Nathan Navigates Brazil

On this last day of summer break, we have one final addition to our “Where Are We At?” travel series! This time we’ll be following senior AT member Nathan Fyock. Keep reading to learn a bit more about his time traveling in South America!

1. What city/country(s) are you traveling in this summer?11800140_978725018844722_5831468876659217366_n

All over Brazil and hopefully a visit to Machu Picchu in Peru. 

2. How long will you be there?

8 weeks.

3. What are you doing there?

I’m working as a designer at a Startup company in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

4. Why did you decide to go there?

I’ve wanted to see a different part of the world for a while now, and this opportunity gave me a good excuse to finally do so. Also, Brazil has been putting out some really interesting advertising and design recently, so I wanted to see what was in the water.

5. What has been your favorite moment of your time abroad so far?

Rio.De.Janeiro.

6. What’s your biggest takeaway from your travels so far?

11752397_10153144927127479_8421739918061131920_nThere have been several: Living simply is a rewarding way to live. Remember how everyone said “The Hook ‘em Horns hand sign is recognized all over the world”? That wasn’t true. Also (since you’ve given me a soapbox, I will gladly stand on it), being away from the US during so much political and social change has been really interesting. In the month that I’ve been gone, there has been continued documentation of police brutality, the ugly massacre in South Carolina, the debate and (in some cases) actual removal of the Confederate Flag, the passing of equal marriage rights, the approval of a new healthcare system, and Jurassic World to name a few. Following all this (and the reactions to it) from over here has put into perspective just how historic and tumultuous our time is, which is coolscary. From the outside we’re seen as a nation at a crossroads, so there are real opportunities to make an impact right now. Particularly in dinosaur-related cinema.

7. Has your time in AT made you more confident in trying new things?11800143_10204811292981631_8954822539840230217_n

I’ve always been somewhat introverted, so our application process forced me to learn how to find comfort outside of my comfort zone. Since then, my three years in AT have taught me how to find common ground and make fast friends with very different kinds of people. That’s a skill I’ve been able to copy and paste throughout this experience abroad. Thanks, AT!

8. What are you most looking forward to when you return?

English.

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Julia Jets Around

Hey everyone! Thanks for joining us for the second installment of our “Where are we AT?” series, featuring our very own Julia Aijkens. Julia has been spending her summer studying in Dubai, Barcelona and The Netherlands. So rid yourself of the Monday blues and live vicariously through Julia’s travels!

1. What city/country(s) are you trave11391554_10206858830413095_7338494114316769191_nling in this summer?

Dubai/Barcelona/The Netherlands

2. How long will you be there?

Two weeks in Dubai/two weeks in Barcelona/eight weeks in The Netherlands

3. What are you doing there?

Dubai and Barcelona combined was a study abroad program. In The Netherlands, I’m also taking classes but more on my own while visiting family and friends.

4. Why did you decide to go there?

I found about the study abroad opportunity through a brochure I picked up and mentioned it to my parents. After I found out that they were totally supportive, it became an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Dubai and Barcelona were two places I’d never been before.

11693977_10203676943757960_4548406795525119386_n5. What has been your favorite moment of your time abroad so far?

There is no way I could distinguish one favorite moment but hands down the best part has been the people. From all the other students I met on the trip to Dubai and Barcelona, to seeing my family and friends in The Netherlands, and all of the other interesting and kind people in between, they are the ones who have made this trip worth while and so memorable.

6. What’s your biggest takeaway from your travels so far?

The memories I’ve made, and hopefully the memories to come, with the people I’ve been lucky enough to get to know through these travels is for sure my biggest takeaway.

7. Has your time in AT made you more confident in trying new things? 1978848_10153384380983349_3600903592911799001_n

The support I got from fellow members in AT has been unreal. Having the people who surround you be excited about what you’re doing definitely gives you that extra boost of confidence to go out there and explore uncharted territories.

8. What are you most looking forward to when you return?

I’m excited to go back with these new experiences in my pocket and possibly start looking at things in a different way. I also think being away for so long makes you re-appreciate your home and the people in it. Not to mention football season.

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Tabbi Takes Mauritius

We’re back with the first installment of our “Where are we AT?” series. Our first featured member is Tabbi, who just returned from a month interning in Mauritius. Here’s what Tabbi has to say about her travels!11425257_10204492175083878_5619877697317624398_n

1. What city/country(s) are you traveling to this summer?

Mauritius, an island off the coast of Madagascar.

2. How long were you there?

I was there about 4 and half weeks!

