I started my Arctic journey in 2010 when I got a chance to study abroad through the north2north mobility program. I had chosen Tromsø because I wanted to see the northern lights, beautiful fjords and have the unique experience of being a student in the biggest city in Arctic Norway. The same year, I also started the Bachelor’s program in Northern Studies – online courses provided by Finnmark University College in Alta (now part of UiT). Professors from Alta visited Yakutsk earlier that summer to hold a summer school at the Institute of Finance and Economics. They told us about an opportunity to study a Bachelor program online for free. I and few other students decided to sign up. It was a pretty challenging and interesting time – taking 60 credits per semester – three courses at the university and three online courses. I am glad that I managed to do it! Thus, at the end of my studies at the North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU), I got two degrees, one in Economics and one in Northern Studies. I think it was a good combination – you get a deeper knowledge of the place where you live.

Varvara Alekseeva 2

Exchange semester opened a new world for me – the world of the Arctic region. There was such a big difference in the quality of life between Arctic Norway and Arctic Russia, despite some similarities in climate. It made me start working on a paper about the standard of living in the Arctic, and so I wrote a research paper based on my own experiences in Tromsø and Yakutsk.

After graduation, I started my working life in Yakutsk. I worked at the International Office of NEFU where I also coordinated our collaboration within UArctic and international summer schools. Afterwards, I worked in tourism development in Yakutia. In addition, I got work experience at the Department of Investment Politics at the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

Tromsø is my second hometown. In 2016, after several working years, I decided to continue my education, and I entered a Master’s program in Business Creation and Entrepreneurship at UiT School of Business and Economics. We worked with many innovative projects and business cases; it was a great experience. I wrote my Master’s thesis about the commercialization of salmon blood. In summer 2018 I successfully graduated, and I’m again ready for the working life in the Arctic region.