1. Hi. I am a B.E. student
with a G.R.E. score of ****.... Do you think I can get admitted to UCI?
The admission is a very subjective decision made by the admissions committee, the process of which is still unknown to students. Be judicious about where you apply. For example, would you apply to a management degree in a good school if you wanted to really study Philosophy, just because your chances are better? Do some soul-searching. Why should you come here to study, when there are good schools in India? What do you want to gain from the whole experience? Who do you want your peers to be? What kind of jobs do you want? Be honest to yourself. UCI is a good school, so your profile has to be somewhat respectable. Admissions depend on a number of factors, such as GRE, work experience, previous research, recommendation letters, academic scores, publications, TOEFL, SoP, and so on.
It could be said that PhD. admissions are a
factor of previous research, publications, G.P.A., and recommendation
letters. Of course, there is also the question of who (faculty) is
willing to recommend you and that depends on how well your interests
align with the Professor's.
2. Woohoo, I received the I20 today. Should I go to UCI?
It depends on your department and research area. The ranking varies every year, and it varies for every department. That said, grad school rankings are not a good way to assess school profiles. These numbers are based on a number of factors - the size of the school, number of publications, faculty size, faculty-student ratio, and so on. Some departments of UCI are not as massive as the other schools. Another factor to keep in mind is that UCI is a relatively new school, only a bit more than 50 years old. This impacts the amount of contributions that the school has made. In general, it is a very good school, but has not gotten into the top league yet (again, it depends on your research area). If it helps, the current ranking of UCI maybe obtained from one of the rankings list (for e.g. http://www.usnews.com/usnews/
3. How do I get funded?
Very few undergraduates and Master's students come to UCI with funding. You could probably come here and then look for funding in the department. One always stands a better chance if he/she directly talks to the professors. Also, there a lot of on campus jobs available. Most of the on campus jobs fetch a basic monthly salary sufficient to manage your monthly expenses, but not the tuition fee. So even if you don't get a funding from the department, you can manage monthly expenses with an on-campus job.Refer to the finances section for more information.
4. Is Reverse Engineering (or XYZ) area hot?
Frankly we don’t know. Further, Hots and Nots keep changing every 6 months to a yr. So whatever is “Hot” now is unlikely to stay Hot till then and vice versa. Don’t worry too much, just take up something you like and have aptitude for.
5.Can you check my admission status?
The short answer is no. The long answer is that we are not authorized to find details about the admissions. The confidentiality of information of a student is maintained very strictly. The Departments and the International Center can provide the details of the documents.
6. Can you let me know the names and email addresses of people in XYZ department?
We shall post names of students who themselves have volunteered to have their names and department listed on the web page. You may contact them.
7. When are decisions made regarding admissions?
Depends on which quarter you are applying for. For fall, students’ start receiving admission letters as early as March and admissions continue until late June. A word of advice is 'apply as early as possible'. Make sure your admission file is complete.The basic requirements are the completed forms, transcripts and official scores. Only after receiving these, your packet is forwarded to the respective department.
8. What are the pre-requisites for the courses in my department?
Contact the respective department for all information related to academics. Besides, the department will have to look at your transcripts to determine that.
9. Oops, I have got some pre-requisite courses, which I think I have already taken!
Usually students do not enclose a description of the courses, which they have or will be taking. It is very difficult for the graduate admissions committee to know what you have covered by simply looking at the course headings (since names differ). It may be helpful to send syllabus/curriculum details along with your application packets. If you have not done that so far, and have been given pre-requisites, you may try to waive them by sending a letter attested by your college/university stating that you have covered the necessary topics/subject under so and so course name. You may even get them waived after coming here by producing the necessary syllabus/curriculum details or as required by the respective department.
10. Can I defer my admission?
Yes you can. Inform your department (administrative person in-charge) regarding this and they will provide more information in this regard.
