Since arriving, I’ve felt like an infant taking in a million different stimuli and then trying to process everything I’m hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. The first thing I noticed – signals are sideways and exit signs don’t have numbers! There’s a supermarket chain called H.E.B….located literally every mile…and lots and lots of Mexican food – both restaurants and fast food format. Today, our day started with a breakfast of tamales – which were absolutely delicious. First gem of the day – I learned that there is no “proper time of day” for spicy/heavy foods, and so I ate my first tamale ever at 7:30 in the morning!
After breakfast, we met our partner professors from UT: Pan American and really delved into the details of our project. Our group is looking specifically at implementation of the Affordable Care Act, from the perspective of the healthcare professionals who work with the consumers. Throughout the day today, I got to learn a lot about Rio Grande Valley’s culture/cultural norms, and needless to say, it’s starkly different from Michigan. One thing that struck me as odd was the fact that not everyone has the “stereotypical” Texan accent – hearing a lot of “y’alls,” but other than that, it’s hard to notice a difference! We learned a lot about the current health disparities, especially between Hispanics and other groups in Texas. With these thoughts in mind, our day ended and we decided to check out the H.E.B. and get some supplies for the rest of our week. H.E.B. in all its splendor
Inside, it was surprising to see that a bag of party sized chips costs $2 here, but a 5-pack of Quaker Granola Bars cost me $4. We grad students were shocked to realize that we wanted to purchase the chips instead of the granola bars because of the cost! The statistics and associations between poverty and obesity and diabetes started to make sense – unhealthy foods are cheaper, and not just at the fast food level, so no wonder the obesity rates are so high… Now that the day is done, I’m happy that we had a chance to check out the H.E.B. I feel as though a tiny little bit more of the picture of South Texas is painted in my head and I’m excited to be a part of the interviews this week to learn more behind the health disparities in the area. Looking forward to the next few days of interviews and learning even more! Till next time – sending some sunshine and warmth your way!