I applied and was accepted to go to Saskatoon in Canada for the spring semester of 2015. I had never heard of a place called Saskatoon before in my life, but my mind was set on going. And I must say that really was one of the best decisions of my life. I found my studies at the University of Saskatchewan quite demanding and time consuming, but on the other hand extremely rewarding. I took courses in Canadian and American politics, northern governance and economics of the environment, which together gave me a really good foundation in Arctic policies. I especially enjoyed the seminar-like course on northern governance where we had a small but diverse group of students from all over the northern world. This course really gave me new perspectives and insights to the challenges the North faces but also to the possibilities that it holds.
My free time in Saskatoon was more limited than I expected. Even so, I made some really great friendships during my exchange, mostly with other exchange students, but also with locals that I met in classes and through the international students’ organization Axis. We went on an unforgettable road trip to the Rocky Mountains, Edmonton and Calgary and also for a cabin weekend in northern Saskatchewan. All in all, everyday life in Saskatoon wasn't that different from Finland because the climate and the culture are quite similar.
My time in Saskatoon has definitely helped me in my professional life. Right after completing my exchange period in Canada, I did an internship at the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Unit for Northern Europe. Our unit was responsible for Finland’s participation in Arctic cooperation so it gave me a chance to put the theories I learned in Canada into practice. I firmly believe that my studies in Arctic issues in Canada were the deciding factor in getting the internship. Currently I’m in Brussels doing another internship for the North and East Finland EU Office. Arctic issues are definitely one of our main focus points, but instead of the national perspective we view them both from the EU and regional point of view.
I definitely want to continue learning and studying Arctic issues and one day make this my career in some way. I would highly recommend studying Arctic issues, as it is an up-and-coming branch of academic studies, and is already on the spotlight of political interest due to a changing world, highlighting especially the Arctic economic possibilities in a whole new way.
Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2016