Life Above The Arctic Circle

This image was taken standing on the edge of the Tromso island looking at the mainland. The body of water is the North Pacific ocean and is called a fjord.

Hi! My name is Madi Kohls and I am a junior at the University of Montana majoring in Biology and in my third year of the Army ROTC program. 

My trip abroad took place in Tromso Norway, above the Arctic Circle! While I was there I was observing the effects of twenty-four hours of darkness on mental health. I was also observing how a more progressive government affects mental health and what personal and governmental mitigators are put in place to benefit the physical and mental well being of citizens. Along with observations I took arctic marine biology and a Sami Nation course (the indigenous people of Scandinavia) to provide further evidence for the climatic physical changes. 

During my time there I was almost never inside. On the island of Tromso, there are several cross country skiing trails, backcountry skiing trails, snowshoeing trails, ice skating rinks, and outdoor festivals. This helped me truly figure out that being physically active is something that benefits me in many ways, it puts me in a better headspace and helps me find motivation for the mandatory things that need to get done before the fun. 

My friends and I would often go on cross country skiing backpack trips to cabins in the area where we would camp and head back the next day.

I interacted with people from all over the world. Due to the wide variety of different cultures, a lot of patience and understanding was needed to interact on a daily basis. Patience and understanding are two of the character qualities, and leadership qualities, I had not developed very well. Coming out of my time abroad I can confidently say I have improved on them greatly and without too much struggle. 

During my time abroad I truly found a better version of myself. I made friendships that will last a lifetime. I found hobbies that I will never get bored of and I found classes that piqued my interest and made me rethink my future plans. While Tromso developed my Global theme, my character, and my leadership it also helped me find a feeling of inner peace and comfortability within myself, and for that, I will always be grateful. 

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