International Voices: All Work and No Play…

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

It is Sunday, just past morning, and I’m treating myself to breakfast tacos at the Red River Café and contemplating why it is that we always need a reason to treat ourselves to something: A dissertation progress report that went well, receiving a fellowship, finishing a term paper, grading 100 exams…. The notion that we need to earn our fun and doing something good for ourselves pervades grad student and undergrad thinking alike, and I suspect it doesn’t stop there: Work hard, play hard is a truly American credo, right?

Connie Loos

Conni Loos

Germans are proverbially hard workers, too, but, in contrast to Americans, we also cherish relaxation and (try to) separate work and private life neatly. Concepts that form part of the core values of a society tend to be lexicalized, and so we have a word marking the end of the workday: Feierabend, literally the ‘celebratory evening’. Time to have a Feierabendbeer, and ‘let five be an even number’.

The saying Freitag um eins, macht jeder seins (Fridays at 1pm, everybody does their own thing) further illustrates this work ethic: Once you’re off the clock on Friday, the weekend is yours and yours alone. Everybody takes a break, as most stores are closed on Sunday, and offices deserted. An acquaintance of mine who spent a year doing research in Potsdam told me he would often be the only one working at his institute on Saturdays. Even grad students will wish each other a schönes Wochenende and take off.

Here, in academia, there is neither a Feierabend nor a full weekend unless you decide to just take time off and deal with the guilty conscience later. So you didn’t get all your readings done? You didn’t do your best on an assignment? You haven’t finished grading 100 exams and 25 homeworks? At least you got enough sleep and thought about something other than work for a day or two! Weekends are necessary to gain perspective (the world won’t come to an end if you don’t understand Krifka’s model of telicity, no abyss will swallow you whole if your students have to wait two days longer for your comments on their draft, which they may ignore anyway) and to soak in all the motivation and sunlight you need to get through the next week.

For fifteen weeks, you flail your arms just to keep your head above water, until finals’ week, when, too exhausted to feel anxious anymore, you hand in your last paper and squint confusedly at the bright sunlight outside. Suddenly you’re free and summer is beckoning, 3 glorious months of freedom lie ahead. I, for one, find it hard to adjust to all this free time – I can’t stop marching to the you-need-to-be-working rhythm for at least another week or two. And I find myself wondering, wouldn’t it be nice if instead of frantic semesters and long summers, I’d have a real weekend every weekend and take only a month or two off in the summer? But that may just be the Tschörman in me talking…

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Posted in General, International Voices

Tips To Tackle Homesickness

Snoopy_HomesicknessIt’s okay to express yourself, so give writing a shot!

If you’re currently feeling homesick, remember that you’re not alone. Feelings of homesickness are a completely normal part of adjusting to a new environment. In a recent ISSS blog post, international student Nabiol Afrooz shared his feelings about his homesickness. Like Nabiol, you might also consider writing about how you feel. Take the advice of UT Austin psychology professor Dr. James W. Pennebaker, who has shown that just 15 minutes of expressive writing can carry major emotional benefits.

Talk about your feelings with someone your trust.

Another great way to address feelings of homesickness is by talking to someone who is close to you, whether back home or here at UT. In addition to friends and family, talking with someone from the Counseling and Mental Health Center can be a great option. They have workshops for international students on a variety of topics, including homesickness. If you would rather talk to someone in private, you can set up an appointment with a counselor from CMHC. Counseling is great resource for ANYONE who just needs someone to listen to them. Your counselor will listen to you without judging and won’t tell anyone about your conversation.

Join an organization that catches your interest.

A final way to tackle homesickness is to make connections by getting involved in things that you find interesting. If you haven’t noticed, UT is a BIG school! On a campus this size, there are groups and activities for everyone. Check out the hundreds of different student organizations you can get involved in at UT.

Have patience

Homesickness won’t go away overnight, so be patient as you settle in to a new place and rhythm. Don’t forget that this is an adventure, and you’ll be able to tell stories about how weird and awesome Austin is for years to come.

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Beware of IRS and Tax Scams

Please be wary of any phone calls or emails that you may receive from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding your tax situation, especially at this time of year. International students & scholars are often targeted by anonymous individuals alleging to be police officers or individuals working for the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to extort money from them. This is considered a scam or dishonest act.

The IRS website describes potential scams that could affect you. If you receive any suspicious emails from the IRS, report them to the IRS.

Protect Yourself
U.S. government officials will NOT contact you asking for money or personal information such as a Social Security Number, bank account, credit card information, passport number, or I-94 card number. If a caller asks for these things, stay calm and do not give out any personal information. Here are some steps you should take if you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from a government agency:

• Calmly ask what the call is about. Take specific notes about what the caller is saying and requesting.

• Politely request the agent’s information. Write down the agent’s full name, agency, and any identification number he or she can provide. Also request his or her direct phone number so you can call back. If the caller doesn’t want to give you this information, it is probably a scam.

• Immediately contact an international student or scholar advisor with the information you have recorded. ISSS will help you to investigate the reason for the call and determine if it is valid. If it is a fraudulent call, it should be reported the police. ISSS can help you with this.

Remember that you have rights. Don’t ever give out any personal information or money to someone who calls you unexpectedly.

If you have any questions, feel free to email scholars@austin.utexas.edu (for scholars) or hotline@austin.utexas.edu (for students).

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Posted in General, Taxes

Calling Students from Mexico! Internship Opportunity (Deadline April 20, 2015)

Interested in an internship opportunity?  Read further!

This opportunity applies to students from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico (and surrounding areas including: San Pedro, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon, Mexico):

Hello, my name is Jorge Ibarra and I am an former Longhorn from Monterrey, Mexico. I graduated 4 years ago and have since been living in Monterrey. I recently changed career paths and started working in an up and coming consulting firm and have been very happy with my decision. The company that I work for is called Growth and Profit Consulting and we are opening a summer internship program for this summer and are particularly looking for students studying abroad. Growth and Profit is a strategic business consulting firm who specializes in medium to large family-owned businesses.

