Free Fun in Austin

Free Fun in Austin
As the semester comes to an end, you may be looking for inexpensive ways to get out and enjoy the city of Austin. A great online resource to help you in your quest is the website Free Fun in Austin, where you can get a regularly updated list of upcoming events and resources to plan your weekends and experience all that Austin has to offer at little or no cost.

The site features great topics such as Outdoor Fun, Favorites, and a Calendar of Events, among others.

I like to get outdoors when I can (with lots of sunscreen and water, of course), so some topics that caught my eye were Austin Festivals in 2016, Hikes, Parks, and Family-Friendly Daytrips from Austin.

Rain in the forecast (isn’t it always?) Check out Indoor Fun or Museums.

Have kids? Particularly kids who like to eat? Check out Favorite Restaurants with Playgrounds in Austin, Kids Eat Free, or Free Splash Pads in Austin and Beyond.

Out-of-town/country guests? Check out Tourism for some ideas on where to take them, and don’t forget How to See Bats in Austin.

Missing school/lab work? Complete the 100+ Free Things To Do in Austin Checklist! Relax, you won’t be graded!

Whatever you choose, I hope that you have a great time exploring Austin and that you have an enjoyable summer – perhaps we’ll pass each other on a hike or around town!

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Summer Travel and Safety

With the semester coming to a close, we here at the International Office know that many of you may be traveling out of the country to go home or go on vacation.

If you are an F-1 student traveling this summer, please bring your new format (issued after June 26, 2015)  I-20 with you. The old format I-20s will no longer be accepted for entry into the U.S. after Jul 1, 2016. If you have not yet picked up your new format I-20, please do so before international travel.

Always remember to carry the following with you:

Unexpired passport (valid at least 6 months into the future)

Valid visa. If it has expired, you will need to renew at the local U.S. embassy in your country

  • Canadian citizens are exempt
  • An expired visa can be used for travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean (except Cuba) if the travel time is 30 days or less.

Valid I-94 (electronic or paper)

SEVIS fee receipt

Valid I-20 or DS-2019 with travel signature no older than 1 year old (Make sure your and your family’s I-20s are in the new format)

Visas for any other countries that you will be visiting during your travels

If you are traveling within the US, we still recommend that you carry all of your immigration documents with you just in case of an emergency.

*If you will be traveling anywhere near the Mexico or Canada border, please be sure to carry all of your immigration documents with you. You may be stopped and have your documents checked by immigration officials.*

If you have any questions about travel, please meet with an International Student Advisor or contact us by email at


We hope everyone has safe travels over the Summer!

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Insurance Deadlines Coming Up May 6th!

Summer waivers for graduate students with insurance through a TA/AI/GRA assignment. Be sure to request an online waiver of the summer student insurance if you will have TA/AI/GRA insurance over the summer. Note that TA and AI spring assignments generally carry insurance benefits over the summer. See the Human Resources website for further information about academic assignments and insurance benefits.

Summer insurance waiver for spring graduates. Graduation waivers can be submitted by spring graduates to waive the summer student health insurance. Graduating students who do not submit a waiver will be covered by insurance through 8/31/15.

Student Health Insurance Plan enrollment for students who are NOT in F1 or J1 visa status. Only F and J visa status holders are automatically enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan. Students in any other visa/immigration status may choose to enroll in student health insurance on the Voluntary Insurance Enrollment website.

Adding dependents or dental coverage to the student insurance. Dependent (children/spouse) and dental insurance enrollments must be renewed each semester (fall, spring, and summer). Please note: this only applies to the student health insurance, not the UT Select staff insurance. Add dependent/dental coverage to your student insurance using our secure online uploader.

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STEM OPT changes effective May 10, 2016

Changes to the STEM OPT extension went into effect on May 10, 2016. Previously a 17 month extension, the STEM extension is now 24 months. To review the changes to STEM eligibility, additional reporting requirements, and how to apply, please visit our STEM OPT changes page. Additionally, our office held an information session about the changes to STEM, you can watch the video recording.

If you are currently on 17-month STEM extension or 12 month of Post Completion OPT, you may have important STEM application deadlines coming up. To request the additional 7 months or the 24 months of STEM, please familiarize yourself with the application instructions and important deadlines.

After reviewing our website, if you have any additional questions about the STEM expansion, please schedule an appointment to speak with an international student advisor. If you are no longer in the Austin area, please include your phone number in the comment section when booking your appointment so we can call you at the time of your appointment.

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Texas PEACH Season is Coming!

Summer is almost here and along with it, in-season produce! Austin has numerous farmers markets to grab seasonal produce, and some farmers markets also feature chef demonstrations and music. For a list of farmers markets in the area, read our recent post on the topic.

Cooking with In-Season Produce

Summer seasonal produce includes tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, beets, okra, avocados, potatoes, and of course PEACHES. Check out these global recipes that use seasonal ingredients!

