With the new fall academic session around the corner, a few myths I feel need to be busted for people who are about to come and join various US universities.

First of all, the deal with on campus and off campus. Many of ye hopefuls might be accustomed to the fortress-like miniature city as the campus of a university, where a mighty brick and mortar fence guards the premises, and holds the sanctity intact of what you know as the 'campus'. Here in the US, however, there is rarely such a wall around the whole place. City roads often pass right through the middle of the univeristy, and the campus of the university generally is a region or a part of the city rather than a segregated block. Thus, off-campus housing doesn't mean that you are left in forlorn corners where you have to travel every day to reach the safe haven of the university. Neither does on-campus housing mean that you live in a noise-free (and noisier people free) zone. Quite the opposite, actually.

A second fancy idea that most people like to come here with is that the GRE score indicates if they will get aid, scholarship, etc. Unfortunately, it is not so. It is a complete free-for-all once you reach the university. All of us then begin from zero again. Your resume is the only thing that you can throw around and hope to find on-campus employment, etc. So whether you've landed a 1550 on the GRE or you scored a 1300 doesn't matter: being at the right place at the right time does. They don't really care what your GRE score was as soon as you touch the US soil. And financial aid is not free scholarship that you get --- you need to work as a research assistant or a teaching assistant to get the dough.

Next, it is a dream quote back home that the American people are not hardworking and that the desi junta really show them what hard work is all about. Over cups of conversation in roadside tea stalls, I have seen highly informed opinions that these people are dolts and they can't even do a single thing themselves: apparently it is all done my machines and computers. It is a very romantic idea --- I agree, like the MS Word Easter egg that was 'discovered' by some Indian engineer and "even Bill Gates" can't figure out why that happens etc. Forget it, people. I have found the Americans here to be very smart and very very hardworking. You can't even imagine the amount of hours they can put in to finish papers, the kind of lengths they go to in order to understand a single derivation of an obscure paper. Almost always their company is good and accepting --- there is a lot you can learn from them.

Finally, some people believe all they see on the movies. Hot chicks in skimpy clothes hanging at every corner and winking at you, or otherwise cool hunks waiting to propose to you from their Harley Davidsons --- sorry, they don't exist. On a typical campus, you'll find the undergrads going "Like, totally... man... I was like... dude..." and the grad students running from one end of the campus to another telling the tales of their woes to anyone and everyone who cares to listen (or at least pretends to). You would have imagined it is all a party and booze time once you land and that is what you will do most of the time once you are here. Sorry, honey --- you will spend most of your time poring over research papers and books and finishing assignments. So all ye hopefuls who dream about getting laid, sweeping others off their feet or getting swept: let those fantasies rest. You aren't getting any ;)


  1. And how many times have I cribbed about how hard these people work. Dammit, they complete 20 page essays without blinking, go work out at the gym/jog for an hour, drink themselves silly at the bar for hours AND ALWAYS look as if they stepped out of the salon...where do they get the time?? When do these people sleep?

    And yeah, like totally forgot about the skimpy clothes clad chicks dude. Like, most people I saw in undergrad schools were like mostly dressed in their pj's and flip flops! Like totally unbelievable!

    Oh and sona mera hai!!!

    Sky :)

  2. u mean like, i mean like, ya man like what you said is true..:). but i wonder if people really come for that!

  3. Hey dude, could you, by any chance, gimme some dope on the B schools in US? Planning to take the GMAT in some time. Was searching for some varsities in US n UK. Any idea how to in about, with the job?

  4. hey Longhorn..nice post!!...seriously,squashed these are all myths and you could find that out as soon as you arrive...!!

  5. eggjaaaaaaaaactly.
    all i saw in my college were students poring over their books.

    That and trying to thaw in class with puddles of water forming gently around their chairs in the winter.

    happy days with frozen hair.

  6. Sky, le lo, sona aap hi ka hai. And yeah, if you come to Texas, then you get to see them in less thatn PJs and flip-flops! ;)

    Pallavi, yeah, I suppose some do... at least as I found on edulix over the years.

    Shayon, go and visit the forums at --- you'll find a treasure there.

    Adi, welcome onboard! Yeah, I was trying to save these people a few shocks.