11. What if I decide not to join UCI?
Inform your department (administrative person in-charge) in this regard and you may be asked to return your I-20. It is courteous to inform that you will not be joining since another deserving student may be offered the financial aid that was offered to you.
1. To carry or not to carry, is the question!
You will find that there are a zillion things that you can carry but the space you have is limited. Carry only as much as you can manage. Most airlines allow upto 70 kgs as checked-in baggage and another 5 -8 kg as cabin luggage (these are upper limits and vary slightly with the airlines). Some essential items that you will need to consider getting are:
* Books: Textbooks are really expensive out here. So buy all the books that you think that you would like to study out here. Try to contact your adviser or someone in your department to find out what books are used for the typical courses. Get all the good general reference books that you already have. There is additional information about books in the department information link. For engineering graduated, the following books usually useful: Engineering Math (Kreyszig), C/C++ (K&R/Stroustrup), Unix (K&P), primary textbooks (Papoulis, Tanenbaum etc.). Optional: dictionary, calculator, cookbooks etc. Books, unfortunately, will also be the heaviest portion of your luggage, so choose wisely.
* Clothing: Jeans/shorts and T-shirts are standard wear here. Shirts and trousers (and ties) are not so common, but are useful for formal occasions (job interviews/presentations etc). Get what you feel comfortable in. Minimal warm clothing (e.g. a sweater or two) is sufficient as the weather here is usually warm. There is typically no snow during winters but it does get awfully cold during nights. So if you're from a "hot place", it is advisable to get a jacket or two. And don't worry if you can't. You'd have enough time to go shopping here before the winter starts. Traditional wear is a matter of choice.
* Footwear: Sneakers, good formal leather shoes (which are much cheaper in India), chappals/sandals, slippers with extra straps will all be useful. Again depends on what you feel comfortable in.
* Linen: 1 double bed size bedsheet, 1 pillow, light blanket. The pillow and the blanket can be left if space/weight is a consideration. They are available quite cheap here. Do not get too much linen. The beds here are usually larger than the beds back home, and the bedsheets and bedspreads that you get from home fit very poorly. Its better to buy these items here.
* Utensils: Most graduate students cook in their apartments. So you will need all the basic stuff needed for cooking. A pressure cooker (a large one if you are sharing with your roommates) with spare gaskets and safety valves is probably the most important kitchen item you can get. Get at least one steel vessel to cook vegetables in. Either a pan or a deep bottom vessel. There are a lot of non-stick cookware available here but it is not very cheap (unless bought second-hand). Consider getting dinner plates, small plates, spoons, tumblers, knife, forks, (all these either 1 or 2), cooking tongs, tea strainer, ladles for serving, sauce pan, frying pan. Plastic spoons, knives and forks are very cheap at the local grocery stores, and need not be packed. A cup, a glass, and a bowl (both microwaveable) should provide the rest of what you need. Or you might want to get steel plates and glass and buy the microwaveable stuff here. Get a couple of larger spoons for serving/cooking.
* Foodstuffs: Condiments and spices, small quantities of standard masalas, sambar and curry powders, pickles, and some sweets (for us!) are recommended. Pack everything REALLY well, especially the oily and/or pungent stuff (like pickles), otherwise your clothes will look and smell like dish-rags at a dhaba! Almost everything is available at the Indian grocery stores but you might consider some of the stuff for starters. Do not bother getting daal, rice, flour etc. They are quite cheap here and there is no need to increase the weight. You could consider getting the following in small quantities so that you don't have to ask for a ride to the Indian store on the very first day: tea leaves, instant coffee powder, dhania powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, mustard seeds, jeera (cumin), heeng (asafoetida) etc. (whatever you think you'll use in your cooking).
* Medicines: Your favorite medicines for minor ailments like fever, cold, cough, stomach-ache (like Paracetamol, Cetzine) etc. and any other personal medication, antiseptic cream are a must, since the medicines available here are not necessarily the same as in India. If you need corrective vision, a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses as the case might be, is strongly recommended. A doctor's prescription is required to buy spectacles and contact lenses here and the doctor's fees are exorbitant and the insurance does not cover eyesight. So get your eyes checked before leaving.
