature.. The other advices were very informative.. Can u write a blog on the details of different part-time jobs that'll be available in a campus and how to approach them? <> and dont forget to give valuable tips like this.. i always longed for someone to give tips like these.. and if possible mention how they will differ in diff places(like how it will be in Michigan and Louisiana)… thanks again.. lookin forward to posts like this.

    1. the thing within the brackets were : Take care of your documents. Try finishing paperwork quickly and stack them in safe place. Buy winter care products in you are into for cold weather.

    2. Harish – I have given Sameer list of topics to write about. It covers lots of basic stuff and interesting things that a student will do in day to day life.

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