The Truth about Autism: Q&A with UM Student Skyler Bexten

Meet Skyler Bexten, a 22-year-old University of Montana senior majoring in computer science. Bexten was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at the age of 3 after he lost his sense of language. As part of coping with autism, Bexten enrolled in a horseback therapy program run by Bob and Timmy Burmood. He later volunteered with the program to help other autistic people.

How did the horseback therapy work? How does it help people with autism? 

Bob’s idea was always that the motion of the horse would trigger the release of serotonin, which would calm down a lot of people. Kids would come in, they’d be wound up, but then after a few rides around on the horse, they’d be more relaxed, more calm, more collected.

So how did it help you personally?

It’s very hard for me to remember parts of my childhood, so going back to volunteer is like a repeat. In some of the kids, I saw reflections of myself. One of the major challenges for children with autism is that there can be trouble with movement or motion. So, one of the activities that Bob started doing after I left was throwing a football around with the kids for a few minutes before getting them on the horse. That way they learned how to catch the ball, throw it back, how to move their muscles. I never quite learned how to do it. Of course, there’s always the frustration. When you’re younger, when you’re still learning how to cope with failure, if you do something wrong, you take it personally. So what’s common for children on the spectrum and for some adults on the spectrum is that if you mess up a task, you could have a meltdown.

How do you calm down when that happens?

I haven’t had that issue for years, but it took a while. I remember when I was very young, once I started crying, I would always have to finish. But prevention is the best solution. One of the things that Bob told me that helped me was my mom’s sense of humor. Parents do matter a lot in raising a child with autism. Whenever I was having some challenge, some issue, my mom wouldn’t take it too hard. She’d always kind of laugh it off. She’d joke about it. She wasn’t communicating that it was okay, but she was communicating that it wasn’t the end of the world.

Could you describe the spectrum a little more?

For some people, autism is more severe. Others, like myself, have high-functioning autism. I was one of the lucky ones. I had issues growing up, but some people have it worse. For example, some of the kids in the program were completely nonverbal. They’d be 6, 10, 8 years old – never would say a word. Or if they did say a word, it’d be spoken very quietly, so that no one could hear it. There was one kid that I knew who had a chew toy. That apparently helped him cope with stress.

What are some other signs?

Another sign of autism, other than being nonverbal, is trouble with eye contact. It took me a while to get eye contact right. I had to consciously practice making eye contact when I was in high school. Some other signs to look for is if there’s orderly behavior – anything that has to do with order or patterns. When I was young, my mother would always find me lining up Little People toys. And she always found me lining up the same seven toys in the same order, the exact same queue every single time. Sometimes, she’d test me by swapping out two of them in place, then I’d see them and I’d always put them right back. Or sometimes, I would have a meltdown, when I’d come home, and my mom rearranged the furniture. I’m fine with it now, but it was horrifying when I was younger apparently.

What are misconceptions you feel need to be cleared up about autism?

There’s a lack of visibility or a miscommunication on what it’s actually like. A lot of people, when they hear about autism, they’ll point to somebody they saw on TV or an actor they think who has autism. I remember one woman who said, “Oh yeah. Jerry Seinfeld. He said that he thinks he has autism.” Yeah, Jerry Seinfeld isn’t a medical professional. Jerry Seinfeld is not a psychiatrist. Jerry Seinfeld is not a doctor. Jerry Seinfeld is a comedian. I don’t know what the numbers are right now, but I think it’s about 1 in 100 children will be diagnosed with autism. But people, for some reason, despite the growing population of autistic people in the United States and around the world, just don’t seem to know anybody who’s autistic.

Do you think it’s that people with autism are around, but other people just don’t recognize it?

That’s partially it. One of the most common reactions that people have, what people normally do in the store when somebody’s having a meltdown, is look away. So one of the challenges with parents with autistic children is: What do you do when your child throws a meltdown in the store, throws a meltdown at home? It’s not the child’s fault, it’s not the parent’s fault that they’re having a meltdown, but it can still feel embarrassing that so many people are watching you or consciously avoiding seeing you.

So it’s kind of up to each individual family how they handle meltdowns?

What Bob and Timmy told me, and I think that goes for anybody with any kind of therapy work with children, is that you’re not just treating the child. Sometimes you also have to treat the family. Some of the issues you start off with are the parents. There are parents who, I don’t know why, I don’t know what’s going through their minds, but they’ll be given explicit instructions on what to do to handle a specific behavior, and they’ll just ignore it.

How have you been challenged?

A few years back, and throughout most of my time growing up, my usual frustration with people would be that I didn’t understand them, I didn’t know how to talk to them, communicate with them, how to hold a conversation. People would say something that’d get under my skin, and I would just think about it over and over again. One of the most common traits of people with autism is obsessive behavior. What people with autism will usually do, is they’ll pick a subject and they’ll learn everything there is to know about it. So when I was younger, I loved Marvel Comics, and I memorized everything I could. At one point, I had an encyclopedia printed by Marvel. As I’m getting older, and I’m learning more about human nature and how people work, I feel like I get less frustrated with people. I still get frustrated, but you know, it’s not gonna keep me up at night.

What are some other struggles?

Most of the time, you can’t tell people anything directly, which is really hard for people with autism to understand because they prefer direct speak. That’s why a lot of people with autism struggle with metaphors. Imagine for a second that most people in your life are speaking a bizarre code, and you translate everything they say literally. One time, I was sitting in a theater with Bob Burmood because we were watching somebody’s play and he told me something that I didn’t understand, and he said, “Did that go over your head?” So what I did was I raised my head up, to see what he was talking about. Nothing will go over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it. Sarcasm also is difficult. People have told me that my sarcasm can be very subtle or not completely obvious. I had one guy joke with me that, “Skyler, your kidding is a little too serious. I mean, you could’ve been kidding the last two days, and I wouldn’t have known the difference.”

What are some resources you’ve noticed for people with autism? Do you know anyone else here with autism?

Well, I’ve never had to look because nowadays I hardly think about it – about having a diagnosis, about being autistic. Because at this point, I’ve adjusted well enough that it never really occurs to me. I’m usually thinking about some of my other issues, like school or more personal family issues.

Is there anything else you feel is super important to include?

“Rain Man” is fake. It’s not based on a true story. It’s Tom Cruise, what do you expect?

Interview by Courtney Brockman, UM Journalism Student

5 Pandora Stations to get you through Finals Week

It's finals week and you know what that means - late night study sessions, sleepless nights, and excessive amounts of junk food. The time has come for you to cram in all those hours of studying you should have divided throughout the semester into a matter of days. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I could survive this week without two things: coffee and music (especially music). Studying is bad enough as is, I need some tunes to get me through. That's why I made you a list of what I believe to be some of the best Pandora stations to survive this week. Happy finals Grizzlies, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

John Mayer Radio

This station was practically made for studying. It is the perfect mix of jazz, pop, and acoustic guitar rhythms. This is the kind of music you could expect to hear in your local coffee shop on a Sunday morning. It's sure to give you "all the feels." Don't expect to just hear John Mayer either, it's filled with artists such as Coldplay, Jack Johnson, and Ron Pope ... just to name a few.

90s Pop Radio

Because who doesn't love a little bit of a throwback? This station is perfect for 3 AM - when you need a little pick me up to get you through the rest of the night. It's probably going to make you get up and dance, but that's necessary from time to time. It's got a little bit of everything: from Madonna to Sugar Ray to No Doubt.

Classical for Studying Radio

This is the station for those of you who are often distracted by music while studying. Classical music has been proven to help stress levels, sleep patterns, and even your immune system. Everyone could use this station while writing a paper, reading a novel, or trying to figure out a long math problem. It'll help you relax even if you don't pay attention to the music at all.

