I’ll just pick up where I left off. Mike and I flew to Texas, my first ever long haul flight.
My dad and brother chauffeured us to Glasgow Airport to catch our first plane down to London, with the connecting flight to Austin the next morning. The decision to jump ship and leave my family and friends in another country was not one that I took lightly, so it is not an exaggeration to say I wasn’t sure which end my stomach was going to come out of at this point. First hurdle, Mike and I knew we would be over the baggage limit, we were moving our whole life over, but were shockingly unprepared for the cost this incurs; £10 per 1kg over. Jointly, we were 20kg over the baggage limit. The girl at the desk (thank you!) was lovely and explained that we would be cheaper to check in our two carry on bags and she could accumulate the total weight. Thank god, because instead of £200 we paid approx. £70. At this point, I was passed caring but in hindsight that was super helpful, cheers love! I’ll skip over the tears, of which there are many, when leaving my family at the airport. Poor Mike was not snot free on the flight down to London.
Once at the airport hotel, we had to rough guesstimate how heavy each of our bags were as I was cynical the next check in would be quite so helpful. Logic, move all jeans and heavier items to hand luggage and check them (the bags, not our jeans) in as hold luggage online prior to the flight. This also cost approx. £70 which was worth it in comparison to the cost of over weight luggage. I cannot stress this enough WEIGH YOUR BAGS. The couple next to us were being quoted over £300 because of how heavy their bags were and Norwegian air have a ‘last minute hold luggage’ cost, it made my eyes water.
The flight itself was uneventful, long haul is much preferable to the tin can that is an easyJet plane. Two movies and (several) episodes of OITNB and we landed.
Recommendation and hint to all family and friends; Norwegian air was an incredible flight, if I didn’t want to (and hadn’t scared myself with blood clotting stories) I wouldn’t have had to leave my seat for the 10 hour flight. Just make sure you have a card that can swipe as this is what is used to pay on the flight.
What another whirlwind it has been since then.
Mike started at UT (University of Texas Austin) pretty much immediately, and the faculty team have been incredible. I, on the other hand, have a H4 and this does not allow me to work. So, this has been a little bit of a learning curve of a week as I love to constantly have plans and this week … nada. No coffees, catch ups or lunch dates. Hence the start of this blog! (I will update in later posts about some of my other plans). Things I have learned this week; Texas is HOT, like surface of the sun hot; it does not cool down in the evenings, it’s like someone adds more gas to the furnace; people really do say y’all; people do notice your accent and everyone really is very friendly. On hindsight you probably knew all of this, I am sure I will learn much more profound things as time goes on.
This week has really been about finding our feet and getting our bearings. We found an apartment very quickly, America do same day viewings and also work Saturdays (AMURICA). We booked viewings online and everyone was quick to respond. There are just a couple of issues to note; to pay a deposit/rent you require a US bank account and to get a US bank account you will need a letter from your employer confirming your permanent address OR a pay slip confirming your US address (ha, spot the issue). In the mean time, you can use the US post office to pay for a ‘money order’ which is a safer form of US cheque. You pay for the cheque there and then, and take the money order to the company (or leasing agent, in our case) that you owe. The other issue, IKEA does deliver in Austin (yay) but no sooner than two weeks wait. Amazon prime one day delivery is also non existent, usually 1-2 days, so moving into an unfurnished apartment takes a little planning. Or slum it like us and sleep on the floor until you work that out, part of the adventure right?
Everything is about 1-2 miles away, which on paper looks dandy but when it’s 38 degrees outside it feels like you’re completing a marathon. Very helpful are two apps ‘lime’ and ‘bird’ which are electric scooter rental apps. Simply scan the barcode on the front of the scooter and take a picture of it parked when you are finished; tadaaaa! Super easy, super helpful, super fun. Note; they are similar to bikes and should be ridden on the road, remembering that Americans drive on the RIGHT side (that was more for me than you).
Another recommendation would be The Chronicle Austin Hot Sauce Festival. Multiple tasting stands to try the hot sauce (of course) and a real community feel. There is a hot sauce tasting competition where local recipes can enter and be judged by local celebrities. All very exciting – and the beer was good too.
My take aways from this week are; bring water, wear suncream, plan adventures in advance (within reason), over estimate shipping times and make use of electric scooters.