Easy meals:

Pan-Cooked Summer Squash with Tomatoes and Basil

Potato Eggplant Curry

Quick snacks:


Minty Watermelon Cucumber Salad


Peaches are a Texan’s Summer Love

Peaches are in season, and it’s a big deal for Texans. They LOVE their peaches. You’ll find pop-up farm stands all over Austin solely selling peaches, so be sure to stop by and give them a try!

Peach season is also a great time for a road trip to Fredericksburg, TX.  They have peach picking, orchards, and wide array of peach products.  The crowning event is the Annual Peach JAMboree & Rodeo on June 17-18 in nearby Stonewall, TX.  Here, you’ll experience a Peach Queen contest, baking & salsa contests, a rodeo, and live performances!

If you’re feeling the peach fever, here’s a recipe for a classic Fresh Southern Peach Cobbler. Be sure to have some at the Peach JAMboree!


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2nd Round Summer 2016 General ISSS Financial Aid Award

Applications for Summer 2016 General ISSS Financial Aid have reopened! This financial need-based award (worth up to $1,500) is applied directly onto a student’s summer 2016 tuition bill. Please note that the award amount cannot exceed the tuition bill balance.

Students who have experienced a recent change in their financial status or who are not receiving a waiver for the nonresident portion of their tuition are especially encouraged to apply.

Applications will be accepted until Friday, May 13 at 5 pm.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be on a non-immigrant visa.
  • You must not be eligible for in-state tuition based on your immigration status.
    (In-state tuition based on academic assignment is fine.)
  • You must have completed a full course of study for two academic semesters at UT Austin.
    Note: Concurrent enrollment at another school does not count toward full-time hours.
  • Your GPA must be at least 2.0 (undergraduate student) or 3.0 (graduate student).
  • You must demonstrate financial need.
  • You must be attending classes at UT Austin during the spring semester.

Learn about additional financial aid assistance and scholarships offered by ISSS.

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Last day to drop a course or withdraw from UT (graduates) – May 6, 2016

Friday, May 6th, is the last day a graduate student may withdraw from the university or drop a class, with required approvals. It is also the last day to submit master’s report, recital, thesis, doctoral dissertation, or treatise to the graduate dean. If you’re thinking about dropping a class, don’t forget about the impact it could have on your immigration status.

All F-1 and J-1 students must be enrolled full-time to maintain a valid immigration status. To be considered a full-time student, undergraduates must be enrolled for 12 credit hours and graduate students for 9 hours in the fall and spring semesters. Dropping below full-time would cause you to lose your immigration status.

Under very special circumstances, an international student could be allowed to drop to less than full-time without an effect on his or her immigration status. If you believe that you might qualify, please schedule an appointment to speak with an International Student Advisor to discuss your case. You will need to get the permission of an International Student Advisor before you drop the class.

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Foundation Year Students Give Back to the Community

Each year, ISSS hosts a nine-month Foundation Year Program for recipients of competitive scholarships from around the globe. After graduating high school in their home countries, Foundation Year students come to UT for a gap-year program to immerse themselves in U.S. culture and prepare for success in their undergraduate studies.

This spring, the Foundation Year cohort joined with nearly a thousand other Longhorns to volunteer at the 17th-annual The Project–a campus-wide day of service aimed at giving back to the Austin community. With shovels and mulch in hand, the FY students beautified a Rundberg-area school playground and, in the process, learned about the importance of community engagement and servant leadership. The Foundation Year students may be leaving Texas soon–they’re heading off to study at universities across the U.S.!–but they have left a permanent mark on ISSS, UT, and Austin!



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Solidarity with Ecuador

You’ve by now all heard of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas on April 16. While the news media coverage of the catastrophe has almost ceased, tens of thousands of people are still very much affected by its aftermath: emergency shelters, food, and drinkable water are urgently needed.


Therefore, the Ecuadorian students at UT and the Associated Students of Linguistics are inviting the international community at UT to show their support for the victims. They are collecting donations to purchase 100 tents, 10 portable restrooms, and bottled water for  Manabi and Esmeraldas, the two regions worst affected by the earthquake. Donations will be collected in front of Gregory Gym, so come by and show your support!

Dates: May 4-5
Gregory Gym Plaza

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Stay Safe & Beat the Heat This Summer!

summer safety tips
Everyone is ready to have some summer fun! Summer can be the best part of the year, but did you know that it’s also prime time for accidents and ER visits? Check out these summer safety tips:

  • Be prepared for the Texas heat
    • Choose a sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Apply 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply often.
    • Avoid time in the sun during the hottest part of the day, especially noon to 3pm.
    • Stay hydrated! Always bring a water bottle when you spend time outside.
    • From natural swimming pools to local ice cream, Austin has tons of fun ways to have fun while beating the heat!
  • Wear bug repellent to protect yourself from mosquitoes, which can carry disease.
  • Keep your insurance card with you at all times
  • Summer can throw off sleep schedules and diets. Stay on Top of your Health, Even When You’re On Vacation

Have a fun and SAFE summer!



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