If I had to describe in one word my internship in UArctic Research office at NARFU, I would use a multifaceted word. A word full of meanings and richness, a word which implies action and reflection, evolution and change, which opens perspectives; this word is “experience”.

 This internship stands for a multicolored life experience in my mind. A human experience, since I got to meet wonderful people, rich of their own background. A professional experience, wherein I gained skills and know-how, working in an international organization that gathers tons of knowledge and spreads it. And a personal experience that made me grow up, that empowered me to be confronted with a new environment, 4000 km away from my hometown.

 This almost one-month experience in Arkhangelsk was a challenge on a personal level. I considered challenging to live on my own and to meet new people in such little amount of time. I was expecting to face many obstacles such as loneliness, darkness and unbearably low temperatures, but my apprehensions scattered when I arrived: the snow embellished the whole city of its whiteness, and the «northern mentality» proved to be much warmer than expected! I had the chance to be immediately included into the international students program of NARFU, I joined excursions and met students coming from all around the world. All international students shared one thing in common: a deep interest in knowing more about Russia, about its history, to unveil all its aspects, and to meet its people. We had the occasion to discuss a lot about our cultures, compare our perspectives for the future, and exchange ideas.

 As a student in political sciences and international relations, I have always been sensible to global issues like sustainable environment and protection of rights. The Arctic region, its beauties and natural phenomena are greatly endangered by climate change and pollution. That is why coming to Arkhangelsk represented a huge opportunity for me to somehow participate in research on the Arctic. The office in NARFU welcomed me with open arms. Olga Klisheva, the UArctic office manager taught me a lot about UArctic everyday activities and ambitious goals. Indeed, international cooperation requires a high ability in intercultural communication and organization on a larger scale to be able to cope with important projects. UArctic research office in NARFU plays a big role in the cooperation between Russian and international organizations conducting Arctic research and in coordination of Russian research network. I had the chance to participate in the office work and projects, to administrate the web-site. I also gained experience in translating and writing in other languages than my mother tongue (Russian and English).

 Travel shapes youth, as the saying goes. But travelling means also meeting new people, discovering a new job, be confronted with different mindsets. I had the immense chance to embrace all those forms of travelling by coming to Arkhangelsk, and I leave with higher determination to commit myself to intercultural ties and to promote education, which is the key to make the world a better place.

Léa Giffard