When I moved to Copenhagen in September 2015, I did not know about the Arctic Semester, offered for the first time in spring 2016 by ARTEK, the Arctic Technology Centre at DTU. But one day I heard about this educational program taking place in Sisimiut, Greenland, from February to June and offering courses related to engineering in Arctic regions. It sounded like an incredible opportunity to satisfy my thirst for adventure, and I decided to apply.
And just like that, a few months later, began my journey to Sisimiut. With around 5,500 inhabitants, this town is situated 75 km north of the Arctic Circle. I am now halfway through the semester, and it has been a great experience so far. I have learned a lot about the Arctic regions, the challenges specific to building activities in these areas, environmental engineering in cold climates, the Greenlandic history and society… The hands-on approach of the courses allowed me to learn a lot about Sisimiut’s infrastructure as well. I got to meet people from various countries and backgrounds in my class, and as group work is an important part of our formation during the Arctic Semester, working together with them has been really enriching!
During my time in Sisimiut, not only did I get the opportunity to attend exciting classes – I also discovered a brand new way of life. Needless to say that life in the North is very different from the typical French lifestyle. In the past few weeks, I have enjoyed the northern lights, hiked and skied in the breathtaking nature surrounding Sisimiut, observed icebergs, and experienced dog-sledding. Moreover, in my attempt to make the most of my time up here I participated in the Arctic Circle Race, also known as world’s toughest cross-country ski race. Just two months after I skied for the first time, I covered a distance of 100 km in three days along with three of my adventurous classmates. It was one of the hardest, most intense, and yet fabulous experiences of my life. I will never forget how I struggled to climb up the steepest hills, but I will mostly remember the rewarding and spectacular landscapes I saw, and the feeling of accomplishment that overwhelmed me when I finally crossed the finish line together with my friend under the applause of Sisimiut’s inhabitants.
In a few words, I am more than glad that I had a chance to participate in the Arctic Semester and I would definitely recommend it to other students! I love Greenland, or as Greenlanders say: Kalaallit Nunaat nuan!
Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2016