One month in the US

Today marks one month of my stay in the United States. Although this is not the first time I am spending a full month here (The first was 8 years back, when I came here on a visitor visa), this trip is different, in many ways. For one, I am on a student visa, and am not going to go back home anytime soon. Also, I am here to Study, so I should try and keep that my primary focus ;).

Oh I haven’t mentioned this on my blog yet- I am now a Graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio starting today! πŸ™‚

I landed in San Fransisco International on the 27th of last month and was welcomed by my aunt and the blazing mid-afternoon sunshine. A grand welcome indeed πŸ˜€ , after nearly freezing for over 16 hours on the long flight from Dubai. Having slept well on the flight (Think I slept 11-12 hours :P), I was fresh and awake and the Jet lag didn’t hit me much. The 3-4 days in California went by quick, with short trips to the Mountain View Google Campus(they have some super cool conference-bikes πŸ™‚ ) confbike and the Intel Museum at the Intel HQ in Santa Clara. Intel_HQ_exterior_3 I also got to spend some time with some first and second cousins, aunts and uncles, whom I hadn’t seen in a long while. I didn’t have time to go around California much this time, but we had been to Napa Valley, Lombard Street, Golden Gate Bridge,Stanford and Berkeley Campuses last time. I also got my First Smartphone-an HTC Evo πŸ™‚
I left SFO on 31st afternoon, and landed in Newark that night, to spend the next 8-9 days with my maternal uncle and his family. My cousin sister’s Bharatnatyam arangetram was that weekend, and their house was abuzz with activity. The event went off well, and this was probably the first time that I was sitting through a full three hour Bharatnatyam performance! πŸ˜€

The next couple of days was spent touring New York city with my uncle. We signed up for the 48 hour validity package, that would allow us to go on all four of the Grayline Tours bus loops-Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn and The Bronx. We also visited the Empire state building, and although we were in the queue by 6pm or so, it was nearly 8:30 by the time we got to the top. Of course, the view was spectacular.
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The Uptown and Downtown loops took us to Time Square-Festive, Crowded and bustling as always.
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New York was two days of skyscrapers galore, and standing on the streets, with these monstrosities on either side, you are reminded yet again, that you are but a tiny speck on the planet :D. We walked past the Madam Tussauds Museum and the Ripley’s ODDitorium but didn’t have the time to go in- Should definitely go back to visit these places sometime!

I spent the next two days at home mostly, hanging around with my cousins,some shopping, and juggling the stuff in my 3 suitcases(to stick to the weight limit of 23kgs per bag) before my trip to Cincinnati. By thursday night (aug 8th), i was all packed and set to leave as scheduled on the flight to Cincinnati on 9th afternoon. Come 9th morning, and Aha! I wake up to the news that the flight had been canceled! πŸ˜• . I was re-booked to leave Newark early morning on the 10th, instead of the 9th. Also, while the earlier one had been a non-stop Newark-Cincinnati flight, this one would have a stop at Charlotte, where I would switch planes. Arghh!

10th morning, the US Airways queue to check-in luggage seemed awfully long, and after standing in the line for what seemed like ages, I reach the counter and the lady at the counter goes-“Have you paid for your luggage yet, Ma’am”?”. I reply that I hadn’t paid yet, but had printed out my boarding pass. She then says “Oh you don’t need to pay Ma’am, you’re on First Class!”, to which i’m like-“Are you serious?! What the!!” And that’s when I take a good look at the ticket 😯 -Sure enough, it was first class. She just tags my bags (doesn’t even weigh them, and to think I has spent a good half hour moving stuff from one bag to the other to stick to the weight restrictions :P). Next thing i know, she calls this tall muscular guy to take away my luggage (Royal treatment courtesy First Class πŸ˜‰ , while most others had to drag their bags themselves to the belt). All those initial thoughts that the flight getting canceled on 9th was a bad omen,vanished in a flash. Well, destiny is something else, isn’t it? πŸ˜€ With my seat number being 1D and 1F on the two legs, I was virtually one of the first to exit the plane when it landed. Of course, first class travel also means priority luggage; and for the first time in my life-NO WAITING for luggage at Baggage claim-My suitcases were the first two bags on the belt. Ahh that felt good! πŸ˜€

August 10th, 11:30 am, I finally reach Cincinnati. My uncle was there to pick me up at the airport. The next two three days were spent getting some furniture, groceries etc and setting up what is to be my new bedroom(or rather one half of it πŸ˜‰ ) and home-for the next 2 years. We visited the National Museum of the USAF at Dayton some time last week. Spectacularly arranged, one could spend at least a week there, if you were to look around every nook and corner.

Most of this past week was spent on Campus, attending Orientation and Health Screening and registering for classes. The time at home was spent experimenting on some cooking :D. Some of the dishes came out quite well like the Kadai Paneer, Schezwan Rice, Pav Bhaji and even Ghajar Halwa!

We also got our Metro cards and went on a bus ride to Colerain Avenue. Took the UC Shuttle to reach campus yesterday. It was a big relief, after all these days of a LOT of walking (A lot of uphill/downhill walks; some walks with each of us carrying grocery bags) :P!

Class starts today with the first one being Operating Systems at 8:00 am. Back to sitting in classes again after a good 3-4 months! I just hope I do well here :P.

So much for now.

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