I often reflect on the various incredible opportunities that UArctic has created for me and the ways in which these experiences have allowed me to expand my knowledge of northern issues and provided spaces to meet like-minded people from all across the world. I was first exposed to the work of UArctic when I participated in north2north myself. My grandmother was born in Pyhäjoki, Finland, and it had always been a dream of mine to travel to Finland and explore my familial roots. The semester I spent at the University of Helsinki was an incredible time in my life, and it gave me a great deal of academic inspiration for my Honours Thesis project back home, in which I focused on comparative child and family policy between Canada and the Nordic countries. I still find it fascinating to reflect on the differences and similarities between Canada and the Nordics, particularly in relation to gender and indigenous politics.

After my exchange, I was accepted to attend the second annual Korea Arctic Academy program – a collaboration between UArctic and Korea Maritime Institute – where I had the chance to give a presentation on some of the important issues surrounding indigenous women and health in the Canadian Arctic. It was an honour when I was invited to return to South Korea only a few months later to participate in the Arctic Partnership Week in Busan. The friends and contacts I made through the Korea Arctic Academy are invaluable to me, like a second family.

Continuing to work with student mobility, particularly with north2north, has been one of the most rewarding things to come out of my career in international higher education. I understand the life-changing nature of international student exchange, and I am grateful to play a role in every one of my students’ experiences. One of the best aspects is meeting with students when they return from exchange, and over the months of re-entry seeing them develop a comprehensive understanding of everything they have gained out of their experiences.

I don’t know exactly where my future will take me, but I will continue to strongly encourage students and peers to explore the Arctic, and become involved in and educated about issues affecting the global North. There is so much diversity to explore in the North and so many important areas in which nations can collaborate. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude for the opportunities UArctic has provided me with, and I will continue to reflect on how these opportunities have enriched my life.

Originally published in the UArctic Shared Voices Magazine 2019