søndag 31. januar 2010

Blown away!

No, we are not getting ready to go on an expedition, field-trip or skiing trip... We are getting ready to go shopping! It´s been so windy here, it is amazing! The power of the wind is so damn strong, people have literally been lifted in the air and suddenly finding themselves on the ground, pushed by the wind! I was quite happy that I didn´t have class those days (cancelled because the lecturer didn´t arrive, thanks to the above mentioned bloody weather). I was quite happy with staying inside most of the time, but we had to do some grocery shopping finally... Luckily the wind went weaker at that time. It´s the first time ever I have seen people needing skiing goggles to go to school! But the bloody wind have taken away all the amazing powdered snow =( And all the changes in the weather have caused major avalanche risks here... So now we are hoping for a really cold, long-lasting period with more snow. It has to come soon, because I got some new skiis I am dying to try!

We are getting light! Well, actually twilight, but during the polar night up here you won´t believe how much we wake up when the sky turns from black to light blue. Hehe, we get really awake and eager. And it was so beautiful when we had pre-sunrise sky (the sun has not returned yet) in the south, and clear sky with a bright full moon in the north! I could actually see the mountains north if us clearly! Every day the twilight gets brighter for a longer period, if we are lucky with the weather and get a clear sky... And it really is strange to realize how much impact this "light" affects me, I really do appreciate it!

And I finally got some pictures from the Kayak Polo! ( Kayak-pictures taken by Alexi, thank you! ) It is so much fun! Hehe, but it´s completely different than kayaking my own kayak, I had to reform all my moves! But I have managed to mage a few goals and save some goals by now, so I will keep practising!

And I am also doing progress slack-lining! It has become my new hobby on Friday nights =) Hehe, walking around in the cantina at school while every body else are having a beer, you will find me on the rope =P

Oh, btw, I have never baked so much my entire life! The bread up here is so expensive, that most of us are baking our own! And of course that is way better (and cheaper) and the bread from the store =P

Send some snow to me, please!

lørdag 23. januar 2010

Starting my studies

This week have been so strange! We were having + degrees, so Svalbard was melting! Flowing water everywhere... and all the nice snow that arrived became water... So luckily my to days without school was the worst ones, I didn´t really have to go outside in those terrible conditions! But when weather improved, I finally went skiing here =D Just a small trip a long the light path with one of my friends =) We came across 3 wild reindeers! Hehe, they are not afraid of humans, so it was so cool to be standing 10 m from these cool creatures!

When we finally got some - degrees again, and some precipitation, it of course came with a lot of wind! First time ever I had to dress up for an expedition just to go to school! But now it is nice to have started my studies =) I´m hoping that we will have some great field-trips! In one of my classes ( Arctic Environmental Management) we are going to visit Svalsat, the satellite park here. And hopefully Store Norske will pay our plane-ticket to Svea, the mining community here, so we can visit the coal mines! First thing we learned in the Management course was that most of what looks like garbage at Svalbard are actually protected! Leftovers from the mining industry, whale-fishing, hunting cabins and old cabins, and the "garbage" the fishermen form the 1600 century left here are protected. If we find something when we´re on trips, it would be braking the law to bring it with us!
Something I just realized from this week with lectures are actually how remote we are living. Most of the week there have been cancelled lecturers, because the weather prevented the guest-lecturers to arrive with the plane! Hehe, so we always have to check for messages, in case our lecture get cancelled =P

I haven´t started my other course, Arctic Ecology and Population Biology, yet, but I am pretty sure this will be the most interesting subject this semester! One of our field-trips will be a cruise, on a boat for 10-12 days! Hopefully we won´t get caught by ice when we go, then the trip might last for weeks! But that might be a cool experience too =P And we are also going on a couple of day-trips to collect samples, then we are travelling by snowcooter/snowmobile! =D I can´t wait!

