The beginning

Wednesday 17th May: After a 10 hour flight we landed around 4pm and headed to collect the hire car. After arriving into Dallas on our previous trip we were surprised to see how small Austin airport is in comparison – a bonus as immigration, customs, etc. was a much quicker business!
We had booked our hire car a couple of days before arriving and I convinced James it would be fun to get a pick-up truck. “We’ll need it for all our suitcases and stuff!” – I convincingly argued, although I don’t remember him needing much persuasion. As we approached the designated bay in the car park [parking lot] we suddenly realised the enormity of our decision…

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.

To give us a base for our first week, we stayed in a little ‘Casita’ James found on airBnB – it was so cute. Essentially a cabin in someone else’s garden [back yard] the place had it’s own kitchen, living area and bedroom with air con and *drumroll* WI-FI!!
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We spent the next few days driving around Austin from 9am til 6pm trying to figure out all the things you need to function as an adult in general daily life.

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 just bought a massive bottle of Febreeze to douse the seats inside. I think the previous owner had dogs…. or possibly was a dog.
After a trip to Ikea!

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:


• We now have US bank accounts, an apartment, a car, a US phone number, the internet, and some choice Ikea furniture.
• We met two really nice couples over pizza and beer, who offered to be our very first Austin friends! One of them was a criminal defence lawyer who may come in handy, who knows.
• James has had his first experience of playing football [soccer] in the US. He scored within 10 seconds of being on the pitch. Possibly this says more about their skills than his, I’m not sure.

• 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!

Stores visited:

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:

E-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g! Torchy’s Tacos, Perla’s, Regal Ravioli, Hopdoddy, Bouldin Creek Cafe, Pinthouse Pizza… Expect lots more food reports in future blogs 🙂
Breakfast of champions – Coffee & Tacos at Stintson’s
Mostly been drinking:

Coffee and frozen margaritas. I don’t see this changing much during the next 3 months.


• People keep telling us how hot it is about to get. It is 30 degrees already so slightly worrying.
• That we aren’t going to be able to try all the local places to eat in 3 months
• My waistline – because we are going to attempt to try all the local places to eat in 3 months
• That I might get struck by lightning. The storms out here are crazy!

• 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!

Also apologies for the random weird formatting issues in this post. I have been fiddling for ages and officially give up. Hopefully next one will be better(?)
Until next time… yeehaw!

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Haley says:

    Loving this! And I’m reading it in bed! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rosie says:

    Tara that’s amazing, thanks for sharing what has been an exhilarating and exciting part of your start in Austin.
    Lots of love to you and the man with hairy face 😘😘😘😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jo campbell says:

    Hey Tara & James,
    Lucio shared your blog site with me!!! Really enjoying!! Can’t wait to see what you eat next…..!! By the way…..that pool looks just amazing, and James looks like he’s shrunk in the photo in your apartment..,,what have you done to him???! Night night jo xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for reading Jo 🙂 Not even had a chance to get in the pool yet as been so busy but hopefully soon!! x


  5. Did it send you off to sleep? 😉 x


  6. Thanks Rosie, lots of love to you too! x


  7. Tina Santoro says:

    I love it don’t know if be able to send it looking forward to other photos now I know what a blog have learnt something new love tina

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well done Tina! Thanks for reading 🙂 Will have lots more to say soon! Baci x


  9. Meera Santoro says:

    Oh my goodness Ta – is Aunty Tina blogging now??!! Heaven help us! 😅

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sandy says:

    Gosh! You have made it your home in such a short time, Love the blog. We American transplants have forgotten what it was like going to the grocery store with all the endless choices. Can’t wait to read the next installment.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think ‘Ceglie-Shenanigans’ would be a great blog!


  12. Thanks! 🙂 I may need to call you next time we’re attempting to buy groceries for assistance!


  13. Jasmin says:

    Love you blog Tara so exciting! Remember starting like that many years ago when I went to Michigan on my scholarship. Enjoy your stay.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for reading Jasmin & for your comment! Lots to take in for us but we are enjoying it so far 🙂


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