* Money: For off-campus housing you'll be required to pay an intial deposit (one month's rent) in advance. Plus you'll have initial expenses in settling down. This all can add up to around $1000. If one has financial aid, it usually takes about a month (or a month & a half) to get the first paycheck. An initial safe amount to bring is about $1500. It is also possible to get loans for decent amounts of dough ($1000 to 5000 and more) from local banks and credit unions. Traveller's cheques and personal drafts are easy to use and should pose no problem at all.
In summary, we would recommend that you concentrate on your
choice of books, and get a good pressure cooker. Linen, most clothing
and some cutlery (spoons, etc.) is best bought here after your arrival.
However, please remember that these are only suggestions to help you
make informed decisions on your packing. In the end, trust your
judgement and common sense.
1. I'm traveling on an international
flight for the first time. Any pointers?
The hard reality is that almost all flights are going to just bring you in one piece without a heavenly experience, if you are flying economy. Air India is cheap and decent (best offer is possible if you call the customer care and ask them for a quote). Lufthansa is also pretty decent. Pack wisely. Bring a change of clothes or two, in your hand luggage. Distribute photocopies of your documents in the bags. Maintain a list of your items and keep it in your purse/wallet. Use any technique to distinguish your bag, especially if it is black and has wheels, such as taping it, color-coding it, sticking your name and address, tying a ribbon, etc,.
2. What is the best possible route?
There is no "best route" as such. It varies from individual to individual with different constraints like flight availability, luggage (some airlines allow more luggage than others), the place where you intend to leave from, etc. The ideal place to arrive would be LAX in Los Angeles, which is the nearest international airport to Irvine. Even better, the Santa Ana airport.
3. What about luggage handling?
Even if your luggage is booked through to your final destination, it will be off-loaded at your port of entry. So if the port of entry is not your final destination, please check your luggage carefully. It is your responsibility to pick up the entire luggage off the conveyor belt and take it through the customs area. DO NOT PANIC if the officer asks you to open the luggage. It will be in your interest to pack it with your own hands in India, so that when you un-pack it at the airport (if at all!!), there should not be a condition that the stuff in an unpacked condition is twice as much as the one initially packed in!!
4. What if my luggage gets delayed or
If by any chance your luggage does not seem to pop up on the conveyor system, look for it for a certain finite amount of time. Beyond which, contact your specific Airline-office and fill up a DELAYED / LOST LUGGAGE form. Give them the destination address and phone number so that they can ship it there, after it arrives. There is a fair chance that the luggage might have got shipped to another destination or would not have been uploaded on your plane at your connecting airport (Frankfurt / London etc.) See to it that you fill up the form before leaving the premises. Do not be rude but be firm while dealing with the airline representatives. And do not panic too. It'll come home safe.
Of course, carry a spare set, or two, of clothes in your hand
5. What are the documents I should be
carrying while traveling?
Carry your Passport, I-20, cash, traveler’s checks and entry permit on your person, or in a handbag that you carry into the cabin. Do not put any cash in the baggage you check in. Incidentally, you won’t need more than $100 during travel, unless you want to do some duty-free shopping. Carry the rest of your money in the form of US travelers' checks. Make photocopies of main documents and stuff a set in each bag.
6. When is a good time to arrive?
Coming to UCI depends on financial aid and your own convenience. If you do not have financial aid then, coming 10-15 days before the first day of classes is ideal. That will help you look for an on-campus job (or assistantship) and also adjust yourself to the place. Those with assistantship can arrive a week before the first day of classes.
7. How do I get to Irvine from
Shuttle from the LAX Airport at $45.There are numerous ones and you would most definitely spot one as soon as you step out from the international arrival terminal.Tell them you wish to go to if you don't manage to get someone to pick you up and if you don't have a lot of luggage.
