Moving to Montana: Recent Teenage Transplants React
There's more than enough chatter about Montana newbies, but I had an extraordinary opportunity to pick the brains of teenagers who had moved to Montana in the last couple of years.
One of my friends is part of a large, long-time Bozeman family and has two teenagers herself. Aside from college and a few professional years, she and her family have called the Bozeman area home her entire life. (Plus a few older generations.) Now that her kids are teenagers, getting their perspective on "Bozeman in the time of COVID-19" is heartbreakingly interesting.
What's even more fascinating, is that they decided to have a party for all of their new friends who had moved to the area in the last 3 or 4 years. And there were LOTS of them. No fewer than a dozen of the teenagers there had moved to the Bozeman area in the last 3 years.
Having been a teenage Bozeman newbie myself many years ago, I had to ask these young adults some questions. The circumstances of our arrival in Bozeman were certainly different...or perhaps not, if the move had nothing to do with the pandemic. Maybe our stories and first impressions were oddly similar. I needed to find out.
First things first: I was pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth, well spoken, and just plain normal all these newer (young) Bozeman residents were. Somehow I expected them to be stressed out and sort of unhappy, considering what they've been through in the last few years with pandemic learning. With that said, their responses were extremely varied and strikingly honest. Some of them were awfully familiar.
WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION OF BOZEMAN AFTER JUST A FEW MONTHS OF LIVING HERE? DID IT GET BETTER OR WORSE WITH TIME?
WHAT IS/WAS THE BEST/WORST THING ABOUT HIGH SCHOOL IN BOZEMAN?
WHAT ACTIVITY KEPT YOU CONNECTED AND GROUNDED DURING THE PANDEMIC/SOCIAL DISTANCING?
(Keep in mind: as structured as the questions above seem, this was a super casual party where we simply had plenty of time to chat over BBQ in the backyard. I always have a notebook in my bag, so I hand wrote the responses. I let them read what I had written down to make sure nothing got misheard. Not one of them wanted to correct or adjust their response.)
- "It was really hard to learn to drive here. All of my friends here have been driving forever so it was easy for them. In San Diego you don't get to practice when you're 10."
- "We moved here in August 2020. I basically didn't have any friends until the next semester. It sucked. You didn't go to school that Fall."
- "We played a lot of ultimate (frisbee). Like, a lot."
- "I moved to Bozeman three years ago and I love it here. There's so much to do. I can pretty much mountain bike everyday if I wanted to."
- "I started (Bozeman) high school right before COVID started and barely had time to make any friends. It's way better now but there are hardly any people of color at all. It's sort of weird."
- "Bozeman is really competitive with everything. There's a ton of people who just want to beat everyone else. My town wasn't like that."
- "COVID wasn't that big of a deal for me. I have four brothers and sisters so we always had someone to do stuff with. And my sister taught me how to cook."
- "I got a job (fast food) right when I moved here over a year ago. I work a lot but most of the people I know here don't have a job and they DEFINITELY didn't work during COVID."
- "There's not a lot for people my age to do here unless you're really big into the outdoors and I'm not. Not everybody's into rock climbing."
- "There's a lot of rich kids. It's not a huge deal but you can definitely tell who has money. They show it a lot."
- "COVID was weird because I had just moved here and didn't know hardly anybody. I did better in school because I didn't have anything else to do. Most people hated it."
And there you have it. A quick glimpse into "Moving to Bozeman" from a teenager's point of view. Unless you have your own teenagers, then you might know all about it. It's hard enough moving to a new town when you're that age. (I can say that because I did it, many years ago.)
But starting a new school in a new town during a PANDEMIC? Impossible to wrap my head around. Staying at home, virtual learning, etc. That's not normal for anyone, let alone social teenagers. This group of smart, young adults at the BBQ reassured me of how resilient they are.