This entry into my journal is almost fully shamelessly ripped off from a mail I sent my parents. I suddenly convinced my fingers to type again, so here goes…
Today was one of the most activity filled days of my life. Come to think of it, it was THE most activity filled day of my life. I woke early (at some 4:40 am) and made myself some tea. Talked to my mom in the morning and then got ready to leave after breakfast and a HOT shower. The sun rises pretty early as well, considering it set after 9 p.m or so. I don’t seem to have too much of a jet lag, though time might prove me wrong.
We (my uncle and I) left in the morning around 8:45. Around this time my aunt left with my cousin for his camp. Our first stop was a US state dept office to get me a social security number. It was a small wait outside that office as it opened only around 9. Got in, filled some forms and submitted them without any problems. It should be arriving in a week to ten days via mail. People here are very friendly and seem very happy to serve. They don’t get irritated even if we keep bugging them with the stupidest of questions. With that done, we went to the AA to pick up some (quite a few actually, pity I don’t have the slightest idea how to read them) maps. Armed with the new found knowledge of where to go, we headed to Ann Arbor, after a quick stop at a bank. Again, just as the service people are very friendly, there are barely any service people. Almost everything is automated. And when I said bank, I meant drive-in ATM. Ann Arbor was about half an hour away from here. The roads are wide and traffic is fast. But it is still quite crowded. It’s not like the place is like those videos of Europe or something we see on TV. Anyway, we reached a point in the campus, called the hmm.. I forgot. The something of commons. Here’s where I met my classmate Sandeep, the person who travelled with me on the plane. He is being put up in one of the seniors homes. I met him at this office where we get a photo Umich ID. They took a snap right there and printed my brand new UMID. That’s like the all in all ID for all services at campus. It gives access to labs, libraries, and other facilities. The campus is just beautiful. It’s scenic, quiet, and feels like a nice town filled with (I hope) intelligent people. There is a very large variation in the kind of people you see here. But they all smile and they all seem very busy. No one seems to just relax and laze around. Sad, but true.
Once I was done with the ID, we left that part of campus (which is fairly close to my department) and we tried to look around and find my apartment. It took us a while, but we did eventually. It seems pretty nice from the outside. The neighbourhood is quiet. It is about a 20min brisk walk from my department. Which is good I suppose considering the rich rich food over here. One of the reasons we were looking for it, besides obvious curiosity as to how it was, was that I needed an address for the bank account I needed to open. There was one bank very close to the office where my ID was issued, but the trouble was that was a UMich only bank, and I can’t access it from outside. So my uncle decided it was better I got an account at a larger bank, which has counters at various points on campus, and one close to their home as well. We tried to find the office of the people who are dealing with the leasing of the apartments, so that I could find my actual aparment number, to use as my permanent address. They were very hard to find. We were driving for about 40 minutes looking for them when they were not very far away. The funny part is, in most of that time, he was on the phone with them, calling them like some 10 times and asking for directions. Not ONCE did they get even a bit irritated or their tone change. We finally found their place and found out what we needed. I even signed my house lease and payed up 1/4 of the money for initial things. This was done by my uncle. Made mental note of the amount. Then as usual, we smiled, exchanged the usual “have a great day” style talk and left. All that had taken a while. Armed with my new address, we headed back to central campus. It’s like the “downtown” of campus. There are many shops, restaurants, banks.. those sort of things. Mostly geared towards students. I had my lunch there. It was a tomato and lentil soup, a cheese pita (something like a chappathi or bread with cheese and vegitable filling), and some corn chips. It was very nice. This was at this place called ‘Seva’, a specialty vegetarian restaurant. I was surprised to see it full, considering the local diet, but it was. The parking, by the way, at this part of town for such things was at the 6th floor, yes 6th, of the parking lot. After lunch we went to the bank and opened an account. Again my uncle payed the initial balance. Mental note made of that as well. As usual, the lady there was all smiles and everything. Opening a bank account was made fun too. As a compliment, I got a Michigan sweat shirt. It’s.. gray.
After the bank came the visit to the international students office. This is now at the heart of the campus. It has much more activity but still retains a very ‘universityish’ feeling. Lots of grass and young people. All kinds.. on foot, cycles, roller blades, cars.. everything. Here, in this office, they help you again with social service, how to get the UMich ID, drivers lisence etc.. All stuff we had handled. They gave me a small orientation like thing and gave a HUGE folder with all sorts of pamphlets and info. The person there made me go through a check-list of things that needed to be done. We had done most of it. Next stop.. two or three rooms down the same hall, I got my medical insurance. It’s some 40$ a month, with a maximum claim of some $250,000. Hmm…. (I now remember my requirement for all my years is $200,000.. hmm) ;)
With that done also, we moved on to a computer lab to get my college email and other lab access related stuff done. That took another few minutes. We then drove back to the (much quieter and less americany) north campus, to my department. Here I met the graduate adviser, Ms. Elgas. She recognised my name from the emails and seemed, (as everybody else) happy to see me there. I had to spend a long time there sorting out stuff related to what I needed to do (coursewise) and got a sir who most matched my interests. I suppose next stage is to meet him and actually sort out my courses and other details. In the meantime, the parking for the area was only for students and my uncle had left to get a pass. He joined me later in her office. The dept. itself seems nice and all professional. The next stage of the plan, which I think people expect me to do tomorrow, is to use all this new found knowledge and the TONS of pamphlets and other paperwork I got from there to my advantage, when I get dropped off there tomorrow (alone) and talk to sirs/anybody else useful regarding assitantship. Now I don’t know whether I’ll do that tomorrow itself.. but that’s one of the plans anyhow.
With all this done for the day, we then went back to the aparment area to just get a glimpse of my particular one from the outside. Nothing much to say, it looked like everything else. It seems decent.. and has this cool gray colour. Then came the quick scouting of what shops/services are there where and how long it would take to go to each major place. We then started the journey back home.
That’s about it for today,
Too tired/sleepy/dazed to even think.