Author Archives: Kurt Mitschke

It’s Springtime In Austin, Time To Visit The Turtle Pond

To finish up my blogging for this semester, I decided to spend a little time at one of the most unique places on the UT campus, the Tower Garden Memorial, more commonly known as “the turtle pond.”

I have been waiting all week for a nice sunny day to just sit back, observe, and do a little bit of people watching and today seemed like just the perfect day.

Photo by Epyon MX via Flickr Creative Commons

Whether they come here to read, picnic, nap in the sun, or “ooh!” and “ahh!” at the turtles, this pond and adjacent lawn are a favorite spot to visit for UT students and visitors–both adults and children alike.

This place is surprisingly quiet and provides a great location to just sit back and relax, especially during this time of the year. It’s a nice peaceful getaway located right in the heart of campus.

For a little bit of background on the pond, watch this short video.

And this one will help you get a better idea of the setting. Listen for the Tower bells!

Overall, it’s just a truly unique place to experience. If you haven’t already, stop by for a visit sometime and say hello to the turtles!


The UT Bridging Disciplines Programs

Looking to get the most out of your college degree? Then look no further than The University of Texas’ Bridging Disciplines Programs.

If you have a diverse set of interests, aren’t quite sure what you want to do with your degree and are looking for some guidance, or simply want a more well-rounded, versatile education experience, then the BDPs might be for you.

Need career guidance? The BDP advisors are ready to help you! (Photo by quinn.anya via Flickr Creative Commons)

Started in 2002 by the Provost’s Office, the Bridging Disciplines Programs are now a part of the School of Undergraduate Studies, which provides a diverse set of programs and resources that traverse boundaries between colleges and disciplines and enhance the quality of undergraduate education.

“The BDPs are a great way to get to learn in depth about a subject that interests you from more than one disciplinary perspective,” said Alex Briceno, a member of the Environmental BDP. “My BDP has really enhanced my experience at the university by helping me meet new people and be exposed to new ideas that I could not have found by just taking the courses required for my degree.”

The BDPs consist of eleven different interdisciplinary concentrations, ranging from Children and Society to Digital Arts and Media. Each of the concentrations represent areas of innovative faculty research, teaching and collaboration at UT, and each program is led by a cross-college panel of faculty members whose research relates to the program topic.

In these programs, students study an issue from a variety of perspectives, teaching them to become more flexible, versatile thinkers, and preparing them for a professional world that values collaboration and innovation.

BDPs combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and courses for your major with real world experience to connect your BDP topic with your major and career goals. With planning, the BDP should NOT add time to your UT career. Rather, the BDP helps you choose the courses you already have to take in an integrated way, giving you the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

As a BDP student, you gain access to valuable career advising. BDP advisors are here to help you find courses, research opportunities, and internship experiences that complement your major, while also supporting you in developing knowledge and experience you would not otherwise find within your degree plan.

After completing the required 19 credit hours of coursework, research, and internship experiences, students earn a certificate demonstrating a secondary area of specialization that complements their major.

“It truly allows you to customize your time at UT so you can make the most of your resources and leave UT feeling like you have experienced everything you wanted to academically,” said Morgan Rucker, who was part of the International Studies BDP. “I can’t say, ‘I wish my major had let me learn more about ________area,’ because the BDPs gave me an opportunity to do it.”

Registering For Classes In 1-2-3 (-4-5-6…) Easy Steps!

So it is starting to get close to everybody’s favorite time of the year, you know, registration!

While the actual dates for signing up for classes are April 19-30, now is the time when you should be preparing for those days.

For freshmen that may have registered for the first time during orientation, this whole process is probably new to you. For upperclassmen, let it serve as a little refresher.

First things first, check your Registration Information Sheet, otherwise known more simply as your RIS. Your RIS lists your access periods and access times, information for advising and any registration bars you may have.

The next thing you should do is consult a course schedule. For this registration period, you may need to look at two separate course schedules—those for both the summer and fall semesters. Currently, only the summer 2010 course schedule is available, while the fall 2010 schedule will be available at least two weeks prior to the beginning of registration.

Then make sure that you have cleared all of your bars. These may be financial or non-financial bars, but either way, they will keep you from registering. Many academic departments also have an advising bar and require their students to be advised before registering. However, even if it is not required, talking with an advisor in your department before registration comes highly recommended.