Instrumental Hip Hop Radio

This station, like the one mentioned above, is great for those who are often distracted by lyrics. This is perfect for anyone who has ever wondered what a world without MC's would sound like. It's full of upbeat tracks and tons of rhythm to lift your mood. A station filled with some of the biggest Hip Hop tracks in the business but without the words to mess with your brain. Yes please!

All I Want For Christmas Is You Radio

Because this list wouldn't be complete without some sort of Holiday station, now would it? Christmas is pretty much only a couple of weeks away at this point, after all! This station has all our favorite hits and is a great escape from reality. I strongly recommend pairing it with a large cup of hot chocolate.

The 2016 National Wilderness Workshop: A BRNTLY Guest Blog

Here at the University of Montana we are lucky to be surrounded by diverse and accessible Wilderness areas. Through a walk into the Rattlesnake Wilderness, a hike to the top of Trapper Peak in the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness, or an extended backpacking trip in the Mission Mountains Wilderness, many of us find enjoyment in our public lands.

On November 7-10, the University of Montana will be hosting the 2016 National Wilderness Workshop. This year’s agenda includes everything from communicating wilderness values, discussing wilderness character, building partnerships, new training models, building stewardship through fundraising, and everything in between.

Sponsored by The Society for Wilderness Stewardship, the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, The Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana, and the Montana Wilderness Association, the workshops are a unique opportunity to learn about and discuss wilderness topics with agency personnel and NGO staff, as well as students and faculty.

New this year, the week will kick off with the first annual Wilderness Olympics! On Tuesday afternoon, anyone who dares can test their skills against other wilderness enthusiasts. Events range from the “dizzy tent set up” and “mule packin,” to a team crosscut competition.

Students and faculty of the University of Montana can register for free to attend the Wilderness Workshop here:


How to Be an Engaged Voter in the 21st Century

We are ONE WEEK AWAY from the 2016 General Election. This election cycle, aside from all the scandal and ridiculousness, has been dominated by one overriding theme: revolution. Unfortunately, it seems that only during presidential elections, once every four years, do most people become heavily invested in the conversation and debate regarding their governance. But a political revolution in our representative democracy would need to occur from the ground up, not the top down. Therefore, it’s state and local elections, which happen much more often, where true change could occur. Let’s look at the definition of a revolution, from the website:

revolution (noun)

  1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.

  2. Sociology. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.

The concepts that resonate with me here are “thorough replacement” and “pervasive change” because that’s what I think most people who are inspired by the idea of a revolution want. This is where it gets difficult.

More people vote in the presidential elections than any other elections (American Idol and The Voice, excluded). Perhaps if their favorite candidate is not on the ballot, or they are unsure of the issues, they don’t know what to do.  

We’re in the information age and there is no shortage of ways to access information. So here are a few resources so that you can become the kind of voter you want to be right now and for every election, every year, from now on.

Rock The Vote

Rock The Vote is an oldie, but a goodie. They’ve been partnering with celebrities since 1990 to get the word out and help young voters get ahold of the resources they need to register and vote. But people of all ages can benefit from the state-specific election info on their site.

I also highly recommend learning about the history of this organization and watching some the great videos stars have done.


More than any other election in history, consumption of information about the 2016 Presidential Election has been happening on smartphones and computer screens, especially via social media. Countable makes learning about the issues and forming a stance very easy.

From their website: "Countable makes it quick and easy to understand the laws Congress is considering. We also streamline the process of contacting your lawmaker, so you can tell them how you want them to vote on bills under consideration."

But how do they do this? Countable has cleverly taken it upon themselves to do the work of staying on top of the issues and summarizing the YEA and NAY positions so that users are given the chance to get this info right on their website or their app. You get an easy to understand breakdown of the issues and then you make your decision.

They also make contacting your lawmaker, a truly REVOLUTIONARY act in this day and age, very simple.

Countable is available for free online, on iOS, and Android devices.


The candidate's positions are an important part of why we choose to vote for them, but sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly what their positions are. It’s also a bit difficult to know what our own positions are on issues until we are made to declare them. has an extensive quiz that compares your stances on a lot of different issues with each of the candidates and finds which candidate is most aligned with your personal politics.

Trust me, if you’ve ever taken a quiz on Facebook to find out which superhero you are, this is basically the same thing.

Newspapers and Magazines

Journalism, true journalism, requires research, editing and fact-checking. Traditional media, like newspapers, are one of the few disciplines that still hold true to that level of professional integrity. I won’t be endorsing a newspaper here, but I highly recommend doing a little bit of research to find a publication that reflects your views. A good way to start is by selecting a major city that you feel represents you and reading their major news publication.

In addition, magazines are a great resource, especially if you are curious about how the world outside of the USA views our political process. Magazines are often a bit more of a commitment because articles are much longer, but if you want thoroughly researched information, it’s hard to find better sources.

Don’t forget, newspapers and magazines will have a website, so if a trip to the newsstand isn’t your cup of tea, you need not go any further than your phone or computer.

Politico or RealClearPolitics

For the more motivated and politically minded individual, Politico and RealClearPolitics are politically-focused websites that feature content culled from all sides. All parties are represented and the info is top notch. When you are ready for deep dive into the world of political commentary, these sites will be invaluable.



Stay off Facebook

Remember how a team of fact-checkers and editors reviewed that last few things you’ve posted or shared on Facebook? Right. That didn’t happen. Nor does it happen for MOST of the political blogs that post articles on social media. If you want to be an informed voter, the Facebook algorithm is probably not your very best friend. It's obviously entertaining, or maybe terrifying, to read all of the opinions in your NewsFeed, it can be taxing on your mental health if that is the only source of information that you turn to in order to remain informed.




The information and opinions in this post are those of one man and not meant to be representative of anything EXCEPT a desire to be an informed and engaged citizen.

Apps for the College Super-Student


With the launch of the UMontana app, it got us thinking about other apps college kids can use to make life easier online.

If there are three things that college kids need more of, it’s sleep, money and data. Use these sweet apps to maximize every megabyte or dollar. Plus, we included some  apps that can save you from missing an assignment, eating a bad meal or watching a crappy movie.


Of course, the new UMontana is on the top of our list for must-have apps for college kids. The UMontana app is constantly bringing new campus features to your fingertips, including maps of campus, food options, study areas, events, computer availability, grades and more. Even Moodle will be available by the end of October!

My Data Manager

Share a data plan with your family members? Use this app to track your data usage so you aren’t the one to blame when the monthly “ of your data plan has been used” text appears. The app has a lot of cool features that show you how and where you use your phone. For example, it tracks your WiFi, roaming and data usage, if you are interested in how much data you’d use without all the hot spots in your life.



This app is perfect for group projects. It’s a super simple platform that enables instant messaging for group and private conversations. Instead of cluttering each other’s email accounts with updated work, simply upload your files and post them into the conversation! Check out this video[BR1]  for more info.



The Domino’s app is seriously the best app for when you and your friends can’t decide which pizza to get. Customizing your pizzas to exact specifications without confusing the employee over the phone is a thing of the past with this app. Plus, the promotions are super easy to access (like the two or more medium pizzas for $5.99 each). Also, the pizza tracker is essential for when you are gauging your hunger.


Sleep Cycle

This app uses a microphone to track your movements during the night, which is kinda creepy, but it turns the data into really intuitive charts and easy-to-understand information about your sleep.

$9.99 yearly

Intuit Mint

Track every transaction and budget your monthly spending with this app, which is from the same company that brought us TurboTax. Just link your bank account, and every debit or credit transaction will appear.


IMDb- Internet Movie Database

A one-stop for movie, television and film news, this app also has very reliable user and Metascore ratings for shows and movies so you know you aren’t wasting your Saturday night watching a bad movie.


