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Everything posted by ssk2

  1. Just to add to the bank of interview experiences. I had a pleasant experience at the embassy in London earlier this week. I was expecting to be in there for 3-5 hours but it only took just over an hour from start to finish. The (British) security guards was a little brusque but the (American) embassy staff themselves were lovely - very friendly and helpful. During my brief interview, I was asked: - Have you ever applied for a visa before? - Have you travelled to the US before? - Have you visited Berkeley? - How did your parents get the funds which they are providing for your study? -
  2. Have you tried speaking to someone on the phone? They tend to get a LOT of email and calling them up (at least in my case) yielded a more direct answer after they actually looked at my 'file'. (I had a similar but less severe delay but they gladly updated me of the status over the phone and after a couple of weeks, I had my I-20.)
  3. This sounds great - and graphics is an area where you need to be a competent engineer, so this will definitely help. Definitely include these in your resume. I'd pick the most relevant courses, like you say, and mention them in your SOP. The key thing for the SOP (which I'd wish I'd spent more time on) - is to make as directed and relevant as possible. Essentially it has to read like a strongly purposeful essay. The question you should keep in mind as you write it, 'why would this candidate make a good student?'. Include everything that gives proof for why you would be the best candid
  4. Just a heads up - Berkeley doesn't admit very many at all for the MS-only program (at least judging by this year's stats). I think it's possibly as competitive to apply to their MS program as to their PhD program so you're probably better off applying to the latter. Having been out of school is not necessarily a disadvantage - have you got relevant work experience? Or at least in the field of technology? It's beneficial to elucidate in your SoP what exactly you've gained from your time in industry (programming skills, team working skills etc.). Applying for a PhD directly would be quit
  5. I checked directly with a bunch of airlines - reason being that I wanted a direct flight so that I could bring an extra bag and my bike (doing this with a multi-hop flight would be expensive/difficult to upgrade the baggage allowance). I found the same as Andean Pat - that flights were often the same or more expensive when booking through a third party website (at least for direct flights). I also found that it was only slightly more expensive to book a return ticket than a single - so I just booked my return portion for some date in the future, it'll cost £100 to change it, but that's ch
  6. ssk2

    Help please

    There are also a few good flashcard apps for your smartphone. I used Painless GRE - which really helped.
  7. I have a friend who just moved to California from London. He held a full driving license here and has just gone through the procedure that TakeruK describes. His opinion that it was much easier (the theory and driving test itself) in California than London. Here the pass rate is very low - most people I know have taken multiple tests. He passed without any issue the first time in California. I'd suggest taking your lessons in the US - as a new driver, it's very disorienting to switch sides of the road and this will just end up costing you more in lessons. Since you're doing a PhD, the like
  8. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Shameless bump - but we're still looking for a third housemate - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/roo/3750565764.html - the apartment is really close to the Haas and cycleable to most parts of the campus. Send me a message if you're interested or have any questions!
  9. Someone has recommended this to me - http://ultra.me/ - it's a MVNO that runs on top of T-Mobile's network. I'm going to give it a go for a month at least, it seems very reasonable in terms of cost.
  10. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Which department will you be attending for classes? Campanile Court seems quite far from the university - possibly too far to walk regularly. Manville looks like a much better location.
  11. Cheers wreckofthehope, will check them out!
  12. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Check out Craigslist rooms and shares for East Bay and just filter by search term 'august'. You'll get a bunch of summer sublets there but should be a handful of listings for the start of August. I've been checking it for a few weeks now and should hopefully have somewhere sorted now for August.
  13. I've heard good things about the RI. It's one of the best places in the world for Robotics research and it's highly selective too. Personally - I'd pick that.
  14. I've been doing some research about flights to San Francisco from London, leaving in August this year and returning at the end of May next year. Thought I'd share my findings and see if anyone else has any advice - before I go ahead and book. Planning to take two bags and a bicycle by plane. I'm not planning on coming home over Christmas. Most airlines won't let you book a return flight until 11 months before the date - but I don't want to wait until June to book since it's highly likely that the outbound flight will become more expensive by more than the cost of changing the inbound fligh
  15. Another +1 for Asher's Graduate Admission Essays book. Very helpful as an international applicant - albeit without any CS specific examples. I also found Graduate School: Winning Strategies for Getting in with or Without Excellent Grades quite useful, if a little outdated.
  16. What do you want to specialise in?
  17. Good point actually - bear in mind that the Air's RAM is fixed (i.e. soldered onto the motherboard) and is not user upgradeable. So go for the most you can afford if you want to future proof your Air. The SSDs can be upgraded but it's a pain and will work out more expensive than upgrading at time of purchase.
  18. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Awesome cheers! BTW, did you by any chance (assuming from your username) stay in BSC accommodation? I'm considering their graduate house (Hillegass Parker House). Do you have opinions for or against staying there?
  19. ssk2

    Berkeley, CA

    Another question as a cyclist commuter - how feasible is it to cycle year round? Are there ever many days where it rains heavily enough to make cycle commuting a bad idea? Secondly - how bad is bike theft? I lock my bike around central London often and I've never had any problem (although I'm pretty sensible about locking up the frame and looping a cable through both wheels).
  20. Just to add more fuel to the conversation - I currently own a base model 2011 11" MacBook Air and love it. Mainly because of the size of the thing - it's so damn easy to take around with you. It's also extremely durable. I carry mine at all times without even noticing it's in my backpack (it weighs a little over a kilogram). A few months after I got it, I was hit by a car while cycling and managed to roll over the car with my MBA in my backpack. Not a single scratch or dent! I've had a look to see if I could find a similar ultrabook to replace it with since I want something with more RAM f
  21. You've got two fantastic offers! I think Stanford offers a good mix of courses - they have several that cover robotics (although given your background, perhaps these would not be interesting to you) and you benefit from all the varied other CS courses they offer. Whilst I wouldn't choose a graduate school on the basis of being able to learn to windsurf, Stanford's entrepreneurial culture is quite unique - and I'm not sure you would get the same experience at CMU. It really depends on what you want to do afterwards - if, as you say, it's not just robotics I think Stanford would provide
  22. Hello, I'll be joining the EECS MEng program starting in Fall 2013. PM me if you're also joining the MEng program (EECS and otherwise)!
  23. Commiserations dude. Have you heard back from UMich yet? You should have a great chance there no?
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