I was introduced to a couple of exchange programs that operate either inside the Nordic countries or in the North in general, north2north being one of them. The attribute 'Arctic' wasn't the first thing I was thinking when choosing a destination and a program, but since my studies would actually contain some Arctic issues I thought why not. I have to admit that I still don't consider my studies as very "Arctic", as the word is usually used in connection with nature and politics and the like, and less with linguistics... Of course I am more aware of what is going on up here, but I doesn't affect my everyday life as much as it could.
From the very beginning of the process things ran smoothly. As soon as I got accepted I felt like the university arranged every imaginable thing on my behalf, and I got constantly instructions and reminders of what to do and when. The orientation week on site was somewhat exhausting but worthwhile with a very inclusive combination of information and social activities. I didn't experience any cultural shock since the system here is very similar to what I am used to in Finland. Norway is a very easy country to come to, at least if one is from one of the other Nordic countries. I have learned that stressing about things is rather unnecessary, because everything here works efficiently and people are friendly and very helpful.
I find my studies very interesting but not necessarily as challenging as I would hope. However, I am lucky to say that my studies here have made the direction of my interests and likely my academic path clearer. I have already decided that I want to do my Master's degree here working with the Saami languages. It took me about six months to settle and realize that I don't see myself continuing my studies in Finland anymore. I have been told that because the Saami studies have a protected status at the university and thus cannot be shut down due to cutting of funds, I will with a high likelihood be able to continue my academic career as far as I am willing to go.
As can be expected, the exchange abroad has not only been a time for awareness of academic development but also personal one. I cannot name only one great experience, but the best things have been the small realizations about myself and life in general, no matter how vague that may sound like.
Published in 2017.