8. How to get around the city?
The cheapest way to get around the city is through OCTA (bus transportation). Check schedules at http://www.octa.net/
9. What do I need to do once I reach
These are the things you need to do (not necessarily in order) once you are here:
*Get your UCI e-mail account activated.
*Get your Identification card (UCI ID).
*Attend the Orientation program(s).
*Open your Bank Account.
*Contact your department and your adviser.
*Get an apartment to live in.
*Get your social security number (in case you have a TA/RA/on-campus job).
*Start having a good time at UCI.
10. Some miscellaneous advice
* Please take all facts and calculations into account before starting your new adventure here. The rules and regulations here concerning all aspects viz. academics, policies, university/government rules are very strict with no exceptions or waivers.
* Please do not direct your queries to many people at a time. Kindly understand, we are ordinary students like you guys. We ourselves are busy here, kindly give us time for your reply.
* This is a bad phase in this nation's economy, so take that into account. The economic slowdown has affected both jobs and funding at schools. Plan for long term goals, its an important phase/transition in your lives.
* Please don’t ask us about other universities, we don’t have any info about them. We'll end up giving you wrong info most of the times. And, kindly be specific in your questions.
Finances and On-campus jobs:
1. What is the Tuition fee at UCI?
The info regarding tuition fee is available at http://www.reg.uci.edu/
How long does the typical Masters student take to graduate with just coursework?
Normal time to graduate for Masters: 5 quarters.
Year here is divided into 4 quarters. 3 of which are normally for studying and the summers are normally for internships. So you can finish your course in 1 yr and 3 months. Note that this is only a rough estimate and will depend on your program. For eg, MS Biotechnology students have compulsory research towards their degree requirement in the second year and take 6 quarters to complete.
2. What are the living expenses like in Irvine?
Ballpark estimate for living expenses:
Living expense ~ ($500-700 /month) * (# of months)
3. How is the on-campus job scene in UCI?
Yes, there are jobs around campus - but as is the case with all jobs you'd have to hunt them down. If you are persistent, you might be able to find something within the first few weeks itself.
4. Will I get funded at UCI?
If you show promise as a researcher, then a Professor might fund you. Look for T.A. or reader positions and on-campus jobs. Any money is good money, if you can balance your life. However, be careful as to not jeopardize your grades.
5. What kind of assistantships are possible?
Teaching Assistant(TA) positions:
Every quarter, the TA positions in UCI are awarded by the respective departments. Students have to apply for a TA position by filling the application forms available with the concerned department, once the person reaches here. In some departments, all the students get an email from the academic co-ordinator informing them about the available positions and the procedure to apply for the position. In a few cases, if you are working under a professor for you thesis or just individual research, the Professor might recommend you to the department to TA his/her course. Having research experience in the course you plan to TA will help.
The various factors that are considered for granting the TA position are:
TOEFL/SPEAK TEST/TSE Scores - TOEFL iBT (speaking) score is a sufficient criterion for your language proficiency. If you have taken TOEFL (CBT), then you should either take the TSE/SPEAK test. If you have not appeared for the TSE, then we'd suggest, if you have got some time before starting from India then do that. Otherwise you will end up paying in $$ to appear for the test over here. The other option is to appear for the SPEAK TEST, which is considered sufficient in lieu of a TSE in UCI. You cannot appear for the SPEAK TEST in India. You can do that when you reach here. The SPEAK TEST is administered on- campus frequently. In view of the limited seats each quarter, it is suggested that you should enroll for it as soon as you reach UCI, so that you don't have to wait for months to get a date for the test. In most cases, the test seats get filled on the same day that enrollment opens.
Under-graduation GPA - Anything above 3.5/4.0 adds to your chances.
