Jodi MacGregor, born and raised in a small community called Caledonia in Nova Scotia, ventured to Northern Canada on a one-year contract. Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut
, would remain her home for a year, so she thought. Upon arrival in 2001 she was amazed that Iqaluit covered such a large area. In her imagination, before ever reaching her destination, she thought it would be a small community, but rather it was an administrative hub with around 5000 residents. Amid restaurants, bars and of course a few grocery stores and schools, this would be the place she would call home, it had plenty to offer. As time passed, the community, with its friendly faces and relaxed pace, began to grow on her. She remained a resident there until she embarked upon a journey to Rovaniemi
, Finland in 2009.
While taking the Environmental Technology Program
(ETP) through the Nunavut Arctic College
, she heard about the Arctic Studies Program
(ASP). An influential senior instructor at her college had taken the ASP program previously and spoke highly about its benefits. He had encouraged her to pursue the program, although it was in another country on the other side of the Circumpolar World. This distance did not discourage her, the travel bug had been attached to her all her life, and she was willing to pursue this journey to obtain a higher education.
The voyage began with a one-semester enrollment into the ASP program; which later grew into a full year commitment. Starting in September 2009, some of her courses included Reindeer Herding as a Means of Livelihood, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and Natural Selection & Adaptation to Life in Northern Environments. The program has an interdisciplinary approach that includes focuses on geography, anthropology, biology, etc. With a small class size the students have the opportunity to get to know their classmates and interact with the lecturers.
More than 130 exchange students from 20 different countries enroll themselves into a program at the University of Lapland
each semester. The diversity in languages, cultures, and ethnicities has been one of the most interesting experiences for Jodi. Expanses of picturesque nature, forests, hiking trails, skiing paths and bike trails are what make this city of 60, 000 so enjoyable for her. Once she has completed her studies in April 2010, she will move back to Iqaluit to put her newly gained knowledge to work while completing the ETP program. Experiences of reindeer sleigh rides, meeting Santa, and going to saunas with new friends will stay with her throughout her life. Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Iceland are other circumpolar countries that she would like to discover and explore in her future travels.