I had very little idea of what to expect from Abisko. I did my research and talked to the right people. Yet, it was picturing myself being there with no hiccups that was impossible. For packing, I had to have a strategy. I found a balance in priorities between warm articles to protect against the cold and things that would pack up tightly. I had a feeling I would be the only Canadian student in Abisko, so I felt I had to prepare myself in a different way from other students. I also don’t have a supervisor at my home university, so I made it a priority that I knew what I was getting involved in. I researched the Sámi people, Umeå University, Swedish climate policies and even learned a bit of Swedish (very very little that later proved to be absolutely useless). Besides the fear, I felt a bright excitement. I was excited to represent not only Nova Scotia, but Canada and hopefully bring a different perspective to the inspiring work. In the end, I had prepared and packed enough, all that was left was to take a leap into the dark to a place where, ironically, it will never get that dark with the northern summer 24-hour daylight.
I had just arrived home in Nova Scotia after studying across the country in British Columbia this past year. I was so pleased to see my family, friends, and dogs. The greeting was short lived though, as I was leaving for my journey to Sweden quickly. I was sad to leave so soon but I think my dogs would understand. I cherished our time together then grabbed my bags for the door.
It truly was a trek. First, a 13-hour drive to Montreal from Nova Scotia, a flight from Montreal to Brussels, then Brussels to Stockholm. At this point, I was pretty proud of myself. I had been productive in the car and on the plane, and I was in the right country, so the rest of the journey seemed feasible. I was wrong. I neglected the fact that I had to get from the airport in Stockholm to Central Station. This part of the story is a bit shameful and not at all graceful. A 50-minute trip by transit turned into several hours. I will skip over the details of this confusion for my own dignity. The combination of not having internet or an international phone plan, in a new place was not an effective mix. Despite all this, the kind people of Stockholm helped me, and I finally embarked the train. It was a rather long but pleasant train ride to Abisko. I imagine I could have made it easier on myself, a total of 40 hours of traveling is not anyone’s idea of fun. But, I wanted to fly as little as possible to reduce carbon emissions and the dent in my wallet, so a long drive and train ride it was. All of which, proved to be worth it!