Facts: Rarely does someone secure a TA position in the first quarter, unless the person has been committed a TA position in the I-20 itself as a form of some financial aid/support from UCI. This may be given to some of the exceptionally brilliant students and not to everyone in the form of Fellowship or Scholarship or similar heads of funding. Moreover the Graduate Advisor wants to see what courses have you taken in UCI and hence for what courses, you can be considered as a TA. So scramble starts from the second quarter to grab the few positions available. You compete with P.hd students as they are awarded the positions first.
Research Assistant (RA) positions:
The RA positions are awarded by the professors in the concerned dept. and not by the department. One can apply for a RA position in other department also, but the department prefers students from their own department. The professor while awarding the positions considers the following things:
1.If you have taken any courses under him/her in the previous quarters. If so, then what was your grade in that, if not then will you be taking any courses if he awards you such a position. The other way around to look at his coin is, how far the Professor knows you and if you are in his good books.
2.Are you interested to work under him in his research areas? Now if the professor is into Wireless Communications and if you go and tell him that you are interested in doing something in Digital Signal Processing, then better not waste your efforts and chill, as the result is bound to be NULL. So the students need to study the areas in which the professor is into and then try to work something which will convince him that, yes, you can be the right person on which he/she can think upon.
3. Does the professor have some funds available for research projects/work or for some industry related projects on which he is working? If not then the chances of awarding a RA is again very remote.
Students may like to get in touch with the professors (the information for each department and its professors is available on UCI web pages) when in India and can explore if he/she responds and offers something. The university website (www.uci.edu) gives the email addresses of all the professors of every department. It also gives information about the fields in which they are working. Usually, one might contact the professor and write to him/her about his/her interests. If the professor is interested, he/she will get in touch with you. It is always a good idea to have contact with the professors by mail and let him/her know who you are. Inform them if you have got an admission. They will be more interested in you once you have been admitted. If not immediately, you might improve your chances of getting aid when you come and meet him/her personally.
6. How much does an on-campus job typically pay? Can I take care of my living expenses?
Well, that depends on the job and on how much you spend :) Some jobs pay more than others, some people will have to spend more than others. But on the average, it definitely helps to cover almost all of your living expenses (with some surplus too in some cases!). If you get (49% time) TA, you get approx. $1600/month plus all your instate-tuition (about 3500 USD) is waived. However, jobs at UCI bookstore or dining services pay around $8-10/hr, so if you work 20 hr/ week its around $600-800/month. Technical jobs, for example, managing a computer lab, tend to pay ~ $15/hour.
7. With the hectic course load, do we have time for on -campus jobs?
It may be tough initially, but hopefully you'd get used to it. After all, it is a necessity to work while studying in the US for several people and they do manage to pull it off. Manage your time well and it shouldn't be a problem. Don't jeopardize your grades.
8. How can I apply for an on-campus job?
Use the following link. All the jobs (other than RA, TA, Grader) are usually listed. You can also land a job through word-of-mouth or by just going to every dept and inquiring.
You will have to create a profile first. Then click on jobs-zotlink jobs/internships. Select on-campus non-work study and ignore national jobs- yes.
9. Some advice about on-campus jobs:
* Everytime you go to an office on campus, ask if there are job openings for students. Even if there isn't an opening at that moment, see if you can leave your name, phone number, and qualifications.
* Read the New U for notices of jobs available.
* Check out the posters on kiosks and Humanities Bridge.
* Certain offices rely heavily on student employees. The UCI Student Center, Library, and Special Events Parking are good possibilities.
10. What are the required materials to seek employment?
If you or anyone in your family intends to seek employment in California, you must be aware of legislation passed in 1986. Under the Immigration Reform Act of 1986 all employers are now required to document ALL individuals to certify that they have a right to work. The following materials (some or all depending on the job) must be available at the time a person is employed:
* Current U.S. passport
* Certificate of U.S. Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization
* Unexpired foreign passport with attached Employment Authorization,
* Alien Registration Card with photograph,
* Unexpired temporary resident card,
* employment authorization card,
* reentry permit, or
* refugee travel document.
