It’s not just studying. It’s an exchange. And that is the exchange of everything – of cultures, languages, opinions, food and sometimes socks.
When I got in to the program, I thought that I would study in the university in a program without any specialties and do fieldwork with quiet boring teachers, because I didn’t even check out the map. I couldn’t imagine that UNIS is based on such a miraculous place - the archipelago of the ice islands is full of reindeers and polar bears. People here are very friendly, and in the beginning you think that you’re in a hospital for troubled people because everyone is smiling and ready to help – in my home university, Tyumen State University, people try to not connect too much even when they have to.
The most exciting course to me was the safety course - every new student needs to have a safety course here to know how to act in different, difficult or even dangerous situations. It took three days, and it was very new to shoot with a rifle and swim in the fjord.
A small issue was the weather, because it was changing too fast, and the only one way to be calm and happy is to get used to it.
I took two bachelor courses at UNIS in autumn, which included fieldwork and lab work and also many lessons, presentations and course essays. The system was very different from my home system. We had only two subjects when at home I had twelve. During our studies we used a lot of scientific papers - that is also very different, because I usually learned a theory only from books, and I don’t remember even one time when we got a paper to read in my classes at home.
I like that students at UNIS are usually very interested in the subject which they take and it’s awesome to see this – the teachers are ready to tell us everything they know, and students can’t stop asking, again and again. All teachers are practicing scientists, and everything they teach us is “their job”. If you really want to know more details or you didn’t understand some specific information, the teacher will find at least three different ways to explain it to you.
After being up in Svalbard I can say that it changed my view of studying, and I can now see a lot of new possibilities for my future.