Weeks of running into summer-equipped outdoor stores looking for Arctic-suitable equipment, scrounging the internet for discounts, the discovery of merino wool and anticipation are over: WE HAVE ARRIVED!
After 22 hours of travelling through Europe with a lot of clothes on our backs (not all would fit in the cases), we arrived at midnight. In the daylight! Groggery and travel-worn, we realised that we both (Ribanna and Luci) forgot either what barrack or what room either of us had to go to. Well, after a bit of searching and help, we finally made it to our rooms at 1.40 in the morning (and still daylight!).
On the first day, we met up with Allan, who arrived one day earlier, so that he could show us around the one road which is Longyearbyen.
We explored the supermarket which took us ages to work out the prices in NOK only to wish we hadn't worked them out: It is sooooo expensive! But the gin is cheap and so is all the other spirits! After a while, we concluded a diet of crispy bread with peanut butter for breakfast and lunch and pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. Every day! Yummi! (?) or ANYTHING in a tube:
However, even though it is expensive, so far it's been amaaaaaaaaaazing, awesome and adventurous (the 'a' is for Arctic): We have seen reindeer, ptarmigans and polar foxes (some skinned) and polar bears (if you count the taxidermy ones)
, climbed the highest peaks around Longyearbyen, and completed all of our survival training.
To survive the boat trips and field excursions plus any recreational outdoor adventures, we learned how to react in a scenario when a polar bear becomes a threat: Do NOT shoot in its butt because how can you explain to the governor it was after you?! how to use a flare gun (either the emergency red one or the bangy flare), use your voice to scare it off or, eventually, use the rifle in a threatening situation.
Also, we jumped in the Arctic Sea in fancy orange survival suits and performed water aerobics. Good fun!
We also absolved a basic first aid course and saved Little Ann a thousand times and learned everything about the biggest threat: Hypothermia!
All of which was really good fun and was made in our class groups so that we could easily get to know everyone in our classes.
A less formal way of meeting other students and staff is the weekly and legendary friday gathering: a group of students purchase beer and spirits to sell it cheaply to the other students in the university's cafeteria (which is a really awesome room with a nice, open fire) and everybody proceeds to get quite marry which always ends in the pubs, the singular night club or barrack parties!
Out of lecture time, we have been able to get on a few private hikes in and around Longyearbyen (always taking a rifle - which are pretty hard to get at this time of the year because they are all gone for field trips) always beginning with some thigh-burning, reaaaaally steep climbs to get out of this valley, but rewarded by the most stunning views you can ever imagine!!! Seriously, AMAZING!
Most recently, we have come down on the side of one glacier on a huge moraine, hearing the glacial melt water right underneath our feet.
So far, the biggest challenge was to adjust to the constant daylight. Four days ago, the sun touched the horizon the very first time after the summer and is now further retreating. Only 1.5 months(ish) until we won't see the sun for quite a while!
We are now looking forward to our field trips. The first of which is for Arctic Technology/Hydrology and Climate Change for which we will stay at an old radio station in Kapp Linnhe leaving next Monday.
That's it for now, but you will hear more! Next time from Allan or Esty who are both currently on their first field trip!
Ha det bra
Luci and Riba