Three months ago I moved to Austin, and a month before that I left London ,where I had been living for the past year.
To say I have had culture shock moving to Austin is an understatement! I hadn’t ever been to Texas before (I interviewed for my job via Skype from London) and moved here sight-unseen. My job has been going really well and I’m so grateful that it’s been everything I expected and hoped it would be.
However, Austin has been a little harder to love. In many ways it has been exactly what I expected or worried it would be; reasons which almost made me turn down the job in the first place. For one thing, I have never lived anywhere that I HAD to have a car, and I don’t like it. I like my car (a cute lil’ 2014 Honda Civic) but I hate having to drive, having to think about parking, paying for gas, all of it. I hate not being able to walk anywhere – and I live in a “walkable” area of downtown Austin. I don’t necessarily miss the underground or the subway but I do miss the ease of public transportation and being able to read books on my commute.
I also had many hesitations about Austin not offering the cultural diversity and activities that I was used to in NYC and London, and that has certainly been true. I’ve done some fun things here, like go to a First Aid Kit concert, participate in the Zilker Relays race, and taken a tour of the Longhorn Caverns, but it’s just not the city life I’m used to and there’s no way around it: I’m a city girl. I miss city life. And to be honest, some days I can’t believe that I’m actually living in Texas.
I also miss traveling. I haven’t traveled anywhere other than Houston (a 3-hour drive away) since I arrived, and after living in Europe last year and taking advantage of cheap travel to so many exciting and diverse places, I definitely feel surrounded by nothing by Texas for miles and miles and miles in every direction.
The weather has also been oppressively hot until just a few weeks ago. People have described the summer in Texas like the winter in the Northeast; the weather is so unbearable that everyone stays inside, and by the end of the summer they are just exhausted and cranky all the time. Sounds about right!
It’s been harder than it was in London to get into the swing of things in the way of a social life, since I work really long hours and only work with one other adult (my assistant, who is amazing) every day. I went to November Project a few times and met nice people but since I have to get to work so early that I really can’t go regularly. Now that it’s cooler I’m going to try to go more consistently to a running group, but so far the ones that I’ve gone to haven’t involved a lot of socializing outside of the running.
However, there have been some things I’m enjoying about living here. The school I teach at is magnificent – my classroom is a house! Just for my class! With its own garden and kitchen, where we bake bread or biscuits daily. I love the sunshine, especially now that the weather has gotten cooler. I struggled with the lack of sun a lot during the London winter so that has been a nice change. I only have a 10-minute commute [drive] to work which has been great. I live near the Hike and Bike Trail along the lake (it’s actually the river…but for some reason it’s called Town Lake) which is great for long runs and post-work bike rides.
I’m trying to stay optimistic but I miss city life and that’s probably not going to change. My life has gotten much smaller since I moved here. It feels like everyone I’m meeting feels like Austin is this cool, urban, liberal cultural oasis – which it is, compared to the rest of Texas…just not compared to NYC and London.
Training for the Austin Marathon starts tomorrow (as long as my IT-bands stay happy – they’ve been acting up lately!) and I know that I enjoy having a goal and a training schedule, so hopefully that will help ground me in life here. I don’t really want to move around every year – I’ve moved twice in the past year, and I knew I was moving to London for about a year and a half before I left, so I had one foot out the door in NYC for a while before that – but right now I can’t see myself staying in Austin for very long. I’m trying to keep an open mind, especially since I love my job, and who knows, maybe that will change! People have told me I will LOVE the winter here, so I can’t wait for sunshine and mild temperatures all winter long. And of course, if I don’t end up staying for the long haul, I’ll still be glad I tried it. If I hadn’t, I would always wonder.
I met Brené Brown in Whole Foods yesterday! She lives in Austin and was shopping with her family. I love her work (watch her TED Talk if you haven’t heard of her) and this is one of my favorite quotes from her.
~~~~~Follow Marathons and Macarons: