I arrived on Sunday in the US. The flight was a long 9 hour journey from Germany to New York. On arrival, they asked for a special interview because of my last name matching with someone else (Shahrukh Khan? :) But they were very nice in the interview and afterwards they skipped my customs line. Then the next flight was to Minnesota, where I had an American from California sitting with me. He was a very cheerful guy making jokes with passerbys, who also always smiled and replied jokingly. This was the 2nd difference I noted from Europe. The first was, that here they offer/use much less juices than soda, and use too much ice. The weather is excellent, but the distances which look small on maps are not that small to walk.The hotel is very nice for such a price, with big rooms and a pool+sauna. Another thing I noticed was that all the cups used in the conference, whether for water or for tea/coffee are compostable. Almost everything is recyclable; i don't know whether in the whole of US? The conference organizers were obsessed with shrimps, which they offered in every event.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I got a paper accepted in one of the two biggest robotics conferences. This conference is supposed to be held in the US. So I had to apply for the visa. I asked the conference chair to send me an invitation letter to present my paper there. Then I checked the US embassy website in Germany. The nearest embassies are in Munich and Frankfurt. Frankfurt has a one week waiting list for appointments, whereas Munich has two weeks time. So I chose Frankfurt. Their website lists the requirements. There is a $10 application fee for filling the online application. Then there is €112 visa fee to be submitted to another agency. This agency sends an email confirmation of fee payment within 3 days. Then I got the sponsor letter from my prof. I reserved a time slot on a Monday at 9 am. I went to Frankfurt on Sunday and stayed at a friend's.
On Monday morning I got up early and went out. I had seen the route plan on the Internet and so we went about to search for the tram station to take the tram. This tram station had two platforms on two different streets for two different line runs. We got to one platform, but found out that the relevant tram doesn't run from here. So we searched for the other platform, and asked a lady about it. She told us the location of this platform but said there is a transport strike today. Great!!! Like the transport strikes in my city weren't annoying enough, that they follow me here as well. Good thing a few buses were running. So we got on a bus. I called the embassy to tell them that I would be late because of the strike, and the guy there said ok in a careless manner, which surprised me. Anyways, the bus took us to a station about one km from embassy and we walked towards the embassy.
Inside, the process was pretty simple. The visa officer was a young guy who asked some simple questions, and then asked whether I can leave my passport with them. I got my passport back within 3 weeks with the visa.