Microsoft Word

Always be on top of that five-page paper that needs to be done by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Just use the Word 365 feature, which is Microsoft’s cloud-based sharing option that rivals Google Docs.


ESPN, Watch TNT, FOX Sports Go

Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect sports app because of viewing rights, but if you (or your parents) have a cable or satellite television subscription, you can stream almost every nationally televised game on the go from whoever is broadcasting the game.

FREE, but subscriptions vary.

Speaking from experience, each one of these apps could save you in a time of need.

5 places around Missoula to spend your Fourth of July

It’s almost Independence Day, the biggest celebration day of the summer. That means the time has come to pick out the best patriotic outfit, barbeque the best hot dogs, and sprawl out on the lawn to watch fireworks! Although I was disappointed to hear that the annual fireworks show at Missoula’s Southgate Mall has been cancelled this year, there are plenty of other great shows just a short road trip away. We gathered up a list of what will be some of the best places around Missoula to enjoy the Fourth of July.

Photo Credit: North Star Fireworks

Polson, MT

Located just 70 miles north of Missoula, Polson is a beautiful small town situated on Flathead Lake. The fun actually begins a day early this year, with country singer Jared Blake performing at Sacajawea Park on Sunday. The free concert is set to start at 2 p.m. with fireworks to follow. On July Fourth people in Polson can take advantage of the annual parade, which begins at noon and a free ice cream social at the Polson Museum to follow. Of course, the big finale is going to be the firework show, which has a budget of $10,000 this year, raised by donations from the community. Grab your blankets and pick a spot anywhere on the lake near Polson for outstanding views of the show.

Great Falls, MT

With a population of about 60,000 people, Great Falls is not that much smaller than Missoula and hosts a great annual Independence Day event every year. Starting at 11 a.m. there will be a “Celebrating America’s Icons” themed Fourth of July parade on Park Drive. After the sun goes down, People’s Park and Rec Foundation will put on its $18,000 fireworks show. We’ve been told the best place to watch this is at Elk’s Riverside Park – be sure to claim your seat early!

Coeur d’ Alene, ID

Although this town is not in Montana, it is only about a two and a half hour drive from Missoula and is home to one of the most beautiful lakes in the West. Their fourth of July celebration is an all-day event and is made possible through local donations collected by the Chamber of Commerce. The American Heroes Parade kicks off the celebration at 11 a.m. Following the parade there will be food vendors along the lake and live entertainment featuring many different musical styles. There are many different beach fronts around the lake that offer a great view of the fireworks. For those who prefer to watch on the water, dinner cruises can be booked through several local cruise companies.

Bozeman, MT

Home to the only other Division I university in Montana, Bozeman is a fantastic place to spend the Fourth. This year’s “Festival of the Fourth” event will kick off with a barbeque fundraiser at 6:30 p.m. at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. Under the direction of Maestro Matthew Savery, The Bozeman Symphony Orchestra will perform patriotic and pop favorites at 9 p.m. The big finale will be the fireworks display, which is expected to begin around 10:30 p.m. Bozeman is known for hosting one of Montana’s biggest fireworks displays and draws thousands of people every year.

Laurel, MT

Perhaps the largest fireworks show in Montana can be viewed in Laurel. Although this town is the furthest in distance from Missoula, the drive is worth it for the size of this fireworks show. For early-risers, Laurel offers a homemade pancake breakfast starting at 6 a.m. (don’t worry, they serve until 11 a.m.). Other events taking place throughout the day are the Chief Joseph run, kiddie parade, food and craft fair, and of course, the grand parade at 11 a.m. The annual firework show has been hosted by the Laurel Fire Department for over 50 years and includes music synced with the fireworks. People usually gather around the local football field and Thompson Park to watch. With about 40,000 people in attendance last year and a $60,000 budget, we recommend you get there early to secure your spot!


UM History: 5 Things You Never Knew

Some surprising stories are buried throughout the University of Montana’s 123-year history. We dug up a few that we thought deserve resurfacing.

You won’t believe No. 3…


 1. From 1915 to 1929 UM was the only college in the country that had a mountain lookout on its campus..

The forestry department built the lookout with the U.S. Forest Service in 1915, and it became a popular spot to scout out fires during the summer. It was a favored place to which students hiked to etch their names in the lookout’s wooden tower walls. However, as I’m sure we can all guess, the lookout’s tenure atop Mount Sentinel came to end when it burned down in 1929.

2. UM hosted 1,000 military members during World War II.

Members from the U.S. Army and Air Force trained on campus during the war. Many of the servicemen trained on campus and lived in the residence halls. With few residence halls available, many UM students temporarily relocated to fraternity houses. UM changed some of its courses, offering more political-history and international-relations classes during wartime.

3. Our mascot used to be quite the bear … literally.

In the early 1900s before UM officially became the Grizzlies, our mascot used to be a live bear cub. Yep, you read that right: a live bear. Before Monte’s time, a black bear cub named Teddy was UM’s first mascot. The cub wore a jersey during much of this time with a large M across it and made appearances during the Homecoming and cross-state parades. In 1998 Monte (short for Montana) became UM’s official mascot.


4. There was a day dedicated to cleaning up campus called Aber Day where classes were canceled.

William Aber was a professor who taught Latin and Greek languages who also volunteered as a custodian. He was known for planting trees on campus and for 40 years there was a day dedicated to “beautifying” campus again. Students would clean the campus in the morning, hold campus elections and have a picnic on the Oval in the afternoon. Some students took their “day off” as a chance to engage in other activities, which led to the more well-known Aber Day festivities.


5. There used to be a prom the night before graduation.

The prom and other festivities that took place the evening before Commencement came to be known as May Fete. Starting in 1925, seniors would gather around the Oval together and sing “College Chums” on the steps of Main Hall for May Fete. The M on Mount Sentinel was lit up for the evening and students performed a play. There was a May Queen elected who would sit on the steps of Main Hall overlooking the Oval during the dance.  As time went on and UM gained more students, May Fete ended. However, the ongoing “Singing on the Steps” tradition during Homecoming originated from May Fete.

There’s a little UM-101 for you! For more interesting UM Artifacts check out UM’s Alumni Magazine, The Montanan.

Changing Tastes: The Difference Between UM Seniors and Freshmen

Ah college, it’s been an interesting journey. I remember when I was a freshman, feeling cool cooking my ramen noodles in my resident hall microwave. Now that I’m a “grown-up” senior, I’ve graduated to cooking ramen (hundreds of times), on my shared house stovetop.


Now, college feels a little bit different, too, than it did on day one of freshman year. When you’re a freshman taking a 100-level course, you get to meet people from different majors and backgrounds. Sometimes the 100-level general education courses are a good way to immerse yourself in a topic that you may never have thought you’d have an interest in. For example, I never would’ve known to look for the Lake Missoula shorelines on Mount Jumbo if I hadn’t taken geology.

However, a nice aspect about 400-level classes is that I’m now only studying the classes that are for my degree! Throughout the years, it’s been nice to get to know my professors on a more personal level, than when I was in a larger class. Another benefit of a 400-level class is that you and your classmates become more connected and familiar with each other. It’s comforting to have other students who are going through the same class struggles, challenges and triumphs as you.

On a non-academic note, another difference I’ve noticed is in the amount of effort people put into their appearance. Speaking for myself, I used to spend time putting together a top-notch outfit every day to make sure I looked presentable. Now, I find myself throwing on whatever clean laundry I have lying around!

