From MPA Student Life Blog Pictures

In March of 2006, just before I graduated from BYU with an undergraduate degree in comparative literature, my wife, Janssen, and I began discussing the idea of moving away from Utah. We hadn’t seriously considered it before then since the job offers I had been getting were in Utah, my family all lived in Utah, and we were only 5 1/2 hours from Janssen’s family in Las Vegas.

But it became very clear to me during our conversation that we were both up for an adventure, and that we should start looking outside Utah for job opportunities.

It would still be a few years ’til we wanted to pursue graduate degrees, but we had done some research on master’s programs, and our top two location preferences were Austin, TX, and Boston, MA. Both cities had top-notch master’s programs of our choice, and both cities had plenty of culture and style.

Call me crazy, but as soon as we realized it was time to get a move on, I packed the car with a week’s worth of clothes, my laptop and a sleeping bag, and I headed south. I stopped to say hi and spend the night at my brother’s house in Albuquerque, then made the long desert drive through Texas to arrive in Austin.

Austin’s rolling hills west of I-35 were a far and welcome cry from the flat, barren land I had encountered when first entering Texas. Here, there were trees, bushes and grass where I had imagined only sand and cacti. And though I saw plenty of trucks and steak restaurants in Austin, I saw just as many hybrid cars and sushi bars.

A few days after arriving, I attended a career fair at Texas State University and met some recruiters from Dell. We set up an interview and within a week of driving down to Austin, I had a job lined up at a Fortune 50 company in one of the cooler cities around. Needless to say, Janssen and I were thrilled that everything had gone so smoothly, though it would be another three months before Janssen could move down with all of our furniture and things. In the meantime, I lived in a nice little apartment with a few clothes and dishes, an air mattress, and a 15″ TV sitting on top of the box it had come in.

Despite meager amenities those first few months in Texas, I grew to love the sometimes unpredictable summer weather (blue skies, RAIN, wind, RAIN, blue skies again), the impressive array of wildlife (e.g. raccoons, noisy blackbirds, huge vultures, skunks, and frogs), the friendly, interesting people, and the culture in love with itself. Janssen and I realized after only a few months that “Texas pride” isn’t about being boastful and better than others, its about being proud of Texas and all it has to offer.

After more than three years here, we’re going to be genuinely sad to leave when we both graduate next summer. Austin, TX, really does have a lot to offer, and nothing has brought us closer to this city than becoming Longhorns, going to football games, riding Cap Metro (the bus system that’s free to all students), spending all day on campus doing homework, and identifying with the other 50-some-odd thousand students proud to wear burnt-orange paraphernalia. We’re excited for future opportunities in different cities, but we’ll never regret our time in Austin!