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The Greatest Challenge Of Grad School Will Probably Be Getting There!


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I'm now on the count-down to Fall 2013. I can't be the only international forum member looking ahead and thinking "Gosh, the tough part will be getting myself into the States..."

 

The visa application &  F1 interview isn't causing me too much stress - I successfully obtained a J1 several years ago. The hidden challenges are:

i. Attempting to complete the pre-immunisation requirements my school requests...only to find that my electronic immunisation medical records back in the UK have gotten lost. I've transferred GP surgeries a few times, so evidently the paperwork hasn't followed me. I'm hoping the immunisation records surface eventually

 

ii. Realising that I'm missing one vaccine and then panicking because you're supposed to get it in 3 instalments over 3-4 months and you barely have 3 months left in the UK (Luckily the Hep B immunisation can also be done in 21 days).

 

iii. Going online to book your one-way flight to the USA...and finding the price is ~$900 more expensive than you were expecting/can afford. And having to hunt around online to find a cheaper flight with complex transfers that arrives at the more-distant airport (in my case JFK rather than Newark).

 

iv. Wondering how you will afford to relocate with your current low-wage casual job, given that most of the costs will be upfront and come before my first grad student stipend kicks in. 

 

Good luck to all the other soon-to-be grad students out there! I hope your preparation is going more smoothly than mine...

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ii. Realising that I'm missing one vaccine and then panicking because you're supposed to get it in 3 instalments over 3-4 months and you barely have 3 months left in the UK (Luckily the Hep B immunisation can also be done in 21 days).

 

iii. Going online to book your one-way flight to the USA...and finding the price is ~$900 more expensive than you were expecting/can afford. And having to hunt around online to find a cheaper flight with complex transfers that arrives at the more-distant airport (in my case JFK rather than Newark).

 

iv. Wondering how you will afford to relocate with your current low-wage casual job, given that most of the costs will be upfront and come before my first grad student stipend kicks in. 

ii. You can get that one and only vaccine in the U.S. if you wish, just communicate with your school, get your school-affiliated/associated insurance plan ASAP, and get that immunization done.

 

iii. Consider this software and bookmark the websitehttp://matrix.itasoftware.com/

 

iv. That is true. Which is why you need to save more money for relocation and "start-up". You can also look around (physically, or craigslist) for cheap, used furniture and whatnot, if necessary (or talk to the senior students from the same program and see if they are willing to give away things that you need, whether temporarily or permanently).

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I'll second aberrant's point about immunisations -- you can get it done at the school. There is no vaccine requirement to enter the US, only to enroll in the school, depending on the state. My school also wanted a physical, which cost me about $120 in Canada (since it was for a 3rd party, it wasn't covered by our national health insurance) and I found out later that I should have waited until I arrived and then got it done for free, covered under my new school's health insurance! Oh well. 

 

Some schools also will offer a no-fees, no-interest startup loan to help with initial costs until your stipend kicks in. I got $2500 from my school, which you pay back in 18 monthly installments starting 6 months after the loan issue date.

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Immunization, oh, dear.

 

The health practitioner I visited insisted on administering ALL the vaccines that corresponded to my age range at the same time. I ended up getting enough vaccine doses (and some injection bruises) for a lifetime.  :rolleyes:

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I'm now on the count-down to Fall 2013. I can't be the only international forum member looking ahead and thinking "Gosh, the tough part will be getting myself into the States..."

 

The visa application &  F1 interview isn't causing me too much stress - I successfully obtained a J1 several years ago. The hidden challenges are:

i. Attempting to complete the pre-immunisation requirements my school requests...only to find that my electronic immunisation medical records back in the UK have gotten lost. I've transferred GP surgeries a few times, so evidently the paperwork hasn't followed me. I'm hoping the immunisation records surface eventuallyGosh, I lost all my vaccination records so I had some tests run. It's not too complicated, they just test your blood for antibodies. It's even easier than finding those records. 

