Q) Other than the fact that UMich has a great football team with a cool name, could someone explain why I should consider joining?
A) No. That’s it. The cool name, that is. The University worked very hard on creating a name that would appeal to the majority of people, and it certainly paid off: thousands of people are attending Michigan just to be able to call themselves Wolverines. If you do not know already, University of Michigan is very passionate about its football team. We haven’t done too well in the past couple years, but that does not demoralize the fan following.
On a more serious note, Michigan is a big school with an extremely competitive engineering, science and arts program, and is consistently ranked highly in the USNews rankings not only for its Engineering program but also Medical, Law and Business school programs. Ann Arbor is a great place to live in; it is a very liberal university town and is rated as one of the best places to live in the US. And of course, we have a great football team with a cool name.
Q) What’s the catch?
A) Tuition, Tuition, Tuition.
After Getting Admission
Q) Can you tell me something about getting a visa?
A) We suggest that you contact the branch of the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) closest to you to answer your visa related questions. You will, no doubt, have already received loads of advice regarding DOs and DON’Ts for visa applications. We cannot provide any definite guidelines. However, you might find the following web site useful: http://usapply.tripod.com/
Q) When should I arrive in Ann Arbor?
A) Your I-20 specifies the date by which you are expected to arrive at the University. We suggest that you arrive by that date. Also try and come closer to the date when your housing lease period starts. Keep in mind that it is good to have at least a week to settle down before classes begin. Coming earlier could be helpful if you are interested in meeting with faculty beforehand. If you decide to arrive early (not too early!), keep in mind that:
· some professors might be on vacation (yes, they take breaks too)
· you will have to budget for your longer stay in the US
If you want to arrive later than the date specified on your I-20, please confirm with your department if it will be alright to do so. If you would like ISA to arrange a pick up for you please try to arrive during the day/evening on a weekend.
Q) Do I need to get any inoculations before coming to the University?
A) No, you are not required by the University to get any tests or inoculations before you come here. [Check latest regulations.]
Q) Where do I get in touch with other students?
A) Every year some of the incoming students create groups on Orkut or even Facebook. This year you might want to look for UMICH FALL 2010 groups. This is a good place to introduce yourself to others and get to know others. Also, it could be helpful to know more about other students’ visa interviews or flight dates and to find roommates.
Note: The following questions about University aid apply to graduate students only.
Q) I don’t have any aid. Can I come to the University and arrange some kind of scholarship?
A) It is possible to arrive at the University and then find either a TA (teaching assistant) or RA (research assistant) position. However, you should NOT assume that you will definitely be able to secure funding once you arrive.
Securing an RA position depends on finding a professor who is:
· willing (would be willing if research interests match yours); and
· able (would be able if has enough research grants) to fund your study. It is not necessary you find a professor who meets both conditions. You are more likely to get an RA if you are enrolled in a PhD program, since you would be able to make a substantial contribution to your professor’s research. Note that it is possible to get an RA with a professor outside your department (however, your interests should be related to his work).
TA positions are handled by departments, not professors. You need to apply for a TA once you arrive in the University. The first priority for TA positions goes to students whom the department has committed financial support. TA positions are decided before the start of the semester. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to get a TA position in your first semester here. Note that you can apply for a TA in a department other than yours.
Q) Is it possible to arrange a TA before I get to the University?
A) No, not unless you’ve already been offered one by the University in your letter of admission.
Q) Is it possible to arrange an RA before I get to the University?
A) It is possible that a professor needs students to work on a project and is willing to consider you for an RA position. Although, it is more likely that they might pay you hourly salary for the first semester to gauge your capabilities and then offer you a RA position from the second semester onwards. We suggest you write to professors who are working in your area of interest, asking about chances of an assistantship. (Note that most professors probably get dozens of such mails daily, so don’t be surprised if you don’t receive a reply). Contacting graduate students in your department could be useful as they could tell you about the current funding situation in your department.
