Welcome

The posts on this site reflect the experiences and perspectives of UT students enrolled in RHE 310, a course in expository writing offered by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing.

The vignettes are stories from Austinites about Austin, recognizing and celebrating the characteristics that make and keep Austin weird.  They are modeled on the vignettes about New York City from New Yorkers that have appeared for years in a weekly column, “The Metropolitan Diary,” in the New York Times.

The commentary posts are brief opinion pieces about daily events, news items, and issues.

All posts have been authored, revised, and edited by the students.  The site moderator/administrator is Professor Davida Charney.

A Stressful Time with a Mentor

While sitting on the 5th floor of the PCL, an open collaborative space, I quickly reflect on the main points I need to ask my senior mentor, and I hope the conversation reduces my stress.

“How do I find the best business internships? I want to intern directly under a CEO or work for Mercedes or Hilton.” I say.

“Go on LinkedIn, Visit career fairs, directly contact the companies, book an appointment with career coaches, speak with graduate students who have done internships, speak with teachers who can provide insights, perform intensive research online, she responds.

“I–’’,

There are also so many websites that you can dedicate yourself to researching for internships. Go on businessinsider.com, internships.com, USAJobs.gov, GoAbroad.com, Experience.com, Idealist.org, Mediabistro.com, hercampus.com, and glassdoor.com.

“I had never thought about these options before, so I better catch up. I better straighten up my time management skills in regards to internships. At this point, I feel bombarded with massive information.

“You may want to research the business schools you are interested in like Stanford and UT before applying for the internships.” my mentor continues.

“I read online that schools want a student to demonstrate leadership ability, creativity, and problem-solving.

“If you are going to be the leader of a company, you will have to acquire the experience to collaborate on a team. Are you a leader in your community? Do you have any leadership positions? Are you actively involved in clubs? Have you had any prior work experience?”

There was a moment of silence and reflection, where my mind was immersed with overwhelming thoughts. Then, she continued talking. “To make the most out of your time, first look up the type of work you are interested in, then match that to the company. Do not research the company first.”

“That is a new approach to researching, and I now think I will have less sleep. I certainly would have to wake up at 5am on a Saturday to research internships.” I anxiously state, as my mind races with many thoughts.

“As a Psychology major, I say Nooooo. PEOPLE NEED THEIR SLEEP.”

Is my mentor really making things easier for me by providing me with more information or really just giving me more stress that I have to cope with every day when I have less sleep?

“I will be sleeping at 8pm, so I should be fine. Applying to internships is valuable to me. There is an opportunity cost to everything. I can choose to work more on internships or sleep more. I choose to work more on internships.

“I also decided to apply to one internship per week this semester, which will most likely be fine,” I say.

“That works. If you can try to apply to more than one internship per week, that would help too.”.

The conversation turned out to be unexpectedly worse for me. I consider applying to more than 1 internship per week means more pressure. I lastly sigh and with a nerve-racking look, I tell the mentor, “I certainly have a lot to accomplish.”

My mentor acknowledges this. After conversing, we leave the PCL.

A mentor should make a mentee less stressful, but the mentor made me more stressful. What I now have on my mind, even when I choose to have less sleep, is internships, only internships.

 

The Extremeness of Two Different Weathers

I frequently travel every year to visit my uncle in Toronto, Canada, but this year I decided to solely stay in Austin, Texas where I was amazingly confronted by a completely opposite weather from Toronto. In the past, when I walked along the streets of Toronto, I felt as if the winter squeezed me to death. Massive amounts of snow covered the roads, and I wondered whether I can survive this weather.   My shoes always crunched through the powdered, polar-white snow. My teeth chattered. My limbs stiffened. My body shivered. My fingertips tingled. My nose snuffled.  I even had difficulty coping with sore joints. The concrete floor feels like ice and it can freeze my feet. At times, the blizzard was harsh and the screeching winds were dreadful. The skies of Toronto are empty and bleak.  In these cold moments, I longed for the radiant light of the sun to warm me up. But that never happened because the callous winter always stifled Toronto with its icy breath. What are the only two winters in Toronto? The clear-cut answers are cold and colder.

 Now, as a UT student in Austin and having frequently travelled to Canada, I find the weather in Austin’s summers to be miserably hot. I find it hard to bear the heat, as I constantly struggle to walk along the streets with other Austinites. I feel like I am at war with myself when trying to bear the heat. My mouth is dry and I am thirsty and I am dehydrated. I sweat and I am fatigued from walking. I can barely breathe. There is barely wind. The concrete floor has the feel of a fire and it can singe my feet. I notice the heat shimmering off the ground, and only implore to be in the shade. It is as if the scorching sun gets the best of me wherever I go; it indeed gets the best of my mind and body.  The sun blazes down from a cloudless azure sky, and I feel like the sun is cooking me; the perspiration also flows from me like tears that would never stop. What are the only two summers in Austin? The clear-cut answers are hot and hotter.

