Best Place to Renew Passports in Austin

"Waiting at the Passport Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO200
“Waiting at the Passport Office” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。Today I took my two sons to get their passports renewed at the University of Texas International Office. In the past, we’ve gone to the post office to take care of it, but a friend recommended the UT International Office, and the reviews are fantastic, so we decided to give it a try.

I have to agree that this is the best way to get your passport renewed (or apply for a new one) in person in Austin! The staff was so friendly, the wait time was minimal, and they even offer photo services for cheaper than Walgreens.

I was nervous about going here during spring break because I heard it can get crowded. But really, it’s a great time to do it because you don’t have to take your kids out of school which is important if they are high school age. Plus, during spring break, there’s hardly any traffic. We arrived when the office opened (8 am) and parked at the San Antonio Garage, which is just across the street. The cost was US $6.

There was a short line at the UT International Office, as you can see in the photo above, but it was shorter I was expecting. I think we waited for about 15 minutes before reaching the reception desk, where the friendly staff member made sure we had all of our documents (including check to the US Dept of State) in order, placed everything into a plastic folder for us, and told us to wait for a txt which would let us know it was time for us to head upstairs for the actual processing. The waiting area is small but comfortable. It was such a nice environment compared to the post office!

After 10 more minutes, we received the message and took the elevator up to the 2nd floor where we turned in our document packet to another worker (also super-friendly), who double-checked everything, and then we sat down while they processed the application (or whatever they needed to do). If you need a photo, they will take it upstairs. I think the fee is US $13. Next time, I’d save the trip to Walgreens and just get the photo done (for cheaper) there at the UT International Office.

"International Office" Austin, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5, 1/50 sec, ISO800
“International Office” Austin, 2019

10 minutes later we were called back to the counter and took oaths stating that everything on the applications was true, then paid the US $35 service fee, listened to a detailed explanation of what would happen next, how long it would take to receive the passports, and received a paper that had instructions on how to check the status of the application. I have to say again that the staff members were so helpful, friendly, and clear about everything. The University of Texas International Office is SO MUCH BETTER than the post office for handling passport applications. I recommend anyone in the Austin area use them.

"Passport Takeaway" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/60 sec, ISO640
“Passport Takeaway” Cedar Park, 2019

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

The Return of Sunshine

"Morning Light" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Morning Light” Cedar Park, 2019

After a couple of grey days, I woke up to this amazing morning sunlight. It lifted my mood immediately… is that another kind of solar power? 😆

Have a nice day!

Two-Dollar Bills are Still Special

"Money" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/105 sec, ISO6400
“Money” Cedar Park, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

At Saturday’s Lunar New Year celebration, our kids each received a stack of red envelopes from the married people at the party. It’s a tradition that those who are married give red envelopes, which contain money, to the single people, and so our kids, who are still in their teens, still have several years of red envelopes coming up (we hope)!

Anyway, these days our kids prefer to use their debit cards, so they’ll give me all the cash that they collect at the party and I will transfer that amount to their cards. And usually, a couple two-dollar bills are in the stack of cash for exchanging.

So, this is the time of year that I see the two-dollar bill more often, which is cool because these bills are special to me. The two-dollar bill went out of print in 1966, but was re-issued in 1976 which was the bi-centennial year of the United States. According to Wikipedia, the bill reissue wasn’t specifically to celebrate the bi-centennial, but with all the hoopla surrounding the year, it sure seemed like it was part the celebration. Since I was a little kid at the time, it made a big impression on me!

Even today, I still get a small thrill when I see a two-dollar bill out in the wild. Not only that, but I feel a little bad about spending them or depositing them at the bank –.it seems like I should be collecting them, just like when I was a kid! But I realize that one nice, crisp two-dollar bill safe and sound in the drawer is enough. 😊

I hope you had a great day!

またね~