3. What are you doing there?

I had an internship with AIESEC. I was part of a nonprofit advertising campaign, to inform and motivate the youth of Mauritius to stay in school

4. Why did you decide to go?

The internship was perfect for my major. I was interested in how nonprofit campaigns are, along with the beautiful beaches and mountains in Mauritius. It was somewhere complete different.

5. What has been your favorite moment of your time abroad?

The program I was in had interns from all over the world. Just hanging out and getting along with people from different countries was by far the best. Of course this wasn’t a moment, but the people by far were the best part of the experience.

10368199_10204515985679128_6982905298357104120_n6. What’s your biggest takeaway from your travels?

My communication skills are crazy better. I learned how to communicate with people of different languages and how to be a leader to many. I went to Mauritius without anyone, so I had to quickly make friends with both interns and locals.

7. Has your time in AT made you more confident in trying new things?

Seeing people in AT traveling all the time, rubbed off on me. AT’s diversity of people has made me want to try new things in both Austin and Mauritius. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have even attempted to talk to anyone or had the maturity to travel by myself. AT has given me the confidence to be outgoing and more comfortable with just being myself. I want to meet new people now and see different stuff in Austin. I finally have the energy and excitement to get off my couch and do something different.

8. What are you most looking forward to when you return?

Actual meat haha. But being on an island was difficult. There was some people that never left and didn’t’ like change. After you saw the entire island there wasn’t much else to do. That’s what so great about the US and Texas itself. You can always travel by car to somewhere new. Also, I really missed my friends. Seeing all ya’ll’s Snapchats made me sad. And Cheers (my dog), missed her more than anything lol.

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Where are we AT?

Summer is in full swing and the members of Absolute Texxas are taking full advantage of these precious few months. With such an active and diverse crew, we knew that Absolute Texxas would be taking on the world this summer. However, we didn’t realize just how literal this would be. The map below show just how wide-spread our globe-trotting members are traveling this summer. Untitled design-2Throughout the summer we’ll be featuring several members and their travels. Some will be interning and others studying abroad, but all will return in the fall with even more to offer Absolute Texxas and UT Austin. We always say that an organization is only as strong as its members, and we’re feeling pretty good about all of ours.

2015 Family of the Year

With our spring semester now in the books, it is now time to release the final standings for our highly sought after Family of the Year award. This semester, the EB employed a more defined point system and provided the general membership with periodic updates as to the standings. In this way, this semester’s competition became the most heated and most compelling family competition in recent memory.Untitled design-3 The point system was skewed in such a way that points were mostly available to be earned at the beginning of the semester or at the end of the semester, with few points to be gained over the middle months of the spring. Key point opportunities in the early-going of the semester included the following: Family Olympics, the Family Change Drive, and Family Competition February. The Aristocrats rushed to an early lead, pulling off a victory in the Family Olympics for the third consecutive year, registering 25 points towards Family of the Year with a commanding victory in the contest. Next came the Family Change Drive, where Absolute Texxas contributed change towards our philanthropy, St. Jude’s. In this contest, two familes – Adachi and the Aristocrats – constituted three-quarters of the total contribution. In the end, though, Adachi pulled out the victory due to substantial contributions from MVPs Steele Haspel and Curtis Herges. At this point in the semester, the standings were as follows:

  • Aristocrats: 35
  • Adachi: 25
  • Atlas: 15
  • Sinclair: 5

Next, we completed our Family Competition month, in which each family hosted an event for rival members. Although all of these events were excellent, Atlas pulled off the victory due to a gutsy effort and stunning creativity by Atlas family dad and bearded wonder, Ahmad Nassif. After difficult voting and much deliberating, Atlas was deemed the winner of the Family Competition, with Adachi, Aristocrats, and Sinclair following them in the final standings.   This left the Aristocrats in the lead, with both Adachi and Atlas hot on their heels. Several months went by with no significant point swings. However, once the calendar rolled over to May, the Family of the Semester began to receive some clarity. Essentially, the difference between the Aristocrats, Adachi, and Atlas could be summed into two categories: top credit earner of the family as well as credits per family member. Even so, the margin of victory – and of defeat – was razor thin. The top credit earners of each family were as follows: Megan Lenz of Adachi, Daniel Thompson of Aristocrats, Charlotte Wright of Atlas, and Duffy Watson of Sinclair. Each of these members gained north of 18 credits, an incredible number considering the other activities in which each of these members partakes. However, Megan came in first, Duffy followed her, then came Charlotte and Daniel. Therefore, Adachi pulled into a tie with the Aristocrats for first place, with Adachi within 10 points of the heralded trophy. That left us with one final calculation to make to determine the final standings: credits per family member. The winner of these final points, if that winner were Atlas, Adachi, or the Aristocrats, would surely achieve the crown of Family of the Year. Without further ado, here are the final results: Family of the Year Credits per family member was, indeed, the swing necessary to win the title. Adachi had the most credits per member, followed by Sinclair, the Aristocrats, and, finally, Atlas. Congratulations to Adachi for their victory, we look forwards to re-commencing the competition come the fall.

