Texas transitions – friends

I’ve really been slacking on the “Texas Transitions” series. Sorry guys!! My iPhone is a jerk and decided to delete ALL of my notes (which included many great Texas Transitions ideas), so, um, yeaaaa. Not cool iPhone, not cool. I’ve gone back to doing things the old-fashioned way, with a notepad and pen. Thus, I hope that my future ideas are safe and sound and I won’t have another minor blog-tastrophy and loss of all motivation/funny thoughts. I really do have to write things down because if I don’t I’ll totally forget that brilliant blog topic idea about 35 seconds after it entered my brain.

So, let’s get to the topic at hand, shall we? Making friends in a new place.

Who in their right mind would want to be friends with this weirdo?!

 If I had to sum up the Texas transition in regards to social life and finding my “niche” it would be: HARD!! It’s not just been hard, it’s been hella hard. I think it would have been relatively hard to meet new people or find my fit regardless of where I had chosen to move, but there are a few things about Texas, my personality, and this situation in particular that have made this challenge especially difficult at times.

Here they are in no particular order…

1 – I moved really far away…like plane flight far, not just long drive in the car kind of far. If I had just moved to Pennsylvania that would be one thing, but I moved half-way across the country.  I no longer had the opportunity to visit college friends for the weekend on a whim. I didn’t have my awesome grad school crew around me anymore. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. And I had to work full-time. Where’s the fun in that?! So there were many times that I just felt very isolated and alone.

2 – I am TERRIBLE at dealing with and accepting change. Texas and Ohio are two different worlds and in many ways so are the people. It took me a long time to get over that fact. I remember the first time that I had that “Dorothy you’re not in Kansas anymore” moment so vividly. During my first week of work, a coworker mentioned something about going to “OSU” and I exclaimed “OSU?!?! I had NO IDEA YOU WENT TO OSU TOO, OMG HOW FREAKIN COOOOOOL”. Ok, so I’m exaggering a little, but only a little. Anyway, the coworker looked at me like I was nuts (b/c he knew I was from Ohio) and quickly corrected me saying OSU was Oklahoma State University. NOT Ohio State University. Uhhhh…say what?!?!? There’s another OSU out there? And I’m living in a place where saying “OSU” means an Oklahoma school and not THE Ohio State University. WTF?!

This will always be OSU to me

 3 – A lot about Texas culture is very different from what I was used to and my own views/beliefs/interests/etc. Some of the ways Texans regularly make friends (for example, through church related activities) are not things that I personally find valuable. Therefore, it is sometimes hard to relate.

4 – I was coming from 2 years (well, if you count undergrad and my year off before grad school too it was really 8 years) of party party party. I love the act of “going out” and the many things that can entail! I love going out for drinks, dancing, house parties, holiday parties, you name it. Social gatherings are fun! So I went from a jam-packed social calendar to nada. That was a bit of a blow to my social self-esteem.

Wait, what happened to almost daily happy hours?!

5 – I’m an extrovert. I always test strongly extroverted on MBTI type tests. Once we’re friends I’ll yack your ear off and beg you to hang out with me all the time. However, I refer to myself as an “introverted extrovert” because I kinda suck at getting out there and meeting new people unless I have some kind of “in”. I hate small talk, so I prefer to meet people through other people, via common interests, through work, through activities like a sorority, etc. I’m just no good at going into completely new situations all by myself and putting myself out there. If I know a couple other people in the area, great, I’ll probably make 20 new friends in no time because of networking and connection. If I’m all alone in a room full of people, sucky…I’ll be the one awkwardly cowering in the corner pretending to do something very important on my phone.

So yea, needless to say meeting new friends in a totally new place has not been the easiest thing ever. Not to mention, I really love my friends back home and I miss them terribly. Sometimes I deal with sadness that I am missing out on so much and I don’t want to put in the effort to reach out to new people because I just want my old friends back (plus, then I can network through them and make a zillion new friends easily haha!). However, I just keep on keeping on and recently I’ve tried some new things like going to meet-up groups or getting more involved in my job.

At least I know I have an awesome support system back home and it makes me appreciate holidays and those times we get to hang out that much more!

