Arctic 2019 Expedition: Reflections from Sydney Van Slyke

Sydney Van Slyke, September 5, 2019
Rhode Island, USA

One family. One chance. One purpose. I used to believe that I had one family, one chance at becoming successful, and one purpose to fulfill in my life. I use to clearly see the separation between my friends and my family. I use to believe that I had one shot to be successful. I use to believe that my future career would be my one purpose to fulfill. SOI completely changed that dynamic for me. I now have two families, can clearly see all of the chances I have at my fingertips, and fully understand that I have infinite purposes in this world to satisfy.  

From the stunning scenery to frigid polar plunge, and leaping between intense conversations to leaping across rocks along a glacial river. I will never forget the impact that the Arctic and SOI has had on my thinking, perception of the world, and connections that I will never lose. At the start of the expedition, I had no expectations. I didn’t want expectations. I didn’t want to have an idea of what I wanted Students on Ice and the Arctic to be, and have it be nothing like I imagined. But by the end of the expedition I knew that I never could have dreamed of a better experience, and definitely did not want anything to have happened any differently. 

Sydney collecting pond water samples in Itilleq Fjord, Greenland with scientist Bianca Perren ©Natta Summerky/ SOI Foundation

As I am writing this, I am listening to “Physics and Love” by George Woodhouse. It’s unofficially, officially, the SOI 2019 Arctic Expedition theme song. Not the annoying kind that gets stuck in your head. But the one that always feels like it is playing at the best moments of your life. Just in the background. Barely enough to hear. But is always there. Reminding you of the “two permanent things in this world,” and helping you to recall all of the most heart-touching and meaningful experiences that we had with SOI. 

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This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.