Whether you are a traditional freshman or a sixth-year senior, here are a few differences between a 100- and 400-level class, as told by fellow UM seniors:


“Words of wisdom: You can’t skip your 400-levels like you can your 100-levels and get by with it.” Andy Nelson, history

“Pay attention to your 100-level class, because you’ll need to remember that information in your 400-level classes.” –Bailey Harper, marketing

“A 400-level with a professor you like can be better than a 100-level with the wrong professor. Also remember that while the 400 classes may technically be harder, you get to take them with people you have gotten to know over the last few years and they are related to topics you like in your major!”-Tyler Morgan, communication

“In general, lower division courses are not as involved, Whereas, upper divisions the professors challenge you to strive and produce your best work through research and deeper meanings with content.” -Melissa Unger, art and education

“Situation No.1: you’re in a dark room, and cannot find light. However, a flashlight is provided for you, but it only shines a short distance without batteries in it so you can only see the beginning of what’s in front of you. This is a 100-level class.

Situation No.2: You have the option to increase the brightness of your flashlight, however, you have to find the batteries in the dark room, which requires more effort and work than just shining your flashlight. However, with the batteries, the flashlight illuminates the room so much more that it was worth it to search in the dark to find them to see the full brightness. This is a 400-level class.” -Tatum Holland, communication

“Get as much sleep as you can when you’re taking 100-level classes. But appreciate the devotion to your craft during your 400-level classes!”-Freddy Monrares, journalism

However, one thing remains the same …



The amount of caffeine that I consumed in my 100-level classes is consistent with the amount that I consume now. Whether you are in the middle of your general education courses trying to figure out what major is right for you, or busily working toward finishing your degree – it’s an exciting time to drink up all of the knowledge possible (pun intended).


Missoula is for (Music) Lovers

Missoula has no shortage of music lovers. Every night there is music playing somewhere, whether it’s on the streets, at a bar or in a basement. Here are a few venues that make the music scene in MisSOULa, stand out:

The Wilma

The Wilma is a Missoula landmark that has been around for almost 100 years. The owners of the Top Hat recently bought the venue and made renovations. Originally, the theatre was a vaudeville house in the 1920s and then became a place for movies. Now, the Wilma hosts the annual Big Sky Film Documentary Festival and dozens of headliner concerts, including Macklemore, Techn9ne and Trampled by Turtles. Beyond movies and music, the Wilma hosts events such as Socotra EDM dance party and “Tell Us Something,” a live storytelling event.

The Starving Artist Cafe

This hidden gem resides on South Reserve Street. Every Wednesday is open-mic night, where musicians are welcome to sign up and play whatever they’d like. The music continues until every musician has a chance to perform. Another cool thing about this location is that it has great art and even a space to browse and buy books. Enjoying the music is free, but I’d recommend accompanying the experience with a coffee or a great Panini and a cup of soup.

Dennison Theatre

Good news, students: You don’t have to travel too far to listen to music at this location. It’s on campus directly south of the Music Building. The Dennison Theatre hosts a range of music from a jazz festival, to Irish music and in-between.

Insider Tip: The atmosphere of the theater has an Art Deco stylemaking it a standout in the community.

Caras Park

This one is better suited for the summer, but as weather continues to heat up more events will happen at the lovely Caras Park.  Pretty much any time there is a Missoula event there, there’s live music whether it’s during “Out to Lunch,” a performance from the Missoula Symphony Association, or a street performer at the Clark Fork Market there’s a chance to enjoy FREE music.


But what if you are looking for a place to shake your booty?  Missoula definitely has plenty to offer the inner club kid in all of us!  Please bear in mind that the following recommendations are for those 21 and over.

The Badlander

As far as a great dancefloor and a fun crowd, The Badlander on the weekends is a clear favorite.  The staff is friendly, the music is great and the floor gets packed, but the space is so big that there is plenty of room to get some fresh air when needed.  Thursday – Saturday are all great nights to dance.


This club has a truly “underground” feel, which is helped by the fact that it is actually underground.  Monk’s features a wide array of genre options for those looking to dance, and the club lighting is easily the most enjoyable, especially for a good old fashioned dance off.  Monk’s also has 18+ nights so that more people can get in on the action!

The Wilma

The Wilma again, you ask?  Absolutely!  The Wilma hosts some of the best shows by EDM and other electronic music artists in the region.  It’s the only place to get a truly “big room” nightclub experience in Missoula on a regular basis. Past shows have included Above&Beyond, Odesza and Morgan Page.  Plus, there is something really special about sharing the experience with 2500 of your closest friends.


Stockman’s is that place that, even though you don’t always like to ‘fess up to it, you’ve been there and you’ve loved it.  If what you need are flashing lights and bumping beats, you need look no further.  The music ranges from good to … interesting, but really, who cares?  When you want to put your hands in the air like you just don’t care, it’s all about that bass.

Lastly, a few words from a fellow Missoula musician and UM Master of Business Administration student, Alyssa Hands:

“Most of my playing in Missoula has been busking – or street performing. By playing on Higgins I have entered a community I never knew existed. It’s strange, friendly and welcoming. Other musicians will come over to collaborate, and once, a clarinetist friend of mine surprised me by sitting in. It’s an amazing experience to put myself out there and be received with such friendliness and joy.

There are so many artists out in Missoula on a sunny day that even the Farmers’ Market has asked musicians to “check-in,” and it’s first-come-first-served so many are turned away! When the high season of the summer comes, it can be difficult to secure a location downtown when there are three musicians to a block.

On one occasion, I recall that that some musicians were from out of town and I thought there might be a rivalry between the locations until I realized that other musicians will rest a few songs to let a new voice be heard. There is a sense of community in that, we are all doing the same thing, sharing the same gift, and it should be treated as such.

As any supply and demand scenario that’s high on the supply side, most gigs for developing artists in Missoula are unpaid. It would be great if the local venues would invite and support the local musicians more to foster the local sounds. It seems that many talented musicians end up moving away to a scene that is more supportive.”

This list is, by no means, exhaustive.  Where are your favorite places to catch some great music?  Share in the comments!

Guest Post: Staying Cozy While Looking Cool: Winter Style Tips From Trendsetters at the U

A guest post

We asked the popular student-run group on campus to write a guest post about staying fashionable during the cold winter months.  Thanks to the fabulous fashionistas Krystyn, Mallory, and Michelle for the great advice! 


Meet Krystyn:

Montana winters can be unpredictable when it comes to how cold it gets, usually ranging from bearable to unbearable. When the temperatures drop it becomes difficult to leave the warmth of our comfy beds to rush to an early morning class. Who can blame us! As hustling college students it’s hard to keep track of where we’re going to be in the next two hours and what we’re going to eat, let alone what we’re going to throw on for the day!

To handle mother’s nature’s curveballs, I suggest indulging in the ever so popular layering technique. Layering allows you to let your personal style shine through by creating unique combinations. Personally I like starting with something light weight, such as a basic tank top and progress to heavy jackets.  For an extra cozy factor I would throw on staple winter accessories such as hats and scarfs.

My closet is mostly made up of an array of dresses that I like to transition into all seasons of the year. To stay warm I layer thermal tights or knee-highs underneath depending on how daring I would like to be.  For this outfit I choose to stick to a sleek black for a laidback vibe, pairing a skater dress with knee-highs and combat boots. For subtle pops of color I added a beanie and extra-large reversible scarf from H&M. To finish the look I threw on my worn snowboarding jacket made by DC.


Meet Mallory:

Think twice about breaking out your warmer spring and summer clothes. Winter isn’t over yet! Keep those boots and scarves handy for just a little bit longer.

I have kept my long sleeve shirts and blanket scarves at the front of my closet all winter. They are definitely my go-to pieces all winter long. I bought my flowy blackish-gray shirt from Urban Outfitters. This shirt can be layered with just about anything: fashion scarves, warm and cozy scarves, necklaces or even a vest. Be trendy with a colorful blanket scarf! Pick one up at Apricot Lane before they are gone for the summer!

