First month in Big Sky Country.

Our front porch decoration – #murica

I can’t believe how quickly the last month has gone, in some ways it feels like an eternity has passed and in others it seems to have gone so quickly. Thinking back to those first few days when I felt a bit like Bambi both figuratively and literally due to the ice covering the ground. The ice has since melted for the most part and the sun has been shining for the last week, with it melting all our chances of outdoor ice skating for the time being at least.

Big sky country.
The ice skates I found at the pawn shop – $18 – what a steal!

I really like Bozeman so far, the houses are all so pretty and colourful and different to each other, the people are so friendly, the skies are often blue and you can see the mountains from almost every direction. Have found some favourite cafes now for study sessions with friends as well as the best place to go for food in the middle of the night – ‘Taco Montes’ – tortillas at 3am are always a good idea!

My favourite house in Bozeman – such a pretty colour!

It has been interesting adjusting to the cold and the altitude, it’s freezing in the mornings and cycling on ice takes a kind of grace that I am trying to learn to possess. It’s really cool though, seeing everything covered in snow, and passing deer on the way home from uni. Very different to Plymouth life indeed.

A normal winters day in Montana.

It’s strange how quickly something can become the new normal, I ride my bike up to campus everyday, usually after a breakfast of eggs or avocado toast, lock it up for the day and then go to class, I’m taking Portraiture, Cinematography, Scriptwriting, Directing and Yoga. Isn’t it cool how I can take a yoga class towards my degree here? I did seriously consider a bowling class too – because why not? But sadly, it was not meant to be as it didn’t fit my schedule. After class is done, I will either head to the gym for a climb in the bouldering room or attempt a work out in the gym and then get intimidated by all the muscly people and the fact that I don’t understand what half the machines do…or head to one of the dining halls to meet the boy for food, the all you can eat meal plan is very handy after a long 8 hour day of classes with no breaks for lunch. (But that’s only Tuesdays so I can’t complain) – I also have Wednesdays off which means a lie in and usually a day of catching up on ‘busy’ work and exploring a little more.

My transport.

I feel like I am going to learn a ton in this classes and will also be pushing myself a lot. In scriptwriting, we have to present our ideas every week in front of the whole class and then get feedback and expand on ideas, which is actually really cool and I’m sure it will get easier over time, I actually volunteered to go first last week in order to get it over with, which was actually really helpful and made me relax for the rest of class. In directing, I had to act, which is a little scary too, but it was all fun, and everyone in my class is super nice which makes it a lot easier not to be nervous.

The view from the library – Campus.
Another view of campus on a snowier day.

It has also been really fun exploring downtown, riding the free bus service, seeing the huge vastness that is Walmart, scouring TJ Maxx (not TK) for warm clothes and making portraits for fun, there are lots of super cool backdrops in Bozeman and I cannot wait to get started on my semester long portraiture project soon.

A sign company downtown.

Main street is an electic mix of stores and restaurants, almost all locally owned with signs stating they support the university football team (go Bobcats) in every window, if there’s one thing Bozeman does well, it is the team spirit. Also, it’s super strange how they sell Bobcats merchandise everywhere. They really do love American football and basketball! I’ve been told that the teams are treated like royalty wherever they go in town.

Main street.

Last week I attended my first basketball game, which was a rather unique experience, there were a ton of ad breaks and things like the ‘muscle cam’ and ‘kiss cam’ where they randomly put a camera on some unsuspecting audience member in the hope they would do the task at hand. I watched in the company of lots of lovely internationals who were all as amazed as I was at how american it was and how random lots of things were. Bobcats one though – hooray!

First Basketball game of the season.
Bonfires have also become a house ritual, because over here, you have to pay to recycle cardboard – seems a bit backwards to me so we burn it instead. Snowy barbecues all round. Complete with friends, a beverage of your choice and cheesy campfire songs – or an attempt to sing them at least.
Our first bonfire – can you spot me?

I feel like one of the best things about being here is getting to meet people from all over the world, and hanging out with them, there are Aussies, Norwegians, a few English, some Dutch and one lone New Zealander. We had a fun international party last week which involved bowling (in the university bowling alley!) and pool (which I completely failed at – so much so that S started to despair.) Have also been to a party in which my hair was described as a ‘waterfall of dreams’ (Thanks Megan) and a huge husky showed up randomly with an owner who was a friend of a friend. We also hosted our own party, where I was introduced to Beer pong by two freshman, and also heard the funniest pick up line ever – ‘your arms look strong, I bet they could carry a family’ – it was good fun and got to meet lots of new people and get to know others a bit more. We ended the night with a chilly walk to the taco place, meeting our new zealandish friend (Dillon) and another random guy who wanted to befriend everyone in sight.

