Excursions. Near-daily travelling. Dinners. The programme outlined ten days of intense socialisation - not exactly the most introvert-friendly conditions. Still in a move typical of me, I dismissed the wailing sirens and applied for a position.
The 1st day saw me rushing to get to the University of Lapland to scope out the attendees.
Immediately, I recognised some faces from the virtual academic scene. Some clearly knew each other and the facilities while other pairs of eyes darted through the LS19 lecture hall.
We went Kiruna-wards, a northern Swedish town in the process of relocation due to mining- induced risks (the move is anticipated to take over a decade from now). Here I presented my research on psychology in Arctic regions and spent the night in Abisko near the Norwegian border. By noon the next day, we had made it to Narvik where we visited a local museum, had a stroll and ate lunch. Several hours later, we found ourselves dishevelled and lethargically pouring out of the bus into a Tromso hotel. It was strange to see the northern city in its green summercoat; until this point, I had only visited the Arctic in winter. Needless to say, the midnight sun was starting to take its toll on me.
After visiting stone carvings (thought to be a few to several thousand years old), a dam and a canyon in Alta, we made it to a cosy lodge nestled among boreal trees.
In addition to coastal areas, we visited Kautokeino and Inari in the interiors of Norway and Finland, respectively. We had discussions with Saami presenters including Pigga Keskitalo whose lecture was on her community’s education and sustainability.
We spent the programme’s three closing nights at a student accommodation near Inari Lake. Following the conclusion of the presentations and lectures, we enjoyed the sauna, swimming, hours of walking and eating by a fire.
Despite my initial reservations, the experience proved invaluable and put me into contact with many scholars with comparable academic and / or extracurricular interests. We still stay in touch, and my suspicion is that it won’t be long until we all see each other in a similar capacity.
By Seira Duncan, University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu, Kuopio).