Texas Excursion: Rancho Cortez Dude Ranch

dude ranch

Have you ever wanted to have a ranch experience that is straight out of a Western film? Here’s your chance!  Join us at Rancho Cortez for horseback riding, swimming, hiking, hay rides and more! Experience Western entertainment and fun against a beautiful Texas country backdrop.

Fun activities planned for your full day excursion include:

  • Horse-back riding
  • Learning how to lasso
  • Feeding longhorn cattle
  • Hay wagon ride
  • Swimming pools
  • Country western entertainment
  • Campfire
  • S’mores

You will also enjoy lunch and dinner on the ranch alongside your fellow Longhorns.

Mark your calendars now for this exciting, truly Texan, experience!

Purchase your seat through the International Office online store.  Please email any questions to intercultural@austin.utexas.edu.

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International Voices: Exams in Graduate School – The Good, The Bad, and The Learning

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

Have you ever been in a situation where your heart is pounding and you have a ton on your mind? That is part of the unfortunate day in a student’s life, called exam days. The other day I was thinking about the many hours I have spent in my life sitting in a desk taking a test. I don’t remember the exact number, but a lot of hours were spent demonstrating my ability in mastering the subject materials. Among all that numerous tests, and all the long sleepless nights it all came down to two tests: The GRE and PhD qualifying exam. 

Nabiul Afrooz

Nabiul Afrooz

Reporting the GRE score is a general requirement for PhD admissions to most, if not all universities. GRE exam tests for two major skills: verbal and numerical skills. I believe many of you would agree that for the international students, verbal is the most difficult hurdle to jump over. The first step in GRE exam preparation is the conglomeration of an exhaustive list of academic words that are less commonly used in general discussions. These words are very complex and hard to fully understand. In addition to mastering a long list of vocabulary, I found it useful to read articles from diverse sources. After a short  preparation of 8 weeks, I decided to take the step forward and face GRE. It was early November, 2009. The GRE seemed a lengthy exam to me and it was very challenging to stay focused for the entire duration of the exam and  score well. Getting a good score is very important as the score plays an important role in the evaluation process of an international students’ application material to U.S. universities.

After joining the PhD program, it felt to me that I went through all the troubles of getting  through the GRE only to see the main event: the PhD qualifying exam. The PhD qualifying exam is the exam to demonstrate your core knowledge in the subject area you want to pursue your PhD in. Looking at the bright side, you don’t have to score an A in this exam, there are only two grades: Pass or Fail. Every university, even individual program within the same university has a unique format for this examination. To aid the prospective PhD students, I would write about the format we follow at UT EWRE. In our program, the exam is 180 minutes. You are handed total four questions from four professors on their chosen subject area. It is a closed book exam and you have 90 minutes to prepare your answers. After the 90 minutes, the professors enter the room and you have to give a presentation of your work to the professors, defending your answers in case they raise further concern. This style of examination ensures two things: first, the student understands the topic and that his/her answers are on the basis of scientific/engineering principles, not just solving the problems and crunching numbers; and second, the student is quick witted enough and can think on his/her feet. The hardest part of the exam in my opinion was to dodge the rebound questions from the professors in response to my answers.

 Studying for any exam requires hard work, but in my mind these two exams stand out. Work and effort necessary to do well may drive you mad. And after you get into the program, you need perseverance as well.  PhD’s require extra years, more work, and less sleep. But, those extra years could help you remodel yourself, and change you for the better. Your PhD research could make you feel that you’ve contributed something to the human knowledge. I strongly believe, you don’t just take a degree at the end of your hard work on your PhD: you take the experience, knowledge, and training in the process. If that’s something you are interested in, I assure you every exam, including the two I mentioned above, would be a very good learning experience for you.

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BeVocal Presents: Social Growth Festival (SoGrow), March 4th & 5th

BeVocal: the Bystander Intervention Initiative of the University of Texas at Austin debuts the Social Growth Festival (SoGrow), two days of cultivating social responsibility through recognizing harm, choosing to respond and taking action!

Join us for live entertainment, education, and activism this Wednesday and Thursday!

BeVocal presents SoGrow - Social Growth Festival March 4th and 5th


Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1542984142656352

Wednesday March 4th
3–6pm: Outdoor Festival in the Honors Quad Courtyard featuring performances by Giggle Pants Improv, Spit Shine Poetry, free snacks and a FREE T-SHIRTS!

Thursday March 5th
4–7pm: Cuisines Around the World at Kinsolving Dining Hall (regular rates apply)
7–10:30pm: Blooming Performances by Riders Against the Storm (Austin Music AwardsBand of the Year and Best Hip Hop Band) with Punjabbawokeez & Spitshine Poetry at the Texas Union Ballroom

Special thanks to the Multicultural Engagement Center, the Division of Housing and Food Service, and Campus Events and Entertainment for their partnership!

