Tag Archives: student life

10 Secret Study Spots at UT

If you’re a student at the University of Texas at Austin, then you know all of the hotspots for studying around campus: Perry-Castaneda Library, The Union, Medici Roasting, Flawn Academic Center, etc. There’s only one problem—  you’re never the only one planning to spend your Monday morning at the PCL or a couple of hours at a coffee shop after classes. These places get crowded fast, and it can be difficult to find an open spot and get work done with all the extra noise. 

I asked around and did some branching out this week to compose a list of some underrated study nooks on campus. Here’s my top 10 picks for the best “secret” study spots at UT.

1. Life Sciences Library

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

Let’s start with the libraries. The Perry-Castaneda Library is the largest and most visited library on campus. With six floors, you would think you wouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to sit on a weekday afternoon… wrong. There are lots of other great libraries on the UT campus, such as the Life Sciences Library. One of my friends described this space as having a “Hogwartsy vibe” and after visiting, I can confirm that is 100% true. Located on the second floor of the Main Building, this library is open most days until 5pm and usually has plenty of available seats.

2. Architecture and Planning Library

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

Another location is the Architecture and Planning Library in Battle Hall. This historic building has several long tables and excellent lighting, making it a great late-night study spot.

3. PCL 3rd and 4th Floors

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

The third and fourth floors of the Perry-Castaneda Library are actually pretty great if you’re trying to get some independent studying done. Most people crowd on the fifth and sixth floors, so it can get pretty tricky to find seating up there, but if you don’t mind working in silence, the lower floors are perfect for distraction-free zones.

4. Major Building

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

Did you know that UT students have 24/7 access to their major’s building? All you have to do is enter through the building’s “celebrated entrance” using your UT ID. This ensures that only students have access in order to enhance the safety of studying after hours. These buildings are a great place to study in the evenings, especially since you’ll find that many students are at the PCL, Union and other popular study places late at night.

5. Lucky Lab

Photo by Tara Phipps

I’m a heavy coffee drinker, so I’ve already tried most of the coffee shops on the drag and on campus. Although Medici Roasting might be my favorite place to get coffee, it certainly gets tough to find somewhere to sit. The coffee at Lucky Lab is great as well, and for an added bonus, there are several tables outside to sit and study. 

6. Engineering and Education Research Center

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

I’ve heard good things about studying at the Engineering and Education Research Center. This building is stunning and has big, beautiful windows that let in plenty of natural light. The facility has study rooms, project labs, and multiple tables, desks and comfy couches to use.

7. Welch Hall

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

Welch Hall is right off of Speedway and has both indoor and outdoor study spots. Once the weather cools down a bit more, there are plenty of covered tables in the courtyard that are great. If you prefer studying indoors, however, there are options for that as well.

8. Norman Hackerman Building

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

The Norman Hackerman Building has lots of open tables and lots of windows overlooking campus. This location is a lovely place to study and isn’t too packed. 

9. Empty Classrooms

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

Many people don’t think to study in empty classrooms. If you’re doing late-night or weekend studying, most classrooms are unlocked and unoccupied. As long as you are courteous and leave the room in the condition you found it, empty classrooms are a great place to study.

10. Dorm Study Rooms

Photo by Nicholas Muniz

For those of you living on campus, take advantage of the study lounges in your dorm! If you’re like me and have trouble studying inside of your dorm room, study lounges are a convenient place to camp out. My dorm has a study lounge on each floor, which is awesome for nights I don’t want to leave the building. The study lounge on my floor isn’t too crowded and usually pretty quiet, so I am able to get a lot done when I’m there.

If you plan to study anywhere on or off campus in the evenings, be sure to bring a study buddy living in or around your building, or take advantage of the safety resources offered at UT. SURE Walk and UT Night Rides are great resources that provide ways for you to get back to your home— on or off campus— as safely as possible.

Happy studying!

Featured image by Nicholas Muniz

“covid learning” could revolutionize school for students with anxiety at UT

Heart beating, palms sweating, stomach churning, intensifying fear: These are all symptoms of social anxiety. Socially anxious students may be avoiding these symptoms this semester with the aid of the current era of remote learning. 

