ahlatsiawa got a reaction from artsy16 in Have you seen this? Essay service scams.
Roll Right - In the country where I come from, having a degree is like having a key to a thousand doors. Everything from job offers to marriage proposals are based on a person having a "degree". That is why everyone is willing to do whatever's in their power to get their names on one. And, unsurprisingly, those with large pockets or access to other resources try to get them by unfair means. The situation is so bad that a few years ago when the supreme court ordered the national education commission to carry out an investigation into the submitted educational records of the country's parliament members, more than two-thirds of them were found to have forged or fake degrees. So what I'm trying to say is that in a society where so much emphasis is placed on getting your hands on a piece of paper that endorses your skills rather than spending the time and money on actually developing those abilities, things like this are bound to happen.
ahlatsiawa reacted to lrlrlrlrlr in popular things you hate
I am a foodie. I enjoy cooking and trying all different kinds of foods, and one of my biggest pet peeves is diets that are not based on logic and reason but are based on religion (kosher, halal, no meat on fridays etc). I understand someone not wanting to eat something because of animal welfare, not enjoying the taste, or an allergy..but never eating something because some book says "no"? Come on.
ahlatsiawa got a reaction from WriteAndKnit in Cellphone plans in the US for international students?
Republic Wireless. Unlimited calls, text and data for less than $35/month including taxes. Only downside is you have to buy their phone.
ahlatsiawa reacted to shinigamiasuka in Is it advisable to bring one's own cellphone to the US?
I've done a bit of my own research on this actually. From what I found, Samsung seems to sell different models for different regions, so unless the regions have carriers offering the same bands supported by the phone, it won't work. e.g. My dad's Samsung GS4 mini works fine in Bangladesh.
ahlatsiawa reacted to TakeruK in J-1 vs F-1
I am a Canadian on J-1 status. Most students are on F-1 status. There are a few differences, but ultimately, it really boils down to this:
If you have a spouse who will move with you to the US and your spouse wants to be able to work, get the J-1 status. Otherwise, get F-1.
That is really the only reason to get J-1.
There is no difference in the number of entries you get with J-1 vs. F-1. As a Canadian, we do not need a F-1/J-1 visa (i.e. a page in our passport) to enter the US, we can enter as often as we want. However, we do need to maintain F-1/J-1 status (Form I-20 or DS-2019) in order to remain in the US for studying.
Other than the spouse working issue, the second biggest difference is the 2-year home residency requirement. If you get an NSERC (home government funding) then you will be subject to this requirement. I have a NSERC PGS-D right now and my DS-2019 has the "home government funding" box ticked off. The requirement means that you must live in Canada for 2 years before you can immigrate to the US. You don't have to go back to Canada right away, just before you immigrate to the US. You also don't have to leave the US. J-1 students can undergo 2-3 years of "Academic Training" (AT) right after their PhD if they get work in their field of study (e.g. a postdoc). This is an extension of your J-1 status. Note: F-1 students have the same benefit, it's just called OPT.
Finally, the last difference that I can think of is that J-1 students must maintain a minimum level of health insurance in the US for themselves and their dependents. You must explicitly get insurance that will repatriate your remains to Canada if anything happens to you. Gruesome, but legally required!
Overall, as you might notice, there are far more disadvantages/requirements for J-1 than F-1. However, the one advantage for J-1, that your spouse can work, is a huge one and for most people, more than makes up for the disadvantages. This is why I say that the only reason to choose J-1 is if you have a spouse that wants to work in the US (and your spouse cannot get their own work authorization).
ahlatsiawa got a reaction from angellily0330 in Syracuse, NY
If you're bringing your car, I would suggest looking at Clarendon Heights and Nob Hill apartments (both are about 2.5 miles away from campus). Westcott mostly has 2-5 bedroom houses which you can rent with friends. It is also close to the downtown and has a number of restaurants. I personally don't really like Westcott because I hate living with roommates. If you're okay with that though, then you can probably cut your rent in half living in Westcott. I've been here only one winter but the roads are always clear and in the two complexes I mentioned above, they have 24 hr maintenance staff which takes care of the snow.
ahlatsiawa reacted to Kayla123 in What surprised you the most going through this whole process?
I was surprised that I got into...anywhere.
I only have a 3.2, and a guidance counselor told me not to bother applying anywhere. She said I wouldn't get in anywhere decent. I went ahead and applied anyway. And I guess all the undergraduate research paid off. I think my grades were offset by the fact I was in ROTC for the first half of college... it was tricky to juggle a math-heavy major while in the program (I'm not a math whiz).