Is there any way I would feel a tad bit cooler in the summertime? No way. Austin’s summertime weather is one of a kind in the same way Toronto’s wintertime weather is one of a kind. You can make instant sun tea here in Austin, but in Toronto, you can make instant cold brew ice tea.

An Experience of a Transfer Student while Attending a Star Party

            For the first time at 8pm on a Sunday, I, a new UT Austin transfer student, decided to attend a Star Party. I was ecstatic to view the planets because such an opportunity is hard to come by. My Astronomy Professor Dinnerstein also offered extra credit to attend the event. As I was quickly walking to Dean Keaton street to attend the Star Party, my squinted eyes started to dart around, as I wanted to be aware of my surroundings. The confident upper level students nearby seemed to be aware of where to go. Am I aware of where to go? My heart was pounding – I felt it skip a beat. Is it really impossible for me to walk to RLM for the first time on UT campus in the evening? I can either run back or I can run ahead. Cowards run away from fear; heroes overcome fear. I did not let myself crumble down to fear, as that would be pilloried as weakness. Instead, I decided that I will be confident! It is possible to accomplish this.  I happily walked quickly, as I envisioned the positive outcome of attending the star party, which is enjoyment of seeing the planets. After fifteen minutes of walking and being surrounded by lower and upper level students, I felt happier because I was not alone. As I was passing the streets, I saw the lofty, angular, and modern buildings. I also saw Austin’s hopeful and welcoming lights of restaurants and streetlights. My fears started to then evaporate.

 

Once I approached Robert Lee Moore Hall, I entered the building and took the elevator to the 17th floor, which was utterly silent. I did not see a single soul. It was sketchy to follow the signs up to the telescope and walk on top of small, slippery, stairs to get to the star party. When I entered, I saw the beautiful night scenery of Austin; the innumerable, bright, colorful lights made me feel content. I was happy to see many students surrounded by the telescope who also were amazed by the stargazing event. I was in line with other friendly, excited students to see the planets. I stood tall and my face was illuminated the entire time. This time my heart beat fast but for the enjoyment of attending the event. Being able to arrive to this star party, see many students, and view the amazing tower and city of Austin, triggered me to again attend weekly held star parties! I only have but two words to say to this experience of walking alone in the evening: I’m possible.

Learning at UT

The University of Texas at Austin is a place of exploration, a place of discovery, and a place of personal learning and growth. Classes offer a spectrum of subjects from philosophy, to science, to math. These classes inspire and motivate students to go above and beyond. These classes are indeed not for teachers who are boring or for students who are indolent. Instead of students having wandering thoughts, they are fully captivated by the teacher’s discussion. Strict college teachers put pressure by assigning a profuse amount of homework to students; instructors urge students to exert exceptional effort under pressure. An instructor’s mind is one of motivation and intellect. A student’s mind is one of passion and diligence. Students aspire to run ahead in order to chase excellence. Success then follows behind. What else ultimately follows behind – an erudite life. The University of Texas at Austin is a struggle after struggle. For a conscientious student, the mantra is to be an outstanding champion. The University of Texas at Austin has indeed become a race. At the University of Texas at Austin, students not only aspire to earn the degree, rather they study for the joy of learning. A UT student’s duty is to passionately learn, and a UT teacher’s duty is to passionately enlighten.

Calculus and Destiny

It was a unique experience for a typical transfer student who has never taken calculus before to sit in a M408K Calculus class. In every class, students solely work on problems, and the instructor does not lecture. I find it as a hassle to consistently work on homework/ pre-class assignments every other day. Surrounded by many students and intimidated by the teacher’s perplexing style of solving the problems, I begin to wonder how much I would learn in this class. As the instructor, Mr. Hamrick, speedily writes on the board, I try my utmost best to write everything down. Constantly, I think about whether destiny will support me as I try to give my all to this course. Will life be for me, or against me?

What the instructor taught was gibberish. His math problems written were indecipherable.  I was put in a perpetual state of confusion.  I knew I had to take action to make the most of my learning, right now, right here, if I wanted to apply to business school next year. Work hard. Learn the material. Get assistance. This year is my only shot to major in business, and the grade in calculus is also dependent upon it. There are two paths I can be headed toward. If I get to complete a business major, then I will get exposed to different business fields and careers within the Mccombs School of Business itself. If I do not get to complete a business major, then my true desire, time, and hard work to come to UT will not be entirely fulfilled. I will be stuck with only one major, Rhetoric and Writing. I constantly hope that destiny is there for me and that I ace calculus. Calculus at UT is completely different. It is the most rigorous course here. It is a course where one basically teaches his/herself how to do problems by reading the provided mathematical information online. What the instructor does is only go over problems covered on the online assignments. Calculus is a game of struggle that I have only some control over. However, destiny has the most control. Surely destiny does.

