OISS was fortunate enough to have Dan Stypa, Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs, join us for some great travel opportunities for the Rice population! Two programs may be particularly useful for you as you plan to explore the world: 1) The Rice Alumni Travel program, and 2) Vacation Travel Opportunities. These opportunities are partnered through Contiki Vacations and offer us the ability to partake in amazing adventures. Please see the information below and feel free to contact Dan for more information!
Rice Alumni Travel Program (not just for alumni!!)
The Rice Alumni Travel program brings young alumni and students a new opportunity to explore the globe, experience new cultures, ancient art , historic sites, delicious cuisine, thrilling adventures and authentic self-discovery all while making long lasting friendships.
We are excited to partner with Contiki Vacations, the worldwide leader in travel for 18-35 year olds. With more than 200 trips to choose from in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, South America, Asia, Russia and Egypt, traveling with Contiki means you’ll share an amazing journey with alumni and travelers your age from all over the world.
When you plan your next trip with the Rice Alumni Travel program, the choices are limitless. With trips ranging from three days to more than a month, you are sure to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
To learn all about the trips expertly designed for young alumni and students 18-35 years old available throughout 2013, visit Contiki’s website at www.contiki.com. If you have any questions, please contact the Rice Alumni Travel program at 713-348-5094 or Contiki at 866-652-4483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s time to embark on an education beyond the classroom and workplace. You deserve it!
Vacation Travel Opportunities (especially great for Winter and Summer Break!)
Ever watch an American football game and felt completely confused?! You’re not alone! To help you learn the rules of football in a fun way, the Rice football team has offered to give the Rice International Community a special night of fun. Each attendee will also receive a free Rice football t-shirt! The event will be held on Friday, August 24 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Rice Stadium.
We will start off the night with a real Texas tailgate which is an important part of sports in the US. A tailgate party is usually held at the tailgate area of a vehicle, usually a truck, which is where the name comes from. These parties
include food and drinks, but are really just a great way to hang out with friends before a game. This is also a great time to paint your face, play some games, and just get pumped up about the upcoming match. While these tailgating parties were initially just for football, you’ll often see them at other sporting events as well. Most commonly, fans will sit out for a few hours before a game in the stadium parking lot grilling hot dogs or hamburgers. For those who do not have tickets to the game, they will often bring a television and watch the game in the parking lot while eating. For our event, we’ll be eating pizza. Regardless of what you eat, it is about the fun community that you build while waiting for the game to start!
After the tailgate, we’ll head into the famous R Room to learn the basics of football. We will split up into two groups: Offense and Defense. After your “lesson,” you’ll switch places to learn about the other side! That means that if you start on the Offense side, after you learn the rules of how to play on the offense, you’ll go to another room afterward to learn about how to play defense! You’ll get a chance to learn the terms, the rules, the scoring, and what to watch for in a game. If you want to get a head start to familiarize yourself with the game, take a look at the Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_football.
We’ll finish up the evening by going through the Rice tunnel just like the football players! This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the field all by yourselves. Once on the field, the Rice football team will be there to run drills to show you how everything is run. You’ll get a chance to see the differences between the special teams, offense and defense are which will help clarify all the theoretical explanations from the clinic. Be sure that you wear very comfortable shoes because we’ll be running in the grass, throwing footballs, and learning fancy footwork!
On Tuesday, March 20, 2012, the OISS sponsored two Tax Workshops with well over 100 attendees. The presenters came back with these general questions that seemed to be repeated by several Rice internationals. You can access the powerpoint presentation at: http://oiss.rice.edu/uploadedFiles/Docs/2012.Tax.Workshop.pdf
Don’t forget to get your Glacier Tax Software password at the OISS for $2 (helps us to recoup the cost of this great service to you – otherwise, we would not have the budget for it), which is very helpful in completing your tax filing paperwork. Licenses are available at a first-come, first-serve basis.
Here is what they wrote:
Below is a summary of our responses to some of the questions the students asked during yesterday’s workshop. We mentioned that we would provide follow up to you, and then you may be able to post or otherwise provide them the answers the best way you see fit.
