I attended this year’s UT’s Madrigal Dinner, “Something Borrowed, Something Brewed,” put on by Creative Arts + Theatre. For those of you who are curious (because I did not know beforehand), a madrigal dinner is a form of dinner theater that is set in the Renaissance (or Medieval) period that is traditionally held around the holidays. The UT Madrigal Dinner is a 35-year tradition and it was excellent to witness. You can read about past dinners and performers at the Daily Texan’s website, here and here.
The night began in the foyer of UT’s Student Union where the choir sang opening songs and the first act took place. We were then led into the Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom, which had been transformed into a large dining hall with a stage at the front.
Throughout the evening an act of the play would take place, followed by a short concert by the choir, and then another course of the meal was brought out. While the guests ate, the actors and choir members would go around to each table and perform improve while staying in character. They would also sing (somewhat raunchy) songs that were quite popular at our table. At the end of each act and song we were instructed to yell “Huzzah!”
A slightly blurry photo of the actors performing at our table.
The student performers had an excellent energy and you could tell they were excited to take part in the performance. The crowd fed off the performer’s energy, and it was really fun to be actively involved in the telling of the story. The dinner lasted about three and a half hours, but the time flew by and it was fun to speak with the performers and meet other members of our table. I would definitely recommend looking into the madrigal dinner next year as well as other Creative Arts + Theatre performances.
As the semester has continued, I have made an effort to again engage in the university’s offerings outside of the McCombs Business School, however it is not easy as time has passed so quickly in the program. I cannot believe it is the end of November! I blinked and the semester was ending. I would encourage you to make plans and prioritize what you would like to take part in before kicking off the semester because it is an absolute whirlwind when you get started.
As I have stated previously, Austin is a place where you will not be content to stay indoors. I took advantage of the fact that the coming school week is (a bit) more relaxed to take a quick trip up to Georgetown, Texas to hike part of the San Gabriel River Trail. In total, the trail is 28 miles around Lake Georgetown, and I completed a more reasonable 2.5 mile hike on the Cedar Breaks Trailhead to Crocket Gardens and Falls. When the lake is at a higher level (which I have never seen), the falls will empty into the water. For now, the water runs off into a dry ravine, however the view is still worth the trek.
The views of Lake Georgetown are pretty fantastic as well. After spending most of my time sitting indoors studying the past few weeks, this was much needed time spent soaking up the sun and clearing the mind.
It is also weekend option that is easy on the wallet. Admission to the park is $4.00 per car (and up to six people) for the day. The grad student budget life is real y’all.
The Austin area has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor recreation that I cannot wait to explore. On my list currently is a quick trip to Mount Bonnell, a day trip to Longhorn Cavern State Park and another visit to Enchanted Rock. We are having close to record high temperatures in Austin this fall, so I am hopeful the weather will hold out for a few weekend trips in November as October is pretty overwhelming with school and recruitment.
My quick morning hike was a great reminder to take breaks from the stress of the program and enjoy the unique opportunities presented by the Austin area.
One of the best things about a major university is the access to resources and special events on campus. Having attending a small liberal arts university for my undergraduate degree, I am constantly amazed by the offerings provided to UT students on any given day.
As I have alluded in the past, one of my passions is politics (especially Texas politics), which is why I was very excited to attend the Texas Tribune Festival on campus. The Texas Tribune Festival is a three-day conference with over 50 sessions and panels that all feature prominent local, state, and national politicians. In other words, it is my dream come true.
Students are offered tickets for $50 each or you can volunteer for four hours during the weekend and attend the rest of the conference for free. I chose to volunteer on Saturday morning, and also managed to squeeze in a few panels. It was my undergraduate university’s homecoming this past weekend, so I split my time, but I would have gladly spent all Saturday at the festival.
My favorite panel I was able to see was a One-on-One with the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts, Glenn Hegar. It was very enlightening to learn all about the position of comptroller and an awesome intersection between my interests in politics and accounting. He spoke on Texas’ current tax policies, the Rainy Day fund, and how the state plans to cope with the current decline in oil prices.
I really enjoy all of my MPA classes, but politics is one of my favorite things to follow, so it was great to be able to partake in the offerings UT has available outside of my program. If you are interested in finding out more about the Texas Tribune Festival, you can check out the website here. The Texas Tribune has also posted videos or audio of most of the sessions, including the keynote with Julián Castro, on its site.
September has always been a slow month for me, but with recruitment in full swing and a heavy fall course load, it absolutely flew by this year. I would not believe it was October if not for the Halloween candy and orange Oreos that have become my frequent study snacks.
With the significant amount of stress that comes with a busy semester and the significant amount of sweets I consume while studying, I had to find a way to stay healthy. The answer for me was “TeXercise.”
TeXercise is UT’s group exercise program. As a student, you have free, unlimited access to the university’s recreation facilities on campus. I frequent the Gregory gym weight room and have began to take small steps towards my goal of running a half marathon on the treadmills. However for the days I am feeling unmotivated or too busy to plan a workout for myself, I like to attend an exercise class.
I purchased the semester pass for $85 at the beginning of the semester and received free access to the Group Cycling classes as a bonus for purchasing the pass early. If you have ever paid for a single cycling class or gym membership, you recognize that this is a great bargain. More details including prices and a class schedule can be found at the Division of Recreational Sports website.
I have attended multiple yoga classes (Sunrise, Vinyasa) as well as Nike+ Training Club and group cycling classes. The cycling classes are definitely my favorite, but I have enjoyed the ability to get to try out a little bit of every type of exercise. For instance, I had never attended a yoga class before this semester and it is nice to learn the basics in a judgement free environment. During a stressful week, hitting the gym is the way I like to stay calm and focused.
Even better for MPA students? The Gregory Gym is just across the street from McCombs, making it even easier to incorporate a TeXercise class or two into your day.
As a Texan, I have a serious confession: I have never owned a pair of cowboy boots. I have kicked (pun intended) the idea of purchasing a pair around a couple of times, but never had a solid reason to commit to a purchase. However, after seeing the attire at my first UT game, I decided that it was finally a good time to procure a pair.
Boots on Boots on Boots
Like any good millennial, I decided to Google “Places to Buy Boots in Austin” and began to research. From what I determined, the best place to begin the search for the perfect pair is South Congress. There are traditional stores like Heritage Boot and Allens Boots, and also a lot of great vintage stores that offer a selection of boots, such as Feathers Boutique, New Bohemia and Uncommon Objects.
After my last interview during a busy week of recruiting on Friday morning, my mom and I headed to South Congress to find a pair before the UT game on Saturday. While my original intention was to hunt for a secondhand pair, my mom encouraged me to check out Allens Boots for our first stop.
We spent a lot of time exploring the store. They have boots for all different types of personal styles. Some of my favorites were Texas centric and featured the Texas flag or an outline of the state on the front. There was also this “Don’t Mess With Texas” pair that I found very entertaining:
While I am personally not flashy enough to purchase boots with a famous anti-littering campaign slogan on them, I did find the perfect pair of boots for me at Allens. I ultimately decided that the full price cost would be worth it if I really loved the boots and will continue to wear them for years to come. You only purchase your first pair of boots once. I feel way more Texan already.