Sending a Hej! From Jokkmokk!

Posted on January 28th, 2015 by

Reporting from the Arctic Circle here in a very cold Jokkmokk. While we are all so busy frolicking the snow, we managed to find some downtime to do our homework, play some cards and go to school.

I’m sure you are all eager to hear about our very intense Uno game, but first let me introduce myself. My name is Laura Carpenter and I am a sophomore from Mankato, MN. I am a history and political science double major. The Semester in Sweden grabbed my attention because I saw the program as an amazing opportunity to learn about my Scandinavian heritage and the Swedish culture. Another reason why I chose this program is that several courses offered grabbed my attention, such as Nordic Politics, Climate Energy and The Sámi classes. So I put on my layers and headed for the tundra with this great, classy group of people. Enough about me, now back to that intense Uno game!

As I said we are so incredibly busy gallivanting in the snow, so between warming up and doing our homework, our favorite advisor Jeff and his family initiated a card game to keep us busy. After several hours, seventh place had been achieved and the game (finally) ended because we all had to write our papers! Jeff stop distracting us, we have papers to attend to! Just kidding, playing cards was a ton of fun, but we have to get serious now, school starts on Monday!


Monday morning came around and we gathered our books into our backpacks, put on our thinking winter caps and headed back into the classroom at the Sámi School here in Jokkmokk, where we gave a proper introduction about ourselves to a Mr. Pers-Stephan. He loved it. What a guy! In the afternoon we went on some classroom visits and talked to several Sámi students. You may think these students are in a traditional classroom setting of sitting in desks, heads deep into textbooks and listening to lectures…well joke’s on you! The Sámi students are studying soft and hard handicraft meaning they are using their sewing and crafting skills to create garments, knives and woodwork from traditional, natural materials. We walked away from our talk with the students questioning the paths we have chosen at Gustavus, wondering if it was possible to become Sámi overnight and begin learning the way of life as a Sámi student and never go back to Gustavus. But rest-assured people, we all know we will have to come back eventually…perhaps. :)


We were back on the Sámi School campus Tuesday, listening to a couple very informative lectures on the Sámi and visiting Ájtte. A wonderful Mr. Lars-Andres Baer served as our leader for the day. After two very informative lectures, we headed for Ájtte. Ájtte, the Swedish Mountain and Sámi Museum, is a cultural and natural history museum, serves as the main museum and archive for the Sámi culture of Sweden. Lars-Anders’s lecture and museum visit offered much to aid our understanding of the Sámi people. I mean look how exited Alexa and Sidney are headed for school!


Wednesday we left the classroom for the great outdoors! We all jumped on a bus for a road trip where Lars-Anders led us to the mountains of Laponia. He showed us a couple hydroelectric dams and several very impressively large mountains that blew our minds with their snowy beauty. On our journey to the mountains, we ran into Sven the reindeer and several of his friends on the road. Oh how funny and adorable they are! Our nature tour on Wednesday was quite successful and pretty neat.


The Winter Conference and Winter Market are about to begin so things will be hip and happening here in Jokkmokk for the next couple weeks.

We are all safe and well over here and look forward to seeing what Sweden brings us next!




  1. Roland says:

    Thanks for the update, Laura. Now you’ve all experienced the Arctic chill (last week) and more “normal” winter weather. It’s great that Lars-Anders Baer guided you through the Laponia wilderness area. That excursion is a nice new addition to the Jokkmokk program. And next week should be a nice combination of serious stuff (the Winter Conference) and serious fun (the Sami Market). Have a blast!

  2. Gretchen says:

    We’re glad you are all safe and sound and enjoying the Frozen world. Thanks for your insights, Laura: will you learn to play a Sami flute? Greetings from the St. Peter Nordic Market (aka Swedish Kontur). We are following the blogs with great interest…