The University of Texas at Austin

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1 The University of Texas at Austin Spring 2013 Stephen Lee Finance and Economics

2 Content Part I Activity Log... 3 Part II - General Exchange Information... 5 Part III - Checklist Final Words... 12

3 Part I Activity Log Dec 2012 I arrived in USA on 30 Dec My first stop was Los Angeles. I stayed there for 3 days and travelled around with two other HKUST students before we arrived at the University of Texas at Austin. We went to Hollywood and Universal Studio! Jan 2013 UT s campus is really huge and beautiful! I arrived at the school on 3 Jan Before classes officially started on 14 January, there was time for exchange-in students to get familiar with the school. Activities and registration procedures were offered by the school, including welcoming parties, course registration, medical checkup, etc. After the first week of class, the International Office organized a day-trip visiting NASA Space Center in Houston. It was not bad but don t expect too much. Because many exchange-in students would participate in this trip, it was a good chance to meet more friends!

4 Feb 2013 I was getting used to the classes in February. Some courses involved quite a lot of homework, but as an exchange students, my goal was not getting full marks. So it s still very relaxing when you compare the workloads at HKUST. Although I took six courses, the overall workload was not heavy. In addition, I travelled to San Antonio for two days. I watched an NBA game there which was really exciting! Although I am not a fan of basketball, it s still a good idea to watch a world-class basketball game in United States.

5 Mar 2013 After finishing some mid-term exams, it was time for Spring Break! Only Spring Exchange students (not for Fall) have this privilege to travel around (without skipping lessons) in the middle of the semester. We four HKUST students went to four cities in the East Coast, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. and Boston. We met a lot of friends, either exchange students or old friends studying in USA, during our trips. And yes, this is the highlight of this exchange experience. Apr 2013 Oh, April was dull and boring. There were many mid-term exams. Presentations would also take place during this month. So I was busy studying and doing homework. Originally, there was a plan to go to Atlanta. But the trip was cancelled after the price of flight tickets went up a lot suddenly. So make sure you keep an eye on the ticket websites and don t hesitate when you see cheap flight.

6 May 2013 I went to Chicago at the beginning of May with a bunch of other HKUST students. I have to say Chicago is the best city in United States. Clean and comfortable. I love this wonderful city! (Probably due to the nice weather because I heard that Chicago is indeed freezing in winter) After the final exams, I travelled five places before going home, Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Los Angeles respectively. My friend who was studying in California even drove me through San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Los Angeles! I would like to thank him here.

7 Part II General Exchange Information Visa Procedures We need to apply for J-1 Visa before our department. The school would send you every document needed and tell you how to apply for the student visa. You need to visit the US Consulate website and visit them in person. Of course, you need to pay for your visa and I have to say it s ridiculously expensive. Orientation Activities Both the McCombs School of Business and the International Office organize orientation activities for exchange students. They would inform us the necessary details we need to know, including course registration, insurance and blood testing for TB test. Some of them are compulsory so make sure you have arrived by then. We also need to meet the academic advisors of business school before we register the courses wanted. International Services & Activities International Student & Scholar Services provides international services and many cultural activities for exchange students to participate in. If you need to work part-time there, you need to ask for their permission. There would also be some activities like pizza night, movie night and various workshops for you to join and have fun. They also organize day trips to different places near Austin, like Houston, San Antonio. Planet Longhorn (http://www.facebook.com/pages/planet-longhorn/ ) is a student-run organization that organizes activities during the semester for international students to gather and have fun. Accommodations Because of limited bed spaces, the school does not provide any on-campus accommodation for the exchange student. Students are responsible for making their own housing arrangements. So there are generally two types of accommodation for us: Apartment and Student Co-ops. Apartment costs more while Co-ops housing is

8 relatively cheaper. Additionally, you need to do some hours of labor weekly if you choose Co-ops. But remember one thing: You get what you pay for. So don t opt for the cheapest choice, or else you will suffer. I stayed in a Co-ops when I was in Texas, but I would say it may not be a good choice for someone who cares about hygiene standards. The school will send some information about this to you later, but try to secure a bed space as soon as possible. Courses Registration You will be asked to fill in a form indicating your preferred courses prior your departure. But the actual course registration happens only after you meet the exchange coordinators. Courses I took: Course Code Equivalent in Workload Recommendations (UT) UST FIN FINA3204 Moderate Quite difficult. Take this course only if you are good at math. FIN FINA4204 Moderate Involves a group project, so you need to spend time on it, or not. FIN 371M FINA3304 Light Fairly easy. ECO 341K ECON3334 Heavy Quite difficult. Involves weekly homework! ECO 304L ECON2123 Heavy The lecturers were not very good. You need to buy the textbook in order to do the online homework! I would not recommend it because the textbook is too expensive. PSY 301 SOSC1960 Light Involves some psychology experiments but still a good choice to take.

9 Teaching & Assessment Methods Although there was no compulsory tutorial classes in UTA, but the workload here was heavier than that of UST. Depends on individual courses and professors, you may need to do case studies, projects, presentations, etc. But the exam is relatively easy. After all, Chinese are experts in taking exams. Sports & Recreation Facilities There are a lot of sport facilities. Gregory Gymnasium is the most convenient and popular gym. You can enjoy a wide range of sport facilities there like indoor track, swimming pools and so on. Almost every American works out on a regular basis, so it s a good opportunity to make friends in the gym. Cost/Expenses Expenses HKD (Approximately) Air tickets 9,000 Accommodation 25,000 Travel 35,000 Insurance 3,000 Food and drinks 5,000 Miscellaneous 3,000 Total 80,000 Health & Safety There are doctors and dentists on-campus. But you need to pay for them and claim on your medical insurance afterwards. Generally Austin is quite a safe place in United States. But try not to walk alone at mid-night. Food In many cases, there would be a meal plan for you wherever you live. But I bought my food at restaurants or on-campus cafeteria frequently because of taste problems. There is no Chinatown in Austin. So be prepared you have no decent Chinese food for a long time.

10 Transportation To get around UTA or Austin, there are many shuttle buses, which are free for UT students. Because there is no metro in Austin and the bus system was not very efficient, you should make friends with someone who got a car. Climate Texas is dry and the temperature varies a lot in Austin. It was around 0 in January but it got up to around 33 in April. Also, the temperature can vary between 10 and 30 on one single day. It is a good idea to bring a jacket to school every day. Communication Don t but T-Mobile. It s cheap but the service was not stable. Try to use AT&T or Verizon. People use SMS and to communicate frequently. Part III Checklist 1. Money 2. Camera 3. Laptop 4. Medicine 5. Business suits 6. Documents listed in the package sent by UTA, such as passport, VISA, acceptance letter 7. Adaptor 8. Pillow 9. Blankets 10. Stationary

11 Part III Final Words I sincerely hope that my exchange report can be of useful. The University of Texas at Austin is a great choice to go for academic exchange because of its ranking in business especially accounting. Another reason is that there are fewer Chinese in Texas. You will have more chance to speak English than if you study in California.

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