A Professor Abroad

On Preparing for Two Weeks Below Freezing

At 4:30 this morning, my eyes opened of their own accord – for the second time in three days. But the crazy thing is, I’m not even mad about it. Because in about 12 hours, I’ll be departing with a group of 20 intrepid students on a trip I’ve been scheming up for more than a year. And I’m beyond stoked about it.

Wofford’s January term (what we call “Interim”) is a 4-week, credit/no credit, experiential learning opportunity. As the Interim website explains, “Interim frees students and faculty to spend the month of January focused on a single topic designed to expand the walls of the traditional classroom, explore new and untried topics, take academic risks, […] and consider different peoples, places and professional options.”

This provides a host of opportunities for exploration – both on-campus and abroad. Perpetual wanderer that I am, I opted for abroad. And I’m thrilled that both my colleague and this group of students proved up to the adventure I proposed… since there was much speculation about whether we could convince enough kids to sign up for two weeks in the snow.

Apparently, the long-standing belief on campus was that students from South Carolina wouldn’t be interested in going anywhere cold. My feeling on the matter was that most places are going to be cold in January, and perhaps given my Texas influence, I thought, “if it’s going to be cold, let’s just go cold.”

So the course is titled “Snapshots from Scandinavia: Digital Transcriptions of Climate and Culture” – combining both my academic bailiwick (writing in digital spaces) and one of my many personal ones (photography). And, surprisingly to both the two of us who proposed the idea and to the rest of the faculty, the course filled on the first round of applications last spring.

We’ll be traveling to Sweden and Norway over the next two weeks, starting in Stockholm and then heading north of the Arctic Circle for a stay at the ice hotel. And, given my complete lack of experience with cold climates (Las Vegas and Austin aren’t exactly  known for snow), I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year reading up on how to dress for cold. And I do mean a lot of time.

But reading only gets you so far, so as I see it, fate smiled on us last weekend by dropping a few inches of snow on South Carolina. It was a great opportunity to traipse around in a variety of outfit combinations, and I feel like I’ve got a much better grasp of how to avoid being miserable in the 4-30°F weather that’s predicted for our trip. I’m really, really hoping the students did the same.

I guess we’ll find out when we arrive tomorrow, where we’ll be greeted by our Swedish guide and a high of 35°F – which sounds much better than 2°C. I think I’m going to try and mentally stay on Fahrenheit for the next two weeks. A high of 11°F sounds much more manageable than a high of -12°C (the current weather prediction for our arrival in Kiruna).

It’s all about framing! This is going to be awesome.

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This entry was written by DoctaBlouke and published on January 12, 2017 at 11:12 am. It’s filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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