Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cycling, Football & Shopping - Busy Weekend!

Day 3, 19th September 2010

It is the time to "SHOP”!!!!

My brother had sent me a coupon of Express - A Branded Retails Chain of Clothing stores!!! It had a 40% discount for a $100 purchase and was expiring on 11th October 2010. Since Hari also intended to do some shopping for his Birthday, we decided to go to the Louisiana Mall that afternoon.

So after the Sunday routine of taking head bath etc etc and having a quick brunch we left to the mall. Here Mall just means a place where you can find many shops or building’s for shopping. It is never a single multistory building with even multiplexes in them. The max you can find might be a 2 story buildings. The surface area is so much that it might be a 10-50 minutes to walk diagonally. After, a few minutes of losing our way, Hari checked the location of the Express shop from one the shoppers and we went in. My basic goal was to shop for just $100 and not a penny more than that. Though I did my bit of formal shopping in India for MBA classes, I nowhere meet the dress etiquettes followed here!! I know with so much pain and effort Abhi and I have hunted for good brands and good shirts and pants but the business professional clothes I have belong to business casual’s category here!! So as dictated by my brother I wanted to buy a Pencil Skirt and a nice blouse [Which would suit different bottoms!!]. After trying a lot of skirts and blouses I zeroed down to a black pencil skirt and a purple blouse [LSU color]. When I tried the completed outfit Hari Commented “you Look totally Like a Different Person" This I take as a complement given the fact Hari never gives a damn to any of these stuffs. Pri did help me decide what to buy and what not to so I owe her big Thanks!! Once I was satisfied with my selection I went to bill it and realized I was $20 short for a $100 bill. So I picked up a lovely pearl necklace which would go with the entire professional attire!!!

Once we left the shop, my next item were a pair of comfortable flat semi-formal shoes for daily wear to class. The one I got from India has almost wore out, so I got a $10 speedo semi-formal black shoes [with a 50% discount]. Next we moved on Dillard’s showroom, where Pri and I persuaded, convinced, confused and made Hari buy a pant, 2 T-Shirts and a belt for his Birthday. By then I was almost exhausted and I had a test the next day, so I insisted we head back home without making any pit-stops for a drink or a snack. And oh yes!!

We did have some snaps taken all our way through shopping so you guys can see the Mall Concept here!!!

Cycling, Football & Shopping - Busy Weekend!!!

Date 2 - 18th September 2010

If Cricket is a Religion in India then people worship Foot Ball [ American ] in LSU!!!

This Saturday was the 1st Game at LSU :Louisiana Vs Mississippi. The 1st home game at LSU is called the "Gold Game" and usually people end up wearing Yellow clothes to show their support. The stadium where the game was played called the "Tiger Stadium" is stone throw away from my apartment!!! So I had the advantage and the opportunity to see why LSU is called the university for Party Animals!!!

People start Tailgating like 36 hours before the game!!!

Tailgating : A bunch of people, could be friends, colleagues, family , students or just new buddies set up a tent in and around the campus.They bring a bunch of eateries and drinks [ Beer holds the King Share], barbecue and sit and enjoy the game which is live streamed on their Televisions set as the game goes on inside the stadium. So right from Friday afternoon, I could see big buses, trucks tailgating in and around the campus. In fact the congestion is so high that :

1. Nicholson Apartment Admin had distributed pamphlet on what precautions the residents need to take
2. Most parking lot facility people had restricted parking post Friday afternoon and what not!!!
3. The mobile phone networks crash!

On the game day, my MBA class also had set up a Tailgate in campus which I visited along with a senior. Man O Man, I haven't see such a unanimous crowd ever in my life in terms of dress code, mood, enthusiasm and beer!!!!! There was one women who got her 3 month old baby girl for her 1st Game!!! It was so damn hot, yet she wanted her kid to have this experience!!!! I visited my MBA tailgate event, where most of them were playing games ; basic intention was to drink beer :-) . I was unable to tolerate the heat without drinking beer I headed back home :-P

The game started around 6:00 PM, and after that Pri, Hari and I thought of taking a stroll across campus and take some snaps. This time the campus was less populated. Few people watching the match in the tent, huge crowd outside the stadium trying to enter it and many people drunk to the brim of their consciousness. I came to know that the stadium holds 92K people and some years back, when LSU was winning a very important match the noise recorded on a Hector scale was 5.5!!!

