Impressions of an Austrian in Montana of Montana
En route: Leoben, Vienna – Amsterdam – New York City – Fayetteville, Arkansas – and then Missoula, Montana.
The Rocky Mountains, Big Sky Country and Treasure State. Missoula: Garden City and Zootown. Land of the native people, 12 tribes: Blackfeet, Crow, Salish, Kootenai, Pend d’Oreille, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Sioux, the Little Shell Chippewa, Northern Cheyenne, Chippewa, Cree, 1805. 1855. White people. No buffalo. No natives. They are still here.
The University of Montana – Missoula – Safety and Support – Diversity – Be yourself. Udash and the Mountain line: the bus. Free rides for everyone. When is the bus coming? – You have to check the app.
A long winter. The longest in 30 years. So much snow. But so beautiful. “Wait until spring, the mountains will be green, the flowers will bloom, this is the best time of the year.” Spring in Montana means May.
Then there’s summer: fishing, cracking open a Cold Smoke (Scotch Ale), kayaking. Missoula, in the Rocky Mountains, it’s the mountain spirit: nature, hiking, mountain biking, bird-watching, forestry, animals, home to the grizzly, the black bear. When the moose decides to go downtown and the mountain lion sits on Mount Sentinel, the dark has a certain feel to it. “I always watch the deer—when I can see them, I should be fine.”
Coffee. Americans love coffee. I love American coffee. 12oz. 16oz. 20oz. Let’s drink 0.5 L of coffee, no problem. Bring your own cup and pay $1. Missoula is great. They think about the future. Let’s be more careful.
And teaching. The best experience. 19 students GRMN 101&102. My students. My own office. Alone. Responsibility, uncertainty, joy, learning, pride, grades, homework.
Other FLTAS: Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, China.
My Chinese housemate: Authentic Chinese food, soup, spicy food. Hot pot. I own my own chopsticks now. I eat everything with chopsticks.
Take audit courses. How thankful I am: Arabic, African American Literature, Indigenous Peoples and the Ethics of Development, Intercultural Communication, (Food and Culture). How can I learn so much? Why did I not know about that? Eye-opening.
And the National Parks: Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. National Bison Range. My favorite place. It’s all about nature. It’s all nature. Nature transforms questions into visions and turns thunder into sunlight.
Fulbright FLTA 2018–19: such a great opportunity, such a great adventure, so thankful, so thankful, so glad.
Magdalena Bechter attended the University of Vienna, where she received her Magister degree in a teacher training program for English and Spanish. She was an Austrian Fulbright foreign language teaching assistant at the University of Montana during the 2018–19 program year. Photo courtesy of Magdalena Bechter.