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America unravelled for students

Fabrice Etienne, the consul general of France in Calcutta, at a pre-departure session hosted by the consulate at The Park. Max Claudet, the counsellor for culture and cooperation, shared some introductory tips with students. From budget accommodation to visa tips, students were acquainted with life in France. They also got an opportunity to interact with Marc Salesse, the visa department head in Calcutta. Picture by Rashbehari Das

Will I be able to adjust in the new country?

Will I manage the semesters well?

Will I make new friends and cope with the culture?

Shalini Choudhury had been wondering about all this and more when she stepped into Lincoln Room at American Center for the Pre-Departure Orientation programme hosted by the United States-India Education Foundation (USIEF).

“This will be my first trip to America. I am thrilled no doubt, but anxious too,” said the former student of Loreto Convent, Entally, who has got through an electrical engineering course at the City University of New York.

Most of the 150 students who attended the orientation programme were full of questions about conversion rates, roommate rules, campus culture and other dos and don’ts. Some even worried about health and security issues.

“Google can help solve my practical queries. But I have come here to meet more students like me,” said Durgapur resident Aurojoy Mazumdar, who will be joining the State University of New York, Buffalo, for a post-graduation course in computer science.

Besides making friends, the students also got to take home tips from experts who spoke about academic, social and cultural life in the US, travel and health insurance schemes, air travel and post-visa related issues.

“Don’t think you know all about America by watching Hollywood movies and soaps. Give yourself six months to adjust to the new atmosphere and campus,” said Aniket Dey, a Leslie and Bruce Male University Scholar at Tufts University, Massachusetts.

From how to open a bank account to how to understand the American accent and where to get the best bargain for winter clothes, advice kept pouring in for the students.

“The education sector best demonstrates the mutual benefit of our relationship. The interactions and connections between our higher education communities have increased. There are immense spin-off benefits from studying abroad as it helps prepare you to become a global citizen,” the US consul general, Helen LaFave, told the students in her welcome address.