“It feels like my body is frozen…(like) a bucket of water drops on you. I want to speak but I can’t.”

Claudia Juárez, UT Austin Sophomore

In the age of COVID-19, pre-recorded classes are used to keep students safe from the pandemic, but these classes could also benefit students with social anxiety. Pre-recorded classes can reduce or eliminate the triggers of social anxiety present in in-person classes. There is currently an online petition created by members of the UT student government to continue the offering of distanced learning for students with disabilities such as social anxiety even after COVID-19 has eased.

“I was having anxiety attacks my first day (of class) every time I went somewhere new,” said Mackenzie Ulam, president of the UT chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Approximately 12% of Americans will experience debilitating social anxiety defined by significant impairment in regular functioning during the course of their lives, the National Social Anxiety Center reports. 

The emergence of an anxiety disorder can occur at any age but often will surface during a person’s teens or 20s, the UT Student Affairs Division wrote on its website. This age range means students often experience the emergence of social anxiety during college, potentially impacting their learning experience.  

“(In class) I don’t… want to ask certain questions,” Juárez said. “‘Cause it’s like I go to UT, am I really going to ask this? Everyone’s going to think I’m dumb. Even the professor might think I’m dumb and call me out on it.”

The fear of being perceived as dumb is a common trait in those with social anxiety. This fear can be triggered by numerous scenarios. Triggers of social anxiety include: introducing yourself, “small talk” with classmates, asserting your needs with those in authority such as professors and answering or asking questions in a formal setting, reports the UT Student Affairs Division. 

“You’re having to deal with having to do two things at once: trying to learn the content and trying to work through…anxiety,” said Althea Woodruff, UT’s project coordinator for well-being in learning environments. “You’re basically having to do double or more of the work emotionally and academically.” 

Last semester, UT student government officials introduced a petition in coordination with disability justice advocates to ensure access to online material such as recorded lectures to aid students with social anxiety and other disabilities even after the pandemic eases.

Vinit Shah, UT’s student government chief of staff, said recorded lectures aid students because they cannot just ignore their anxiety. 

“There is no way to challenge yourself out of anxiety,” Shah said. “It’s like learning to swim. When professors say… ‘just get over it,’ it’s really insulting…it’s like expecting a baby to be an Olympic swimmer right off the bat.”

Students with social anxiety may already be eligible for certain accommodations through UT’s services for students with disabilities department. However, accommodations are decided on a case-by-case basis rather than having pre-created accommodation plans available. 

Students must go through a five-part plan to qualify for accommodations. This plan includes providing documentation of their disabilities in an approved format by the department, scheduling and attending an intake appointment with the department, completing multiple forms and signing multiple documents, reports the department on their website

Woodruff said that having recorded lectures available is the type of accessible accommodation that gives students much-needed flexibility. 

“It lets the students know that you actually care about them and you’re being empathetic to their situation,” Woodruff said. “You want to try to be as accommodating as you can to as many students as you can.”

Featured Image by Kara Fields

TX VOTES: KEEPING UT VOTERS REGISTERED AND EDUCATED

You’ve probably seen them in your classrooms and if you haven’t, then you’ve definitely seen them tabling on Speedway. TX Votes is a non-partisan student organization that not only hopes to get students educated and registered to vote but works hard to do so.

By visiting over 100 classrooms this spring semester alone, there’s no question that they’ve made a recognizable name for themselves.  

Photo Courtesy of Kassie Phebillo

“I think as an organization, we have grown, which means that our outreach has grown ” Kassie Phebillo, Program Coordinator said.

Phebillo, who’s been with TX votes since that last general election, attributes the increased number of students they’ve registered to their in-class initiative that they started in 2018.

 “We’ve registered probably 5,000 students this school year since the beginning of fall,” Phebillo said.

Their efforts to register students before the deadline at the beginning of February contribute to the steady increase of student voter registration on campus. The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement saw a 3,948 increase in voter registrations on campus between 2016 and 2018, so it’s no doubt that TX Votes’ work contributes to the positive growth of engaged and registered voters at UT.

And while TX Votes may be one of the most notable student organizations in the political-sphere – they attribute their recent successes and increases in student activity to the rest of the Civic Engagement Alliance. Without whom they couldn’t have hosted their Last Day to Register to Vote Celebration.