Silly faces at the party.
favourite boy.

The next morning we headed to a place out in the sticks for brunch, with Becca (who is my school assigned buddy and now friend), Ben (English) and Sean. It was in a shed with a bar for everyone to sit around, we had pancakes and eggs and the others drank pots of coffee, it felt like we were in someone’s grandma’s living room, everyone had country accent and was watching the world go by, sipping their coffee on a Sunday morning.

Breakfast in the shed.
Dollar bills making us feel rich
Inside Grandma’s living room.

It’s definitely more challenging to get involved and meet people when living in a house as opposed to a dorm. I have joined the wilderness club so excited to hopefully have some adventures with them. However I do like the freedom the house gives me, and sharing with the boy is awesome, we have been making our way through Sherlock in the evenings and making guacamole by the gallon – seems to be a trend from when I was in Italy. We have made our room cosy with fairy lights and photos but the walls are still a bit bare, I think some posters need to be purchased or maybe we could paint something to make it more homely? I’m sure our landlord would appreciate that. 

Fairy lights making our room cosy.

It is definitely true, what they say about Montana, and big sky country, the skies go on forever and the sunset hours last so long. It is gorgeous here, S + I have been on some beautiful sunset walks to a Peets Hill which has views of mountains in every direction as well as overlooking the whole city, we even managed to spot our house from up there.

Beautiful winter sunset from my bedroom window.
Flowers growing through the snow – Peets Hill.
Mountain views – Peets Hill.
Sunset over Bozeman – Peets Hill.

This week was my first photography field trip to Butte, which involved a 6am wake up for a sunrise road trip with some lovely new friends passing through the most beautiful of snow capped mountain ranges with funny conversations about mountain goats and fire photography to keep us entertained. It was my first time leaving Bozeman since I arrived so I was excited to see another part of Montana. I hadn’t really noticed how isolated the city is since while in it you are always surrounded by people. But going on the freeway and seeing these tiny hamlets with one or two houses miles from anything else was kinda crazy, but really cool to see. And those views were so gorgeous. We spent the first part of the morning sipping coffee and smoothies in a locally owned cafe in the centre of town called the hummingbird which was really nice, though I accidentally drank one of my friend’s smoothies instead of my own, even though it had very different ingredients to the one I had ordered, I was definitely not fully awake yet and luckily he wasn’t too mad, and he and N made fun of me for the rest of the day despite my efforts to try and kill the joke.

Adventure buddies for Butte – Natalie and Sam – spot the pit behind us!

Butte is known to locals as the ‘butt’ of Montana and everyone was trying to lower my expectations of it but it was actually a really interesting place. Lots of ramshackle houses all the way up the hill, a shop window full of balloons, the friendliest people, and views across the valley all the way to the mountains because it was such a beautiful clear day. We had a lighting photo demo on top of a hill which was fun, learning to use lots of lighting equipment and playing around with Canon 5Ds – the dream camera!

On task for Portraiture – Butte.
The edges of the deadly Berkley pit – Butte.

Then we were tasked to go off in our cars and take pictures of strangers (with their permission), which the three of us managed and then we headed off in search of the Berkley Pit which is what Butte is most famous for, being a mining town. The pit is no longer in use, but it is a mile wide and a mile deep and can be seen from space. The three of us made it our mission to try and see it but after many attempts from a variety of angles, all we could see was the edges and none of the toxic pool of water (the main attraction) that (very sadly) once poisoned an unsuspecting herd of geese just looking for a drink. We found an information point, which played creepy 1900s music all by itself even with no one around, also found a bit of home in an english flag displayed there.

Views over Butte from our Photoshoot Location.
Finding an English flag – Butte.
Famous mining towers – Butte

In other news, thanks to an english friend, I had real life cheese on toast, not gross american cheese, but real english cheddar, thanks M for that. Also, I am hoping to get some hikes in before it snows again. It’s also the Super Bowl this weekend which should be fun, and then next week I have a ton of work to do. (Yay!) S is also taking his driving test in the coming weeks, so fingers crossed it all goes well and we can get a car for lots of adventures to come! However, if it does snow, then we are gonna try skiing for the first time and I will hopefully get in lots of skating before the rinks melt again.

Anyway, if you made it this far, I commend you. Hopefully I will be back with more stories soon if I remember this blog exists!

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