If one of the above documents is not available then two of the following documents will be needed, one from Group A and one from Group B:
GROUP A: State-issued driver's license or I.D. card with a photograph, and information including name, sex, date of birth, height, weight, and color of eyes, or U.S. Military Card, or other approved I.D. card.
GROUP B: Original Social Security Number card (other than a card stating it is not valid for employment), birth certificate issued by state, county, or municipal authority bearing a seal or other certification, or unexpired INS Employment Authorization.
11. How many hours are allowed to UCI students per week? Is it different for different schools/depts?
All international students are allowed to work for 20hrs per week during the school time and 40hrs per week during vacations. The amount of time you're actually able to work will depend on your course load.
12. Can I work off-campus?
Students on F-1 visas are not allowed to work off-campus within the first 9 months. Under extenuating circumstances this restriction may be waived, but only with prior permission from the Immigration and Naturalization Services. The Immigration Department is very strict about permitting F-1 students to work off-campus, even if the situation appears desperate from the point of view of the student. Spouses on F-2 Visa are not allowed to work under any circumstances.
1. The UCI site mentions that we have to maintain a 3.5 GPA. I have not seen such requirement in any university.
In most other schools, you have to maintain a GPA of 3.0 (not 3.5) to stay in grad school. Maintaining 3.0 in grad school is relatively easy (compared to undergrad) and almost everyone manages to do it. Most schools might have equivalents of this rule. So yes, maintain the 3.5.
2. Are there any minimum requirements for passing?
In grad school B- is fail, hence >95% of students get at least a B (3.0/4.0). this means maintaining 3.0 (or 3.1. or even 3.5) is relatively much easier than it initially appears. I do not know of any Indian facing problems because of GPA. As long as you are sincere it should not be a problem.
Particulars of coursework differ from department to department, so it is advisable to refer to your department website for details.
1. What is the procedure to apply for on-campus housing? Can we book it now before we get our I-20?
Go to housing.uci.edu, printout the application form and mail it to the said address. The form allows you to apply for the Verano Place (VP) and Palo Verde (PV) housing communities. Apart from this, graduate students can apply to Vista Del Campo (VDC) and Vista Del Campo Norte (VDCN), two privately owned housing communities that are a part of on-campus housing. VDC and VDCN have a different form, so if you are interested in that, mail in that as well. Check www.housing.uci.edu/vdc for details.
2. What are the rates like for these apartments? And how big are they?
For PV and VP, you can find the current rates at: http://www.housing.uci.edu/
3. What are my chances of being allotted an apartment on campus?
UCI has a Guaranteed housing program for PhD and MFA (Master's in Fine Arts) students. Details are given at http://www.housing.uci.edu/
4. Uh?! I'm a Master's student - does this mean I won't get into VP/PV/VDC?
Masters students do get housing offers from PV, VP & VDC. The ease of getting in is VDCN> VDC > PV > VP. The rents also go in the same order with VDCN being the newest and most expensive apartment while VP is the cheapest but the oldest. In several cases, these offers are made in late-August to mid-September.
5. Do we HAVE to live "on-campus"?
No! Not at all. Several graduate students live "off-campus" . Off-campus accommodation is available near the university and commuting is not a problem.
6. What are the off-campus options available? Is it cheaper to live off-campus?
Off-campus living works out cheaper if you share your apartment with a few others - students or working professionals. Typically, 4-5 people rent out a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment off-campus and share the costs. Almost all the the apartment communities in Irvine are owned by the Irvine company. You could check their website - http://www.rental-living.com for details. Among the different communities close to UCI, Parkwest has emerged as the default option for graduate students. The rent at Parkwest apratments is lower than comparable apartments close to campus (for eg. Berkeley or Stanford Court) and is well connected to campus through the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) buses. For checking out the apartments in Parkwest, you can browse through this website - http://www.rental-living.com/
7. If I get, say VP/Palo Verde/VDCN and I pay the deposit for it, is it refundable? If yes when will I get my money back?