    Grafxgurl, thankfully, in Texas, we think more about hot winds and dips in the swimming pool than anything else. :)

  7. :-( What are you doing man?You don't want desi janta to fantasize and be happy for a while. Akhir baad mei bachche ko akal to aa hi jayegi? :-)

  8. very helpful indeed...well, i'm a would-be undergrad who's lived in the US before, but what you've said is absolutely true and bound to be helpful to a lot of people!

  9. Hey, thanks for the link. I'll try to check it up ASAP!

  10. now this post has proved rlly informative for me coz i'm givin my gre in oct end this year n will hopefully land on an american uni campus as soon as possible !!-Ms NMA

  11. Ahh... the last part broke my heart :(

  12. Very true. I too fantasized all these and realized them after reading posts from edulix esp, the one posted by Salma('ye he meri kahani' thread). Now, after having landed at the US, i realize how wrong i was.

  13. Hollywood is often confused with the US just as Bollywood (yech!) is confused with India.

    It happens...

  14. I wanted to say, I also detest it when foriegners assume that all Indians are familiar with Hindi.

    So yes, stereotyping a country through some images on screen is not a good idea.

  15. Alka, aare shukr karo sab ko bata diya: idhar aake warna watt lag jayegi! :)

    Rajarshi, lets hope so. Oh, BTW, no disrespect meant to you as an undergrad! :)

    Shayon, do so, please!

    Miss NMA, okay cool! All the best for your grad study apps.

    Harshdeep, oh don't you worry --- there is enough to put your heart back together! ;)

    Dhana, welcome onboard! And yes, of course... the shock is pretty amazing, ain't it?

    Hari, you're right --- we all so love to believe in stereotypes.

  16. Good post. I got educated on the 'on campus and off campus' thingy. Thank you. :)

  17. hey man, the link u'd given me...well, i did register there but i need to activate my email id before i get to login and it's been almost a week now bt no mail from them. I mailed them with my prob bt no reply, yet. Is this phenomenon common with the forum?

  18. truly true. i had all such notions before coming here too. but all of them turned sour. well, not really ALL. girls do roam around in skimpy dresses every corner of our university. after all im going to one of the top party schools

  19. very true. i felt the exact same thing when i landed here 10 years b4.

  20. oh, my sister might agree a lot with u !!..esp like u wrote about the woes of grad life...u won't believe it, she got so busy from the day she arrived there and now mails or calls us every 2 weeks..she's been preoccupied with a hell lotta assignments,projects and she wrote in a mail..'it feels you're back in school here...i have so much homework to do'..haha..totally contradictory to what people anticipate back here in india !!

  21. That's indeed very helpful :)
    (I swear I left a message here two days back! It's disappeared!!)

  22. Indicaspecies, thank you! And welcome onboard!

    Shayon, thats strange. Send me an email and I might be able to help.

    Maverick, yeah this is summer time: so a lot more thunder-thighs are visible ;)

    Hawkeye, oh yes... timeless disappointment! :D

    Lavender, yeah and I do empathize with your sister as well. :)

    Anumita, hahahah.. don't worry; lets hope this turns helpful for those who are the first-time visitors.

  23. heh - liked this post, haven't been in the US. Been in the more colonial cousin. But I get completely annoyed with ppl who take it that everyone lives completely differently to 'us' and it's party-time anywhere you turn 'in the West' n blah! Errr then I get annoyed when someone comes and steps into the mould and disproves my pet theory :/

  24. These "busted myths" dont cut it for me.
    1. I dont think anyone is stupid enough to think that all America is the Vegas strip.
    2. Since when was the GRE important?
    3.Why would anyone equate Americans and stupidity (Seems there's a lot of people who do if what I glean from your post is true.)
    4. Getting laid and having sex is not "american". It's personal. If you and I can't get laid even though it appears we might magically do it once we are here, something is wrong with what we might be trying / not trying to do. It's not a betrayel of our (dumb) misperceptions.

  25. Pilgrim, thanks! :) And welcome to the blog. Yeah... we all have our pet theories and don't like to have them disproved so easily. I just wish most of us based them on facts than hearsay.

    Art, first of all, welcome. Second, I think you and I have a very different set of people we know in real life. There are people, believe me, who think that it is all fun and no play in the US. If you visit the forums on, you'll know that there are a thousand newbies who come every week and ask "I have 1350 on the GRE, 80% in 10th and 12th --- pls halp!" (and no that wasn't a typo). I'm actually delighted that you've realized that the GRE isn't anything at all. And about the last one --- I couldn't have put it any better. :)


Post a Comment

Popular Posts