Another useful tool, especially for very organized students, is the interactive degree-audit system. IDA allows you to keep an eye on the big picture and check your progress towards that degree. Utilizing this tool is very effective in making sure that you graduate on time. One benefit of the IDA is that it will help you keep track of your classes using the calendar, and will inform you of your prerequisites and requirements.

Now you are ready to register. Make a list of the courses you want to take, and get ready to punch in the unique numbers as quick as you can!

In the event that a course is full, your only option may be to join a waitlist for it. Keep in mind also that their will be an add/drop period at the beginning of the semester that you are now registering for, so there is still hope that you can get into that course.

A few more tips from my personal experiences:

  • Freshmen, don’t plan ahead too early. Get a rough idea—very rough—of what you want to take, and pray that you can form some sort of a decent schedule with whichever courses remain open.
  • MyEdu, formerly Pick-A-Prof, is your best friend. Pay the small fee and join, you won’t regret it at all.
  • Those Course-Instructor Surveys that you hate filling out? They do matter, and can be useful as well. Check the CIS results for more information about courses and instructors.
  • For the sake of a little bit more time, don’t concern yourself with the options given before you register classes, such as to buy a Cactus Yearbook or LASP. You can go back and purchase these after you get your classes in.

Oh, one more thing to remember–don’t forget to pay your tuition by the deadline. The university sends out too many emails for you to forget, so don’t ignore them, and consequently lose all the courses you registered for.

Registration is hard enough the first time, do you really want to have to do it all again?

For any more questions, check out the Registrar’s website.  

Best of luck!

Texas Spring Football Jamboree

The 2010 Texas Football Spring Jamboree may not be most people’s idea of a typical Easter celebration, but that is exactly how many dedicated Longhorn fans will be spending this upcoming Sunday.

While most are sitting back at home, relaxing with family after a more traditional Easter egg hunt, tens of thousands of burnt orange clad fans will be flocking to Darrell K Royal — Texas Memorial Stadium (no typo, “K” is the legendary coach’s entire middle name) to check out their beloved Texas Longhorns football team

Orange-White Game 2009. Photo by TexKap via Flickr Creative Commons

as they end spring practice with their annual Orange-White Game.

For many, this will be their first time to see the team since the loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship on January 7.

“I haven’t been able to make any of the open practices, so I’m really looking forward to this,” said sophomore Shelby Clawson. “I’m curious to see the team and how the new quarterback has come along.”

That “new” quarterback would be Garrett Gilbert, the local Lake Travis High School product who fell short of a victory but performed admirably in the championship game after Colt McCoy got knocked out with a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder.

After seeing Gilbert’s performance in that game, many are assured that the future is in good hands. Others are more curious to see how the coaches have addressed the issues on the offensive and defensive lines.

And oh yeah, the running game.

Wait, we have one of those?

All joking aside, don’t expect the coaches to reveal many new wrinkles or to do anything that might tip their hand to opposing coaches.

It will be mostly basic play calling, just with some different faces on the field.

In addition to the Orange-White game at 4 p.m., the annual Fan Fest will start at 1:30 p.m., with various activities outside and also in the Red McCombs Red Zone on the north end of the stadium.

The weather as of right now is sunny and 80 degrees, so bring your sunglasses. But knowing this Texas weather, you might want to bring your pancho along just in case.

For those of you who can’t make it, the game will be broadcast live on FSN Southwest and Fox College Sports Central.

Mobile Food Hits West Campus

I had not even seen Jordyn’s last post yet when I decided to write about this, and I completely realize that this is not a food blog. Nonetheless, food IS a very important part of each student’s life. Very important.

I recently had an incredibly moving experience with food. It went something like this…

Walking home this past Wednesday, I could not wait until I got back from campus. I was starving, and thinking about what I was going to cook for dinner wasn’t making it any better.

You see, my Wednesday evenings are jam-packed with meetings. This schedule kind of throws my body for a little bit of a loop, because for the other six days of the week dinner time usually falls during this same time frame. On the way home after my last meeting was over, my stomach really let me know that it didn’t appreciate how I was treating it.

I had just gone grocery shopping, so I really didn’t want to stop and spend money eating out. I continued on my trek, crossing Guadalupe at 24th Street and taking a left on San Antonio Street–on my way deep into the heart of West Campus.

However, before I made it that far, I saw a light.

It kind of appeared out of nowhere, a little gift from God shining bright from its spot set neatly in a parking lot right next to the sidewalk. A greater being was trying me, testing my self-control.

Photo by Bonita Sarita via Creative Commons

I couldn’t give in. I passed it up.

Two steps later, I turned around.

