The Texan Experience

February 29, 2012

By Mark Powell

Mark Powell As you've no doubt heard, everything is bigger in Texas. This saying is definitely reflected in the culture here. From the woods of east Texas to oil-rich west Texas and everything in between, Texas is full of culture. I've put together my list of can't-miss things Texas has to offer.

Texas' Cowboy Past
Texas' rich cowboy past is evident in the many rodeos and ranches spread across the state. Cowboys from all across the United States and from around the world compete at the Houston Livestock Show, the largest rodeo in the world. Many tourists flock to see the daily cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stock Yards. Texas is home to two of the largest ranches in North America.

Museums Galore The state of Texas is home to many museums. Houston's Museum District has 18 museums, 11 of which are free to the public. If you're a museum lover, be sure to sign up for the Cultural Evening at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Austin also boast many museums to explore, including the McNay Art Museum, Kimbell Art Museum, and Blanton Museum of Art. If you're into libraries, Texas is proud to have three Presidential Libraries located on three different university campuses: the LBJ Library and Museum, the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum, and the George W. Bush Library & Museum.

Music and Dance in Texas
Music and performance groups sing and dance across the state. The capital of Texas, Austin, is known as the Live Music Capital of the World and the host of South by Southwest. You will hear classical, country, pop, hip hop, and Tejano. Texas has produced a number of well-known performers such as Beyoncé, Van Cliburn, Lyle Lovett, Selena, Vanilla Ice, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In addition to music, the state is home to several opera, theater, and dance companies.

Football is King (American Football, That Is)
Even though rodeo is the official sport of Texas, football is king. Texas has two NFL football teams, two Major League Baseball teams, and three NBA basketball teams. Texas also has two Major League Soccer teams and one NHL hockey team, despite its hot and humid summers. Looking to catch some games while you're in Houston? You're in luck! For all you baseball fans, the Houston Astros will be playing the Cincinnati Reds the weekend after the conference. If you're a soccer fan, be sure to arrive in Houston early and watch the Houston Dyanmo play the LA Galaxy on May 26.

Ethnic and Cultural Heritage Even though Texas once was the territory of Mexico, it is home to many ethnic groups including Czechs and Germans. Not only did they bring their culture, they brought their food. The Czechs brought the kolaches and the Germans brought bratwurst and Oktoberfest. One place to learn more about the contributions made by the many diverse ethnic and cultural groups is at the UT San Antonio's Institute of Texan Cultures. This museum features exhibits describing the many Native American tribes who inhabited the land as well as the many different ethnic and cultural groups who migrated to the great state of Texas and contributed to the growth and development in the state. Wherever you go in Texas, you're bound to run into friendly, hospitable people who want to share their great Lone Star State.

What other questions do you have about Texan culture? How can I help you get the full Texas experience?

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Mark Powell has spent his career working in academia both at Brigham Young University and the University of Texas at Austin. He made his first study abroad trip to the Soviet Union in 1991. In addition to studying Russian, he has taught ESL in the United States, Mexico, and Russia. He has been involved in NAFSA for almost six years. He served on the Region III Team for three and a half years as the Tech SIG Liaison. He most recently was the co-organizer of the first ever Technology Fair at the NAFSA Conference in 2011 in Vancouver. He will be coordinating the Technology Fair again in Houston this year. Mark has lived in Austin, TX for the past 18 years and loves it there.


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