Where ever we went we saw sign boards that said "Geaux (Go) Tigers!!", "Beat the Bull Dogs!!" and what not. Hearing the roar in the stadium when LSU played good, made me decide I need to go to at-least 1 game during my stay at LSU. I almost feel it would be like Harry Potter Quiditch Games!!! :-D

Finally, after a couple of snaps, walking around campus, meeting people who were not able to stand on their feet we decided to head back home. If there is one thing I can compare this to an Indian Event, it would be "Kumbh Mela". Well there are no stampedes hear but the craziness is definitely here to stay!!!

P.S : Many of my classmates have promised me to find a ticket this season for going to the game. It would cost $10-11. I hope I get one soon!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cycling, Football & Shopping - Busy Weekend!

Day 1 - 17th September 2010

For a very long time, I had plans for going on a cycle ride around the 6 mile lake near LSU campus called the "LSU Lake". Last Friday, I decided to make this wish come true!!! I got off work by 5:00 PM, went home got fresh and boarded Transit to take me to LSU Recreation & Gym Building. Here we can borrow bicycles for 2 hours each day without paying any FEES!!! I know that is really COOL. So after finishing the initial formalities, We got the bicycle with a sexy helmet!!!

We started off by around 7:15 PM I guess. When I initially started peddling, for about 5-10 minutes I could hear a couple of bones crack in my body. GOSH!!! I know, I had become that inflexible and rusty :-). And yeah, it took a lot of effort, sweat, courage and energy to just make the cycle move by peddling. The 1st round was exhaustive, and I was pretty sure I would never attempt anything like this again. The only thing in my mind was "Arpitha, keep peddling and keep moving, don't stop for a break because if you did!!! then you would never get back on the cycle!!" :-) But the good thing about it was, it made me feel less guilty for eating Cheese, Butter, Cookies and what not the whole week ;-). Hari 's presence also helped a lot, but I guess I spent some of my energy talking to him, which otherwise might have been used for peddling [ seriously I was that tired!!!] and yeah he took some snaps of me riding!!!.

Finally, we completed one round and stopped to take some rest. Hari and Pri were planning for a second round [ which I was not going to do, if I didn't want to faint while cycling] So we sat and were discussing our options and as seconds passed by, I felt better!!! Yeah, I felt so relaxed after a short break that I was in for the 2nd round. 2nd round, was not that exhaustive; may be because we were riding slowly or may be because by then my mind and body was ready for what was ahead. We chatted all the way along while riding. At the end of it I felt I could do with one more round!!! :-D [ I know you guys must be thinking "TOO MUCH!!" ]
So after covering about 12 miles in 1.20 hours it was time for us to head back to Wal-Mart. So we returned the bicycles, had dinner at a Mexican place and took off to shopping!!!

I feel cycling helped sweat a bit of my excess flab :-D which I am glad about and I ought to do this weekly once. This is what I have in mind, hope my body has the courage to follow this routine and my schedule has 2 hours in spare each week!! :-D

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poker, Uno & Bluffing - Out at Midnight!!!

I was under the opinion that last weekend will turn out to be like any other weekend. But there was a surprise element in it that I really enjoyed. Since it was Ganesha Chathurthi [ Saturday, 11th September 2010], my initial plan was to clean apartment ASAP, and prepare some nice lunch with some sweet!!! But the plan got changed due to some unforeseen circumstances and we ended up going to Wal-Mart shopping in the noon. So our trip was

1. Fedex Office - To Collect my iPhone which was couriered by my brother
2. Indian Store - We bought some frozen Chapathis
3. Wal-Mart - Basic weekly shopping [ On the occasion of the festival I got a T-Shirt for 1$ ].
4. A stop at Community Coffee store [ Something like Coffee Days]

and headed back home by 5:30 PM. Hari invited us for a poker night at his place. We agreed instantaneously!!!

