By Hannah Beck
The weeks leading up to my departure were jam-packed with finishing details and preparations. Cleaning, drying, and counting filled my hours in the lab. I juggled last-minute equipment changes while arranging pumps, tubing, and connectors. I swam around in a pool of emails, printing, and label-making. I tried not to imagine how hard it would be to say goodbye to my husband at the airport.
After everything had been triple-checked, I zipped up my bags and departed on my grand adventure.
I arrived in Stockholm at 8:30 am local time, my flight having been delayed by several hours during my layover in Chicago. I had somehow managed to bring an entire suitcase full of 20 peristaltic pumps (yes, 20), hundreds of empty vials, dozens of rubber plugs, yards of silicon tubing, and other oddities through airport security without raising any red flags. This is a miracle that still amazes me, especially when added to the fact that nothing broke in transit.
After a magical and all-too-short time exploring the city, the hour arrived for me to wrangle all of my baggage onto the night train to Abisko. I looked like a one-woman caravan, with my backpack bulging with extra sweaters and two suitcases each large enough to fit a good-sized hound. The hallway on the train car was just barely large enough to fit the suitcases through sideways, and then I had to figure out how to stow them safely in the tiny closet while other passengers sidled awkwardly past on their way in and out of the toilet. This is an episode that my collaborator, Dr. Jenny Ask, and I have named “The Field Equipment Comedy Show”, which she assures me most scientists in Abisko have had to endure.
After a sleepless night, the train eventually pulled up to the station labeled “Abisko Östra”. Jenny greeted me on the chilly platform with a hug and helped me with my bags. I have finally arrived to the Land of the Midnight Sun.