You can never go wrong with a black pair of leggings! These are from Victoria’s Secret. Leggings definitely work best with my boots because I don’t have to roll them a specific way like jeans just to get them to fit into the boots. This cozy outfit is easy to wear around the house, to class or even out to do errands.Spice up your legs just a little by adding a simple pair of boot socks! I wasn’t looking for boot socks when I happened to come across these adorable ones at Old Navy one day. I couldn’t pass them up, so of course I bought them.

Nothing says puddle jumping and walking through newly fallen snow quite like a great pair of tall boots. These leather boots have gotten me through all types of weather this winter. Don’t be afraid to invest in a valuable pair of leather boots, they are so worth it! Dillard’s and Herberger’s here in Missoula, always have a fabulous selection of tall boots, in every classic color too!

 Take in the rest of winter while it is here. Spring is on its way and it’s coming fast!

Meet Michelle:

 Winter in Montana is extremely long. Temperatures drop, days are shorter and even stepping outside can be rough. Dealing with the elements can easily put you in a style slump, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to get me through winter in style.

Turtlenecks have been my jam lately. They’re super cute, extremely on-trend and the neck is like a built-in scarf, which is ideal for dashing across campus in the elements. This cream turtleneck sweater is from Bohme and it’s one of my favorite pieces at the moment because it’s incredibly cozy but at the same time, effortlessly stylish.

Underneath my turtlenecks, or just tops in general, it is essential for me to wear a wool undershirt throughout this time of year. Whether it’s a long-sleeve or a cami, wool undershirts are one of my must-haves for surviving winter. They aren’t bulky so they don’t take away from your look, but will add a layer of coziness to any outfit that will help get you through your day comfortably.

To finish off this look, I’m wearing a pair of distressed Flying Monkey jeans from Bohme, a sparkly pendant necklace from Bohme and a pair of taupe heeled booties from Forever21. Underneath my booties you can be sure I’m sporting a pair of wool socks, which are another winter essential for me. My feet get freezing cold very easily and honestly, thin ankle socks just never do the trick.

Thanks Trendsetters at the U! 

Check them out: 




Valentine’s Day: BRNTLY Strategies

Welcome back to campus students! We hope that the first few weeks of classes have treated you well. Now I’ll cut to the chase: Valentine’s Day. For some it’s “Singles Awareness Day,” while for others it’s a fun day to appreciate your loved ones. Single or taken, we have a few tips for you!


by Emily Etchart

Yo, yo, yo my name is Emily and I am in a new relationship. I’m typically the one jamming to “Single Ladies” by Beyonce every Valentine’s Day, but this time I happen to be in a relationship. I’m not sure if I feel entirely fit to write a couples strategy post.  However, I must confess that I am one of the cheesiest people you will ever meet, so I’ll try to come up with some original suggestions.


Ditch the cliches

Random Facts claims that the shelf life of a box ofValentine conversation hearts is about five years.  (Yikes.) That being said, ditch the cliché candy and flowers and get your significant other their favorite candy, or a dessert at a restaurant they may not go to very often.


If you’re low on cash

Valentine’s Day can cost a pretty penny. One way to alleviate the extra cost as a college student is to create a date in a box. These suggestions are attributed to my trusty roommate Alex, who made a date in the box for her boyfriend recently.

  1. Buy a popcorn bucket (Bed Bath and Beyond)
  2. Buy a cozy blanket
  3. Fill the popcorn bucket with popcorn, candy and your significant other’s favorite movie.


It’s just another day

Above all, it’s just another day, I tried to stray from being cheesy but I can’t resist. Try to make other days fun, too. (There’s my piece of cheesy advice!)



by Chris Jambor

Hello Everyone.  My name is Chris and I am single.  (Helloooooo, Chris)  Being a veteran restaurant worker and a person who is neurotic about how bathroom towels get folded, I’ve become a bit of an expert at spending Valentine’s Day at the singles table. I’m comfortable with it and we can move on. As yet another Valentine’s Day approaches, I figured I would throw out a few pieces of advice for those who also find themselves facing this situation. I won’t give away all of my secrets, but if you are looking for a fun way to spend a weekend, any of these will help.

I also think it’s good to remember that Valentine’s Day is a crazy-making holiday and it’s OK to let that crazy run its course. For instance, according to, more than 9 million people will send Valentine’s gifts to their pets over the holiday. Another interesting fact, penicillin was unveiled to the world on February 14, 1929.

But, I digress…on to the advice!

Single Friends Movie Date


Photo credit:

Hit up The Roxy Theater with all your single friends this weekend because there won’t be a romantic comedy in sight! Instead, feast your eyes on Office Space (WARNING: a love connection does develop in this film…but so do pieces of flair), a FREE screening of The Big Lebowski or Boyz n the Hood. This is also a fantastic time to catch up on all of the Oscar nominated films you had no idea you wanted to see. The Roxy is, after all, the de facto source for all things cinema.

Single and Still Kicking!!!


photo credit:  Google

No one says you have to go down without a fight! How about hitting up a kickboxing class to show singledom who’s boss?  Title Boxing Club offers a first class for free, and the Fitness and Recreation Center on campus has a wide variety of classes that will get your mind off of any kind of loneliness and on to kicking butt.

Single and Not Having It


photo credit:  Google

It’s entirely possible that some of you may be planning to use the holiday to turn up the heat on your search for that “special someone” (gross). As a hopelessly single person myself, while I don’t understand you people, I fully support your drive to destroy I mean, enrich your life by getting into a relationship. So my advice to you is to GET OUT THERE!  A three-day weekend that coincides with Valentine’s Day seems like a good a time as any to dust off your one-liners and try to meet someone. Remember, though, that quality should ALWAYS override quantity and that if you shoot for the moon, at least you’ll end up in the stars…or whatever it is that people say.

GOOD LUCK!  I’ll be at the movies….


photo credit:  a galaxy far, far away

How to Shake off Finals Week in Missoula

Hello from the other side (cue Adele) of finals! Congratulations, you made it! There’s nothing like the feeling of relief that comes after turning in your last exam or paper. Here are a few suggestions for shaking off the semester before you head home for winter break.

Get crafty

The Lifelong Learning Center will host a do-it-yourself upcycled ornaments class at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18. Instructors will show you how to make ornaments out of everyday household items, including old magazines, posters, bags, paper clips, etc. Feel free to make a few last-minute holiday presents and reuse items in an unexpected way.


Catch up on reading

At last: no more textbook reading! Every semester I find myself steering away from reading for leisure and putting it off until “I have more time.” Fact and Fiction, The Book Exchange and the Starving Artist Cafe all have cheap options for finding great pleasure books. The Little Free Library also has six locations across Missoula where you can take a book and leave a book in exchange.


Get rhythm when you get the blues

Live music is something Missoula is never short on. Sometimes dancing is good for the soul. Check out the Missoula Events page for more information on live music in town.

Insider Tip: Sunday night Jazz at Imagine Nation Brewing will help you shake out any finals week tension.

Holiday festivities

Along with the ornament decorating, there are all sorts of events happening to get you in the holiday spirit. The Sound of Music, the Nutcracker and Hayride Christmas Caroling are a few that come to mind.


Dare I say it? Netflix and chill

It’s now time to binge watch the Netflix show you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Eat as much Holiday goodies as possible, but also try to get outside while you can. Jump in the hot springs if you’re staying in the Missoula area. If you’re headed home for the winter break, take a little bit of time to do your favorite winter activities — whether it’s sledding, skiing or ice skating. It’s important to take time to do the things that you wish you had the opportunity to do during the semester.

Happy Holidays!


