Hej hej from Longyearbyen!
Letter from ... Spitsbergen: Janna Einöder reports on the breathtaking natural landscape at the northernmost tip of Norway and a very special kind of training.
Sep 15, 2015
Hej hej! I’ve been staying in my room at Brakke 13 for a month and a half now, but I still haven’t fully settled in; life here seems too unreal. After a preparatory period that was much too short and chaotic, the first few days and weeks were simply overwhelming. It wasn’t just the people and places that were new, but also sounds and smells, the air – everything is different here.
Take the first day at the university, for example: Instead of listening to introductory lectures, we had to complete a safety training course with shooting practice and everything associated with it! There is a high risk of polar bear encounters outside the city, so we have to carry a weapon along every time we move around outdoors. Besides that, it was still light out 24 hours a day at the start, because the town is so close to the Arctic Circle, so sleep was impossible then.
But probably the most unreal thing, to me, is the natural landscape: barren mountains, massive glaciers and vegetation that – and this is super interesting to biology students – is extremely well adapted to its climate. There are no tall trees or shrubs at all, for example, but if you look closely, you notice that there are plants that are like trees, but are small and grow low to the ground, where they are protected from the wind and weather. Up here, every single life form has a specific strategy to survive – it’s simply breathtaking!
Living with my fellow students and the locals is going very well. Everyone is very open-minded, social, and sincere, and help is on hand right away for any problem. We even have a great relationship with the professors, because they, too, help wherever they can, and they seem more like friends than teachers. Our biology class, which consists of 13 people, is almost like a little family by now as a result, since we have experienced so much together – and in just a short time, too! More on that in my next report.
In our campus.leben series "Letters from ..." six students, two doctoral candidates, and an apprentice are reporting on their experiences abroad. Here we introduced the nine travelers.