Alex Ahlstrom
I am in love with travel, culture and finance around the world. After working in international real estate finance around Asia and America, I want to share some of my experiences.

Life as a Texan Abroad

Since I left my Texas Homeland when I was 18, I have moved around to a few places. People have always been very welcoming, but I would say that I have some unique experiences as a Texan. For example, through casual conversation, people will typically ask where I am from. Upon hearing I’m from Texas, Americans will say, “But you don’t sound like you’re from Texas.” Whereas many French people will say, “You have a very Texan accent.” And, others will point out that it’s a massive advantage to be a native speaker for presentations or debates in English. This last group of people is actually letting me know I should debate them if I have a chance.

Then, once my language abilities have sunken in, the next inevitable question arises, not in conversation, but in the mind of the other person. It may even be a few topics. I have found that I can actually say, “Everything you have heard about Texas is true.” I do know that, for example, in Norway, “Texas” is a synonym for “crazy.” And, I don’t know specifically what they might have heard, but reactions are priceless.

Next, politics are often impolite to talk about, but everyone will be wondering about my politics, but they’ll wait until we have built a level of comfort to slide the topic into conversation. For my first roommates in college, this took about a full month. But, now that I know it’s so common, soon after meeting new people, I’ll make a point to crack a joke about how I’m coming for their health insurance.

As for food, in Texas, we are famous for our barbecue and Tex-Mex. In fact, my hometown of San Antonio is the center of the Tex-Mex universe. Being abroad means learning to be creative about what food to eat to trick your body into thinking it’s home eating meat and tacos.

This is what a Texan thinks about when people mention barbecue.

In China, I found that they did have ample access to barbecue, but that their idea of barbecue was on a stick over some coals for a few minutes. And, in Chinese, avocado, the lifeblood for guacamole, translates as “bull-oil-fruit,” so Chinese people were concerned about why I want oil in my fruit, as I would be too. So, avocados were a little difficult to find.

Chinese barbecue is no match for Texan Barbecue, though it is ready in only a few minutes.

In Germany, there are no burritos, but they do have döner dürüms everywhere, which is like a burrito, but only one filling.

This döner dürüm is available all over Europe. In Germany, there are more places to buy this than starbucks coffee, by far.

A cowboy hat and boots are very important to have while abroad. This is so Texan that when people ask where you’re from, you can just tell them to guess and they’ll get it right every time, on the first time. Also, this will make it easy to find other Texans. And, Texans find a way to band together. Also, Texans become more tolerant of others while abroad as well. For instance, while in Texas, a Texan would never make friends with someone from Oklahoma. But, while abroad, this could be seen as acceptable, but not something we would talk about with people back home.

Dressing up like a Texan allowed me to meet Captain America at a parade in rural Germany.

And, if you really want to make a Texan feel like they are at home, use the word “ya’ll” in casual conversation and watch their expression. 

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