Tips for New Desi Grad Students from India

Official US Government Information
  • FAQ on American Education: With inputs from USEFI (United States Educational Foundation in India ) also called the Fulbright Commission
  • Education Abroad: section of presents a glimpse into the options available to global students who wish to avail of world-class education without travelling half-way across the globe.
  • Indian Students may also want to check out the Indian Student Association section of
  • Many of you will soon go to the US for further studies. This is a hectic time for you and this is how we hope to make it easier. …You are headed in a few days to the US for higher studies. And you have many questions to ask. Read further
  • Indians welcoming Indians: Have you been accepted in a college in the US for higher studies and are about to leave? Most important: Have you made contact with someone in your university or in the town you are headed to for advice and tips? Read further
  • How can I network before I leave? This is the first part of our series of FAQs on studying in America. We asked a selection of students, already in the US, to share the wisdom of their experiences with us. This is what some of them wrote back to say. Keep in touch with some of your prospective seniors at your future university. Let them know about your flight plans and get informed about the place and the university. Look out for Indian student associations at these universities. Almost every university has one ! This is the best way to get acquainted and build up connections. Try and call them up but value their time and privacy. Try and talk to your department representatives and inform them about your flight plans before you leave. For starters this could be a good way to start building connections. Read Further
  • A Student’s Guide to the US: Once you have got the I-20 and the Visa in hand, you should try to get a hold of a list of Indian students who have been admitted to the same university as you either through an Indian student association within that university or through the international office. Make a list of all the students who will be moving to the university from your city, contact these students and try to make your travel arrangements together because often you can avail of group discounts from travel agents when you get down to booking tickets – provided the group is large enough. Also you can fix up roommates at this stage so you will not run the risk of getting stuck with the wrong person! Read Further for tips on Necessary documents, Things to be done in advance, Planning your journey, Baggage information, Packing Education Forums of Interest:
Other Forums of Interest: 
General Tips:
Ok, so you have finally made it to the land of your dreams!! But you dont wanna make a bad impression do you? So here are a few tips to help you begin your life in America on the right note.
1) Guess what’s the first thing Americans notice about us desis? Surprise!!….THE SMELL!
FACT: Most desis smell horrible to Americans.We smell of fried food and curry coz most of us cook at home and do not care to shower and change before we go out. Keep your clothes away from the kitchen, in a closet. Use a deodorant. Change before you go out. And for heavens sake dress decently when you go out. I’ve seen desis go shopping in malls in the raggediest of outfits.
2) Ok, so now you smell good…you think you’re COOL…. Next thing to remember, Americans are very friendly people. So you will see total strangers greeting you or smiling at you. Return the smile or greeting. Question: How’re you doin? Answer: How’re you doin or Doing Good. how about yourself. When americans ask you how you are doing,they do not expect a lengthy answer. Its just a polite greeting. If you want to be cool, you’d say “Whats up”…and expect a “Not much”.
3) Try to speak clearly. Many Americans can’t understand what you are saying because of your bad pronunciations or because you speak too fast. Try to smoothen out those rrrr’s. Also try not to use your native tongue when there are people of other nationalities around. And stop nodding your head like a bobblehead when you agree with something! It realllly looks funny to non-Indians!!
4) Hold doors open for people. Its common courtesy here to hold the door open for people who are following you through a doorway.
5) Don’t be cheap. Always tip cab drivers, waiters, hair dressers etc. Don’t do things like stealing carts from the local store to bring home your grocery. 
All stores have a return policy . Don’t misuse it! For example, don’t buy a camera coz your friends are coming, and return it to the store after they leave as you don’t need it anymore!
6) Most desis are secure in their own community. They don’t make efforts to meet people from other communities. Don’t be shy…go out, meet people. Some of my best friends are Americans and other international students.
7) Never ask another person how much money he makes or other such personal questions. Americans value their privacy a lot. Don’t be too inquisitive. Also, keep a good distance when you speak to people. Its called “personal space”. At least an arms length.
8) Use “thank you” and “please” a lot. For example if a host asks you if you would like more coffee, don’t say Yeah!. Say “Yes please” or “please”. “Yeah” will do if you are with close friends !
9)Don’t dig your nose in pubic! Its disgusting! Also, you may be caught on camera as many places in the US have security cameras! Always wash your hand before leaving a restroom. Do not litter. As you may have noticed, there are plenty of dust-bins all over America. So don’t throw stuff on the ground.
10) Professors prefer to be called “Professor His Name” or “Doctor His Name” rather than just Sir.
11) DO NOT use any illegal means in exams. Do not copy each other’s assignments!
If caught, you will not only bring a bad name to the Indian community, you will also be in deep shit! Americans value honesty. Do not try to cheat the system. YOU WILL GET CAUGHT.
12) Finally, try to blend into the American way of life. The best part is you don’t have to give up being an Indian to live here. The greatest thing about America is its tolerance. Most people who come here will never go back because of the high quality of life and the freedom to be who you are. 
So stop complaing, stop judging Americans by your values and morals. If you want to stick to your traditions and values, nobody is stopping you.
All of us need to work toward fighting the ‘desi stereotype’. We Indians already have a good impression in America as far as academics is concerned. We need to extend that to all walks of life.
Above all, have fun! America is THE PLACE to realize all your dreams. Work hard, live life to the fullest and believe me, you will never go back!