The political science and international studies student at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince-George, Canada spent three months at the University of Akureyri, Iceland.
“I chose Iceland because it was the most intriguing country in the north2north program for me,” says Letchford, who found out about the mobility program through UNBC’s International Centre.
The financial support offered by north2north also played a significant role in her choice to travel to a nordic country. “[The living grant] made a country like Iceland accessible for a student,” she explains.
UArctic’s north2north program is a student exchange program which allows students to experience living and studying in different UArctic member institutions around the world. The program exposes students to different northern regions and peoples.
Letchford, 24, took courses in geography and culture, natural resources of Iceland and law while she was at the University of Akureyri. However, it is by living in the country that she learned the most about Icelandic culture and about herself.
“It gave me a better understanding of the European perspective on world affairs that I could ever garner from a text book,” she says. “It [also] made me realise the impact climate has on culture. […] I think [the Icelandic people’s] resiliency, rampant individualism, and self-reliance reflect a long history of having to survive difficult weather. Also, the sense of family and community of Iceland is reflected throughout the circumpolar region,” Letchford adds.
If she found similarities between Iceland and Canada, such as the landscapes and the warmth of the people, Letchford also appreciated the differences that distinguish the two northern nations. “Overall, the people here are much more straightforward and to the point than in Canada, and there’s an overwhelming sense of independence,” she notes.