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					                            STIR Report, Austin, TX, USA
                                   Bert Kwanten

1       Preparation
In the framework of TU Delft‟s honors track, I studied for one semester at the “University of Texas at
Austin”. The goals I set for my honors track were twofold:
         - Experience studying at an American university
         - Study business foundations
Aldert Kamp, Director of Education Aerospace Engineering and Honors Track coordinator, approved of
these goals and I could start my search for a suitable exchange program.
First, Cora van Haaren, exchange coordinator at the Aerospace faculty, provided me with a shortlist of
universities whom the university had an exchange agreement with. After doing some research I
decided the “University of Texas at Austin” was a good opportunity for the following three reasons:
         - Its McCombs School of Business is one of the better undergraduate business schools in the
         country.
         - The University of Texas is a very big and traditional university.
         - Austin has a reputation of being very open-minded and a nice place to live. Which I can
         confirm by now.
Once the choice for Austin was made, the next step was to actually apply. Cora van Haaren provided
me with the application procedure. From then on, it was only a matter of correctly following the
procedure and providing them with the necessary documentation (grades, cover letter, bank
statement of creditworthiness, etcetera). No problems occurred.

I am very satisfied how Cora van Haaren and Kirsten Koester, the exchange coordinator of the
University of Texas, facilitated my exchange. I can truly recommend their work. I also want to thank
the International Office for the €400 I received from the STIR-fund.

2       Curriculum
As explained in section 1, I went abroad in the framework of my honors track. I desired to become
more knowledgeable about business and economics. I also wanted to go abroad, because in my
opinion people learn twice as fast when they leave their usual environment. Therefore I wanted to go
somewhere far away from everyone I knew. In addition, I wanted to experience the American way of
teaching. Next to all this, it is just fun to discover something new.

The University of Texas has a program called “Business Foundations”. It teaches non-business
majors the basics of business. http://new.mccombs.utexas.edu/BBA/Business-Foundations
Important:
     - For non-business majors, it is only possible to take two classes at the business school per
          semester. You can take as many business foundations courses as you are able to register for
          however, as these are intended especially for non-business majors!
     - Before the start of the semester, there are two days when you need to register for classes. You
          need to have some backup courses, because the exchange students are one of the last
          groups to register and some classes might be full already!
I took four courses from the business foundations program: micro-economics, marketing,
management and international business. I really liked the classes, especially international business.
Depending on the course and the size of the class, the American professors like to spice up their
lectures with movies, exercises, guest lecturers and in-class discussions about the subject.
It is necessary to prepare for classes. Most of the time, you have to read a chapter or write a paper
before the start of a lecture. By doing this, midterms and final exams are becoming much easier,
because you only have to repeat what you already have been studying before.
The University of Texas at Austin is one of the biggest in the nation. The campus is enormous and the
facilities great. The campus is beautiful; one big “park” with mainly Mediterranean architecture
buildings.
The service at the university is perfect. There are plenty of advisors; medical, academic, psychological,
everything… People answer emails within 24 hours… I absolutely loved how well-arranged everything
was.
3       Finances
I applied for the STIR-fund (university-wide) and the van der Maas-fund (Aerospace faculty only). I
received €400 from STIR and €250 from van der Maas.

I bought my insurance from IPS Lippmann. It was fairly inexpensive. Normally, you are required to
buy the university‟s health insurance ($500/semester), unless you can provide them with a waiver
signed by your insurance company. IPS Lippmann has experience with these kind of waivers and were
willing to sign it. http://www.ips-lippmann.com/ips/

Destination: Austin, TX, USA
                  th            th
Period: August 10 – December 28

Expenses                                             Income
Intercontinental flight          € 1000              Scholarship
Insurance                        € 176                   - STIR                     € 400
Visa                             € 200                   - van der Maas             € 250
Housing                          5 x €550/month      Savings                        € 8726
                                 = € 2750
Study material (books etc)       € 350
Food                             5 x €400/month
                                 = € 2000
Leisure (game tickets, night     5 x € 250/month
out, music venues, etc.)         = € 1250
Traveling                        € 2000

Total                            € 9376               Total                            € 9376
Housing                          I lived on West Campus, close to downtown and the university
                                 campus. You can live on Riverside and pay about €150/month less.
                                 There are free UT shuttles which will take you in about 15min to
                                 campus. A good alternative, but I really liked living at West Campus
                                 as it is close to everything!
                                 Books and food are expensive!




