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.