 

ii. Realising that I'm missing one vaccine and then panicking because you're supposed to get it in 3 instalments over 3-4 months and you barely have 3 months left in the UK (Luckily the Hep B immunisation can also be done in 21 days). Check this out. In my school you can register missing only the last shot (and you get it done there). Moreover, I have had the first two shots when I was around five and the last one a couple of years ago. Yes, it was SO expensive then that my parents couldn't afford it so I got the last one as an adult. 

 

iii. Going online to book your one-way flight to the USA...and finding the price is ~$900 more expensive than you were expecting/can afford. And having to hunt around online to find a cheaper flight with complex transfers that arrives at the more-distant airport (in my case JFK rather than Newark). It's always more expensive a one-way ticket than return. This is like a natural law of air tickets hahaha :D I bought a return ticket although probably I am not going to come back on that set day. Furthermore, check out prices because if you book your return around a national holiday (in your country or in the States) it tends to be more expensive. ;)

 

iv. Wondering how you will afford to relocate with your current low-wage casual job, given that most of the costs will be upfront and come before my first grad student stipend kicks in. Have you got some savings? Can you borrow some money? In my case it is not worth it because the dollar is very expensive here so a loan won't help much. But if you are from Britain, I'd suppose you are in a better economic situation, no matter how low your salary is. However, I am not an economics geek so may be I am wrong... hehehe :P

 

Good luck to all the other soon-to-be grad students out there! I hope your preparation is going more smoothly than mine...

Thnx!!!

 

My greatest challenge is money. I am arriving in the States way before my first stipend and thus I must upfront first time expenses (such as a coffee machine!) and normal expenses with my savings, which are worth less and less everyday because of ongoing inflation. My current salary is not bad, but I can't save much these months because I am paying for the visa, SEVIS, and the air ticket. Only these three items are worth 150% my salary :(

 

But we'll make it there :D:P

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I'm most concerned about point iv.  I've been saving and saving, I hope it's enough!  I was able to find a one-way ticket that was cheaper than the return on two of my flights so it is possible.  I use skyscanner.net when I'm looking for deals on flights and it hasn't let me down yet.

 

I'd like to get the study permit application behind me.  It's giving me sleepless nights!

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I used Skyscanner as well, it was pretty straightforward. 

I think the trouble with coming over in the summer or fall is that it's peak holiday season for the airline companies, so all their tickets are more expensive...

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Skycanner didn't work for me, mainly because it was more expensive than buying directly the ticket in the airline (this particular airline). But I think that from Europe it should work perfectly! :)

 

Travelocity seemed very good, but after several attempts I couldn't book my ticket but I was charged the "booking fee" by the company. WTF?

 

I've also heard of expedia and one else which I cannot remember, sorry. 

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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 cheaper than buying another single! (Although I guess I'll have to buy a single ticket at some point if I decide to stay...rather than rescheduling flights constantly.)

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I had the same problem with ssk2 (return ticket was cheaper than one-way). The only solution I could find after many searches was a "cheap" ticket from studentuniverse. It was cheaper than the return ticket, but of course more expensive than the one-way leg of a return ticket.

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I usually use kayak.com to look for flights because it lists prices from airlines and third parties. I've never found anything cheaper.

I booked my one-way flight from Germany with Iceland Air for about 500€. I thought that was an okay price for the season. The great advantage is that a second bag is included and bringing a bike from Europe is only 39€. However, they only have a few destinations in the US. Luckily, mine is one of them.

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I usually use kayak.com to look for flights because it lists prices from airlines and third parties. I've never found anything cheaper.

I booked my one-way flight from Germany with Iceland Air for about 500€. I thought that was an okay price for the season. The great advantage is that a second bag is included and bringing a bike from Europe is only 39€. However, they only have a few destinations in the US. Luckily, mine is one of them.

 

That's the other website I was forgetting!!! 

 

ohhhh you are so lucky, my air ticket was like U$S1700!!! And that's cheap!!! :P

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