I think this will be a really great semester, not only study-wise! There are so much cool stuff to do for us here! At the gym-hall we have been climbing, playing kayack-polo, underwater rugby, and of course all other kinds of activities =) And when the weather gets better, we have glaciers and mountains to go skiing! Or going on snoscooter-trips =) And all of us are hanging out, everyone can join when we´re having trips, no matter what your skiing skills are =) We have to remember to bring rifles, avalanche beacons, probes and shovels with us though. And when we always have to think about our safety and the safety of the group, we are very good at taking care of each others =)
There´s not only all this active stuff that bring us together, but every Friday we have a Friday Gathering in the cantina at unis. It´s a great opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, have a drink, share skiing stories or experience, and just have a lot of fun! Hanging out around a open fire just automatically makes a nice atmosphere =) And then we have our ropes! Haha, every Friday someone put up a rope for us to walk on! Walking on a line! I tried for the first time this Friday, and by the end of the night I managed to walk to the middle of the rope all by my self! Hehe, I spent about 5 hours just on the rope!

Yesterday I got a packet from home! Thanks Mum! =D

Last night was amazing here! We were sitting outside by a bonfire, and the whole valley was lighted by the moon and the stars =) Beautiful! Hehe, we were acttually BBQ-ing here, out in the snow!

Btw: It`s funny how much you appreciate just the tiniest glimpse of light when it´s so dark up here! every day now, at about 12 o`clock, we get this dawn-like light in the south. Far more light than I expected it to be here by now! And everyone is so happy when it arrives! I guess it´s even more amazing for those who have been here since the darkness started, to finally get a glimpse of light again!

See you!

søndag 17. januar 2010

Gratulerer med 20 års dagen Lene! Happy Birthday Lene! =D

I just had to make a tribute to one of my closest friends, who is turning 20 now! I wish I could be with you and celebrate your Birthday! Miss you a lot!!! Hope you will have a great day!

Glad i deg! <3

lørdag 16. januar 2010

Safety Course = McGyver course!

So now we´re finished with the safety course, and it´s been so cool and fun! I have tried so many things in such a short time, no wonder I´m exhausted now! The funny thing is, half the course is about how to avoid dangerous and difficult situations, the other half have been like "How-to-think-like-McGyver"-course. Basically just learning about our equipment, and how many different things we can use it for other than what it´s ment to do =P Which of course have been really cool!

On Thursday, the coolest lecture was the Sea Ice (or Ice is Nice) course. After some theory, we changed to snowmobile suits and took a belt car to the ice, were we jumped into a hoe and tried to get up again! I did it too, it was freezing! While in the water I was of course most concerned about getting up! When I managed that, I was extremely cold! And my boots were filled with water, they probably was weighing at least 5 kg each! On the way back we had to sit very still, once we moved we could just feel the freezing water cooling down the body... But it was a really good experience, and such an adrenaline kick!

Yesterday (Friday) I had the emergency equipment course and glacier course. We were practicing on putting up tent, and how to bring hurt people safely in the tent. We went trough the emergency equipment boxes unis have made for us, so we would be familiar with the content. This was very interesting, then we know what we can look for if we ever need it! (hopefully, this won+t happen). We also practiced how to use a primus, and how to make a trip wire. The trip wire is extremely essential! It alarm us if any polar bear is getting too close, and it´s very easy to put up. We also triggered some trip wires, to see how it worked =)
The glacier course was very interesting! We learned different knots to use if we have to rescue someone falling in a crevasse/ crack in the glacieer, and we also practiced this. I was the test bunny on this, and was brought down 4-5 m straight in the air with the rope system we used! It was really cool! I´ve never done any climbing before, so I´ve never tried hanging down along a rope. It was a very good experience!

Today we had a practical day! We went to the moraine of the Longyearglacier, and had a simulated avalanche with 5 "people" caught! So we really got to use what we learned during the course! After that, we were supposed to make an emergency camp at a simulated snowmobile accident, and the weather was perfect for a realistic attempt! Very windy, snowing and of course dark! i was one of the "injured" people, so I didn´t get to try much except how it felt like lying in the snow waiting for help, and being tumbled in a Jervenduk to protect me from the environment. After this we had a glacier operation, really practicing how to rescue people down in cravasses/cracks at the glacier!
After this, we had a written exam from the whole course. This course is so intensive that we actually get some studypoints/ESCTS for it =)
And we ended the course with a small party and a lot of home made pizza at the cosy cantina at school =)

So now I´m really tired after this week, it´s been so intens! But way cool! I´ve learned a lot! And now I´m just looking forward for tomorrow, playing kayackpolo and maybe climbing! There´s so much to do here, and I can´t wait to start! I am also looking forward to start the studies, I think it will be really cool =D There will be some great fieldtrips, and with all these cool people, I am sure it will be a great semester!

