Exchange North America Student exchange Travel

Washington: Home of Bigfoot and Big Imaginations

Aoife – Central Washington University – USA

Semester 1, 2020
​Bachelor of Communication

When I think back on my time in the US, a bitter part of me thinks about it being cut short by COVID-19, but a brighter note comes through at how much I experienced in the short time that I had. Without knowing it would last half as long as I signed up for, I managed to accelerate my learning experience, my personal growth, and my friendships. It was partly living on-campus and partly being the only person I knew there; everything seemed to happen faster.  

I stayed on-campus at Central Washington University in Washington State. I had 3 days in Seattle before getting on the bus to the university town of Ellensburg, then one weekend there, and the day of getting on the plane back to Brisbane. The rest of the time I spent exploring rural Washington. The first place I went outside of Ellensburg was Coyote Canyon, a national park walking trail by Yakima. Two of my friends I had met a week prior took me on a five-hour hike which I actually enjoyed (I am not a fit person – it’s a wonder I did it at all).

I’d like to introduce you to some friends I made. My friend here, Mike, (the guy imitating the end of the Circle of Life from the Lion King) and Jack (the guy in the white hoodie in the featured photo). Since Jack is from Florida (and also a tourist), we made a tradition of going somewhere new nearly every weekend – in conjunction with my assignments. Since I’m studying journalism, I had to travel around a lot to interview people. This proved to be the most effective way I engaged with the culture in Washington State. When we spent a weekend in Seattle, I was interviewing the curator of the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture, Jacob McMurray, about his exhibit, Indie Game Revolution. 

While I learnt a lot about Washington State from my weekend trips and journalistic endeavors, even in the small town of Ellensburg there was personal growth to be found. In my residence hall, I met my roommate Emma and my friends Maddy, Kelsey, and Bridget. We surprised Emma on her birthday…

I tried and ranked American snacks (worst to best, Kelsey being the best)…

… And helped on dorm room photoshoots.

What I couldn’t capture on camera was my love for the snow (though everyone who drove hated it), the land and wildlife (tumbleweeds are an actual thing?!) and for the people. Just as I experienced the magic of monkey bread for the first time, I made the Americans lamingtons and meat pie. We exchanged accents and slang, ate a huge variety of fast food and sweet coffee, and experienced true college road trips.

The Washington State experience and the college experience were, of course, amazing… but even more so with the fast friends. I still keep in touch with Jack, Mike, Emma, Maddy, Kelsey and Bridget, and long to go back once COVID-19 passes.

The people you meet really make the experience.

Learn more about Central Washington University

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