How did I get to do my very first visit to Asia, meet amazing people from Korea and all around the Arctic, make new academic contacts and friends, get to know Korean culture and its Maritime business? It all started by seeing an e-mail by the University of the Arctic, the same e-mail you are probably reading now, which was about the very first Korea Arctic Academy.
My motivation to apply was created by three factors. Firstly, the program was targeted to students with an indigenous background, secondly it seemed very interesting to me because it was concerned with the Arctic and regarding the Korean culture but also I wanted to know what is the connection between these two. So, being an indigenous Sami from the Arctic, I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more on the area’s issues while getting to know Korea. Thirdly, all travel costs were covered!
This amazing one-week educational event was held in August 2015 in Busan, South Korea and in the capital, Seoul. After a merely 30-hour long travel - some of the participants had traveled even longer - I finally got to meet eleven students from seven Arctic states, including five other indigenous students from Canada, Russia and Greenland, and nineteen Korean students and young researchers.
One week seems a short time but it was definitely worth it. During my stay I got to deepen my knowledge on the Arctic and policies related to it through the special lectures and conversations with the participants. But also thanks to the presentations´ of the other Arctic students´ gave us a glimpse how research and life takes place in the other parts of the region.
Lectures about Korean culture and visits to Korean Maritime Museum, Korean Maritime University, DSME-shipyard and the new port of Busan contributed to my understanding and learning about the Korean culture and Maritime industry and its huge impact on global economy. It was also surprising to learn that Korea has researched and continues to research both the Arctic and Antarctica.
But apart from the official program, we got to make new friends, eat delicious local food and sing Korean karaoke. All in all, it was the people that I met in the First Korean Academy that made my experience so precious.