Going to Santa Claus


This time I'm not writing from innovation Space, but - waiting for my delayed airplane - from the airport of Longyearbyen on Svalbard. This place, also known as Spitzbergen, is lying high above Norway, and it is said to be the place where Santa Claus lives. I have been here now for about three weeks, and it has been one of the most special experiences ever. On my way here I set a few goals for myself, things I wanted to see, learn, and experience.

First things first, obviously, I wanted to see the northern lights, aurora borealis. After a few very overcast days and lots of snow, we received a message that the aurora could be seen. So we went straight from our game of pool to the 'beach', and there I saw the first aurora ever. It wasn’t the huge lights, but it was beautiful. Very excited about the first aurora, I had high hopes to see the dancing phenomena in its full glory. Two days later, on a trip to a student cabin outside the city, I saw the most beautiful aurora from the entire trip. Even though I brought my camera, I have to thank my friend Max for this picture.

Another goal for me was to visit ice caves. These caves form when melt water melts parts of glaciers, creates smooth and interestingly shaped spaces. We visited two different caves, the first ones are a short hike up from Nybyen (the village next to Longyearbyen). The other ones are a bit further away, those caves were huge connections of icy hallways and dark corners. With our headlamps and spikes we found a way to a nice place to sleep and have dinner. We planned on sleeping over in the caves, however, my frozen toes disagreed, so we decided to go back. But the caves were beautiful nonetheless!

Furthermore, I really wanted to visit the Global Seed Vault. This is a place where seeds from all plants of the world are saved in the permafrost, so they can be used in case we need them. We walked up, with the riffle and flare gun ready for polar bear protection, and saw the impressive building. Both the front and the top have the green and sparkly lights!

Finally, aside from these amazing visits, I went on many more hikes, walked over a frozen fjord, met the most amazing people, experienced polar night and extreme cold. There is so much more to tell, but I will restrain myself, so all I want to say is to take your chances as a student, visit these kind of cool places, and if you plan to go to Svalbard, make sure you dress well. Duuh.

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