By: Alex Akkhavong, Laos

It’s been totally a week that we have spent our time in the University of Montana. We have been apart far away over 13,000km from our family for YSEALI program, and yes, it’s hard to try to forget our food, places, friends, and lifestyle in our hometown. Nevertheless, here, we are building our small family, a “multi-nations” family, which composed by Lao, Thai, Cambodian, Burmese, and Vietnamese follows to make the warmest family on earth. Therefore, “homesick” is just a little word in our mind.

It was a free day and optional for everyone to have their free time today, but we decided to ‘unite” as one. In a cold, windy, and sunny morning (or maybe noon) at 11:40, we gathered at the dorm lobby to meet up before a 15-minute-biking heading to the South Gate Mall for lunch and shopping. We spent almost 2 hour enjoy having lunch and shopping tax-free products and super extreme summer discount from the stores at the mall. However, I took only an hour to walk and look around the stuffs I needed before I found the place to take a rest. While I was waiting for the friends by sitting and accessing facebook with Free-Wi-Fi provided by the mall at the Bus Stop, where we placed our bikes nearby, there was a very friendly middle-age lady waiting to someone to pick her up. We had a marathon conversation (like we had known each other for years) to chitchat about the weather, the town, the people, and the mountain; additionally, I was sharing the information about Laos, my country that seems it gains the interest from her. The best thing that makes this city is so livable is that “people are friendly with a big sense of humor” ^_^

At 2:00pm, we started to get back to the university; unfortunately, the heavy rain was falling down suddenly the time we were biking back. Khavi, Davith, Vatthana, and I were struck at the mini grocery store before 30 minutes later; we came up the ideas to drop by the Book Shop at the time the rain stopped. Although it took almost an hour to check out the books, I got only one fiction book and a pack of book marks. (I bet I would go there once again because the book price is so reasonable “Cheap” (^_^). Then, we must go back to prepare our presentation. Today dinner was Pizza Hut and Chicken Wings at the town with my Lao and Burmese buddies May, Walter, Chin, Mai, and Nout. We had such a great time together there.

Bike tour today enables me to explore Missoula every corners of it through my eyes. I really impress with the bike lane, the respect and priority for the bikes and pedestrian from the car drivers. Moreover, the roads, which are surrounded by the trees, brushes of flowers, and the green fields besides the roads make the town so beautiful and environment friendly. The landscape of the city is perfect with the mountains, river, and trees as a background. The peaceful lifestyle of people here creates this city pleasant and livable.

I can swear that I now fall in love with Missoula.

“Amazing place with awesome people”

Alex 🙂


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