Ushnitskaya, a 20 year-old English and Philosophy student at Sakha State University in Yakutia, Yakutsk, Russia, arrived in Rovaniemi in September to experience a semester at the University of Lapland, thanks to UArctic’s north2north program.
UArctic’s north2north program is a student exchange program which allows students to experience living and studying in different UArctic member institutions around the world. The program exposes students to different northern regions and peoples.
After three years in the Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies, she thought it was time to experience for herself some of the theories studied so far in her online courses.
“I had dreamt of visiting the heart of Lapland since my childhood,” she says. “Here in Rovaniemi, it’s real, not just online studies. Now I know more about the northern territories, people and culture.”
Having never been away from her family for such a long period of time before, Ushnitskaya said she had to adapt to living on her own, away from her loved ones. However, the adaptation was made easier by a group of tutors who took care of her from her arrival, showing her around the city and helping with essential things such as opening a bank account and getting a bicycle.
Now, she’s fully enjoying her time – and the weather –  in Rovaniemi. “Finland is quite a warm place. For Yakut people, -50C is normal…here in Rovaniemi, it’s very warm. I like it!” says Ushnitskaya, for whom the language barrier was not a problem. “There are a lot of foreign students at the University of Lapland, and everyone just wants us to feel comfortable. It is very easy to meet people from all over the world.” Although she knows basic words and sentences in Finnish, she communicates mostly in English with other students.
Taking part in the north2north exchange is not only rewarding on the personal level, but also on an academic one for Ushnitskaya, who is enrolled in the Arctic Studies Program while at the University of Lapland. “These courses are very important and useful to me, as I live in the North, and we should know more about our homeland. I have learned lots of things about the northern climate, geography, minorities, flora and fauna,” she says.
A camping trip to Puhutunturi National Park with her Introduction to t