1) Do I need an ITIN in order to file the Form 8843? - No, you do not need to have an ITIN to file the 8843, however if you have one you must use it. You will need an ITIN in order to file a tax return with the IRS (Forms 1040NR-EZ or 1040NR). Also, note that is you have seen issued a social security number (SSN), you must use that in completing your From 8843.
2) Does my spouse or dependent who is here on an J-2 or F-2 visa need to file From 8843? - Yes, family members physically present in the U.S who are excluding days of presence from the substantial presence test must also file Form 8843.
3) What if I have had more than one type of visa while studying in the US? - The Form 8843 provides space to report a change in your visa status. Please refer to Part II Question 7 or Part III Question 11. The questions asked whether you have had a change in your visa status and if so, the student will need to attach a statement to Form 8843 showing the new visa type and date it was acquired.
4) Do Nonresident students qualify for any of the education credits? - No unfortunately, the education credits, such as Hope or Lifetime Learning Credit are not available to nonresident aliens.
5) What happens if I have been here beyond the 5 or 6 year limit for qualifying for the substantial presence exceptions? - Generally if you are not able to exclude your physical presence in the US for purposes of the substantial presence test, you could be considered a resident alien for purposes of filing your tax returns. There is limited relief under some of the tax treaties so students should look to Publication 901 for information related to their respective countries. There is also relief in some circumstances it the student can establish that they do not intend to reside permanently in the US. This may include showing the IRS that they have maintained a “closer connection” to a foreign country than to the US and whether affirmative steps to change their status from nonimmigrant to lawful permanent resident (i.e. apply for a green card). To qualify for the “closer connection” exception, the student cannot have been physically present in the U.S in the current tax year for more than 183 days and show their tax home is in another country. I would refer them to Form 8804 and the instructions for further detail on these requirements as well as Publication 519. These are available on the IRS website www.irs.gov.
There is also an update from the Payroll Office. The following documents are available in their office:
Publication 519 – U.S. Tax guide for Aliens
Form 8843 – Statement for Exempt Individuals and Individuals with a Medical Condition
W-7 – Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
Evidence of Rice’s recent years of international expansion efforts, as a result of the Vision for the Second Century’s (V2C) goals, are seen, felt, and experienced throughout the campus daily. Almost one in every five students walking across campus is a student from another country (including total populations of graduate and undergraduate students). Everyone at Rice has a chance for a cross-cultural opportunity at their front doorstep.
The Houston Chronicle’s Sports front page story about the international athletes that are on the Rice basketball team also describes how the players enjoy the diverse perspectives and traditions that they learn from one another. But their uniting force is their dedication to the game. As in any international experience, shared goals can override any differences.
Whether it is in the classroom, the lab, a student club, a volunteer opportunity, or on the court, international students at Rice, interacting with our domestic students, create a rich environment for learning global perspectives and expanding one’s international experience.
Rice is so fortunate to have so many students from other countries here, and we have truly enjoyed the unique opportunities to learn from the international athletes who come to our country and school with so many incredible talents, and share them with all of us. Way to go Rice basketball team! Way to go Owls! Way to go international students who are part of our Rice community!
A big THANK YOU to everyone who participated! You all helped make our first ever Ping Pong Tournament a great success!
We especially want to thank the Rice Rec Center and the Rice Table Tennis Club for co-sponsoring the event, and the Rice Table Tennis Club President, Yezi Dong, for helping us coordinate the event. She did an amazing job!
Here are the final results:
1st place: Dong Kyu Kim
2nd place: Zehua Jin
3rd place: Tommy Economou
4th place: Xin Li
~Written by Andy Meretoja, International Department Coordinator
Here’s an illustrated guide on how to carve the most amazing pumpkin for Halloween, courtesy of our FISS Pumpkin Carving event.
Step 1: Choose a pumpkin. Any pumpkin. It should be orange and relatively round, but size is up to you. Bigger ones are better if you decide to use a template from a pumpkin carving kit (more details about this in step 5), but if you’re creative and carve by hand, a smaller one will also look very nice. The most important thing is that you are willing to fully commit to the pumpkin you choose.
