The Land of the Midnight Sun

The Land of the Midnight Sun

By Hannah Beck

Aside from the mandatory jet lag, adjusting to life at the Abisko field station has been quite easy. I’m living in a dorm-style building with several other visiting students who are field interns, science communication interns, or here on a specific project like me. Most of the visiting students come from other countries—as I’m writing this, we have students from Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain, with new students arriving all the time.

The scenery here is incredibly beautiful. The field station is next to Lake Torneträsk, which is quite large, and there are many other smaller lakes scattered around the region. All of the water is crystal clear and bracingly cold from the recent ice melt. The entire viewshed is enclosed by old, round mountains still covered in snow, and the breeze is as gentle as an old friend dropping by for tea. Most of the buildings are painted a bright, earthy red in classic Swedish style.

View of Mt. Njulla from the field station

Everyone that I’ve met is extremely friendly. They are excited to meet new scientists, passionate about sustainability, and happy to help solve even the strangest puzzles to make sure my experiment and I have everything we need to function comfortably.

The midnight sun itself has surprisingly been very easy to get used to. At about 7:00pm, the shadows become long and the sunshine sort of changes in quality from “active” to “simply present”. At about 12:30am, sunset/sunrise happens when the sun dips behind a mountain for about 20 minutes. At about 7:30am, the sunlight shifts back from present to active. The result is that I feel cheerful and fully mentally engaged at all hours. Going to sleep is not difficult, but keeping track of time certainly is. This eternal sunshine is a bit addictive, and I’m honestly a little nervous about how well I’ll handle my first sundown once I return to Louisiana. I can’t help but imagine that polar sunset in winter is just as horrible as this is amazing.

Lake Torneträsk and Mt. Njulla on a cloudy night
At the dock of Lake Torneträsk at sunset
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