Release Date: November 2, 2006
A Change of Scenery, Change of Life
Angelo State University philosophy professor Dr. Susana Badiola knew things would be different went she moved from Madrid to West Texas, but nothing prepared her for the culture shock that extended even to the little things.
Even something as simple as reading a map is different because it’s on a Texas scale. When Badiola’s husband, Rodney Stephens, took a job at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, he suggested she apply at ASU because San Angelo looked close to Brownwood on the map. Two jobs 96 miles apart showed them that things really are bigger in Texas, prompting their decision to live in Ballinger as a happy medium.
“We realized we could have a very good life in Ballinger,” said Badiola. “It’s a little bit longer (drive) for him, but we’re happy. It’s a good life.”
Moving from the crowded streets of a major city to a smaller rural town, Badiola said she was prepared for some of the more obvious changes, but is still amused by some of the things West Texans take for granted.
“I was living in Madrid for 30 years,” she said. “You don’t see wild turkeys walking around there. Everything is so radically different. I just have fun with it.”
She was also unable to predict the complete unpredictability of West Texas weather.
“When it rains you have these wild thunderstorms,” said Badiola with a smile. “Nature is very overwhelming here. My first semester, I kept waiting for winter, but I never had any chance to use my coat. It was amazing.”
But, perhaps Badiola’s biggest adjustment came when she was introduced to West Texas higher education.
“With my first group of students, I looked out and saw them wearing baseball hats. I felt like I was in a movie. But, the students are very bright. They are good students.”
Badiola also had to change her teaching methods. She went from 90 minute lectures at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense and students who already had a philosophy background, to much more interactive classes at ASU where students are often getting their first exposure to philosophy. But, her boss has given her high marks.
“Susana is simply a delight. She is extremely intelligent and she is a conscientious teacher and scholar,” said Dr. Ed Olson, government department head. “Our department and Angelo State University are lucky to have a philosopher of her caliber as part of our community of scholars.”
“I think that Susana has adjusted well to the ASU community and West Texas in general,” Olson added. “She has probably had a smoother adjustment than this transplanted Californian had when he came to West Texas as a new assistant professor some 27 years ago!”
It has been about two years now since Badiola moved to West Texas. She and her husband enjoy spending time with friends, going to the movies, hiking in the parks with their dog and hanging out at the lakes. She also likes baseball and Mexican food and looks forward to Christmas, one of the few things that has not changed for her.
“There is also a lot of Christmas shopping over there,” she said. “That is the same and you have Christmas carols. The particular songs are different, but the idea of getting together with family, that is the same.”
Just about the only piece of West Texas culture Badiola fails to grasp is the passion for football at all levels, and especially the Friday night lights.
“I don’t understand it, it’s very brutal,” she laughed. “The idea that it is okay for someone to grab your legs while you are running so your nose smashes into the ground is too violent for me. I sympathize with their mothers.”
But that hasn’t dampened her affection for her new home, especially the slower pace of life and that good old West Texas hospitality that has made her feel welcome from the start.
"I love it here and am very happy here,” she said as her eyes lit up. “I need to go back home once a year to visit friends and family. But if I can continue to do that, it’s great. I can have the best of both worlds.”