The cold, the snow, the open spaces or the winter sports were not something new for me. When I decided to study for one semester in Rovaniemi, Finland, it was not to experience the north. In Quebec City, Canada, where I am from, the weather is sometimes colder, the amount of snow is way more higher, and some would even say that our ice hockey team is better, but I would not dare say such a thing. However, there is something different about Finland. The system of education is totally different than in Canada, and the Finnish culture was something that my background in anthropology wanted to experience. I could have spent my semester in Japan, United States or England, but I decided to go to Lapland… and that decision changed my life.
When I arrived in Rovaniemi for the first time I was 21 years old and doing my bachelor in anthropology. Spending one semester abroad was the best decision I could have made. I did not just meet people from different countries, open my mind to different cultures, participate in the local traditions and studies in one of the best education system in the world, but I also realised what I wanted to do as a master.
After studying in the Global Biopolitics programme, I understood that my real passion was not anthropology itself but international relations. That being said, my background in anthropology would always follow me, even in a master in international relations. Indeed, my semester in Lapland made me realise how important the Arctic was in a global context. From that moment on, I decided that I would focus my study on the impacts of the oil and mining industry on indigenous populations of the Arctic.
I left Rovaniemi on the 31st of May to return to my dear French province of Canada. The first thing I did was to contact Jaana Severidt, head of the international Office of the University of Lapland, to make sure that I could come back to Finland after my bachelor. After a year of discussions, the University of Lapland accepted me, once again, as a free-mover student, and I had the chance to study in the Arctic Studies programme for two semesters. I had been accepted, once more, to a university where professors and researchers were specializing in Arctic issues. Life was good, but it was only the beginning. I also had the incredible chance to be part of an important project. The UArctic International Secretariat hired me as an intern to develop a plan for Student Ambassadors. I had to be in contact with students from different Arctic states to make sure that the plan made sense for students in Russia as well as students from other Arctic states.
Thanks to my internship and to my studies, I was able to be in contact with professionals of the Arctic. Those contacts were and still are truly important on an academic and professional level. My studies allowed me to participate in an international conference about the Arctic issues and my internship gave me the opportunity to travel and to be a part of different important meetings about the Arctic. In the end, studying in Finland did not just clarify my master thesis; it clarified my plans for my future career. Lapland, through its nature, studies and the possible internships, is a place where you can see and experience things from another perspective.
I will never regret the decision I made when I decided to come to Rovaniemi.