– by Huyen (Vietnam) ♪
Sunday, 19 July, 2015
Finally, we were able to reach the second free day in Missoula! As our schedule is really intense, free days are very precious.
During my three weeks in Montana, I haven’t had any chances to go to the mall, even on the first free day since I had to deal with my thesis then. And as the day we have to say goodbye to Montana is getting closer, I want to make the most out of it. And by “the most out of it”, I mean taking photos and shopping ~♪.
I and my best buddies in YSEALI – Luffi and Vathana decided to meet each other at 7.30 AM in the lobby at Pantzer Hall. It was too early for a free day though, Vathana was be there just in time, and Luffi came 5 minutes late with the most I-need-some-more-sleep face on this earth I’ve ever seen (tee hee). Since we wanted to take photos with the campus while we were still here, we took the bikes and rode to the Grizzly Bear statue. We managed to have a great shot with the old building and the M mountain with a really nice flare from the sun.
Luffi, me and Vathana with the old building and the M mountain! Woohoo~
After that, we came to Downtown Missoula to have breakfast. When we first arrived to Missoula, Nick told us about his favorite breakfast place in Missoula – Catalyst, which he described as “the best place to have breakfast in America”. For that reason, we chose the Catalyst, and Nick was right, this place was superb! It’s located in the main street of Downtown Missoula, and they have tables on the side walk for those who want to sit outside.
I chose 3 egg omelet, Luffi and Vathana had sandwiches for their breakfast, and we have some coffee as well. The food turned out so tasty and well-seasoning, which we enjoyed to the last bite.
The delicious breakfast we had at the Catalyst
…and Luffi were enjoying their food to the max!
While eating, we were talking about our program, and realized how lucky we were to be here in America. Eating nice food, enjoying the sunshine and chill breeze, looking at the peaceful empty street early in the morning, talking and laughing your best mates… the feeling was undescribable. “Montana, I seriously don’t want to leave” – I thought as looking at my friends teasing each other, whom I have to say goodbye just in a few days more.
As the roads were closed to day, we even sat in the conjunction to take photos, yay!
Right in the conjunction~ Hooray!
Then, we biked all the way to South Gate Mall to do my ultimate mission: shopping! We arrived at South Gate Mall at 10.20 AM, which was too early since the Mall only opened at 11. Luckily, they still let people to go into the mall to wait until all the shops open. We wandered around for a little while, and we found the map of the mall in the front desk. We found a place to sit, and Luffi and Vathana took out the pen to draft out the strategy that we should follow to be able to go to all the places we wanted to shop – what a nice act to prove that we seriously, absolutely, definitely are Academic Fellows :P.
"We need to get to Hollister by 12 to buy the whole store…"
Luffi: "Ok Vathana, after that let’s go to this place to buy Hello Kitty!"
By chance, we were sitting in front of a shop called “Cost Cutters” – a hairstyling shop.
Just in case you want a nice hairstyle that we’ve gotten, here’s the photo for you…
Vathana and I thought it would be so cool to experience a American hairstyling shop and dropped some of our DNA evidences (I mean, hair) in the States, so we both eagerly decided to have our haircut. The thing is, I didn’t need to have a haircut, but I really wanted to do something with my friends together. However, Luffi rejected to have a haircut since he just cut his hair every 2 months (hello moving Amazon forest…).
Luffi’s face when being convinced to have a haircut…
Even so, since I and Vathana were so cutely sending out threaten messages and fists, he had his haircut too! It was really fun to see three of us have new fresh appearances.
Hello Luffi, it’s not gonna hurt you… Keep calm…
After having our haircut, we began to shop! I was overly excited: Hollister, Gap, American Outfitters, JC Penny… Gosh, I could not wait to visit all of them! Luffi and Vathana were really excited at first, they were strolling around the stores with me, and we bought some really nice clothes. American clothes are so great for me – the designs, the colors, the patterns – I love it! I felt really happy and unstoppable (walking and shopping) in the mall, and I felt like I could shop all days long. However, the guys got tired (and threw me some deadly gaze), and since we already had a lot to carry back to the Pantzer Hall, we left the Mall at 4.20 PM.
The bill collection from South Gate Mall, teee heee
Back to the Hall, we had a short break until 5.40 PM to go to Mr. Tuyen and Mrs. Shushu house. Actually, I met Mr. Tuyen a while ago at the party for host parties. He is Vietnamese, he left the country for dozens of years, and he has a great sense of humor. Mr. Tuyen’s house is very nice with a lot of Southeast Asian decorations and cutie stuufs. I felt like I’d traveled back to my country just by going to his house, and I even found a really old book of my favorite Vietnamese poet. I think he did a great job in preserving the traditions of Southeast Asian countries.
Animal music boxes at Mr. Tuyen house
They cooked food for us, and it was a-ma-zing!!! We all were craving for Asian food (sorry Food Zoo), and all the things they made were very authentic and delicious. Thanks the Pham family for your nice treat!
Excited about the food! (Photo credit: Khavi)
Dr. Len, Alex, Luffi, Ann, Vathana and David were having lunch under the tree shade
Then, Mr. Tuyen and Mrs. Shushu talked about their experiences in America, specifically their experiences as refugees and being under prejudice of some people in the States after they immigrated. I have to say Mrs. Shushu is an excellent storyteller, we were all captivated by her stories. I had mixed feelings after hearing the stories: the feeling of admiration for the Pham because they did a great job in a new land, and the feeling of bitterness when I got to knew that discrimination still exists strongly.
Mrs. Shushu and Mr. Tuyen
Oh and I forgot to tell, today, the Watt sensation was going very strong. His intonation when saying “I’m sorry” (it should be written as “I’mmm sooooorry”) went rival, and everyone was using that phrase, even Dr. Len was infected as well… Talking about Watt, after seeing Vathana’s handsome haircut, he kicked Luffi – his (ex)toast to have new Vathana toast…
Oh Vathanaaaa nice new haircut…
After that, we came back to Pantzer Hall. Tonight, my country group had a meeting to work on our project. We also met Cambodian team in the room next to us. We work so hard na! (Dr. Len, please read this…)
Vietnam team was working so hard on our project…
And Cambodia team also! Yay for us~
So, that’s what I did today! Besides anything, the strongest feeling I have today is about our friendship in YSEALI program. While we were riding the bikes back from the Mall and came closer to UM, Vathana said: “Oh, we’re almost home!”. I suddenly realized that Pantzer Hall finally became our home, where we live in the dorm together, wait each other at the elevator everyday, oversleep together, go to the laundry together… this really is a thing to me.
“Have you ever had a dream that made you feel like you’d never want to wake up because that was all you have wanted?” – I think, I’m having it in Montana.
Time, please stop…
Written by Huyen (Vietnam).