It’s been real, and it’s been good, it’s even been real good. And I have to say, I don’t really want to leave. Winter’s here, there’s going to be skiing soon, and heading back down south it’s going to go from being -10 to 10 (20 degree shift in 5 hours, win for Geography!) and just the usual slightly dreary Autumn. Not the excitement of fresh crisp snow and mountains you could reach out to touch. That said, it will be possible to sit outside for more than two minutes without freezing from the inside out.
But it’s been brilliant. Why? Cause I got to go to classes with people who know their stuff and love it, both the students and the teachers. This idea that everything can be replaced by online learning is, excuse my language, complete bollocks. You can’t replace incidental classroom interactions with online classrooms, just as you can’t replace coffee with a friend with chat on facebook. It’s a plan B, not a plan A.
It was great to do something new and completely different. To learn about a whole new part of the world. To learn about different political issues, different management issues, different economic and social attitudes. And to do this whilst looking out the window at a Fjord that either is or isn’t open to fishing. It wasn’t abstract, it was real. Most of the creatures we were shown in the introductory slides at the beginning we then saw on the cruise. The gears that were talked about and the various equipment’s we saw, and in some cases we got to play with. For sure it’s not an easy way to each, nor a cheap way, but it’s effective.
And on top of all that, I got to spend a month in the Arctic circle. Surrounded by a language and a culture that I love.
Overall, I’m a pretty lucky duck. There was walking, there was snow, there was visiting huskies, there was a beach themed party, there was shooting and survival suits. For some people it really wasn’t their thing, whether the cold, the culture, the isolation or just the general “other-ness” (I suspect there is a reason the equatorial regions are more populous than the North/South), but for some, such as myself, we’d come back in a heartbeat. Whilst there’s awesome things up next it’s still sad to leave and I will miss the winter. Longyearbyen is a special place, just big enough, and just right for what it is.
I have to say though, I’m looking forward to having a real coffee when I get home.