The programme in the Faroe Islands focuses on governance, climate change and sustainable management in the widest sense, with classes on the natural science of climate change and fisheries economics as well as public participation in governance. This may sound vague, but it will become clear once you take the courses!

Studying in the Faroe Islands is unique: the courses mentioned above are taught nowhere else for as far as I know; the landscape (baffling) and weather were unlike anything that I had experienced before (wind, rain, some sun, wind, rain, did I mention wind?). The people were very friendly and hospitable, and thanks to my landlady and a study colleague I was able to experience how welcoming Faroese people are; I was invited to lunches and dinners with the family of the landlady and colleague, and I was treated as if I was part of the group (I speak Norwegian which does help in making small talk). I was impressed with the tradition of chain-dancing and the incredible love for music and singing. Faroese people are proud of their culture, and it shows! And by the way, Faroese food is not for the faint-hearted! 

For the exchange I decided to return to the University of Akureyri and take courses in the Polar Law programme. The introduction course for West Nordic Studies was organised by and took place at the University of Akureyri. I liked the teachers, the atmosphere and the students studying polar law. On top of that I was intrigued about the law aspect, I had never studied it before (it always sounded daunting) but the manner in which it was taught those first two weeks made me curious and I wanted to know more. Add to that that the fantastic and affordable swimming pool (read: two 25 meter pools, relaxing hot pools, and a steambath for ca. €3 if you buy a 30x card! Needless to say I spend a lot of time there), a skiing area (I learned how to ski!), as well as beautiful surroundings; the decision was easily made (although the University of Greenland was a serious contender for a while).

Annelien Ramakers 2

Studying, and perhaps even more importantly, living abroad means that you will get to know yourself, you are the one who is responsible, you are making choices, you learn how other societies work, how people think and live, what is important in their lives. I think these lessons are important, because it should lead to different perspectives and make you come out of your own comfort zone, and look at your own culture, society and country from a new perspective. 

As of yet, I don’t know if these places have created new opportunities in terms of career, but it has certainly convinced me to become more involved in environmental causes and protection, and I hope I can continue on this track during the next step in my career. A friend of mine recently told me that you meet the people you need to meet in order to provide you with input, strength, and ideas that will help you find your way. Judging from the people I have met and the things I have learned these past two semesters, this has certainly been true for me during these studies.