Being on exchange can be really exciting and chaotic at times but in the end, it is important to prioritize your schoolwork and classes. National Student Exchange gives students this opportunity through their education so it’s important to focus on the required class workload.
Being in Montana, it is always tempting to get outdoors and explore whenever possible. This is why it is essential to focus on school during the week so that during the weekend and days off you have the time to adventure. This week I was very busy with classes, exams, and work so I had little time to get outside. This sometimes bothers me, but I remind myself that once these tasks are complete, I will have the weekend to explore my host campus. After my last exam on Friday I knew that I was free to spend my time hiking and exploring Montana.
On Saturday morning, my friends and I got an early start on the day and began our hike to Fairy Lake. There is currently snow here but this Saturday the temperature was 46 degrees, so we were able to hike. The trail was difficult because of the snow covering and the steepness but my friends and I kept going. We hiked six miles towards the Sacagawea Trailhead and upon arrival we set up camp. We gathered wood and started a much-needed fire. Sharing stories and snacks around the fire was the highlight of my weekend. After putting out the fire, we started to head back down the trail.
After the long hike back to the car we were exhausted. We drove back to campus and grabbed a bite to eat. After long hikes like this, I usually like to invite some friends to go to the local hot springs to sooth our aching muscles and the Bozeman hot spring is the place to be on a Saturday night. We relaxed and caught up with friends while listening to music at the hot springs. Montana has many different hot spring locations. Some are completely natural while others are filled with lights and music and people. Luckily, I have been able to check out quite a few different hot spring locations and it is one of my favorite things to do here. After the hot spring we called it a night and I caught a couple hours of sleep before my next adventure.
On Sunday morning I met some friends for breakfast, and we jumped in the car for a little road trip. We drove from Bozeman to Red Lodge which is a little touristy town a couple hours away. While in Red Lodge, we walked down the main street and checked out some different shops. My favorite shop that we stopped in was for certain the candy shop. After shopping around, we found a place to eat lunch. We then jumped back in the car and headed towards campus. The drive to and from Red Lodge was filled with scenic views of the mountain ranges on both sides of the vehicle. I can honestly say that these views will never get old.
Once getting back to campus we split up and worked on homework for a while but then met back up for a little night hike. We drove to the “M Trail” trailhead and began our hike up with headlamps and flashlights. Before Montana, I had never gone night hiking but now it is one of my favorite activities. The moon was so bright we didn’t even need our lights. We were safe and stuck together during the hike.
After our descent to the car we hung out and stargazed. During this moment I reflected on how I got here. There were many moments this weekend that I reflected on how fortunate I am to be experiencing this through National Student Exchange. We finally called it a day and made our way back to campus. I started to get ready for the week ahead of me and will focus on my classes once again so that I can balance all of my adventures here with my education. This is essential because NSE is the reason I am here, and it is critical to put in the work to be able to continue this experience.
Submitted by Cathy Johnson