On Becoming a Texan

Posted by Sarah Whipple

I put avocado on everything, I think sixty degrees is freezing, and I believe “hella” should be in the dictionary. In essence, I am the embodiment of my home state of California, where I lived for the first eighteen years of my life until I moved to Richardson to attend UT Dallas. When I was accepted to McDermott, I felt beyond excited for the opportunity, but I could not help but to wonder – could I be a Texan?


There are parts of Texas life that have taken getting used to. I still forget that plastic bags are free in grocery stores here, and I am endlessly confused by the maze of highways that you can enter from both the left and the right side (flashing yellow signals, TollTags, and being able to make a call while driving add to the confusion). Every day I walk past signs on residence halls that notify people that they are not allowed to bring guns inside, something nobody feels the need to specify in California. Some older Scholars had to explain to me what a “mum” was when I could only imagine it was a synonym for mother. I have now eaten at Whataburger and Steak ‘n Shake and Cane’s and a myriad of other chains that seem to only exist in the South. One time, I went to a barbecue joint where every single item on the “vegetarian menu” had chicken in it. And if I ever forget I am in Texas, there is always a giant Texas flag (or Texas-shaped waffle) nearby to remind me.

In some ways, I have been able to find a taste of home in Dallas. Both Stephanie (’16 Scholar and fellow Californian) and I were excited to learn that Dallas has several locations of the quintessential California chain, In-N-Out. And while UTD’s sand volleyball courts aren’t exactly the beach, I still feel a piece of home running around in the sand.

Orange you glad you moved to Dallas?

While I still strongly identify with California, I was surprised to find myself slowly beginning to feel like a Texan.

There are a lot of little experiences that comprise this feeling – starting to think two dollars is a high gas price, seeing Big Tex firsthand, or learning to two-step for the first time. More importantly, however, I have noticed that the Texas identity stems from an unabashed pride of simply living in Texas. Being a Texan does not mean that you own a cowboy hat and a pair of boots as I originally thought, but rather that you hold your state in high esteem and welcome others to do the same.

Basically the same person.

When I first arrived to UTD, I nervously asked the question, “Could I be a Texan?” Today, I feel confident that I can love California and still be a proud Texan – even if that means living five hours away from the closest beach.

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