Anna's initial motivation for going north2north exchange was to deepen her MSc studies and knowledge in cold region hydrology while also experiencing and learning a new culture and language. She had many accomplishments on multiple levels as a result of her placement:
"Primary accomplishment was to write my MSc thesis while studying abroad. Unexpected accomplishment was that my contributions were appreciated to the point that I was welcomed back to start a PhD at UAF and that my MSc research was published in a good peer-reviewed journal. Totally unexpected accomplishment was that I found my new home and husband of 15 and 10 years, respectively."
Anna says that the exchange had a huge effect on her in professionally but also personally - she is currently working as Research Associate Professor at WERC-UAF:
"My ticket to Alaska and UAF was truly a life changing experience for me. I became a US citizen in 2009 and have now a 7yr long career as a soft-money researcher where I write grants to do what I want to do. I love the combination of being surrounded by top-notch Arctic researchers 10 min drive from my home, while being able to enjoy the outdoors just outside our doorstep and lose cell phone reception less than a half hour drive from our home. It feels like a luxury to have my permafrost hydrology field site down the hill and my glacier studies viewed from my kitchen table. People fly hours otherwise just to get here for field work. I much value the ability to fill our freezers with local food that we harvested: one with wild berries, one with Copper River salmon and another with caribou."
Anna's advise for student is to be open for upcoming opportunities: "Your mind is the biggest obstacle. Decide on a path, vision or goal and go for it. Don't be afraid to fail in order to succeed. Also, be open to grab opportunities that you create along the way, while listening to your body."
She advises the educational and governmental leaders to understand the meaning of exchange experience: "A semester or summer of an educational experience can be a life changing experience for a student. Your time and effort making that possible is appreciated and may sometimes give you large returns in years ahead."