Best Places to Study for Finals

Fellow students!  The time is upon us!  We now enter what is somewhat forebodingly known as “dead week” (I believe this moniker comes from a time when there wasn’t much going on or due the week before finals…a time this student currently yearns for) and, like it or not, it’s time to show your classes what you’re made of. For some reason, time seems to move faster at the end of the semester, making the task of preparing for those dreaded finals even more stressful.  I think we can all agree that what we need right now is a place to go to feel BOSS and get our studying done.  I know of such a place.  In fact, places.  Here is a list of a few of the best spots to go for inspiration, quiet, caffeine, connection … or whatever combination you need to take your studying from ordinary to extraordinary.


City Brew

While any coffee shop is a standard spot for studying, City Brew locations seem to have a knack for providing comfortable study areas and plenty of electrical outlets without being overwhelmingly, and distractingly, busy.  There are several locations to choose from, but one anonymous source says the Brooks Street location is the best.


Zootown Brew

This newly redesigned coffee shop, located on Broadway across from the FedEx store, has fantastic atmosphere and tons of room for studying.  While the upstairs area provides a more traditional coffee shop vibe, downstairs offers a more serious environment that is perfect for studying in groups OR zoning out and studying alone.  Plus the staff is friendly and helpful.


Payne Family Native American Center

Staying on campus during cold weather is definitely convenient, so head over to the PFNAC and grab a spot on the second floor.  The huge windows will give you plenty to look at for inspiration, and the architecture has a way of helping you think outside the box.  There is also a great student lounge with vending machines and couches that are great for a more relaxed study session.


Mansfield Library

This might seem like a no brainer, but as a student who spends almost NO time in the library during the semester, I find the more traditional, old school feel of the library helps to shake up my study habits.  With five floors to choose from, there is no shortage of places to dig in and get a lot of work done.


UC Tech Lounge & Third Floor

The first floor of the UC may be a bit too distracting for many people, so I highly recommend heading up to the Tech Lounge on the second floor or anywhere on the third floor.  There are plenty of couches and empty conference rooms that provide solitude throughout the day.  Make sure to check the posted schedules to see what rooms are reserved before claiming one.


Empty Classrooms

At any given moment, no matter what building you may be in, there are probably a number of empty classrooms available to study in.  While this might be a strange suggestion to some, I recommend studying for tests in classrooms because it simulates the test-taking experience and may even help reduce test anxiety.  Lucky socks don’t hurt either.


Davidson Honors College

No matter what your program of study, and whether or not you are a member of the DHC, its study area is … how do I say this best … the BOMB.  Be aware, however, that it’s just as easy to take a cozy nap in the study area as it is to read 150 pages of a textbook.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!


…and for those all-nighters…

Sometimes you just can’t avoid a long – scratch that – VERY long night of studying.  It’s not a great way to get ready for a test, but if it absolutely can’t be avoided, it’s best to do it right and head to a 24-hour diner that will keep the coffee and food coming as long as it takes.  Denny’s and Perkins are two popular choices.

This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive.  Did I miss any of YOUR favorites?  Leave a comment below!

5 Things to be Thankful for Between Now and Finals Week

The feast has been eaten, you’ve slept 12 hours a night and your homework has been … avoided.  Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the ENORMOUS amount of work that still needs to be done before Finals Week.  With only two weeks left in the semester before it’s time to face finals, here are five things to turn to for inspiration when the going gets tough.


Photo courtesy of UM

Snow White and the Bitter Cold

Wait?  Be thankful for the COLD?  YES, I say!  Remember how difficult it was to go inside and do homework when the summer sun beckoned or autumn sunsets called your name?  Now that the average temperature will hover somewhere around -72 degrees (give or take) for awhile, you no longer have pristine outdoor distractions pulling you away from your studies.  It might take some effort to be thankful for this, but try to remember how easy it is to make time to study today when May rolls around!


Photo courtesy of UM

Where’s all the snow?!

For many, winter sports are an unbeatable part of life in Montana. Sledding, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing … the list goes on and on.  With so many recreational temptations, how can one possibly stay focused on the task-at-hand of dominating our final projects and exams?  Mother Nature is looking out for all the winter sports loving academics, however, by holding off a while longer before showering us in the snow  we’ve been dreaming of.  So every morning when you wake up and have to choose between a day on the slopes or a day in the library, be thankful that there isn’t quite enough snow yet to tear you away from the books.


Photo courtesy of Bernice’s Bakery

The Cheat Month

Wintertime’s cold makes it the perfect time to take advantage of the onslaught of holiday treats to get some welcome relief from school-related stress.  I’m not recommending everyone go overboard in eating their feelings, but gathering some friends and making a special trip to Caffe Dolce, Break Espresso, Bernice’s Bakery or the newly opened Krispy Kreme donut shop for coffee and sweets can make for a fantastic diversion anyone can be thankful for.


Photo courtesy of The Missoulian

Stress Less!

DO NOT forget to stop by the UC during the final stretch leading up to Finals.  Curry Health brings in dogs to pet, bubbles to blow, tea, masseurs and who know what else to help us make it through the intense weeks leading up to the end of the semester.  Don’t miss out on your chance to relax.  You owe it to yourself!


Photo courtesy of UM

The Missoula Community

One of the best things about living in a college town is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows and is sympathetic to the plight of the college student approaching finals week.  Take a moment to look around you at the outpouring of support from your fellow students and community members.  It’s especially evident when you happen to mention that you’re “getting ready for finals,” and pair it with a hopeful grin.  You’ll see exactly how much your fellow human wants you to succeed.

The best thing to be thankful for is that the end is near.  You’ve almost made it through another semester and are that much closer to finishing your degree.  Each day, each test and each stressor that passes by gets you one step closer to the completion of this major undertaking.  Don’t EVER forget to be thankful for the progress you’ve made!

Top 5 Little-Known Brawl of the Wild Facts

Tis the season of Griz-Cat or the Cat-Griz, as some people might say.  The Missoulian reported that the rivalry is the oldest NCAA FCS subdivision rivalry west of the Mississippi. UM leads the rivalry in consecutive wins, 71-37. Here are the top five facts about the “Montana Superbowl” that you probably didn’t know:


#5. The Legendary Trophy

The Great Divide Trophy was created in 2001 and stays with the game winner each year. The trophy will stay with whoever wins the most games forever at the end of the 21st Century.


Photo source: The Missoulian

#4. Butte hosted the rivarly

Twenty-one Brawl of the Wild games were actually played in Butte, Montana from 1926 to 1950. No games were played during World War II between 1942 and 1945.


Photo source: Archives & Special Collections — Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, 1937

#3.The number of places to watch the game

Outside of Montana there are more than 80 venues that host Griz-Cat parties for watching the game (nationwide.) The Virgin Islands even has two noted locations to cheer on the Griz.


#2. The Streak

The Grizzlies won 16 consecutive times from 1986-2001. This became known as “The Streak.”


Photo source: Archives & Special Collections — Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, 1995

#1. Aggies vs. the Bears

The first rivalry game between the University of Montana Grizzlies and the Montana State University Bobcats dates back to 1897 when the competing teams were called the State Agricultural College Aggies versus the University of Montana Bears. The Grizzlies didn’t become the official name for UM’s football team until 1912.


Go Griz!

Sources: The Missoulian, Billings Gazette, Griz Alum, Mansfield Libary

5 Ways to Make Mondays Rock

Monday. For some there may be a negative connotation attached to the first day of the week, while for others it may be seen as a chance to start fresh.  According to the Daily Mail, Monday is actually the most common day to begin a healthy lifestyle. Here are five ways to make the most of your Monday along with a few facts you probably didn’t know:


1.Prepare Yourself

Waking up can seem like a painful experience, so turn it into a rejuvenating routine. A great way to feel prepared for the week is to get as much ready the night before. Shower ahead on Sunday night and start your homework Sunday afternoon. Doing meal prep Sunday evening will save you the effort of making lunch Monday morning, or from having to buy a lunch out. Write down everything you have to do for the day and organize.