Step 2: Get a big, sharp knife. The sharper the better, since this is where you will attack your pumpkin and cut out the top of your pumpkin. Remember that the top will go back and serve as a lid on your completed pumpkin, so it is a good idea to cut it at an angle. For a more professional look, you can cut the top into a special shape, like a zigzag, but any old hole on top will do.
Step 3: Clean your pumpkin. This part can get a bit messy, but don’t let it bother you. Just stick your hand in there and get everything out! The more thorough you are at this point equals how long you will be able to enjoy your pumpkin: the more stuff you leave inside, the sooner your pumpkin will begin to spoil and go bad. Remember that you can use the pumpkin seeds for cooking or baking!
Step 4: Now, if you didn’t make the hole big enough during step 2, you might get into trouble during step 3 and get your hand stuck inside the pumpkin while clearing out the seeds! Do try to get your hand out without making the hole bigger now, because otherwise your lid will no longer fit on top of the pumpkin. If all else fails, cut yourself free and tell everyone that your pumpkin got scalped!
Step 5: Choose an image to carve on your pumpkin. Creative people can carve their own designs, but pumpkin carving kits often have helpful templates that you can use. Either tape your template to the pumpkin or have a friend hold it, while you trace the edges of the picture with a sharp tool.
Step 6: Remove the template and, based on the tracing you just did, cut the edges of the pictures all the way through with an even sharper tool. Now you should be able to get out the pieces, after which you can see about making the edges a little nicer and more polished. Remember that Halloween pumpkins are supposed to look scary, so it doesn’t matter if your image is a little rough around the edges.
Step 7: Pose for pictures and show off your amazing pumpkin with pride!!
If you would rather not use quite so many sharp tools, you can always use paint and other decorations to create an awesome pumpkin!
~Written by Andy Meretoja, International Department Coordinator
I’m writing from the beautiful city of Leipzig! I just arrived this morning after a short train ride from Berlin where I spent the last week. The time spent there was so amazing, it is hard to put it all in words.
My visit to Germany is part of a two week Fulbright program for international educators and has given me a wonderful look into the country’s culture and history. I am here with nineteen other educators from all around the US with various specializations.
So far, there have been some amazing memories already made. One of my favorite days so far was a quick day trip to Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder) which included a walk across the bridge into Poland. It was incredible to stand at the bridge and look at the two countries. Part of this trip included a visit to a unique housing initiative for students (both German and international) call Fforst. This housing arrangement came about because the students felt that there was a great divide between the German and non-German students (particularly from Poland). They started the joint housing a few years ago so that half of the residents would be German citizens and the other half would be international. I got to meet students from around the world and learn more about what drew them to Germany. I was so impressed with their initiative!
The border between Germany and Poland
Our trip started off in Berlin last week with an amazing bus city tour. We got to see a lot of the city and learn about the historic buildings everywhere. Our days since then have been filled with interesting lectures about the German higher education system, the Bologna Process, and school visits. We’ve also met some amazing people from around the country from professors, administrators, and even a member of the German Parliament (Reichstag)!
In this second half of the trip, we were split up into smaller groups based on our area of interest. I’m now in Leipzig for two days with four other colleagues who work in either international services, study abroad or other related fields. In a few days, we’ll meet back up with the rest of the group in Strasbourg to meet the French Fulbright office. Then we’ll end up in Mainz for a few days before heading back to the US.
As an international student or scholar, you might need a letter from OISS to verify your status, and we are more than happy to help. To make the process a little smoother, we have updated our website with a convenient form with which you can request your letters. Here’s how it works:
No matter what type of letter you are requesting, always fill in your information and check the appropriate box based of the letter you need. For Letters of enrollment and Visa renewal letters for yourself, you do not need to give any more information. For a Letter for a bank account, you do not need to give further information, but please make sure your local address is correct in Esther (http://esther.rice.edu), since it will be included in the letter.
For Visa renewal letters for your dependent’s visa renewal, or for an original dependent visa, please also include their information in the space provided. Also please specify whether the letter is for an initial visa or for a renewal.