Pre-Reading : Hari's roommate and friend for 7 years, Richie was on a vacation to India around the time we came to LSU. Vandana, Hari's friend wanted to play poker once Richie gets back. So Pri's and my wait for 1 month to play poker coming to an end.

So Hari, came to pick us from our apartment at around 8:30-9:00 PM. But we were still having dinner, so he informed us he would pick up another friend and then stop by our house. So Pri and I got ready in a hurry [ I was initially wearing my tracks, thinking that it would be just a few people I know, but after knowing a few more may join us, I jumped into a Jean ( Indian Effect) ]. So Hari picked up Ashay [ 2nd year Engineering student, from Pune] and came to our place. Hari , Asay, Pri and I then went to Vandana's [ MS student, from Tamil Nadu] home to pick her up. We came to Hari's home by 9:30 PM. Since we were waiting for some more people, I took a break and came out to call my parents. The various reasons being :

1. To wish them on the occasion of Ganesha Chaturthi
2. I had the new phone!!! DUH!!
3. I was conscious of the fact that may be for the 1st time ever in my life, I would be staying 0ut that late!!

So after a few minutes of waiting we started playing poker.

1. Pri
2. Hari
3. Me
4. Ashay
5. Vandana
6. Richie [ Did his BE and MS here]
6. Sirish [ Did his MS here and working. Soon getting married to his fiancee whom he addressee as "WIFE" already!!!]

Since, Pri and I did not know how to play Poker, Hari gave a live demo. He was a non-stop chatter box!!!! Since he was successful in explaining how to play poker to me, I am confident he can become a good professor. We were bored by his explanations and people were bored by playing a demo game. BUT!!!! Hari is never satisfied with his explanations!!!! After quiet a bit of persuasion, he finally gave up and we started playing the actual game. Soon one more person came to play the game : Rajesh Shankaran.

Once again Hari "Started off" and this time Rajesh was also a competitor,. The more Hari explains, more doubts this dude comes up with!!! I really do not know how we finally managed to start the game. So , after a couple of rounds of interesting game, out of no where Rajesh asked me my last name! When I told him, he asked "Are you Tribuvan's Sister?"

Rajesh Shankaran : Pursuing his PhD after doing his MS here. One interesting thing is my brother and he were roommates here in LSU!! He commented telling my bro and I look similar [ No one is going to buy that one!!! ].

Then on poker goes on for almost 2 hours I guess. Some intresting observations:

1. Hari - Never plays or bets his money. He always gives up in round one!!! Only time he plays is when he is sure he is going to win!!!! After some rounds, Pri used to taken his chips and bet on his behalf, though he was very much against it. Vandana & I supported her!!

2. Vandana - Asks recommendations from Hari and Rajesh. They usually end up giving some different suggestions. Then since she is loosing lot of money she says " I am allowed to withdraw from the game, because I am bankrupt"!!! She also dictates Sirish not to make any foolish moves!! [ He never listens to her though]

3. Rajesh - I think more than playing, he was asking doubts!!! and finally when all his doubts were cleared he would withdraw from the game!!!! [ I know it's irritating and funny at the same time]. And yes, though Hari talks a lot, most of it makes sense, but that is not true with this guy!! He was trying to be metalinguistic, but failed miserable. Nevertheless, it was full time entertainment for the rest of us.

4. Ashay - Was a real player. He used to bluff a bit, bid and be involved in the game as much as possible. usually I used to give him change when I won and at some point when he won he started distributing changes to all!!!

5. Richie - Wanted to play a good game. But, Hari or Vandana would comment on his moves and he would re-do it all over again!!

6. Sirish - The dude who wanted someone to win huge amounts!!! He would bid for such high prices, which would make Hair or Vandana say "Dont do that!!!". His logic was simple, no point playing with no risks and no money to make!!

7. Me - I played average!!! :-)

After poker we played UNO and BLUFF, and by the time we were done it was 2:30 AM!!! :-ooooo. I still wonder how a sleepy head like me never felt sleepy the entire time. Hari rushed me back to home, and I had a fruit and slept off.

