Almost two months have past since the end of my ERASMUS+ journey in Sweden. Umea was very kind to me, as was everyone at SLU! It was an experience that I was greatly looking forward to, and one that I will always remember. The most memorable event was probably my first night out in Umea – the night I went out to Droskan for the TQ event. That night spurred many memories as well as being the root of new friendships. The most valuable aspects of my time in Sweden were probably the trip to Gällivare and the beetles experiment – both events on either end of my journey. The hard trekking through snow with cumbersome window traps on my back showed me the physically taxing side of fieldwork, whereas the beetles experiment demanded patience and determination.
I’ve been back in the UK for less time than I was in Sweden, and already I’m off again – this time, to Chicago. I’m writing this in Rejkavik, after having flown the first leg of the journey, and will have landed once this post goes live. I’m incredibly excited to spend roughly 8 months in the US, at the Morton Arboretum as a research affiliate. I know that I’ll be involved with two main projects relating to prairie restoration and the phylogeny of Oak trees. Although less different to the UK than Sweden, I’m sure there will be some aspects I’ll have to adjust to.
Deciding to take the cheapest flight available also meant dealing with the longest layovers possible – and three separate flights. In total, Charlotte and I spent about 3 hours in the air and about 25 waiting for the next flight. This did, however, mean we got the chance to take a good look around Copenhagen. We walked around the city, visiting the botanical gardens and walking up to see The Little Mermaid which – after a quick Google – I discovered has had her head sawn off twice, and also been exploded off her rock. She’s quite the target for political activism it seems. After a long day of walking, we found as comfy a spot as any (four chairs in one of the terminals) and decided to sleep. Not the best night’s sleep I’ve had, but actually not the worst.
The old glasshouse at Copenhagen Botanical Garden
The next layover in Stockholm was around 5 hours – too short for us to comfortably leave the airport. I’ve got to say, terminal 5 of Stockholm airport is lovely: great seats, plug sockets and desks, a whole array of shops and restaurants… It’s a shame our flight was from terminal 4, which turned out to be a further distance away than we assumed. Fortunately, security wasn’t busy and we made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare – but we were panicked for a moment! I decided to take a nap on the plane to catch up on some lost sleep, and only really woke up when we were touching down – but Charlotte described Umeå as being surrounded by forest, something I’ve seen for myself after the few days I’ve spent here.
Sunset over the runway from Copenhagen airport
It’s been a quiet first week, having been in on only Monday and Wednesday so far, but everyone I’ve met so far has given us a warm welcome. We visited one of the closest experimental sites on Wednesday, taking a look at where some of the data the university has collected came from. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see any moose (despite finding evidence of them), but I’m hopeful we’ll spot one, or at least some reindeer, in the coming months.