MS pre-departure formalities and shopping lists

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Most of you who are MS aspirant tend to ignore the part which is most critical. Along with preparing for exam, collecting all the important documents and making arrangements for VISA, it is equally important that you plan for your departure and important things to be taken. Remember, whenever you are going away from home, the environment is completely different.

You need to face different situations, need to mingle up with various people all belonging from different cultures and are required to adjust yourself in a completely foreign land. If you don’t plan, prepare and get ready, chances are you will not be able to provide your best effort into what you’re actually going to do, i.e. successful completion of MS and making a glorious career out of it.

Thus, this article is a guide to help you plan your pre-departure formalities and even what to take for making your stay in the foreign land easier. This may seem unimportant to you, but if you pay heed then you may not need to plan again for your stay in the foreign land. It’s a guide which will act as a ready reckoner and will provide you with a checklist for pre-departure.

How to plan?

This is a big question because you have so many things to take care of and so many things to pack. So if you can plan systematically it would be much easier to handle the things at your hand.

The best way to start your planning session is to make a list of all the things you need to take (in later section we will mention what things you should include in your list). Take 3 separate blank sheets. On the first sheet, write “University Requirements”, on the second sheet mention “Personal Requirements” and on the third sheet, at the top write “Emergency Requirements.”

While making the list, don’t think much. Whatever comes to mind, just keep on writing! Right now, don’t think about usefulness.
After making the list, it is time to buy/gather the things at one place. It’s always better that you take one list at a time, buy/collect all the items first before going into another list. Jumping from one list to another will only increase the confusion.

Many items on the list, let’s say items on the “University Requirements” may take more time than usual. Suppose, the letters of recommendation have not reached you within expected time period! What would you do? Simply skip to the next item. Once you collect the item and gather it in one place, tick off the item in the list.

It’s always better to prepare yourself at least six months prior. Other than few items which are time-sensitive like medicine, juices, supplements, pack everything beforehand. It will save you a lot of time and reduce unnecessary headaches and anxiety.
Now, let’s look at the items to be taken under each of the three heads of requirement.

University Requirements

Always remember that the University Requirements are of utter importance. So, you need to carry them in the hand luggage so that you can keep the documents safe with you. These are the documents without which your dream of doing MS will go haywire. Keep them safe and take most care of them among all other items.

  • The most important thing you need to take is Passport and valid VISA. Without which you cannot travel at the first place.
  • After the intimation from the university that you are selected and are welcomed to join them, they would send you a form called I-20 which you need to fill up for availing F-1 VISA. So, you need to carry the receipt along with the receipt for SEVIS payment. 
  • The next documents you need to carry are University offer letter and accommodation proof. These are your gateways to University and the MS course. So it’s always better to make multiple copies of them and keep them safe.
  • Next items you need to carry are all your original certificates and universities and 10+2. These are the documents which dictate your whole educational qualification. Take proper care of them and have multiple copies with you if in any case you lose/misplace any original document.
  • You also need to take with you the finance proof, affidavit and a statement from CA.
  • As you are going into a foreign land you need to carry the exact address and contact details. It’s always better to have more than one contact details. In any case if one doesn’t work, you can make use of other. One more thing you need to do is to read a guide on the place you are going for MS study. It will help you recognize few landmarks and thus, searching the right address will be easier. 
  • Though most universities don’t ask for it, it’s always better to carry a medical certificate, an X-ray of chest and an Immunization certificate.
  • It’s always better to stay at accommodation provided by the University for the first year as it will help you save some money and all the amenities will also be available to you. If you choose to go out anyway make sure that you stay near by the University to avail the discussion, case-study meet and other advantages residential accommodation can give you.

Personal Requirements

University Requirements are most important. But you also need to pay heed to your personal needs in a foreign land so that you don’t need to feel foreign at all. Personal requirements may vary person to person. The following is a list of suggestions. 

  • Clothes (don’t take much, take as much as you need, you can buy in thrift store if you need to)
  • Jackets, blazers, blankets (take as required according to the country)
  • Shaving kit
  • An international SIM which works around the world (it will help you call home whenever you would like to; check out different plans the service provider offers and choose according to your needs)
  • A sound phone (smart phone is always better), phone charger and a sound headphone
  • A camera
  • Soap, toiletries, towels, paper-soaps, shampoo, face wash and make up kit
  • Juices, supplements (if you take)
  • Medicines (for basic symptoms)
  • Laptop, charger, hard disk
  • Few paperbacks
  • Cash (Respective currencies for different countries)

You can add more or can work your way through less than the above items. Preference is yours. The above list is just an example for you to follow through.

Emergency requirements

In this list, you should include items which may be necessary for contingent situations. For example, if you have another smart phone, it will serve your purpose when one will not be in a proper condition to use. Likewise, think about the items like blankets, cash, extra chargers, knives to cut fruits or other things, extra headphones, power chargers for emergency situation, sleeping masks and ear plugs for sleeping well etc.

If you follow this guide while packing your bags, your anxiety will become significantly lesser. While making packing lists, involve your family members and friends who can give ideas about what to take and what not to include. Also, take recommendations from your seniors or acquaintances to help you with the lists.

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