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Texas Transitions – what is this crazy weather?!

Hi everyone! I’m back from my three-day weekend and trip to Austin. I LOVE three-day weekends, but there’s something about them that make coming back to work even harder than it normally is. I’m posting later than normal today because I’ve been in the process of moving offices. No, I didn’t get a new job. We literally just shifted around offices in our suite, so I do have a new view!

Yep, my office is now right in front of the waiting area. Yikes! Talk about zero privacy. This may take some getting used to.

Anyways, it’s time for the next installment of Texas Transitions. I thought I’d discuss the thing that seems to be on everyone’s minds lately: THE WEATHER!

In case you’re living on Mars or don’t ever flip on the national news, it is HOT here. Really hot. In fact, for 30 some days straight now the highs have been over 100.  We’re not just experiencing weather in the 100s anymore, we’re now experiencing temps well into the 100s. Like 110.

In Texas, the hottest part of the day is around 4 or 5pm. In Ohio, the hottest part of the day is noon. Therefore, Texas nights do not cool off until well into the night. Like 3am. This makes it hard to go outside and enjoy the evenings during the summers here. It’s just too hot. You have to stay inside in the air conditioning to stay cool. Also, everyone here has A/C of some sort. In Ohio, you’ll find a good number of families or old homes that do without. You just couldn’t survive without it here.

For me, the Texas heat feels like a dry heat (people from California always say it’s a humid heat, so really it’s all about perspective). Therefore, it feels more bearable on most days than the oppressive humidity and 80 degree temps do in Ohio. I’d take dry heat over humid heat on any day! I might sweat a little (ok, a lot!), but at least my hair doesn’t turn into a total frizz-ball monster and walking outside doesn’t feel like wading through a wet sauna.

However, Texas also deals with some pretty severe draught conditions in the summer. This year has been exceptionally devastating. Austin has not seen rain for over a year. Yes, a YEAR! That is really hard for me to comprehend since I come from a place that gets a lot of rain and snow. The lack of rain has more dire effects that I ever imagined. This article explains some of the long-term effects that the drought will have on the wildlife in Texas and this article shows the drought in pictures. Farmers are losing crops like crazy and livestock is starving to death. It’s a scary situation and there is no end in sight!

Texas does have an abundance of pools to cool off in. Even the university I used to work at had about 5 recreational pools on campus. Unheard of in Ohio! Oh yea, and they open in April and stay open all year! No need to close them in the winter down here because there’s no risk of them freezing. However, the popular pool seasons are different. Pool season in Ohio is definitely the traditional summer months (June, July, August), but in Texas it gets almost too hot to use the pools during the main stretch of the summer. The last time I went to my apartment’s pool it was like swimming in a bathtub. Not exactly refreshing. I can’t imagine being a swimmer in an outdoor league during the summer in Texas. The best time to utilize the pools here is April through early June and September through early October. Unless you like swimming in bath water and in that case you’ll love the pools right now!

What else is different between Texas and Ohio? SUN! The sun is always out here. I literally had no idea that the sun shone so frequently in other parts of the country. I thought it was normal to be encased in a thick layer of clouds for 300+ days per year (I’m not kidding, Ohio is ALWAYS grey! It’s known for it, actually). This was the view from the plane as I flew over Ohio during my trip home in May. It was clear with beautiful views right until we got to Ohio.

Ohio clouds as seen from above. May, 2011

The abundance of sun is actually a positive and a negative for me. I, oddly enough, enjoy a nice rainy day every now and again. I like weather. All kinds of weather. Even snow! Texas gets snow once a year, but it’s not quite the same. It’s more of an icy mess than real snow. The seasons kind of blend together here with little definition. I do miss the transition into fall with the first crisp days in October and then the first snowflakes of winter in November or December. Here we just gradually get a little bit cooler, have a random “snow” storm, and then get hot again.

Cowboy's Stadium during the freak "snow" storm in February 2011

So there you have it. If you like sun and heat then Texas is probably the place for you. If you value the changing of the seasons and a little more “weather” it might not be such a good fit. For me, the weather sure has taken a little getting used to over the past two years!

