Student Experience : Journey to University of Kentucky With 100% Scholarship

Raghuram Sukumar Study in USA 16 Comments

> 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 :

  1. Make friends, not just with Indians but with anyone. (I promised myself to make a new friend every week).
  2. Try not missing the homework and project deadlines at any cost. If you have to, intimate the prof before hand.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

Comments

  1. You finished it all off in a year, congratulations on that! But wasn’t it hectic? How many courses did you have to juggle in a semester? The university I’ll be attending has a minimum requirement of 9 credits per sem, and I think I’ll stick to that. Even though it doesn’t seem like much now, going by what everyone says about how difficult and stressful it is (“You hardly get time to sleep/cook/do chores” type stuff), it seems to be the sensible thing to do, not to over-burden yourself?

    1. Hello Anisha,
      Thanks.I took 4 in the 1st semester and 5 in the second semester.It was hectic all right,but we usually take 5-6 courses in undergrad in India,so I was used to it.I won’t brag much about working hard and difficulties but it is really stressful.All that I did was being focused.That was the key!

      But I reckon,if you are confident enough,you can go for the full monty.It seemed sensible enough for me..:)

      Good luck with your MS.

      Karthik.

      1. I am very happy after seeing your information Bro. I am into my final year of Electronics and Communication Engineering. I am going to complete my GRE and TOEFL soon. Can you just tell want are the present trends or the courses which have better future in US. related to Electronics and Communication engineering

        1. Hello siddharth,

          Its a complex question you’ve asked.As far as I know since Iam working in Power area,it has wide range of opportunities to be explored.Smart grid technology being introduced will have a great impact in the no of opportunities.

  2. Hi Sivarama, looks like you’ve grabbed the US experience bull by its proverbial horns. Good for you! I am glad you shared your experiences here, especially your point about making friends outside of the Indian community and getting involved on campus, athletics, etc. I can’t stress how important that is, as you assimilate into this culture. As someone who came as a student 20+ years ago, I’ve been preaching that ever since.

    The only thing I didn’t like about your post is that you had to brag about UK winning the national championship. As a Kansas Jayhawk myself, I’m still sore about that loss :((

    Best of luck with your job search

    1. Hello Mr. Girish,
      I appreciate your generous compliments.The IKC centre mentioned above is truly a great help for aspiring students.My wishes!
      Well yeah,I had to wear the 8th national championship pride on my sleeve.Couldn’t help it..:)

      Thanks for the wishes.

  3. super dude..really helpful for a wannabe MS student like me..struggling to plan and doing nothing but imagining the things…after reading this post people like us can ignore the ‘imagination’ part and focus on the ‘implementation one..

  4. superb one dude…very useful for a wannabe MS student like me..well done

  5. hii
    Thank you karthik for this very helpful post. I too m interested in ms in power systems and am applying in 2013 spring. Can you please share you contact information(is possible)? I have loads of queries and it would be really nice if we could have a chat or something.

    Thank you

    1. Hello ananya,

      HSB does not allow sharing contact info in comments.Find me on facebook if you want to contact.Iam the only guy with my full name…:)

  6. Congratulations !your persistence and goal setting paid off.your best is about to come.Thanks for the honest post.many will benefit from it.

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