Although being vital to the brand of BC and great attractors of tourists and delegations from all over the world, these southern areas only make up about half(!) of the province. My personal history with BC started in 2013 when I, as many individuals before and after me, came to experience the “ski-bum” lifestyle in Whistler. I was completely blown away by the natural beauty of the mountains, the people and the seemingly carefree attitude toward the work/play balance in life; I believed I had found my paradise! All good things eventually come to an end (or at least to a temporary stop), and my visa obliged me to return home to Sweden. However, somehow I could never stop thinking about my experiences, and I made a promise to myself to one day return to this Garden of Eden.
Fall 2016: I am now in my second year of studies at the International Business Program at Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, and it is time to apply for exchange semesters. Among the myriad of interesting options, I could not shake the feeling that BC was calling me to come back. As fate had it, an opportunity to study at UNBC in Prince George via the north2north program emerged as the number one choice for me.
To be completely honest, I was not sure what to expect when I got on the plane leaving for Canada in August 2017. I had little to no knowledge regarding what northern BC was about. The media is always reporting about occurrences in the south; it’s as if the northern part of BC (again, this is half of the province!) doesn’t exist. Being a student at a northern university in Sweden, the phenomenon of a ‘forgotten North’ is not new to me – I face it on a daily basis.
This is where the true value of the north2north initiative lies. It allows students to open their eyes to new and unconventional parts of the world, where the human capital is
incredibly rich, the spirit of innovation is thriving, and the drive to break the geographical constraints and rise above them is everpresent.
I am eternally grateful for being blessed with having my mind opened to the ample opportunities for societal growth and community-building being displayed in northern BC, and I encourage anyone who might be reading this to go and experience this energy and ambition first hand!
Without the northern lights to light the way, we’ll stay in the dark forever.
Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2018.