Written By: Marta Pelrine-Bacon (ESL Instructor, Intensive American English Institute)
When students answer the question, “What did you think of Texas before you arrived?” they say things like:
- There would be horses everywhere.
- There would be cowboys.
- Everyone would be carrying a gun.
- It would be dry and dusty, like a desert.
- People would be mean.
Everyone in class laughs because now they are all in Texas and the reality proves something different.
You find horses, of course. Ranches out in the Hill Country and beyond offer rides at reasonable prices, but horses do not wander down Congress Avenue. A good number of people you meet in Austin will never have even been near a horse.
As for cowboys, they have other things to do than hang out in coffee houses in Austin. You might see a cowboy, but again, you’ll have to trek out to a ranch to ride horses to do so. See Texas Trail Rides for horses and cowboys.
Guns! That’s always a big topic. The likelihood of actually seeing someone carrying a gun is slim. If you’re interested in the topic, click over and read this article at Texas Less Traveled. The article gives you a little of Texas gun culture and history without getting riled up.
Speaking of Texas Less Traveled, visit the site for lesser known places to see in Texas and things to do in Austin. This site talks about everything from haunted hotels to bluebonnets to Texas football. Other sites that tell you things to do include Austin360 and the Austin Chronicle.
If you drive far enough, you can see dry and dusty Texas, but Austin is green. Austin has parks and gardens right downtown. You can find hike and bike trails, soccer fields, and places to swim. Go to the Austin Parks Foundation site to find where the parks are and what they have to offer.
Mean? No! Texans say things like “howdy” and “y’all.” Cashiers will ask you how you are and tell you to have a nice day. People say “excuse me” when they bump into you. Over at Wide Open Country they have a list of things you should know about Texas.
Whether your ideas about Texas turn out to be true or not, the state holds many surprises. All you have to do is take a look.