4       Housing
You have to arrange housing yourself. There are basically two choices: a dorm or an apartment. I
chose for the second option. I was living together with 3 local students and had lots of fun with them.
Two big dorms are Dobie and The Castillian. Certainly not a bad choice either.
http://www.dobiecenter.com/
http://www.thecastilian.com/

Also visit:
http://www.utexas.edu/student/abroad/international/ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not only for information on housing. You can find all kinds of useful information there. This website is
essential!

Also the website of the local student association dedicated to exchange students might be of some
help here. They are also on Facebook.

http://planetlonghorn.net/
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=8707901654
5       Language and Culture
The language was not much of a problem.

There might be some prejudices about the people and the state of Texas. It most certainly is not a
place full of rednecks in a desert. While they have a desert and probably also rednecks, I have not
seen any of the two.

Austin is the capital of Texas. The landscape is hilly and green. There is a big park where you can
swim in a natural swimming pool, Barton Springs, or kayak on the Colorado river while the turtles pass
by. Weather is almost always sunny.

Austin: “Live Music Capital of the World.”, “Keep Austin weird!”, “Hook „em”.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin,_Texas

Austin has lots of live music venues and two big music festivals definitely worth visiting. 6 Th Street is a
street full of bars and clubs. You will love it.
There is also a weird thing about Austin, or ATX in short. Lots of crazy looking people walking around
(who don‟t pose a threat however).
Finally the American football team is very popular in Austin, although they are having a bad run this
year. It is college football, not NFL, but the entire city wears burned orange on game day. The
stadium is right next to campus and has a capacity of more than 100,000 fans!

Making friends was easy. I got to know exchange students through the student organization Planet
Longhorn (see website and Facebook at section 5). Then I also became friends with lots of my
roommates‟ friends. Finally, I also joined AIESEC, where I met even more people.

6       Leisure
At the start of the semester, I got to know a few exchange students who became my best friends in
Austin. We were hanging out regularly throughout the semester. We usually gathered at my or a
friend‟s place or at a bar near campus. Then afterwards we would go downtown, mainly 6th Street. We
would also play soccer, go to the gym, kayak on the Colorado or swim at the Zilker park together, etc.
I got to know these exchange students, a group of about 10 people, at the opening barbeque of
Planet Longhorn. They organize events about every week.

I also got to know lots of my roommates‟ friends. I was going out with them as well on a regular
basis. I also made trips to Dallas and San Antonio with them and we organized a party at our
apartment!

I was also part of the international student organization AIESEC. I got to know lots of people there as
well. I went to a regional AIESEC conference with them in Wichita, Kansas. We went camping
together, organized events and… partied of course.

Next to all this, I went to NASA Houston with the International Office, to New Orleans for
Thanksgiving and visited the East Coast (Boston, New York and Washington D.C.) after the exams. I
had a great time.

7       Getting around
Austin has an international airport. Then you can get either a cab, Super Shuttle or bus to get to the
place where you need to go.
Busses are one dollar/ride, but once you have your student ID, all busses are for free. The bus system
in Austin is really good for American standards. http://www.capmetro.org/
My roommates all had cars, so I would usually do groceries with them.
I did not have one, but a bike might be useful as well. I lived really close to campus, so I could walk to
classes(10 min). When I wanted to go downtown I would take a bus or a cab.
8       Remaining
I would love to go back to the States, at least for a while. I think it should be possible to find a job
there.
I got to know lots of people there, not only from the States, but from the entire world. I have learned
a lot from this diverse group of people and their way of thinking. Also, they left me with a worldwide
network of friends.

I will list some websites worth visiting:

Reciprocal Exchange Program:
http://www.utexas.edu/student/abroad/international/ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Insurance:
http://www.ips-lippmann.com/ips/
International Student Organization (Planet Longhorn):
http://planetlonghorn.net/
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=8707901654
Busses:
http://www.capmetro.org/
Dorms:
http://www.dobiecenter.com/
http://www.thecastilian.com/
Austin:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin,_Texas
http://www.austintexas.org/
Business foundations program:
http://new.mccombs.utexas.edu/BBA/Business-Foundations
University of Texas:
http://www.utexas.edu/
McCombs School of Business:
http://new.mccombs.utexas.edu/

Hook ‘em!

				
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posted:8/21/2011
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