Thursday, 6 February 2014

Hi guys,

Hope your all enjoying being back at SAMS now after Christmas (which seems ages ago) and the the new year - hope you have all had a good one!

So we've now been back here just over 3 weeks which again has flown by - but that is probably because we have been cramming so much into the weeks - hiking, learning, skidooing, eating....and there has been no time to be board.
Figure 1 - Me and my new kitchen buddies hiking up
Sarkofargen with Longyearbyen in the background.
So you heard all about the safety week from Ribanna - which was pretty awesome - hard work and long days - getting up at 6 am everyday was a challenge when the day was still dark all the time... but it was well worth and we learnt sooo much!
The week after that we started our lectures - which for me is both the Biology courses (which I have also been elected to represent in the student council) , AB-204 - Arctic Ecology and populations Biology along with AB-203 Arctic Environment Management. So far
Figure 2 - A three course meal student style.
we have done much more on AB-204 lecture wise - it is quite interesting, lots of modelling for populations. And also managed to meet some of the SAMS lot, Finlo and Collin for Beer and a Burger - which was really nice as we got to catch up on things going on at SAMS!!!
A short course which started last week is the History of Svalbard which i have been taking part in - a two week evening course with a really great lecture makes me actually feel i know a lot more about where i am staying and has been very interesting - including a trip to the little museum here. Another online short course i have also started is part of the University of the Arctic which introduces the circumpolar as a whole - environment, people, industry etc. - I thought I would give it a go whilst its still dark here as i think these short courses are good ways to make links across the Arctic and if i am to continue my studies in another location it maybe useful background knowledge - that and its just interesting.

Figure 3 - Beer and an Burger with Collin and Finlo!!!!!
We also in the second week had some snow scooter training - which was great fun!! initially we learnt a bit of basic maintenance how to check oil/coolant changing the variation belt (that's what the Norwegian name of it might translate too) ; along with how to load and strap a sled for excursions. Then for the fun bit we got to ride around doing turns, speed on the flat, driving with passengers/sleds, going up steep slopes (lots of speed :D) driving on a gradient etc. - all of which was very awesome and along with all the safety lectures on the snow scooters just made me itch to buy one....
Figure 4 - Snowscooter course - wrapped up and ready to go!
 (Photo Mekie Huntmann)

There has been other stuff (even more... so busy) going on too - last weekend was the one of the 1st conferences for the Youth Arctic Coalition which myself and around 9 other students at UNIS. including Ribanna, got involved in. The video conference had a few technical issues as it was their first one however we were able as an active hub (as there was 10 of us) able to discuss given topics in the Arctic and give feed back to the conference. The conference itself was held in Ottawa, Canada but there were hubs in Denmark, Russia, Finland  and various other places and people from around the Arctic Circle. Minor some technical difficulty it was a great weekend to be involved in as it marks the beginning of this organisation and hopefully UNIS members can continue to be involved as it grows.
Figure 5 - Youth Arctic Coalition Conference Day 1 (Photo R. Dittrich)
This coming weekend myself and a friend, Caitlin Frankish -who studies Marine Biology in Southampton, are both doing some dive instructing for some of the locals in Longyearbyen. We have managed to get hold of some pool time so are hoping to get all their pool work done for their PADI open water courses which we maybe able to then complete in May - time dependent. Non the less it will be nice to get back to some teaching - even if its taken a bit to juggle and coordinate!

And the last exciting bit for this week (at least for me) is the purchase of my very own snowmobile!!! Well half of one! Its an old school machine but fingers crossed it will run for a few months and then i can manage to get out and about around Svalbard as there is soooo much to see!!!

That's all for now - sorry about ramming it full of text it's been a busy couple of weeks!!

Hope your all still enjoying!


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