Longhorn Pride

When I first came to Austin, it just wasn’t home to me. The first weeks of my freshman year, I dreaded waking up every day because I couldn’t wake up to the smell of Mom’s cooking, the sound of Newton barking, and the sight of my “princess” pink-painted bedroom walls. Instead, the smell of my roommate’s burnt toast, the sound of construction everywhere, and the sight of dull cream-colored walls – to which I pasted sticky notes with assignment deadlines on them – welcomed me as I opened my eyes.

One fine day, it hit me: the pride of being a longhorn. I saw people wearing the color I am wearing. I hear the voice of thousands singing the “Eyes of Texas” with me. With a dozen others I barely knew, I boldly proclaimed that UT will beat Notre Dame. I found pride in wearing burnt orange – pride that we share within the forty acres. Austin might not be home, but it sure is where I belong.

Autumn in Austin

An autumn in Austin is rainy, flooded with the onset of pumpkin-spice-everything, and inundated with the heavy weight of a cloudy sky. UT Austin is the scene of a sharp wind, the clash of storm clouds against skyscrapers, and the assault of rain against old stone. My room is a haven among them, quiet, lit by a half-priced, maple-scented candle. Outside, nature battles. Within the confines of my thin-walled apartment, I hunch at the altar of the GPA—my studious devotion apparent.

Image courtesy of Google Images.

Image courtesy of Google Images.

 

Inside West Campus

Mural on the Drag

Mural at 24th, Courtesy of Carol M. Highsmith

West Campus at UT in Austin is a marvel, a wonder, a joyous scream, a sight to see, a first drink, a story to tell, a regret, a dream. West Campus is the wealthy and white, beer and cups and glass and drunken girls, cracked sidewalks and overgrown trees and dog poop, towering Greek houses of shining brick, sketchy alleys, bars and corner stores, endless apartment buildings, construction.

Love for Baby Bevo

University of Texas at Austin. Courtesy of Reid Sullivan.

University of Texas at Austin. Courtesy of Reid Sullivan.

After the Longhorn’s promising win against Notre Dame, UT fans couldn’t help but boast. Talk of a revived tradition of football excellency blanketed the state, and headlines in the Austin-American Statesman were some of the more exclamatory ones I have read recently. My Facebook newsfeed temporarily forgot the current political situation and remembered the Longhorns in all their glory. Die-hards breathed a sigh of relief, as they no longer had to defend their support of a sub-par program by reminding everyone of the National Champion title given to the University nearly a decade ago, although it was still a recurring theme. We were set to win, set to finally be nationally ranked in something other than academics or swimming, something Texans care about.

 

And then, we lost.

 

Cue the slander from A&M fans, the defamation from over-zealous football fanatics across the nation. Texas is not making a comeback; Texas sucks, Strong sucks, it’s really a shame, UT is such a big school with enough money to hire a winning coach… all criticisms from the peanut gallery. I, on the other hand, could not care less about how our football team is doing. The sport is too slow, too boring for me to watch, and I really don’t like beer enough to appreciate the culture surrounding it. I must admit though, I have turned on the TV a couple of times this season. But it was not to watch men run into each other, or fans aggressively screaming into the camera; it was to see the 19 month old steer with tiny horns and a bewildered expression make his way into a stadium of 100,000 fans for the first time, and take his seat in his designated air-conditioned nook on the field.

 

The way I see it? Baby Bevo is alive, and he is going to thrive. Who cares about a winning record that has been soiled, we have a baby longhorn to spoil.

Circus Vignette

circus

Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne

Queue the carnival music. Come one come all to the amazing show. The Circus, presented by Austin Texas. All are welcome. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up. Enter our tent. Be prepared to be amazed. You won’t believe your eyes. Enter the city limits for the most amazing show on earth. Yoga enthusiasts contorting their bodies in crazy ways. Students jumping through fiery hoops to stay in school. I ask you, do you want to come and play? Would you like to stay? Young adults juggling new jobs and high rent. Football enthusiasts catapulted through terrible seasons, full speed ahead. Drunk bar hoppers in a balancing act. Bearded ladies and men in dresses. I ask again, do you want to be amazed? Fasten your seatbelt, its going to be a weird ride.