IO Health Fair: Stressbuster Playlist Live

Thank you to everyone who attended Wednesday’s Your Journey, Your Health Fair!  We hope you had fun and gained some useful information about health resources on campus.  An especially big thank you goes out to everyone who contributed song/artist recommendations for our Spotify playlist.

You can access the final playlist, full of calming and re-energizing songs, at IO Stressbuster .  Have a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving weekend!

Posted in General

International Voices: Buying Your First Car in the U.S.

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

Thanks to the bike-friendly roads and widespread Capital Metro network, having a car is not a must to commute in Austin. That being said, road infrastructure is the number one thing that I like about the US. So I would say, without driving experience, a stay in the US wouldn’t be complete. Also, just due to the culture of this country, learning to drive and carrying a driver’s license is very helpful, particularly if you go out of the Austin for conference, sightseeing, etc. Having a car is definitely not required to learn how to drive, but it is always convenient  if you own one. This blog is meant to be a pointer to the things you should think about before/after buying one.

*Please note the following opinions are based on my experiences buying a car, they are my opinions and may not reflect the opinion of ISSS.*

Nabiul Afrooz

Nabiul Afrooz

New or Used?

The first and foremost thing in this regard is your budget. If you can’t spend more than 3-4k, buying a used one is a practical option. However, if you can budget more than 5k and/or if you plan to stay in the states after you graduate, a new car may be more appropriate for your situation. You should think about budgeting: Could you afford a 5k as down payment and at least $200 for the monthly installments? Some things to also consider: the cost of maintaining a used vehicle, gas mileage, and the cost of parking.

Dealer or Owner?

If you are thinking about a new car, you could start your search by looking for the offers from your local dealers. For used cars you can start looking through for advertisements by the owner. Either way, try to know the market price first. There are several websites that provide evaluation for new/used cars, such as Kelley Blue Book. From your market research, decide on a car (make/model/mileage) that suits your budget. Take a friend, and visit the nearest dealers to find out the deals they can offer. The best way to negotiate with dealer is to tell your budget and expectations upfront.  Many people use craigslist for buying used car. However, never respond or visit a craigslist seller alone. Also, always have a third party mechanic inspect the car before you purchase it.

Do’s/Don’ts in buying a car:

1. Evaluate your situation. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it (again, you don’t need a car to commute to school)

2. Don’t decide to buy a new car if your credit score is low (improve your credit first, this will save you a lot of money)

3. Do your own research before you start looking for cars (also, get learner’s permit)

4. Tell your friends/classmate/colleagues that you’re planning to buy a car (sometimes the best car deals often come through personal network)

5. Don’t think you need to do everything on your own (seek help from an experienced driver who knows cars, engines, etc.)

6. Never buy a car without a test drive (including driving on the highway)

7. Never go for a test drive unless you checked the VIN using websites like (ask if the owner/dealer has such report ready )

8. Get the insurance before you bring the car home (you never know what happens on the way)

9. If you contact a seller and inquire about a used car, don’t go alone to see the car in person

10. Make sure you have insurance! Liability insurance is required if you own a car (however, consider keeping full comprehensive and collision coverage for at least 6 months after you get your Texas Driver’s License)

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Posted in International Voices

Scholarship Opportunity: Florence Terry Griswold I Scholarship

Female graduate students from Pan American countries studying at The University of Texas at Austin are encouraged to apply for the Florence Terry Griswold I Scholarship offered through the Pan American Round Table of Texas. This is a $2,500 scholarship for the 2015-16 academic year. If awarded, the $2,500 would be split between the fall and spring semester.

The requirements and application are available online on the Pan American Round Table of Texas website. The application deadline is January 31, 2015.

Please note: this award is not facilitated through The University of Texas at Austin. All questions should be directed to the Pan American Round Table of Texas Scholarship Committee Chairman, Dee Moore via email at

Good luck!

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Posted in Financial Aid

3 Tips for Seeking Healthcare in the U.S.

Knowing when and where to seek healthcare in the US can be tricky at times – even for many Americans!  He are our top 3 tips for getting convenient and affordable care in Austin:

  1. Add the UHS Nurse Advice Line to your phone. This advice line is free and available 24/7 for UT students. Talk to a nurse about caring for yourself at home or choosing appropriate healthcare.
  1. Take advantage of University Health Services. Medical services here are free with the student health insurance plan!
  1. Know where to go for care. This can save you both time and money:
Preventative or Routine
Doctor visits and conditions that are not urgent. Visits are generally by appointment.
University Health Services
For students and subscribed scholars.Primary Care Provider
A general practitioner in your insurance network.
Conditions or injuries that can be treated outside of a hospital but require prompt attention.
University Health Services Urgent Care Clinic
For students and subscribed scholars.Local Urgent Care Clinic
Such as Medspring Urgent Care.
Severe or potentially life threatening emergencies.
Hospital Emergency Room
Call 9-1-1
in a truly severe emergency for ambulance services.
Posted in General

Quick Guide: Cold, Flu, and Allergies

chick-soup-picWhile Americans like to think chicken soup can treat any ailment, sometimes you need a little more than this time-honored remedy.  Read on for some tips to prevent and manage symptoms of the flu, common cold, and seasonal allergies.

Cold/Flu: Prevention is the Best Medicine

  • Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot! Flu shots are available at UHS by appointment.
  • Get enough sleep, exercise, water, and nutrients.
  • Wash hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
    • Do you really know how to wash your hands correctly? Make sure to scrub for 20 SECONDS and lather the back of your hands, between fingers, and nails.

Seasonal Allergies

Austin is one of the worst cities in the U.S. for seasonal allergies.   Manage your allergies by reducing exposure to your triggers, such as pollens, dust, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, and animal dander.  Check out this Web MD App that shows daily allergy levels.

