The past few weeks after UNIS closed down can be characterised by confusion, waiting for information and lack of efficiency. Students were constantly discussing what to do with their studies, if they were going to be forced to leave Longyearbyen and where to go. For around 10 days, which felt like 2 months, the insecurity among the students grew along with the alcohol consumption and lack of motivation. With the increased pressure from UNIS and some home universities, most students had left by Sunday the 22nd of March.
I have many reasons why I wanted to stay. First and the most important reason is that I need to live somewhere that would facilitate my studies as I am taking nearly 80 credits this semester. I needed a place where I wasn’t locked up in the same room for studying, eating and sleeping. Secondly, I came to UNIS because I wanted to experience the Arctic and stay for a long period of time. I wanted to become a part of the community and continue most of my master courses and thesis in the Arctic. Thirdly, I am in my 30s, and moving home to my parents has never been an option. I was just not ready to leave. However unpopular the decision was, I am very happy I chose to stay behind.
In the beginning it was a bit hard to find out how I could continue my internship with the new situations, but after talking to both Stuart and the head of the department I was given some tasks to pursue. It has been quite the change going from practical work to sitting in front of the computer all day. Of course a bit more boring, but also a bit frustrating because I was given tasks a bit outside my comfort zone and didn’t have anyone to ask questions. I would say it was mostly frustrating, because I am not the most patient person, but somehow I got through it.
One of the tasks I was given was to come up with a HSE plan for storing liquid nitrogen, and I had to find the information online in manuals, reports and publications. Sometimes my feedback were Nice work, and other times it was a bit more details or suggestions for improvement. Since all communication is done online, the feed back seem to have decreased a bit, which I guess make sense.
After talking to the head of the department I was also invited to their daily coffee meetings, and I felt more included in the department. That was actually quite nice, and it has been nice to feel more a part of the work place and also socialize with the other staff. It is also nice to hear more about what they are working on, and what issues they have had during the Covid – 19 situation.