After spending two weeks in Wyoming, I feel as though I have gotten a decent taste of its’ residents’ hospitality and have started acclimating to the barrenness of the landscape. Everyone has been very helpful and excited to share their knowledge about their home, whether that be directions, dining recommendations, or things to do.
Our fifteen student group attended Rock River’s Fourth of July Celebration and were engrossed in the western small-town culture. Eating a barbecue dinner with the locals and playing some lawn sports with their children was super exciting because it was my first time having meaningful conversations with the people who live here all year long. The children were full of energy and had all of us laughing throughout the night. It was nice to be surrounded by people so eager to hang out with a couple of “outsiders” and opened my eyes to how little exposure to other humans occurs in these low-population areas.
Our class also attended the parade and festival of Laramie’s Jubilee Days. The parade was one of the best I’ve seen with various creative floats that showcased what the area had to offer. The most common floats seemed to be class reunions with old classmates rejoicing on their return to the town with old friends. Although there is a limitation on an abundance of big name stores, like Apple and 7-11, current and previous locals seem to keep coming back for the Laramie nostalgia. Even to newcomers, the festival at Jubilee Days was super cool with great live music accompanied by many attendees jollily dancing with a beer in hand.
Growing up in West Virginia has definitely helped me adjust to my new surroundings because I have spent most of my life surrounded by conservatives that love America and the country lifestyle. Both West Virginia and Wyoming residents can be seen using their right to open carry with their cowboy hats and boots. Even though both are right-wing areas that aren’t too open-minded to conversations about sexuality, veganism, or reproductive rights, they are inviting to anyone who goes out of their way to immerse themselves in the region’s norms. Along with my background, I think being surrounded by other people my age who have never been out west has also immensely helped since we are all experiencing so many new things together.