Q) Will it help if I come in early and talk to the professors?
A) Sure it could help. However, if there is no match with a professor’s interests, or if he/she has no funding to offer, you won’t be able to get an RA. Remember, there is NO GUARANTEE that you’ll be able to secure funding even if you arrive early (For example, it’s possible that there are no professors in your area who have funding available and need students).
Q) Can I work on-campus or off-campus?
A) If you’re on an F-1 visa, you can work on-campus during the semester (up to 20 hours per week). You cannot work off-campus during the semester. There are a number of on-campus jobs available (like working at the library helpdesk or stacks or at one of the campus cafeterias – MUJO’s, Hugo’s, etc. behind the cash counter) You could earn up to $600-$700 per month, which would cover your living expenses. On-campus jobs do not cover tuition, which will probably be your single biggest expense.
Q) What are the typical living expenses?
A) You should expect to spend approximately:
$300 per month, house rent
$100 per month, food and supplies
$40 per month, electricity and heat
$100 per month, miscellaneous expenses
$100 per month, International Student health insurance (if you are not offered insurance by the University)
This does not include telephone bills, which will depend on your usage. Best way to call India would be to get a calling card. Lots of options are available like IndiaLD and Rebtel, One touch India, etc. These provide rates typically around $0.02 per minute (with suitable calling plans).
Note that these are all average amounts that you would need to spend.
Q) How much money should I carry with me?
A) If you have aid, you will receive your stipend/salary at the end of each month (and no, you can’t reason with the Department to give you a part of that early). So you will not be paid till the end of September. You should carry enough to meet the first month’s expenses (more if you’re arriving here early). Monthly expenses per head are around $600. You will need to spend slightly more in the first month, to set up services, buy textbooks, buy furniture etc. $1400 should be sufficient to meet your first month’s expenses.
Depending upon the rent and deposit for your permanent accomodation, you may have to carry more money. If you do not have aid, please keep the above in mind and budget accordingly.
Q) Should I carry cash/TCs/DDs?
A) For personal expenses, carry TCs – they are accepted almost everywhere. Try not to get TCs of $500; $100 (and lower) are more easily acceptable. You do not need to carry much cash, $150 should be more than enough. If you don’t have aid, you can carry your tuition as DDs made out to yourself. These can be deposited into a bank account here (you’ll have to open one), and you can pay the University from that account.
Q) Can I get an apartment after I reach Ann Arbor?
A) Depends quite a lot on when you reach here, and where you want an apartment. Leases usually get signed pretty early, so you will probably have to look for a place elsewhere if you wait till you get to Ann Arbor.
Q) What should I do to have ISA book an apartment for me?
A) Refer to the Housing section for details.
Q) Can you book an apartment for me in XYZ apartments?
A) We book apartments in Willowtree apartments ONLY. Willowtree apartments are located very close to North Campus (10 minutes walk), which is where the Engineering, Art and Architecture and Music Schools are located. Buses are available to Central Campus (all other departments). The grocery store (Kroger) is a 10 minute walk, there is an Indian Store (OM market) right next to Kroger, and there is another Indian store (Foods of India) 15 minute bus ride. Most importantly, there is a substantial Indian community at Willowtree, which is a big help, especially in the initial adjustment phase. For more information, read the Housing Arrangements page.
Q) I don’t know anyone … can ISA find room mates for me?
A) Don’t worry, most of us didn’t know anyone when we got here either. Please fill out your room-mate preferences in your housing application that can be found on the housing information page. We will try to pair you up with room-mates that best match your preferences.
Q) I’ve decided who my roommates will be, what should I do?
A) Please include the names of the students you want to stay with in your housing application that can be found on the housing information page.
Q) What is the duration of the lease?
A) The lease is signed for 11 months.
Q) How much is the rent?
A) Depending on the apartment, the rent ranges from $850 – $970 for Willowtree Apartments. Read the Housing Arrangements page for details and most recent rates.
