Houston, I’m home!

Hi! My name is Carolyn Shaffer, and I am so excited to be the new intern at 20K Group. I graduated from Purdue University with degrees in professional writing and English literature in May of 2012. About six months ago, I moved to Houston from Chicago in search of warmer weather and employment opportunities. The 20-hour, 1090 mile distance separating Houston and Chicago makes for some interesting cultural variations, so I have compiled a few of my observations and adventures during my introduction to a new city.

Horse Ribbons?


You do WHAT with these?

I walked into Kroger not long ago and came upon a display of huge, flowery ribbon… things. After staring for a couple minutes, I finally decided they must be horse ribbons, which seemed a little odd to me in the city, but you never know. My first day working at 20K Group, I asked Texas native, Amy, if she had any idea what the giant ribbons I saw were. She informed me they are called “mums” and are worn for homecoming pep rallies and games. After doing further research on this Texan tradition, I’ve decided I can’t wait for my first high school homecoming game down South.

Foodie Fun

Whataburger logo

 My first Texan meal was Whataburger. For years, I had heard about the wonders of Whataburger and its superiority over all other fast-food burgers. In college, I suggested a road trip to the closest location in Birmingham, AL. Sadly, my friends were not interested in a sixteen-hour round-trip drive for a burger.
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OK, so it is a pretty long drive. 

Therefore, I had been looking forward to my first experience for months, and it did not disappoint. I could not believe how much food you got for the price and how nice the employees are! I had never before seen a fast-food restaurant where they come to your table to see if you need anything. In Chicago, you are lucky if you get someone to acknowledge you at all. Whataburger is now one of the first places I take people who come down to visit me.

Food trucks are also very exciting for me. They were illegal in Chicago until last July, and I was blown away by how much of a staple they are in Houston dining. I promptly started following every Houston food truck Twitter account I could find. Six months later, I am still absolutely delighted when I stumble upon food trucks around the city. I still need to plan my first visit to the new Houston Food Park.

"Wait Until August."

When I left Chi-town in February, the city was in the midst of a nasty blizzard. It took me throughout the remainder of my first Texan “winter” to shake the feeling of being on vacation. I was in heaven.

“Just wait until August!” is the phrase I have heard the most since I moved.

I am happy to say I have survived my first Houstonian August, and I did not melt! Fortunately, with the heat comes the air conditioning. I set out for an Astros game Memorial Day weekend decked out in a tank top, shorts, flip-flops, a thick layer of sunscreen, and was ready to get my tan on, only to find Minute Maid Park’s retractable roof closed and air conditioning blasting full force. I shivered through the entire game and realized there actually is a reason they sell Astros sweatshirts. I have quickly learned to always bring an extra layer, no matter how hot it is outside.
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I am a die-hard Bears fan.

I was shocked to learn that the leaves here do not really change colors in the fall like they do in the Midwest.

However, the excitement of seeing palm trees more than makes up for it. I have a palm tree named Palmer (yes, I am very creative with my naming), and I am happy to say he has taken to the Houston climate even better than I. I appreciate any suggestions for restaurants, activities or interesting things to do in Houston, so feel free to contact me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Later, ya’ll!

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