We’ve been in Houston, Texas for just over six months now and have survived through the worst of the heat! It has definitely been a culture shock – anyone who thinks moving to the US is just the same old Western culture, can think again. Yes, of course there are similarities, but on a whole living in the US is totally different to living in Europe. Luckily we’ve seen enough US friends try to work out life in Europe to have some idea of what to expect on the other end!
Hopefully I’ll find the time and write about the differences in another post, but perhaps these are the two most striking. One, the overwhelming amount of choice a consumer has and how consumerism-focused every aspect of life is. And two, the health care system, in a way just an extention of the previous point. From what I have seen it isn’t patient-focused, but profit-focused and this applies to regular doctor’s visits to getting perscriptions filled out. The term “There is no small profit” has never felt as appropriate as it has living in the US!
Houston is a city that grows on you very quickly, although I still have some mixed feeling about it. The people have been very friendly and it is easy to feel welcome as a newcomer. The city is also very culturally diverse with loads of different cuisines and museums to visit. It certainly doesn’t feel like what we imagined Texas to be. It is a huge, sprawling city that is not very well connected with public transport and not bicycle friendly at all. It’s more a collection of streets that have randomly been connected into a city than anything resembling urban planning. Since we don’t have a car yet, we’ve been limited to what we can explore in the city and around. Nevertheless, we’ve braved the heat and found some great spots to hang out at and parks to explore. There is limited nature in Houston itself, but we’ve visited some state parks close by and they provided good walks and interesting wildlife. We’ll definitely be venturing farther afield in the future!
Most of all the last few months have been HOT and HUMID. Something I haven’t really managed to completely adapt to and I still find myself exhausted and too easily dehydrated, despite the fact that I carry a water bottle around wherever I go. I’m looking forward to the weather becoming cooler though, so that we can start doing more outdoor activities again! We’ve also experienced some incredible rain and storms while we’ve been here – I can picture how scary it must have been during Harvey. For a city in this climate it sure does flood easily! Luckily we’ve avoided hurricanes for now.
A tour of Houston
A fun discovery have been the tunnels below Downtown Houston. Built from the 1920’s onward, they were a way to connect the big office buildings underground and enable people to move between offices without having to go into the Houston heat. The sections of tunnels are maintained by the buildings above them and are now mostly full of shops and restaurants. It explained the lack of people we saw on the streets of Downtown when we first arrived!
Goin’ down Louisiana way
We ventured just across the stateline to Sabine Wildlife Refuge. The drive along the coast offered some interesting views, different architecture and the refuge itself was beautiful.
It’s difficult to miss the heavy presence of the Oil & Gas and fishing industries in the Gulf of Mexico. There were definitely some post-apocalyptic wasteland vibes in the area!