Yes, deposits are refunded after you move out of the apt. They do deduct damages though, but if you maintain the apt well, it shouldn't be much, if at all any.Note that you cannot get the deposit back until you move out of the apartment at the end of your lease period.
8. How do the housing communities compare? In terms of price and facilities offered?
The amount you pay has clear correspondence to the quality of housing you get. Verano is cheaper (~450 a month) and hence its basic accommodation. VDC is expensive (~700) but its much newer and looks much better and fully furnished. PV is somewhere in between the two. As students however, most of us want the cheapest and that's why Verano is most in demand. In fact its quite difficult to get it unless you are in guaranteed housing category. The off campus living option is always open but you have a to take a bus and come plus you'd probably have to share a room with somebody else if want the cost to be below 450-500 for staying.
9. How far are these Parkwest apartments that I've heard so much about?
Parkwest is approximately 2 miles away from campus. ASUCI, the undergraduate association of UCI, offers shuttles to campus at a cost of $1/ride or $55 for the entire quarter. The route is also serviced by public transport buses, OCTA. OCTA routes 79 and 175 take you from campus to Parkwest and vice versa. OCTA has a yearly bus pass system for UCI students, costing $95.
10. Are any of these apartments furnished?
VP, PV and off-campus apartments come unfurnished. Be prepared to enter a bare room/apartment when you move in. If you are lucky, you might find a few things left behind by the previous resident. Furnishing the apartment can take time, but not necessarily money. Many grad students pick up a lot of stuff left for free at a common place. So basically somebody else doesn't seem to want it, but if its usable by you, you can just pick it up. One man's trash can be another's treasure! ;) You could also check the Verano Gazette ( www.housing.uci.edu/vp/
The VDC and VDCN apartments come fully furnished and are more expensive than unfurnished apartments.
In no particular order:
Get your medical exam done. Check your eyesight and visit your dentist (ouch!). Get spare spectacles/contacts. Make arrangements with a contact in UCI/Los Angeles/San Diego who can pick you up from the airport on your arrival and/or put you up for a few days. Keep their phone numbers handy incase you need to call them from the airport.Getting an International Driving Permit will make things convenient later. Learn cooking. Ask Mom for all her secret recipes. Get a good haircut. Haircuts here cost around $10 a pop. Learn to say "wuz'up maen", "coo-wol" and "dood"! (kidding!)
After arriving at the Los
Angeles International Airport (LAX):
This is usually the most common option. Most people know people who know people .... who have friends/relatives in LAX, so they usually are picked up by these friends/relatives and stay with them for the first few days. If you do not belong to this category, however, you could try the following:
* Getting a lift from LAX: Get in touch with us and check if someone with a car is free on your arrival date and can give you a ride. LAX is about an hour's drive from Irvine. See the list of people mentioned at the end for guys to contact.
* Taking a shuttle: Shuttles are shared vans that start from just outside the terminals in LAX and drop you at your destination. If you intend to come directly to UCI (e.g. Verano Place), you can find shuttles that will drop you exactly at our doorstep, provided you have the directions (the driver often knows the place but it is better to check and get the correct directions). They cost $35-40 for the first person and $7-9 for every additional passenger going to the same destination, so if you are in a group of two or more, it may come down to around $25 or less.
A better alternative is to take a shuttle to the airport closest to UCI, (called the Orange County Airport, or John Wayne Airport), which may cost you $20. Super Shuttle (blue coloured with yellow lettering on the van) seems to be the most popular shuttle service. You can easily get a shuttle by registering your destination with the officer on duty there. The shuttle stop is just outside the terminal where you land in LAX and is easily locatable. From John Wayne, you can take a cab ($10) to UCI.