And here I am, 12 months after she told me not to bother applying, getting ready to go to Hopkins, the top school in my field so glad I didn't listen!
ahlatsiawa reacted to sjoh197 in What subject should I put in an email when contacting with professors/doctors?
When I was emailing professors earlier last year... I talked with my advisor, and he told me that a good subject line was "Inquiry from a Potential/Prospective Graduate Student"
I used this for every email that I sent, and received a response from every (I really do mean every) single one. It seemed to work pretty well.
ahlatsiawa reacted to TakeruK in How did you find your apartment/house?
I think the real estate agent question will have a lot of different answers depending on where you are living. I am not familiar with Ohio at all. I do know that in New York City, it is fairly common and the fees for a broker is very high (~15% which is about 1.8 months rent!).
But, I think in general, I am not sure that using a real estate agent to find an apartment to rent is standard practice. To clarify, I mean hiring a real estate agent, telling them what you are looking for, and then having the agent find the listings that match your needs, call you up when they do, and show you the apartment and help you with the paperwork. Obviously this use of their time will cost money. In some instances, you will have to pay a fee (like the NYC example above) but in others, this fee may be paid by the landlord (like rising_star's example). In California, I don't think real estate agents spend a lot of time helping people find rental places because they won't really collect a lot of money in fees -- the real estate agencies here tend to do sales only. You might be able to convince a realtor to search through their listings for you, but most of their listings may be sales only.
Overall, since I don't think most grad students are looking for fancy high end rentals, I think grad students are better off searching for rental properties on their own than to hire a real estate agent to assist you.
However, if you mean "real estate agent" in the sense that you work with a company that manages buildings on the behalf of landlords, then yes, this is standard practice and a good idea. This method also does not result in any fees for their services (the landlords are paying the management company to do this work!). Depending on where you live, you may have to pay a fee to process the application and/or a credit check. Working with such a management company might also help you find more properties since these companies will be managing a ton of different buildings for a ton of different landlords. And you usually are able to search for everything they manage through their site. However, since these companies are only acting on behalf of the landlord (they don't own the buildings themselves), you will find that the properties will vary a lot in price and quality!
Finally, another option is to find a company that directly owns and operates a number of apartment buildings in your new city. They work the same way as management companies above, except they are larger landlords that actually own all the buildings they manage. This will usually result in more consistency in the quality of properties (but not always). I personally prefer this option because you interact directly with the landlord. I also prefer renting from a company that owns hundreds of units in the city and has a strong reputation from people that live there. I think renting from a corporation that owns 100s of units is better than renting from an individual that might only own 4-10 units is better because my unit represents only a small fraction of their income. That is, if they need to fix something expensive, spending my rent money that month on the fix is only a small percentage of their income that month, instead of like 10% or 25%. I also find that big corporations like this have streamlined protocols for the various issues that will arise, so that I don't have to argue with or convince the landlord/building manager whenever I need something done. I just fill out the form, follow the protocol of the lease, and it gets done as part of routine business.
ahlatsiawa reacted to TakeruK in J-2 Visa for Spouse: Employment prospects?
We were in a very similar situation, except we're from Canada and my wife did not have as much of a "professional" job as yours did. The whole process was a lot of paperwork and required a good amount of time but everything worked out pretty well! I assume you guys got the J-1/J-2 thing worked out and I'll tell you about our experience getting EAD (Employment Authorization...Document?) for my wife!
We both arrived in the US in Sept 2012. When I checked in at my school's international office, I asked about the process for applying for EAD for my wife. They gave us a large checklist of things to include and forms to fill out. You will need things like your marriage certificate (even though you probably had to provide that to get her J-2 status in the first place!) as well as copies of your DS-2019, Passports, etc. You will also have to write a letter to US Immigration explaining why your wife needs employment. Here is a slightly tricky part: You have to include a budget breakdown that shows that your stipend alone is enough to meet all your necessary expenses (rent, food, health care) but not enough for extra stuff (car, recreation, etc.) This is super strange because you need to be making the right amount -- if your PhD stipend is too low or too high, your wife can't work. In practice, it's not really a big deal because if your stipend was not enough to meet your expenses, then you would not have been approved for J-1 status in the first place. This is also why your wife can't work if your own stipend isn't high enough (they don't want J-1 students being supported by J-2 work). There's usually a form letter that your school will provide for you and you will just fill in the blanks. You also have to pay $380.
