Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Igloos and Ice Shots in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Chilling in the Arctic Circle

Traveling to the north of Sweden was a breathtaking adventure from seeing the Northern Lights to dog sledding and a night filled with frozen shot glasses. Nothing prepared me for the beautiful frozen tundra with colorful lights dancing across the snow. If I had been told a year earlier that I’d be visiting an indigenous group of Swedish natives and drinking reindeer stew from a wooden bowl I would’ve told them they’re crazy. That was what my study abroad experience in Sweden was filled with – new and unexpected experiences. When I took this photo it represented everything that it meant to be away from home. I was standing atop the balcony at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi just a few kilometers south of the Arctic Circle. The day before had been spent dog sledding and snowmobiling and then ended with heating up in the sauna and cooling off in the nocturnal ice lake. Ya, it was pretty damn cold. That was back in February. Having survived the ice lake and my study abroad experience I can say that when I returned to the States in June I felt empowered and changed from only the few months spent out of the country. I felt refocused and refreshed after the experience. I was away from many people I loved and care about which motivated me to seek out new relationships. Among the many lessons I learned is to cherish those who deeply care for you. They’ll miss you when you’re gone.

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