my journey to the U
Thee's first day experiences here prompted me to write my own experiences. My journey to Minneapolis was indeed a very long one.
The name of my home town is Palasa. Its located remotely in the southern part of India. I had to travel 400 plus miles by train to reach the nearest city with an international airport, Hyderabad. Prior to all this, after my admit was confirmed I got in touch with 5 other students who were admitted in the University of Minnesota and who had plans of traveling to the USA from India via the same airport which I thought of. Establishing contacts happened through various email groups and social networking sites, thanks to the Internet. Simple Google searches with key words like "UMN + Fall + 2008" threw lots of relevant information.
My scheduled flight from Hyderabad was supposed to start at 2.00 AM. Unfortunately it got delayed by 4 hours, which left us all sleepless that entire night and we ended up exploring every nook and corner of the airport. The flight started at around 6 AM to Mumbai where we had to catch another flight to Chicago. We reached Mumbai at around 7.30 in the morning. And we boarded our flight to Chicago at around 10 AM. After that, I just lost track of time with all the changing time zones. After 10 hours of flight journey we reached London's Heathrow airport. That is one of the most tiring journeys of my life with very little chance to move legs and all. After a 4 hour break in the Heathrow airport, we had our flight ready to Chicago. And I was in the USA after being in air for another 7 hours.
Chicago airport happened to be a big mystery. After the immigration check, my baggage didn't appear on the baggage belt for very long time. And by the time it appeared, I missed contact with other people I traveled all the way from India. And one of my suitcases dropped all the way from top of the escalator doing multiple somersaults (luckily no damage happened). After all the confusion, I could find other five people to learn that our flight from Chicago to Minneapolis was delayed by 3 hours. Finally, it was 2 AM (CST) in the morning by the time we reached Minneapolis. We had volunteers from Bharat group waiting for us at the airport to pick us. And they helped me find temporary accommodation in a Material Sciences PhD student's house. With all the multiple journeys I did and the jet lag, I was very tired and slept for next 16 hours. That next day, I was all set exploring the East bank and West bank offices to have my holds removed.
Lessons from my experience:
Its good to form a batch while you travel from your home country to USA.
Its better if you have some of them in your batch heading to the same university you got admitted into.
Plan your journey in such a way that you reach Minneapolis during the day (unlike me). It will be easy to people who come to pick you (if someone is coming for you). Or if you are on your own, it will be much easier in getting used to the new place and in finding a cab.
Have a folder which can accommodate all your documents - visa related, certificates etc in an accessible way. You might be asked multiple times to show them during your journey.
Having a backpack which can fit in all the things you will need during your journey is a good idea.
MP3 Player, books and what not to kill time during your flight
And what else? Feel free to ask questions/doubts/concerns.