If anyone is interested in this job opportunity we invite you to visit to our webpage at www.gpcmx.com and send us your résumé to reclutamiento@gpxcmx.com by Monday April 20, 2015.

Thanks and Hook’Em!

 

GPC - Management Consulting Monterrey

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Posted in Career/Volunteer Opportunities

Issues with Obtaining or Renewing a Driver’s License

International applicants for a Texas driver’s license or Texas ID must be processed through the government’s SAVE database at the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The SAVE database confirms F-1 and J-1 visitors’ valid status and benefits eligibility with the SEVIS database so that DPS can grant a driver’s license.

If your SEVIS record is in a transitional state, SAVE may not be able to verify your program validity. Examples include transfer students who have not registered for classes, students with a change of level I-20 for a future semester and those with a cap gap I-20, pending change of status or OPT application.

Continuing or Graduating Students

If the DPS agent is not able to immediately verify your status through SAVE, you may be directed to contact the DPS Headquarters for assistance with verifying your status. F-1 and J-1 visa holders represent a small number of the visitors to DPS. If your status cannot be verified it is a good idea to ask to speak with a supervisor at DPS who may be more familiar with F-1 and J-1 processes.

If your I-20 is valid for several semesters into the future, it may be a good idea to renew your driver’s license before making any changes to your I-20 or applying for a benefit such as OPT.

New Students and Scholars

Students and scholars new to the United States will need to wait at least 10 days from entering the country and two days after registering for classes or being validated in SEVIS before their record will appear active in the SAVE system.

Questions?

If you or your dependent is having difficulty obtaining or renewing a driver’s license, please email hotline@austin.utexas.edu (students) or scholars@austin.utexas.edu (scholars).

Please see ISSS’s handouts on applying for a Texas driver’s license if you have further questions about the documents required for these applications.

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Public Health Week 2015: Global Health Night

a list of events for global heath week

global health week events

As part of Public Health Week 2015, the student organization Texas Public Health will be putting on an exciting Global Health Night, this Wednesday at 6pm!

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Upcoming Scholarship Deadlines: Renewal TAMS, General Financial Aid Award, and the Jerry Wilcox Scholarship

Every year, ISSS administers a limited number of scholarships to international students. There are some great opportunities available, so be sure not to miss these upcoming scholarship deadlines!

Friday, April 10th, 2015 (5:00 PM):

  • TAMS Renewal – All current TAMS recipients must submit a TAMS Renewal Application in order to receive the TAMS award in future semesters. The TAMS award waives the nonresident portion of the tuition bill. Please note that renewal of the TAMS award is depedent on the availability of awards and is not guaranteed.
  • General Financial Aid Award – This award provides up to $2,500 towards a student’s tuition bill for the fall/spring semesters, and $1,500 towards the student’s tuition bill in the summer semester.

Sunday, April 12th, 2015:

  • Joe W. Neal Scholarship – Administered by GlobalAustin, this $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to a non-immigrant undergraduate student attending The University of Texas at Austin.

Friday, April 17th, 2015 (5:00 PM):

  • Jerry D. Wilcox Community Engagement Scholarship – The Jerry D. Wilcox Community Engagement Scholarship is a $2,500 fall tuition award that recognizes an undergraduate international student who has demonstrated leadership in their undergraduate program through academic achievement; participation in campus and community organizations – particularly in leadership roles, and has made positive contributions to the campus community.

Questions regarding TAMS Renewal, the General Financial Aid Award, or the Jerry Wilcox scholarship can be directed to Phuoc Bui at p.bui@austin.utexas.edu. Please contact GlobalAustin directly for questions regarding the Joe Neal Scholarship.

Good luck!

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Posted in Financial Aid

Is Nutrition Important?

a smiling face made out of fruit

The answer is YES!  As tempting as frozen pizza can be, you obtain major health benefits by feeding your body and brain with nutritious foods. And it’s not about just about eating your vegetables.  Here are a few tips:

 

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Texas Excursion: Enchanted Rock and Fredericksburg

Enchanted Rock

What is Enchanted Rock? Enchanted Rock is an enormous pink granite rock formation that rises over Central Texas. This area was used by prehistoric people thousands of years ago, it is the source of several myths and legends, and it was designated a U.S. National Natural Landmark in 1971.

Fredericksburg

After climbing the massive pink rock, join us as we go to Fredericksburg, a small town that was founded in 1846 for the German settlers moving to Texas. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit the historic town and enjoy the museums and old German charm.

The trip will take place Saturday, April 18, between 7:30 am and 6:30 pm. Seat reservations are $50 and include transportation to Enchanted Rock and Fredericksburg plus snacks and refreshments throughout the day.

To purchase a seat visit the International Office online store. Email any questions to intercultural@austin.utexas.edu.

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Posted in Programs & Events

Last day to drop a course or withdraw from UT (undergraduates) – April 6th, 2015

April 6th, 2015 is the last day for an undergraduate student to withdraw from the University or drop a class (with the dean’s approval) for the Spring 2015 semester.  Please take into consideration that if you receive the permission to withdraw or drop a course from you academic department, this may affect your immigration status.

All international students who have F-1 or J-1 immigration status must be enrolled full-time during the long semesters (Fall & Spring) to maintain their immigration status.  Dropping below full-time enrollment could result in losing your immigration status and have a negative impact on your ability to remain & study in the United States.

If you have any questions or concerns about full-time enrollment and how it affects your immigration status, please contact our office through hotline@austin.utexas.edu.

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Posted in General
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