When I bid good bye to all the people, I never forgot to mention "Lets do this once again". Because I thoroughly enjoyed it!! made me relax and get some good laughs!!! Hope we have a poker night some time soonnnnnnnn :-)

Dedicated to all "Healthy" Card gamers!!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Routine has already been set!!! :-O

Its been 3 weeks since my classes have started. And I already see a routine settling in. Both with respect to my MBA and my Independent Stay :-)

I have 5 MBA courses and 1 English Class. I had to take an English Exam since I am an International student. Apparently I am not good at writing English, hence the course work.

So in MBA I have :

1. BADM 7030 - Accounting , which involves Balance Sheets, Cash Flow Models and other accounting stuffs. My classes are 8:80 AM - 11:30 AM on Mondays. I kinda am confused about this course. Because, I feel, I understand whats happening, but when I start working on a problem I end up missing, swapping numbers in the balance sheet :-)

2. BADM 7020 - Statistics, its all about Permutation, Combination, Probability and various Distribution Functions. The lecturer is quiet interesting and makes the class very interactive. I have classes on Tuesday & Thursday between 9-10:30 AM AM . Permutation and Combination is one topic in Math I don't like. In fact I have always skipped this completely even in my 12th and GMAT!!! But this time I have no choice :-( what a petty. And one more interesting thing is I usually get the numbers right, but whenever the lecturer calls my name, I end up giving wrong numbers!!!! May be it is the physiological thing with me!!! :-D

3. BADM 7050 - Information Systems, 10:30-12 Tuesdays & Thursdays. This class is the most hectic, till date. Though I come from an IT background, I fail miserably to understand some of its concepts, and the ones I do understand contradict my knowledge!!! We have to write Blogs on current IT trends, comment on our lecturers blogs, comment on classmates blogs, do presentations and refutations. And last but not the least, we don't have classes!!! We need to see video lectures (virtual class). So by this week I am supposed to be done with 8 virtual classes and I donot know where to start!!!! :-O

4. BADM 7100 - Marketing, Wednesday 8:30-11:30 AM. I have mixed feelings for this class. I some times enjoy this class because the lecturer gives practical examples, but when he gets into details of LSU football I end up sleeping [ I know nothing about LSU football!!!]. Another problem is I don't know what are we supposed to do in this class. By far, I have done nothing offline for this course and that makes me happy!!! God save me when course work starts :-/

5. BADM 7010 - Is a session every Friday 9-11 AM where Alumina's of Flores MBA are called. They give an overview of their professional life post MBA, then we can network with them and stuffs like that. There is a mandatory attendance system, and if you are late by even a minute you are marked absent. This will effect our grades for this course. But the good news is apart from participation I don't have to do anything much ;-)

6. ENGL 1005 - English Writing class Tuesdays & Thursdays 1:30 - 3:00 PM. We will be trained to write dissertation & thesis in this class!!! But I am doing an MBA for God's Sake!!!! Well no one is here , to listen to my tragedy [ How Unfortunate]. The lady professor gives us so much home work. Sometimes I feel I am better off doing an MBA rather than some English Degree. But one good thing about the class is, I find a lot of Indians & Asians. Although attending this class is painful, I try to derive some pleasure out of it!! Still I feel I don't need to take up this course :-(

Apart from academics, my weekdays start at 6:30-7:00 AM depending on how sleepy I am [ I usually reset the alarm 2-3 times before I get up]. I get fresh [ wake up Pri], get ready, have Breakfast and pack some food [ Since I a veggie I get to eat either cheese/vegetables outside]. If I have 10 minutes to spare, I come online and catch up with some friends in India who would be online, doing a late night work in office. I walk to class [ 15-20 mins]. Post classes, I come to my work place usualy by afternoon. I have my lunch her, do some work, browse and head back home by 6:00 PM odd. Depending on how tired I am , I end up calling transit. Once back home, I cook [ 1 hour] on alternate days, do a bit of cleaning, browse etc. Somedays I might end up going to one of my MBA classmates home for project/ presentation or case study discussions. By 9:30 PM odd have dinner, go for a short walk with Pri [ Hari is present on most days]. By 11 I get into my room, do bit of chatting/ talking [ No guesses on this one] and try doing some MBA stuffs. I hit the bed by 12:30-1:00 AM.