So I had an awesome week!

Take care! And look out for crevasses!

onsdag 13. januar 2010

Safety Course at Svalbard

Because we live in such extreme conditions (avalanche-areas everywhere, polar bear attacks, unstable ice, freezing water, glaciers,extreme weather changes, cold and heavy wind, frost injuries, among other things), all students have to have a Safety Course here. This is a little bit different for the spring and fall semester. The course is preparing us for unfavorable and dangerous situations, and in this place dangerous situations are even more life-threatening! It kind of works in 3 ways; it mentally prepare us for difficult situations, we get to practice how to work in difficult situations, and most importantly it teaches us how to avoid dangerous situations. So it is a really good course, and very intensive!

It started on Monday, but the first day we only had a lot of theory. We got a presentation by the Governor at Svalbard, had some theory about clothing in different conditions, and had a long lecture about extreme accidents happening at Svalbard. This is of course to scare us, so we don´t take chances. Taking chances at a place like this can end up costing you your life!

Tuesday we started the topic courses, and the first one was the Avalanche Course. Here we learned how we can avoid avalanches in nature, signs to look for, and what to do when an avalanche happens. We also learned how to use some equipment that will help people find us incase there is a avalanche. We went out and had some practice with the equipment, and it was really usefull! It was kind of fun, but of course having to do this when real people are buried by snow isn´t something I want to try... But it was a really good course, and I learned alot!
The second part of the day we had a Navigation course, and I learned a lot about maps that I didn´t know before. We were supposed to do some practical training too, but we did not really get the GPS to function. So I hope that woun´t happen when I need it!

Today (Wednesday) I had Rifle Training, including a lecture about how to act when meeting a polar bear. Shooting with a rifle was awesome! It was so cool! Apparently I got the shooting skills of my Mum and Granddad, so I think I wanna take the Hunter´s license here =P First we practiced how to use the rifle with "dummy-shots", shots that would not explode or hurt anyone. After that we started to shoot at normal targets, and I hit real close to the center! I also kept the shots very close to each other, which I was told is a very good sign. We tried to shoot both in a lying down position, standing on the knee and fully standing. I prefer the standing or lying down position. After we shot the normal targets, we got a different type of target. We actually each got a polar bear to shoot at! S picture, of course =P
After the rifle training and lunch, we had Practical First Aid, which was a really interesting course! We practiced a lot on what to do if we find someone here at Svalbard that need help or CPR, and learned a lot of good techniques on how we could use different equipment that we are or should carry, to help hurt people. Like I said, being in a difficult situation here can soon be life-threatening! Especially if someone are hurt! There is many mountains here, and very little road, and it can be difficult for emergency-people to reach you. Actually, it can be difficult for any people to reach you, so of course no one should move away form the city alone!

Tomorrow I will Lab-practice and a Sea Ice course. Some in the group will actually put on a safety-suit and jump in the freezing water, so we can learn how to resque them!
On Friday I will have Emergency equipment for glacier and emergency camps, that will be interesting!
Saturday will be a big day, where every one will train on what we have learned, and hopefully show that we gained the right skills. And there will be an exam we have to pass. So I will try to take pictures when it is possible, and tell you the rest later!

Take care, and put on enough clothes!

PS: The only polar bears I´ve seen so far are stuffed. And I´m very happy that I haven´t seen any alive yet, because up until today I wouldn´t really know what to do and would probably not survive (unless it was just curious and I manage to scare it away). By the way, the polar bear on the picture is right above the entrance of the grocery-shop here =P