Absolute Texxas Spring Formal

With another semester down, Absolute Texxas marked the end of the school year by trekking to San Marcos to celebrate our Spring Formal. To begin our weekend, a combination of 108 members and dates braved the roaring rapids of San Marcos’ meandering river. The day could not have been more perfect; 11069497_10203966441268252_4339221955079391302_nthe sky was marked by radiant rays of sunshine, and not a single cloud blemished the glorious day.

Upon exiting the river, we ventured back to our hotel to prepare for dinner and our superlative awards. In the San Antonio room of our hotel, with plates loaded with burgers, chips, and delicious sweets, awards were doled out. A wide range of awards – 48 in total – were issued, ranging from Best Smile to Best Dancer to the highly sought after Mr. and Ms. Absolute Texxas.

The night cap proved stressful, but with Conor and Jamie’s uncanny adaptability, our Formal was successfully steered back home sweet home to 10406817_889077494472160_830435574512232550_nATX, where we had the pleasure of ending the night at Old School Bar and Grill.

All-in-all, the night was a tremendous success. Absolute Texxas would like to thank Conor Patterson and Jamie Kubelka for a job exceptionally done this semester. We cannot wait to see how Maddie Hussing and Cameron Miller succeed them in the fall. To all our members and all of our readers, have a wonderful summer, and we will see you come August!

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Mr. Absolute Texxas Shines at Mr. Spirit

As part of the spirit group community at the University of Texas at Austin, Absolute Texxas often participates in and supports events hosted by our fellow organizations. This semester one of our members, Divine Ntomchukwu, was chosen as a contestant on behalf of Absolute Texxas in the 2nd Annual Mr. Spirit competition, hosted by the Texas Spirits. The event raises money for the Make-A-Wish foundation and St. Louise House. Divine stole the show all night and ultimately took home one of the top three awards of the night, Mr. Philanthropy.

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Our very own Mr. Absolute Texxas, Divine Ntomchukwu. (photo: Texas Spirits)

Divine competed in several rounds of the competition, showing off his formal attire in the “outfit of choice” category and his best Beyoncé moves in the talent portion. The crowd went WILD over Divine’s talent submission and watching the video below, it’s easy to understand why!

The Mr. Philanthropy title was awarded to Divine for raising the most amount of money of all the contestants. Through donations from Absolute Texxas members and other UT students, Divine raised nearly $700 for Make-A-Wish and St. Louise House. His prize included not only a dashing crown and sash, but a $200 donation to Absolute Texxas’ philanthropy, St. Jude’s.

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Divine poses with the other award winners, Mr. Spirit and Mr. Congeniality. (photo: Texas Spirits)

We could not be any prouder of Divine’s showing in Mr. Spirit and  involvement on campus. You will always be our Queen B.

Absolute Texxas Family Weekend 2015

We’re baaaacckkk!

It’s been a while since we’ve posted on this blog, but with such an exciting semester in the works, we decided it was time to brush off the dust and put our perfectly polished University of Texas writing skills to work.

With every spring semester comes the annual Absolute Texxas Family Weekend. This year we changed things up a bit and the results were a hit! Launching the weekend off was our first basketball tailgate of the semester. With the parents dominating in games such as dizzy bat, washers and kan jam, it finally became clear where AT’s inherent athletic ability stems from. (Did we mention our status as the reigning Intramural Softball and Flag-Football champions?) Thanks genetics!

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Following the tailgate, families had the option to cheer on the Horns together or explore Austin on their own, meeting back up in the evening for an unforgettable night of go-carts, laser tag and mini-golf at Austin Park & Pizza.

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With visions of pizza and bumper cars still dancing in our heads, the weekend came to an end with a brunch and presentation from the Absolute Texxas executive board.

We can’t thank our families enough for attending this fun-filled weekend and for allowing us to be a part of this amazing organization. We hope y’all had as great of a time as we did! Already looking forward to next year!

Hook ’em!

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Introduction / Spring 2014 Recap

This is the first installment of the Absolute Texxas blog.  We’ve chewed on the idea of starting this for a while now, and we’re excited to say that we are finally taking the plunge into the blogosphere!  This will chronicle all of the events we have throughout the semester and serve as a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a member of AT to our family, friends, potential new members, or anybody who happens to stumble across this page!

 

Hey There!