On weekends, Pri and I follow "No Alarm" policy. We end up getting up by 10:30-11:00 AM, then do our apartment cleaning till 2:30 PM. Post lunch, I get some sleep, and by 4:00 PM I go for laundry. I iron my clothes for about an hour. We then chit chat a bit, have dinner and be ready by 8:30 PM. Hari picks us from the apartment and we go for our weekly Wal-Mart shopping. Come home by 11:00 PM, browse, chat & talk and off to sleep.

Sunday, is a special day, because we prepare some Indian Breakfast like dosa, idli etc and this consumes most of the morning. Pri, Hari and I might either play some game at home or we go for a walk around the lake. Then I get back to my Dairy to see I have so many tasks pending for this week. I try completing some, have dinner and sleep wishing all this was a dream.

I wish I wake up, back my bed in my room in Bangalore. In fact I wish I am not woken up by the alarm, but rather by one of my parents voice or a friends call. I wish I wake up when ever I want, not worrying about food!!! I wish I wake up to to see all my clothes neatly washed and ironed in my closet!! And last but not the least I wish I wake up and I get a warm hug from my near and dear ones [ I miss them the most, and I hate them all for making me an addict to their love & affection].

But, my wish a couple of months back was to do what I am exactly doing right now [ Please don't think "blogging"]. I am giving an abrupt end to this blog because I do-not know how to end it!!! Thanks for reading the lengthiest blog I have ever written!!! :-D

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I am no more "Jobless"

As I have indicated in the previous blogs, I was keen on getting some part time job at LSU. I might have sent 100 odd emails, have dropped by numerous offices submitting my resumes but no good news!! The week I had my Launch 16th-20th August was very hectic and I had no hopes of hunting for job during that time. Our daily schedule was 8:00 am to 5:00 pm!!! But fortunately or unfortunately I missed an onsite-campus visit on 20th August. The reason being, I had been to pay my fee bill and the cab which was taking us left before time. I came and checked at my department, and they said they can't do anything much now and that I have the next 3 hours all by myself. I was so happy to hear that!! I had a zillion mails to reply, a zillion mails to spam the departments asking for JOB!! ;-)

So after having my lunch, I was browsing in a computer lab. After about an hour, I thought why not visit this place called Highway Safety Research Groups (HSRG) and check on some openings.

Pre-Reading: Pri and I had been to HSRG the 1st week of our arrival to LSU. But they said they have no job openings there. Hari, suggested us to e-mail a guy there along with our resumes. My bad, I had emailed a wrong person CROY instead of CORY. I realized this 1 week later and then forwarded my resume to him. Pri had got a call for an interview at this place during the "Launch" week and she informed me about the job openings there. The job profile was tailor made for my work experience.

So that day, post lunch I went in to their office and checked for a job opening. I was greeted by Cory and he told me the same thing "No job openings". I told him I will drop my resume just in case they find some work coming. This was on Friday. From Monday 23rd our classes began. That day, I wanted to go to another place to apply for job. We had already submitted our forms; wanted to just check when they would call for an interview. Hari and I were together, and I borrowed Hari's mobile phone to browse my Gmail. I was expecting an e-mail from my brother. And there I saw a mail from a guy called Mark, he wanted to schedule an interview appointment. I spoke to him, and scheduled an interview for Tuesday post lunch. My brother told me to do a little bit of my coding brush up, but I didn’t have the time nor the energy to do it. So, technically speaking I attended the interview unprepared.

Interview went on well, and nothing much was asked except my work-experience and what kind of job I will be doing. He told me he has 2 more interviews and by Thursday will let me know the results. After that I pretty much forgot about the job, because by then we knew we can't rely too much on Mark's words. Thursday was the day, after my classes I came home all hungry and tired! Once again I came online to check my brother’s email, and I see an e-mail from Mark offering me a GA position. I was glad to see that, but I was not happy happy!! I wonder why though.

