The first time I heard about the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) was from my boyfriend. He was inspired by the fact that I could try to take one course there, related to oceanography. Interesting how things go in life, because my boyfriend found out about this university just because his flight from Oslo to St. Petersburg was canceled, and then he met a man in the airport who used to work at UNIS.

I realized that for me it was vitally necessary to take a course at this great university center, so I asked for help in the international department of my home university, Russian State Hydrometeorological University. Can you imagine how I felt when it turned out that because of the recent unification of my university with the State Polar Academy, students of our university had the opportunity to apply for a north2north student exchange grant? My joy knew no bounds! All my closest people and professors supported me, and at the earliest opportunity I applied for a scholarship and I waited for an answer. My candidature for the grant was approved and I was enrolled in a course AGF-311 “Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Ocean Interactions 2” at UNIS. How happy I was to hear the news! This was followed by the pleasant moments of preparation for the course - the purchase of tickets, registration of the visa, booking a place in a student accommodation, as well as preparation for the course itself and reading the recommended literature.

Alena Timoshina 2

From the first day I liked the atmosphere of kindness and trust at the UNIS. The guys from the course quickly became my friends. Every day was intense and useful for personal and professional development. We were working hard; we were discussing a lot about significant topics. Also we were learning new things, we were sharing our experiences among each other and we laughed a lot. For all the other students and our supervisor Lars Henrik Smedsrud I want to express my gratitude for the fact that the training time was pleasant and very helpful. It’s nice when you can feel yourself a part of a team in which people are just like you: they want to use the possibility given by the course to learn as many new things as possible, as well as make new friends.

Within the course we attended a series of lectures by leading scientists from different countries, visited the three-day oceanographic expedition to the fjords, established by ourselves a few portable weather stations, adapted coupled numerical model for the calculation of ice growth in the Arctic to the conditions of the fjords, as well as carried out "thousands" of experiments for ice growth in a laboratory. Our free time we spent as actively as the learning process itself. We did several hikes to glaciers, visited ice caves, and we trekked through the mountains. Furthermore, almost every day we were observing the sky full of miracles such as northern lights and millions of stars. It is worth to confess that during this course even my personal life had pleasant changes. My boyfriend came to visit me during the course and asked me to marry him under the starry Arctic sky of Svalbard...

Human knowledge can be compared to a diamond which we polish throughout our lives in order to eventually get the perfect brilliant. As you understand, the experience I have gained during the course is priceless. I am happy that I had enough determination to believe in myself and to apply for the course “Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Ocean Interactions 2”, which really changed my life. It is important to note that my participation became possible only because of the remarkable north2north program that makes students' dreams into reality. Special thanks I would like to express to UArctic employees, carrying out the project coordination. What they do is great. I am sure that thousands of students, who have received training with the support of north2north, will agree with me.

To those who are currently not sure if it is worthwhile try to take a course in another country or not, I strongly advise you to try! Be sure - you will enjoy it. I believe that this experience will enhance your professional competencies, will bring into your life number of bright moments. Definitely, you will find new friends. And maybe you will get engaged too.