Texas transitions – The big move

As an Ohioan living in Texas, moving here has provided many new (and sometimes interesting, other times odd, many times challenging) experiences. I will admit, I am chage-o-phobic. I can barely handle a new TV channel line-up without freaking out, so you can imagine how I dealt with all of the changes involved in a cross-country move. It’s been an up and down battle, but I think I’m finally starting to get settled in here in the lone-star state.

I decided to do a mini-series for the blog called “Texas Transitions” in which I reflect upon some of the differences between Ohio and Texas and some of the experiences I have had while adjusting to life so far away from everything that is “normal” (aka Ohio). I am obviously not the first person to ever leave home and move somewhere new, so maybe my stories, struggles, and reflections about life in a new place will help someone else who is going through a similar transition. At the very least, some of the stories should be good for a laugh! I have loads of ideas for these posts, but I thought I’d start from the beginning and give you the (somewhat) short version of how the heck I ended up down here!

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I went to Ohio State for grad school. And I LOVED it! Seriously. My life was everything I ever wanted for those two years of grad school. I had an assistantship that required me to work 20 hours on campus (with Fridays off!) and paid for my schooling, I took 9 hours of class every quarter, I was at Ohio State (I mean, come on, that school is bursting with school spirit and awesomeness), and I had a social life that was non-stop. Happy hours, OSU football games, cohort dinners, nights out, holiday parties, trips to TN for long weekends in a cabin, so on and so forth, packed my calendar. Life was good.

Cohort trip to Tennessee, 2008

Sure, I got burnt out from classes from time to time and had a lot of papers to write. And sure, there was cohort drama from time to time. And ok, I dated some sketch characters at the time. But in general, it was a damn good time.

End of winter quarter party, 2008

I was also in love with the city of Columbus. I grew up in Columbus, but from the time I left for college to the time I returned in 2007 the city had changed. It was a great place to be a young twentysomething and there was always something to do.

Columbus, Ohio

I not only loved Columbus, but I also loved Cleveland. Yes, I know Cleveland gets a bad rap, but I think it’s a great city with a lot going on. It’s much “older” than Columbus, but it has a lot of history because of it. Plus, it’s where most of my college friends live(d), so I loved to visit.

Cleveland, Ohio

Naturally, when I began my job search in January (ish) 2009, I focused on Columbus and Cleveland schools. I’m sure you’re now scratching your heads thinking “so how the heck did you end up in Texas 6 months later?!”…that’s where it gets a bit fuzzy.

There was a turning point in February (ish) where I suddenly began applying for jobs all over the place. I ended a relationship just after Valentine’s Day (so romantic of me, huh) and felt the itch to get out of Ohio. I knew most of my grad schools friends would be leaving the state and I didn’t want to get left behind. I attended a job placement conference in March (if you’re not familiar, in the world of Higher Ed, you often attend a placement conference for your first job out of grad school. Basically, you go to said conference, so do a bunch of other employers, and you get to interview with a slew of schools from all over the country…nice and convenient) and I filled my interview schedule with schools from across the country instead of just Columbus and Cleveland.

At the placement conference in 2009

 I interviewed with about 20 colleges, had second interviews with about 10 of those, and then did “on campus” interviews at my top 4 choices. None of which were in Ohio. Somehow, my on campus interviews all ended up being to the west and included schools in Colorado, Arizona, and ta-da…Texas! In late-April, after a complete whirl-wind job search (there was a time for about a month where I had at least one flight per week), I received a job offer for a position in Texas that started in July.

I don’t remember exactly when reality the panic set in, but at some point around late-May I remember ending up on my bedroom floor (after a night out downtown with friends) crying hysterically. It had hit me. I was leaving Ohio. And I was freaked! I hardly had time to let this new reality sink in because May, graduation, and June flew by and before I knew it, it was my last night out in Columbus to say good-bye to friends. Everyone was leaving. The awesome ride was over. It was time to move on.

The last night out with good friends in Ohio

And in late-June, I too moved on and I made the move to Texas!

This was my view as I followed behind my moving truck in my car on the drive from Ohio to Texas

 The rest, as they say, is history. History that I’ll recap in future Texas transitions posts. Stay tuned! 🙂