Learn more about how to get involved with BeVocal at www.wellnessnetwork.utexas.edu/BeVocal


Bevocal: The Bystander Intervention Initiative of The University of Texas at Austin

Part of the Wellness Network

BeVocal Co-Chairs, Marilyn Russell and Erin Burrows
BeVocal Events Chairs, Sapana Donde, Tony Vo and Justin Jaskowiak
BeVocal Content Chairs, Emily Shryock and Marian Trattner
BeVocal Branding Chair, Frances Nguyen
BeVocal Assessment Chair, Amanda Mabry
BeVocal Graduate Assistant, Ashley Boynton

Follow @BeVocalUT on Facebook and Twitter!


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Nonresident Alien Tax Filing Assistance Now Available!

The International Office has purchased a tax software called GLACIER Tax Prep (GTP) to assist students in filing their taxes. International students, scholars, and their dependents are eligible to use GTP for tax preparation assistance.

Who Has to File Taxes?

Any nonresident alien for tax purposes who had U.S.-sourced income, which includes wages, scholarships, fellowships, treaty benefits, or capital gains on the sale of stock, etc., must file taxes. Even if you did not have any income, all nonresident aliens for tax purposes (including spouses and dependents) are required to file Form 8843. GLACIER Tax Prep will help you file all required tax documents, including the Form 8843.

Who is a Nonresident Alien for Tax Purposes?

Generally, students who have been in the U.S. for five years or less as of 2014 and scholars who have been in the U.S. for two years or less as of 2014 are nonresident aliens for tax purposes. If you are uncertain of your residency status for tax purposes, you can use GLACIER Tax Prep to help determine your status. Please note that only nonresident aliens for tax purposes are eligible to utilize GLACIER Tax Prep. Additionally, the nonresident alien for tax purposes designation is separate from your immigration status.

What Services are Available through ISSS?

ISSS has purchased GLACIER Tax Prep to help students and scholars file taxes. We also offer VITA volunteer tax advising on Wednesday and Thursday evenings for nonresident aliens who have additional questions after filing their taxes using GTP.

Want More Information About Taxes?

ISSS has more information for resident and nonresident aliens regarding taxes on the ISSS website. You can also find answers to many frequently asked tax questions in the AskUs database.

The deadline to file taxes is April 15, 2015, so be sure to get them done early!

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International Student Survey Opportunity: Improving Student Understanding

Longhorns, you have been selected to participate in a short student survey focused on understanding student perspectives and opinions!

Please consider taking a moment to fill out the survey which you can access here.

This is an anonymous survey being conducted by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  You will not be requested to submit your name or student identification in connection with the survey answers.

If you have further questions about this survey please contact Chasah West at chasahwest@gmail.com.

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Calling All Chinese International Students! Survey Opportunity

A research team from UT Austin’s School of Advertising and Public Relations is conducting a study on Chinese international students’ quality of life.  The UT Austin Institutional Review Board approval ID is 2014-12-0027.  All Chinese international students have the opportunity to participate in this study.

The survey is being conducted online, and the deadline is March 31st.  At the end of the survey, there will be a drawing for participants to potentially win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Questions may be directed to Su Zhaohui at szh@utexas.edu.

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Getting FIT at UT Austin

As a UT student, it can be hard stay fit with all the demands on your time! Here are a few tips for working physical activity into your busy schedule:

  • First things first, use UT REC SPORTS! It’s a great way to have fun and be fit! RecSports has activities to get involved in like:
  • Get Motivated! Following fitness blogs can help you stay inspired on your journey to become healthier.
  • If going to a gym isn’t your thing, don’t worry! You can squeeze a workout into your schedule at home or on the go!
    • thetumblrgym is a blog with lists of several workout websites.
    • Even a quick “deskercise” can help:


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Health Literacy- What Do YOU Think?

Have you ever been confused or surprised by the system of healthcare and insurance in the U.S.?   If so, we need YOUR help!  The IO is collaborating with the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations on research to understand international student health literacy.   Please consider taking a few minutes to respond to the following survey.  Your input will provide valuable insight and help in the design of outreach on this important topic!

Click here to respond to the International Student Health Literacy Survey

Thank you for your participation!


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Dependent and Dental Insurance Enrollment Deadline 3/15/15

International students are automatically billed for health insurance coverage.  But don’t forget to add your dependents to your student health insurance plan!  Spouses and children must be re-enrolled in coverage each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer).

Additionally, you can still purchase Spring 2015 Dental Insurance for $115.00.

The deadline for these enrollments is 3/15/15 .  Please contact the ISSS Insurance Advisor at insuranceadvisor@austin.utexas.edu or schedule an appointment for more information!

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The ISSS Advising Team will be hosting FREE information on post graduation/completion employment options, work visa types, and permanent residency for UT Austin’s international student and scholar population.  The sessions will be held in Peter O’Donnell Jr. Building (POB) on the corner of 24th St. and Speedway.


6:00 PM: F-1 Student Session (Avaya Auditorium /POB 2.302)

6:00 PM: J-1 Student/Scholar Session (POB 2.402)

7:00 PM: Immigration Attorney Presentation  (Avaya Auditorium/POB 2.302)


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