Packing for 3 months is hard, packing for 3 months in arctic conditions is even harder. I had avoided trying to fit everything in my duffle bag till the night before so instead of the Friday night leaving drinks that were planned with my friends it turned into a ‘Soph, do you really need that many hats’ sort of evening. Thankfully they are a patient bunch so we toasted my departure surrounded by mounds of discounted hats.
Manchester > Helsinki
The flight to Helsinki is a pleasant 2.5 hours from rainy Manchester so it wasn't long till I was greeted by the lovely Tarja, who I have been bombarding for the past 6 weeks with emails. Not long after I got to meet the intrepid team mates I would be spending the next 3 months with. We had been chosen from all around the globe so its a great mix of cultures and personalities, they're all very lovely so its going to be a great 100 days!
Later we were taken to the Finnair HQ where we were introduced to all the wonderful people who have made this happen, we also met our sponsors Halti and Suunto who made all my ‘winter tech kit’ dreams come true. We were kitted out from head to toe with the best winter gear available and I felt overwhelmed with how much stuff we received - we’re all incredibly lucky! Then we ran through the expedition schedule, something I had been doing daily for the past 4 weeks - not quite believing that It was all happening but as Pasi (The expedition leader) casually went out over a more detailed plan for the next 3 months it all started to sink in. I sat there like a cheshire cat all evening not quite believing my luck.
Helsinki > Oulu
We took a short 50 minute flight from Helsinki in the morning to Oulu, its one of the most populous cites in Northern Finland. We didn’t stay for long though because a large coach just for our team was waiting to take us to the capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi. All I knew about Rovaniemi previously is that it is the home of Santa Claus, so I guessed it must be pretty special. We were based in the Lapland Hotel Sky, Ounasvaara for the week and it provided us with some great views most mornings, and for the 4 lucky ones that caught the Northern Lights on the first evening!