Insider Tip: Apps like Things and RescueTime help you prioritize and also send out reminders to help your mind feel less cluttered.

2. Midday Exhaustion Refuel

Midway through Monday you may hit a wall of exhaustion and need a little pick-me-up. Fuel can make the difference for finishing your day strong.

The Missoula Independent offers specials including deals such as 50 percent off at Trapper Coffee and 40 percent off at Taco Sano! In between classes take some time to enjoy lunch somewhere new or catch up with an old friend.

3. Try Something New

Since Monday is a great day to begin a new lifestyle, try a new fitness class at the Recreation Center or maybe a hike you’ve wanted to try.

Insider Tip: The hike to the top of Mount Sentinel is close to campus and has a beautiful view. Plus, exercise is a known way to get your endorphins pumping!


4.Class is Over … Treat Yo’ Self!

Sushi Hana has dollar sushi nights on Mondays and Lucky Strike Bowling Alley has dollar bowling. If you need to shake off your day to some music, the Badlander hosts Blues Monday at 9 p.m. weekly.

5.Look on the Bright Side.

Did you know that Monday is the best day to buy a car and the least rainy day of the week? On Monday there will be an estimate of 360,000 babies born, an average of 40 smiles will light up each person’s face, and 15 to 20 twenty laughs will be had.

5 Tips to Take the Ache out of Parking Your Car on Campus

It’s a common pain in the neck that many of us know all too well. For someone like me who always seems to be running late, I feel anxious when I arrive on campus and the fight for a parking spot feels similar to snagging the last TV at Target during Black Friday. Here are five tips to make your commute to campus a little bit easier.


First come, first served

The best parking spots are snatched before 9 a.m., so save yourself the stress and arrive early! It may seem a little daunting to those of us who aren’t morning people, but it will give you more time to prep before you first class of the day, to catch up on homework or go the gym. But if for some reason life gets the best of you, the parking along Campus Drive – the stretch near the Grizzly Gateway arch – might be your best bet. It may seem far at the time, but it will most likely take just as much time circling the other parking lots.

Avoid hourly parking

Avoid hourly parking spots even if you only have one class. Chances are, by the time you park and walk to and from your car, you may be a little over an hour. Save yourself the $50 ticket and park elsewhere! The same goes for the Quick Stop parking: Don’t test the waters— you will most likely get caught.


Hop on the bus, Gus

The Associated Students of UM UDASH bus has four scheduled routes for students and that run about every 20 minutes 7 a.m.-midnight Monday through Wednesday and, conveniently, 7-2:27 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Additionally, Missoula’s local bus system the Mountain Line is free and runs until 9:50 p.m. on some routes and even has a mobile app.


Happy trails to you

Walking, long boarding or biking throughout the streets of Missoula is convenient and good for the environment. The Milwaukee Trail stretches from Russell Street to the Kim Williams Trail along the Clark Fork River. You will share this popular route with dog walkers, runners, aerialists and all sorts of commuters.

Insider Tip: If you have the time, take a second to admire some of the random street art along the way.

Speaking of biking…

The ASUM Office of Transportation has a bike rental program where students can present their Griz Card to the Mansfield Library staff during its regular office hours and rent a bike for up to two days, for FREE. There is also a semester bike rental option offered between $40 and $60. If you’re wanting your own bike but just don’t have the cash to find one, UM students can even take out an interest-free bike loan for up to $1,000.

Stress Busters: UM Edition

Autumn has arrived. The colors of nature are shifting from summer greens to autumn’s yellowish hues. The sun sets a little earlier every day, making the nights last longer.  While the calendar year is nearing its end, the academic year has just begun. Students are hitting their stride and move forward with more efficiency and productivity as each week passes. Each week, however, brings with it more work, additional deadlines and more stress. It is important that students know how to manage these day-to-day stresses that can often define much of the college experience. Luckily, there are so many simple and easy ways to tame stress. Read on to find some inspiration on how to rejuvenate, Missoula style.


Brunch It On!

Humans are social animals and taking time to foster close friendships is a fantastic way to reduce stress. While any effort to tone down the stress can be made social, gathering around a table to share a meal and some conversation is a fundamentally human way to relax and connect with friends. Starting the day off with a meal and a side of conversation, and laughter will do wonders for your mood, your stress levels and your friendships. If you want to maximize the experience, make an event of it and have brunch. Brunch is that special meal with no clearly defined start or end time … it just happens when it happens.

Missoula Tip: When it comes to brunch, Missoula is a city full to the brim with possibilities. One can head to the downtown hip strip, hit up locations up and down Brooks or make a trip to Reserve Street and choose among a wide variety of delicious spots that serve everything from heaping portions of chicken and waffles to delicate plates of lox and toast. A few of the many options are Paul’s Pancake Parlor, Catalyst Cafe, Sean Kelly’s Stone of Accord, The Shack, The Hob Nob, Tamarack Brewing, Caffe Dolce … you get the idea.


Get Moving

Surprise! Exercise made a list of things that are good for you! We hear this advice repeatedly, but it’s very easy to ignore in favor of squeezing in another hour of studying. It’s important to push the urge to skip it aside and make exercise as important, if not more, than any assignment. Sitting for hours is bad enough for the mood, but couple that with study session anxiety and the situation can become really unpleasant. Quite frankly, college is temporary, but your health and well-being are with you always.

Missoula Tip: UM tuition includes free access to the Fitness and Recreation Center on campus, so that is a convenient place to start. Winter is coming, however, so sometimes you have to be creative to fit exercise into your daily schedule. Having a few different exercise options planned and at the ready will make it easier to keep the habit going. A 20-minute walk or run is great, but if it’s raining or snowing, it is a great idea to have a 20-minute home workout prepped. Push-ups, jumping jacks and burpees require very little space and can even be done in a dorm room!


Earn a Z+

While we all obsess over the letters A, B, C, D and F the far more important letter to obsess over is Z. Getting your Zzz’s is a huge factor in performing well in all parts of life. Unfortunately, there seems to be a sort of badge of honor associated with pulling an all-nighter. Sleep deprivation, however, is one of the absolute worst things one can do when it comes to stress reduction. No matter how much work you have to do, trying to function on three or four hours of sleep is not healthy.

Missoula Tip: Take advantage of the longer nights by giving yourself an extra hour or two of sleep whenever possible. The best advice is to stick to a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep a night, but if you can’t make that happen, sleep in on Saturday or Sunday morning and refill your battery.


Just Breathe

Let’s say you’ve read through this entire post with totally incredulity because you can’t imagine taking any time away from your 21 credit class load to eat, drink OR be merry. That’s understandable, but you still need to take a minute or two every few hours and relax. Luckily, you have a de-stress mechanism built right in … your breath! If you really think about it, the common theme behind any effort to de-stress is stepping away from your stressor to breathe. So if you absolutely cannot make time for anything else, stop and take a few deep breaths. You’ll feel it working more and more with each inhale.

Missoula Tip: With the exception of some smoky weeks during the summer, Missoula is a prime location for taking a deep breath of truly fresh air. The sights and sounds of the surrounding nature only add to the soothing effects of a deep breath. No matter what the season, stop for a moment, take in the gorgeous view of nature and just breathe.

A Great Week to be a Grizzly: Homecoming 2015

Homecoming Week at UM feels like a holiday. Saturday, Sept. 26 showcases the Homecoming football game versus Northern Arizona! But Homecoming is about so much more than football. Many alumni travel from across the country to celebrate being a part of UM. Even Oscar winner and UM alum J.K. Simmons has made an appearance or two during Homecoming week. Be sure to check out the other events and a brief history of Homecoming at the bottom of this post.


