"Through the wilderness - over beautiful blue ice, and along mountaintops." Svalbard 2024

18.4.2024

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Skrevet av: American College of Norway

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Norwegian Student Articles

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We just can't stop talking about the 2024 trip to Svalbard! Check out these new student perspectives from the trip!

Hello from Svalbard! Things have been so beautiful and peaceful here. We arrived on Monday to a warmer-than-usual but still very cold Longyearbyen. The city is quaint and industrial but very pretty. We’ve done plenty of exciting activities such as dog sledding, swimming (so cold!), touring museums, and visiting the university but my favorite day of all was when we went snowmobiling to an ice cave. We left from the edge of the city with our young Italian tour guide and drove our snowmobiles up to the glacier. I had never driven a snowmobile before and it was a lot bumpier than I expected! The snow made it impossible to see but we just went in a line following the lights all the way to the cave. The entrance of the cave was a tiny bottomless wooden box that opened into a dark and icy stairway. Deep in the glacier we crawled through tunnels formed by an underground river and made our way to the end where we found an underground lake called the cathedral. The size and vastness of the cathedral were mesmerizing and we made handprints on the walls by melting the ice just like hundreds of other people had done. After crawling our way back through the twisting river bed we popped out back on top of the glacier. Everyone was so grateful for the experience and we enjoyed hot saft and cookies before driving back into town. It was such an incredible experience and I will never forgot how beautiful the cave was.

- Anders

My journey to Svalbard was an unforgettable experience, woven with adventure, learning, and unique Arctic charm. One of the highlights was visiting the Global Seed Vault during the evening, where the ethereal glow of the Arctic twilight added a surreal backdrop to this global safeguard of biodiversity. The serenity and importance of this place were palpable, making it a thought-provoking visit. Dog sledding was another remarkable activity, allowing me to connect with nature and the incredible dogs, each with its own distinct personality. This thrilling adventure through the snowy landscapes was not just exhilarating but also offered a deep sense of companionship with these resilient animals.

The visit to the local university was an enlightening experience, offering insights into their pioneering research and the vital role they play in Arctic education. It was fascinating to see how this institution thrives in such a remote location, contributing significantly to global knowledge about the Arctic. Sampling the local cuisine was a journey through the traditional flavors of Svalbard, including whale, seal, and reindeer dishes. Each meal was an exploration of the region's culinary heritage, reflecting the adaptation of life in the Arctic.

Staying in a historical coal miner's cabin hotel provided a glimpse into the rugged past of this frontier land, while plunging into the icy waters was a refreshing and invigorating challenge that I’ll never forget. The social experiences, from bonding with classmates to meeting warm-hearted locals in bars and tasting unique local beers, enriched my understanding of the community's close-knit and resilient spirit. Learning about the geopolitics of Svalbard and the surprisingly thriving population of polar bears offered a nuanced perspective on this Arctic haven, contradicting many widespread narratives.

Though the slow-paced and cold life may not be for everyone, my time in Svalbard was a deeply enriching chapter, full of insights, adventures, and the stark beauty of the Arctic wilderness.

- Carson

My favorite experience from Svalbard was the dog sledding. We went to Green Dog in Svalbard where everything was incredibly well organized. The day started with us being introduced to the dog team and getting to meet the eager and energetic dogs. They were so friendly and happy, and it was clear that they loved pulling the sled. It was a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by so much enthusiasm and animal friendliness. After being equipped with warm clothes and instructions, it was time to get started. I sat in the sled and held onto the handlebars, and then the dogs started running. It was an incredible feeling to be pulled through the beautiful landscape with stunning mountains by these strong and fast dogs. The wind was rushing in my face, and I couldn't help but smile widely with pure joy. Along the way, I got to enjoy the spectacular nature around me. We drove through the wilderness, over beautiful blue ice, and along mountaintops. The view was absolutely magical, it was like being in a winter dream.

The dogs were incredibly skilled and followed the instructions from the musher in an impressive way. They knew exactly where to go and how to handle rough terrain. It was fascinating to see the interaction and how well-trained the dogs were. After a few hours of dog sledding, we were invited inside to warm up and get served hot chocolate, waffles, and cookies, and then ended the day outside and said hello to the puppies waiting to be trained. The visit to Green Dog lasted a total of 4 hours, and those were 4  eventful hours that were incredibly worthwhile.

- Victoria

Most of our small class at ACN has spent a week as North as you can go in Svalbard! Just two short flights away is one of the most incredible places I think I’ve ever been, and we spent our time there exploring, trying new foods like seal, moose, reindeer, and whale, and experiencing plenty of the local culture and institutions. My favorite day was spent out at Green Dog, where we were able to experience a day of dog sledding through some of the white Arctic mountains. When we arrived we were given snowsuits to put on, with mittens that connect with a string through the suit so you can’t lose them, and boots as well. We were then able to spend some time in the Dog Yard cuddling the 60 huskies that live there and work their days pulling sleds. Every dog is compatible with us humans, but not so much with each other so it was definitely quite a power struggle between them when hooking them up to the sleds. The journey itself was close to 2 hours long, and just so beautiful. We traveled over snow, ice, small hills, and rocks, only stopping to ensure everyone was staying together and the dogs were doing okay. You get the option to be a driver or a passenger on the sled, as there is only room for those two people per sled, so I chose to be a passenger this time. Some people switched so they got to do both while others remained in their positions the entire time. While it was certainly an experience that I’m never going to forget, and of which I feel so thankful to have been a part of, it was COLD. With the equipment we were given, it was pretty warm most of the time but I recommend wearing gloves under the mittens they give you and thick socks too!

- Emma

Sound like an adventure you want to take part in? Send in your application today to be part of our next trip to Svalbard!

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