Did you know that Frozen was inspired by Norway and the indigenous group called the Sami? As part of our study tour to Karasjok and Tromsø for Public Health in the Arctic, we visited the Sami Parliament building where we learned about history and policymaking of the Sami in relation to healthcare. To my surprise, the rows and rows of parliament members were majority women. It was cool to see! One of them was called Elsa, rumored to be the inspiration for Elsa in Frozen. That night, we got back to the hotel and piled into the lobby for a class movie night! We had to be up bright and early though, as our itinerary was always packed. I can’t believe how much we were able to accomplish in five days. I feel blessed to have taken this trip with my DIS family, who were so genuine and enthusiastic. I thank them and our instructors for making this week truly special.
The study tour not only gave context to what we learned in the classroom but also clarified and inspired me to be more involved. It was one thing to be lectured about the difficulty in delivering health care in remote areas. It was another to take two planes and a bus from the main city just to reach another town. One of our visits included a tour and lecture at the University in Tromsø Hospital. There we learned a bit about emergency care and got to see the helicopter they use for transporting patients.
What worked for this trip was the multidisciplinary approach to learning about public health in the Arctic. We talked to physicians about the importance of teamwork in regional and rural hospitals. We talked to researchers, politicians, and even a radio talk show host. I think what the study tour has done is to emphasize that knowing the history, culture, and lifestyle of the people is vital to creating a good healthcare system. I enjoyed all of the cultural visits and especially the organized class dinners. One night, we rode a cable car up and ate at a restaurant on top of the mountain. This is me enjoying a nice medium rare reindeer steak!
The best part of study tour is the people you spend your time with. On one of our free nights, we made a spontaneous trip to the beach and jumped into the Norwegian Sea. As we screamed and splashed in the Arctic water, I look out into the snow-capped mountains and felt incredibly overwhelmed. I felt that several times throughout the trip, like on our 15 K canoe trip and the midnight sun hike. This study tour has given me more than I could ever ask for.