Blanton Museum of Art is seeking Volunteer Gallery Teachers

Volunteer Gallery Teachers

volunteer gallery teachers

For information regarding this post please contact: Siobhan McCusker

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Texas Excursion: Schlitterbahn Waterpark

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels
Schlitterbahn Waterpark is in New Braunfels and is nestled along the banks of the Comal River. Schlitterbahn has over 3 miles of tubing adventures, 7 children’s water playgrounds, 17 water slides, the world’s first surfing machine, and 3 uphill water coasters spread over 65 acres.

Schlitterbhan Master BlasterSchlitterbhan slideSchlitterbahn River

With all these attractions, it is no wonder Schlitterbahn is continuously voted the best waterpark in the nation! Rides include an uphill water coaster, skycoasters, tube chutes, heated pools, plenty of body-slides, pools, and a surfing ride.

The trip will take place Saturday, July 18, between 8:30 am and 8 pm. Seat reservations are $100 and include transportation to Schlitterbahn Waterpark, a breakfast bag, and snacks and refreshments at the end of the day.

To purchase a seat visit the International Office online store. Email any questions to

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One Person’s Trash is Another’s Cathedral

cathedral of junk austin texas

If you’re looking for interesting places to visit in Austin, the Cathedral of Junk is a little slice of that “Keep Austin Weird” vibe. The Cathedral of Junk is one man’s backyard that has turned into an evolving sculpture of junk in South Austin. The Cathedral of Junk began in the late 1980’s as a project by the homeowner; Vince Hannemann. He’s continued to add toys, signs, tires, bicycles, bottles, circuits, sunglasses, concrete, metal, etc. Vince has also had people who donated junk to add to the Cathedral. The structure has multiple levels and several of the “rooms” feature a main color. It’s a great reminder that everyday objects that are thrown away can be turned into something quirky, strange, and beautiful. It does not take long for visitors to meander through the structure, but you could easily spend a couple of hours admiring how all the junk is constructed together. Each time you walk through the Cathedral, you can easily find something new in a room that you didn’t notice before.

cathedral of junk in austin texas

To visit the Cathedral of Junk, you must contact Vince to make an appointment since it is a private home. A minimum $10 donation is required per group and you must call ahead since there are no set hours, and the Cathedral isn’t open every day. It’s a great place to visit and definitely off the beaten path for things to do in Austin.

cathedral of junk in austin texas


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Texas Excursion: Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas roller coaster

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is a theme park in San Antonio with many fun rides spread out over a 200-acre park!  The park has various thrill rides, family rides, and kid’s rides.  One of the rides opening this summer is the world’s first 4-D roller coaster, the Batman.  In addition to the several rides, there are various types of entertainment such as music and performance shows, food stops and restaurants, and souvenir shops.

During the summer the park also has a full water park named White Water Bay.  White Water Bay features several large pools, lazy rivers, multi-passenger rafting adventures, and various open and tubed speed slides!

Come join in on the summer fun!  The trip will take place Saturday, June 13, between 10 am and 9:30 pm. Seat reservations are $105 and include transportation to Six Flags, a breakfast bag, and snacks and refreshments at the end of the day.

To purchase a seat visit the International Office online store. Email any questions to

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Insurance Deadlines Monday, 6/8/15

Please be aware of the following insurance deadlines coming up on 6/8/15 at 5:00 pm:

  1. Summer waiver deadline for graduate students with insurance through a TA/AI/GRA assignment
    1. Spring/summer student health insurance is included automatically on all international students’ spring Tuition/Fees Bill.  If you have insurance coverage over the summer due to a graduate academic assignment, you must request a waiver online in order to waive the summer student insurance fee.
    2. Note that TA and AI spring assignments generally carry insurance benefits over the summer.  Please see the Human Resources website for further information about academic assignments and insurance benefits.
  2. Summer waiver deadline for students graduating in spring
    1. Graduation waiver forms are available online and should be submitted by scan to .
  3. Deadline to purchase dependent Insurance
    1. International students are automatically billed for health insurance coverage, but dependent children and spouse must be re-enrolled in coverage each semester(fall, spring, and summer).
    2. You can enroll dependents by scheduling an appointment with the ISSS Insurance Advisor or emailing .

Have a safe summer!

