I am truly on my own for the first time in five years.
This past fall, I decided on a whim that I wanted to do a domestic study abroad exchange program in hopes that it would help bring me the courage to study abroad internationally. I am doing an exchange through a program called National Student Exchange. Through this program, I had the option to pick a school within the US, US territories or Canada to study at. I chose to go to the University of Wyoming in Laramie. If it was not for the help of the exchange office, I don’t think that I would have been ready for this big change that occurred in my life in a matter of three months.
Since my arrival in Laramie, I have already fallen in love with the area. I feel like I am in a small town but have the benefits of a big city. This feels comforting to me and gives me a small sense of home. It is a bit surreal to me to actually be here since it all happened so quickly.
Wyoming may not seem like it’s all that exciting to some, and it has been questioned many times by my friends as to why I chose another cold place to go to when I had the option to go somewhere warmer. Growing up, my dad talked about his life out here in Laramie and I dreamed of the day that I would get to see the world that he had told me about. It gave me a sense of wonder and awe that I have never been able to explain. It is a bit weird dreaming of a place my whole life and finally getting to not only visit the area, but move there. With the mountains surrounding me from every angle, a constant calm feeling has been at my side from the views. The mountains have always made me feel at home; since I got here, I have yet to feel anything less than comfortable.
The first thing I did when I arrived was explore some of the town and the surrounding area to get a feel for the new place that I am calling home for the next few months. We went to a pyramid that was out in the middle of nowhere, toured a historic prison and saw a tree that was growing out of a rock. It took me no time at all to start hiking and finding unique things to see. I am an avid lover of nature and I have been presented with endless opportunities to explore. I still feel a bit like a tourist in the area because my excitement is still very fresh for the surroundings.
For this semester, I will be living in the dorms which has been a bit of an adjustment, but I was blessed with a very sweet individual from Switzerland as my roommate. A lot of me forgot what it was like to live in such close quarters with another individual, but I have not felt that adjustment to be the struggle I thought it would be. I feel grateful to have a roommate who is as new to Laramie as I am as it makes me feel less isolated.
I am excited about the vast amount opportunities that I am going to have to see a new part of the world. I am hoping to explore the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and I have a goal of visiting as many coffee shops as possible and going snowboarding at least once while I am here.
Header photo: Starting a new adventure at the University of Wyoming in Laramie has been an adventure for me. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Schoenecker)
Write to Andrea Schoenecker at email@example.com