Now that the registration deadline has passed, the next goal for TX Votes includes getting students ready for the polls. With Early Voting and Super Tuesday dates coming up quickly, one-way TX Votes prepares for the hopeful flood of student voters is by ordering and distributing voting guides provided by the League of Women Voters.

“It’s basically a little newsletter with all these races. So, it’s like here’s a statement from this candidate and then their picture, and another one and their background for like all the races,” TX Votes President Anthony Zhang explained.

Photo by Evelyn Garcia

These portable voting guides work to ease first-time voters or any voter who may be put off by the process. TX Votes hopes to distribute these guides to students to ensure no one is misinformed or uneducated before stepping into the polls for what may be the first time.

“I feel like one of the main reasons that people will say that they aren’t engaged with politics, or nervous, or vibe, or like don’t want to is because they don’t know about a lot of stuff. So, there’s like a huge learning curve too,” Zhang said.

Along with helping educate voters, the guides distributed by TX Votes will prevent students from using their phones to remember or look up who to vote for, an action that may seem benign but in reality, comes with legal consequences. “We also provide them with what they need when they go in to vote. So, they’re not accidentally breaking the law.” Phebillo said.

With the national attention to the primary drama in Iowa, TX Votes combats any nerves voters may feel ahead of the Texas primary with accurate information, student-to-student engagement, and space where students can ask any questions regarding the civic engagement process.

See below for important info:

Early Voting in Texas:  Check out the FAC & PCL from 7 am-7 pm to vote! 

–    February 18th-28th, 2020

Primary Election Day (Super Tuesday): Check out the FAC & PCL from 7 am-7 pm to vote! 

–    March 3rd, 2020

Featured image by Evelyn Garcia

Long Time No See! 5 Creative Ways to Stay in Touch with Long Distance Friends

Let’s face it. When you came to college, you promised all of your besties that you would keep in touch with them no matter what. You made this promise despite the fact that you’re going to be 858.9 miles away, homework and exams and meetings are going to consume your day, and you’re going to want to spend as much time as possible with that new girl you just met on your hall.

It’s a lot harder to keep in touch with old friends than we initially think, and turns out we’re really good at forgetting to text people back (like really good). And that’s okay! It’s natural, maybe even expected, for friends to go through periods of limited communication. Even if y’all survived freshman year talking weekly, sophomore year presents a whole new set of unforeseen challenges. 

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

But no need to fear! In the age of technology, there are so many ways to stay together even when you’re apart. 

So without further ado, here are 5 creative ways to stay in touch with that long-distance friend.

1. Host a Houseparty 

No, not an actual house party. Houseparty is an app that allows you to video-call multiple people at once. This idea is perfect for keeping up with your friend group that ended up scattered across the country. Trust me, I know how hard it is to coordinate a group Facetime with more than 3 people, but the app offers a loophole. You and your friends just need to download the app, add each other as friends, and you’re set! Whenever you have a spare moment, maybe while getting ready to go out, just open the app and it will notify your friends that you’re free to chat! If they get the notification that you’re “In the house”, they can just click on it and join you for an impromptu catch-up session.

2. Snail Mail

While it can make you feel like you’re stuck in the 19th century, snail mail can actually be a great way to stay in-the-know without being updated in real-time. Writing an old-fashioned letter to a friend, telling them about the past couple of weeks and the boy you’ve been talking to, is not only effective but also therapeutic. Plus, think about all the cute letters you’ll get back from your bestie! Put them in a shoe-box for keepsakes and you can look back on them later (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before energy, amiright).

3. Forgetful? Set Reminders!

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

I am the most forgetful person I know. It’s honestly shocking that I’ve made it this far in life, so when it comes to remembering to check in on that one friend, I struggle hard. One of the simplest solutions is to set a reminder on your phone! Just go into the reminders app on your phone (this is assuming you have an iPhone… if you don’t, I’m sure there’s an app to download and also I’m judging you), set a reminder to “TEXT LINDSEY”, and tell it to repeat every two weeks!

