My exchange destination was the University of Saskatchewan. It is located in Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan in Canada. Saskatoon is the biggest city in the province, but the city feels small in the end. As a Prairie city, the center is small, the suburbs are large, and the city's outskirts are endless fields. The university campus is extensive, and (underground) tunnels connect the buildings to avoid the freezing cold weather in the winter. In the summer, cute little rodents called gophers build their own underground tunnel network system on the campus grounds and peek from their little holes when you walk by. I chose Canada as my exchange destination because I wanted to gain another hands-on perspective of the Arctic.

Nina Hokkala 2

I study International Relations and Political Science in Finland, and my studies focus on Arctic relations. That is why I chose to do my exchange on the other side of the Arctic.

The courses I took in Canada really added to my existing knowledge. Looking at the familiar themes from a Canadian perspective was valuable. For example, an indigenous professor taught my course on Indigenous justice, which enriched the learning experience because I was introduced to other ways of learning in a university than the western way of memorizing books. I also took a course on global indigenous governance.

Nina Hokkala 3

That course was also beneficial to take in a Canadian university with Canadian students and hear their thoughts and perspectives during classes.

Outside of the university, it was beneficial to see the similarities and differences between Finland and Canada. The weather, environment, cities, landscapes, people, and animals all have something in common in these countries but at the same time are worlds apart. It is a fantastic experience to feel at home, away from home. This feeling of belonging connects the Arctic. That feeling is what I went to look for and what exceeded my expectations. You cannot get that from reading books.