It’s a week before the Basecamp at Tepper starts and I found it just the right time to start a blog on my life at Tepper in the coming two years.
People have started pouring in and this blog is dedicated to what they do immediately after they land in Pittsburgh. Some of these experiences are mine and some are of my friends’. And most of it is written from an international student’s perspective. So, if you are an international student reading this blog before coming to Tepper, I think it would help you.
Alright, so international students are coming to Pittsburgh in two ways: 1) Flying directly to Pittsburgh from their home countries 2) Flying to a relative’s/friend’s/transit place, spending some time there and then coming to Pittsburgh. In both the cases, the one thing that most of the people have done is that they have leased an apartment before coming here. And I would suggest the same to all the students coming here. Do finalize an apartment and lease it before coming here. That will save you a lot of hassles and expense.
The next thing is a phone and internet connection. I brought my own cellphone, so I didn’t have to take any contract-based phone plans. I just took a prepaid T-Mobile connection that allows you to keep your own cellphone. The plan costs $50 a month and provides free calls and text to any number in the US. I also have taken a $10 top up plan that allows me to make free calls to all the land-line phone numbers in India and free text to any cellphone in India. This top-up plan works for many countries. The internet connection process was smooth too. I called up a guy from Comcast (apparently the most reliable ISP here), he fixed an appointment for the next day, came and installed it. For Comcast connection, international students would require an ID (passport) and a $50 security fee if they don’t have an SSN number (most of us). The deposit is not taken by cash but by a credit card. If you have taken an International Forex Card, that should work as well.
Setting up the house is the primary agenda for most of us immediately after shifting. There are two challenges in that: 1) How to find a good store where you get good stuff at economical prices 2) How to get the stuff transported to your apartment.
Most of the people have suggested buying furniture from Ikea as they have good furniture at low prices and they deliver the stuff at a flat rate of $59 (heard this on discussion forums and haven’t tried it myself). Groceries and miscellaneous items are available in a lot of stores in Shadyside, all within walking distance. You can expect some more information on this in the next few posts. The initial set up cost should be around $300-$500, however it depends a lot on how you want to set up the house.
These have been the most important set of activities in the first 2-3 days of arriving in Pittsburgh. On a personal front, I am feeling nervous as well as excited to start this new journey. I hope to continue this blog as I would like to crystallize my Tepper memories and would love it if those crystals throw some light at future travelers!