Q) How is the rent divided?
A) There are 2 bedrooms in each apartment – 1 big bedroom, which is shared by two people, and 1 small bedroom. We suggest that the two who share the large bedroom each pay 30% of the rent, and the person who has the small bedroom pay 40%. Note however, that this is what we suggest – in the end its up to you to work out how you want to divide the rent.
Q) How much do utilities (electricity and heating) cost?
A) Generally, the electricity bill is higher than the gas bill in summer due to air-conditioning, while the gas bill is higher in winter (we have gas heating). The sum of gas and electricity bills will generally be between $60 – $120 per apartment per month.
Q) When does the lease start? If it does not start at the beginning of the month, will I have to pay the full month’s rent?
A) Generally, the lease will start from the second week of August. In some cases, it may start later depending upon availability (esp. if it is booked late). Your rent for August will be proportional to the number of days of your lease in August.
Q) What type of apartments are booked?
A) The apartments have 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, and a bathroom. We do not book single bedroom apartments.
Q) Is the apartment furnished?
A) No, the apartments in Willowtree are not furnished. The apartments are equipped with a refrigerator, cooking range (conventional oven + burners or hot plates) and dishwasher. The apartments are carpeted, and have closets. There are no beds, chairs or tables in the apartments. You will need to buy them once you get here. Second hand furniture is available from the University of Michigan Property Disposition Centre and from students leaving the University. It would be a good idea to talk to one of your seniors to ensure that the pricing of the furniture is appropriate.
Q) So will I have to sleep on the floor? Should I bring a sleeping bag along?
A) Apartments booked for you are carpeted. In Willowtree, people usually sleep on the floors the first few days and later buy a mattress (available for around $10-20 at the U of M property disposition). It’s not necessary to bring a sleeping bag with you, but if you prefer, you can get one. Also, you could get some bedsheets (to sleep on) and/or a shawl.
Q) What about laundry?
A) Washing machines/Dryers are available in the basement of every building. You’ll need $3 to wash and dry one load. You will probably do your laundry once in 2 weeks (or with a lesser frequency).
LIVING IN ANN ARBOR
Q) What should we carry for cooking purposes? Will we have to cook our own food?
A) There is a list of utensils that you can carry on the Things to Carry page. If you are not staying in a dorm you will probably have to cook your own food (unless you can con your roommates into doing all the cooking). Most of us do at least some cooking. It’s not as hard as you might think!
Q) I’ve heard Ann Arbor is really cold …
A) You’ve heard right. It gets so cold here that we rent igloos for the 5 months of winter . But seriously, it’s not all that bad. All apartments are equipped with heating, and you won’t notice the cold inside any building.
Q) How safe is Ann Arbor?
A) Ann Arbor is a very safe town. Many of us spend late nights in the labs, and walk back to Willowtree alone. Also, after 2.00 AM there is a FREE cab ride back home from the Duderstadt library (remember the name. This is where you will spend a lot of your time)
Q) What is the frequency of the buses to Central Campus, specially at night?
A) Buses run with a higher frequency on weekdays than weekends. Have a look at http://pts.umich.edu/taking_the_bus/routes/ for exact times. Willowtree Apartments is 5 minutes away from a bus stop on the Northwood route (Northwood II housing, if you look at the Northwood route map). The Northwood route connects Willowtree to both North and Central campuses. Other buses are available from North campus to Central, but Northwood is the direct bus from Willowtree to Central. Also, realtime tracking of the buses is possible using www.mbus.pts.umich.edu so that you can time your walk to the bus stop especially during the winters.
Q) Should I carry winter clothes with me?
A) Carry a few sweaters, a woolen cap, warm socks and a light jacket for Fall (Look at the list of items at the ISA web site). It is best to buy a winter jacket here (what you get in India will probably not be suitable for this cold).
ISA has created a forum for 2011 for discussions, announcements etc. Please check it out in our Forum section.
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