The Hello Walk

Take the opportunity to leave your mark by painting “hello” on the sidewalk outside of Turner Hall in any language you choose! By the end of the day, the cheerful sidewalk says “hello” in hundreds of languages. Feel free to get creative! The painting party commences at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. The Alumni Association provides painting supplies. In line with this long-standing tradition, be sure to greet anyone you pass on this stretch of sidewalk with one of the greetings written below your feet!

Homecoming Art Festival

The UC Art Fair Festival has provided the Missoula community with local art since 1970! A juried committee based on quality, craft level and uniqueness accepts the vendors. Some of the products include woodwork, home decor, sculpture, photography, jewelry, pottery and more. There will be live music complementing the art festival. The Homecoming Art Festival begins at 9 a.m. Thursday and Friday Sept. 24-25, in the UC Atrium and runs until 6 p.m.

Insider Tip: If you have the chance, try to browse during the mid­morning or afternoon. It’s less crowded than during the lunchtime hours and you can chat with some of the artists!

Yell Night Pep Rally

Gather around the Oval with the Montana Grizzlies football team, Spirit Squad, marching band and – last but not least – Monte for the pep rally at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. There will be a bonfire, fireworks and the lighting of the M.


The Homecoming Parade

Griz morning! Gather along Higgins and University avenues at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26 for the Homecoming parade! The entire Missoula community comes together for the parade to celebrate UM! Former alumni band members team up with the marching band to commemorate their alma mater. Many UM student groups have a float and so do members of the Missoula community.

Insider Tip: Try to find a place early, you’ll have a better view and better access for catching candy and other swag.

For more information on other Homecoming events:

A Brief History of Homecoming


Homecoming Week is a great time to reminisce since the entire tradition is based on connecting past and present. As UM begins its week of celebration, the BRNTLY blog decided to dig a little deeper to find out more about homecoming traditions and a little history of Homecoming at UM.

The Origin

The beginning of the Homecoming Celebration as we now know it often is credited to another UM –the University of Missouri – in 1911. According to an article published by the University of Missouri’s MIZZOU magazine, then Director of Athletics Chester Brewer had the idea to invite alumni to “come home” for a football game against rival University of Kansas and reconnect with past friends and current students. More than 9,000 people returned for the occasion and the Homecoming tradition was born, spreading across the country and evolving into the weeklong extravaganzas we are familiar with today. Missouri has a few challengers to the title of Homecoming originator.  According to, both Baylor University and the University of Illinois claim to have had Homecoming celebrations in 1910, a year earlier than University of Missouri, while Harvard and Yale have one of the longest-running, annual football match-­ups, starting all the way back in 1875. Regardless of where it started, the tradition of returning to an alma mater and enjoying the thrill of an annual sports match has lived on for more than a century.

Shine On


University of Montana has its own unique Homecoming tradition. During a week of festivities that include a football game, a parade, a pep rally and more, UM students hike up Mount Sentinel to light up to the M as a symbolic beacon to call the alumni home. The M is a point of pride for UM and has been through several incarnations throughout the years. The first M was a pile of rocks measuring 25 feet by 25 feet. Today, the concrete M measures 125 feet by 100 feet and is a must-see attraction in Missoula.

Let’s Have a Parade!


A search through the digital archives at the Mansfield Library produced the above image of a Homecoming Float headed to the parade in the 1950s. Even though the photo is slightly degraded, it is clear from the detail of the float that Homecoming has been serious business at UM for more than half a century. This year’s parade, themed “A Tradition of Champions,” commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Grizzlies 1995 National Championship win.

Come Together

Homecoming Week at UM is, at its core, about coming together to celebrate the University experience. While it may be centered around a sporting event, there is no doubt that whatever your interests, Homecoming Week at UM is not to be missed.

10 Ways to Get to Know Your Roommate

Whether you’re a freshman adjusting to dorm life or moving into a house with a roommate you found on Craigslist, moving in with a stranger can be a little bit awkward. Here are ten of the best ways to alleviate the weirdness with your newfound “roomie” and help break the ice while also exploring Missoula.

1. Grab a bite to eat.

Both of you will be eating many meals at the Food Zoo so get out of the room and try out your new dining hall! The omelet bar on Saturdays and Sundays will become your new best friend. Try the Galloping Grizzly food truck which parks at various locations across campus and street food for less than $5.

Insider Tip: Chicken strip night in the Food Zoo is very popular and delicious – don’t miss it!

2. Set some boundaries.

Spare yourself a future argument and learn each other’s biggest gripes. Are you a Type A person that is going to be bothered by a Type B person’s dirty dishes? Have a chat so you know what to expect of one another.

Insider Tip: Be considerate, but make sure you are honest.


3. When in doubt, ice cream it out.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Luckily, just a short walk away from campus on Missoula’s Hip Strip, Big Dipper Ice Cream. The lines tend to be longer during the first few weeks of the semester, so you two will have plenty of bonding time.

Insider Tip: Every flavor is amazing, however the Brntly crew thinks that Huckleberry and Lemon Custard are the best.


4. Stand in the center of the Oval and…

…Clap your hands! It’s a freshman right of passage to stand in the center of the Oval on the ‘Lux Et Veritas’ crest and clap. Be sure to listen for what happens next. This is a good way to be silly and alleviate the awkwardness.

5. Hike the M

Hiking the M is another respected tradition among many Grizzly students. The great thing about the M is that it’s literally right out the back door, making it accessible to you any time of day or night! If you’re feeling ambitious you can hike all the way to the top of Mount Sentinel. There is a cool spot along the way with a cave.

Insider Tip: Hiking the L is another great option too, plus it’s typically less crowded.

6.Do your laundry together

Whether you live on campus or in an apartment facility, doing laundry in any place but your home can feel like a daunting task. Grab your hamper and head to the laundromat! If you don’t live on campus Sparkle Laundromat is facility that offers concessions. They sell pizza and hot dogs! Green Hanger is another cool option that offers a $1-per-pound laundry drop-off, where Green Hanger will do your laundry for you while you explore more of downtown Missoula. Green Hanger offers free laundry soap, Wi-Fi and coffee too!


7. Farmers Market festivities

The Saturday Farmers Market and corresponding People’s Market and Clark Fork Market run from the end of April to early October in Missoula from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Trust us, it is NOT to be missed. The Farmers Market, located just east of the XXXX’s on Higgins, includes local vendors with seasonal fruits and veggies. A few blocks south, the People’s Market offers one-of-a-kind hand-crafter goods and art. The Clark Fork Market under the Higgins Avenue bridge showcases a little bit of everything. Usually a few street performances can be spotted, too, and add a little bit of culture.

Insider Tip: Some of the vendors lower their prices around noon. If you ask, you might be able to score four cucumbers for $1 instead of the advertised $3.

8. Challenge your competitive spirit

The Game Room behind Pizza Hut in the UC has an arcade where you can play pool or table tennis for $4/hour with a Griz Card. You could really bond by entering a tournament together. The UC also has the Student Involvement Network, which offers volunteering activities, leadership workshops and other ways to get involved on campus.

Insider Tip: The Game Room is free during Family Weekend October 23-25.



9. Tour de Facebook

Sometimes when prompted with the classic question, “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” it may be a little difficult to formulate exactly how to respond. Grab a coffee at one of the coffee shops on campus and sit down with your roommate and a laptop and take a social media tour. . Show each other your hometown friends, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, family members and most epic vacation photos. You may discover you have a mutual friend!

10. Work it out

Maybe you’re both curious to try out a Zumba or AbLab class or just need a way to blow off steam. Try a fitness class at the Campus Fitness and Recreation Center or a jog on the Kim Williams Trail. Another good option is to explore the trips the Outdoor Program offers and to sign up for one together.