Six degrees in Montana: student exchange

by | Oct 22, 2015 | First Person

By Malinda Watson:

Some people regard procrastination in a negative light, however it led me towards the most positive experience of my life so far. Applying for an international exchange instead of writing my biology report was one of my rare excellent choices.

I didn’t do much research on Montana USA, had a quick look at the weather in Fahrenheit but didn’t bother to find out that 40 ° f equals 6 °c, and it snowed a lot!

If you were looking at the landscape you would see snow-capped mountains, hot springs, boiling rivers, bison, elk and rock formations that you won’t forget. I didn’t spend much time looking at the landscape because my eyes were glued on the cowboys. “Mam, would you like to dance ?” he asked before spinning me around dancing to all the country songs. “Mam, can I kiss you ?” One cowboy even played me a Garth Brooks song whilst sitting in front of a fire; I sure did kiss him.

I made a best friend, a real deal Montanan cowgirl who chews tobacco, drinks whiskey, hunts and drives a pickup truck.  We would go to boot night on Thursdays ($1 fills up a glass boot with whiskey and coke), rodeos on weekends, spent holidays riding horses through the mountains, and afternoons doing leatherwork with the cowboys.

Apart from the cowboys, I saw bears, eagles, coyote, bison, elk, mountain goats, wolves and a badger, and I lived to tell the tale. The extra 10kg of weight I brought home is evidence that the food was amazing (the whiskey may have helped too).

I wasn’t just there for the 6 months, I went back again a few years later, and I go back there every time I speak about it. The memories just make my heart ache for more.


malinda watson elk









malinda watson on horse

malinda watson elk by the river

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