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Have a Fun & Safe Summer

Summer is a great time for adventures and fun in the sun! Unfortunately, it’s also a prime time for accidents and ER visits. Check out this practical, tip-filled blog from the New York Times: This Summer, Safety First. From road trips, to hot summer days, to camping, and more: read about some easy ways to avoid common pitfalls and enjoy your summer safely!SafeSummer

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International Voices: Dead Days and Impromptu Vacations on Campus

This post is a part of our weekly International Voices column, writing by UT students, for UT students. Enjoy!

The dead days are upon us (you can’t expect me to call two puny little days a dead week) – and I believe they’re aptly named. After all, campus turns into zombieland, populated by sleep-deprived undergrads all jittery from over-caffeination. Aimlessly they wander around campus reciting formulae, dates, and German verb conjugations before heading off to PCL or SAC or an acronym of their choice to catch some zzzs in a dim corner. You can tell the seniors by the dreamy, far-off look in their eyes, half-excited for graduation, half melancholic to leave the sheltered 40 Acres behind. Sure, college feels like losing your mom in the supermarket – for four years (aphorism coined by one of my students) – but at least it’s a supermarket you know well. And it’s really a mom-and-pop store compared to what’s waiting beyond these burnt orange walls.

Connie Loos

Connie Loos

While I wish the graduating class of 2015 all the best in their future endeavors, this is not a commencement address. My post is just about the next few days and where you’re gonna spend them. On campus, I presume, but where do you go when you need a time-out from studying? Where can you let your soul dangle and your mind rest? “We asked 100 undergrads…” (are you too young to get a Family Feud reference?) …well I asked a bunch of grads and undergrads for their favourite Zen places on or near by campus. Places that make you feel like you’re on vacation. Here’s what I learnt.

  1. The Outdoor Pool at Gregory Gym – Palm trees swaying in the breeze, the faint smell of chlorine in your nostrils, and the Beach Boys spreading Good Vibrations – nothing screams leisure like the Aquatic Complex at Gregory! If you like it a little more rambunctious, check out their Splash Bash on 12 May, 2pm.

    UT Turtle Pond

    UT Turtle Pond

  2. The turtle pond – Off Inner Campus Drive and University Avenue lies the notorious turtle pond, home to over 40 turtles whose lazy circling paddle will inspire you to slow down and do some pond-ering yourself. Crane your neck towards the sun as turtles do and enjoy doing absolutely nothing.
    Eastwoods Park – Just off campus below San Jacinto and to the right of Dean Keeton you’ll find all the solace and distraction you could want: Equipped with basketball and tennis courts, sanitary facilities and a playground, this Park has it all! Play some ball, swing as high as you can, or find the one tree that perfectly fits the shape of your back and read (no textbooks allowed!) or nap. Aside from hosting the original Eeyore statue, the best thing about Eastwoods Park is that there’s no power cables or internet access anywhere, forcing you to take a break.
  3. Waller Creek – This modest little creek runs right through Eastwoods Park and continues above San Jacinto, passing by CLA and winding its way around the Alumni Center (across from the Stadium). When you’re walking along San Jacinto, all it takes is a few careful steps down a green slope and you will find yourself in the middle of an urban forest. Listen to the bubbling, gurgling creek, take a deep cedar-soaked breath and feel instantly refreshed.
  4. The Color Inside: a James Turrell Skyscape – If you need blinders to forget you’re on campus, James Turrell’s Skyscape might be just the place for you. A white cylinder that opens at the top but blocks anything else from view, Turrell’s piece let’s you contemplate the sky and only the sky. Sitting on the simple stone bench that lines the wall of Turrell’s turret, or lying on the floor staring up at the sky canvas, you can watch the clouds drift by and reflect, dream, or scheme your next steps.

Wherever you go, make sure to leave your work behind for an hour or two. I assure you it will still be there when you get back.

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Get Smart With: Time Management


Do you feel like there isn’t enough time for all the things on your plate? Here are some tips to help you portion out your time effectively.