We got all this together and submitted the application for EAD in October 2012. The school checked over our package before we sent it. It takes about 3 months for them to process it and we had to provide extra info because my school forgot to tell us about the marriage certificate ahead of time. So, we had to submit that during December 2012. My wife was approved for the EAD in January 2013 and she got her EAD card a few weeks after. The school had told us that it's up to US Immigration's discretion to decide how long the EAD is approved for. Some people are approved for only 1 year but my wife's EAD is valid until 2017, or my J-1 status ends, whatever comes first. She can renew it if I end up staying here longer -- she would just resubmit all the above again about 3-6 months before EAD expires.
After you get a EAD, you can apply for a Social Security Number (SSN). At this point, the J-2 person has way more employment rights than the J-1 person. J-1s are only allowed to work on campus and our SSN will reflect that. The J-2 with EAD will get a SSN that allows them to work anywhere, with pretty much no more limitations than a regular American (except that the EAD will eventually expire). It took about 3 months for my wife to find a job, but I think that was mostly due to the lack of opportunities in the place we're living, not because she was a non-American.
I don't think companies will be reluctant to hire someone who is on J-2 EAD because of the "temporary" nature. Americans move around all the time anyways -- for example spouses of American grad students are just as temporary as a spouse of a foreign grad student. Also, your PhD program will probably be something like 5+ years. In this day and age, staying in one place for more than 5 years is pretty much permanent!
Finally, there are laws against employment discrimination based "source of employment eligibility". They can't choose to not hire someone because they got permission to work as a J-2 status instead of e.g. being American. Of course, shady employers can find ways around this, but it's just the way it is, I guess? It's not like you can really hide the fact that you're from somewhere else because your resume would show all your experiences being in another country! In reality, I think most employers don't even know all the details of whether or not you're allowed to work -- my wife didn't go into the details of what her J-2 status / EAD means in her applications. When she started work, she had to provide her SSN of course, and also show the employer her valid EAD card along with it. She would file taxes as a Non-Resident Alien, but other than that, I think she is in her employer's system as any other employee, since they really only care about the SSN.
ahlatsiawa reacted to fuzzylogician in Visa Experiences
Normally you'll get approved immediately after your interview and at that point the embassy will take your passport away to stamp the visa in it. They should mail it back within a few days or you can pick it up from the embassy. In that case it just depends on when you can get an appointment. You can schedule the appointment as soon as the international students office at your school sends you the necessary documents, which usually doesn't take long once you've been accepted. If you have the documents in April, it should be possible to be done by May--though, again, it depends on the available dates at your nearest embassy so it's hard to know exactly.
If you study certain topics, the process might be slowed down by TAL (Technology Alert List), which may take anything from a few weeks to a few months to complete. As far as I know they don't take your passport while they are conducting this investigation, it just slows the process down. However, I've never actually gone through that so I'm not entirely sure.
That said, you can only enter the US on a student status 30 days before your program begins, so if you want to travel in the US before that, you will need to enter on a tourist visa and then either leave and re-enter on a student visa, or change your status without leaving (which is sometimes not recommended, but is possible).
ahlatsiawa reacted to perfectionist in Do you keep your toothbrush and towel inside your bathroom?
I keep both items in the bathroom because (1) I'm not really worried about it, and (2) I don't have a lot of space otherwise. The bathroom has more storage space than my bedroom.
ahlatsiawa got a reaction from VioletAyame in No more of Form I-94
A strange thing that happened to me was that the immigration officer did not stamp my I-20 and I only noticed that when I was checking in with my international office. They said the officers do that sometimes and as long as you have a valid I-94 (with your visa type and duration of stay mentioned on it, which is usually D/S for F and J visa types) and a stamp on your passport, you should be fine. Off-topic but I felt I should share.
ahlatsiawa reacted to VioletAyame in No more of Form I-94
I think it might be a good idea to print it out and keep a copy with your passport. You'll need it to check in at your international student office as well as to complete most other paperwork that requires your passport, visa & I-20. I went to the DMV last week to renew my driver license since I have a new I-20 and was sent home because I didn't have my I-94 with me!
ahlatsiawa got a reaction from music in New Travel Regulations/Restrictions for US Flights
^ This comment could be taken in a very different context.
ahlatsiawa reacted to VioletAyame in New Travel Regulations/Restrictions for US Flights
We are? Funny, I don't remember the Terms & Conditions ever mentioning that
ahlatsiawa reacted to Rockpepper in Ideal backpack for 13inch laptop
Me and my friends have created an ideal hard shell laptop backpack and are promoting it on indiegogo now. We called it Rockpepper, because it Rocks! It is different from other hardshell backpacks: special messenger style belt with a pocket for the phone and special plastic surface which is highly resistant towards scratching. Inside it is all padded to protect your laptop from almost any impact.
Pls come and check and share you thoughts about it.