By SILKE JAUCK
Moving to Missoula was an easy choice.
I first came here in fall of 1993 to set up my foreign study exchange year at the UM. My love for the mountains was satisfied each morning with a 360-degree mountain view. The people I met were very welcoming, interesting, family-oriented, and artsy. Everybody looked like they were either coming from a hike or headed for a trailhead. I knew I had found a gem and this was the place I wanted to call home.
During our 12 years of following our careers and foreign deployments, we managed to keep returning to Missoula over the years to visit our friends. Oftentimes, we hosted our Missoula friends in our homes in Europe. Finally, in 2007, we were ready to move back to Missoula with our three children.
Where in Missoula should we live? Deciding between different schools and neighborhoods was a process and priorities became clearer with time. Having schoolchildren, we knew living in walking and biking distance to their school would make our life so much easier and give our children more independence. We found the perfect house in Target Range, our now beloved rural neighborhood.
But there was the question how to make sure this house is really for us? I was still in Germany with our children and my husband was in Iraq. Thanks to our friends, with power of attorneys in their pockets, they inspected, approved, and signed for us. We managed to do the entire house purchase over the phone and internet via three continents. Our real estate agent, Pat McCormick, masterfully orchestrated the entire closing over several time zones.
From Germany, we contacted Target Range School to inform them about their new incoming students with very weak English skills, but fluent in German and Spanish. Luke Laslovich, the school principal, was always ready to answer questions. We found out about the English Language Acquisition Program, designed to help children like ours, which turned out to be of tremendous help.
Moving is difficult enough for children, international moves create additional hardships. How do you make new friends when your classmates don’t even speak German or Spanish? Betsy Williams and her English program were key to our children. Our daughters quickly settled in their new school and started sounding like little Americans in a few short months.
Neighbors we hadn’t met yet helped us to finish house projects and make our house livable. Since we were going to arrive in Missoula mid-winter, improvised sleeping and heating arrangements were simply not an option.
When we finally landed in Missoula four years ago, our friends welcomed us at the airport with big smiles, almost not believing that we had kept our promise to return for good. A home-cooked dinner was waiting for us and we knew we had come home to Missoula to settle down, raise our children, and grow roots.
Thank you, Missoulians, for letting us become part of your valley home.
Silke and family, who made it Missoula.
Silke Jauck is a German native and Missoulian by choice. She and her family have packed and unpacked their suitcases and moving boxes in four continents and have finally settled in Missoula and called it home. She lives with her husband, three daughters, and a dwarf rabbit in the Target Range neighborhood. Silke is the publisher of Friendship Book, the Made in Montana keepsake and activity book for children ages 6-12. She also has a blog about life hacks at www.silkegoodideas.com.