> Following post was shared by Sivarama Karthik Vijapurapu.
I am Sivarama Karthik Vijapurapu, an MS-EE student at University of Kentucky, Lexington.
I started my MS in the fall 2011 here I am rolling the experiences of my journey to the USA into one single post. Read on..
Engineering in India
Being an engineering student in India, I was as confused as a rabbit caught under headlights on a highway about what I wanted to do further. I still try to remember the exact moment when I decided that I am going to do a Master’s degree but thankfully, I know why I am doing one now.
Initially, it seemed the only chance to get away from home to greener pastures which allured me during my brother’s US exploits (Yes, it runs in the family).
Cutting to the chase, I started preparing for GRE and during my 2nd year BE itself.
Thanks to some mentors, online resources and HSB, I scored a decent score of 1360.
Here, I can’t emphasize enough to people who are preparing for GRE to cultivate speaking in English.
Even though you might be an object of ridicule among your friends (True story! I used to speak with girls only in English…hehe), it is very vital to your performance because when you start speaking , you will gradually start thinking in the language and when that happens, writing an essay isn’t that tough a job anymore and also helps to face the all-important VI.
Fortunately, I did internships at industries all through my engineering year summers and I believe that it is what helped me in my admission and subsequent funding for my MS. Also important is to keep in contact with your supervisors during internships as they provide valuable references during job search.
USA – University Selection
Next up was university selection, I searched for a few universities which had good Power system research and scope of funding which I found to be UKY as it had the Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky(PEIK) funded by the DOE.
Initially, I received a full tuition waiver letter but after exchanging a few e-mails with the program director, they issued me a new I-20 because I expressed doubt about a letter being considered during the VISA interview. My TOEFL exam went well too and I got 105.I took tips from HSB and a few other online sources to write my SOP.
Strangely, I had a tough time convincing the bank authorities about my loan because I did not have much security to show and the bank guys were of the opinion that I did not need a loan as I had scholarship.
I believe that, had I shown my I-20 without the funding, the process would have been more easier.
It is important to calculate your expenditure and I advise taking money in travelers cheques rather than card as there were instances of erroneous transactions when my friends used cards issued by Indian banks.
F1 Visa Interview
My VISA was on 7th july ’11 at the Chennai consulate which almost was a cake walk. I rehearsed it for like a week and went to the interview all dressed up.
Me: Good morning Ma’am. How are you doing today?
VO: Good morning. I am doing pretty good. How about you?
Me: Fine,thank you.(waiting with nervousness)
VO: Can I see your I-20 and Passport? That’s a nice tie you have there. (this last sentence caught me off guard)
Me: Yes…after a few seconds, I remembered to thank her about the tie compliment.
VO: Looking through the I-20.Entering info on her computer. Comes to the funding column and compares it to the Tuition Fee column. A faint smile and she starts typing at break neck speed.
After a few moments,
VO: What other universities have you applied for?
Me: I have applied for FSU, UCincinnati, Missouri-Rolla,Virginia Tech and UKY. I received admissions from all universities except for Virginia Tech.
VO: What program are you going for?
Me: I have planned to take up Power Systems Engineering madam. It is a field of engineering which is dynamic,vital for technological development and made a connection to my undergrad project and my interest in the course.
She stays indifferent staring at the computer screen and starts typing again
VO: Congratulations, you have been issued a VISA and you will receive your passport in a week. Good luck!
Me: Thank you. Have a good day.
My tip for VI is not to show desperation and ‘sir’ing the interviewer profusely. I collected my Passport the same evening at the VFS office which is close to the consulate.
Travel to USA
Bags were packed, and even before I realized, I was in USA. But guys, I would suggest that after you get through VI, take some time out with your family especially parents instead of hustling too much for things.
Unless you don’t have enough time, don’t worry much about packing things that you can buy here. I moved in with seniors who knew all the A-Z about MS life, so I could get all the basic things done quite easily.
Living in USA
Living in the USA is an all together entire experience that I can write about.
To keep it simple, I saved money on the first semester by not eating frequently out.
Bought a laptop and camera during the thanksgiving sale and went to Florida. It was truly a marvelous experience and I will surely remember those first 6 months life long.
To give a few tips from the experiences I have learnt about my time in the US :
- Make friends, not just with Indians but with anyone. (I promised myself to make a new friend every week).
- Try not missing the homework and project deadlines at any cost. If you have to, intimate the prof before hand.
- Attend all departmental events.( You want that mail from the professor about an internship/job opportunity, don’t you?).I had a friend who missed the orientation and took some crazy courses and because of that will be paying tuition for an extra semester.
- Go out and watch your college sports. You should be able to tell which sport your college was famous for. To those of you who don’t know, my university is the NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion for 2012.It was most awesome experience watching the game with scores of people and jumping in excitement after the victory.
I could finish my course work in just two semesters by planning well (seniors zindabad!) and I am spending the summer working on a very exciting topic for my thesis and hunting for jobs with plans to graduate in Dec ‘12.
All went well for me and I believe that with hope, persistence and focus, it will be the same for all you dreamers out there.
Thank you, peace out!