So I though it might be time to provide a blog with a few casual observations about my life in Missoula/America.
Firstly: unlike in New Zealand it practically never rains here. In the five weeks I’ve been in America it has rained once. This was a 30-minute wild electrical storm that was gone as quick as it appeared. I miss the rain. Didn’t think I’d say that…
Secondly… I think they miss the rain too. Wildfires are a big problem here. It is morbidly dry, and these electric storms start wildfires from the lightening hitting the ground. Right now there are 11 wildfires burning in the Montana state alone. Summer is fire season. They’re a natural part of life here and they are BIG! The closest to me right now is the wildfire in the Lewis and Clark national forest with 21,069 acres burnt so far!
Thirdly: The smoke from all these wildfires gets stuck in the valley, which is where Missoula is. This means for the past month the town has be shrouded in a deep haze that results in the days looking like a city smog, and glowing eerily red like this!!!
Fourth: The America education system is a joke. I think because they pay so much to be ‘educated’ here that they literally buy a degree. I swear it is impossible to fail here. One of my classes grants me 60% of my grade just for showing up and asking questions. Getting an ‘A’ at home is SUCH hard work. You have to slave to get one and an ‘A’ is from 80% and above. In America, an ‘A’ is from 92%, and so far I’ve had all ‘A’s… Puzzling?!
Fifth: This could be because everyone in this town is – to put it politely- ‘liberal’??!!!! This is a town of hippies and young people. I have some interesting lecturers to say the least. One is an early 30’s Bridget Jones (although just a little less tragic) and awkwardly chirps good morning to us at 2:10 every afternoon, one is an early 30’s backpacking adventurer who spends his summers in the Himalayas doing field research. He turns up to class on a skateboard half the time. One is a forestry type. Plaid shirts and cargo pants. He likes getting lost in the Alaskan wilderness and has a very long white ponytail combo’d with a backwards hat… and the last lecturer looks like a mafia man from the Godfather. These make for very interesting lectures and some questionable discussions. I may not be as challenged as I am at home, but I’m pretty amused.
Sixth: Public transport is free for students in this ‘city’. They have less money, less resources, less people, and yet they still manage to provide for the students who are by far their largest demographic. Come on Wellington. Sort it out!!!
Seventh: Every told me that in coming to America I would find it impossible to get a good coffee. This is not the case. However, the bread in America is TERRIBLE. After standing in the bread aisle for what felt like an eternity I left defeated with my yuck bread. The second ingredient in all bread here is sugar. Someone please tell me this is not the case at home?! This is one thing I moan about constantly here.
Eight: I got a job here at a local television station called MCAT (Missoula community access television). This is a very cool job for a not-for-profit station with some very diverse programming (and I think people don’t watch it…) Because this station is not-for-profit it means any Joe Blogs can come down to the station and create a show/film/doco and get air-time for it. Subsequently, all the towns ‘interesting’, ‘creative’ and mostly unemployed folk find it a safe haven. I met one pop-eyed looking character who explained to me at length his aspirations to make post-apocalyptic zombie movies. Interesting……
Nine: Nobody knows where New Zealand is. We’ve dropped off the face of the earth according to American geography classes I swear. Today I compared notes with the other kiwi exchange student Jess. She told me much to our amusement about this wee conversation.
Jess: I am from New Zealand.
Others: That’s in Australia right?
Jess: No, we’re our own country.
Others: So what’s the difference between Australia and New Zealand?
More Friends: Australia is a continent but New Zealand is just a country.
Other conversations go along the lines of this:
Joe Blogs: Oh so you’re from New Zealand. That’s cool. My sister lived in NZ for a while.
Me: Oh cool. What part, do you know?
Joe Blogs: Yeah she lived in Melbourne!
I can never win.
A lot of Tens: – 70% of my conversations with new people reach Lord of the Rings in the first 2 minutes; I cannot be understood quite frequently. Apparently my accent is the hardest of all the international students to understand (besides the Irish when they’re drinking); a singlet in America is what wrestlers wear. When I say that I’m in a singlet people look at me sideways and laugh. A singlet = a ‘tank-top’.