Try to find flights that land at SNA instead of LAX, if they make
economical sense. The bigger cities are connected to SNA.
another airport in the U.S:
You will then probably be staying with a friend/relative at that city. At your convenience, you should then take a flight to the Orange County Airport (code SNA), since SNA is really close to UCI. Most major airlines (Delta, American, United, Continental and Northwest) provide connecting flights to SNA. A cab from SNA to UCI would just cost you $10
Making phone calls from airports:
You can make phone calls from the numerous phones at the airport. Have some change handy. There are coin dispensing machines in the airport where you can exchange $1,$5,$20 bills for change. If you have any 1-800 number, it is free and so you can dial from any phone without any payment. Usually all public phones have numbers. So to save money you can contact your party and give him/her the public phone number. Stay near the phone and expect your call.
Cultural norms and common sense
Financial aid and e-mail/faculty-student etiquette Please-
- Do not send a generic e-mail to all faculty that begins with Dear Sir when the professor is a woman. Please spend some time trying to figure out the gender and name of the professor. This might sound funny to you, but maybe a professor will find it more hilarious and forward it to all their colleagues. Hah.
- Read up on the professor's work. Do not blindly e-mail them your background and that you want financial aid.
- It is most likely that no professor will fund you unless you show research potential. Money does not grow on trees and professors are certainly not willing to spend it on anyone from just an e-mail, unless you show great promise (or Donald Bren is your dad, in which case would you technically own all of us? But the latter is still unlikely to happen...)
- If you really do like somebody's research, read the papers, talk to their students, figure out how you could contribute, then schedule an appointment with the professor and talk to them. Do not merely sign up hoping for money, for money may or may not come. Ultimately you will gain a rewarding experience if you do your best, atleast research-wise.
- When you write e-mails, it is not very helpful to talk at length about your GRE scores or how you stood first in 8th grade. Rather, a professor would look for what skills you have, why you are interested in their work and project specific information.
- A resume summarizes your substantial achievements. That does not mean you should have won the Nobel, but rather stay away from trivial details. Also, mentioning religion, surfing the net and gardening as a hobby does not help in research, unless you are a religious studies or bio student? (but can a religious studies major not be an atheist? And for god's sake, why is surfing the net useful information?)
- Above all, do not pretend to have done something that you have not. That will save everybody's time. It's hard to refrain from, but sure makes things straight-forward and honest. Do not lie to your professor! You may have to face the repercussions!
Making UCI home and fitting into
Reasonably-priced beds, mattresses, sheets, furniture, and linen could be found at IKEA. It's cheaper to get the stuff as hand-me-down or second-hand, from current or graduating sutdents. Look in the Verano gazette and make ample use of the Surabhi mailing lists. Craigslist is also handy, but you have to be a bit careful.
Kick back and make new friends. These are people that will go
through a similar experience as you, and perhaps be your best buddies
for the next 2-6 years. Your social life totally depends on who you
are. As a new graduate student, look out for fun things to do and any
sort of social event. The more open you are initially, the more you
will see and learn. There are a tonne of things to do if you keep your
eyes open, such as, hikes in the Hiking club, International Student
night at the Anteater Pub, parties ever so often, concerts, movie
fests, sports events, dance nights, what have you. The University
Center cinema theatre shows some of the best independent movies. The
Film school also shows movies in the Humanities building, as festivals
in every few weeks. Look for classes at the Campus Recreation Center
like dance (and about ten plus types of dance), capoiera,
badminton,..anything that you are interested in, really. Once you
become acquainted with the party crowd, you get invited to the next one
automatically (unless you somehow manage to throw up on them or do
something to that order). Really, this is the perfect time to try out
something you have never found the time or guts for, before.
Hey, the best event is the Surabhi Diwali Night. And join our theatre club if you are interested, as we are looking for enthusiasts. It's loads of fun.
The most beautiful part about UCI is its cultural diversity. Given that it is a melting pot of multiple nationalities and that not many Indians go to UCI (although it is changing now ;-)), it is a stellar opportunity to meet people from countries you have only heard of. People here are quite colourful, laid-back and fun. Enjoy your stay here.