Silly Little Concerns
Sar Phatey Tau Phatey Par Power Na Ghatey
Head Wrip Let Wrip  But Power  Not Down
(my first reaction when a friend told me he bought a new car for $ 25,000)

Living In United States

There are a bunch of basic needs that a man has to cater to, in the United States. They are about the same as our grand grand ancestors i.e. our cave grandfathers. They are typically  food, shelter, clothes and means of transport. But obviously we should be doing better than that. Other things like getting into a good part time programme, getting a neat car, calling home, buying stuff for yourself, are part of life too. I will just go on what ever that comes into my mind and that was relevant to me, till my experience today.

Lets start from something very basic..

I spend around 6 to 10 dollars daily on food.  Thats because I dont cook, and eat outside. Here is a table for some of the food items I go for. I am one of the  Halal boys gang.

In US dollars..
Vegi Sandwich (from Quick Check) 3.5
Pie of Plain Pizza (need 2 for a meal) 1.55
Can of Coke 0.65
Fish Filler from Burger King or McDonalds 3.5
Fried Chicken 3 pieces + fries(Pakistani shop) 4.5
A dinner at Shezan (A Pakistani restaurant) 10 - 15
Chinese Egg Fried Rice 4
A cheese egg sandwich in the morning (from Quick Check) 1.2

I usually have breakfast at home And these are about all the places I have been eating from. Therefore I spend an average total of around 250 dollars on food. Let me give an example of the cost if I had cooked myself. Halal raw chicken costs around 5 dollars. Its good for atleast 4 to 5 servings. Add another 2 dollars for the other stuff for cooking. Total of seven dollars. Cheap.

Here in New Jersey a single room apartment cost around 900 dollars, while a two bedroom costs around 1100. Typically you share it with a friend or two. So apartment takes about 450 to 500 dollars. But in New York or California, cost of a single room is about 1100 and two costs around 1400. To get an apartment you should have atleast 1.5 to 2 months of rent (because you have to give security and rent in advance).

Typically, in the United States, apartments are leased on yearly basis. If you break the contract you loose around 2-3 months of rent worth of money. The rent might cover for some of your utilities.

Other utilities (not talking about telephone) may  cost you about a max of 60 dollars per month.

Its a cost depending on your tastes. A khaki at K-Mart costs around about 20 dollars. A brand like Jordash or Tommy Hillfiger   will cost you 50 plus dollars. Shirts go the same way.

In a state like New Jersey a car is a must. But in places like New York or California where the local transport system is well developed, you can do without it. I got a one-day subway pass in Ney York for 4 dollars on my last visit there.

Which car to buy at what price to buy, is a major decision. Me being new to this place, decided to play my ininings slow and steady and got a nice 4 by 4 mitsubishi for 3000 dollars. I get it fueled after every 1 week for 8 dollars. Monthly insurance costs around  80 dollars. Liability insurance is a must by law (Liability is the damage of the other party if its your fault). I have only taken the liability insurance for my car.  But if you are getting a loan, you have to get insurance for liability and for your own damadge. Typical insurance for new cars (worth 15,000 +) is 160 dollars per month.

My point of view is that you should get a cheap car when you are new here. I have friends who have got 25,000 worth of cars. Remeber your the one who is going to pay for the installments for the next 5 years of about 500 dollars each month, plus a heavy insurance every month. Plus you loose a couple thousand of dollars right when you bring a new car to road.

For people coming to USA, they should get an international liscence, and bring along with them their local as well.You can immediately drive when you reach USA if you have that. You might get a waiver for the road test as well. And prepare for the written test while you are in Pakistan (its usally a piece of cake). I know people failing the tests and wiating for their liscence for months, while I drove in my first month here on a rented car.

A car for rent costs about 200 (if you get a good deal) dollars for 1 week. You usually rent a car to find a car for yourself and look for apartments. Taxi for  about a 20 minute ride takes around 10 dollars.

When you ar away from your family and friends, you cant stay to far away from the telephone.  When I was new here I used to buy a car for 10 dollars. I used to get about 25 minutes on it for calling back to Pakistan.

But now I have a MCI connection at home. They have a 55 cents per minute plan for Pakistan. Thats not bad at all.

But wait! Media Ring is fabilous. For just a little compromise in quality, you can talk back home for free! (that is if you have a pc back in Pakistan).

Studying In United States

Getting atleast a masters degree has always been part of my plan. I aint sure about Phd. Phd is for recognition. You might want to observe people who have already done Phd's, for making  decision for yourself.   True, these days  you can earn a fortune even with a Bs degree and few certifications, but unfortunately, survival of the fittest is one principal that we can not deny. Some day some year in the long or near furture, things will cool down, and their will be more professionals than the jobs. Masters degree will defferenciate you from rest of the lot. Its good to learn, from the experience of doctors in the States. Those who ere good prevailed. Although masters is a bunch of more courses, but the degree is what matters. My belief is that if you have the resoursces, a persone should  go directly  for Masters after Bsc . Thats because you can get rid of it in a go, your in the mood, and you'll never have to leave a job to go back to studies later in your life. But hopping into the industry is not bad at all after a Bsc. One things for sure. There is no replace for experience. Application development is an art, a skill, you gradually learn it by working. Its like bcoming a better painter every time you paint. So the earlier you enter, the better. That means you got to find yourself a part time programme. And for that you have to sniff for univs. in your region.