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What to expect for your US clinical experience in Houston



Texas, the second largest U.S. state by area and population. At the heart is Houston, a thriving city with numerous different eateries, scenery, and shops. If you're planning to visit Houston for you next U.S. clinical experience, it may get overwhelming to plan all of your accommodations if you're not already familiar with the area. That's why we've gathered all the information you need to get started! In this blog post, we will explain how you can prepare in terms of housing, transportation, food expenses/dining, and things to do, for your next clinical experience in Houston, Texas.


Transportation

METRO Rail - The METRORail train runs through various different districts and neighborhoods in Houston, including through downtown and to Texas Medical Center. It can be a quick and affordable mode of transportation to help you avoid traffic on your commute, as well as keep your wallet happy with a $1.25 fare. You can pay by using cash or a credit card to buy a one-use ticket, you can download the "Metro Q Ticketing" app to pay from your phone, or you can purchase Metro Fare Cards, Day Passes, and tickets online here. While this can be a great option, keep in mind that you will likely still have to do some walking as the train does not reach all parts of the city and only makes regular stops at its stations. To learn more about the various stations, lines, and train maps, visit the METRORail website.


Ride/Car Sharing - There are numerous different ride sharing services that you can use to get around. Two of the most popular are Uber and Lyft. As for car sharing, Zipcar is a great option for those who would like to drive themselves around town for a short period of time. Just pick up your car from the designated Zipcar location and return it to the same location once your done. You can rent the car by the day or hour. A valid driver's license is required to apply so this may not be an option for those who do not have a U.S. driver's license.


Taxis - The taxi service in Houston is unique as the city has set a $6 flat rate, with no additional surcharges, for any trip in the downtown area. This $6 rate applies to any area within the Central Business District.


Bus Services - METRO, which also provides rail train transportation as described above, is a company that provides reliable bus transportation around city streets in the Houston area. The fare is $1.25 will get you free transfers in any direction for three hours when you pay using your Metro Fare Card, Metro Day Pass, or Metro Money. You can learn more about the bus routes and maps by visiting the Metro website here.


BCycle - If you're looking for a more active way to get around the city, you can take a bicycle as your mode of transportation. Just stop a BCycle station and pay using the kiosk or pay ahead using the mobile app. There is a flat rate for guests of $3 per 30 minutes or you can purchase a monthly membership for $13 which will give you unlimited 60 minute trips. While this offers a great option for sightseeing and exercise, the longest trip you can take is 60 minutes unfortunately. Therefore, this would not be a feasible option to get you to and from your rotation site. You can learn more about the BCycle services and how they work by visiting their website.


Housing

As mentioned in our previous blog post, Airbnb and Vrbo are two very popular vacation rental sites that you can use to find a place to stay during your rotation in Houston. Search by city or neighborhood and you'll find a variety of available housing options available. Another good thing about these vacation rentals is that, Although these vacation rental sites can be nice, they do often come with additional cleaning and service fees that can tack on to the overall price. Some other options you may want to consider is Booking.com, which provides connections to various hotels, lodging, shared rooms, and hostels. There, you can find the cost for your entire stay and the various amenities offered.


Food expense & Dining

Although Texas is known for it's barbecue, this bustling city is packed with numerous different delicious cultural options. In this article from the Eater, you will find a concise list of some of the top eateries, dives, and restaurants in the city. As for general food expense, livingcost.org has estimated that the average cost for food for one person in Houston is around $491 per month, as seen in the diagram below:

In another article, it was concluded that the average cost of groceries for one person can range from $229 to $419 a month, depending on your age and gender. If you're looking to dine out, we've provided some of Dr. Desai's "must try" restaurants in the Houston area:


Things to do

In a uniquely diverse city like Houston, there is always something for everyone. From enjoying nature in Houston's warm climate to exploring history and art in their many Museums, there are:

  • Houston Museum of Natural Science - If natural history interests you, you can visit the Houston Museum of Natural Science which has hours worth of exhibits for you to enjoy, as well as a planetarium, butterfly center, and a giant screen theatre. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $16 for children. Learn more about special exhibits, ticket purchases, and hours of operation by visiting the HMNS website.


  • Discovery Green Park - This 12-acre park offers a variety of restaurants, art sculptures, entertainment, and more. You can listen to local artists live in the spring and fall, or just enjoy a walk throughout the park for some local sightseeing. Learn more about upcoming events, hours, and how to get there on their website here.


  • Market Square Park - This park offers free movie showings and events, and is located right in downtown. You can also enjoy various art pieces such as tile mosaics, a water fountain, Lauren's garden memorial, and gargoyle sculptures. Sit and eat at the café Niko Niko's or just enjoy some fresh air by exploring the park. You can find out more about upcoming events by visiting the Market Square Park website.


  • Memorial Park - This 1500 acre park offers beautiful scenery, including a running trail and a great historical background. Settled in the middle of Houston, this park was once a former WWI training camp. Besides its various scenery and jogging trail, enjoy other amenities and events the park has to offer such as summer fitness classes, croquet courts, picnic loop trail for cycling and skating, a golf course, an indoor fitness center, outdoor picnic areas, mountain biking, tennis courts, and more! You can learn more about the various things to do at Memorial Park by visiting their website here.


  • Herman Park - This conservancy park has a wide range of scenery including art sculptures, walking trails, a Japanese garden, trials for walking and cycling, a reflection pool, and much more. Additionally, you can also find the Houston Zoo located within the park. You can learn more about Herman Park Conservancy and it's various attractions, amenities, grounds, and hours by visiting their website.






We hope that this blog post will help you to enjoy both your experience during your rotation, as well as your experience traveling to Houston. Please find our other blog, "What To Expect for Your US Clinical Experience in Chicago" about other topics such as documentation, travel, and safety.



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