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Studying in the United States

Welcome to the United States - The land that Christopher Columbus discovered while hoping to reach India! The US is now the famous melting pot of immigrants and the land of opportunity! The worlds oldest democracy, it is a large country divided to 52 states. According to the 2000 census, the US has a population of 281 million, with large concentrations along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The majority of Americans are of European descent, while about 30 million are of African American heritage and around the same number have Hispanic roots. There are about 10 million Asian Americans, of which the Indian community accounts for 1.7 million. Well, the US has indeed been the land of opportunity for the Indian community, it is currently the most affluent immigrant community.

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The United States has an excellent network of highways creating a neat grid across the entire country. Unfortunately however not all American cities can boast of good public transport systems. The few good intra-city rail systems are mostly in the older cities along the East Coast of America.

Therefore for large sections of the country, there isno alternative to travelling by car. Americans are very dependent on their automobiles, and it is easily the most popular mode of transportation.

Keeping with this trend is the car rental facility which is available at most airports. Most car rentals typically require a valid drivers license and a credit card. For those without cars, the cheapest way to travel inter-city is usually by bus, although this is more time consuming than travelling by train or by air.

Travel by bus intra-city is quite reasonable and is available in most large American cities. The main long distance bus service nationally is Greyhound. There are however othe companies which provide better service locally.

AMTRAK is the main rail network across the country. There are however other regional rail-networks concentrating on specific regions. Rail travel is however at times significantly more expensive than travel by bus, although it is quite comfortable, and typically have pantry cars.

Air travel is very common in the US, and sometimes can be even more economic than travel by train. It is often a good idea to look out for 'deals' on travel and airline web-sites. You can be amazed at the low prices if you get a good 'deal'.


The main shopping area in any city or town is typically the "Shopping Mall". However If you live in big city like New York, each of its residential areas will have its own commercial streets where you can shop, eat and generally hang out. A visit to an American Shopping Mall is a cultural experience by itself.

The mall is quite often a huge self sufficient complex boasting a wide array of shops, restaurants, cinemas and entertainment facilities.


You will typically find a mall in all towns and cities, and probably within 15-20 minutes drive of where you live. It is not unusual to find people spending a good part of theirleisure time in these malls. A peculiar problem that shoppers in the United States can face is that of too many choices. It is very common to find multiple choices for all things even for the most mundane items like milk and bread.

Most American cities have fairly large Indian communities, and it is not difficult to find Indian grocery stores. These store sell most Indian food typically rice, pickles, Indian vegetables, frozen snacks (samosas, "onion bhajis", palau and so on). A number of these Indian grocery stores also rent movie video cassettes in Hindi and other vernacular languages.

Most stores and shopping malls in America shut at 9 or 10pm on weekdays and very few are open 24 hours. On Sundays, most shops close at around 4pm. However, if you run out of food during non-working hours, you will usually find a "24 hour shop", selling essentials such as milk and bread, apart from newspapers and magazines. Most of these shops are run by Indians who work long hours!


Eating out

There are many Indian restaurants all over the country. In most cases, these restaurants serve a standard fare to satisfy those cravings for spicy food. The cuisine is typically North Indian Muglai style, and it can leave South Indians a trifle dissatisfied.

Apart from Indian restaurants, the main fast-food outlets are the ubiquitous McDonald's and Burger King. For pizza, the main ones are Pizza Hut and Domino's.


Almost all major cities with large Indian populations - New York, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, - have temples, mosques, churches with Indian denominations and gurudwaras The most famous temple in the country is the Malibu Hindu Temple in California, a temple of the Hindu god Venkateswara.