4. Lists on lists on lists

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

If you’re anything like me, you love making to do lists and grocery lists and wishlists. But one of my favorite lists is the one where I write down all of the stories I want to tell my best friend on our next skype call. Although we don’t get to talk too frequently, when we do have an opportunity to Skype, I remember to tell her about that time when I lost my phone in the middle of campus at midnight riding home on a Lime scooter. 

5. Slideshow Presentation

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

This is something I saw on twitter and honestly I am dying to try it. Basically the idea is, if you don’t have the chance to stay in touch during the semester, when you’re home for break you make a slideshow to recap the past few months away from each other! You can put all of the crazy snapchats you took during the semester on there and then host a sleepover where all of your besties show off their slides. It’s like a review session but for each other’s lives!

These are just a couple of my favorite ways to stay in touch with my closest friends from high school. If you’re reading this and realize you haven’t talked to your friend in months, just remember it’s never too late to shoot off a quick text and reach across the distance once again.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

A Beginner’s Guide to Espresso Drinks

An espresso machine hums behind the sounds of chatter and clicking keyboards. The smell of coffee lies heavy in the air, while people sip beverages and twirl spoons. People mutter words like “macchiato,” “americano” and “cappuccino” to cashiers behind counters. 

Coffee shops can be the ideal location for many events. Maybe you have a big test that you need to study for, or you’re meeting up with a new friend for the first time. A coffee shop is the perfect place to go, because it can be casual, cozy and relaxing. However, if you have only ever consumed coffee at Starbucks, local coffee shop’s menus can seem confusing. 

Although coffee jargon might seem advanced, coffee orders are simpler than they sound. Here are some basic espresso drinks that will help you find your dream caffeine.

1. Lattes

Photo by Jesus Angel

A latte is a deliciously common drink because it is customizable to your likings. At its core, a latte is 1 part espresso and 3 parts steamed milk with milk foam on top. 

 Beyond that, a latte can take many forms. You can order an artistic hot latte with a poured design, or a refreshing latte over ice. You can also alter your milk preference. Most lattes are made with whole milk, but feel free to ask for a non-dairy substitute like almond or soy milk.

 If you prefer your coffee sweet, add pumps of flavored syrup to your drink. Some flavors include, vanilla, caramel and hazelnut, but be sure to ask the barista what syrups they keep in their store.

2. Mocha

Photo by Jesus Angel

A mocha is very similar to a latte, because they share the same milk to espresso ratio. However, mochas are much richer. A mocha has an added chocolate powder or syrup, blending together hot chocolate and coffee for a cozy drink of your dreams. 

Mochas can also be altered in their milk contents, temperature and  sweetness. If you are already a fan of mochas, try making your order a little more festive with a pump of peppermint, cinnamon dolce, or pumpkin spice.

3. Cappuccino

Photo by Jesus Angel

Cappuccinos are great for people who enjoy the natural taste of espresso, but still want the richness of cream inside of  their coffee. A cappuccino is 1 part espresso and 2 parts milk with foam at the top, making it a little lighter than a latte. 

It is not very common to add syrup to cappuccinos, but mixing the drink with a cube of brown sugar makes the perfect blend of sweet to bitter, and thin to creamy. 

4. Macchiato

Photo by Jesus Angel

Unlike a latte or a cappuccino, macchiatos don’t have any milk foam. A macchiato is 2 parts espresso and 1 part steamed milk. This drink is perfect for people who want a drink even lighter than a cappuccino but richer than an americano. 

This is a great drink to pair with a slightly sweeter cookie, danish or scone, for the perfect afternoon snack.

5. Americano

Photo by Jesus Angel

An americano is a drink for the brave and bold. An americano doesn’t bother with cream or sugar, but rather relies on the rich flavor profile of the espresso itself. An americano is composed of espresso and hot water only, and the ratio is dependent on your order. Some people prefer a stronger coffee taste and will order a double shot of espresso, while others will order a single shot. 

This guide to espresso drinks is just a start to the endless amounts of coffee combinations available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask your barista for recommendations or try something new on a whim.

The next time you’re ordering at a coffee shop, remember to stay calm, stay creative and most importantly, stay caffeinated.

Featured image by Jesus Angel.