This first post is dedicated to taking a look back at our recently completed Spring 2014 semester.  If you’re reading this, you are probably already familiar enough with us to know that all of our activities and events fall into one of three categories:  Spirit, Service, or Social.  Here’s a recap of all the fun we had this Spring 2014 semester in each category:

 

Spirit

As always, AT continued to show strong support to all Longhorn teams.  One of the highlights of the semester was the young and exciting Longhorn basketball team.  AT was consistently well represented in the stands as we had a blast supporting Coach Barns and company.

As well known as we are for our football tailgates, we also couldn’t resist from firing up the grill one time to host a tailgate for a baseball game.  Looking back, we don’t know of anything we could have been doing that Friday night that would have been more fun than hanging out with friends, enjoying some food fresh off the grill, and playing in/watching a few competitive wiffle ball games before we headed off to the game!

Look no further than the intramural diamond for our proudest moment of the semester.   After coming up short the last two years, our co-ed softball team finally took home the championship this spring!  With more fans in the stands than we’ve ever seen at an intramural game, our team strolled to an easy victory in the tournament finale to claim AT another spot on the Gregory Gym Wall of Fame!  What a great way to wrap up the semester!

IM Champs

 

Service

We are fortunate to be able to serve several amazing charitable organizations and initiatives.  Just as every semester is, this spring schedule was loaded with several fun service events!  Here’s a look at just a few of the events we participated in:

  • Neighborhood Longhorn Program–  For years, we have teamed up with Zavala Elementary School to tutor 4th graders and help in preparation for their yearly standardized exams.  Our members visited the classroom for an hour every Wednesday to work through workbook problems , but more importantly, to mentor the young students.
  • Helping Hands Home–  It’s often a debate whether our members or the kids have more fun at HHH.  We hosted two field days at the HHH home this semester where we played games and hung out with the foster children.  We really value the awesome opportunity we have to just be kids again and play sports and games with all the HHH kids!
  • Pease Park Conservatory–  We spent several weekend mornings down the street at Pease Park, working on various projects under the supervision of the conservation team.  Whether it’s pulling weeds, planting trees, or doing whatever the Pease Park guys can have us do, we’re more than happy to do our part in keeping the park our members frequent in beautiful condition!

While we love these events, the spring semester is also home to our very own Absolute Texxas Volleyball Classic.  Always a highlight of the semester, ATVC is a 20 team sand volleyball tournament that we put on,  where all proceeds are sent directly to the great St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital!  This year we had a full bracket, some intense competition, and a beautiful day to enjoy it on.  We are proud to say an AT team took the title (Turtle Squad, where ya at?), and even prouder to say the event raised $5000 dollars for St. Jude!  The event was held at Aussie’s Grill and Beach Bar.  If you are ever looking for a place to eat or hang out in Austin, be sure to stop by Aussies and give them a quick thanks.  Danny, their owner, has been gracious enough to offer up the place to us at no cost the past several years.  We couldn’t do it without him!

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Socials

Our social events have never failed to be fun and memorable.  This Spring was certainly no exception to this as we freshened up our lineup of events by making a few minor changes and adding some awesome new events!

A staple of AT social events, our annual Neon party, was as fun as ever!  Complete with neon decorated black walls, black lights, and even glowing drinks, the night was a blast for all of our members and our friends who were lucky enough to score invites to the event!

For the first time in AT’s 10 year history, we split up our guys and girls to mix with the other awesome spirit organizations on campus.  As we are always trying to continue improving our presence on campus, we felt this would be a great opportunity to strengthen our relationships with the other organizations on campus.  The mixers were an absolute hit-  our members loved them, new friendships were formed, and many memories were made!  We are very excited to continue mixing with other groups this upcoming Fall!

We definitely saved the best for last this spring.  Our final event of the semester was our formal.  This year we changed things up a bit and went with a “Beach Bum Formal” theme in Port Aransas, Texas!  Our members and their dates enjoyed a two night stay on the beach– a welcomed mini-vacation to cap off the recently completed final week of class.  The weekend featured hours well spent at the beach, a crawfish boil out by the pool (300 pounds of crawfish!), a night out on the town, and a banquet on the final night to wrap up the semester.  This was without a doubt one of the best formals we have ever had!

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Wrap-Up

As you’ve seen, this semester was definitely one to remember.  We’re excited we were able to share it with you on our new blog and we hope you’ve gained a better idea of what AT is all about!  Family and friends- We will be trying to update this every month or two throughout future semesters to keep you in the loop of everything we have going on.

If you are looking into joining Absolute Texxas, keep an eye on our website and social media pages throughout the summer for recruitment information!  Also be on the lookout for our table during orientation and in front of Gregory during the first two weeks of class in the Fall!

We hope you have a great summer!