Life at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

I am doing my master’s in computer sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S. Although it was just 18 months ago, it does seem ages to me.

After the GRE and TOEFL examinations, one should prepare well ahead for applying to the universities of their choice, make arrangements to pay the various payments towards SEVIS charges, visa interview fees, etc., the details of which are available on the Net. All these should be done in a well-planned manner to avoid personal and parental tension. You don’t have to purchase everything in India and lug them along all the way to U.S. Winter clothing can be bought at the destination city itself. Campus outfits comprise the ubiquitous jeans, T-shirt and a pair of comfortable canvas shoes.

I did my graduation in College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai, and I do notice a striking difference in the quality of education here. The curriculum here is rigorous, more to the point and makes sure we understand what we are doing. The computer science department at the UW-M is famous for its Systems Research. It is the Mecca of Database fanatics. Another plus point in doing a master’s programme is that sometimes you get to attend classes by extraordinarily brilliant professors who have played pivotal roles in establishing the fundamentals of computer science decades back.

Even though the initial estimate of expenditure will be awesome for the average middle class student, scholarships come to the rescue, nearly 99 per cent of the time. There are positions like Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant and Project Assistant. Such assistantships usually take care of the tuition fees for the students. Besides these opportunities, there are part-time jobs on campus like website maintenance that are of financial help to students. Campus life never ceases to be interesting and fun. For example, calling professors by their names will seem appalling at first.

Do I miss home? Away at this distance, I do now realise the intensity of affection folks have for me at home. I also feel that I should uphold the distinction of my alma mater and the dignity of my homeland. Well, with Skype installed at both ends and together with the cell phone, we don’t really feel homesick at all. Studying abroad is, therefore, a combination of enriching experience, intellectual challenge and a real test for our social skills.

Email: ramraj@cs.wisc.edu

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