It was ridiculous but also totally awesome at the same time. We were in for the real Texas experience! Oh yeah, and it was hot.
Tip: Trying to do, literally anything, without a Social Security Number in the US is ridiculously hard. That’s not a tip. Oh well.
Setting up bank accounts, buying a car, leasing an apartment, getting the internet(!!), finding furniture, setting up utilities payments, getting insurance… SO MANY FUN THINGS.
We have been here just over a week and managed to sort most which feels like a mammoth achievement, seeing as every single thing needed to be done in person and the internet wasn’t much help at all.
Our first grocery shop felt like it took hours a) because we needed to buy literally everything, b) because we didn’t know where anything was and c) because we didn’t know what anything was. Looking for butter? Oh, here is an aisle full of products that are pretending to be butter but aren’t. Where is the ACTUAL butter?
Looking for milk? Oh, here is a whole section of giant bottles and cartons of liquids that look like milk, but are actually almond, soy, cream, half-and-half, lactose free, 1% fat, 2% fat… for the love of humanity! I. JUST. WANT. MILK!!!!!
Buying a car was interesting. We realised we could only buy something under a certain price (because we don’t have “socials”) so we ended up looking for a bit of a banger [beater]. If we get our visas we will be able to get something newer but I am getting quite attached already. After test driving a few classic (including a 1999 Honda Odyssey with almost 200,000 miles!) we settled on a 2007 Ford Escape which we were able to get pretty cheaply. James is convinced it is going to break down during our 3 months here, but I have faith! It has a few little knocks, but that gives a car character, right!?
We have been to Ikea 3 times in a week which is way too much for any sane being. The thought of going is always exciting and then you get half way round and literally lose the will to continue in life. How can I want everything but nothing all at the same time? I love eavesdropping on couple’s conversations too – listening to how they are desperately trying NOT to have an argument when they clearly think their other half is crazy. Then I realise I am having one of these conversations with my other half. He thinks I am crazy, obvs. If only he would just let me get everything I want without me having to EXPLAIN every decision then I think our trips to Ikea would be much more successful.
We are currently sleeping on the floor as the bed we wanted was out of stock in Ikea (of course it was!) The apartment is massive compared to what we are used to in the UK. The closets are huge! We are on the ground floor by the pool which is nice, although not had a chance to even sit out yet. Our unit has double height ceilings which seem to mean it stays relatively cool compared to the 30+ degrees C outside. James is very excited because the fridge has an ice dispenser which I feel we will be making great use of *ahem G&Ts*. The complex has a gym and communal ‘club room’ type area.
We have spent most nights so far eating out each night but tonight we will be eating at ‘home’ because our cupboards have food in them! We picked our apartment due to it’s great location – it is really near loads of amazing restaurants, cafes and food trucks. In other words, dangerous!!
So, a roundup of our first week:
• I have driven a few times and managed to stay on the right side of the road. Even managed to survive driving on my own down the freeway!
Ikea (3 times), Home Goods (5 times, 3 locations), H-E-B (once, left with 10 bags of groceries), Home Depot (twice), Target (twice), Pier 1 (once), Dick’s Sporting Goods (once), Fry’s Electronics (once), Best Buy (once). I have resisted the giant Whole Foods and Anthropologie downtown so far but will have to succumb soon. They are only ten minutes away!! EDIT: After I wrote this, went to Whole Foods. Bought some vegan cornbread which we definitely needed.
Mostly been eating:
Coffee and frozen margaritas. I don’t see this changing much during the next 3 months.
• That people don’t seem to understand half of what we say. We are speaking the same language… aren’t we?
Phew, Sorry that was a long one but lots to say!