Proud, wild, and independent, Austin embodies the best that Texas has to offer. Yet this deeply musical city, birthplace of legendary artists in blues, country, and rock, retains a unique spirit that sets it apart from the rest of the state. Here, colorfully bedecked tattoo artists mingle with members of the international business elite, and in some neighborhoods it is possible to see as many mohawks as cowboy hats. As the capital of the state of Texas and arguably its most cosmopolitan city, Austin is a place of remarkable human diversity, and the local culture is aptly summarized in the city's unofficial slogan: “keep Austin weird.”
Given its sprawling size and enormous population, many visitors are surprised at how comfortable Austin feels. The Texan capital city is renowned as one of the state's most livable, and Austin residents are almost universally relaxed and fun-loving. Parks, historic neighborhoods, and photogenic monuments can be found throughout the city, alongside some of the best museums and high-end restaurants in Texas.
The most challenging aspect of life in Austin is undoubtedly transportation. Unlike most major American cities, which are laid out along an intuitive grid, downtown Austin is a dense knot of small roads tangled up with one another. It is notoriously difficult to navigate, especially for newcomers. The chaos of the Austin roadmap can be summed up with a single piece of trivia: in between 38th and 39th streets, Austin has a street named “38½.”
The absence of a subway system further complicates the transportation problem in Austin. Most short-term visitors get by with a combination of buses and cabs, while those who come for an extended stay usually find that it is wise to bring cars, and they gradually get used to driving in the city. If you plan to be in Austin for more than a few days, it's advisable to invest in a good roadmap and spend some time studying it before you leave.
Say the words “Austin, Texas” to any American and 2 things will immediately come to mind: music and education. The University of Texas at Austin, or UT for short, is the flagship of the public education system in Texas, and was largely responsible for the city's initial flourishing in the late 19th century. It comprises about 50,000 graduate and undergraduate students in nearly every field imaginable, and employs top scholars in everything from philosophy to engineering.
While the University of Texas at Austin is by far Austin's largest and most renowned institution of higher learning, it is certainly not the only one. There are numerous other options, and the presence of so many colleges and universities has given Austin a reputation as “the number 1 college town in America.”
Austin is a popular destination for aspiring students both from America and from abroad. Naturally, it's many high-quality schools make Austin an appealing choice, but it is also popular because of the opportunities it presents for internships and employment after graduation–as the home of several major global businesses, Austin brings the world of education together with that of employment, an attractive prospect for young college students.