Irina Zhilina, from Russia, travelled to the Faroe Islands, to do lectures at the University of the Faroe Islands. Her experience can be read below.
I received a MobilityDK grant to visit the University of the Faroe Islands as a guest lecturer for the International Relations course in March 2014.
The first time I heard about the MobilityDK grant was on the webpage of the University of the Arctic. I also got inspiring feedback from Anastasia Emelyanova, my friend and colleague from the University of Oulu, who received the MobilityDK grant last year and went to Greenland.
The initial purpose of my visit was to give several presentations on the Russian Arctic Strategy and developments in the sphere of the Arctic Region security. My speech was based on my Master’s thesis in Polar Law from the University of Akureyri that I defended in December 2013.
However, the recent political developments in Crimea peninsula were high on the agenda both in international media and local media of the Faroe Islands at the time of my visit. So, it was agreed to organise a separate discussion with students on the political crisis in Ukraine. I got a positive feedback both from students and also course Professor Jens Christian S. Justinussen. Furthermore, my academic exchange went beyond the walls of the university as I met with a journalist from the local radio station and briefly discussed the developments taking place in the Arctic Region and possible impact of the Russian foreign policy towards Ukraine to the international cooperation in the Arctic
Another task I had to fulfil during my stay at the University was to promote the UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Extractive Industries to the faculty members. There was a small presentation on this topic and an information sheet on the Thematic Network activities was distributed electronically.
One of the highlights of my visit was attending the lecture on Iceland economy recovering after crisis in 2008 by Steingrímur J. Sigfússon Iceland's former Minister of Finance, which was not scheduled, but I took the advantage of the moment.
The University of the Faroe Islands has a small student body with 142 students total and 45 academic staff and I had a great opportunity to engage with them. I had a short talk on my personal experience studying at the small and remote universities of North of Iceland and Norway. We discussed great amount of international students coming to the Arctic region both as exchange and full time student. Furthermore, we discussed the opportunities for the University of the Faroe Islands to develop internationally-oriented study programmes.
The MobilityDK grant allowed me to obtain teaching experience as well as developing my knowledge of this island nation in the West Nordic region of the Arctic and gave me a lot of contacts.
On a personal note, I would like to thank the staff at the UArctic International Secretariat who helped me a great deal to organise this exchange.