For Letters of invitation, include the required information in the space provided. Please note that when inviting multiple guests, we will provide you with one letter with both of their information on it, unless two separate letters are specifically requested.
Please remember that all letters take approximately one full business day to process, so after submitting your request, you can come to the office to pick up your letter after 3 p.m. the following day.
~Written by Andy Meretoja, International Department Coordinator
Every summer, Rice has many international students, scholars and faculty who are on campus doing research, studying or working. The goal of the Summer International College is to bring fun, and educational programming to our International community during this time so they can get out and meet other Internationals as well as participate in interesting and interactive activities. This year, the program consisted of weekly “Culture Sessions”, “International Coffee Hour” on Fridays and a number of enjoyable field trips such as NASA Space Center, George Ranch and The Houston Tunnels!
The Cultural Sessions were taught by OISS staff and covered various topics such as “Holidays and Gestures” and “Time in the U.S.” while the International Coffee Hour consisted of lessons on popular American English slangs and idioms. The first ten attendees to the coffee hour also enjoyed free coffee at Brochstein Pavilion!
The field trips included excursions to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Houston Zoo. We also brought back the immensely popular trips to NASA Space Center and the George Ranch Historical Park for a look into a typical Texas ranch day. We had 60 participants for NASA and 50 participants for George Ranch!
For the popular American Holiday, “Independence Day”, we took a large group of over 70 Internationals to watch a traditional fireworks show and listen to music from the Houston Symphony at the Miller Outdoor Theatre. This event was free and open to friends and family members of Internationals. Adria Baker, the executive director of OISS met everyone at the Sallyport and walked over to Hermann Park to enjoy the festivities.
OISS hosted an “End of Summer Party” where one of our International spouses graciously made us a Japanese delicacy called “Takoyaki” with her own takoyaki grill from Japan! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed these round savory pancakes along with other delightful treats. We also set up Adria’s office with a television and Wii games to have a DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) tournament! Some people had major skills in this hand-eye coordination game!
We enjoyed meeting and getting to know everyone who came to the Summer International College events. This was a great opportunity to get out of the lab, make new friends, practice speaking English, and see more of Houston! Stay tuned to the OISS website for our upcoming Winter Events which include outings to see Houston’s very own sports teams such as the Rockets Basketball Team and the Aeros Hockey team! We look forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting new ones!
~Written by Von Nguyen, Visa & Administration Specialist
In our first posting about working, we talked about getting a job on campus. But let’s say that cataloguing books at Fondren Library or lifeguarding at the Rec Center – excellent opportunities though they may be! – don’t quite meet your expectation of experiencing the wider world during your stay in Houston.
As an international student, are you allowed to work off campus? Yes! Well, actually, it depends.
If you were thinking of bartending in Rice Village, tutoring high school students in your native language, doing a few shifts at the Genius Bar in the Galleria’s Apple Store, or waiting tables to pick up a few bucks, please don’t! All off-campus work –for students on F-1 and J-1 visas – must be directly related and integral to your course of study at Rice. Remember, you were granted an F-1 or J-1 visa specifically for the purpose of being a full-time student in the U.S. Therefore, any off-campus work you do must provide practical experience that complements your academic studies and research.
F-1 students are eligible for off-campus work – known as Curricular Practical Training (CPT) – after one academic year (two semesters) in full-time, legal status. You may work off campus up to 20 hours per week during the semester and more than 20 hours during school breaks and summer vacation. Any off-campus workrequires prior authorization from OISS. Working even one day off campus without proper authorization is a violation of your immigration status, so please come see us first to complete the approval process. CPT authorization is quite straightforward and fast … as long as you follow the procedures on OISS’s CPT Information Handout. Please note the following two required items:
A signed job offer letter on official company/organization letterhead indicating what work you’ll be doing, the dates of employment, hours per week, and job location;
A completed CPT Request Form indicating academic justification for the job and signed by a Rice faculty member.
Please schedule an appointment with an OISS advisor if you have any questions about CPT or have a job offer and are ready to start working. We’re here to help!
Next time: OPT (authorization to work after completing your Rice degree)
~Written by Matt Stein, International and Sponsored Student Advisor
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