During his exchange semester in Alta, Matthew learned a lot about Norwegian practices. He also gained knowledge he could use later with his own business:
"Academically, I gained a better understanding of the practices implemented in the North of Norway. One thing from the regional economic development class really sticks out, and I think back on it a lot: an idea that it can make more financial sense for businesses in the same geographic region to cooperate rather than compete with each other. For example; rather than trying to attract the customer to your place of business, attract them to your region so everyone can benefit. We were presented with case studies that showed businesses who cooperated with each other to attract tourists and outside business to the region saw higher income from tourism and commerce than from those in communities where they were more competitive with each other. I have since applied this lesson directly to my own business here in Alaska and have already seen real benefits of the cooperation over competition model.
In Svalbard Matthew spent time with fieldwork, which had also an impact on his future: "The graduate level geology course was research based and had a lot of fieldwork associated with it. In addition to learning about the regional geology, I wanted to experience doing fieldwork in very remote places. I took this course during my last year as an undergraduate student, and it was a large reason why I decided to study geology in graduate school the following year. Being that far north also solidified my love for the arctic and the people who call it home."
Matthew is currently writing his dissertation for his PhD about natural hazards in the fjords of Alaska. He and his wife enjoy traveling and more often than not find ourselves exploring other arctic countries or parts of Alaska. His advice to students is to be prepared to fall in love with the Arctic. "There is truly no place like it on Earth."
He encourages educational and governmental leaders to share knowledge, resources, and experiences: "It is critical in the North. For this reason, investing in programs such as north2north should be considered a critical investment for all parties involved."