Experiencing Symptoms? Identify the Culprit: Cold, Flu, or Allergies

 First things first.  You need to identify which condition you have in order to best treat it.  Check out this comparison chart prepared by UHS to help you match your symptoms to either a cold, the flu, or allergies.

Take advantage of the Nurse Advice Line | 512-475-6877

The UHS Nurse Advice Line is staffed 24 hours a day/7 days a week and is completely free.  They can help you decide if you need professional medical attention, or help you treat your symptoms at home.



Posted in General

Stay Informed: Scams Affecting International Students & Scholars

International students & scholars are often targeted by anonymous individuals alleging to be police officers or individuals working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in an attempt to extort money from them.  This is considered a scam or dishonest act.  Recently, two international students informed the International Office that they received a phone call from someone from the Austin Police Department.  The individual requested that the international student withdraw money from their bank account and deposit it somewhere else; if they did not do this, they allegedly would lose their F-1 immigration status which would cause serious problems and/or possible deportation.

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:

  1. Calmly ask what the call is about. Take specific notes about what the caller is saying and requesting.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Immigration scams may be reported to USCIS. Please see the USCIS Avoid Scams Website.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact

Tax Scams

In addition, please be wary of any phone calls or emails you may receive from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS website describes potential scams that could affect you. If you receive any suspicious emails from the IRS,  report them to the IRS.

Posted in General

SIAWE Scholarship Announcement!

The SIAWE Scholarship is now available for continuing UT Austin international students of Iranian descent who demonstrate financial need. This $1,000 award is a spring-only award and can either be applied towards the spring 2015 tuition bill or paid out in cash. Please note that the cash award is subject to a 14% tax.

Eligibility requirements for this award includes the following:
1. Be of Iranian descent
2. Be on a non-immigrant visa
3. Completed at least 2 academic semesters at UT Austin
4. Have a minimum 3.0 GPA and maintain that GPA throughout the
duration of the award
5. Demonstrate financial need

The SIAWE Scholarship Application is due on December 1 by 5 pm. Applications may be downloaded from our website and can be submitted either in-person at the front desk of the International Office or mailed. No late applications will be accepted. Good luck!

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Posted in Financial Aid

‘Tis the Season for Travel Signatures!

Students, are you planning to travel outside of the United States? As you begin thinking about your Thanksgiving and winter break plans, don’t forgot to obtain a travel signature if you plan to leave the United States. The travel validation signature can be found on page 3 of the I-20 and on page 1 (bottom, right corner) of the DS-2019. The most recent signature must have been signed within the last 12 months from the date you reenter the country.

If you need a new signature on your document, please take advantage of our Travel Signature Drive!


Dates: Friday, Nov. 21, 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.


                 Monday, Dec. 1 2:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

LocationFAC 322

If you cannot come during the above times, then you may visit ISSS during advising hours. No appointment is needed, however, we do require that you come during advising hours only.

General Travel and Visa Information

If you have any questions about traveling, please see our travel advisory. If you plan to apply for a new visa over the break, see our visa handout for further information.

Good luck on the rest of your semester and Hook ‘em Horns!

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Posted in General, Immigration Updates

IO Health Fair, Wed 11/19!

Health Fair event information

International Education Week 2014 is almost here!  From November 17-19, departments across campus will be celebrating international education and exchange.

In honor of International Education Week , the International Office invites you to Your Journey, Your Health Fair this Wednesday 11/19, 11am-2pm on the FAC Patio.   Have fun (and enjoy snacks from Teji’s Indian Restaurant!) while learning about campus wellness resources!   Also, follow our wellness posts all week on the ISSS Blog!


Posted in General

International Voices: Experiencing American Culture

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

One of the most memorable experiences I have had in America was over spring break this year when I went to Nashville, Tennessee. I was really excited to experience traditional American culture, which most of my friends here find part of their everyday routine. It was also a personal goal that I made during my freshman year that I visit as many American states as possible before graduating, and Tennessee was a truly memorable first stop.

Shruti Kota

Shruti Kota

I stayed with one of my close friends and her house was pretty deep in the countryside. Growing up in Qatar which is mainly sand and cacti was very different to the miles of beautiful green grass and woods that surrounded her house. The perfect way to spend evenings, was to sit out on the deck whilst the sun set and watch the cows munching cud as they wandered their way up to us in hopes of apple cores. We also fired up the barbeque on some evenings and grilled burgers. This was truly the perfect American experience I had envisioned before even coming to the US for university.

The city of Nashville was even more exciting. Nashville’s version of 6th street was alive with the sounds of live country music blasting from the various bars. We also passed by several original leather cowboy boots stores and I mentally added “buy a pair of Longhorn emblazoned cowboy boots” to my bucket list before I graduate. We also visited Costco, and I have yet to meet a single person in America who doesn’t absolutely love Costco. The giant wholesale warehouse was amazing to me, as I found packs of Skittles as big as my face. Qatar definitely doesn’t have anything which remotely resembles Costco, so I was delighted to walk around sampling delicious food and buying monster sized boxes of Bagel Bites. Continuing with my determination to experience everything I deemed American, we went to Olive Garden for lunch and I can truly say that their breadsticks are some of the best I’ve ever had!

View from the back porch

View from the back porch

My experience in Nashville was fantastic as I got to experience the true Deep South. I would personally encourage every international student to try and travel around America as much as possible. Austin is a wonderful city, but travelling to other states and cities and meeting all sorts of different people truly captures the essence of being an international student.  Look at it this way, other students go to Spain or London to study abroad; as an international student, you’re studying abroad for four years, so you should go ahead and make the most of it!

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Posted in International Voices

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