This “taco truck,” as I have long referred to this type of vendor, had proven too much. It was offering Korean BBQ tacos, which I had never tried before, and I was excited to them a taste.

You see, I have gotten some amazing food from other trucks such as these, the earliest coming from my younger days working construction during the summers.

This truck was strikingly similar–in both appearance and menu. However, they offered a major twist in flavors, and it was amazing!

Photo by John of Austin via Creative Commons

Melding Korean tastes with the traditional Tex-Mex flavors, Chi’Lantro offers tacos, burritos, burgers, quesadillas and bowls at affordable prices. The beef taco that I got was only $2, and while one definitely did not fill me up, it was completely worth the small price.

Be aware, however, that this mobile machine does not stay in one place for very long. Currently it is making the rounds from locations in downtown Austin back to the UT campus. Chi’Lantro makes it easy for you though, as you can find their daily locations on both their Twitter and Facebook pages.

If you are interested in trying these unique flavors, get ready. The Chi’Lantro truck will be coming back to their same location at 2323 San Antonio Street near the UT campus on Saturday from 12-3 P.M.

I highly recommend that you give them a try.

Forty Acres Fest

Due to the barrage of emails and event invitations on Facebook that I have been getting recently regarding Forty Acres Fest, I feel that it is a pretty good time to talk about the event.

While the annual festival is still almost three weeks away, with a busy second half of the spring semester about to be in full swing, April 10 will be here sooner than you think.

And you do not want to miss it.

If you are searching for your place at The University of Texas, feeling the urge to get a little bit more involved with one of many organizations on campus, or just looking for something free to do on a Saturday afternoon, then Forty Acres Fest is just for you.

Forty Acres Fest is an event for the entire Austin community, but is especially dependent on student participation.

Photo by Liz Wong via Creative Commons

Through booths and activities set up by various groups and organizations, the university encourages interaction among the members of UT and promotes the diversity of interests and depth that are present on the Forty Acres.

Over the years, the festival has become a university tradition, featuring food, fun, games, and of course, live music.

In fact, all of the buzz this year seems to be surrounding Girl Talk, who returns to Austin after putting on a crowd favorite show at the Austin City Limits Music Festival this past fall.

“I’ve seen all the concerts at Forty Acres Fest, and this is by far the one that I am most excited about,” said senior Andrew Trang. “He absolutely killed it at ACL.”

To say students are excited for this year’s concert is an understatement. However, the festival has seen plenty of big names perform, including The Roots, Ludacris, Common and Little Richard.

The concert will be taking place directly in front of the Tower on the Main Mall, while other activities and booths will be scattered throughout the South and West Malls as well.

Art on Campus, Check it Out!

Are you wondering about that red horse sculpture in the atrium of the A.C.E.S. Building that peers at you through the glass west entrance as you walk by on your way to class? Or maybe you are curious about the shiny black sculpture in the middle of the PCL lobby that you want to jump on and slide down every time you pass it?

Well if you are, then you are in luck, because I am here to tell you a little bit about why they are here.

And if you aren’t familiar with these specific pieces, then the odds are that you are still wondering about any of the other 26 seemingly random works of art placed all around campus.

These 28 mid- to late-twentieth-century sculptures are on long-term loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The first group was installed in September 2008 and the second in January 2009 as part of the university’s public art program called Landmarks.

Landmarks, which was launched in 2008, is the first program in the university’s history to develop a collection of public art from a curatorial perspective. Its projects beautify the campus and engage visitors and the university community with art of the highest quality.

“This important loan of sculptures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art will enrich our campus,” said William Powers Jr., current president of The University of Texas at Austin, in 2008, when the plan was announced. “It will demonstrate the value we place on art and creativity as manifestations of the human spirit. We are extremely pleased to bring this superb collection to our university and our community.”

While these sculpture have been a part of the campus for over a year now, many students, especially new ones, are still very curious about them.

“It is incredibly unique,” said junior Stewart Keltner about having the sculptures as a part of The Forty Acres. “I still haven’t seen all of the works, but it’s a goal of mine.”

The loan includes the works of such internationally renowned artists as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Anthony Caro, Jim Dine, Donald Lipski, Beverly Pepper, Antoine Pevsner, Tony Smith, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Several education programs accompany the loan, including a free audio tour podcast and family and teacher resource guides.

By bringing great works of public art to the main campus, Landmarks records our history, builds community, and creates a sense of place, now and for future generations.

So take some time, if you haven’t yet, and check out some of these special pieces!