Most importantly, I got to get closer to my Finnish friend, who is now my girlfriend. That alone made it worthwhile. I also expanded my professional network greatly, and I now see Finland as a possible platform for my future career as an Arctic environmental engineer. More specifically, I have come to hope to somehow examine the impact of the mining industry on the Arctic environment. Upon my return to the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), which is my home institution, I approached my studies with renewed energy and determination, now having a clearer vision of where I want to go.
I have been to Finland thrice since the internship, and the country is still growing on me. I love the nature, with all the forests and lakes and the slices of actual wilderness, which is something that is virtually absent in my home country, Denmark. I enjoy the courage and mischievousness of Finnish art and music. Most of all, I feel at home in the wonderfully contradictory mixture of stern honesty and dark humor which I feel that the Finnish culture embodies. Finland feels like a place where I could develop both personally and professionally, and since my stay in Oulu, it has entered my realm of possible futures.
I am continuously in touch with my former colleagues from the UArctic Thematic Networks Office and the rest of the staff at the Thule Institute, and I have been involved in several projects through that channel since I finished my internship, one of which is ongoing as I am writing this. I have found kinship and inspiration in the UArctic organization and in the Arctic scientific community as a whole, and I feel like the internship was only the beginning of a greater adventure. I am still not sure exactly where it is going to take me, but I am almost certain that it is going to be somewhere cold and wild.
Read Mikkels other testimonials here and here.
[Originally published in 2015 Shared Voices magazine]