A Once in a Lifetime Travel Course to the Arctic!

During this year's fall break, American College of Norway students, faculty and staff went on a once in a lifetime Arctic expedition to Svalbard, Norway - Norway’s farthest northern territory! This exciting travel course was led by Dr. John Ross and this year’s ACN students got to explore Pyramiden, hike thousand-year-old glaciers and listen to educational lectures at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)!

Did you know that only 800 miles from the North Pole, you’ll find Norway’s fascinating Arctic archipelago, Svalbard. Svalbard, Norway is one of the northernmost communities in the world, not to mention it is one of the most beautiful, pristine and fascinating Arctic territories there is! 

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Dr. John Ross’ Arctic in Global Perspective course discusses the history, evolving political state and environmental nature of the Arctic and the globe. With semester-long discussions concerning the Arctic, the highlight of this course was the coveted travel component to Svalbard, Norway. One of the most enjoyable parts of this course for our students has been the fascinating lectures dedicated to learning about Nansen and Admundsen and having the incredible opportunity to visit a town with so much pride for these Arctic explorers.

Upon arriving in Longyearbyen, you are instantly surrounded by tall mountains, stunning glaciers, not to mention smiling locals and passionate researchers. With countless amounts of Arctic activities in Svalbard, our ACN students had the amazing opportunity to enhance their educational experiences during this once in a lifetime week-long travel course this past fall break.

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On the first day of the travel course, our ACN Arctic explorers got to visit the Svalbard Museum at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS). During their time at UNIS, they learned more about the history of Svalbard. The museum definitely helped get our students more acclimated with Svalbard in preparation for the rest of their week there. Later that day, the group ventured out into the night, hiking up the sides of mountains to where they were treated to a stunning view the Northern Lights!

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Following their eventful first day, the group headed back to UNIS where they had a lecture from graduate students. The graduate students gave our students an interesting insight into life in the Arctic, including studying Arctic Meteorology, Technical Engineering and Marine Biology.

One of the highlights of the travel course was the day-long boat cruise to the abandoned Russian coal-mining town, Pyramiden. The boat cruise brought our students on an incredible journey throughout the Arctic Ocean where they saw the Nordenskjöld glacier and had the chance to try tasty boat snacks like whale and waffles!
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The trip also allowed for students to pick an activity of their choice and our students did everything from glacier hikes with huskies, to coal mine tours and Arctic water tasting.

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Overall, the travel course to Svalbard, Norway was an excellent way to help our students put their lectures in practice. Additionally, the students not only learned more about the Arctic, but they now share a special bond with everlasting memories from their time at ACN!

Student, Edvard Bratlie reflected back on the trip and said, “Longyearbyen, Svalbard was a cozy and unique town. The location and views of this incredible place had me smiling the entire trip. Overall this was a great travel course and an amazing experience I’ll never forget!”

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