All I had to do was go and collect the offer letter on Friday and start work ASAP. After my classes on Friday, I went to meet Mark. He gave me a few forms to fill-in and asked me to come back on Monday. I was still not that happy I got a GA, I knew this was something I had worked so hard for, but when I got it my happiness was not at all proportional to the effort!! Monday, out of the blue I get an e-mail from Mark telling me I cannot work until my Department gives a letter stating that my job will not interfere with my academics. When I dug into the reasons behind it, I got to know this is because of my "Probation Admission" into LSU. Then was the moment when I realized how much this GA meant to me!!! I met my Department Director on Tuesday to obtain a letter. He asked me why was I under Probation? Was is because of my low GMAT or in BE scores? I was pretty sure it was neither. On further investigation, we got to know I was placed under Probation by mistake!!!! Wow!!! This could be one of the reasons that I had not heard from so many places I had applied for within my Department or outside it!! This was the last hurdle I had to clear and now I am working here since a week and my GA is guaranteed at least for this semester.

Looking back, I would say I had loads of luck because and well-wishers

1. I had emailed the wrong person asking for job in the 1st place!!!

2. If I had not missed my onsite campus visit I would never have had the time to submit my resume here.

3. Because of this job offer, the mistake in my admission was corrected

4. It made me appreciate my GA even more!!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

GA...RA...TA..Student Worker 1!?!!?!!???? :-O

Long time since I have blogged. Almost a week I guess!! Well I have been caught up with so much work which mainly comprises of Attending Classes, Do Home Work, Study, Cook, Manage Home, Clean, Shop and last but not the least hunt for a job in campus.

A small introduction about work : If you are holding a F-1 Visa, you are allowed to work for 20 hours per week, within the campus premises as long as you are enrolled as a full time student for your degree.

From day 1, in fact day -30 may be I was on the outlook for a part time job here at LSU. The reasons are very obvious

1. I am paying humongous amount of fees, especially because I am doing my MBA!!!! I want to lessen my education loan burden.
2. Apart from 19 Hours of class every week, the rest of the time is for myself. I know after the initial busy schedule of getting used to being independent, at some point I might get time for myself and start feeling home sick
3. I think a zillion times even before I buy a basic fruit here, because of the Rupees to Dollar conversion that happens automatically in my brains!!!
4. Last but not the least any kind of work will always helps build your resume!!!

There might be some more reasons but I restrict myself to these four ;-)
From the very next day I landed in Baton Rouge, Pri & I have hunted for job like crazy!!!

Some statistics :

I have emailed close to 100 people ( some veterinary school included ;-) ), went door to door office at some 10 places, have had job openings topic deliberately discussed with anyone I meet at LSU, have taken multiple copies of multiple versions of my resume depending on the job I am applying to, keep refreshing my g-mail in case I get a call for interview. But, all was not well and it ached my heart even more when I quit 2 companies in a span of 4 months and came here :-P. Apart from this there was the initial peer pressure that everyone else has some kind of a financial help!!! After a week, I made sure this did not effect me, and I was happy because I was successful in doing so. Yet, I never bothered to unsubscribe from Naukri, Monter etc [ Job search Sites in India]. This is because it always made me feel better, that I had a call for an interview!!!, forget the fact that I wouldn't be able to attend one!! :-P

So after 3-4 weeks of job hunting the information I got was :

There are 4 types of job which F-1 visa holders can get into

1. Research Assistant RA -> You do some research work within your department and work for a professor who is doing some thesis etc.

2. Teaching Assistant TA -> You do most of the admin work for the professor. Such as, correcting papers, assigning Home work to his students, try to solve their doubts etc.

3. Graduate Assistant GA -> You can work in any department irrespective of your field of study. And based on the openings, you need to learn the job and work. For example a Civil Engineering student is a GA, who does web design :-)

The above mentioned jobs are advantageous, since you get a fee wavier ( % depends ), and some minimum salary which you can use for small comforts like flip flops, hair oil etc in my case:-)

The last one is called

4. Student Worker : This job, will just pay you on hourly basis depending on the work you do and no fee waiver will be imposed! Some jobs that belong to this category are

a. Tutor
b. Dining Place Helper
c. Lab Assistant to name a few.

Well, by the end of this blog I hope you guys have a descent idea about the job options for a F-1 and how difficult it is to get a part time job in the 1st place!!!