A memorable trip to USA – Invitation and Preparation

A memorable trip to USA – Invitation and Preparation

I had an awesome opportunity to work as a Remote Intern for The Linux Foundation as part of the OPNFV project. The summer went amazing with lots of new opportunities to learn, grow, and connect with the most incredible minds working on the NFV. The details of my project can be found here. Not only was it an amazing summer of learning, but I was also invited to attend their release event OPNFV Plugfest.

I was incredibly excited mainly because of two reasons, firstly I get to meet new people and interact with them, and secondly, it was to be my first trip overseas. The venue was Portland, Oregon and the duration was five days. Now Portland is quite close to Mountain View, California where my cousin’s sister lived. I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit her and explore more as you don’t get to travel to the United States on a sponsored trip so often. Coming to the process of trip preparation.

The VISA

The first step was Visa. Believe me, it was the hardest part. The process is simple enough to understand but quite difficult to follow. You need to be error-free else you might land into a bit of trouble. The first part was filling form DS-160. Man, that is one long-form and we should fill it carefully. After filling the form, you get the details for payment, and for me, it was somewhere around 11.8k and non-refundable. The process is a bit long as you have to make two appointments, one for the photograph and the other for the interview. The good thing is that if by any chance you have made a mistake in the DS-160 form, there is an official desk to rectify the mistakes and they charge about 200-300 bucks.

The second appointment was for the interview. Now, this is the most crucial part of the entire process because if you clear this, you get your visa. But if you do not, you have to start again and you lose the application fee which is quite substantial. Thus, it is better to prepare for each and every question put in front of you. Since I had to visit my cousin, I was pretty sure that the interview can cover questions from those aspects too. So I collected all the relevant information from my cousin.

The Questions

The questions asked to me were:

  • Why are you traveling?
  • What is the duration of the event and the intended duration of stay?
  • What is the status of your cousin?

They did not check any documents as such, but the last question was a bit tricky. Thankfully, I knew the answer and all went well. It was not the same case for my friend who had to make the same trip for Plugfest. He got a bit nervous and wasn’t able to explain the event to the interviewer. His visa got rejected :(. However, he did not lose hope and really wanted to go to the event. So he applied again. He applied for a different date and location this time and finally, his visa got approved 🙂

Preparations

This was going to be my first travel overseas and so I was extra careful with preparations.

Climate and Weather

It is almost a no-brainer that one should have a look into the climate and weather of the places to visit. I had to travel to Portland and Mountain View during the month of December. I realized that the temperatures are quite to the colder side in Portland and a moderately cold in MTV. However, since San Francisco is quite windy, it is better to prepare for that as well.

Now since Hyderabad has a moderate climate, I was out of winter clothes. It was time for some shopping. However, there was a catch. There is sale whatsoever on any brand during November end. I thought I had to lighten my pocket quite a bit. Luckily, we found a few factory outlet stores nearby and all the shopping went for around 10k from Allen Solly which prepped me fully for the trip.

Misc

There were other miscellaneous things as well like documents, passport, and electronics. Ensure taking a US convertor or better a universal convertor if your flight has any layovers.

Do check out my Singapore and Taiwan travel blogs.

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