  • Start Small but Start Now!
    • Even taking a few small steps early on can help you avoid rushing to finish assignments. Remember, “Well begun is half done”.
  • Prioritize!
    • Look at your assignments and prioritize. The Sanger Learning Center is a great resource on campus to help you develop skills to better prioritize tasks and manage your time.
  • Separate the Assignment!
  • Find a Work Space!
    • Try experimenting with different locations to find a working environment that you enjoy and that helps you focus.
  • More Resources
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Spring Fun in Austin

At this beautiful time of year, many take time to venture out, often spending time outdoors or exploring new places. Austin has much to offer in the spring. While some of the ideas below are always free, those who plan ahead may discover days or times when museums and other venues are open to the public at no charge (or at a reduced rate), so be sure to take advantage of information available online.

barton springs Consider walking the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake or exploring Zilker Park where you can go for a swim in Barton Springs or discover beauty at the Zilker Botanical Gardens.  Near the park you will find the Umlauf Sculpture Garden too.

For those looking to get a bit further outside of Austin, consider visiting Hamilton Pool or McKinney Falls State Park for both swimming and exploring.

Austin also boasts many museums worth vising, with several on or near campus, including the Blanton Museum of Art and the Bob Bullock State History Museum and Theatres. The Texas Memorial Museum and the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum on campus should not be missed.
state capitol
In South Austin, the Lady Bird Wildflower Center offers tours and exhibits and while you’re downtown, don’t forget to take time to tour the Texas State Capitol.

As you gear up for the end of the semester, another helpful online resource is the Free Fun in Austin website 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. Enjoy!

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International Voices: Defending My Dissertation

This post is a part of our weekly International Voices column, writing by UT students, for UT students. Enjoy!

It’s been two weeks since I successfully defended my PhD dissertation, and I can still feel the numerous emotions associated with its completion. In the weeks prior to the actual day of defense, I found my life to be a hectic whirlwind of last minute preparations: scheduling the final examination, drafting my presentation, and most important of all, finishing up writing the dissertation itself! Managing these various steps towards my degree fulfillment proved to be quite stress inducing indeed, and it might be no surprise that one of the greatest challenges was the preparation for the defense preparation. So today I’d like to share a little bit about what it was like to defend my PhD dissertation.

Nabiul Afrooz

Nabiul Afrooz

I was asked to prepare a 25-30 minute power point presentation covering the 5.5 years of my research. As I’m sure many of you are well aware, presenting the hypotheses, designed tasks, and key findings for multiple projects in such a short amount of time was alone a very challenging task.  I had to laugh wondering how it could be expected that such a long period of time could be completely and properly represented in a mere 30 minute window. PhD studies are frequently compared with running a marathon, however if we’re going to use that analogy, to me the defense preparation seemed like a bizarre attempt to convey the endurance, training, and perseverance of the marathon through a 100m sprint.  At some point, I realized that it would be impossible to do justice to all of my projects in such a short period of time, so I instead chose to focus on my last project.

I wish that the word “nervous” could convey the feelings I went through at the beginning of the presentation. My hands sweat and I felt as though my examiners could actually see me shaking. I was more nervous than the time I was asked to give an impromptu speech in front of 200 people on stage at my high school. Thankfully however, by the time I reached the fourth slide of the presentation, I regained command of myself and was able to take control of every word I said. This short presentation was only the public part of the defense. All of my lab mates were present and were asked to leave the room after for a more technical, closed-door session with the PhD committee members. I was temporarily reminded of my nightmares: what if someone from the committee was to tell me that my 5 years of PhD research wasn’t actually worth the degree title? Brushing these thoughts from my mind, I happily watched as my work spoke for itself and the closed-door session seemed to slip by with casual ease.  The session lasted for an hour or so. After that, I was asked to walk out while the committee members deliberated my fate.

I sat outside the door counting the seconds. Time seemed to crawl and at one point I actually imagined seeing the clock hands stand at a standstill. Thousands of thoughts ran through my mind and my heart raced. After an eternity of two minutes, the chair of the committee walked out to congratulate me for passing the oral defense. Though it wasn’t unexpected, at that exact moment I don’t recall really feeling much of anything. I shook his hand, thanked him, and that was it. Looking back, it probably took me some time to actually absorb the news. When my brain finally caught up with reality, I found myself beaming with elation and most importantly, feeling a sense of relief as though a thousand pound weight had been lifted from my very being. If I had to characterize the actual moment of my completion, however, it would be perhaps best described as empty and at the very core, surprisingly anticlimactic.




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