I wasn’t originally supposed to be here. I had initially been signed up to go on a different study abroad program, but as fate would have it, I ended up in Laramie, Wyoming. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had never been west and I had never given much thought to Wyoming as I’m guessing is the case for most people. I assumed it would be a lot of fields and cowboys, and for the most part, I was right. What I wasn’t prepared for was the people. I didn’t really think Laramie could be that different from the small town I’m from if not just more rural feeling, but the thing about Wyoming is everything is far apart and mostly isolated. This creates small tight knit communities that you don’t get when a major city is 45 minutes away. I got to be apart of this tight knit community on July 4th when we visited the tiny town of Rock River to join them in their barbecue and fireworks picnic. Everyone had a great time and I think it was one of my favorites nights so far. There was dancing and good food, lots of games, and a bouncy house. Perfect for college students. It filled me with a sense of nostalgia for my childhood and even made me a little homesick, but, to know that, even in a place that looks so different from what I’m used to, there are still people and communities that care about each other is very comforting.
I originally imagined that it would be lonely to grow up here, but since visiting all the festivities, including the Rock River picnic and Laramie Jubilee Days Festival, I have realized that it’s not lonely at all. The people here all know one another and care about each other in a way I think some of us east coasters forget. The east coast is so busy most of the time and we all get so caught up in our own lives, we forget what it means to be apart of a community. Here in Laramie, community is in the water. You can’t help but join in. There’s lots of things I like about being in here: getting to see the Milky Way, the occasional forest cow, and the excitement of a new place and culture, but what I really like about Laramie is it feels like home in the simplest way possible despite being 1800 miles away. The prairies and the lack of green are things that make my stomach turn at times. They feel too alien and unfamiliar. I get homesick. But as soon as I start to feel that sense of community that fills the wide open space of Wyoming, I immediately feel better. I like to think that whatever they put in the water here is starting to spread to our little group as well. We are building our own little community of Pitt students and it’s almost starting to feel like home. It’s like I said before, you can’t help but join in. So, if I had to pick one thing that helped me get used to these strange surroundings, it would definitely be the people, whether that be the people that came with me or the ones I found here.