Good Morning Students on Ice,
Where do I even begin to describe the wonderful journey I started a month ago. I would like to start by saying that I am not the best at writing and putting my thoughts and feelings on paper but journaling everyday on the expedition has certainly improved my writing skills. Now that I am back from the trip, I am finally starting to feel a bit home sick or should I say “expedition” sick. I have had about two weeks to reflect on my journey which is still not enough time to process everything I experienced on this amazing once in a lifetime expedition.
So a little over a month ago I landed in Ottawa to begin my journey with 114 other students and over 80 educators to the Arctic, not knowing what to expect. I remember laying on the Carlton bed and thinking “Wow! Am I really going to the Arctic?” Meeting everyone at the official launch and realizing that I am going to be spending the next two weeks with these incredible people was just amazing.
Then we finally landed in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, after spending two days in the nation’s capital. As the cold Greenlandic wind hit my face while getting off the airplane, it still wasn’t real. It felt like a pleasant dream. Looking at the Greenlandic icecap, I could only imagine the days that were ahead of us.
Each and every day brought something new and exciting. The days on the ship just kept getting better and better. We had so much to explore, so much to learn and so much to experience. From meeting new people, exploring the Arctic tundra, talking to the educators, experiencing the breathtaking views, to trying something new every day on the ship was just mind blowing. I still remember the day when we saw our first iceberg up so close. One could feel the excitement and energy in the air. Everyone was excited, taking pictures of this magnificent beauty and hopping from one side to another trying to capture that perfect bergshot. The whiteness and purity of the icebergs was so calming that I even painted a picture of it. Then there was the excitement when we saw our first Polar Bear! They were so far away yet so close to us. Even though it was a little bit cold outside that day, the energy and the excitement in the air was enough to keep me warm.
I will never forget our visit to Pond Inlet and the amazing cultural program they hosted for us. Experiencing Inuit culture first hand was absolutely wonderful. The Inuit games, drum dancing, throat singing was all so amazing to experience. Talking to the elders from Pond Inlet and learning about their ways of living and hardships they face due to the changing climate gave me an insight of their lives. It made me realize how actions of people around the world can have a serious impact on people living in the north.
The next day at Button Inlet we had a moment of silence to appreciate the nature. That was the first time I experienced 200 people and a dog stay so quiet for this long. It felt as if it was just me and nature. The sound of wind accompanied by the slow moving stream in the background was just magical and extra-ordinary. I don’t think there has been a word discovered yet to describe my feelings or emotions at that instant.
The whole trip was just astonishing. The views of people and nature – both were extra-ordinary and taught me a lot. Then there was the last zodiac landing on Beechey Island which was beyond my imagination. It was the coldest one yet. Everyday warm weathers made me question if I was actually in the Arctic or not but I am glad I got to experience the harsher side of the North on Beechey Island.
The celebrations on the last night were exemplary. They made me appreciate the fact that I was surrounded by so many young, brilliant and talented people who clapped so warmly on my Bollywood performance (dedicated to all of them) which wasn’t half as awesome as what they had performed. I am so glad I got to meet all of them and become close with so many people in such a short time period.
I could go on for hours about all the zodiac rides, meeting all the people, the breathtaking views that nature offered, the icebergs, the polar bears, the plants and basically everything about this expedition which would still not be enough to describe this amazing two week journey. Everyday felt so long yet the whole trip felt too short. Those night-less days and the early morning rises to Geoff’s “Good morning students on Ice” are unmatchable. Morning yoga without Dr. Kate is also not the same. Talking to everyone, the students and the staff, and hearing their stories is something I will never forget. I will remember each and every memory that I created during that expedition.
This expedition was definitely a dream come true which was made possible by RDC and Students On Ice. I would like to thank the Research and Development Corporation (RDC) of Newfoundland and Labrador for providing me a scholarship to go on this expedition. I also want to thank Geoff and the entire Students on Ice team for giving us such an incredible experience. It truly was the greatest classroom on earth.